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AC 360 LATER

Government Shutdown; SUV Attack; Interview with Rep. Robert Pittenger; Education in America; American Adults Rate Low in Basic Skills; Did Undercover Cops Participate in Biker-SUV Driver Brawl?

Aired October 9, 2013 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to "AC360 Later."

A lot to talk about tonight. On the table, are American adults falling behind the rest of the world in basic skills like reading and math? There's a new study. Plus, an NYPD detective charged with assault for allegedly being part of that biker attack on SUV driver. What were his responsibilities as an off-duty cop?

We begin though tonight with the government shutdown, of course, day nine, and tonight's shred of a sliver of a glimmer of possible hope for an end in sight. How's that for a sentence? People actually talking to each other on the Hill. Amazing.

With me on the panel tonight, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Ana Navarro, and in the fifth chair "New York Times" op-ed columnist Frank Bruni.

Let's start though with the shred of a sliver of a glimmer of a possible hope for an end of this. Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is Washington.

What is a sliver of a glimmer of a possible whatever?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you sure that's not a Dr. Seuss book? If not, maybe it should be a new one.

(CROSSTALK)

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Dana, we have had enough Dr. Seuss in this shutdown. No more green eggs and ham for me.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Well put.

I'm having trouble reading it to my 2-year-old anymore. But, anyway, back to the most important information about the sliver of a glimmer of hope. That's basically along the lines of what we talked about last night except that that was from the perspective of Republicans, meaning they were telling me and others that they thought maybe a six- week debt limit increase could be something that they would go for to give the Republicans and Democrats time to start really negotiating what we know they have been trying to negotiate for years, which is entitlement reform, tax reform and so forth.

But what I'm told from now a couple of Democratic sources who were in a meeting with the president today of House Democratic lawmakers, that the president went even further than he has in public in this private meeting, saying, you know, if this helps get John Boehner, I think he said something like off the tree that he's climbed onto, then this is something we're going have to do.

So this certainly does seem like both sides are talking again through us, saying that this might be something they could go for.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is what the Democrats told CNN earlier today in fact that they had been at that meeting and that did seem to be possible. And they were potentially looking at some negotiating route and to try to make sure the debt ceiling does get passed and we don't have this issue around this.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Because Paul Ryan now did this op-ed, did not mention Obamacare as one of the things that would have to be on the table.

NAVARRO: Though he did mention entitlement reform in general. And he counts Obamacare as part of entitlement reform.

But the tone is different today from both sides, I will tell you, than it's been the previous seven days. I'm beginning to see the ice start to melt. The president is giving on accepting a short-term solution. He's also giving on negotiating, even if it's post facto. And I think the Republicans are also beginning to give.

And for the first time, we saw today something which is extraordinary, which was the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and her leadership team called over to the Republican leadership team and there was a bipartisan meeting of leadership in the House of Representatives today. I don't know when the last time we saw that happen, Dana.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. There was a meeting. That's -- wow, that's great.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: It is wow. I sent Dana an e-mail and said girl, run, because lightning's going to strike.

AMANPOUR: Something very interesting caught people's imagination today. The Senate chaplain has been speaking truth to power every day in his invocations. He spoke about this appalling situation where dead servicemen's families are not getting their benefits. He said, "Lord, when our federal shutdown delays payments of their benefits, it is time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough. Cover our shame with the robe of your righteousness." That is getting a lot of attention.

COOPER: Although it's interesting to hear these lawmakers saying they are stunned, they had no idea about this, because there were warnings about this. The Pentagon made a statement about this.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: And Private charities had to step in.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Republicans have the nerve to be outraged when the government shuts down, when they voted to shut down the government. This is the government. It's not just the parts you like or don't like. This is the government. When you shut down the government, stuff happens.

FRANK BRUNI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think part of what you're saying here is, no one is exactly sure when you shut down the government exactly what still goes on and what doesn't. There are some -- quote, unquote -- "essential services" that are still performed.

I think what you see is a lot of suspicion on both sides that certain things are going to happen, are going to become political theater maybe and didn't really need to happen. But I have to give Dana a compliment.

