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ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll out today finds Americans want their leaders to compromise.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

But while that's the hope, the poll shows they don't have much confidence it'll actually happen.

SCHMITZ: Joining us to talk about this and more is NPR senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro, who has all the numbers as usual. Good morning, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey, Rob.

SCHMITZ: Domenico, there will be a new Congress sworn in in just a few weeks. Is the idea of compromise even likely?

MONTANARO: Well, people say often that they want compromise, but usually they want the other side to compromise with them.

SCHMITZ: Yeah, that's what I thought you would say.

MONTANARO: But the finding in this poll was striking because it wasn't a small number who are saying so. Seventy-four percent say they want members of Congress to compromise, rather than stand on principle, which is actually the highest level we've seen in a decade. And we're headed into a divided government here in Washington. And it's notable that people want, as one Republican respondent who wanted to see compromise told me, members of Congress to, quote, "stop acting like children." But the incentives in Congress tend to lean in the opposite direction. You know, for example, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy wants to be speaker, and to get 218 votes from his conference to get there, he's probably going to have to make some steep concessions to the far right, not the middle, most likely.

SCHMITZ: Right.

MONTANARO: And those realities and what we've seen over the past decade or so isn't really engendering hope of compromise. Fifty-eight percent in the polls say they have no confidence the parties will do so. People have become far more pessimistic about their leaders. In 2008, it was only 23% that said they had no confidence, so a huge shift here. And it's been Republicans who have been the least likely to compromise or want compromise.

SCHMITZ: Does the poll say anything about what people want Congress to do?

MONTANARO: Overall, they want Congress to tackle inflation. You know, it's still a top concern. That's followed by preserving democracy and immigration, which has seen a surge. But Republicans and Democrats, I have to tell you, seem like they're coming from Mars or Venus or some other planets, because when it comes to the issues, they're pretty far apart. I mean, take immigration and climate change, for example. Republicans think immigration should be a top priority, though likely not in the kind of comprehensive way that Democrats want or is needed, but only 1% of Democrats think it should be a priority. On the other hand, Democrats think climate change should be a top priority, but only 1% of Republicans do - so very far apart on their concerns, which makes compromise all the more difficult.

SCHMITZ: That's right. And we've also heard so much after these midterm elections about what the results mean for President Biden and, for that matter, former President Trump, who has already announced that he's running again. What does the poll say about how people feel about them?

MONTANARO: Well, neither of them have the majority support of potential voters in their respective primaries. Majorities say they'd prefer to have someone else, and yet both are the frontrunners still at this point to get the nominations again. Biden, for example, has just 35% who say that they'd prefer that he ran in 2024 as their standard bearer. But they don't seem to love any of the other alternatives. You know, Vice President Kamala Harris, for example, gets just 17%. Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, gets only 16%. On the Republican side, despite all the buzz around Florida Governor Ron DeSantis - and it is very real - you know, Republican primary voters say they'd prefer Trump over DeSantis, 46 to 33%, with former Vice President Pence getting just 8%. So it really just shows that, like in 2016, a crowded field really is Trump's best friend. And that is a big thing that a lot of people are pointing to, even as Republican primary voters continue to say that they're unsure of Trump and that he maybe doesn't have the best political skills or helped the party in the last few elections.

SCHMITZ: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Thank you.

MONTANARO: You're welcome.

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SCHMITZ: Protests continue in Peru over the removal of President Pedro Castillo a week ago. On Wednesday, Castillo's replacement, his former Vice President Dina Boluarte, declared a national emergency for 30 days to try to get things under control.

MARTÍNEZ: At least seven people have died in the protests, which broke out shortly after Castillo was arrested on rebellion charges when he moved to disband the Congress, which was trying to impeach him for a third time.

SCHMITZ: Associated Press reporter Regina Garcia Cano joins us this morning from Lima. Good morning, Regina.

REGINA GARCIA CANO: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

SCHMITZ: So explain what this state of emergency is supposed to do.

GARCIA CANO: Sure. So the country's latest government has truly struggled to calm down this violent protest, particularly in rural areas that are far from the capital, Lima. So the declaration is meant to give the government the ability to act faster and with stronger force, right? So it suspends some of people's rights, including the ability to assemble, to protest, to move freely. So they can't really go out into the streets like they've done before. And it also gives some authorities the ability to search people's homes without permission or a judicial order. And so that is key to this, and also the fact that the armed forces will begin to assist the national police in security in certain infrastructure like airports that - you know, some of which have been - or have had to suspend activities because of the protests in the past few days.

SCHMITZ: So police are now given the right to search people's homes when they want to? I mean, that sounds like just sweeping powers. Is there any way to tell so far whether this is having any effect on protests?

GARCIA CANO: I think we will really see that today. Some of the - I mean, we can already see a military presence in certain areas where the protests have been particularly violent. But a test of this will really be today after, you know, we hear the decision from a judge regarding Castillo's detention for - possible detention for 18 months.

SCHMITZ: What do you think we'll see today?

GARCIA CANO: I think, you know, yesterday when the hearing began, we were already seeing people assembling outside the jail where Castillo is being held. So, you know, it will likely happen again. He has called on his supporters to gather there, so I think that will truly be a test to see whether authorities will respond quickly and with a stronger force than they've had in the past.

SCHMITZ: So Boluarte was Castillo's vice president, but the protesters want her out of office. And Congress does not appear to have much confidence in her either. What's the outlook on her political prospects?

