MR. DAVID GREGORY: This Sunday: cost, coverage and compromise. Inside the
healthcare debate in Washington.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: We are now closer than ever before to passing health
reform, but we're not there yet.
MR. GREGORY: What will it take to form a coalition large enough to pass
legislation? Will the president have to referee between the liberal and
moderate wings of his party? And will Republicans remain united in their
Plus, outrage at Wall Street. Banks prepare to pay record bonuses. Should
the government step in? We'll hear from two key voices on the Hill: a
senior member of the Health Committee and chairman of the Banking
Committee, Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut; and Republican
Whip, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.
Then, a seismic shift in the makeup of the American work force; so says a
new report from Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. By
the end of the year, for the first time in history the majority of
workers in the U.S. will be women. What impact is this having on American
life? This morning we kick off NBC's weeklong series exploring “A Woman's
Nation” with the first lady of California and NBC guest editor Maria
Shriver; the president of the Center for American Progress, John Podesta;
and senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who chairs the White
House Council on Women and Girls.
Finally, our MEET THE PRESS Minute from September 10, 1972. A very
different era and the fight for a very different notion of a woman's
(Videotape, September 10, 1972)
MS. GLORIA STEINEM: What kind of choice is it, after all, to be able to
go out and earn half as much as a man for doing the very same work?
MR. DAVID MR. GREGORY: But first, with the view from the White House, the
president's senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
MS. VALERIE JARRETT: Well, thank you, David. It's a delight to be here.
MR. GREGORY: Good to have you here. Let's first talk about the economy, and
here was a headline that played prominently this week from The Wall
Street Journal: "Wall Street On Track To Award Record Pay," expanding
bonus pools and raking in big profits. And yet here's a picture of what
is now called the Obama economy, since he's come into office, and let's
show it on the screen here. The debt is up 12 percent, it's now at $11.9
trillion. The deficit's now at $1.4 trillion. Unemployment at 9.8
percent, up 36 percent since he took office. And jobs, 4.2 million jobs
lost since the president has taken office. Wall Street's healthier, but
the American worker is not.
MS. JARRETT: Well, that's right. And--but I think we have to take a step
back, David, and let's remember the conditions that the president
inherited, a global meltdown, and we now realize that it was actually far
worse than we realized at the time when he came in office in January. And
what the president did is take very serious steps to get our economy back
on track. He has pulled us back from the precipice and as a result of
that--we were losing 700,000 jobs a month, that has decreased steadily
over the course of the last nine months, and we are beginning to see
signs of hope. But the unemployment rate is still much too high, and the
president will not be satisfied, as he has said time and time again,
until every single American who wants to work has a job.
MR. GREGORY: But what's he prepared to do in a--what looks to be a jobless
recovery, to make sure that jobs do get created to say he--the way he say
he--says he wants?
MS. JARRETT: Well, first of all, first of all, he's already done a great
deal. The recovery bill that was passed by Congress in record speed
really staved off a disaster, and we saved millions of jobs around the
country. And we're on track. We're already--we're fully on track with the
recovery bill and the spending that's going forward. But we've only spent
about a little less than half of the money, and so we still have a ways
to go with the recovery bill. We know unemployment is a lagging
indicator. We've always known that. But what we're doing is making sure
that we have the process in place so that we can bring those very
important jobs back.
MR. GREGORY: But is--does there have to be a second stimulus, something done
to specifically target job creation?
MS. JARRETT: Well, I think we have done many things to target job
creation. I think it's too soon, it's premature to say is a second
stimulus needed. There is this conundrum: You've got this huge national
deficit, and we've got to do what we can to bring that down, at the same
time as it's important to stimulate the economy. And the federal
government has to do its part. That's why the recovery bill was so
important, that's why many of the measures that the Treasury Department
has taken since then, whether for housing or small business, are all very
important in stimulating the economy. So let's wait and see. Let's let
the recovery bill do its, do its job and then we'll see.
MR. GREGORY: No commitment on a tax credit for employers, for instance?
MS. JARRETT: Well, every morning, as you know, the president meets with
his economic advisers, and the first thing he says to them is, "What are
we doing to tackle the unemployment rate?" There are a range of
suggestions that are being considered right now by his economic team, and
we'll see what we come forward with. We're consulting with the business
community, we're consulting with everyday Americans who are struggling.
We're trying to figure out what can we do to create an incentive to
invest in our country and make our country strong again.
MR. GREGORY: So, so, so the idea of some kind of additional stimulus to
create jobs is on the table, fair to say?
MS. JARRETT: Everything is on the table. As you know, President Obama is
always interested in what can we do to make our companies strong so that
they're going to grow and invest in our country. So he's, he's willing to
look at all possibilities; but he's also saying, "Let's let the recovery
bill that was passed by Congress work." And we're not even halfway
through that yet.
MR. GREGORY: All right, let's turn to health care. The president in his radio
address yesterday took on the insurance industry and some of the studies
that they have submitted this week to, to challenge his version of
reform. This is what he said.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: It's smoke and mirrors. It's bogus, and it's all too
familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance
companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, "Take
one of these and call us in a decade." Well, not this time.
MR. GREGORY: What's striking about this is that the insurance industry, all
along in this process, has been the president's partner. That's what
we've been led to believe. And now we have the president taking on the
insurance industry. Is this a sign that he believes the insurance
industry is on the verge of killing reform?
MS. JARRETT: Well, I think it's a sign of his frustration that at the
very last minute they would come up with a study that has been--widely
been debunked over the course of the last few days, including by the
people who actually prepared this study. At the same time, you have the
Business Roundtable come out with a study by Hewitt that shows how costs
are escalating and how the time is right now to take on this issue. So I
think what you saw was the president express, expressing his frustration
that at the last minute the insurance industry would try to potentially
tank this bill. And it's not going to happen this time. And I think that
the message that we've seen from the president and the huge momentum that
is moving through Congress shows that the American people are ready for
healthcare reform and they're ready for it this year, and nothing's going
to stop that.
