08/01/2013 Newsnight


Is Labour the party of skivers? Do Romanians want to live in Britain? Can a trillion dollar coin help America dodge the debt ceiling? David Bowie's new release.

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Who is being fair on welfare? Today's cuts are an attack on


strivers, say Labour, wrong says the Government. We are being fair


to those in work, and paying taxes. I think they should work, same as


anybody else. In the other countries they don't get benefits.


We have to work for car, food and holidays we have, twice a year.


will debate whether all this is a price worth paying for deficit


reduction. 27 million Bulgarians and Rumanians gained the right to


live and work in Britain at the end of the year. So are we about to


become the land of opportunity for a new wave of immigrants? If the


quality of my life will improve, if I will be able to find a better job


and my life will become better, yeah, I would go.


Could the solution to America's political gridlock over the debt


ceiling lie with minting a trillion dollar coin. We will explain why a


crazy idea is being taken a bit seriously in Washington.


# Where are we now Bowie is back. The great shape


shifter who seemed to have given up on music, has a new single, album


and plenty of surprises on his 66th birthday.


Good evening, today we got something of a flavour, not just of


the political year ahead, but prarpbs of the debates raging at


Westminster and elsewhere in the country for the next two years.


"rancid" was the word David Miliband used to describe some of


the tone of the discussions on welfare, as MPs voted to place a 1%


cap on benefit up-ratings over the next three years. That means a


real-term cut on the large majority of working age benefits and tax


credits. Four Liberal Democrats rebelled against the measure, but


the coalition remained firms. Ministers argue the welfare budget


is so large, it has to be trimmed as part of the overall strategy to


cut the deficit. We will debate in a moment. Paul Mason reports.


If you have ever wondered what the frontline of a political


battlefield looks like, it is this. In the Commons, it was fought more


in sorrow than in ideology. Table tapping, rather than tub-thumping


from Iain Duncan Smith. The reality is that over the last five years,


following the recession, the gap has grown between what people in


employment have been earning and getting, and what those on welfare


have been getting. Labour, whose Shadow Cabinet had been split over


whether to oppose this measure, fighting a battle of language as


well as substance. This bill discuss to to make three judgments,


about fairness, affordability and politics, the Chancellor's claim in


his Autumn Statement that the bill was about distinguishishing working


people and those "asleep, living a life on benefits", has been blown


out of the water by the facts that have come out since. Four Liberal


Democrats rebelled, and the vote was never in doubt. The Government


won the vote with a majority of 56, they didn't mention scroungers or


shirkers, but beyond Westminster, after weeks of controversy about


this bill, it is being discussed in visceral terms.


Luton is the kind of place where today's real-terms cut will be felt.


15% of the adult population claim benefits, and with a local average


wage �2,000 lower than the national, many workers here will be getting


the tax credits that were capped today. But on the streets of this


solid Labour town, well, vox pops are never scientific. If you want


to work then you should work, I know a colleague of mine he works,


but his wife doesn't, he needs the benefits system as well. People who


abuse it, I think they should get it scrapped all together. Cutting


back is good, you have to take into consideration people's


circumstances before you cut the benefits. How are you going to go


about cutting it, they need to live at the same time. We think they


should make it tougher. Tougher to get benefits in the first place.


think they should work, same as anybody else. Other countries don't


get work. We have to work to get food and a car and holidays that we


have, twice a year. It was Mrs Thatcher in 1986 who brought in the


Family Credit system, designed, then, to support the incomes of the


working poor. By the end of it, 750,000 families were claiming it,


and the bill was �2.4 billion. In 1999, Gordon Brown introduced the


more generous working families tax credit, by by 2003 was being


claimed by 1.3 million families, and cost �6.3 billion. Then, this


was replaced with the Working Tax Credit and the children's tax


credit. 4.3 million families, in work, claimed it then, 4.9 million


now. But, it is the costs that have risen. For the working families


alone, it has gone from �11.3 billion, to �21 billion today.


