Face the Nation Transcripts April 13, 2014: Blackburn, McCain, Cummings


Below is a transcript of the April 13, 2014 edition of Face the Nation. Guests included: Sen. John McCain, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Katie Stallard, Michael Eric Dyson, Tavis Smiley, Evan Wolfson, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Peter Baker, Leigh Gallagher, Frank Rich, and Michael Gerson.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation , breaking news overnight from Ukraine, and we'll honor two monumental anniversaries---50 years apart, that brought out the best in America. Ukrainian forces and Russian militants are at a standoff in Eastern Ukraine after dangerous overnight developments. We'll have the latest from Ukraine and we'll talk to Senator John McCain about what this means. Then we'll ask Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn and Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings about HHS Secretary Sebelius' resignation AND the controversy over equal pay for women. 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, where are we on civil rights today? We'll have highlights from the Civil Rights summit at the LBJ Library in Austin, and our own summit with Tavis Smiley from PBS, Nikole Hannah-Jones of ProPublica and the Atlantic, Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown University and Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson. And we'll look back at the Boston Marathon attack, one year later. Plus we'll have an all star panel of analysts. 60 years of news because this is Face the Nation. Good morning again. Yesterday, pro Russian militants seized police stations in eastern Ukraine, there is chaos and confusion as Ukrainian officials say that gunfire were exchanged. Katie Stallard of Sky News is there, she filed this report for Sky News by phone.

KATIE STALLARD: We are in the center of Slavainisk, and we've just been at the police headquarters, which remains firmly in the hands of those armed protestors, they are opening carrying AK 47s, pistols and holsters on their hips and they remain firmly in control of that building. They are reinforcing their barricades. There was new delivery of tires, while we were filming. They have also filled sandbags and secured them with barbed wire and they are preparing to defend themselves. People are walking in the streets, there is a crowd in front of the police headquarters, cheering "Well done," cheering on the men who are inside. Chanting for a referendum, and chanting Donesk and Crimea are with Russia

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we are joined now by Senator John McCain, who was recently in Ukraine and more recently was sound asleep, when we got a hold of him at 6:00 this morning and told him about these developments and asked him to join us. Senator, thank you very much for coming in.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Is this the tipping point for something here, what's going on here? What's going on?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I think it's a result, very frankly, of our result to enact anything really meaningful and important as a result of Vladimir Putin's encrosion (SIC) and annexation under Crimea, which was predictable. And what he's doing now is predictable. The question--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think he's behind this? These--(OVERTALK)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: --of course. There's no doubt in anybody's mind, even though he would with a straight face tell the world's press that it was people who bought uniforms and went into Crimea. I mean, this is--

BOB SCHIEFFER: The State Department seems to agree with you on that.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Of course. I mean, there's without a doubt. The question is now what do we do and what does he do? It's obvious that he is encouraged by the fact that we sanctioned a few people and suspended him, didn't even throw him out, of the G8. And unless we act with firmness and strength, including beginning in my view with giving Ukrainians some weapons to defend themselves and some very, very severe sanctions that may cost our European friends and us something financially in the short term. But the other thing is the Ukrainians will fight. They didn't fight in Crimea and probably not. But if he starts moving in further encroachment in this way into Eastern Ukraine, they will fight. We ought to at least, for God's sake, give them some light weapons with which to defend themselves. So far, this administration's not only not done that, but they won't even share some intelligence with the Ukrainian government. I can tell you from my conversations with people in the government, they feel abandoned by us. And rightfully so. This is shameful.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Military officials estimate that the Russians have close to 50,000 troops we're told now on the Ukrainian border. They say those forces could move in less than 12 hours if they chose to. Satellite photos showing Russian jets parked tip to tip, wing tip to wing tip, and tanks and infantry fighting (?) trucks lined up in fields. Do you think-- (OVERTALK)

