PBS NewsHour full episode, May 20, 2022

PBS NewsHour full episode, May 20, 2022

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JUDY WOODRUFF: Good evening. I'm Judy Woodruff. On the "NewsHour" tonight: economic concerns. Investors scramble, as the financial markets hover in and out of bear market territory and questions rise about a recession.

Then: the president abroad. Mr. Biden focuses on technology gaps and security during his first presidential trip to Asia. Plus: on edge. New York City struggles with a sharp rise in violent crime, complicating its recovery from COVID-19.

JANICE JOHNSON DIAS, John Jay College of Criminal Justice: The pandemic unearthed some of our more structurally deep-rooted concerns, and they're going to have an impact on crime. JUDY WOODRUFF: And it is Friday. David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart weigh in on the mass shooting in Buffalo and the implications of early primary election results. All of that and more on tonight's "PBS NewsHour."

(BREAK) JUDY WOODRUFF: The financial markets closed out this week with yet another head-spinning day, with one of the main indexes, the S&P 500, plunging for almost three hours into bear market territory, signifying a drop of 20 percent or more from its prior record. For its part, the Dow Jones industrial average lost ground for the eighth straight week, the first time that has happened in decades. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is already in a bear market. That index and the S&P 500 saw their longest streak of weekly losses since 2001.

By the close of trading, the Dow industrials were actually up almost nine points to close at 31261. The Nasdaq fell 34 points at the close, and the S&P 500 gained a half-point after that slide into a bear market earlier. Let's look at what's behind this ongoing volatility and downward trend and what it may signal about the economy.

Jason Furman is an economist at the Harvard Kennedy School, and he served as a top adviser to President Obama. Jason Furman, welcome back to the "NewsHour." So, how do you read this volatility and what's going on in these markets? JASON FURMAN, Harvard Economics Professor: Look, it's a scary time in the markets. But we always have to remind ourselves that the market is not the economy. Just look.

This past week, several retailers reported terrible earnings. But consumers are actually buying a lot. It's just the terrible earnings were because of the wages and because of the prices the retailers were paying. So there's a lot of pieces to the economy. This is not a good one. But there's many others, some of which are better.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, for people who want to understand, they're listening to you, but they're still asking, why is it so volatile? What do you say? JASON FURMAN: There's two things going on here. There's one key variable that matters a lot for the stock market. And that's interest rates. The Fed is raising interest rates right now.

That makes it more attractive for investors to move their money into bonds and out of stocks. When they sell their stocks, the stock market goes down. So part of what we're seeing here is a consequence of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to stop inflation. And part of it is that inflation is maybe starting to chip into profit margins for some of these firms. JUDY WOODRUFF: And yet we know the Federal Reserve has said, we are going to gradually raise interest rates until we think -- as long as we think it's necessary to do that.

Why doesn't that provide some reassurance in the market? JASON FURMAN: It is a tricky job the Fed has right now. Normally, they would say, wait, we are nervous about what's going to happen to the economy, and so we want to maybe keep rates a little bit lower to help the economy. But they can't afford to do that, because the inflation rate has been 8 percent over the last year. They need to bring that down.

They need to keep going. And the market is saying, we're not sure you're going to be able to bring inflation down without causing a recession. And whenever you raise interest rates, that makes stocks just a little bit less exciting, and makes the market go down. But there's not much the Fed can do to get out of that bind, because it still needs to bring down inflation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So what's looming there is -- as you just said, is the possibility of a recession. How do you calculate how likely we are to move into a recession? JASON FURMAN: It's a really hard thing to predict. There's an old joke that bear markets have predicted nine of the last five recessions. And so, yes, sometimes, you get a recession. Sometimes, you don't get a recession.

If I look at the next six months to a year, I see consumers that continue to spend at very high levels, balance sheets that were healthier than they were before the crisis, businesses that are rebuilding their inventories, and workers that are returning. All of that is reassuring to me for the next six months to a year. Past that is where I personally start getting more nervous, but, right now, a lot of uncertainty. No one can tell you for sure.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But what I also hear you saying, Jason Furman, is, there is a distinction between what's going on in the economy and the measurements you just mentioned and what's going on in these everyday, Monday-through-Friday financial markets. JASON FURMAN: Absolutely. We have a 3.6 percent unemployment rate.

We have been creating an average of about 500,000 jobs a month. Consumers have been willing to spend. There are a lot of strong things. And the real economy, the parts of the economy that are most important to most Americans, is whether you have a job. And, right now, most everyone that wants one has one, as evidenced by that low unemployment rate. JUDY WOODRUFF: So for people who are watching and they're saying, all right, it's Friday evening, do I go into the weekend worrying about this, not getting a lot of sleep, or do I sleep well tonight? JASON FURMAN: I'd say sleep well tonight...

(LAUGHTER) JASON FURMAN: ... but wake up Monday just a little bit more vigilant than you would be otherwise. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Jason Furman, thank you very much. JASON FURMAN: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day's other news: President Biden kicked off his first trip to Asia since taking office by addressing the global computer chip shortage that's been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. The president's five-day visit includes stops in South Korea and Japan, all aimed at reinforcing the U.S. commitment to its allies in the face of aggression from China and North Korea.