You were interviewing a congressman today who said this isn't the normal way to do things. And you said, there's nothing normal around here. I think that should be the new Washington, D.C., motto.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: It's embarrassing.

BASH: The new nothing normal?

NAVARRO: Dana, I have a question for you. We have seen a plethora of polls come out in the last few days. Congress right now has an approval rating of 5 percent, which is -- McCain had this joke where the approval rating was down to blood relatives and paid staff. Now it's no longer a joke. It's reality.

BASH: Because they don't have any paid staff. They're all shut down, that's why.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: CNN says 57 percent blame Democrats, 63 percent blame Republicans. Are these polls having an effect? Are they having any effect in there in the Capitol?

BASH: No. It's not because members of Congress already know that they are considered about as low as the dirt underneath people's shoes. I mean, they know it. This is not a news flash to them. They get it. And they all sort of shrug their shoulders and say oh, my gosh, people think that we're just horrible. Then they go on. And this is everybody, go on and do the same thing that they have done before.

So it's not having an effect at all. If it dropped from 50 percent to 5 percent, of course it would. But this is a lot of what we have seen before.

COOPER: Dana, I wanted to bring in Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger of North Carolina. He's joining us right now.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

Do you see a sliver of a glimmer of a possible deal or the makings of one?

REP. ROBERT PITTENGER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I sure hope that there is.

There's every reason that we should be working toward that direction. We have a major concern in this country as it relates to our national debt of $17 trillion. You know, that's really the big elephant in the room. When you look at where we're headed as a country and the economic collapse that could occur, Peter Orszag that you would talk to, Erskine Bowles or, of course, Paul Ryan, they will tell you the same thing, that our country is headed toward a collapse like Greece.

COOPER: Can you see a deal being done that does not in some way defund Obamacare from your standpoint? Is that something you would approve?

PITTENGER: Well, I think to be very clear with you, we have made three proposals to the Democrats in the Senate. And the last one said, hey, what about this subsidy? We don't believe that members of Congress and the White House should have a subsidy. We also said, how about those 1,100 corporations who are able to get a delay? Why shouldn't individuals have the same delay?

COOPER: Right. But you're still talking about amending or changing the Affordable Care Act?

PITTENGER: But it's not -- you used the word defunding. And that's really not part of what we proposed.

In the last bill that we sent over, it was -- the entire shutdown would be completed if only the Democrats would be willing to agree that we should not be entitled to the subsidy -- that is, members of Congress and members of the White House -- and also that individuals should have the same privilege of a delay as 1,100 corporations who have been able to enjoy that privilege.

AMANPOUR: Congressman, it's Christiane here in New York. Tomorrow in Washington, the IMF and the World Bank are going to be meeting with American officials, and there's a huge amount of worry.

Christine Lagarde, the director, said it's mission critical to raise the debt ceiling an get this done. China has got $1.3 trillion of U.S. debt. Japan has 1.2. Switzerland has nearly $200 million. You talk about being sensible and being economically responsible. You have to pay your debts. You have got to pay the interest on your debts. Are you one of those Tea Partiers who's accused of not taking that seriously enough, or do you think this country has to pay its debts?

PITTENGER: I'm very clear that that is a very serious issue. I believe that we have to be focused and come together as a body of people in Washington, D.C., who recognize the real challenges that we have.

So that is key for me. However, you have folks like Moody who said that that interest could be paid. We could address those priorities, that the Treasury could do that to avoid a real collapse there. So I take it seriously. I think it's unchartered territory.

COOPER: But you don't think it's catastrophic?

PITTENGER: Well, I do -- we don't know that.

I would hasten to say we need to move as effectively and quickly as we can to try too to resolve these issues. That's why we are asking the president of the United States to come to the table. We're asking the leadership in the Senate to come to the table. We're grateful that they finally heeded that call.

TOOBIN: Congressman, can I ask you a question about a possibility that Gloria Borger raised earlier? Is it possible that the House Republicans will say, we will raise the debt ceiling, but we will leave the government closed? Do you see those two -- that as a possibility?