MR. GREGORY: But you've got challenges from the insurance companies; you've
got, in the political middle on Capitol Hill, concerns about costs; and
even from the left. This was the headline in Politico: "Labor chief takes
on the White House." This is Gerald McEntee, the president of AFSCME,
which is government workers across the country, and he writes this in a
USA Today op-ed piece: "McEntee said union workers have often chosen to
accept lower wages in exchange for better and more costly health
insurance. He said union members...won't be afraid to remind politicians
of that in next year's election. `We worked for all these people. We
worked for Obama. ... And what do we get for it? We not only don't get
anything for it, we get a slap in the face.'" And the criticism is that
the taxes for this health reform ultimately will hit the middle class.
MS. JARRETT: Listen, David, what we're, what we're very cognizant here is
that we have to reduce costs, we have to improve coverage, we've got to
make affordable, quality health care for all Americans. Those are the
basic parameters that the president set forth when we gan--we began this
process. It's hard. It's complicated. If this was easy, it would've
happened under the five decades that there have been efforts for
healthcare reform. But what we've seen right now is, for the first time
in history, five committees have passed legislation. There's an agreement
on 90 percent of what we're trying to accomplish here and there's some
momentum to move forward right now. So are there last-minute wranglings?
Are there going to be people who are trying to maneuver? Sure there are.
But I think that the momentum under President Obama is clearly moving
MR. GREGORY: Will he push for a public option before he signs any kind of
MS. JARRETT: The president has made it clear throughout the process, he
said it in his speech before Congress that he thinks that the public
option is the right solution. He thinks it will enhance competition and
he thinks it'll reduce costs and it'll give people choices. And he said
that throughout the process.
MR. GREGORY: But...
MS. JARRETT: So he's a big believer in the public plan.
MR. GREGORY: But the question I'm asking is will he push for it and demand it
here is the--in the final version of reform?
MS. JARRETT: He's pushed for it, certainly, but he's realistic to say
we've got to look at all options. He has said very clearly he thinks it's
the best option, and we'll see what happens.
MR. GREGORY: So he's not demanding that it's in there.
MS. JARRETT: He's not demanding that it's in there. He thinks it's the
best possible choice. But I think, David, let's not underestimate how
much progress we've made. The fact that there's agreement on so much
means that we are right on the brink of delivering for the American
people, and that's a positive sign for our country.
MR. GREGORY: But, you know, there's a lot of stalwart supporters of this
president who look at healthcare reform in the context of other things
that he promised in the campaign, and what do we see? A promise for
universal health care; well, you've got 17 million people who wouldn't be
insured under this plan. A promise for a public option; now you're saying
he doesn't demand it. You know, the mantra of the campaign was "Yes, we
can." Has that become maybe?
MS. JARRETT: No, it has not. It has definitely become yes, we can. If you
look at the five bills that have been passed, they provide more, more
reassurance to the American people that they're going to have the kind of
affordable health care, that they're going to reduce their costs, that
they're not going to have to choose between paying their rent and paying
for their health care, that they--if they have a pre-existing condition
they're going to be covered, if they want to go in and have all kinds of
exams that will prevent illnesses that they're going to be covered by
that. There's so much in these bills that is going to benefit the
American people. The--we've come so far, and we can't lose sight of that.
Are we there yet? Have we crossed the finish line? No. But under
President Obama, we're absolutely committed to delivering on behalf of
the American people.
MR. GREGORY: Before we go, I want to get your comment on a couple of
developing stories. Swine flu; it turns out there's a big delay in the
vaccines reaching communities. There's some 10 to 12 million fewer
vaccine doses available, and yet we know that younger kids are getting
sicker more frequently, with deadlier results. Did the government
overpromise in terms of being able to deal with this?
MS. JARRETT: No. And we've been working hard over the course of the
summer. It is science. You can only produce a vaccine as quickly as it
will grow. And we've been working very hard to get the information out.
We've been working with the governors and the mayors across our country.
Anyone who has questions should go on flu.gov to see how you can receive
your vaccine. We encourage everyone to take the vaccine as soon as it is
available. We are focusing every single day on making sure that we can
get out ahead of this the best way we can, but you can only push science
as fast as it will go.
MR. GREGORY: But the delay is going to have an impact.
MS. JARRETT: The day--delay will have some impact, but I think what's
really important is that people are cognizant of what symptoms to look
out for, that they take reasonable precautions. There's a lot that we can
do to, to keep ourselves from getting the illness. If you do get sick,
please stay home. If you are wondering whether you have the right
symptoms, you can go on flu.gov and, and find out for yourself without
having to always go to a doctor. But if you get very ill, of course, go
to the doctor. And then just the reasonable precautions we know about: if
you sneeze, cover your, cover your mouth, etc. So it is a serious
illness. There are 41 states now where we have serious outbreaks. You're
right, the pediatric fatalities have already been larger that we've--than
we've seen in normal flu outbreaks, and so it is a serious illness and we
encourage everybody as soon as you can to get vaccinated.
MR. GREGORY: Valerie Jarrett, thank you very much. We actually get more of
MS. JARRETT: Yes.
MR. GREGORY: You'll stick around, you'll be part of our conversation about “A
Woman's Nation” with Maria Shriver and John Podesta coming up in a few
minutes. Stay where you are.
MR. DAVID MR. GREGORY: We're now going to introduce by remote chairman of the
Banking Committee, Senator Chris Dodd; and Republican Whip, Senator Jon
Senators, welcome both of you back to the program.
SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ): Thank you.
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT): Thank you, David.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Dodd, I want to start with you.