GARCIA CANO: Not great. She's really going to have to work hard on getting along with Congress. She has no supporters at the moment, and so she will really have to work with them if she wants to survive. Here, Congress does not hesitate to flex their impeachment powers. In 2020, the country had three presidents in one week. So it really will depend on her ability.

SCHMITZ: That's Regina Garcia Cano of the Associated Press. Thanks.

GARCIA CANO: Thank you.

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SCHMITZ: Israel's longest-serving prime minister expects to be back in power soon.

MARTÍNEZ: Benjamin Netanyahu led his party to success in recent elections. He did that despite an ongoing trial for alleged corruption during his last time in power. So he's likely to become prime minister for the third time, as long as he can assemble a majority of Israel's fragmented parliament. And that effort has drawn widespread criticism because the conservative leader has made allies of far-right and extremist figures. In an NPR interview, Netanyahu offered his most detailed defense yet of his alliance with a convicted extremist who - now in line to oversee Israeli police.

SCHMITZ: Netanyahu spoke with our colleague Steve Inskeep, who joins me now. Good morning, Steve.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning, Rob.

SCHMITZ: Who is this convicted extremist?

INSKEEP: His name is Itamar Ben-Gvir. And our colleague Daniel Estrin, who's based in Israel, calls him Israel's most polarizing far-right politician. You mentioned the conviction. It's in 2007, he was convicted of supporting an anti-Arab group that has been labeled a terrorist organization. In the past, he's talked of expelling Arabs from Israel. Now, they are about 20% of the population who identify as Palestinian.

SCHMITZ: Wow.

INSKEEP: He said Arabs in Israel's parliament were disloyal. In fairness, many of those remarks were years ago. But just this year, in a TV interview, he said, quote, "Disloyal Arabs should be expelled from their country."

SCHMITZ: This just sounds extreme. How does Netanyahu defend this?

INSKEEP: In part by saying that Ben-Gvir is a politician who will work for him, Netanyahu, who doesn't hold those views necessarily. In our interview, Netanyahu said he's going to make the policy decisions, not the far-right figures.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: They're joining me. I'm not joining them. I'll have two hands firmly on the steering wheel.

INSKEEP: But, Rob, there is a more specific question about why this particular person, Ben-Gvir, would get the specific job that he's in line for.

What makes him valuable as head of the police, of all things?

NETANYAHU: Well, I think one of the things that we've seen is the erosion of internal security in Israel. It's a big, big issue. I have to say his party ran on that. He says, I want to be tested. I think I can bring security to Arabs and Jews alike, the Arab citizens and Jewish citizens alike. That was his campaign promise. We have a coalition. I said, you'll be given the chance. You'll be given the tools. You better do the job. And I think that time will see.

INSKEEP: Now, I asked him, should Palestinian citizens of Israel really trust this person to oversee the police? And the prime minister-designate said he doesn't expect people to trust anybody's promises, but wait and see what they do. And he's saying the same about a far-right figure in his coalition who's questioned the rights of people who identify as LGBTQ.

SCHMITZ: Wow. We mentioned Netanyahu is about to be prime minister for the third time. He already served 15 years, more than anybody since Israel was founded. What's his place in Israel's history?

INSKEEP: It is large, and he's working to give his own idea of that. He just published a memoir called "Bibi," which is his nickname. He talks of building Israeli relations in recent years as prime minister with Arab nations like the UAE and Morocco and Sudan, which really is a historic achievement, although in building those alliances, he's explicitly gone around the Palestinians who are much closer to home. Of course, Israel has occupied the West Bank since a war in 1967. Now, when we spoke, Netanyahu talked of improving Palestinian lives but not allowing them an equal say in their own security. So he will inherit a conflict that is even longer than his long career.

SCHMITZ: Steve Inskeep, thank you.

INSKEEP: You're welcome.

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SCHMITZ: And we have one more story for you this morning. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday for the seventh time in the last nine months in its continuing effort to get inflation under control.

MARTÍNEZ: November's inflation rate was 7%, down from June's four-decade high of 9%, which shows inflation is cooling. But while yesterday's rate hike of half a percentage point was smaller than the last four, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is determined to get inflation back to the 2% that it's been for decades.

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JEROME POWELL: Of course, we welcome these better inflation reports for the last two months. They're very welcomed. It's good to see progress. But let's just understand, we have a long ways to go to get back to price stability.

SCHMITZ: Of course, higher borrowing costs on things like home and car loans or carrying a balance on a credit card are having an effect on the economy. The central bank is already forecasting slower growth next year and slightly higher unemployment. But Powell says he's hopeful we won't see a huge number of job cuts.

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POWELL: Generally, companies want to hold on to the workers they have because it's been very, very hard to hire. That doesn't sound like a labor market where a lot of people will need to be put out of work.

MARTÍNEZ: What really concerns the Fed is the rising cost of services. That's largely driven by the cost of labor and wage increases, which have made the resulting price increases sticky. For example, the price of haircuts rose 6.8% in the last 12 months, and dry-cleaning jumped 7.9%. Here's Powell again.

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POWELL: The goods inflation has turned pretty quickly now. After not turning at all for a year and a half, now it seems to be turning. But there's an expectation, really, that the services inflation will not move down so quickly so that we may have to raise rates higher.

SCHMITZ: Fed policymakers now think their benchmark interest rate will top out next year at just over 5%. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.