PITTENGER: I wouldn't speak to that. I don't see that as -- the debt ceiling is such a much more critical issue. I think we have got to focus on that.

As I said, to shut down the government is senseless right now. All the Democrats have to agree to is the reality that we shouldn't get a subsidy and that individuals should get the same right and privilege of 1,100 corporations to not be penalized for the first year.

COOPER: Right. But, as you know, that's a nonstarter for Democrats. That's a nonstarter for this president to delay the individual mandate for a year.

The Democrats fire back and say, well, why not just bring this up for a clean C.R.? Why not just bring this up for a clean vote? Do you believe that the votes are there that it could actually pass, a clean C.R., the House?

PITTENGER: I think what we have to stand for is good policy.

COOPER: Do you believe it would pass, though?

PITTENGER: Well, I don't -- I frankly don't believe that the numbers are really there for that to pass. COOPER: So, why not bring it up, then? Just strategically, if you don't believe it's going to pass, why not allow it to come to a vote, so you eliminate it from the Democrats' arsenal of weapons to use against you?

(CROSSTALK)

PITTENGER: Well, I think there's a principle here. The principle is that there are issues out there that we need to address. We need to stand for good policy.

Right now, Obamacare isn't ready for prime time. We have recognized that. Even your own Wolf Blitzer said we ought to delay it a whole year. There are many reasons why we have to...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Can we stop you right there? I don't think he's making policy, good old Wolf.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Wolf did not say that. Wolf asked a question. He even tweeted a clarification later. He is saying, why -- he asked, why would you put up a Web site that wasn't ready? But he wasn't...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: He does have a "SITUATION ROOM," but I don't think he's...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: The point is that delaying Obamacare is a nonstarter, as you have said, for Democrats. And we are fighting over something that was not ready for prime time. As it has launched, we're realizing that numbers of people that have been able to enroll are very small because there are systematic problems.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: No, but you're talking about a Web site and a badly designed Web site, rather than the actual program itself.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You can't necessarily...

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: But you have to enroll into the program.

COOPER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: You have to have a program to enroll in, Ana. (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Congressman Pittenger, I appreciate you being on tonight. And I appreciate your perspective tonight.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper. Use the hashtag AC360Later.

Up next, more about the looming crisis of the debt ceiling. Is it potentially catastrophic for the economy or is it no big deal? More with the panel ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, tonight on 8:00 p.m. of 360 -- should we start calling that AC360 earlier?

David Gergen described the difference between a government shutdown and a debt ceiling default. One, he said is holding a gun to President Obama's head. The other is holding a gun at the economy's head.

Back with the panel now talking now about the economy, what a default could do and the politicians who are saying, hey, no big deal.

When you hear that, Christiane...

AMANPOUR: I find it very difficult, because all the economists who are actually professional economists, not to mention world leaders who are holding trillions of dollars of debt, et cetera, are saying that this could trigger a 2008-style economic meltdown or worse.

To me, that's freaky. And there's so many people who are saying it that the few deniers in this corner cannot be equivalent to the bulk of the opinion, which is that it would be catastrophic. Not just that. I said the other night the United States is a superpower not just because of the great military, not just because it is a great democracy, but because of the confidence in the dollar and backing up the world economy and currency.

And the minute you start chipping away at that confidence, you start chipping away at your economy and the global underpinnings of the economy. You just do.

COOPER: It is a complicated thing, though, too. The shutdown is a thing that's easier for people to understand. I think this is something, the debt ceiling is a lot more complex for people to understand.

TOOBIN: Very much so, in part because it's never happened before. We did have government shutdowns in the '90s and we know what it's like and the national parks closed. The debt ceiling has never failed to pass Congress.

So what that means, I think, is a subject of speculation. Most people agree with Christiane that it would be very bad, but no one knows exactly how it would work.