growth of the welfare system, particularly under the previous


Government, through things like tax credits, has meant we are at this


stage now where people earning up to �60,000, until recently, could


have been entitled to some kind of welfare. Child benefit was going to


everybody, universal benefits going to pensioners who are wealthy. At


one stage, according to Government figures, nine in ten families


qualified for some tax credits and welfare. It is a vast system and


trapped people in it. If you Google words like "benefits protest" it is


protests like this. There is fury among recipients of disability


benefits. The Government's thoughts are no such ructions will take


place over the 1% cap. But for Labour, this is a fight they have


to join. This cap represents for the first time since 1930, where


the incomes of those in or out of work will fall as a deliberate act


of Government policy. The last time it happened under a Labour


Government, that attempted to do that, and ended up collapsing with


the then Prime Minister going into coalition with the Conservatives.


Actually, this is deep within Labour history. Labour had no


choice but to oppose this cap on that basis.


The problem s the tax credit system was designed in an era of rising


real income, now, they are stagnating. In 2000, the household


disposable income was growing at 5% a year. Long before the financial


crash wages began to slow down, by 2010 they were falling. Pre-dating


the crash, people's wages started stagnating, from 2004 on wards, the


bottom half of wages in this country from flatlining. The


problem with tax credits, although they were the means, they are a


lifeline for millions in this country, but they are basically a


subsidy for low pay, because businesses aren't paying their


workers properly, Labour didn't tackle that sufficiently in


Government. Now the position Labour should be making, is instead of


subsidising employers paying out rubbish wage, that we should have a


living wage which would bring down the billion spent on tax credits,


rather than at the moment kicking the people at the bottom, which is


what this Government is doing. debate has exposed tensions on both


sides of politics, some in the coalition, queasy about the


language of blame attached to benefit claimants. Labour,


meanwhile, left defending the Blair-Brown era welfare system,


which those close to Ed Miliband, are convinced needs radical reform.


Alongside one-nation Labour, we have now got a Conservative Party


deeply concerned about the wage differentials of the workers. Just


over an hour ago I spoke to Sajid Javid, Economic Secretary to the


Treasury, and to Stephen Timms, the shadow Employment Minister.


Stephen Timms, 30% of Government spending is spent on welfare, do


you accept, as a matter of principle, it has to be put


somewhere to cut the deficit? deficit certainly does have to cut.


Just, sorry to interrupt right away, does welfare spending have to be


cut to cut the deficit? We have to reduce the number of people out of


work in order to reduce the spending on their benefits, yes.


Your answer implies, again, that there isn't a benefit that you


don't like. You don't want to cut benefits for the disabled, you


don't want to cut benefits for people out of work, you don't even


want to cut child benefit for those who are quite well off, what do you


want to cut? Disabled people's benefits, the Secretary of State


said in the debate they would be protected by this bill, that isn't


the case. That became clear later on. If you compare the unemployment


forecast in the budget, with the unemployment forecast in the Autumn


Statement just before Christmas. The later one is significantly


higher, that means the Government will have to spend out an extra �3


billion over the next two years on unemployment benefit, this bill


saves �3 billion. That is what is behind the bill, to clawback the


increase because of unemployment going up. You have an argument


there that I will put to the other side. Is there a benefit that you


would target that is ripe for cutting. Or are you saying the


welfare benefits are sacrosanct, but you want to target them by


getting people off benefits, that is a different solution?


solution to the problem we are is to get people back into work.


Everybody wants to do that? It is not happening. We have made


proposals that can make it happen. We need to reinject some momentum


into the economy, get people back to work, and then the unemployment


bill will come down. In that case, when Labour is elected by a


landslide in 2015, you will come in 2016, when these three years run


out, you will reverse all this? we will, however, want to get


people back to work, we have set out last week how we will do that.