We will take a closer look at what's at stake right after the news summary. Children in the U.S. ages 5 to 11 began receiving their Pfizer COVID vaccine booster shots today hours after the CDC gave their final approval. They will be eligible five months after their second vaccine dose. The CDC estimates that, so far, fewer than 30 percent of the 28 million children in this age bracket have received two doses of a COVID vaccine.

A federal judge in Louisiana ruled today that COVID-19 asylum restrictions must continue on the southern U.S. border. The Biden administration planned to lift the restrictions Monday. The Trump era public health order known as Title 42 has allowed officials to deport thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. during the pandemic. The Justice Department today unveiled new efforts to combat hate crimes just days after 10 Black people died in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. It includes plans to fund state hot lines to report hate crimes and to assist local police agencies with sending data to the FBI. Attorney General Merrick Garland said confronting acts of hate is a matter of moral urgency.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. Attorney General: We do this work because we believe that all people in this country should be able to live without fear of being attacked or harassed because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love, or how they worship. JUDY WOODRUFF: The FBI reported more than 8,300 hate crimes in the U.S. in 2020, the

last year for which data is available. That is the biggest -- the highest level in more than a decade. Russia claims that it has taken full control of the southern port city of Mariupol, after a nearly three-month-long siege. There was no immediate confirmation, though, from Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the Azovstal steel plant, the last pocket of resistance there, was completely liberated after the remaining Ukrainian defenders surrendered. Meanwhile, more assistance is on the way to Ukraine. The Group of Seven leading economies pledged nearly $20 billion today in economic aid. The United Nations sounded new warning today that parts of Africa will soon face mass starvation.

It's largely due to the war in Ukraine, to the COVID pandemic, to inflation, and climate change. U.N. officials estimate that about 18 million people in the Sahel region will face severe hunger in the next three months. The countries most at risk are Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger. The Conservative Political Action Conference known as CPAC wrapped up today in Hungary. It was the first time the event was held in Europe.

Dozens of conservatives from around the world gathered for the two-day event, but U.S. journalists were denied access. The speakers included former presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, Hungary's populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban and American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp.

And a passing to note. Legendary American sports writer and editor Roger Angell died today at his home in Manhattan. He was known for his passionate writing about baseball, penning hundreds of essays and stories that captured the spirit of a true fan as a regular contributor to "The New Yorker." Roger Angell was 101 years old. Still to come on the "NewsHour": calls for the president to cancel the widespread financial burden of student debt grow louder; New York struggles with a sharp rise in violent crime, complicating the city's recovery from COVID-19; David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart weigh in on the week's political headlines; plus much more. President Biden's trip to Asia aims to improve economic and security relations with allies in the region.

And in the coming days, he plans to introduce a new regional economic framework designed to counter China's influence. Nick Schifrin begins our coverage. MAN: You're now in the world's largest plant. NICK SCHIFRIN: Outside of Seoul today, President Biden toured one of the world's most advanced semiconductor plants.

He and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol were guided through the Samsung facility by American technicians. JOE BIDEN, President of the United States: You may be here, but don't forget to vote. NICK SCHIFRIN: This plant is the model for a $17 billion facility that Samsung is building in Texas. JOE BIDEN: Thank you very much. NICK SCHIFRIN: But in his first presidential speech in Asia, Biden focused on this region.

JOE BIDEN: So much of the future of the world is going to be written here in the Indo-Pacific over the next several decades. We're standing at an inflection point in history, where the decisions we make today will have far-reaching impacts on the world we leave to our children tomorrow. NICK SCHIFRIN: The U.S.' attempt to focus on Asia will rely on newly inaugurated allies. Yoon is a conservative former prosecutor.

He promises a tougher stance on North Korea and China than his predecessor. YOON SUK-YEOL, South Korean President (through translator): North Korea's denuclearization will greatly contribute to bring lasting peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. NICK SCHIFRIN: But, this year, in slick propaganda videos, North Korea has shown off little peace and lots of tests. North Korea has held 16 launches, including what it claimed was a new intercontinental ballistic missile. And four years after North Korea's last nuclear test, researchers say Pyongyang is re-excavating demolished tunnels at its only nuclear testing site, Punggye-ri. This week, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan warned of more tests.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. National Security Adviser: Either a further missile test, including long-range missile test, or a nuclear test, or, frankly, both. BARACK OBAMA, Former President of the United States: I believe that TPP is a plus for America's economy. NICK SCHIFRIN: Also on this trip's agenda, how to revisit the 2016 Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. President Obama made it the centerpiece of his pivot to Asia, but Hillary Clinton opposed it and former President Trump abandoned it.

Eleven members of the TPP are now in a different treaty, but it still excludes the U.S. On Monday, Biden travels to Tokyo, where he will announce a new regional policy known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. He will also hold another meeting, as he did in September, with the leaders of the Quad, Australia, India, and Japan.

It's the administration's effort, as the war in Ukraine rages, to show a keen focus on what U.S. officials believe has always been their top priority, China. For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin. JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on Biden's first trip to Asia as president, we get two perspectives.

Frank Jannuzi is president of the Mansfield Foundation, which seeks to promote U.S. relations with Asia. He also worked at the State Department and as a staffer for then-Senator Joe Biden. And Bonnie Glaser is the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Hello to both of you. Welcome back to the program.