AMANPOUR: On the other hand, on the other hand, there are people, even Democrats, who say perhaps the debt ceiling is something that actually is an area where you can negotiate big ideas, not gun to your head kind of thing. But it's about the debt and all that, whereas Obamacare, shutting down the government is actually apples and oranges.

NAVARRO: But I'm glad you qualified it when you were talking about it as a few in the group of debt ceiling deniers, because it is a small number of people who are saying that -- they're making noise.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: But it's a small number. And they're not going to win this battle.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Maybe not.

COOPER: David Walker, he's a former U.S. comptroller general, head of the Government Accountability Office. He's also the founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.

David, it's good to have you on the program.

DAVID WALKER, FORMER UNITED STATES COMPTROLLER GENERAL: Good to be back with you.

COOPER: How big a deal would this be if this did not pass, was not raised?

WALKER: Well, first, I'm embarrassed to be an American today. The fact that we're even having a debate about whether or not we should pay our bills is rather ridiculous. We're the world's sole superpower.

But let's talk to the ground truth. The Article IV of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees U.S. debtholders. The Treasury Department has the ability to make sure that debt is serviced on time. Believe it or not, this country has such poor financial management systems that it doesn't have adequate transparency to be able to prioritize other payables, if you will.

But there's absolutely no reason that the United States cannot pay all of its debt obligations on time. But if you don't have enough cash to be able to pay all of your payables, you have got to set priorities. We shouldn't be in that position. And

we should be extending -- we should be having the C.R. and extending the debt ceiling for two to three months and entering good faith negotiations to be able to decide on funding for fiscal '14 and set a target to restore fiscal sanity over time.

COOPER: David, there are people out there though who say, look, we have heard these doomsday scenarios a lot of times in the past. They said it about the sequester, they said it about the shutdown. What specifically can you say would happen if the debt ceiling is not raised? Is there a timetable of what would happen?

WALKER: Well, first, Treasury is not real certain that October 17 is the date, which really hurts the credibility.

When you set a date, you need to make sure that it has credibility or else you're undermining your whole position. What would happen is, we would continue to pay debtholders, but to the extent that you don't end up having enough cash to pay all of your payables, you would have to pay slower than normal.

You would end up incurring some penalties under the Prompt Payment Act. And let me tell you what the real date is. The real date is October 31, because what's different this time than in the past is Social Security is paying out more than it's taking in.

It is negative cash flow. By law, you can only pay Social Security benefits from the so-called trust fund, which means that the benefits would not be able to be paid on time if they don't resolve this by the end of October. My view is, we're seeing some movement in the last 24 hours. Hopefully, reason will prevail and that they will enter some substantive negotiations over the next couple of months that will end up helping us to achieve some real progress.

TOOBIN: David, shouldn't we be clear about one thing? This is one person's decision, John Boehner's decision. If he brings up a vote to raise the debt ceiling, it will pass. But if he doesn't bring up a vote, we're going to have this potential calamity.

Shouldn't we be clear that this entire matter is in John Boehner's hands?

NAVARRO: It's not, David.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: Yes, but I don't agree with that.

TOOBIN: Why?

WALKER: First, I think there's a failure on three parties. I think the president has failed to lead, absolutely failed to lead. He's the only person that is elected by all the people of the United States. He's the chief executive officer of the United States.

Secondly, I think the Republicans made a dumb move, and I have said it publicly, to try to attach the Affordable Care Act to the C.R. That was just downright dumb. And, thirdly, I think the Democratic leadership in the Senate has refused to negotiate. So, look, there's nobody that's got clean hands here. The American people are disgusted with Washington at large, writ large, and, frankly, if there wasn't so much gerrymandering of the House of Representatives, you could end up having a major effect on the elections.

But we have got so much gerrymandering we now have a republic that's not representative of nor responsive to the public.

COOPER: Do you think that's a false equivalency?

TOOBIN: I think it's a total false equivalence.

This has never happened before. There's never been this kind of hostage taking, to use a word that we discussed a lot last night, when it comes to the debt ceiling. You have had people like Obama himself when he was a senator vote against it, but everybody knew that the debt ceiling was going to pass.

