Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act in a rare bi-partisan effort. The bill is meant to speed the development of lifesaving treatments, but critics warn it may also allow ineffective or even harmful drugs onto the market.
Guest Host: Katty Kay
The U.S. economy adds 204,000 jobs in October. President Barack Obama apologizes to Americans for not doing enough to protect people from having their insurance policies cancelled under the Affordable Care Act. The Senate passes legislation that would ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender employees. Republican Chris Christie is reelected governor of New Jersey, and speculation heats up over his prospects for a presidential run. And Twitter makes its Wall Street debut. Guest host Katty Kay and a panel of journalists discuss the week in news.
- Jeanne Cummings deputy government editor, Bloomberg News.
- Chris Frates Investigative correspondent, CNN.
- Damian Paletta reporter, The Wall Street Journal.
Twitter began trading on the stock exchange this week, rising from its initial public offering of $26 per share to $45 per share. “It shows Wall Street is still hungry for those Silicon Valley inventors,” Jeanne Cummings of Bloomberg News said. Damian Paletta of The Wall Street Journal explained how the Twitter IPO was different from Facebook’s. Chris Frates of CNN cautioned against a tech bubble.
MS. KATTY KAYThanks for joining us. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC sitting in for Diane Rehm. She's visiting WESA in Pittsburgh and will be back on Monday. The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 7.3 percent in October despite news that the U.S. economy grew faster than expected in the third quarter. Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rejected calls to delay parts of the Affordable Care Act.
MS. KATTY KAYThe Senate passed a bill to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Joining me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup: Damian Paletta of The Wall Street Journal, Jeanne Cummings of Bloomberg News, and Chris Frates of CNN. Thank you all for joining me.
MR. CHRIS FRATESThank you.
MR. DAMIAN PALETTASure.
MS. JEANNE CUMMINGSGood morning.
KAYWe will be taking your calls with your questions later on in the program. The phone number is 1-800-433-8850. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, of course, send us a tweet, and we will be getting to tweets and Twitter later on in the program. Let's start, though, with the unemployment rate. Damian, the unemployment rate -- OK. I'm always slightly confused because the unemployment rate rose, but everybody's quite happy about the number.
PALETTAThat's right. And I think October's going to be one of those weird months because of the government shutdown where it's a little bit hard to unpack the numbers. But we do know that 204,000 jobs were added in October. It's about double what people were expecting. And it's despite the government shutdown and all the debt ceiling hijinks. So it seems like the economy's starting to get -- or at least trying to get a little bit of juice after all these fiscal deadlines and fiscal cliff and all the stuff we've endured for the past couple years. The economy's trying to get the engine revved a little bit.
KAYTry and explain these numbers for me because some months we have the unemployment rate go down, but the actual job number are worse than people expected. This time around, it's the other way around.
PALETTASure. I mean, the main reason I think that this occurs is because when the economy starts to get a little better, people who were out of the labor force start to look for jobs again. And once they get back into that process, they sort of come back into those numbers, and that affects the denominator essentially of how they calculate the unemployment rate.
KAYOK. And, Jeanne, what's behind those stronger growth numbers this quarter?
CUMMINGSWell, there was an increase in inventory. The manufacturing sector picked up in the third quarter. But that's -- there's actually mixed news in that regard because consumer confidence is down. And consumers are the prime engine of the economy. And so there are some economists who believe that while the third quarter looks pretty good with the jobs looking good and the GDP looking good that there was a lot of investment in things that went on the shelf.
CUMMINGSAnd for the fourth quarter to be good, consumers have got to get back into the game. And that's where the shutdown and a lot of the craziness in Washington really does have a secondary impact on the economy 'cause it makes people feel less certain about where things are going, and then they don't want to spend as much money.
KAYYeah. This seems to be the big story of where we are at in the moment, isn't it, Chris, is we see signs of an uptick. We see the housing market starting to recover around the country as well. And the big question for businesses and investors: Is Washington going to stand in the way of recovery?
FRATESAnd that's been the question, and the lawmakers did not answer that last month when they kicked the can forward down the road. So we're going to see a Dec. 15 deadline for the Republicans and the Democrats to come together on the budget. And we're also going to get into January and go through this whole exercise again, which has folks worried. And another interesting piece on the numbers out today is, in a twist, that the numbers were better than expected.
FRATESAnd so now the stock market is down because investors are worried that that means the Fed will stop juicing the economy because they're seeing some growth. So then that -- again, the...
KAYAgain, exactly the opposite of what we saw a couple of weeks ago when the numbers were bad, and the market rose.
KAYGo figure. How much is the market actually related to the real economy? Let's talk about the latest on the Affordable Care Act. President Obama, Jeanne, last night apologized to people who have found that their plans have been cancelled because of the act.
CUMMINGSYeah. That's a very significant moment. There are not many presidents who flat-out say the words, I'm sorry. President Obama has done it before. However, this was a surprise, and it's an indicator of how concerned the Democrats are of the political damage. It's an indicator of his concerns about how much political influence will he have left when this is over with.