Frank Jannuzi, let me start with you. At this moment -- what is it about this moment that you believe has led President Biden to go to Asia? FRANK JANNUZI, President and CEO, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation: Thanks for the question, Judy. Deep in Biden's DNA about U.S.-Asia relations are the words of Mike Mansfield, who taught Biden that the most important bilateral relationship in the world for the United States, bar none, was the U.S.-Japan alliance.

So, I think, at the core, you have Biden attempting to reassure allies in South Korea, Japan and across the Indo-Pacific that the U.S.' credible nuclear deterrence remains strong in the face of North Korea's continued nuclear testing and missile development, that the U.S. commitment to Asia will not be in any way diminished by the conflict under way in Europe, where the U.S. and NATO allies are responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So, security leads here.

And Biden's Asia DNA, if you will, inherited from Mansfield, has brought him to this region before traveling even to Kyiv. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Frank Jannuzi, just staying with you for just a moment. So, how worried is the United States, is South Korea about what North Korea is up to? FRANK JANNUZI: I think that the U.S. allies are, frankly, a little bit more spooked by North Korea's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons than is the United States. North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a four-decade-long enterprise.

Convincing them to abandon that pursuit remains a high priority for the United States. But, frankly, there's not much hope of big progress on that challenge anytime soon. So, the U.S. visit here by Biden to the region is to remind them that we are with them. There will be steps taken, I'm sure, to shore up that deterrence, including perhaps movement on enhanced military exercises. Also, they're working with both Japan and South Korea on developing limited counterstrike capabilities of their own, in terms of surface-to-surface missile technology. JUDY WOODRUFF: Right.

FRANK JANNUZI: So, our allies want that reassurance, and Biden's going to give it to them. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Bonnie Glaser, you were telling us that China is watching this. And even as it is distracted, more than distracted, with its own domestic problems right now, it is watching this trip with concern.

Why? BONNIE GLASER, German Marshall Fund: Well, that's right, Judy. I mean, the Chinese are, of course, very focused on the economic problems and that zero COVID policies have exacerbated. But the Chinese don't like the idea that the United States is so active in the Indo-Pacific region. The Chinese want to be dominant, certainly in East Asia.

They see the U.S. as building NATO-like structures. That's what they call the Quad and the AUKUS arrangement, which is the United States and the U.K. and Australia, that aims to build the nuclear-powered submarines. So the Chinese say that the U.S. is just operating based on Cold War mentality, that China really

is on the rise, this is its region, and that the United States should -- should end its alliances and cede the region, essentially, to China. But, a couple of years ago, China's foreign minister was a lot less worried about the U.S. pivot to what -- we called then the pivot to Asia. In fact, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, in 2018 called the Quad -- he said this would dissipate like sea foam, the foam on the ocean. But, today, they're far more worried than they were then.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And is that -- Bonnie Glaser, again, just quickly -- a quick follow-up. Is that because they actually fear what the U.S. and its allies could do in the region? BONNIE GLASER: Well, they fear the building of what they see as anti-China coalitions regionally and globally. The G7 called out China for supporting the -- Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The United States and Europe have been sending identical messages to Xi Jinping, China's leader, that China should not provide material support to the Russian economy or to the war effort. So I think that the Chinese see that there are key countries in the world that are pushing back against China, and they are worried that this could adversely affect their interests. JUDY WOODRUFF: And back to you, Frank Jannuzi. We heard Nick Schifrin reporting.

Of course, another big part of this trip is the economic element. What can be accomplished here? I mean, the U.S. is in some delicate straits right now, as we just reported in our lead segment tonight. What can President Biden hope to create, to move forward, make progress on meeting with his Asian allies? FRANK JANNUZI: Well, unfortunately for the president, most of the challenges he faces on the international trade front are here at home. There's no enthusiasm in the Congress for the kind of binding international trade agreement represented by the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So, facing that reality, the president is doing the next best thing, which is, he's working to develop friend-shoring, that is to say, working with countries that share our values, our democratic systems to enhance our supply chain resiliency, to reduce dependence on China for key technologies, inputs for the iPhone that I'm using to conduct this Skype interview with you this evening.

And so the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that he will announce with much fanfare in Tokyo is designed to work with like-minded countries, really to work together to build more resilient, reliable supply chains, especially on digital economy, which the United States perceives to be very much at the core of our economic future. And I think that Asian partners will welcome this. But, frankly, it's sort of TPP-lite. And they would much prefer if the United States were to join what is now called the Comprehensive -- the CPTPP, the new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. JUDY WOODRUFF: The acronyms can make us a little crazy, but it's important to follow them.

Bonnie Glaser, China looks on that economic arrangement how? BONNIE GLASER: Well, the Chinese have been deeply engaged in the region economically. They have been providing loans to many countries in Southeast Asia. And they, in fact, have applied to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now called CPTPP, whereas, of course, the United States has not. So I think the -- that China is less concerned about U.S. economic engagement in the region. In fact, last week, President Biden pledged $150 million to the Southeast Asian countries when eight of the Southeast Asian leaders visited the White House. And the Chinese quickly topped the offer by pledging $1.5 billion.