BOB SCHIEFFER:--they're actually going to move in to Ukraine?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I think he's weighing the cost/benefit right now. The options that he has, continue fomenting this discontent. Which, by the way, every day that goes on prevents the government in Kiev from making the changes and reforms, an election coming up. He's already dislocating and disturbing them and their ability to restore the economy. But one is to continue this and have kind of a de facto autonomous area. The others go all the way to Kiev, some believe that. The other scenario is to go south and go across to Moldova, where he has 1,400 Russian troops already in Transnistria of thereby making Ukraine a land-locked country. His actions will be gauged by our reactions. But he's obviously with all his troops amassed there, he is keeping those options open. And for us to keep talking about off-ramps, look, right now he's going full speed ahead down the freeway. And there's no tangible evidence of him having to pay a significant penalty. And by the way, severe penalties of sanctions can have an effect on their economy. They have a very fragile economy. It's the 13th-largest. It's a gas station masquerading as a country. So there are many actions we can take. But so far, there's been a lot of talk and no action. Remember what Lenin said? "The capitalists will hang themselves. And we'll sell them the rope to do it." Well, two former chancellors have justified and apologized for Putin's takeover of Crimea. So we've got to lead. And where is the president of the United States? Shouldn't the president of the United States be speaking forcefully and strongly? And didn't the president say if they carried out further actions, there would be further sanctions? So far, we haven't heard anything.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, the secretary of state said there will be additional consequences if they don't deescalate. But what--

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: But they haven't deescalated. In fact, they have now fomenting, using their GRU, secret service, special forces people thatare fomenting this discontent. People in Eastern Ukraine don't want this, even though they are leaning sort of pro-Russian. They don't want this kind of thing. They want a government of Ukraine. And unfortunately, I can tell you from talking to them, they feel we are not giving them the support that they need.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, thank you so much. We know you're headed back into that territory later today. Many thanks.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And back at our capitol, a lot of the same old same old. Republicans and Democrats fighting over equal pay for women and there was talk about the resignation of health and human services secretary Kathleen Sebelius. We're going to talk about that now first with Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She's in Nashville this morning. Congresswoman, thank you for joining us this morning. While you were in New Hampshire yesterday with a lot of the Republicans who are thinking about running for president, was there any consensus among them about what the resignation of Katherine Sebelius (SIC) means? And is it going to quiet the controversy over Obamacare?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: No, it's not going to quiet the controversy, Bob. I think it's quite the opposite. What it has done is to elevate some of the concerns. Burwell is an interesting choice. And I think there are many of us and probably a bit of a growing consensus that they know they've got a math problem with Obamacare. And the numbers are not going to work out so that the program is actuarially sound. And they're going to have to have somebody to kind of spin the numbers. And this is something with Burwell coming from O.M.B., I think they're expecting her to be able to do for them. How many of these seven million people have paid? How many actually signed up and paid and completed the process? How many got subsidies? How many are on Medicaid? How many are young? You know, if those numbers don't work out exactly right, they've got a big funding issue on their hands.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, will Republicans still run on repeal and replace? Or will they offer something different? Or will they try to fix this system that we now have?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: I think what you're going to see is a continue to repeal it and replace it. Now we know we're not going to get it off the books until this president is out of office...

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about this--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --debate over equal pay for women.


BOB SCHIEFFER: There was a lot of debate on that last week. Finally, Republicans blocked it in the Senate. Are Republicans against equal pay for women? And is that going to be a good political issue in these coming midterm elections?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: You know, I find-- this "war on women" rhetoric just almost silly. It is Republicans that have led the fight for women's equality. Go back through history and look at who was the first woman to ever vote, elected to office, go to Congress-- (OVERTALK)