CUMMINGSHis approval rating, one day this week, dropped to 39, its lowest in two years. It ticked up the next day in the Daily Gallup. (sic) So that's a very fluid number. But for the president to take the time to directly address the issue, particularly one that is impacting only about 10 million people, it shows how important and how much damage they thing has been done to Obamacare and to the party as they move forward.
KAYDamian, are they starting to get any good news stories out of this rollout?
PALETTANot that I can tell. I mean, they picked this guy Jeff Zients, who was at the White House's Budget Office, to come and kind of spearhead, you know, the fixing of the website. What's kind of amazing to me is how we went from the period with the shutdown where the White House seemed like they had all the momentum in the world and the Republicans were back on their heels. The Republicans have done nothing on this healthcare stuff. It's all been kind of the bureaucratic implosion. And now the Democrats are running around like their hair's on fire worried about 2014.
KAYJeff Zients has been there, Chris, a couple of weeks now. And we had Kathleen Sebelius testifying again this week. Are we in the know about any fixes that might have been made yet? Or is it too early?
FRATESWell, I think it appears that what we've learned this week, with the Sebelius testimony, is that there is no Plan B, that they believe they need to fix this by Nov. 30. They're still, as she said, a couple hundred fixes left. And she said the process is "not where we need to be," which is about an understatement of the year.
FRATESAnd this is why you've seen the White House react so aggressively to its allies in the Senate. The president brought in about 15 Democratic senators this week to try to talk to them, ask, please, you know, stay behind us. You know, some of these senators are vulnerable in 2014. You have Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich.
FRATESThese are folks who have taken steps to try to delay Obamacare, have, you know, finally broken that Democratic unity that has stayed together all these years because they're looking at 2014 and saying, we are worried about this impact on our race. The White House is saying, hang with us. You can badmouth us. You can run bills.
FRATESBut just, please, give us through December, and let's get into January before we see what happens. An interesting point I reported last week, that all the Senate Democrats, including the vulnerable ones, three years ago voted for the rule that is now causing a lot of those cancellations. So they're already on record supporting the HHS rule that is now -- has people worried, why am I losing the policy that you said I could keep? That's going to be problematic.
KAYJeanne, why is the White House not doing a better job -- and the president addressed this in the interview with NBC News yesterday -- at explaining to people why they might get cancellations? Why didn't they do a better education campaign before these cancellation notices started arriving?
CUMMINGSWell, that's going to be the historic question on Obamacare. I mean, they folded on the message game right after they passed the law. They've done nothing to sell this law in a positive way. And they continue to flub that kind of education with the public. The reason that they were cancelled is that the law sets a higher standard of coverage. You have to have prescription drugs. You have to be able to get preventive care for free. So they want people going every year, getting their physicals and that sort of thing, 'cause if you do that, you can save money in the long run.
KAYI mean, there's a solid argument to be made.
CUMMINGSThere is, yes.
KAYIt just hasn't been made.
CUMMINGSIt hasn't been made. And, you know, they -- the president now, the administration now says it is looking to see if there is anything it can do internally through executive order that would somehow restore the ability of these people to keep those plans, if there's any kind of relief that they can get to those folks.
CUMMINGSThis is an indicator of how toxic the Hill is. The president cannot go and get a fix. He can't bring that law back on to Capitol Hill because the House Republicans then will seize upon any legislative vehicle to try to defund and get rid of it. So he has to do it internally through executive order.
KAYCould he delay, Damian, the deadlines? I know Secretary Sebelius also addressed this week.
PALETTAI think they're going to keep saying they can't until they one morning say they're going to delay it. I mean, there's going to be a point -- they cannot keep having weeks like this where, you know, sticker shock and you have people who are apolitical saying that they've lost their health insurance and what are they going to do with their family. I mean, this is a nightmare.
CUMMINGSWell, I think Damian's right. They're going to try not to move it. And they still have time. If they meet their Nov. 30 deadline and if that website is up and running through December, and, you know, March 31 looms out there as, you know, the really outside date, if you look at what happened in Massachusetts, which is their model, most of the people sign up at the very end. So if they can meet that Nov. 30 deadline, they might be able to make the whole thing work. But it's that big if in the middle there, of getting that website up and running.
KAYOK, Damian, what was the impact of the discussion we have just been having about Obamacare on the Virginia governor's race this week?
PALETTAFascinating, quite frankly. I mean, I think everyone thought you had two sort of flawed candidates going head to head. One was really embraced by the Tea Party, Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican. And Terry McAuliffe was very close to the Clinton family. Everyone thought, you know, that McAuliffe had, you know, probably a five to seven-point solid victory. But the margin was a lot closer than people expected.
PALETTAAnd that sort of brought several different conclusions. One is Republicans could have won that race if they would have pumped some more resources into it. And the other, for Democrats, is maybe they figured out that -- despite Obamacare and despite some of the other issues, they figured out how to beat a Tea Party candidate. You just come at him aggressively early. You do the defining. Don't let them define themselves. And if you pour money into a race, even in a...
KAYBut it was interesting that it was after that result that the president had all of these Democrats into the White House.
PALETTAThat's right. And I think 'cause they realized that the way that the margin narrowed so quickly that they cannot afford to go into 2014 with this thing being, you know, kind of a shackle around their legs because they're really worried about losing the Senate in 2014.