The bill you have voted against, you will not reverse in 2016?


will depend on the circumstances at the time. We will, however,


concentrate very hard on getting people back to work, so they are


paying taxes, the national insurance and not on benefits any


more. The argument, partly the core of that, that people have been


making all day, is that when you came up with this bill, you knew


that you were going to penalise the poorest people in this country for


their poverty, that is what is going to happen? That's not what's


going to happen at all. First of all, the opening question you had


for Stephen, that was how are you going to deal with the deficit? The


previous Government left this country with the largest budget


deficit. We know, that you are doing it, partly, but penalising


the poorest people in the country, including the disabled? You can't


deal with the deficit without dealing with the welfare well. It


is over �200 billion, it is one in every three pounds raised in taxes,


you have to deal with it. So you are, morally, you think it is fine


to penalise some of the poorest people in the country? The poorest


people in the country, the most vulnerable, such as pensioners,


people disabled, are protected. They are not there. That is not


what the disability groups are saying today, they are saying that


is absolutely not the case, they are suffering real cuts in the


employment and other allowances, there were figures announced today?


The Government has published the impact assessment today, the most


vulnerable are rightly protected, those on out of work benefits, that


have the ability to look for work, change their circumstances, are the


oneing that is will be affected by this change. This change -- ones


that will be affected by this change. It doesn't mean no increase


in welfare fits ts 1% over three years brb benefits, it is 1% over


three years. It is less than inflation. You refer to your own


impact assessment, single parents will lose �5 a week, that is


according to your assessment? is looking at the measures in


isolation. Looking at the other measures, the increase in the


personal allowance, taken together, that increase alone is almost �590


extra in the pocket of a basic rate taxpayer. Do you accept that even


if George Osborne's rhetoric was right, that there are some people


who hide behind the curtains and don't go to work, these people also


have children, and it is the children who will suffer? People


that are most vulnerable will be protected. Let as talk about Child


Tax Credits and people who receive benefits. Under Labour, tax credits


went to nine out of ten families, in the country. Nine out of ten


families received Child Tax Credits, it wasn't linked to income, it


wasn't necessarily linked to the number, whether the household was


in work or not, we have changed that to make sure that welfare is


targeted to the people who need it most, and at the same time you


protect the most vulnerable. come, then, under Labour, so many


people, including many people in work, became dependant, one way or


another on receiving benefits what went wrong? Tax credits played a


very important part in increasing the number of people in work. And


they were successful in doing that. In work which didn't pay the rate


for the job, apparently, otherwise they wouldn't have to be subsidise


bid the taxpayer? Tax credits meant for a very large number of people


it was worth being in work, when previously. Nine out of ten


households. That was a reality of the economy, we were able to make


that change, and very substantially increase the employment rate as a


result. That was the right thing to do, it was a successful policy.


What this bill will do is hit people who are in work,


particularly people in modestly paid work, an army Second


Lieutenant, supporting a wife and three children, �550 worse off as a


result of this bill. Come back on this? First of all, the tax credit,


he hasn't answered the point. Why were they going to nine out of ten


households, it was untargeted welfare. We need to make sure


welfare goes to those who need it most. It is a system, as we are


introducing with Universal Credit, which comes into place this year,


that actually helps you get back into work, that is what people want


to see. Having raised that question, Universal Credit, which is a huge


reform for this country, massive change. Something the Labour Party


voted against. But David Miliband today suggested that some parts of


this debate are, in his word, "rancid", the implication is we are


into the politics of rich and poor, and what you are doing is already


very devisive and will get more devisive as the year goes on?


not intended to be. The most devisive language we saw today was,


unfortunately, from the Labour side of the House. They shouldn't see it


as devisive or to be using inflammatory language, this is


about, first of all, dealing with the deficit, you can't deal with


the deficit without dealing with welfare. If you accept that premise,


then do it in the fairest way possible, and the fairest way is to


protect the most vulnerable, which we have done, and make sure we have


put incentives in place for others, that they will take jobs and pay


them to be better off.S This the flavour of the debate coming up. It


was Liam Byrne talking about shirkers and strivers? Disabled


people aren't being protect. We have to get that clear. The basic


Employment and Support Allowance will only be up-rated by 1%, that


is going to everybody disabled. Those will not be protected. This


is a devisive bill, it is recreating the policies of the 80s,


which led to a rocketing in the number of children below the


poverty line. It is cutting the top rate of income tax, not properly


up-rating benefits, that is a toxic combination. We had it in the 80s


and now. Four Liberal Democrats voted against the bill, Charles


Kennedy registered his positive abstention. This is not the kind of


policy, frankly, that the Government should be taking forward.