So, I think that the Chinese are actually more worried about the security and diplomatic engagement of the United States than they are worried about U.S. economic influence. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we are following it all, and the two of you are following it all very closely. And we thank you so much. Bonnie Glaser, we thank you.

Frank Jannuzi, we thank you. FRANK JANNUZI: Thanks very much. BONNIE GLASER: Thank you.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Biden has indicated that he will soon announce a decision whether he will cancel $10,000 of student debt for college graduates. It's a decision being widely anticipated, but also a much-debated one over its scope and merits. Amna Nawaz looks at that debate. It's part of our series Rethinking College. AMNA NAWAZ: Judy, the total outstanding amount of student loan debt has doubled since the Great Recession of 2008. It's now more than $1.7 trillion, and most of it is owed to the federal government.

More than 43 million Americans owe student debt, averaging just over $37,000 per person. And it is disproportionately burdensome to graduates of color, particularly Black graduates who owe $25,000 more on average than their white peers. President Biden is now considering forgiving up to $10,000 of student debt, far less than many had advocated for, and reportedly with income caps, limiting it to borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year. But some experts argue even that goes too far and won't solve fundamental problems with college costs. We look at this with two engaged in this debate.

Katherine Welbeck is with the Student Borrower Protection Center. That's a not-for-profit advocacy group. And Marc Goldwein is with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Welcome to you both. Thanks for being here.

KATHERINE WELBECK, Student Borrower Protection Center: Thank you so much. MARC GOLDWEIN, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: Thank you. KATHERINE WELBECK: Delighted to be here. AMNA NAWAZ: So I want to hear from both of you about what you think about that proposal so far. Kat, we will start with you.

KATHERINE WELBECK: Certainly. And thank you so much for having me. I guess, first, as you can guess by our name, we're broadly in support of debt cancellation. And I think a lot of what you just outlined in your introduction about the importance of, one, the president upholding the promises of trying to achieve greater racial equity through this plan, but then, two, thinking broadly about the fact that we have so many broken programs throughout our student loan system, whether it's public service, loan forgiveness, income-driven repayment, borrower defense to repayment for student loan borrowers who are defrauded by for-profit colleges. So we have seen over decades the way that these piecemeal fixes to these programs haven't worked.

And so we need a clean slate to really build a foundation to build a better student loan system, in addition to fixing those broken programs. AMNA NAWAZ: Marc, what do you say? MARC GOLDWEIN: So, look, the problem isn't the student loan system. It's college affordability.

And this, I think, would be $250 billion pretty poorly used. We already have very high deficits. We have the highest inflation in 40 years, which this would make worse.

And most of these benefits would go to graduate students mainly in the top half, top quarter of the income spectrum. AMNA NAWAZ: Even with the income caps as proposed? MARC GOLDWEIN: Even with -- the income caps we're talking about are $250,000 or $300,000 for a couple. We did the math on this. That cuts off the very wealthiest, but it doesn't cut off a lot of people that are still extremely high-earning.

And it doesn't cut off a lot of people that may be a doctor only making $200,000 this year, but, in a few years' time, you were going to be making $300,000, $400,000. And, by the way, $200,000 is also a lot. AMNA NAWAZ: Kat, what do you say to that? KATHERINE WELBECK: I think, first, the fact that student debt itself is means-tested, right? And so when we think about the fact that wealthy people don't take on debt to attend college, right? So we're thinking about the fact that debt cancellation not only affects many low to middle-income borrowers, a lot of people who went to school and didn't get the degree, and so they still have debt. And so I think, one, we talk about that argument, we ignore the experience of so many borrowers, but then, two, particularly when we're talking about race and equity, I think we're also missing the effect of how much student debt affects Black borrowers, when we look at the fact that, 10 years out of repayment, nearly two-thirds of Black borrowers still owe more than they took out, even in repayment. And so I think, when we talk about, is student debt regressive, we're really ignoring a large part of many borrowers' experiences.

AMNA NAWAZ: Marc, I want to ask you about that, because it is the point a lot of people come to, which is, it doesn't help everyone, right, but it can help folks who really, really need it. When you look at some of the statistics Kat just pointed out, the Congressional Black Caucus actually put out the statement today too, calling this issue one of racial and economic justice that disproportionately impacts Black communities across the nation. So if there's a chance to help people who need it, why not take it? MARC GOLDWEIN: Again, I think the way that -- we have a huge racial equity problem, and the way to deal with that is with college affordability.

The 25 percent wealthiest people in the -- excuse me. AMNA NAWAZ: Go ahead. MARC GOLDWEIN: White Americans in the top 20 percent of the income spectrum have more debt than all Black Americans.

The reality is, 87 percent of Americans have no college debt, many of them because they didn't go to college in the first place. And this is going to do absolutely nothing for them. AMNA NAWAZ: Kat, I want to ask you about that limit, that $10,000 number that seems to be hovering around there now.

KATHERINE WELBECK: Yes. AMNA NAWAZ: Because that is a lot less than a lot of people were asking for... KATHERINE WELBECK: Yes. Yes. AMNA NAWAZ: ... and pushing for. What kind of an actual difference, though, given -- I think right now average in state tuition for college is over $10,000, one year.