KAYOK. We'll be back after a short break. The phone number here is 1-800-433-8850. Drshow@wamu.org is the email address. I'm joined in the studio for the domestic hour of our Friday News Roundup by Jeanne Cummings. She's the deputy government editor of Bloomberg News. Chris Frates is an investigative correspondent at CNN. Damian Paletta is a reporter with The Wall Street Journal. We will be back just after this short break. Stay listening.
KAYWelcome back. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC sitting in for Diane Rehm. You've joined the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup. I just want to read you an email that has come in, Jeanne, to us from Duane who writes to us from St. Louis, Mo. "The reasons they haven't done a better job of informing the public about losing their policies is because it wouldn't have been well received, and the law would not have passed. Also, the new better policies are not necessarily new and better, especially with higher deductibles and, in some case, even higher premiums."
CUMMINGSWell, it is true that we have not seen what alternatives are there. We've -- anecdotally, you hear stories about people who got very good coverage, and it's less than what they were paying. And then, anecdotally, we hear of people who simply can't afford what options are available to them. The administration says they -- one cause for stress is that the people can't get on the site and see what their options really are. And so that adds more urgency for them to fix that website.
CUMMINGSBut going back to the Virginia race, what we found fascinating about that is the two parties looked at that race and came to absolute opposite results. The Republicans said, as Damian said, we should've gone in more, hit it longer, harder. We would've won. That's what we'll do in 2014. Democratic analysts looked at it and said, oh, my gosh, in the worst possible environment with stories on the front page every day hitting Obamacare, McAuliffe pulled it off and won.
CUMMINGSSo they both see different lessons from that race. And the Democrats who went in to the White House, they benefit in a couple ways. Yeah, they went in, and they sounded off. And they told the president, you know, their concerns. That's a story at home about how those Democrats are fighting to fix Obamacare and fighting to make it right. And they're leaning on the president. There are a lot of politics going on around this right now.
KAYBut, Chris, could Terry McAuliffe or a Democrat have won, do you think, by a larger margin in Virginia had it not been for the poor rollout of Obamacare?
FRATESI think that that -- and that's the key question, Katty, and I'm not sure that he could have. I mean, McAuliffe will tell you that they didn't think they would ever win by more than a couple points. And if you look back at the last two Democratic governors of Virginia, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, they each won their elections with just 52 percent of the vote.
KAYRight. But Virginia's changed since the last election.
FRATESAnd Virginia has changed. And he might have had a bigger margin, but he also had much more money. The GOP dropped out. They did not play -- the Republican Governor's Association did not play nearly the way they did in Bob McDonnell's race because he was -- Cuccinelli was looked at so early as a dog. So -- and I think that is the key, is that it was a candidate who they looked at as unwinnable. They didn't invest.
KAYYou have us all chuckling.
CUMMINGSWe also have to look at the Libertarian. If you look at the polls that showed Terry McAuliffe with these wider margins, the Libertarian in those polls was getting anywhere from eight to 12, and in one of them even 14. He ended up getting six-and-a-half. So, in other words, in the final days, the people who might have toyed with a protest vote for the Libertarian candidate, they went home. They went back to their partisan homes. And so that naturally would close up some of the numbers as well.
PALETTAI think the government shutdown was probably a bigger issue in the Virginia race than Obamacare was because that was just a nightmare for Republicans. You had...
KAYAnd you have so many federal workers in Virginia.
CUMMINGSEight hundred thousand, just about.
PALETTATed Cruz came to a fundraiser for Cuccinelli in the middle of the shutdown. I mean, it was just -- the optics were terrible, and the public really voted for it.
KAYOK. There was another big election up in New Jersey. And it seems we have a self-appointed candidate for the Republican Party for 2016, Damian.
PALETTAYou know, he -- Chris Christie has broken the mold. He is a Republican conservative governor who is -- a lot of minorities have fallen in love with. He's very personable. He's very likeable. He's very self-effacing. He's got to be the frontrunner, at least right now, in the 2016 race for Republicans because he seems very electable. He won in a blue state. He's got staying power. He's tackled a lot of the issues in the New Jersey budget that, you know, we're talking about in the federal budget. So, as far as right now goes, he's really, you know, vaulted himself ahead.
KAYAnd, Chris, since the result, he certainly hasn't shied away from suggesting that he's going to run in a couple of years.
FRATESHe has taken victory lap after victory lap, and we'll see it again on Sunday when he does most of the Sunday shows. But I think the important thing to remember is, you know, as a Jersey guy, Jersey voters are not primary state voters. They're not Iowa Republicans and New Hampshire Republicans. And what you have here is many Republicans in New Jersey look like Democrats in more conservative parts of the state.
FRATESAnd so it's not that Tea Party kind of conservative that comes out for presidential politics. And that's why you see Christie trying to make a turn. You know, he said earlier this week that he is as conservative as the Tea Party, and look at what he's done. He just knows how to translate that into votes. But that really does, I think, remain to be seen if he can turn that juice outside of New Jersey. And that's what he'll spend the next few years trying to do.
