Morning News Brief: Paris Attacks, New GOP Health Care Effort, Prince

Apr 21, 2017
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene with a guide to this day's news. And, Steve, let's start in Paris where people yet again are dealing with the specter of terrorism.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

An attacker opened fire on the tree-lined Champs-Elysees within sight of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris yesterday. One officer was killed. Others were wounded. The attacker tried to flee, but police say they gunned him down. Now, ISIS has claimed the shooter as one of their own. Vice President Pence spoke about the attacks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: We will not relent in our effort to end terrorism and the threat it presents to both of our peoples. And I pledge to you our continued cooperation against terrorism in the uncertain days in which we live.

INSKEEP: Now, the French presidential candidates - remember there's an election this weekend - had their own responses at a debate last night. Some called to stop campaign events before voting this weekend.

GREENE: You have to wonder how this could change the whole dynamic in this election. NPR's Frank Langfitt - we have him on the line from Paris. Frank, hey there.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning, David.

GREENE: You know, I was in Paris after the awful, I mean - the awful attack on the cafes and nightclubs in the city. I mean, it was just - the city was - it was so sad living in a state of fear. What does Paris feel like this morning?

LANGFITT: Not actually the way you described it, and I remember your reports from Paris at the time. Last night, I was out in a bar until midnight, so the news came in. And people were hanging out. I was reporting on another story, and people initially were shocked. And the bartenders said, hey, did see the news?

But then right afterwards, people went back to ordering beer and chatting about all kinds of other things. And so I think to some degree people are getting - it's very sad to say this - but they're getting a bit used to this. And, of course, this was nowhere near the size of the attack that you covered...

GREENE: Sure.

LANGFITT: ...Back when you were here.

GREENE: Yeah. I wonder if people are getting sort of numb in a way. So people in France are going to be voting, I mean, for president this weekend. What kind of impact could this have?

LANGFITT: I think that what you're seeing is - what you're going to see is talking to people in - let's see, I was in Montparnasse, the railway station today, and one of the things that they said is they thought it would actually help Marine Le Pen. And she's the far right candidate - very anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim - and they thought that it would give her a boost in what's a really close four-way race in the first round of elections. So we'll have to see. That was kind of the conventional wisdom that you heard at the railway station.

GREENE: And as you talk to analysts, I mean, are they saying that Marine Le Pen - I mean, this could really help her lock this up with the message she's been delivering?

LANGFITT: No, it's really - David, it's really interesting. They knocked that down this morning. I was on the phone with a couple analysts that I had been chatting with. And they said, you know, first of all, coming back to the first question you asked, people who have begun to get used to this. And the idea that this was going to sway a lot of votes they thought was foolish. People are - they have already taken terrorism into their own calculations.

And the other thing is that Marine Le Pen when you look at polls, people are a little worried about her in the sense that she has very radical policies. They're not sure that she would be a steady hand in the president's office. And people actually thought - people I talked to this morning thought it might actually help some of the more establishment candidates like Francois Fillon of the Republican Party.

INSKEEP: Here's what Frank is pointing to. If you're a terror group and if you stage an attack, ISIS has claimed to stage that - to have staged this attack. We don't really know. But if you're going to stage an attack at this time right before an election, you're trying to have an effect on the election. And so it's going to be up to French voters to decide if they really want to be affected and in what way.

LANGFITT: Exactly.

GREENE: Yeah. The voters will decide, and we'll hear from them. Frank Langfitt in Paris - Frank, thanks a lot.

LANGFITT: You're very welcome, David.

GREENE: Steve, a pretty historic moment in the state of Arkansas overnight.

INSKEEP: Yeah. The state executed a man overnight. His name was Ledell Lee. He was convicted for killing a woman named Debra Reese, and his execution came with controversy. Arkansas is racing to complete several lethal injections before the expiration date on the drugs involved. The state plans more elections on Monday. Now, the Supreme Court considered stopping the execution last night, but let it proceed in the end, the first execution in Arkansas since 2005.

GREENE: OK. And we should also talk about what's happening in Washington because - and I have to say, Steve, I feel like I've said these words before - Republicans are releasing a health care proposal.

INSKEEP: David, you have said those words before.

GREENE: (Laughter).

INSKEEP: This is a replay. You may recall the old replacement for Obamacare died without a vote in the House weeks ago. Republicans wanted to pass it with only Republican votes, and they couldn't agree on a plan, so they didn't have the votes. Now they're trying for another, and President Trump is encouraging them.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This is a great bill. This is a great plan, and this will be great health care. It's evolving. You know, there was never a give-up. The press sort of reported there was like a give-up. There's no give-up. We started - remember it took Obamacare 17 months.