It is deeply devisive and damaging in the long run. I mentioned David


Miliband's contribution, a great addition to the front bench


wouldn't he? He made a telling contribution today, he's right to


use the term "rancid" about the way the Conservative Party is handling


this. You hope that happens? would be delighted to see it.


key question nobody answered today and tonight from the Labour side,


if they are not going to deal with the benefit bill, but they are


going to deal with the deficit, how will they do it. Where will they


find the �3 billion of savings come from, they don't have an answer to


that question. Now, around 27 million Bulgarians


and Rumanians gain full rights to work in Britain at the end of this


year. When restrictions to protect the UK labour market expire. Some


predict a repeat of what happened after 2004, when predictions talked


about 20,000 arrivals from new accession countries, like Poland,


the actual figure from 2011 was 30- times that number. Should we brace


ourselves for another flood of migrants from the EU, or are things


very different now. Sancha Berg reports from Romania.


Even in the bleakest days of Ceausescu's Romania, small farmers


killed a pig at home once a year, in villages like Nimesch, in


Transylvenia, they still do. First, they burn the skin with


straw, to remove the bristles. Then use a blow torch to finish the job.


This is a proud tradition in main Rumanian villages, it also allows


many families to enjoy fresh pork and bacon, which they couldn't


otherwise afford. Rumanian incomes are among the lowest in the EU.


Working abroad can transform the fortunes of a family. Cristian


Cabou has just returned from five years in Spain. TRANSLATION: I sent


all the money back to Romania, apart from what I needed to spend


in Spain, I did have to spend quite a lot there. But most of it I sent


back to Romania, because that's where I see my future. He has a


good job now, in a local pharmacy, but he thinks others might try to


find work in England or Germany, when it's easier for he Rumanians


to do so. -- If they are offered the chance they will take it. Many


logo abroad, they have -- many will go abroad, they will have problems


with the language, but they will manage, Rumanians will always


manage. Over the last ten years many left to work in Spain. Whole


families migrated when the economy was booming, many have returned


since. Many from this town are working abroad too. Francesco


Acerbi lives alone for half the year -- Radu Serb lives alone for


half the year, his wife is in Italy, caring for an elderly lady, making


money for the family. They usually speak several times a day. He tells


his wife not to cry. She says she misses home. TRANSLATION: It's


worth going abroad to work, that is because our pensions are very low.


We could earn 700 euros a month there. Our pension is the same in


terms of quantity, but only in Romanian money.