SEN. DODD: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: You are involved in these negotiations to figure out the final
form of healthcare legislation. And you're hearing from Valerie Jarrett
this morning, a senior adviser to the president, he will not demand a
public option as most of his supporters want. Will it be in there? Should
it be in there?
SEN. DODD: Well, it should be in there, and--because for a number of
reasons. Not just for the politics of it; but if you're trying to
increase competition, drive down costs, reduce the impact on the federal
budget, these are all reasons why a public option is necessary if you're
truly trying to get your arms around this. And what we've drafted here
in, in these bills, I think, gives us that opportunity and that chance.
In the absence of that, the alternate is to, of course, to make this more
affordable by driving up subsidies, which increase the cost of the bill.
So we have some tough choices to make. But I think the public option
makes the most sense...
MR. GREGORY: OK.
SEN. DODD: ...if, in fact, you want competition. So that's why we're
going to do it.
MR. GREGORY: So how is it going to, how is it going to happen?
SEN. DODD: Many states have only one or two insurance companies.
MR. GREGORY: How's it going to happen? The president's not going to push for
SEN. DODD: Well, we're going to...
MR. GREGORY: ...who's going to push this across the finish line.
SEN. DODD: Well, the president's deeply involved, and you heard the
statements from Valerie that he's very much for it, said so again the
other day. And my hope is that when we bring these two bills together
over the next number of days that we'll present to the Senate an option
that includes that strong public option. Then the Senate will obviously,
the full Senate, as Jon knows, will have an opportunity to vote it, to
take it out of the bill, to modify it in some way. But my strong belief
is we ought to include that as we move forward in the Senate.
MR. GREGORY: But aren't we beyond--Senator, aren't we beyond strong beliefs?
I mean, isn't this brass tacks time? What have you got in terms of the
votes? You've got one Republican senator who's not for it, you've got
conservative Democrats who are not for it. They seem to have most of the
influence over the final package here.
SEN. DODD: Well, David, you'll recall just this even spring I've had a
number of bills that have come out, they came out of committee with
one-vote margins. And when you end up on the floor of the Senate, you
find sometimes you get more. About half the Senate has been involved
already between the Health Committee and the Finance Committee. The other
half of our Senate colleagues have only had to give talks about this, and
they'd like to express themselves. So I haven't given up on this. We had
the, the credit card legislation, which I drafted that came out of the
Banking Committee with a one-vote margin, passed on the floor of the
Senate 90-to-5. The same was true with the tobacco legislation, came out
of the committee with a one-vote margin, passed the Senate 85-to-7, or
something like that. So I'm still confident when we get to the floor and,
and you've got to make a choice between bringing down costs affecting the
budget as well as increasing competition, then we have a good, good
chance of including the public option in the bill.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Kyl, let me bring you in here. In terms of who's got the
most influence over this process, I mentioned Gerald McEntee, the head of
the AFSCME union. This is something that he said in an op-ed for The Wall
Journal this week. He writes this: "Now we've got a Democrat in the White
House and we expect some positive things. It looks like we catered to
Senator [Olympia] Snowe. My God, she's a Republican, I thought we won."
If you look at who does have influence over here, why is the Republican
Party in the Congress completely opposed? Don't you have somebody who's
got more similar views influencing the process?
SEN. KYL: Well, first of all, it's obvious there's a big fight going on
within the Democratic Party between the House and Senate, between
moderates and more liberal members of the, of the senators on the
Democratic side. Republicans are kind of on the sideline here. We offered
a lot of amendments, both in the HELP Committee and in the Finance
Committee, they were all rejected on party-line votes. The bill that's
being written right now is being written in Harry Reid's office, behind
closed doors, with Chris and Max Baucus and the leader and others. No
Republicans need apply to come into that room. I think, though, if I
could, David, it's a little bit beside the point, this whole question of
the public option. It's an important issue, but it's not the most
important issue. And at the end of the day, while I totally disagree with
Chris about whether it's a good idea to have it in there, I think he's
right that in a form it will be in there. But what they're really good at
doing is putting it in a different package, putting a different color
ribbon around it and saying, "Well, that's--it's only the public option.
If things don't work out in a couple of years" or something like that.
And that's the concern that a lot of Republicans have. It's why we've
offered alternatives that do not rely upon a big government takeover and
a public insurance company, but rather use the market that we have today,
focusing on patients and trying to insure that we can both bring down
costs and increase access to care without totally reforming the entire
MR. GREGORY: I just want to pick up on, on one point, Senator Dodd, the idea
of a public option in some form. One of the things that's been talked
about is the idea of a trigger, a kind of Washington language for the
idea that if in a, in a private system you don't have enough competition,
you don't have enough, you know, competition bringing down prices
ultimately for the consumer, that a government plan could kick in later
on down in the line. Would you support that?
SEN. KYL: Absolutely not. It's...
SEN. DODD: Is that for me, David?
MR. GREGORY: That's for you, Senator Dodd, yes.
SEN. KYL: Oh, I'm sorry.
SEN. DODD: Oh. Well, listen, I--as I said, in the HELP Committee bill we
have a very strong public option that does exactly what I've described.
And obviously, to move forward here, my hope is we'll keep that. But let
me also suggest something to you, David, here. I thought Olympia Snowe,
my--our colleague from Maine, said it very well the other day. When
history calls, history calls. What are the alternatives here if we do
nothing, as apparently some are suggesting? And by the way, as Jon knows,
in the HELP Committee, which I chaired over the summer here, 161
amendments, more than half the amendments adopted in that mark-up were
amendments offered by the Republican side, which we accepted as part of
that bill. But if you look that in the next seven years we could have
premium costs go from $13,000 a year to $24,000, 3.5 million jobs could
be lost in the process. The cost of business could double to nearly $1
trillion as a result of doing nothing. The impact of doing nothing is so
much more costly than what we're talking about here that my hope would be
that we, in these coming days here, get together on this. The American
public cannot withstand more years of rising costs, rising premiums and
more unemployment. That's why this is so important.