KAYOK. Jeanne, am I crazy? I have always wondered whether Chris Christie would have a problem with women voters because of his style. And it certainly wasn't the case in the New Jersey election. Does that mean it's not going to be the case in the rest of the country as well were he the nominee (unintelligible) ?
CUMMINGSWell, I think if Chris -- if he goes on, as many expect, to run for national office, if he ends up facing a gender gap, it will have less to do, I think, with style than substance because Chris is right. He has been very careful to punch the conservative social issue buttons. And so he is an opponent of abortion rights. You know, all the issues that get used against a Republican national candidate could be -- would be used against him if he were to run. And those are the very hidden strengths that he, as a New Jersey governor, takes into Iowa and South Carolina...
KAYAlong with having done a phenomenal job, it seems, in his state of crossover politics.
CUMMINGSYes. The real question to me is -- the Republicans have this model in Mitt Romney. You had a, you know, self-professed conservative Republican from a blue state who could draw crossover votes in Mitt Romney. That didn't work very well. That's the model Christie wants to make work, but it didn't work for Rudy Giuliani. It didn't work for Mitt Romney. We'll see if he can, you know, break the mold and make it work.
KAYHow much change is there going to be, Damian, in New York now that we have a new mayor-elect?
PALETTAThat's a great question. I mean, the potential for a lot of change but also the potential that this new mayor is going to realize that he can't do too much to upset the apple cart with businesses in the area as well. Maybe he's going to try to form some sort of coalition. It's hard to tell. But he campaigned hard on a liberal...
KAYOn raising taxes on wealthier citizens.
PALETTAThat's right. And it's hard to imagine that he's going to back away from that right now. He got elected for that.
KAYAnd so what's -- if he follows through on those policies, what's the outcome in New York City?
PALETTAWell, you know, the businesses are going to -- and the wealthy are going to say that he's going to destroy the local economy. I think they're probably going to be crying wolf a little bit. I think he's going to know how far he can go, but he's going to have to follow through on some of these things. And it's hard to imagine that taxes are not going to go up.
KAYOK. Let's go to the phones now to Phil who calls us from Hebron, Ill. Phil, you've joined "The Diane Rehm Show."
PHILGood morning, all.
PHILI'd like to address the comment that only 10 million people are going to be affected by this. I've been paying insurance premiums for 28 years as a self-employed individual, received my letter five weeks ago saying goodbye and had no luck with the website at all. So I contacted my senator -- that would be Dick Durbin, number two in the Senate -- haven't got a call back from him. So I got a hold of Paul Krugman who holds, I believe, a Nobel Peace Prize in economics.
PHILAnd he said, my young friend, what's going on here is, through all the stimulus work and all that, the government did absolutely nothing for the small businessmen (word?) in this country. In my world, they backed the bus over us then, and now they threw it in drive and drove over us again. I plan on going into Mr. Durbin's office and sitting there until he sees me. I'm proudly one of the 10 million.
KAYPhil, I know that a lot of people have been hearing stories like yours in the press. What we haven't heard are some of the other stories yet. Jeanne, have we not heard them because they're not out there?
CUMMINGSOh, they are out there. They mostly don't necessarily relate to the federal exchanges because those exchanges aren't working yet.
KAYBut Phil's experience seems very common.
CUMMINGSOh, yes. He is one of the 10 million. And they are -- their voices are being heard because they have a compelling story to tell, and they've got a real problem on their hands. And they have, you know, every right to start shouting because they are in a box here, and they need to get their insurance in order. And it's really unsettling and full of anxiety to not have this covered. And you could hear that in Phil's voice.
KAYYeah, and especially if, you know, people with preexisting conditions, with kids with preexisting conditions, we're hearing terrible stories of people who -- and they can't make -- you know, they want to try and fix it. They want to go to the website, and then the website, Chris, is letting them down.
FRATESWell, and that's what's so frustrating for the Obama Administration is that they thought that they had a really good product here that they could sell if they could only get people signed up for it. They have all these stories. And the White House had been good during healthcare reform of bringing out people and showing how this would help them. And this is very difficult because there's so few people who can get online. There's so little good news for them to tell right now.
KAYOK. Well, let's go to Chesapeake, Va., and Debbie joins "The Diane Rehm Show." Debbie, you are one of the people who has managed to get online.
DEBBIEYes, I did. And thanks for taking my call. This is the best hour of radio all week, and I'm a huge NPR fan. I actually got involved in a large layoff at my company in October and had had health insurance through my company and now need it on my own. So I had signed up through just the regular, you know, going to get my own policy and then got the policy and saw that it's going to be cancelled and have to be changed in January, which I thought was surprising because I just got it Nov. 1.
DEBBIEBut did go on the website this morning and was able to get through and put everything on there, although when I first got on there, it said it wasn't able to verify my identity. So I called the 800 number. They answered right away. They were very helpful. While I was talking to them, I went through and was able to submit the whole application and then submitted it.
DEBBIEAnd it said it still was not able to verify my identity. But I needed a code, and there was no code that popped up. So it is working. And I asked the people that I was talking to on the phone. They said, yes, it's gotten much better. So -- but there are still definitely kinks in it. And just to add to the job numbers, I did get a job that I'm starting on Tuesday, so that's good news.