In 2011, the census showed the number of people in Romania had


fallen by 12%. Many lured by opportunities abroad. Over the last


few years, millions of Romanians have left their home country, and


travelled to work in other parts of the European Union. Often sending


money home. Most of them have gone to Spain, and Italy. Partly because


the languages are closer to Romanian, also because there are


fewer barriers to work for them there. As restrictions are lifted


in other European countries, including Britain, will these


migration patterns change? Dr Alina Branda knows these Transylvanian


villages well, she stud yied them for many years, she -- studied them


for many years. She told me many people had always gone abroad to


work, but they always came back. She was surprised to find the


younger villagers we met in the local hall, tended to have a more


adventurous outlook. Though not awful them wanted to go. Adrian


said he would prefer to stay at home with his friend. I like it


here in my village, I like my country. Emile had worked as a


brick layer in Spain, he told me he earned seven-times more than in


Romania, he planned to go abroad again, he said. Madaline had been


to school in Spain, he preferred the situation abroad, he would like


to live there, Spain would be ideal. But he would consider other


countries. You might think about going to England as well? If he


could get a job over there, yes, he would go. I'm really curious what's


going on right now, after 20 12, because my feeling is that the


younger generation is more exposed to the new ways of migration,


patterns of migration, perhaps, and they are more open to new areas,


new destination countries. Britain could be one of those destination


countries, though no-one we spoke to in these villages knew the rules


were changing at the end of this year. In the capital, Bucharest,


the richest part of Romania, there are more job opportunities. However,


the transformation many hoped for has yet to materialise. Ceausescu


imposed a particularly oppressive brand of communism on his country,


Romania has found it harder than most to escape its past. Bucharest


was once known as the Paris of the Balkans, but today Romania is one


of the very poorest countries in the European Union. The economy's


projected to grow thisy, but it has a long way to go before catching up


with the rest of Europe. It is hardly surprising that many


Romanian workers attempted to seek employment abroad. When Poland


joined the EU, hundreds of thousands of people came to Britain.


Those advising the British Government believe the numbers of


Romanians coming to the UK could rise significantly. Romanian


commentators are more Sangin. Will there be a -- sanguine, will there


be a big wave of immigration? wave already happened, now there


will be waves, but not tsunamis. key difference is that Poles could


only go to Britain and two other EU countries, Romanians will be able


to work across the European Union. Not all young Romanians are


enthusiastic about the prospect, in a busy bar in the centre of


Bucharest, I met a group of young professional, most employed by


international software companies. For me, definitely stay. Because of


my family, because of my friends, because of my job, because of the


language. Because of our life here in Romania. It would take an


attractive job package to tempt them abroad. I think I will go only


if I had a really good offer and that's say it is financially wise.


They would all come up against a stereotypical view of Romanians.


few days ago I had business travel to Scotland. I took a bus tour, and


the lady at the ticket shop asked me where I was from, I said Romania,


and she was very amazed, wow, but you speak very good English. I was


like, why not, I'm from Romania, not from a very poor country with


no education at all. 100kms north of Bucharest is


Romania's industrial heartland, several multinationals have built


factories here. This Romanian company, workers earn 400 euros a


month. This firm is hoping to profit from growing migration to


Britain, just as Polish workers brought their own brands of Vodka


to the UK, so this company hopes Romanians will want to buy their


favourite local Brandy when they move. If you really want to


penetrate into the country, you use the base the Romanians that are


living there, then address the local population also. Do you have


any sense from your UK sales whether there are quite a lot of


Romanians in the UK at the moment? The number is increasing, very much.


Two or three years ago, I think, there were not too many Romanians,


but lately there are more and more Romanians living in the UK. I


believe that this number will increase. For Romania, the end of


this year will be a significant moment, Romania's people have


always seen themselves as European, with their traditional orthodox


faith, and their Latin language. But they haven't been fully


accepted by all their European neighbours. Soon, Romanians will be


free to work right across the European Union. For now, Romania


still feels like a country on the edge of Europe. Julia Onslow-Cole


is head of global immigration at PWC Legal, and on the board of


migration matters Trust. And David Goodhart is director of the think-


tank Demos. Have you any worries about what might happen at the end


of the year when the Bulgarians and the Romanians can come in if they


want to? Yes, I do, this won't be like 2004, when hundreds of


thousands of people from eight countries were suddenly able to


come here and weren't able to, as the film pointed out, weren't able


to go to other countries. The numbers won't be anything like that.


It doesn't need a very large number of Romanians and Bulgarians to come


here. Perhaps just as many as an extra 20,000 or 30,000 a year, for


the Government's very carefully planned reduction in numbers


towards that magic figure of tens of thoughs to be blown off course.


If that happens before an election. Does that matter? It matters hugely,


politically. If the Government, on my calculations, I would say that


the Government is heading, at the moment, to get net immigration down


to about 120,000 a year. That is still missing this tens of


thousands of formula, but they can argue that they basically halved


net immigration in the time they have been in office. I think that


would take the sting out of the immigration debate, it wouldn't be


a huge issue in the election. If it is 150,000, UKIP will be banging


away at it, it will be hugely poisonous in the election. What was


your view, then, looking backwards from 2004, we had this big


inflation of Polish people and other people in the country, your


assessment is this was fundamentally a good thing for us?