INSKEEP: OK. First, there was a give-up. But some people haven't given up. But here's the issue. If you're just going to use Republican votes, you need members of the House Freedom Caucus. They don't really like government in the health care business and want to scale back Obamacare and Medicaid spending a lot. More moderate members don't and are concerned about constituents who gain from Obamacare.

GREENE: OK. Our colleague Tamara Keith covered the first proposal. She's covering the second proposal. Hey, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hey. I think this might be the fourth proposal.

GREENE: Oh, the fourth proposal...

KEITH: It's not entirely dead.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: You're going to be doing this for a long time.

INSKEEP: Nothing is ever over.

GREENE: Yeah. I mean, so Trump said there was never a give-up. Is he telling the truth?

KEITH: No, as Steve said, you know, they said they were moving on. They said, you know, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, said that Obamacare was the law of the land for the foreseeable future. So this is the latest example of the president and Republicans in Congress - at least some Republicans in Congress - trying to bring this thing back to life. Part of what might be driving this is there's a new Politico morning console poll. This is one of many polls marking the 100-days mark for the president's administration...

GREENE: Which is coming up.

KEITH: It is coming up, and only 9 percent of people polled would give President Trump an A for handling health care.

GREENE: OK. So he feels like he has to do something. But, Tam, you've got to believe that if they're going to try this again, they have to think that there is something here to appeal to those Republicans who resisted last time. Is there any reason to believe that this is more acceptable?

KEITH: Well, there is a reason to believe that this might be more acceptable to that so-called Freedom Caucus, the more conservative members. But in terms of the moderates, this doesn't deal with any of the problems that the - that really were the concerns that moderates had.

So they're not - the numbers, the math problem remains which is why leadership - Republican leadership in Congress is saying, you know, we're working on this, but we don't have anything to whip a vote on at this point.

GREENE: Is it important for Trump to get a big victory before we hit this 100-day mark?

KEITH: It's certainly - the Trump administration seems to be trying for some sort of big win or trying to have something to show for it because, you know, coming into the first 100 days, there is literally not even been a vote on this big, huge promise, this repeal and replace of Obamacare.

INSKEEP: Here's the fundamental problem that Republicans are having to deal with. What you need in order to have a Republican replacement for Obamacare is to work out government involvement in the health care system that is acceptable to a party where many members are not at all comfortable with government involvement in the health care system.

GREENE: Yeah. Tamara Keith NPR's Politics team, thanks.

KEITH: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRINCE SONG, "KISS")

GREENE: I mean, who doesn't want to listen to this this morning?

INSKEEP: (Unintelligible).

GREENE: I do.

INSKEEP: You know, it's - please take it away. It's the one-year anniversary of the death of Prince. Fans were looking forward to the posthumous release of six Prince songs, but Prince's estate has sued saying the publication is not authorized. And a federal judge sided with the estate and temporarily blocked the EP.

GREENE: Stephen Thompson from NPR's Music team is here. Hey, Stephen.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Hey, David.

GREENE: So we actually - even though this - there was this lawsuit, we actually did get one new track that's sort of floating around, "Deliverance," the title track of the album that was supposed to come out. Let's give this a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DELIVERANCE")

PRINCE: (Singing) Deliverance is at hand, at hand.

GREENE: What are you hearing here, Stephen?

THOMPSON: Well, I mean, you're hearing kind of this stirring fusion of rock and gospel. This - I think it's a good Prince song. It's recorded about around 2006. So, you know, it's kind of a time in his career. You know, he has long explored the intersection of various human impulses and religion, and this is kind of sort of exploring his religious side a little bit.

GREENE: So good song, but there are so many good Prince songs. How vital is it that Prince's fans get to hear these six?

THOMPSON: Well, I think it is a testament - the level of interest in this song - is a testament to not only Prince's legacy and people's interest in Prince's legacy, but the way that the public mourns a musician's death. When you think about it, I mean, it's really important to remember that Prince in his lifetime released 39 studio albums, in addition to a ton of EPs and compilations and soundtrack work. There's this huge trove of music.

And so - and when you think about it in like the last 20 years of Prince's life, he had a pretty tricky time getting people to listen to his music. And all of a sudden, you have this intense interest, like why can't I hear these six songs? And it really speaks to the way that the public processes the death of a musician they love, that all of a sudden it's like where's my new Prince songs?

GREENE: Where's the new Prince song? And, posthumously, I mean, there's a certain symbolism or sort of, like, healing that can go on.

THOMPSON: Sure.

GREENE: All right. Talking about the new Prince music that we might never hear with Stephen Thompson from NPR's Music team. Thanks, Stephen.

THOMPSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.