CUMMINGSCongratulations. Does it come with health insurance?
DEBBIEIt does, but not for 90 days, so that's why I was trying to get on the health insurance exchange.
KAYAnd you're calling from Virginia, right, Debbie?
KAYSo that's a state-run or that's a...
KAYNo, that's federally run.
DEBBIEMm hmm. Yes.
FRATESI think one of the things -- I mean, what's been amazing is how quickly a lot of the bad news on the health law has come out. Maybe it's because it's a poorly-designed law, or maybe it's just because it's one of those laws that's so big that there's going to be kinks. So the White House kind of knows, right now at least, what some of the really big issues are. Like Jeanne said earlier, they have some time if they can fix them to get everything running smoothly by January or even March. And so the question is, can they pull it off in time?
KAYI'm Katty Kay. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." You can call us. 1-800-433-8850 is the phone number. Drshow@wamu.org is the email address. I want to read a tweet that came in to us: "Please don't be so pessimistic about the ACA. A lot of Americans are benefitting and will continue to benefit from the program. # playnice."
KAYWell, we did -- I -- here you go. We just heard the story -- you know, we are starting to get stories, and we have callers who are coming in. We'll try to get to their calls as well about better news stories. But for the moment, the numbers are predominantly balanced that we've had more callers calling like Phil who have had very bad experiences.
CUMMINGSAnd we'll be able to see with real data how bad this first month was when the HHS releases the first figures later in the middle of this month. And they're warning us they're going to be very, very low. And that...
KAYRemind us, Jeanne, what the target figure for the HHS being for next -- for this first month.
CUMMINGSFor the first month, I'm not sure.
KAYI think it was 700,000 -- yeah, 700 -- the administration had initially estimated that more than 700,000 would sign up by the end of November.
CUMMINGSAnd they aren't going to be anywhere near that. They'll be -- I mean, we can't tell, but there is the report out there that, on the first day, there were only six that made it through the system. Clearly, that could pick up. And that was, you know, one day and a very short little window to look at.
KAYNow, the White House will say, well, the experience from Massachusetts was also the very beginning.
KAYVery few people signed up. More people signed up -- and particularly that more young people, they -- the model, they say, is that more young people will sign up towards the end of this program. Chris, you're grinning skeptically.
FRATESThat is their hope, and that is their desperate need because if they don't get the young people into this pool and they only get sick people, that's going to make it very hard to control the costs on that. But going back to the cancellation letters, the White House knew this was going to happen. And so they were prepared, and they had hoped that people would be signing up.
FRATESAnd they could make the case that you're getting better coverage now, so don't worry about your less-than-great coverage getting cancelled. That's not been the case. And so I think that's been part of their challenge in talking about this. People are only seeing what they're losing and are having difficulty seeing what they may gain from this.
KAYOK. We're going to take another call on healthcare from Frank who's calling us from Charlotte, N.C. Frank, you've joined "The Diane Rehm Show." We are obviously -- we're taking a sampling from a few people who have called into the program. This is not representative of the experiences out there. But Frank, what has your experience been with the Affordable Care Act?
FRANKOh, OK, because I didn't know you could hear me.
KAYYep, I can hear you fine. Thank you.
FRANKOK. Yeah, OK. Like, OK, I have a son that had leukemia 20 years ago, OK. So I had to go through the healthcare -- our healthcare insurance -- private insurance for 20 years. These people have been ripping us off for that long. Believe, you people, 'cause you haven't had to go through it. You haven't had to, you know, sleep in the hospital and one of your spouse has to quit work to take care of your kid with private insurance.
FRANKI'm not talking about these cheap-ass HMOs. You know, healthcare needs to be reformed. And I'd like to thank the president. He doesn't need to apologize to anyone. It needs to be reformed now. And it needed to be reformed 20 years ago. And I'd like to just say thank you.
KAYFrank, thank you very much for calling and sharing your story. And, you know, I think it is a reminder that for people -- again, this is a -- the Affordable Care Act really only affects people who are having problems with their health insurance. So many Americans have company-bought health insurance plans, and they aren't feeling this. But when you hear somebody like Frank's story, it is a reminder of why there was a need to reform the system.
CUMMINGSWell, and it affects people, even those who receive their health insurance through their company or their employer. It still affects them when it comes to preexisting conditions.
CUMMINGSAnd that's obviously been a big issue for Frank and his family.
KAYAnd Damian, I mean, it's been very hard for the administration, I think, over the last week or two with this disastrous rollout to remind people of the story, like Frank's, of why there was an original need to reform the American healthcare system.
PALETTAExactly. And I think we're at the sticker shock phase now where people are trying to figure out what kind of insurance they're going to have. It's not going to be until next year. I mean, health insurance is one of those safety nets that you really -- you kind of eat your vegetables, and you pay for it. And then it's there -- it's supposed to be there when you really need it, when something really bad happens or even, you know, for routine checkups and stuff like that.