I'm concerned about what it will have on the net migration policy.


The real issue here is that, largely, European immigration is


uncontrollable by the Government you have to have a change in the


European treaty. What they can control is non-EU workers. And that


category is the category for business, it is a category that's


already had nine rule changes in the last year. Fundamentally, we


cannot afford for the growth of our economy to tamper with that


category any more. PwC does a survey for chief executives,


annually, and 60% of CEOs say what is keeping them up at night is


worries about not being able to bring in non-EU migrants to support


their business. Putting it very crudely, is the worry that some of


the Romanians and Bulgarians who come in will be low-skilled workers


and count in so. Numbers that David is talking about, that means those


numbers will not be available for the people you are talking about


want to bring in, because they have higher skills? There is no


competition there it is a completely separate migration


category. It is just that the physical numbers coming in will


count against the net migration target. And so, that will have the


knock-on effect that the Government will be tempted to clamp down on


the group that they can control. And the reason that the Government


mustn't touch the worker, the non- EU worker category, is to get


ourselves out of economic downturn, we must increase our exports, and


where companies are exporting to at the moment is Africa, Asia, south


America, and we need skills of those people to come in.


touched on the political issue and the rise of UKIP, and other parties


like the BNP, presumably, is there a cultural issue, beyond the


politics of it, is this a cultural issue at the route of it, or do the


Poles fit in, they pay their tax, and many go home, as many of the


Romanian workers say, they go home, that is where they want to be?


eastern Europeans in general it is a mixed picture, some people have


been staying and building lives here, and learning English and


fitting in, and others haven't. They have been commuter immigrants.


But I don't think in way that is not particularly the issue here, we


are not talking about large numbers, we are talking about a few tens of


thousands. The immigration debate in Britain is finished, it is over,


everybody agrees, 80% of the population, agree with the


Government. I'm head of a progressive think-tank, I agree


with the Government that we need numbers way down, back to normal


level, which means the high tens of thousands. It is the way you do it,


which is where the argument is. How you do that, without damaging


industry, as was said, and without damaging higher education. I think


the Government is doing a pretty good job at that. David Cameron has


a big speech on Europe, should he then address this, there is a lot


of things he should talk about, should he address internal


immigration within the EU, as a problem? I think he's doing a good


job in trying to address some of these issues, but they are very


challenging to address. I think, for example, it is, you know, good


to talk about these issues, but, actually, implementing European


legislation, and changes to the treaty is going to be very


difficult. We will leave it there, thank you very much.


A platinum coin worth one trillion dollars, it sounds more like the


plot of an Austin Powers movie than a serious power tool. But a


campaign is gathering pace on the left to mint a single platinum coin,


and assign it a face value of a trillion dollars. As a neat way of


solving the problems in Congress over the debt ceiling. A Democratic


Congressman has endorsed the idea and Republican has endorsed a bill


to block it. Then there is the issue of whose face should be


engraved on the most valuable qoin in the history of the world.


Here -- coin in the history of the world. Here are the options.


Mike Castle got an insignificant law passed in 1996 that later


Qoin This law was never meant to be used for large amounts of money,


but it could be as long as the coin is made from platinum. A trillion


dollar or zillion dollar coin, whatever President Obama wants. It


has to come from the Federal Reserve, running up Government debt.


The Republican house speaker is the next candidate, John Boehner. The


called debt ceiling, the budget to pay for it. The ceiling has been


raised 75-times in the past 95 years. Mostly, without complaint.


Currently standing at $16 trillion, if it isn't raised again the


Government will run out of money, it is thought, in around two months.


Next face, Paul Krugman, the Nobel laureate, who said while the coin


idea is silly but benign, the debt ceiling rule is silly, but both


vile and disastrous. So, it is perfectly legitimate to counter one


with the other. Surely the trillion dollar coin should honour business


philanthropist, Montgomery Burns, who in 1998 was swindled out of a


trillion dollar bill by Fidel Castro, with the aid of Homer


Simpson. Mr Burns, I think we can trust the President of Cuba.


