SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
This week growth in the gross domestic product but not in consumer confidence. The House version of a health care bill heads to a vote and violence continues throughout the region of the Middle East.
NPR's senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.
DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: And let's start with the economy, because this week the government said the economy grew for the first time in a year. On the other hand, stocks tumbled on Friday because consumer confidence is down.
SCHORR: You said it. The word is on the other hand. That's the way our economy is these days. Almost any week now, you can get something which is looking up and maybe the recession is over or about to be over. But on the other hand, go and look at employment statistics and for those who are unemployed the idea the recession is over doesn't seem to have very much meaning. It's a hard one to wait out because it's such a mixture of on the other hand.
SIMON: Let me ask you about the health care debate too because after months of debate it looks like the first major vote on health care legislation might be on track. President Obama, of course, has made this really the number one priority domestically. Speaker Pelosi's version of this bill has, I believe, 2,000 pages.
SCHORR: That's right.
SIMON: I know you've read them all.
SCHORR: I haven't read them all but I've read a good sampling of the first two paragraphs.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: All right. So tell us what's in it, yeah.
SCHORR: Tell you what's in it. They're getting ready now for the big showdown.
SCHORR: And the showdown in the end happens not over health insurance and health care but comes out over something was an ideological problem in this country forever, and that is the participation of government. The House version of this bill does have in it a form of government insurance which would be set up in order to compete with private plans.
That faces one test in the House and faces another test in the Senate. It really is quite remarkable how with all the things that we need to know about these 2,000 pages, in the end it comes out to this great ideological fight about what the government is allowed to do and not allowed.
SIMON: And on the topic of health, more swine flu reported across the country this week, including deaths. In fact, 19 of them were children. Vaccine is still in short supply. The lines are very long for people to get vaccinated. President Obama is openly frustrated with the delay.
SCHORR: Yes, well, the whole country is frustrated. You know what this reminds me of? This is sort of the Katrina syndrome. You have a great disaster, and the federal government doesn't react to it fast enough or well enough. And then you blame the government. In this - and there were reasons to blame the Bush administration where things were very bad then. But here you have the fact that a new - a new serum is being tried, manufactured. The manufacturers gave an estimate of how soon they would have it, didn't quite work out. And what does the American public want to know? Who's at fault and whom to blame? I guess that's how we live with these days - is the Katrina syndrome of no matter what happens, whom do we blame in the government.
SIMON: Let's get back to Congress for a moment. Some members of the House have been scrambling to try and clear their names after some of them popped up in a House Ethics Committee document that was leaked or inadvertently leaked, perhaps.
SCHORR: Very inadvertently leaked. You know, I love it because I'm not a person of the digital age. And so I see when the digital age�
SIMON: You're a tweeter. You have a Twitter account.
SCHORR: Well, I'm a tweeter(ph), but when you see the way the digital age manages to trip them up - what happened is they've got a report which included some 30 names of members of Congress and members of the staff who have to be investigated for various possible sins that they've committed against the ethics. And how did it get out? It wasn't meant to get out. But somebody had this list of suspects on his computer in a place where he thought people couldn't get to it, but he had it in the wrong place and it became available. And so all these efforts to keep things secret - very, very difficult in the digital age.
SIMON: To international news - a lot of events this week in that arc of the world where violence is really a daily report - Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Without stretching to make generalizations about three different countries, I know you have some thoughts about the afflictions that they're all sharing at the moment.
SCHORR: Well, yes. My thought simply is what a dismal kind of world we live in. We hardly seem to be solving the one problem before the trouble breaks out right next door. Iraq was where things were supposed to be going pretty well. Now we have another upsurge of violence. Question now becomes will they have problems with the Iraq election next January or is that going to be in trouble? Meanwhile, they're still struggling over whether Kabul will preside over an election or not, or what trouble there will be there. And now in Pakistan, where you have large explosions again where there's supposed to be an offensive mounted against the Taliban, but the Taliban keeps simply coming back.
You simply wonder, is any one of this vast swath of countries in this part of the world which will settle down for a while? And it doesn't look that way.
SIMON: And nearby, Iran, which at one point had seemed to agree to have its uranium - its stocks of uranium that it wanted to enrich, have that done in Russia and in France, now seems to say, according to reports, no, no, no, that can't be done, it has to be enriched in our country.
SCHORR: That is Iran, and a week. They say we want to talk to you. Yes, we will do this. All right, how about we send our low-enriched uranium to Russia to be high-enriched and then to France? And so it won't be here - you don't have to worry(ph). Great, oh, that's a wonderful idea. All right, we'll let you know. Comes time to let them know, they say, nah, we really like having the uranium in our country, we want to keep it here, and that's our right to do. And they were back - right back to square one with Iran, where we will be many times.
SIMON: And some people would say that's why it's a waste of time to talk.
SCHORR: Well, some people do say, especially Israel, will say that it is not worth talking to them. But you have to play the game out, so this administration feels, and they're going to play out the game.
SIMON: Thanks, Dan Schorr.
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