KATHERINE WELBECK: Exactly. AMNA NAWAZ: So you're not even talking about covering one year. How much of a difference is $10,000 going to make? KATHERINE WELBECK: And I think you're hitting the point.

So there are, for many millions of borrowers who might be currently in default, or borrowers who do have lower balances, are struggling with student debt, again, it's life-changing, right, losing that balance. But for so many more borrowers, they won't really reap the benefits of that cancellation. And, again, if we're talking about, how do you create a new foundation to rebuild a better student loan system, if you don't reach the higher amount set, again, talking about 50K is when you really start to seeing an effect on the racial wealth gap. When you think about 30K, you're erasing debt for more than 30 million people. So I think you have to think about the fact of, how broad do we want this to reach? And if we're really going to rebuild a better system, we have to think about having a broad effect. AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.

So, if it's only $10,000, what kind of impact does that -- what difference does that make? KATHERINE WELBECK: Again, for the people... AMNA NAWAZ: Yes. KATHERINE WELBECK: For people with debt, it makes some, but not as significant of an impact. If we're going to really say and acknowledge that we have a broken student loan system, then I think we have to be willing to commit to really making a better system, and so not significant enough for us to really make those systemic changes that we would hope for. AMNA NAWAZ: Part of this conversation also has been that there are income-driven repayment systems we have tried. They're in been part of the system.

Why aren't those working? MARC GOLDWEIN: Well, look, if we're going to fix the student loan system, we should fix the student loan system. Doing something by executive order that just wipes out the debt isn't going to do much of anything. We have estimated debt will be right back where it was in just three years' time.

The income-driven repayment system right now isn't perfect. There's too many different programs. People don't understand how they work. There's tough calculation.

But it's also we haven't gone to completion with most of them because they're pretty new. So we should be working with Congress and the president together to try to unify these systems. President Trump and President Obama both had very similar thematically similar proposals to do just that. AMNA NAWAZ: I want to ask you too, you have laid out a few knock-on impacts that you're worried about.

This could have inflationary impact, and so on. And there are those, like Mark Cuban among them, who argue, actually, if you reduce people's debt burdens now, that helps them to participate in the economy. It could actually help the economy. They have savings to put into other things, maybe even buy a home. Isn't there something to that argument? MARC GOLDWEIN: Well, that argument is exactly why this is inflationary. Right now, we have an extremely overheated economy, where consumption is already well in excess than what we can produce.

So anything we do that gets people to spend more now, as opposed to putting it to pay down their debt or save, is actually going to make that inflation worse. We have estimated full debt cancellation would add probably half-a-point to the inflation rate. AMNA NAWAZ: So, if you're talking about fixing the student loan system, and you don't think this is, what needs to happen? MARC GOLDWEIN: Well, as I said, before, both Presidents Obama and President Trump had plans to sort of unify and consolidate the income-driven repayment system.

AMNA NAWAZ: Yes. MARC GOLDWEIN: I think we should be looking to those types of ideas. More fundamentally, we need to look at college affordability in the first place. If everyone thinks the president is going to cancel $10,000 of debt every four years or so, there's going to be incentive to write -- to increase tuitions, and we're going to be actually in a worse situation on the front end than we are now. AMNA NAWAZ: Kat, what do you say to that? KATHERINE WELBECK: Well, a couple of things. First, let's start with the inflation point.

I think it's really important to note, one, we think about larger drivers of inflation, the road the war in Ukraine, supply chain issues with COVID, but I also think it's really important to note the way that student debt cancellation works as a stimulus. This is not $10,000, $50,000 in people's bank accounts tomorrow. It's -- people will see monthly more money in their balance sheets because they will not have as much student loan debt. So it's not an immediate injection of that money into the economy that would, like, immediately overheat it. It's more so people having more money actually to help them as we're -- as they're struggling with rising costs right now.

And I think also the important part about talking about fixing current plans, I think we have seen -- we have tried to fix it. We have seen piecemeal plans. The reason why IDR doesn't work, when we're looking at over four million people having been in repayment for over 20 years.

And when we think about income-driven repayment, you're supposed to get forgiveness after 20 or 25 years, depending on the payment plan. But only -- we have seen since 2021 only less than like -- a little over 100 people have received cancellation through that program. So it's not working, right? And we have to acknowledge that these programs don't fix it. We could talk about fixing them, but we have to talk about doing some larger systemic change to fix these broken programs. AMNA NAWAZ: I feel like we're going to have you back for another conversation some time very, very soon.

Katherine Welbeck and Marc Goldwein, thank you so much. MARC GOLDWEIN: Thank you. KATHERINE WELBECK: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: After hitting near historic lows pre-pandemic, crime has been spiking in many parts of the country, including in the nation's most populous city. Shootings in New York City have more than doubled this year compared to the same time period in 2019.

The city's new mayor has made public safety his top priority, and polls show that New Yorkers agree. About half say crime is issue number one for them. So, is the city at or close to a tipping point? Jeffrey Brown has our look. JEFFREY BROWN: On a recent morning, Qian Julie Wang underground for one of the first times in weeks.