Now give it back. Give what back? Josh Barrow is a columnist leading


coins to mint the coin, and we have a writer about money for the


American Enterprise Unit. It is nuts isn't it? The whole


situation we are in is nuts, it is nuts we are talking about hitting


the debt ceiling and putting the Government in a situation where it


will be unable to pay approximately 40% of its bills on any given day.


What the trillion dollar coin is, it is a gimmick, but it allows us


to avoid a situation where the Government goes into default and


severely disrupts the economy. James, a situation where the


Government can avoid a default, it sounds like quanative easing,


doesn't it? First of all, that significant empt treated it with


all the seriousness it deserves, not a lot. All the options of


raising the ceiling are really bad. It is not a benign option. By


discussing it, it makes it sound palatable, like it would be no big


deal. It raises the odds of something like this happen, the


Republicans would love the President to try it, it would be a


political disaster, which means the odds are increasing we go over this


barring limit, which would be really bad for the image of the


United States of America. Also the confidence in our way of Government.


That is a fair point, I know you have your problems uark the world's


biggest economy, -- problems, but you are the world's biggest economy,


this would make America look like a laughing stock? I believe the best


course of action will be to raise the debt ceiling, I hope he will


speak with Republican friends and ask them to have a clean debt


ceiling. There are drawbacks to using the platinum coin, but there


are drawbacks to all the options on the table politicalically. The


Republicans will attach -- politically. The Republican also


attach demands to the debt ceiling raise. We don't need short-term


fiscal austerity, that will be bad for the economy. But, more broadly,


it sets a bad precedent. It says that Republicans, or any party in


Government will be able to effectively hold the economy


hostage, and say we will force you into a terrible crisis unless you


give into our policy demands on this issue. It is a misuse of the


debt ceiling and what the President can do by threatening to issue the


platinum coin s make sure he won't play the game. It makes it more


likely that we will get the debt ceiling increase that is clean.


have said it would make America look rather ridiculous, I have to


saying, the greatest economy in the world, solving problems on New


Year's Eve, with a clock ticking and prospect of jumping over a


fiscal cliff, didn't really look like serious politicians trying to


sort out the biggest economy in the world? I say we have nowhere


further to fall. We are already at rock bottom reputationally. There


are real downsides to this. You would be forcing the Federal


Reserve into action to offset this, so it doesn't cause a bout of


hyperinflation, or higher inflation. You would be hurting the


independent of our Central Bank. That is pretty important. I would


tell friends on both sides of the aisle, yes, we need to fix our


social insurance system, our meddoo decare system and social security,


as well as the debt -- Medicare system and social curt as well as


the debt ceiling. This is legally possible t could happen? That was


not the indebt of the original legislation. It was really about


collectables. But do I think it is legal. Listen, you want to talk


about uncertainty, let this go to the Supreme Court, let's have a


Supreme Court ruling on the gazillon-dollar coin, they better


have that decision after the markets close. I don't worry about


the legal aspects of this, if you read the attacks to the statute, it


is clear the President can issue the platinum coin to whatever


denomination it wants, the law is silly, but it is clear. It is not


clear that anyone would have standing to bring a lawsuit against


it t even if it was illegal t might not be possible to bring a court


case challenging the President's action. I think this is actually a


legally relatively clear course. The question is the reputational


risks on the United States, I recognise the risks are real. We


have to compare it against other options about what we do to hit the


debt ceiling. Happy birthday Bowie, to celebrate


he has offered his fans a birthday present. A new single and album on


the way, and a retrospective of his work at the V & A museum in March.