BOB SCHIEFFER: But why did the Senate Republicans then block this?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: Well, because the legislation was something that was going to be helpful for trial lawyers. And what we would like to see happen is equal opportunity and clearing up some of the problems that exist that are not fair to women. We're all for equal pay. I would love for women to be focused on maximum wage. And I have fought to be recognized with equality for a long time. A lot of us get tired of guys condescending to us. But, you know, I gotta tell you, one of the things that we need to do is look at access to capital, small business owners that are female. That is their number one problem is access to capital. We need to also look at regulations, how that is affecting them. Obamacare has been very unfair to women. We hear a good bit about this. Women are the primary health care consumers in the country. 80% of all health care decisions are made by women, whether they're for their family or elderly relatives that they're caring for. And by the way, the White House paying women 88 cents for every dollar that a guy earns in--


REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN: --comparable positions. They need to go clean up their own act first.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, we have to stop there. There's so much news this morning, Congresswoman. We'll get the other side of this from the Democrats. But thank you.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings, who has come down from his district in Baltimore this morning. Congressman, thank you for--

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Good to be with you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --being here. What about this? Marsha Blackburn says that Republicans are actually for equal pay for women. But yet, it was blocked in the Senate by Republicans. What's going on here?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I respectfully disagree with my colleague. Keep in mind, Bob, that White women are making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. African American women and Hispanic women, 64 cents and 54 cents respectively. There's something absolutely wrong with that picture. I have not seen them leading. As a matter of fact, they seem to be very much against it. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me go back to Katherine Sebelius (SIC) and her resignation. You heard Marsha Blackburn say, and she was at this conference of this group of Republicans, many of whom were thinking about running for president. She says this is not going to change anything. What was the impact of her resignation?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Well, I think, first of all, I'm glad that Secretary Sebelius was able to accomplish all the things that she set out to do. Keep in mind, she was with the president from the very beginning of doing what no president has been able to do in over 50 years. That is bring health care to people who did not have it. She's accomplished what she had to accomplish. She set a goal of seven million signed up for private health care. She got 7.5 million. Three million others expanded Medicaid. She's accomplished a lot with regards to health care disparities, women's health. And she has brought us, Bob, closer to an HIV/AIDS free generation than anyone. So she's accomplished a lot. And now she hands the baton off to a wonderful public servant, Sylvia Burwell of O.M.B.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think that Obamacare is going to be an anchor, a rock around the neck of Democrats running this fall? It is, by every poll still very unpopular.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Yeah, I think that we have to go out there and argue the moral issues, Bob. And I've said that all the time. I've never ran away from Obamacare, because I see in my district (and I have a very diverse district) people who have been helped by it. And the idea that we now have gotten rid of preexisting conditions, which was affecting millions upon millions of Americans, stopping them from getting insurance. I think that's very significant. We have got to look at the good things. And we've got to go out there and make it clear that it's something good for America.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Is your sense of it that the problems with this system (not the disastrous rollout, I mean, that's over, but the problems with the system itself) is it your sense that those have more or less been smoothed out? Or will there be more problems ahead?

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I think that they have been smoothed out. When it comes to the website, the website was a significant problem. That goes back to Sebelius. She was able to, even with all of that and with opposition from the Republicans, she was still able to achieve the 7.5 million goal. And again, Bob, I think that it's going to be fine. And I think as far as the website situation, it will be a footnote in history.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Congressman, so good to see you again.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Good seeing you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Seldom do four presidents wind up at the same place but that's what happened last week at the LBJ library in Austin, where former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joined President Obama to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Here are some of their thoughts


Jimmy Carter: We are pretty much dormant now. We kind of accept self-congratulations about the wonderful 50th anniversary, which is wonderful, but we feel like: "you know, Lyndon Johnson did it, we don't have to do anything anymore. So I think too many people are at ease with the still existing disparity.

Bill Clinton: These divisions, and the lack of a spirit of coming together, put us back in the dust bin of old history. We have too many current challenges to waste a day trying to recreate a yesterday that we're better off done with. We have too many challenges to waste any opportunity to work together to deal with them.