PALETTABut that's the White House's hope is that people are going to realize how lucky they are to have health insurance next year, hopefully, they think, because of Obamacare and that, you know, the public sentiment will evolve.
KAYYou're listening to the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup. We still have to get to Twitter, the employment discrimination bill and, of course, pot in Colorado, all on a Friday. Jeanne Cummings, Chris Frates, Damian Paletta are with me. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC. This is the Friday News Roundup. We're going to take a quick break. Then we'll take more of your questions, calls, and comments. 1-800-433-8850 is the phone number. Stay with us.
KAYWelcome back. I'm Katty Kay of the BBC, sitting in for Diane Rehm. You've joined the Friday Roundup of all the week's domestic news. We should get to Twitter and the IPO that had the stock market in a complete tweet frenzy last night, Jeanne. What was going on up there? And is this going to last, this soaring Twitter share price?
CUMMINGSWell, of course, I don't have a crystal ball. So, you know, I have...
KAYDid you invest?
CUMMINGSNo, I'm afraid I wasn't invited. You know, it did very well, going up from $26 per share to almost $45, three-quarters increase. And there are several different takes on that. There are some investors who say they misjudged how much they actually could raise and that that's an embarrassment for them and their bankers.
CUMMINGSThere are others who say that they kept it smaller than some of the other IPOs, thus creating some competition, driving the price up and an opportunity to come back with another offering later, so long-term planning on their part. Either way, the founders of Twitter did fabulously yesterday. And it shows that, you know, Wall Street is still hungry for those Silicon Valley investors and an opportunity to partner with them and build and keep building, you know, what is becoming our very data-driven electronic society.
KAYThe founding of Twitter is an amazing story of these four friends who got together, came up with Odeo the radio station. Apple then came out with its own radio -- online radio station, killed Odeo, and then they came up with Twitter. The friendships have not survived this company, but it looks like they've survived, at least, Damian, the first days. Have they avoided the Facebook fiasco?
PALETTAWell, I think the real question: I mean, is this 1999 all over again? You know, I mean, Twitter could -- Twitter is a little different, and it might have staying power. But there's a bunch of...
KAYYou mean not just Facebook and what happened to Facebook? This is bigger than that essentially?
PALETTAThat's right. I mean, is there...
PALETTALike Jeanne said, is there a lot of money being pumped into little Twitters on the stock exchange now that -- you know, 'cause the stock market is so high and because of the Federal Reserve, it's all going to come crashing down. I mean, we don't know, but we're starting to see some signs in the market that things are pretty hot.
PALETTAAnd, well, as we know, it just takes a couple of days or a couple of weeks for things to come back to Earth. So with the amount of money we saw thrown at Twitter yesterday, you have to start to watch other stocks carefully too to see if, you know, how much of this is speculation, how much of this is genuine investment in the long-term prospects of a company.
KAYChris, concerns about a bubble in the U.S. stock market?
FRATESI think certainly on the tech side. I think Damian is absolutely right because this -- remember, this company, which doesn't have a lot of profits, was valued at $18 billion. So that's quite a high market cap for a company that hasn't shown the ability to turn a profit in its seven-year history.
KAYLet's talk about the Employment Nondiscrimination Act that was passed yesterday with some Republican support, Jeanne. What -- how close was the vote? What will this bill do?
CUMMINGSWell, the vote wasn't close at all. It was passed with 64 votes in the Senate as opposed to 32 senators who opposed it. It was a very genuine bipartisan vote for these days. There were 10 Republicans who joined the Democrats to vote for it. What was very interesting is that John McCain of Arizona and Orrin Hatch of Utah, who voted against this bill in 1996, switched sides. So it's an indication of how much times are changing when it comes to gay rights in America right now.
KAYTimes a changing, but will this bill get through the House, Chris?
FRATESIt will not. John Boehner has said that he does not believe that these protections are needed. He believes that the law, as it stands now, protects gay and transgendered and lesbian employees. And there is no plan to do that. But I think what's interesting about watching this is I think gay rights advocates are going to take a very similar approach to what they did with Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which was to show the individual faces of who is impacted and making sure that lawmakers, Republican lawmakers in the House, start to hear from gay and lesbian constituents.
FRATESMore and more people are -- when you poll, say that they know gay and lesbians, that there is a connection. And when you look at what the Republicans are trying to do, remember, their autopsy after the 2012 elections about why they lost was that they need to make inroads with young people.
FRATESAnd when you poll young people on issues like gay marriage and gay equality, it's off the charts. And so they really need to focus on this and move the party forward. The fact that the Senate did it and now it's being blocked in the House, I think, is cause for concern for national Republicans, but certainly not a surprise to how this Congress is operating.
KAYIs this going to be another of the issues over which the Republicans in the House find themselves divided, Damian?
PALETTAI think they hope that it just never comes up, quite frankly. But what's amazing is the 2004 election was a -- you know, the Republicans tried to make it a gay marriage election, and they thought they had the upper hand. And now they're in a position where they're kind of running scared from the gay rights issue.
PALETTAAnd there was a certain -- you know, like Chris said, this is not going to pass the House. But there is a certain inevitability to this issue now where, with the amount of Republican support they got in the Senate, it just seems like a matter of time. It might be a few years, but it's eventually going to become law, it seems.