Wang grew up riding the subway, but says, since the pandemic and amid an increase in violence, it feels different now. QIAN JULIE WANG, Author, "Beautiful Country: A Memoir": Sometimes, I get on a car, and I just feel uneasy because of the particular vibe in that car. Maybe it's too empty JEFFREY BROWN: You're more -- you're just more aware of anything. QIAN JULIE WANG: Yes, I'm just very attuned to what is going on all around me. And that hypervigilance can be really exhausting.

JEFFREY BROWN: On any given day, New York can feel glorious, spring in the air, families at play, urban life at its most pleasurable. But other days, the feeling is quite different, as when a gunman opened fire on a subway car last month, shooting and wounding 10 people. QIAN JULIE WANG: When that happens, it reels me back to that time when I myself was taking the R or the F train through Brooklyn. JEFFREY BROWN: Wang is author of the recent memoir "Beautiful Country" about growing up as a young immigrant in New York City. QIAN JULIE WANG: The subway was the center of what to my family made America, made New York City accessible and what made it feel like there was mobility, both in terms of physical mobility, but also social mobility. JEFFREY BROWN: When does the psychology of a city change? How is it seen and felt by its citizens and the outside world? Questions New Yorkers and others are now asking themselves.

JUMAANE WILLIAMS, New York City Public Advocate: People are concerned. People are afraid. People are worried. And you understand why. JEFFREY BROWN: Jumaane Williams is New York's public advocate, an elected ombudsman for the city. Williams, who was first diagnosed with Tourette's as a teenager, is also a former city councillor from an area of Brooklyn that's long struggled with violent crime, but did see progress in the two decades before the pandemic.

JUMAANE WILLIAMS: You cannot ignore that gun violence is going up not just here in New York, but across the nation. People have a right to be safe and feel safe. Sometimes, those are two different things. And we have to understand that.

But we have to have leadership that can address those fears, put them in context, so that we don't get more afraid than we should be. JEFFREY BROWN: On the day we spoke to Williams, he had just come from the funeral viewing of Kade Lewin, a 12-year-old shot while sitting in a car. But even with the recent uptick, he notes violent crime in New York remains significantly below peaks in the early 90s, when the city recorded more than 2,000 murders annually.

In 2021, there were 488. JUMAANE WILLIAMS: It's always hard, because I know we're not where we were. But I also know that we're not going in the right direction. And I always say, if you're a victim of crime, data means absolutely nothing to you. JEFFREY BROWN: Sometimes, we talk about a tipping point. In one moment, we're talking about New York has a very vibrant, positive place, and then something changes.

JUMAANE WILLIAMS: I don't think we have reached that tipping point yet, but we're moving in a tipping point direction. The only thing I can say is, this is a national thing that's happening. JANICE JOHNSON DIAS, John Jay College of Criminal Justice: My first concern is that we might overreact. JEFFREY BROWN: Janice Johnson Dias is a sociologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

She's worried the attention crimes like the subway shooting generate will lead to overblown reactions by policymakers. JANICE JOHNSON DIAS: Fear of crime is a real. People should feel concerned. But if we allow and we exacerbate and exaggerate what is happening, then that will run rampant. And then that tipping point that we keep talking about, if the fear gets too high, then that will become the way in which New York is organized, and we will start taking actions in a way that could lead to challenges down the road. JEFFREY BROWN: Since January, the city has added police patrols in the subway, and they were increased again after the mass shooting in April.

Mayor Eric Adams has also reinstated a specialized police unit charged with getting illegal guns off the street. In the past, these types of units have been controversial, including as part of the city's stop-and-frisk policy, which racially profiled young Black and Latino men, and was ended in 2013 by a federal judge. By Dias says, more than any one violent incident or policy response, it's the more than two years of COVID that still hang over New York City and must be addressed. JANICE JOHNSON DIAS: The pandemic unraveled and exposed things about New York that were never really settled. The racial climate in New York has been problematic forever, the economic divides forever, the health care system always been a challenge.

And the pandemic unearthed some of our more structurally deep-rooted concerns, and they're going to have an impact on crime. JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, the demise of New York has been predicted many times before. Businessman Richard Ravitch played a key role in saving the city from bankruptcy in the 1970s and then led the transit system at a time when subways were losing ridership, physically falling apart, and perceived as dangerous.

Perhaps surprisingly, he says that period doesn't compare to the shock of the last few years, when the city lost more than 350,000 people and subway ridership plummeted. FMR. LT. GOV. RICHARD RAVITCH (D-NY): There are a lot of people who say, gee, I don't have to have an office in city, and I can work at home.

JEFFREY BROWN: But Ravitch remains bullish on the city's long-term prospects. FMR. LT.

GOV. RICHARD RAVITCH: I believe New York is going to recover. I just am not sure whether it's going to take one year or three. But it's still the only civilizing institution in our society, is the cities, and the city of New York first and foremost. JEFFREY BROWN: Still, fears persist and even grow for some. A spike in violence, for example, has notably included attacks against Asian Americans.

In January, 40-year-old Michelle Alyssa Go was killed when pushed from behind by a homeless man in front of an ongoing subway train. QIAN JULIE WANG: There is a new sense of vulnerability, I think, among the Asian population that we are being targeted. But with that has come a growing sense of community. I have noticed when I'm on the train or platform that Asians traveling by themselves, we tend to find each other and kind of stand together. And I can feel my own shoulders kind of loosen a little bit, be like, OK, I can breathe for a minute because we're all here, and we can all protect each other.