MR. GREGORY: You know, it's interesting, Senator Kyl, in that vein, in terms
of this kind of moral imperative, you and other Republicans have said
this healthcare reform should be opposed, and one of the major reasons
you cite is how much money it costs, how much it could potentially add to
the deficit, although the president says it'll be deficit-neutral. And
yet when you talk about the war in Afghanistan and the commanders should
have more of their troops, I've never heard you say that that should be
deficit-neutral, that war costs should somehow not break the bank. Why is
that disparity there?
SEN. KYL: David, no country can afford to scrimp and save or try to win a
war on the cheap. The president himself has said that the war in
Afghanistan against these terrorists who killed over 3,000 American on
September 11, 2001, is a war of necessity. You have to win it. And
Americans throughout our history have sacrificed when war has called for
us to do that.
MR. GREGORY: And is it a, is it a necessity to tackle the fact that there are
more and more Americans who die because they don't have access to health
SEN. KYL: I'm not sure that it's a fact that more and more people die
because they don't have health insurance; but because they don't have
health insurance, the care is not delivered in the best and most
efficient way. Republicans have a lot of good ideas--and all those
amendments Chris was talking about where technical amendments. We have
very good ideas about how to tackle this problem one piece at a time and
basically regain the trust of the American people by taking one step at a
time rather than saying that we have to have a trillion-dollar bill. Yes,
that will hurt our deficit. Remember, we just had the figures come out
earlier this week, a $1.4 trillion deficit, more than all of the last
four budget deficits combined. So when we're spending on war and when
we're spending on other things we need to have, we don't have to spend as
much on health care. We can do it one step at a time to target the
problems that we have with targeted solutions.
MR. GREGORY: Senator Dodd, one more question on health care. And to bring a
bottom line in here, crystal ball time. After all of this debate, you
have said getting a pretty good bill is not enough. So in the end, what
version of healthcare reform gets passed?
SEN. DODD: Well, I think it--a strong bill that does exactly what we've
talked about: increasing that access, increasing quality and making it
affordable. Affordability, affordability. Just to site two states, by
coincidence; in Jon's state there are 900,000 people without insurance,
one in five in Arizona. He loses 280 people a day that drop insurance. I
lose 100 a day. I've lost 28,000 people in Connecticut that have had
their insurance dropped because they've lost their jobs in the last year
alone, David. Those kind of numbers cannot continue. The people in
Arizona and people of Connecticut, for every uninsured person, pay almost
$2,000 in premium costs per year to pay for the health care showing up in
an emergency room of the uninsured. We need to address this issue. So I'm
hopeful accessibility, profitability, but affordability for middle-income
families is going to be critical.
MR. GREGORY: Let me move on...
SEN. KYL: David, I...
MR. GREGORY: I want to just move on to the--with a couple of minutes.
SEN. KYL: No, can I just respond to that?
MR. GREGORY: All right, go ahead, quickly.
SEN. KYL: In my, in my state this Oliver Wyman study, not the one that
Chris criticized--or that you criticized earlier, in my state increased
premiums for a family under this bill, $7,400. That's not the kind of
reform that Arizona families are looking for.
MR. GREGORY: Let, let me move on to the issue of what's happening on Wall
Street and this expanded bonus pool and record profits. This is what The
Wall Street Journal reported this week: "Major U.S. banks and security
firms are on pace to pay their employees about $140 billion this year--a
record high that shows compensation is rebounding despite regulatory
scrutiny of Wall Street's pay culture. ... Total compensation and
benefits at the publicly traded firms analyzed by the Journal are on
track to increase 20 percent from last year's $117 billion--and to top
2007's $130 billion payout." Senator Dodd, you're chairman of the Banking
Committee. All of these bailouts, the state of the American worker, is
there something upside down and wrong here?
SEN. DODD: Well, no, David. Look, first of all, the good news is the
economy's getting stronger and getting better, and that's the positive
news. We went from 700,000 job losses a month in January to numbers today
which are not great, but they're a lot better than they were. And
obviously, we're not talking about a depression as we were a year ago. So
things are getting better. Now, obviously, when you see these bonuses
being paid out, it's a source of outrage in the country, and it should
be. What are these people thinking about at these companies? We have
poured a lot of hard-paying taxpayer money into these firms to stabilize
them, to get our economy moving again. We have banks that are not
providing credit to smaller businesses and others to get the economy
moving. Now, things like the clunker bill--Johnny Isakson, the senator
from Georgia and I are working to extend the tax credit for home
purchases, not just new homebuyers, things that will get the economy
moving again. But these firms on Wall Street need to understand that what
they're doing by providing these bonuses, particularly when they received
so much federal money, is an outrage in the country. And my hope is that
Ken Feinberg, who's walking on this--working on this, and others, we can
do something about getting these firms to back up and reduce these
MR. GREGORY: Senator Kyl, should there be dollar amounts, should there be
limits on compensation that the government sets?
SEN. KYL: Well, in the event that the government basically bails one of
these outfits out, it has the, the right and the ability currently, as
Chris just noted, to put limits on the compensation and the kind of
compensation. But I think we need to get--be a little careful about this.
In the Baucus bill that passed on--last week on the health care, there's
a limit on insurance company salaries; not just for the top executives,
but any employee or any consultant, the people that work for any
consultant that's hired. So let's be a little bit careful that we don't
get the government intruding in the business of America to the extent
that our free enterprise system is crippled by business regulations.
MR. GREGORY: All right. Finally, a final question, Senator Dodd, on politics,
the politics of 2010. According to recent prose--polls, rather, your job
approval rating in Connecticut is below 50 percent, at 43 percent. Why do
you think voters are losing confidence in you?