KAYOK. Let's go back to the Virginia election. Greta writes to us from Arlington. "McAuliffe didn't pull it off. He was merely the hapless Democratic candidate, and no one wanted him. The voters of Virginia held their noses and marked D. They voted against Cuccinelli." Jeanne.
CUMMINGSI think she's got a very valid point. I do think McAuliffe was not the strongest Democrat we've seen run in Virginia or elsewhere. Both of them had flaws. Both of them had ethical questions swirling around them. And I do believe what we saw, the business community, which typically some big names in the business community that were with Republican Gov. McDonnell last cycle, switched to McAuliffe. But they did it because they thought they saw in him someone who would focus on jobs and the economy.
CUMMINGSAnd what they saw in Ken Cuccinelli was someone who might spend his time focusing on social issues such as limiting abortions and gay rights and that sort of thing. One of the things that's really interesting to me about Ken Cuccinelli was, when he got elected attorney general, he said repeatedly, and for years, I'm never going to run for governor. And so for, like, three years, he behaved as though he was never going to run for governor.
CUMMINGSAnd then he flips, and he pivots and decides, well, now I will. I'm sure he would like to look back. He wished he could go back and not say some things he said. He wouldn't change his policies 'cause he is -- you know, he's very committed to them. But there was a way that he presented himself that was harsh. And he couldn't undo all of that. So I think that that email letter definitely reflects how many Virginians felt.
KAYYou know, I agree with you. I was struck by how many Virginia business people -- I remember speaking to a few of them just before Election Day -- were Republicans but were going to vote for Terry McAuliffe.
CUMMINGSThere were several things...
KAYThey'd even done fundraisers. Some of these guys...
KAYThese Republican businessmen had done fundraisers for Terry McAuliffe.
CUMMINGSAbsolutely. Well, Cuccinelli opposed an expansion of the Metro system up into the high tech corridors in Northern Virginia. He also sued University of Virginia professors over climate change research. And one businessman told me that if he's against science, then he's against the growth of the economy because that's where things bubble and percolate.
KAYAnd what's going to be really interesting, Chris, is whether what exactly those arguments repeated around the country in 2014 with other...
FRATESI think this is the tip of the sphere for businesses starting to push back against Tea Party candidates. We saw them...
KAYAnd we saw it after the shutdown, and we saw it in Alabama.
FRATESAnd we saw it -- and we saw it in Alabama. And the business community came hard against the moderate Republican in that race. They were able to beat back the Tea Party because, remember, the business community, particularly the chamber in some of these other big national business groups, were partly responsible for the influx of Tea Party candidates.
FRATESThey beat blue dog Democrats, business-friendly Democrats, to give control of the chamber to Republicans. And now they are seeing the results of that, and they're starting to realize they need to play in these primaries to bring more business-friendly candidates to Congress.
KAYOK. Let's go to James in Cleveland, Ohio. James, you have a question for the panel on "The Diane Rehm Show."
JAMESHi, how's everyone today? And good morning. Thank you for taking my call.
JAMESMine was about the exit poll that Diane's show Wednesday had a panel on where one of the panelists had done an exit poll. And what he had discovered...
KAYAn exit poll of where, James?
JAMESOh, I'm sorry, Virginia. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, the Virginia governor's race. And he had discovered that, even if the third candidate had not run, McAuliffe would have still won according to the exit poll that he had taken because some of the people who voted for the third party candidate would have stayed home.
JAMESIt looked like it was just enough to allow McAuliffe to still win. And I was wondering how the panelists felt about that. And then let me add this real quick. Kudos to Diane's staff, Diane, past and present future guest hosts and panelists for making this one of the best shows on radio. Thank you.
KAYOh, James, you're so nice. What a nice thing to hear on a Friday.
JAMESAnd I really mean that. I really do. They have inspired to try and do my own.
KAYGood for you. Chris?
FRATESI think the caller has a good point here, and it goes back to the idea that many Republicans were in McAuliffe's camp despite him being a flawed candidate. And I think that's where many Republicans are kicking themselves with Cuccinelli.
FRATESMcAuliffe didn't come across as the Democratic moneyman who once bragged that he stopped on the way from the hospital with his wife and baby daughter at a fundraiser to raise a million dollars. And while his wife was crying in the car about it, he was very proud to have brought in a million dollars for the party. You didn't hear that and see that portrayed, and I think that was...
KAYAnd had never won an elected office before this.
FRATESHad never won elected office and was essentially a political hatchet man for the Clintons. That did not become a narrative. That was a problem for McAuliffe. And Republicans now are kicking themselves.
KAYYeah, I think there are a lot of Democrats who are sort of fairly amazed on that. Damian?
PALETTAYeah, I mean...
KAYThe fact that Terry McAuliffe is the governor of Virginia elect.
PALETTAThe Lt. Gov. Bolling could have probably easily beaten McAuliffe in a head-to-head race. And the Republican Party in Virginia did this kind of system for picking their candidate which heavily favored Cuccinelli, and then the whole thing just blew up in their face and, you know, after the -- especially with the shutdown.