JEFFREY BROWN: After the April subway shooting in Sunset Park, a diverse Brooklyn neighborhood that includes a large Latino and Asian population, Qian Julie Wang put out a call on Twitter, asking people to share subway memories. She was flooded with replies. QIAN JULIE WANG: There was, of course, the sad entries of being assaulted on the subway, of having seen violence. But, most of all, there were so many stories of the kindness of New Yorkers, of spontaneous singing. It really showed me that the subway is the beating pulse of the city.

And, yes, there's bad, and, yes, there's some silliness, but there is so much good. JEFFREY BROWN: For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Jeffrey Brown in New York City. JUDY WOODRUFF: This week, the nation has been searching for answers after the racially motivated massacre in Buffalo. And some general election matchups that could have far-reaching political consequences are taking shape, while other primary races are still too close to call. For analysis on all this, we turn to Brooks and Capehart. That's New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for The Washington Post.

Hello to both of you on this Friday. It's very good to see you, although we start with another very tough story, David. And that is, we began this week with that awful mass shooting of Black Americans in Buffalo. What does that say to you about where we are as a country when it comes to race and when it comes to guns? DAVID BROOKS: Well, Jonathan can speak to this more than I. But I think one of the truths of 400 years of this country is that it's hazardous to be Black person in America.

And that comes from slavery. That comes from discrimination. That comes from lynching. And it comes from white supremacist and racist violence. And so that's just a reality.

And those who stoke it do it in a lot of different ways. And one of those is a theory that says a race of one group of people is going to swamp a race of another group of people. Using those categories, using that language, the Great Replacement language, that is ineluctably tied to a culture of racial hostility. And that's just the fact. I think it's perfectly legitimate to have a wide variety of views on immigration, but when you start using those racial categories and talk about replacement and swamping and the white America under threat, you're feeding into a culture. Ideas have consequences, and they will lead to violence.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Jonathan, I mean, there's almost an inevitability about this now. I mean, are we as a country, accepting that this is just part of who we are? Some of us are, I should say. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Yes.

I appreciate David's -- David's words at the outset of his answer. Look, I remember the first time I got an e-mail from someone who had read something I'd written in The Washington Post years ago, who was complaining to me about white genocide. That's the term -- that was a term of art then, white genocide. Whites were being killed off and replaced.

Now the Great Replacement Theory is the happy, smiley face of the white genocide thinking out there. Back then, it was the fringe. Back then, this was a person out there in the far right swamps. But then President Trump comes in and takes the lid off of our national demons. And now what we have are sitting members of Congress, people in the leadership of the Republican Party in the House, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who are trading in this language. They might not use the exact words Great Replacement Theory, but everything else that they talk about is parroting those talking points.

When the Great Replacement Theory is given a home and aid and comfort by leaders in this country, what are -- what else are we to expect? And that is the -- that is the danger that we're in right now. We have seen far too many communities of Americans being targeted by people who adhere to this Great Replacement Theory. We have now -- we have seen Blacks targeted, Jews targeted, Muslims targeted. At some point, this nation as a whole will have to start taking this seriously. And leaders, Republican leaders, need to speak up if the Great Replacement Theory does not speak for them.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, do you see any signs anywhere that people are taking this seriously enough to -- in a way that we may be able to come together and have a serious conversation about this and address who we are right now? DAVID BROOKS: You know, I think we are having a conversation. It's been four or five years since at least 2014 and Ferguson. It's been at least years of difficult conversations, which many people have been in the middle of. So I think it's been an era of progress, not necessarily on racial harmony, you wouldn't say that, but deeper understanding on the part of a lot of people of what the experience of Black America is. At the same time that some people have become better educated, some other people have become radicalized.

And this is a combination of just the racist genotypes that have flown through our history. It's a combination of mental health problems. It's a combination of the extreme social isolation that drives people to seize onto these rabid antisemitic and racist conspiracy theories and want to take some action. So, at the same time, I think we are having progress in America on racial, at least communication, we're also seeing reaction against significant -- as Jonathan says, a significant minority.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see any glimmer of progress on this? JONATHAN CAPEHART: I suppose the glimmer of progress is that when I say what I just said in response to your first question, that I'm not going to get a bunch of blowback from people saying, what are you talking about? You're over -- you're hypersensitive. That won't happen again, because -- I think because of Ferguson, because of George Floyd, where the two-year anniversary is coming up next week, because of the litany of things that we have been through, racial things that we have been through over these years. That the conversations we have been having over the years are much more sophisticated, much more nuanced doesn't mean that we're making the leaps of progress that I hoped we would. But at least, when we have these conversations, there's no one saying, oh, well, you're being crazy. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we know that this is one of the issues that is going to be playing out in this year's midterm elections. And we have, David, some results to look at again from this week.

And let me ask you first about the Democratic primaries. There were several primaries in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and other states. We see, for the Democrats, in a few races, important races, progressive candidates came out ahead of the moderate, so-called mainstream Democrat.