SEN. DODD: Well, well, David, I'm not sure how to answer. We've been
through a tough time, obviously, over the last year. But I'm confident,
again--do the job, work hard on behalf of the people you represent--that
those numbers'll turn around. These polls are a snapshot. Obviously you
pay attention to them, but wish they were better. Obviously had
difficulties. But I'm confident, again, a year from now that if I
continue working hard on their behalf that these things will turn around.
MR. GREGORY: We will leave it there. Senator Dodd, Senator Kyl, thank you
both very much.
SEN. DODD: Thank you, David.
MR. GREGORY: And coming up next here, “A Woman's Nation,” our special report on
the state of women in America: Maria Shriver, John Podesta and more with
Valerie Jarrett. Plus, our MEET THE PRESS Minute. A look back at a very
different time for women with activist Gloria Steinem, only here on MEET
MR. GREGORY: A special report on women in America with Maria Shriver,
presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett and John Podesta after this brief
MR. DAVID MR. GREGORY: We are back, rejoined by senior adviser to the
president Valerie Jarrett, who chairs the White House Council on Women
and Girls; and the first lady of California, Maria Shriver, who co-wrote
"The Shriver Report" with the Center for American Progress, headed by
Welcome to all of you. This really is, Maria, I have to say, it's such an
interesting report, and it has really gotten people talking. More people
will talk, I think, around tables like this and their kitchen tables and
at home. So here is the report, and I think that there's a couple of real
standout takeaways that'll get us started here this morning. The first
thing is about the status of women in the work force, and here it is.
We'll put it on the screen. Look at that. Now nearly 50 percent--and by
the end of the year they will be 50 percent of the work force. Compare
that to 1950, when women were just 29.6 percent. And there's more. Almost
40 percent, 40 percent of working wives are earning as much or more than
their husbands, they are the breadwinners. How do those two points
underscore the title of this report, "A Woman's Nation"? How do those
make this a woman's nation?
MS. MARIA SHRIVER: Well, I think what's really important is these changes
are permanent. Women are now half of the work force, two-thirds of
mothers are primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners, and that this is
where we are now in this country. And that change affects every
institution that this country is dealing with. Less than 30 percent of
kids have a stay-at-home parent today. What impact does that have to the
government, to business, to men, to women, to faith-based institutions?
So this report tries to chapter those things out and say all of these
institutions have failed to adapt to this change that has happened, and
that in order for them to survive and become smart about the American
worker they must adapt and must change.
MR. GREGORY: Valerie Jarrett, we'll talk about the government's role in a
little bit. But as a woman, as a top adviser to the president, as a
former business executive and most important, as a mom, what does this
MS. VALERIE JARRETT: Well, first of all, I want to congratulate Maria
and, and John for having pulled this report together. It's phenomenal.
We've reviewed it. We are just, just overwhelmed by their willingness to
put the effort into this and to bring this to the national spotlight. And
frankly, to you, David, for giving us this forum on MEET THE PRESS to
discuss this very important issue. I was a single mom. I know what it's
like to try to figure out how to meet the goals of your job and, and be
professional and still raise a child and have her turn out as well as I
think my child has turned out to be. You can't do that alone, and the
existing institutions really have to change to foster this new dynamic.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MS. JARRETT: And the fact of the matter is it isn't just about women. I
chair the Council on Women and Girls, but we say all the time that this
is a family issue. This is a family issue. And so we have to look at this
from the perspective of how can the family thrive in this new work
environment and how can we foster the changes that we need both in
business and in government, faith-based institutions, not-for-profits,
all of it coming together? Because that's what it's going to take to
really meet this new dynamic that we have in the work force.
MR. GREGORY: And, John Podesta, what's interesting--I mean, look, this is
very much my life. I mean, this reflects my life. I'm blessed to be
married to my wife, Beth, who's a prominent trial lawyer, and, and so
some of these realities I've been living with all the time that I've been
married. But these are profound changes.
MR. JOHN PODESTA: Right. And I think they kind of snuck up on us. I noted
in the book, my mother in the 1950s went to work. They--my parents had a
tag-team marriage. My father was a blue collar worker, my mother worked
at night as a pink collar worker. But they kind of snuck up on us. And
what we thought in doing this report and the partnership with Maria was
really focusing on the fact that now two-thirds of women in America are
breadwinners or co-breadwinners would force a change in the way business
and government, faith-based institutions, the media take a look at these
issues and provide more flexibility for people...
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MR. PODESTA: ...to try to relieve the stress that comes from having
people trying to work. But look, the battle of the sexes is over, David.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. PODESTA: Three-quarters of American public think this is a good
development, it's here to stay.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. PODESTA: And it's really critical to the economic success of American
MR. GREGORY: That idea--I just want to get to that, Maria, the idea of the
battle of the sexes being over. In your essay in the report you write
about that, and this is what you say: "What we heard loud and clear" as
you've been around the country, "is that the battle of the sexes is over.
It was a draw. Now we're engaged in negotiation between the sexes.
Virtually all married couples told the pollsters they're negotiating the
rules of their relationship, work and family. An overwhelming majority of
both men and women said they're sitting down at their kitchen tables to
coordinate their family's schedules, duties and responsibilities,
including child care, elder care, at least two to three times a week. Men
said it was more like every day."
MS. JARRETT: Right.
MS. SHRIVER: That's right. I'm sure you would probably agree with that.
MR. GREGORY: Right, absolutely.