PALETTASo I think there's going to be a lot of soul-searching among Republicans. And, like I said earlier, I think that the business community Republicans and the Democrats have now figured out the formula for beating the Tea Party is to be aggressive, to -- the only way to beat momentum is with momentum. And they're going to see that money can win these elections if they come out very quick.
KAYOK. Let's go to Laz (sp?) who's calling us from Miami, Fla. Laz, you have joined "The Diane Rehm Show."
LAZHow are you all today?
KAYGood, thank you.
LAZI think it was a little bit more difficult getting on to the show than getting through the Obama website, the healthcare site.
KAYWhoa. Sorry. But, look, here you are, so you can enjoy it now. Everything that's good is worth waiting for.
LAZI'm going to make two very brief points. The first one is I worked Bain Capital four years ago, and it was an awesome insurance. And I had an accident. I had to go through COBRA. And even after my COBRA expired, it was just wonderful. I love it, and I love Mitt Romney for putting it together. And the other point I wanted to say is, you know, I'm coming out of the closet right now to you all and, well, I guess, to everybody -- oh, dear, to a lot of people.
LAZBut nevertheless, you know, I'm Latino. And as long as Congress, you know, keeps that immigration bill just sitting there -- and even if they pass something, it'll probably more about a wider, thicker, taller border -- they're just going to shoot themselves in the foot again because, like I said, Latinos are watching this.
LAZAnd we multiply a lot and quick. And also, from the, you know, LGBT community, which I'm very happy to be joining as of now, you know, they tend to be on the affluent side. And they tend to really, you know, put their money where their mouth is, where their words are. And I just -- I don't know how many mouths Congress can put in their mouths. I mean, Congress just needs an enema.
KAYLaz, thank you very much for joining the show and for telling us your news. And, Chris, is this going to be a problem for the Republican Party if they carry on being on what polls suggest is the wrong side of history on this issue?
FRATESI think that is -- I think Republicans will tell you that it would be a problem for them nationally, that they need -- particularly on something like immigration, we're seeing the House again saying, we're not going to take this issue up. It passed the Senate. And now folks are getting into an election year, so there will be very little chance, I think, anything moves on that and, like I had said earlier, I do think that the issue of gay rights and particularly something as easy as protecting people's rights against job discrimination.
KAYI'm Katty Kay. You're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." OK. Before we get to the end of this program, we have a couple of minutes left, and we do want to address the issue of what is going on in Colorado where Election Day meant more new victories for people who support loosening of marijuana laws. Jeanne, what did we see and why?
CUMMINGSWell, Colorado's voters passed a 25 percent tax to marijuana sales that will be dedicated to funding school construction, and it wasn't just Colorado. We had other mini pro-pot pieces of legislation that passed. In Portland, Maine, they legalized possession. And they also passed a pro-possession bill in Lansing, Mich. So, you know, Colorado is the big one here, though, because they've now legalized the drug and now attached this tax that will go towards school construction.
KAYIt is kind of a sign of the times, isn't it, taxing pot to pay for schools?
FRATESI think that's exactly right because...
FRATES...because it's something that everybody can agree on. Even if you're against legal marijuana, you would want to tax if it's legal. And my favorite tweet of the night came from Gov. John Hickenlooper in Colorado who said, "Marijuana, Cheetos and Goldfish, all legal in Colorado. Now we'll have the money to regulate, enforce, and educate."
FRATESSo this certainly is something, I think, that, you know, is a landmark change. And having lived in Colorado for five years and now going back, I think it really has -- we were joking a little bit earlier in the show that it has really given the local alternative weekly new advertising with all the pot stores in Colorado.
KAYThis is so interesting because I think we've all been speaking about gay rights during the course of this program, and it's a trend that we watch that happened very fast in this country, social shift. This seems to be another social shift, Jeanne, that has just, like, snuck up on us.
KAYWhere this came from, I don't know, but...
FRATESWell, they've been working very hard. I mean, the Marijuana Policy Project has been around for 30 years trying to make this legal.
KAYBut it really seems to have got traction recently.
CUMMINGSIt does, and it still remains controversial. Chris mentioned Gov. Hickenlooper. He doesn't -- he didn't want this to pass. He believes that it is -- that marijuana is a dangerous drug for children. And so he is going to regulate the heck out of this to try to make sure kids don't get access.
KAYBut the knock-on effects on other areas of the economy and law enforcement, Jeanne, are perhaps unexpected.
CUMMINGSYes, yes. We at Bloomberg discovered that the police departments in Colorado are now having to retrain their drug-sniffing dogs because otherwise they're going to be barking like crazy forever. And they have to be retrained to not react to the scent of marijuana.
KAYAnd with that, it is time to end this hour of the Friday News Roundup. Jeanne Cummings, what a great way to end the day, deputy government editor of Bloomberg News. Chris Frates is an investigative correspondent at CNN. Damian Paletta is a reporter with The Wall Street Journal. Thank you all so much for joining me.
CUMMINGSThank you for having me.
KAYI'm Katty Kay of the BBC. You've been listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with the international hour in just a few moments.
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