He never failed to surprise and reinvent himself, after a bout of


ill-health, it was thought he retired. Wrong. This is flavour of


his latest work. # Had to get the train


# From pots pots -- Potter


# You never knew that # That I could do that


# Just walking the dead Lovely stuff


Joining me now is the author of the David Bowie biography, star sta,


the person who has unprecedented to the David Bowie archive, the


kurator of the Bowie exhibition. Are you surprised by this? It is


strange for someone away so long, and who batons down the hatches so


much nobody knows about it. Writing an album for two years, and nobody


suspects? I suspect it wasn't two years. Bowie has always been


forward-looking, he's not really calculating, he follows his


instincts. A lot of the things we think Were planned were impro-


advised. I would imagine he came up with a bunch of songs and it


happened quickly. Why did he do it, impulse? I think he had the songs


and went with the flow. What about a Bowie retrospective at the V & A,


that is iconic status, at the museum? If you want someone who


bridges art and design performance, he's one of the great performers of


the world, he's the person. From our perspective, he has never


thrown anything away. He has this astonishing archive he has kept,


which he made available to us, kindly. He has no other involvement


with the exhibition, we have been allowed to go through and choose


what we want. That is fantastic for us. It will be fantastic for people


to be able to see, in a sense, his past presented, against doing


something new. I think what's interesting about the new single


that he has brought out. A lot of people are saying it is nostalgic


and looking back. It is looking at his time in Berlin, of a city that


no longer exists. Divided Berlin. East Germany doesn't exist as a


country. What it is really about, is the way that things mutate, and


within his life, and obviously his period in Berlin was quite a long


way into his career, that entire world that he lived in for a while,


has completely disappeared. What have you got that will amaze us and


attract us and make us think, presumably you can see the way the


artist is at work? There is three things. For a lot of people the


costumes will be great, and the videos. Some of the things that


will most interest people are the fact that Bowie actually controls


every aspect of the production. He's not one of the people who gets


in designers and hands it over to them, one of the most interesting


things is the sketches that he has done for Ashes to Ash, for the


video. Obviously it had a major video made, he thought it all


through. Also, in the early 1970, when he did Diamond Dogs, he


originally wanted to do a musical of 1984, and Sonia Orwell George


Orwell's widow turned it down so he did it himself as a stage show. He


storyboarded it as a film, he drew them, and wer we will animate them.


He was 27d and we will animate them. He was 27 then, he was had the


ambition to make a film and musical. After he was written off as a one-


hit wonder with Space Oddity, he did a set of press shoots to


rebrand himself, nobody knew the term at the time. He went round the


national newspapers, through their archive, and took out their old


images of the curly-haired David Bowie and ban it, and relaunch


himself completely. When you researched the book you talked to


hundreds of people who knew him, did you ever think you really got


close to him. It is a difficult judgment for somebody writing a


biography whether you have actually got him? One alwayslessly questions.


There is the presumtiousness of the biographer. I think I did, he is


very English, people are inTimed by the -- intimidated by the image,


because it is so perfect. He is an ordinary person, he's something of


an old showbiz trooper, but at the same time, in terms of a creative


artist he is different from any we have known before. That said, when


you listen to his voice, it has clearly changed, this is an older


man's voice, it is a bit like the later Bob Dylan rather than the


younger one? There is a surprise in the single. It may be that the rest


of the album is quite different. I think there may be some more


surprises. His voice has gone down half an October taif, musicians say


it is like -- octave, and musicians say it is like Tony Bennett and


That's all tonight. We're back tomorrow. Hope to see you. Good


, a change in the weather on Wednesday, colder conditions across


the country. Some frost to begin the day in the north, patchy mist


and some fog. It will steadily lift and clear, giving bright spells for


the afternoon. Giving thicker cloud further south and east. The cloud


tending to break up across parts of the north Midland through the


afternoon, grey skies holding on for East Anglia and south-east


England. The rain just about clearing the Kent and suss text


coast by 3.00pm, keeping thicker cloud across south Devon and


Cornwall, for the northern areas it should be brighter for the


afternoon, temperatures at 8-9. For Wales it is a dry afternoon, still


quite a bit of cloud, we are hopeful of one or two breaks


through the afternoon. After the very misty and foggy start for


Northern Ireland. Much of it should lift and clear. A cold day at 3-4


degrees. Northern Scotland keeping stronger winds with rain across the


Northern Isles, the best of any brightness further south, as we


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