Here we have a situation where John Boehner alone is deciding whether the United States is going to go into this crisis or not. This is up to him entirely. And that's just a fact.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: Jeffrey, you're assuming he has the votes. Where's your proof that the votes are there?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Every survey from every news organization has said that the votes are there. But there's only one way to tell, isn't there, whether the votes are there, which is have a vote.

WALKER: But understand this, Jeffrey. I came to Washington the first time 30 years ago. If you're saying that presidents have never negotiated over debt ceilings before, that's just flat false.

AMANPOUR: It is wrong.

WALKER: That's just not reality, OK? The debt ceiling was the only thing that actually got people's attention to where you could actually get something meaningful done.

And I come back to what I said. There's no clean hands here. And it's time that we get to work and start solving problems, which is not what's happening in D.C. today.

NAVARRO: He's absolutely right. We have got to stop -- we have got to stop, you and me, this blame game of trying to blame one side over the other, because I just think it's -- I think all of them.

And you have seen that.

TOOBIN: That is a fake...

NAVARRO: The public outcry you're seeing is about everybody. Everybody is disgusted with Congress, with everybody in Washington.

TOOBIN: You know what? That's a very, facile, easy thing to say. What's different is the way the Republican Party is acting today. That is completely different.

(CROSSTALK) TOOBIN: The Republican Party of Bob Dole, of Howard Baker, those -- it would never happen.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: You only like to see what the Republican Party does. But this is politics 101.

To the victor goes the spoils. You would not expect Senator Reid to put on the floor something that would be passed by a majority of Republican votes and a minority of Democrat votes.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: And if it meant a meltdown of the world economy? Of course Reid would do that.

NAVARRO: Well, then he's got things he could put on the table right now.

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: It can be true that there's a radical element in the Republican Party in the House that is particularly to blame here. That is true and that can be true. That doesn't mean everybody is blameless.

And it doesn't mean -- to Ana's point, she's saying everybody has to stop speaking in the language they are and they have to stop throwing around the sorts of words they do. That can be true and there can be blame going in a lot of directions there without it being false what you say about the Republicans in the House. All these things are true.

AMANPOUR: People not only have to stop slinging mud around, but they have to actually start talking. So, Clinton, President Clinton described a few weeks ago how even at the height with the acrimony with Newt Gingrich -- I think it was closed down for a month, the government -- they talked around and talked about it and finally hammered things out.

He said, once I realized what he wanted, I was got around and was able to negotiate. Dennis Hastert, Denny Hastert explained today that once Clinton and the Congress were dealing with a budget thing, Clinton was on an Africa trip, ended up in Ankara, and at 2:00 in the morning Hastert calls Clinton 10,000 miles away and they negotiate, it is done.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: And those conversations are beginning to happen right now. We are seeing what we haven't seen until now, the White House actually inviting Congress to come in and discuss what they're going to negotiate about. This is a new thing.

(CROSSTALK) AMANPOUR: What would have happened if all 200-plus members of the Republican Conference would have gone to the White House? They're not going, but they were invited.

COOPER: No, 18...

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Right, but the whole lot were invited.

COOPER: Right. Yes.

We have got to leave it there.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: David Walker, it's always good to have you on. I appreciate you staying up late with us. Thank you very much.

WALKER: Good to be with you.

COOPER: Up next: Americans pretty much bomb a reading and math test compared to adults in many other countries. We're not just talking about kids. We're talking about adults as well. What is going on? Back with our panel in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Hey. Welcome back.

When it comes to basic math -- basic math skills, reading, for instance, which I'm not doing a very good job of right now, Americans aren't quite making the grade compared to what's happening in other countries. And I don't mean just school kids. We're talking about grownups here, adults.

American adults scored below average in math, reading and problem solving using technology, according to a new study. Researchers tested about 166,000 people in more than 20 countries in a study called the Program for International Assessment of Adult Competencies.

Back with some of the most competent adults I know, Christiane Amanpour, Jeff Toobin, Ana Navarro and Frank Bruni.