MS. SHRIVER: I think what's, what was interesting to me about that is how
often people were sitting down, what they were negotiating, how much more
involved this generation of men are in raising families; but still
overwhelmingly, women feel that the--they are primarily responsible for
all the child care and all the elder care. Elder care is a huge issue in
this country today. And when we talk about people being able to take time
off from work to care for an elderly parent, something like 300,000
teenagers in America today are caring for people with Alzheimer's. The
institutions need to adapt to who the American family is today. They need
to get smarter.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MS. SHRIVER: They need to get more progressive. And I think we should
even throw out this term "family-friendly." It's smart family policy.
It's smart for business; businesses retain women, do well with the bottom
line. This is smart government policy to figure out how to help and
support the American worker who is stretched, men and women, on both ends
of the spectrum.
MR. GREGORY: But, but there's still--I mean, as I've been thinking about
this, Valerie, there are still very different expectations on, on women
vs. men. We can talk about negotiations. You know, negotiation in, in my
own marriage over all of our various responsibilities with two careers
and with, you know, three children; and yet whether it's the kids and how
they respond to my wife when she comes home at the end of the day or the,
the, the reaction they have when she leaves that's different than the
reaction than, than I leave, when I leave. There, there are different
expectations that women are still challenged by.
MS. JARRETT: Well, that's right, there are, and that's why we have to
make sure that the workplace setting is one that is sensitive to those.
And that--and also, though, David, more and more men are getting more
involved in child care, they are taking more of a role. And I think what
we want to do is to create for the family more flexibility in the
workplace environment. We are all telling personal stories, and I think
it's important to reflect on the president's life.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. PODESTA: Right.
MS. JARRETT: He was raised, too, by a single mom, and he experienced
firsthand what it was like to have a mother who had to make difficult
choices, often involving him to be, being away from her so that she could
do her work. He is married to a professional woman who, until she became
first lady, had her own independent career...
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. JARRETT: ...and was trying to balancing raising...
MR. GREGORY: Made more money and outranked him.
MS. JARRETT: And outranked him, exactly, and was trying to raise these
two beautiful children and balance the needs of being a good mom and yet
trying to be professional and being a spouse. So I think that these are
issues that they have lived throughout their entire life, and so it
sensitizes them and makes them challenge our administration to do
whatever we can to make sure that we encourage the private sector to--and
the government to develop the necessary flexibility. The first woman
recently spoke at a conference involving corporations that are supporting
family-friendly environments, and so figuring out what are the best
practices in the private sector that we can duplicate in government and
that we can share around the country, because there are many corporations
out there who are very successful while being flexible. In fact, you can
make the case that part of why they're being so successful is because
they give their employees more flexibility.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MS. JARRETT: So what are we going to do collectively, as a society, to,
to make the necessary shifts to support this new family structure?
MR. GREGORY: Right. And I, and I want to get to some of the, the issue of
changes, but I still want to kind of live in this changing dynamic a
little bit. Because, Maria, even if there is a change in this kind of how
we see power between men and women...
MS. SHRIVER: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: ...you still have the male ego, you know.
MS. SHRIVER: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: Still a lot of men uncomfortable...
MS. SHRIVER: Yeah, I know about that. Yeah. (Unintelligible)...with that
MR. GREGORY: But...
MS. SHRIVER: Not here at the table, though.
MR. GREGORY: Yes. No, of course.
MS. SHRIVER: No, not here. No, not at all.
MR. GREGORY: Because no, I have no ego. But no, but the issue of, you know,
are men comfortable talking about the fact that their wives earn more
than they do?
MS. SHRIVER: Well, I found men really receptive to this conversation.
That's why we really wanted to make sure that this report had a whole
chapter on men, because men are asking, "What is expected of us today? We
want to be more involved in the caretaking of our children."
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. SHRIVER: "We, we don't like, really, the way our fathers did it and
we, and we are more involved. We understand that elder care is a huge
issue, and we don't know how much we should be involved or we want to be
involved." But one of the--Valerie was talking about some of the best
practices of businesses.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. SHRIVER: Businesses that bring men and women together do better than
those that don't, because men don't know what women are talking about.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. SHRIVER: And they need to be brought up to speed about what women
want, what women expect and what women need in order to be successful at
work and at home.
MR. GREGORY: Well, and it's interesting, too. You talk about--from, from the
report about how businesses should deal with the issue. And what the report
talks about this, about--specifically about businesses. The
conversation's no longer about whether women will work, but rather about
how businesses are dealing with the fact that the work force is
increasingly made up of women and that most workers today, men and women,
share in at least some of those care responsibilities.
MR. PODESTA: Right. And, and clearly women still bear the burden of
caring for both children and elderly parents more than men, but I think
that's changing. There's more equality in the workplace.
But to, to your previous question, David, I think that one of the reasons
we did the poll with Rockefeller and Time magazine was to ask the
question of men, how do they feel about this?
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MR. PODESTA: Eighty percent said they were fine with women earning more
than, than men in the household. So I think attitudes have really
changed. And the reason they've changed is because families are extremely
dependent today on the ability for a woman to bring home that paycheck.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. PODESTA: To, to provide for the well-being of the family. And I think
that's, that's not a women's issue or a men's issue, that's a family
issue and it's an economic issue. And I think that government and
business need to get on board on that and I think businesses need to be,
as, as was noted...
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. PODESTA: ...more flexible about creating the circumstance where women
and men can have the flexibility to lead good lives.
MR. GREGORY: So, Valerie Jarrett, before, before the woman leaves the home,
you know, to go to the business, what about dealing with her husband and
the idea of kind of what, what, what should we do as men here to sort of
adapt? Jamal Simmons--Maria and I have talked about this--wrote a
terrific essay in the report in which he says this: "Relationships these
days are different. The woman you committed to today may have the same
name and Social Security number as the woman you” were--you “are with
tomorrow, but she may want completely different things in her life at
different times in your life with her. The only remaining rule seems to
be: Stay flexible."