Bush: Let me focus on one fact that is uncomfortable even to contemplate. According to the most recent testing, the average reading score for a white student at age 13 is about the same as an African-American at age 17 - that's a four-year, four-grade achievement gap. In an economy where higher skills are ever more necessary, that is scandalous. In a nation dedicated to equal opportunity, that is scandalous. Among the political heirs of King and Johnson and Dirkson and Humphrey, this should be a national scandal, demanding action.

President Obama: The story America is a story of progress. And that's true because of men like president Lyndon Baines Johnson... man -- born into poverty, weaned in a world full of racial hatred -- somehow found within himself the ability to connect his experience with the brown child in a small Texas town; the white child in Appalachia; the black child in watts. As powerful as he became in that oval office, he understood them. He understood what it meant to be on the outside. and he believed that their plight was his plight too; that his freedom ultimately was wrapped up in theirs; and that making their lives better was what the hell the presidency was for.


BOB SCHIEFFER: And to talk about all of it, we have assembled our own little summit on civil rights. We're joined by Nikole Hannah-Jones of Pro Publica and The Atlantic, Georgetown University's Michael Eric Dyson, plus Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and out in Los Angeles, PBS's Tavis Smiley. Nikole, I want to talk to you first, because you've done some recent research on this. Do you think George Bush is right? Is this a national scandal that we face here at the reading scores amongst Black African Americans is still so much than it is among Whites? And what is to be done about that?

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: Well, I've spent the last year focusing on re-segregation and really what integration did for our country. And what it did in terms of education and Black students was it greatly narrowed the achievement gap.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So are you saying we are re-segregating our schools? Is that what you've found?

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: Absolutely. I mean, you can look at the demographic data. I've particularly focused on the South, which has become the most integrated region of the country, because of federal action and court orders. And you are seeing that once districts are released from their court orders, they do start to take actions that re-segregate. And as that re-segregation has happened, the achievement gap has widened.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Michael, what's your take on this summit that we just had here and what Nikole has just said?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, the summit is extraordinary. To talk about Lyndon Baines Johnson, 50 years afterwards. Here, John F. Kennedy gained in death what he didn't necessarily earn in life, a burnished reputation for the achievement of civil rights. But the so-called redneck president from Texas did more for Black people, I would argue, than any president since Abraham Lincoln. He joined the figure I in 2000 called "the greatest American to ever live" Martin Luther King Junior in a kind of fellowship of common ideals, along with many others. But the civil rights leader and the president joined together to forge connections that were both prophetic and also politically savvy to forge difference and democracy in this nation. The tragedy is we have come down from that mountain. The Supreme Court has said that the very means by which we have achieved justice in terms of voting rights is a significant symbol that we no longer needed. That kind of logic is askew. So what we need to do is to recuperate and regenerate the same kind of prophetic passion that L.B.J. and M.L.K. had together.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Tavis Smiley, what's your take on where we are today on equality?

TAVIS SMILEY: I think it's fair, Bob, to say that it's a mixed bag. There are some Americans who are gaining ground and other Americans who are losing ground. It's as if the American house is putting out the welcome mat for some groups, but still posting "no trespassing" signs on the lawn for other groups. I sense that our nation, back to what President Carter said on tape a few moments ago, that there is a sort of fundamental fairness for (UNINTEL) that has afflicted too many of our fellow citizens. As Dr. Dyson was just intimating, for Dr. King and others in the movement, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act were the starting line. It was not the finish line. So that 50 years later, we need to have a conversation, Bob, not just about civil rights, C-I-V-I-L, but about silver rights, S-I-L-V-E-R. That is to say, economic rights, economic freedom. Black folk lag behind in every leading economic category, 50 years later, even in the Obama era. And the bottom line is this. If you don't have economic freedom, you really aren't free. So that poverty then becomes a sort of new slavery. So the time has come for us to have a conversation again, not just about civil rights and celebrating that 50 years later, but how do we get on, Bob, talking about economic rights for all Americans?