What does that -- what does that tell us about what shape Democrats may be in, in the fall? DAVID BROOKS: Well, there's some -- there was some supposition when Joe Biden got elected that we would -- we had this moderate Democrat in the White House, and that we would -- the polarization of American politics would maybe slow down or stop. We can now toss aside that hope. And so it is not.

I think the progressives did indeed do quite well this week. And whether that will hurt Democrats in the fall if they present people who are less electable, I'm not sure. I look at John Fetterman, who won the Democratic primary for Senate in Pennsylvania. I find him a very attractive figure and probably a politically compelling figure.

He's the 6'8'' guy who wears Carhartt. He dresses working class. He wears baggy shorts.

I think, if you're a progressive Democrat, and you can show you have nothing to do with East Coast cultural elites, you're in pretty good shape. And so that guy has clearly made this cultural statement about who he is. And he's going to get attacked for being for Medicare for all or for other left-leaning policies, but he strikes me as a pretty compelling figure, and a -- maybe a new sort of -- a different kind of really aggressively working-class progressive that we haven't seen a lot of, frankly. JUDY WOODRUFF: But that's not what the mainstream Democrats in many of these races thought would happen. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. But I think -- as I look at these races, I keep thinking about, when we're talking about Democrats, we're talking about them, are they progressive, are they moderate? And when we do that, we're talking about issues.

As David just said, Medicare for all is one of them. Canceling student debt is another one, expanding health care. You name the policy, there's some moderate vs. progressive thing going on. But when it comes to Republicans, we're not talking about policies. Everything revolves around Donald Trump and the big lie and where those respective candidates fall in that -- in that little play.

So, when we get Democrats and Republicans in the general election, it's going to be the Democrat talking about policies and the Republican trying to show just how much they are close to Trump? I'm still trying to understand what the general election really is going to look like. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, in fact, David, we did see in the Republican primaries in these states, I mean, whether former President Trump's chosen person came out on top or not, to a candidate, most of these Republicans don't believe Joe Biden won legitimately. DAVID BROOKS: Yes, didn't Dr. Oz have had a proposal to reform the federal budget process? Wasn't that part of Dr. Oz's thing?

(LAUGHTER) DAVID BROOKS: No. I think one thing I learned about the Republican Party from the last week and really the last two weeks is, there was some thought that Trumpism could be contained. It could either be contained by building a wall of non-Trump candidates around him -- or in the party, or you could have establishment figures sort of embracing Trumpism, at the same time they watered it down, which is normally what insurrection -- what happens to insurrections. I think we -- that's another theory we can toss out, because Trumpism is now pervasive in the party. And if I had any lesson to draw, it's that Trumpism is actually bigger than Trump. And so his own personal endorsements do make a difference, clearly, but the nationalist posture, the populist posture, the talk about the stolen election, this is all now pervading the party.

And so what will the fall election be like? I think it will be about none of these things. I actually think it will be about inflation, crime, schools, and the culture wars. But -- so I don't think it'll be about stopping the steal, because, if Republicans were going to get punished for that, they already would have been punished for that. And they have -- in the polls, at least, they have certainly not been punished.

But it's definitely a Trump-Trumpist party right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, pick up on that, Jonathan, because one of the culture war issues is what -- of course, that Supreme Court leak opinion from a few weeks ago. We have a new poll "NewsHour" did with Marist and NPR showing something like two-thirds of Americans don't want Roe v. Wade to be overturned. Does that give us some kind of sense of what happens? We don't know what the court is going to do.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. JUDY WOODRUFF: But if the court comes forward with something that looks like that leaked draft, what does that say about the -- where we're headed in these elections? JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, it says we're headed for a very bumpy road. It says that the Supreme Court doesn't care about public opinion. The support for Roe v. Wade has all -- there's always been a majority American support for Roe v. Wade. The fact that an opinion, draft opinion, was leaked, and we got to read it, knowing where the American people are on this issue, and, still, a majority of the court in this draft -- draft opinion wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that says more about the court

than it does about the American people. And I understand that it's a co-equal branch of government and that they should be separate and apart from the people. But the people will rise up. I mean, the American people are -- will be very concerned if the official ruling from the Supreme Court in that case looks anything like that draft opinion. JUDY WOODRUFF: Less than a minute, David, but what do you think it portends if the court comes up with what it looks like they're going to, and public opinion is in another direction? DAVID BROOKS: Well, setting aside this particular issue, I'd be proud that the Supreme Court ignored public opinion. That's their job.

Their job is to look at what's in the Constitution and make a decision. So, I -- that part, I think they did absolutely right. The second part of your poll was -- showed how, while people want to keep Roe, they also are very moderate or somewhere in the middle on what restrictions they want to see on abortion and that, as Lisa said the other night, somewhere between 15 and 22 weeks is where most people would like to see some sort of restrictions come in. I'm very curious to see if there's a single state that gets there, because the parties are so incredibly polarized on this issue. JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, it's one that we are watching very closely in these weeks to come. It promises to hold all of our attention for the rest of this year.

David Brooks, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both. JONATHAN CAPEHART: Thanks, Judy. JUDY WOODRUFF: And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight. I'm Judy Woodruff. Join us online and again here on Monday evening.

For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," thank you, please stay safe, and we'll see you soon.

2022-05-22 17:36

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