MS. JARRETT: Well, isn't that, isn't that probably the best advice is
that as you grow up in relationships, of course they evolve over time and
you do have to be flexible and you do have to communicate.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MS. JARRETT: You have to talk to each other about the challenges. I think
that more and more men are paying attention to the challenges that their,
that their significant others are facing and, and what it's like to get
your child before you have to leave for work in the morning and having
appropriate day care. We have to be investing more in day care so that
women have a safety net. On the campaign trial the first lady used to
often say, and I thought she said it so well, that if you're worried
about your children, you can't breathe.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
MS. JARRETT: And every mother knows that feeling. And so making sure that
there is a safety net around. But I also make--want to make another
point, just to be clear. Although women are oftentimes making more money
than men, let's be clear that in the same jobs they're not. Women are
still paid, you know, significantly less than men for the same job. And
so as we're looking at the work force, we also have to be cognizant of
what we need to do to make sure that women can compete at equal levels.
And so that begins with education. And one of our investments in the
Obama administration is trying to get more women into science,
technology, engineering and math, so that they can go into fields and
really compete on a level playing field with men. So I don't want to give
the impression that in the work force women still are paid at an equal
level. They're not.
MR. GREGORY: Right. The--yeah.
MS. SHRIVER: No. And I think a very important point is that 70 percent of
the job losses in this recession have been in male-dominated businesses,
and therefore, the women are the primary breadwinners and they make less
than the man. They don't have the benefits very often associated with the
man's job. So all of this--that's why all of these institutions need to
change. The government can become a model employer. Best practices that
businesses are, you know, putting forth, whether it's Deloitte, whether
it's 10000 Women, whether it's IBM, virtual employers, telecommuting;
there's a lot of really interesting stuff going on in the country, but it
all rests on you need to be paid equally for the work.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. SHRIVER: And, and that the, the government can really step forward
and set an agenda for a modern workplace.
MR. GREGORY: It's interesting, but--and to that point, because this is
not--you know, in, in some couples it may be both people are working and
maybe that, that's a choice that they're making, that it's not about
money. In a lot of homes it isn't a choice, you know; they--you need both
men--the husband and the wife working. This is--one of the polls
associated with this report found what needs to change in the workplace,
and what do workers want to change. And look at that, among men and women
by far the biggest demand was for more flexible work hours. And, Maria,
it was interesting. Just this week I had a conversation at NBC News with
a, a female executive about some of the things that I'm doing inside
of--not my hours, per se, but some of the things that I should be engaged
in. And one of the things that came up in that conversation, I said,
"Look, I need to factor this in a little bit with my wife's schedule,
because she's traveling more as a lawyer." And I thought to myself, you
know, 20 years ago with--and her response, by the way, was, "Absolutely.
Well, you've got to come to me, let me know what works." And I thought,
would that conversation have happened 20 years ago, you'd have a female
executive and somebody in my position bringing these issues up?
MS. SHRIVER: No. And the other point of that is that so many women in our
poll also expressed a fear about asking for that in their workplace.
MR. GREGORY: Hm.
MS. SHRIVER: They feel that if they do go forward and say, "I need time
off for elder care or child care," or "I'll be late," or "My spouse is
traveling," or "I'm a single mom," they can't ask for it or they'll be
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. SHRIVER: ...by asking for it.
MR. GREGORY: And, John, let's be fair. I mean, if we were both in that
position, would we have brought that same issue up with a male executive?
If it hadn't been a female executive, would we have felt safe saying,
"Hey, listen, I've got to factor this in with my wife a little bit"?
MR. PODESTA: Well, you know, this is an ongoing conversation, David.
That's why we're negotiating across this table and across kitchen tables
around the country. But there's no question. Look, UK--the United Kingdom
took the step of giving people the right to at least have a negotiation
with the boss, that they have a legal right that they can raise it with
their boss. And I think that one of the things that the administration
could do, that the federal government could do is become a model employer
with respect to this--we tried to do that to some extent during the
Clinton administration, I think the Obama administration's trying to move
that forward--so that people do have a right and a comfort zone to go in
and say, "Look, I've got a sick child, I've got an elderly parent, I need
to accommodate my schedule to take care of this." Valerie mentioned in
the earlier segment, if your kid's sick, make sure that they stay home if
they have the flu. Well, if you're telling that to a person who doesn't
have the ability to take that day off with pay, that's a very different
request than telling someone that who, who does.
MR. GREGORY: Right. Well, ultimately...
MR. PODESTA: So I think we need to, we need to alter the way we deal in
the work force, and we need to provide people with more opportunity.
MR. GREGORY: But isn't the issue--I mean, whether it's, whether it's the
workplace or whether it's government, ultimately there has to be more
momentum that's built up. And maybe it's more and more men saying, "Hey,
I need this kind of flexibility, too." What really forces change? Because
what you see out of that graphic up there is that, you know, the way we
work, the way our institutions operate--you've mentioned this, John, in
your writing on this--like school getting out at 3:00, it's not
compatible with this desire among more and more men and women to say,
"Look, I need to stagger this up so I can try to make more of this work."
MS. JARRETT: Well, I think that's exactly right. And part of what we do
is what we're doing right now, we're putting the spotlight on the issue.
And when the president created the White House Council on Women and
Girls, he put the spotlight right on the issue as well. The fact that he
has a woman who's the Labor secretary, whose office is looking at these
issues right now and figuring out what's the best way to support our
labor force and encourage positive behavior, not necessarily penalize
negative behavior. But let's put the spotlight on companies that are
absolutely doing the right thing and who are successful, who are growing,
who are expanding and who recognize that if you give the flexibility to
your work force, you actually have a more productive work force.
MR. GREGORY: The, the issue in all of this, though, Maria, that has to be
factored in, is are all of these changes really the best thing for
society? And there are different views about this. Look at the polling on
this. The impact of fewer stay-at-home parents on society, positive or
negative? Most people thing it's negative. And now look at this, in terms
of the political divide. Among Republicans, 81 percent think it's
negative; among Democrats, a much different number, 53 percent. There are
still very different views, and it does break down politically about
whether this is the right thing.
MS. SHRIVER: Well, I think everybody thinks it's a good thing that when a
child comes home from school or a child is home sick to have a parent or
a caretaker there. That's why the right to request flexibility is so
important in this country today. What people said in this poll over and
over again is that these institutions have not kept up with the change in
American life. They don't see themselves reflected in the media. They
don't see enough of these kinds of conversations going on in the media.
They feel government is not modern, is not smart about the way it deals
with the American family. So I think that people, people also
overwhelmingly think it's been good that women have gone to work. But if
they can go to work, come home, split their day in some way, be there for
their children, then people, I would think, get the best of both worlds.
MR. GREGORY: Let's talk about this in the context of, of politics. You know,
you see Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail last year. You know, a lot
of people think she could have certainly been the president had she
defeated Barack Obama in the primaries. Sarah Palin was first woman
running as a vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party. John
Podesta, when, when does--when do our politics reflect some of the change
that we're seeing in this report?
MR. PODESTA: Well, so far, I think it's a lagging indicator. You know, I
think that if you look at what's happened in the professions, etc., and
you look at what's happened in politics, it's still a tough road to hoe.
I think particularly an executive, although we've had women governors and
obviously we've now had women run fairly successfully for, for the top
jobs in our country. But I think it's a kind of lagging indicator. And I
think that as society changes, though, we'll see more and more women.
Obviously, we now have a women--woman speaker of the House.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. PODESTA: And so the society is changing; more and more that will be
reflected, I think, in the way we see our politics. But right now I think
it's still a, a tougher burden for a woman to run for, for office.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
You talked about your own mom, Eunice Shriver, in that she--today she
could run and she could probably win. And yet Hillary Clinton, with all
the access that she had in the Democratic Party, with a former president
as a husband, she was unable to prevail. Are there other women who really
have the ability to marshal those kinds of resources and that kind of
momentum behind a candidacy?
MS. SHRIVER: Well, I think--sure. I think what was interesting to me in
going around the country, though, a lot of women looked at well-known
women who were in politics or running businesses and they said, "I don't
want that life, because those women are treated poorly, they get knocked
around. Why would I want to put myself out there and just get the
you-know-what kicked out of me, for what?" So I think it's not that women
aren't confident, but women view success differently than men, they view
power differently than men and they often want very different lives than
MR. GREGORY: To be continued, for sure. As I say, I think this conversation
will continue in a lot of places. Thank you all very much. You can find
much more information on A Woman's Nation, including the entire report,
it's on our Web site, mtp.msnbc.com.
And up next, a woman's nation in 1972? A look back to the year of the
Equal Rights Amendment, Title IX and the publication of Ms. magazine. The
activist editor Gloria Steinem right here on MEET THE PRESS, September
MR. DAVID MR. GREGORY: And we're back with our MEET THE PRESS Minute this
morning. In the 1960s, the civil rights movement in the United States was
in full swing. Women, angry about economic, social and political
inequality between the sexes, took their fight to the streets, demanding
equal pay for equal work. By the 1970s, the idea of equality for women
had become more mainstream, but the fight for equality in the workplace
continued. Women made up 36 percent of the work force but earned only 59
cents to the dollar of their male counterparts. Equality, sexism and the
women's movement, all issues discussed right here on MEET THE PRESS in
September of 1972. The guest: activist Gloria Steinem, who had just
launched the first mass circulated feminine magazine, Ms.
(Videotape, September 10, 1972)
MR. LAWRENCE E. SPIVAK: Miss Steinem, may I ask you a question? You made
a speech before the National Press Club this year and you said, and I
quote, "Women are not taken seriously. We are undervalued, ridiculed or
ignored by society, which consciously and unconsciously assumes that the
white male is the standard and the norm." Now, what's your explanation
for this serious state of affairs, in view of the fact that men--males
are at least virtually controlled and dominated by women from birth to
puberty and often beyond that? Why haven't you done a better job, if
you're as smart as you say you are?
MS. GLORIA STEINEM: Well, that's your statement, not mine, that men are
virtually controlled by women from, from birth onward. I mean, if you
take a very--an intelligent person with the normal hopes and ambitions
and confine her to the home, she becomes sometimes overdominating within
those four walls, as a man would be as well. But the truth of her
situation is that she has no real power over her life outside the home,
nor does she have power over the economics or the politics of her life.
So, you know, I, I wouldn't accept the premise of that statement.
MR. SPIVAK: Well, hasn't she an opportunity to brainwash the male during
those early, formative years? Why doesn't she do it?
MS. STEINEM: Well, the--I think it's beginning to change not to
brainwash, but to, to be objective for a change and to eliminate the sex
and the race stereotypes. But women have been encouraged to invest their
hopes and their dreams in their male children, and convinced that their
female children could not meet those expectations and to depend on their
male children in their old age and so on, and have, have been made to
realize the, the, the rather severe danger and risks of not perpetuating
the small amount of well-being that they have in the system as it is.
What kind of choice is it, after all, to be able to go out and earn half
as much as a man for doing the very same work? Could she support her
family? Could she support her children? Could her daughter--should she
tell her daughter that she could? I think not.
MR. GREGORY: We'll get reaction to that interview and ask our panel of Maria
Shriver, Valerie Jarrett and John Podesta about the women's movement of
the 1970s, plus answer your questions submitted online in our Take Two
Web Extra posted later today on our MEET THE PRESS Web site. Also, look
for updates from me throughout the week. It's all at mtp.msnbc.com. And
we'll be right back.
MR. DAVID MR. GREGORY: That's all for today. We'll be back next week. If it's
Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.