What do you make of this? How distressing is this? Because we were 16th.

BRUNI: It's distressing but not surprising.

COOPER: Sixteenth in literacy for adults. We were 20th in math for adults. Twenty-second is the last (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

AMANPOUR: U.S. spends more of its GDP towards education than most countries.

COOPER: Right. AMANPOUR: You've got the top universities.

BRUNI: I didn't say it was acceptable. I didn't say it was acceptable.

AMANPOUR: You have the most Nobel laureates. The most science.

BRUNI: It's unsurprising, because we have been reading and writing -- all of us have been talking about it for years -- about how much education needs improvement in this country. What this survey does is it extrapolates. It's talking about, OK, 15 years ago, we had horrible education. What do we have now? We have insufficiently skilled middle-age adults. It's an extrapolation.

AMANPOUR: Three million jobs are available in the United States right now. Perhaps even more. And they are unable to fill them, because they don't have enough qualified or skilled workers.

BRUNI: That's a big part. That's one of the reasons we debate immigration. We need higher skills.

NAVARRO: We need to talk about that. Not only about immigration but also about having to educate and help adults transition, mid-career adults make the transitions.

COOPER: One of the thing's also that's sad about the study is it shows the difficulty if your parents are not well-educated, didn't go to college. The difficulty of surpassing them. The difficulty of getting a college education if your parents haven't.

BRUNI: Upward mobility.

COOPER: Which in the United States is a huge deal.

(CROSSTALK)

BRUNI: Our whole national identity is tied into it. When that goes away we lose our national identity.

NAVARRO: Let me tell you something so we don't all get depressed about the future of this country. As you know I'm at Harvard this semester as a fellow. And I have met a number of kids there who are just the most spectacular kids. At Harvard there's a very generous policy...

BRUNI: A little bit -- a little bit of culling has gone on here. We're talking about Harvard. I mean, you know.

NAVARRO: These are -- there's a lot of kids at Harvard whose parents make under $50,000. I have met kids whose parents are janitors, whose parents are gardeners, who maybe had a second-grade education or sixth-grade education and are at Harvard. They're having great socioeconomic shock making the transition into a place where the brick walls are covered by ivy and where there's all those resources. But there are still some incredible, spectacular, amazing, smart, engaged students in America. AMANPOUR: Of course there are. And Frank is right. I didn't mean to say it's not surprising. It should be surprising given the amount of money.

BRUNI: It's scandalous is what it is.

AMANPOUR: It's scandalous. And it is dropping, and it's not right. And it means America is less competitive overseas. And there are many reasons for it. There's the incredibly high tuition. It's gone up five times the rate of inflation. Incredibly high student debt in university. A lot of burdens.

TOOBIN: College educated. I mean, the kind of things they're testing -- the kind of things they're testing are basic reading skills. Now, it is true that many states are now adopting something called the common core which should, at least in theory, focus people on learning just these sorts of things. But...

COOPER: I want to bring in author Amanda Ripley. She wrote a book called "The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way."

Amanda, thanks for joining us. What are -- what are the headlines for you about this study that people should know tonight?

AMANDA RIPLEY, AUTHOR, "THE SMARTEST KIDS IN THE WORLD": Well, I think that it's partly very depressing, as you said. But partly, there is some hope in here. I mean, one of the things that struck me is how much our adult skills now mirror our kids' skills. And it's particularly true in math. We have a real challenge, a real deficiency in math. Less so in literacy, particularly among 15-year- olds. But we only have two countries that performed worse than we did on this test in math. So this is a big problem.

But what we're seeing here is not that we're going backwards. It's not that we're getting dumber. But it's that our younger generation, our 25- to 34-year-olds, is not keeping up with 25- to 34-year-olds in other countries. So you're seeing a real surge in skills in countries...

BRUNI: So what should we be doing?

RIPLEY: Well, you know, one of the things that we know that's actually hopeful about this is that the U.S. population is pretty young compared to other countries around the world. So changes we do make in kindergarten through high school tend to have a bigger impact more quickly.

And as you mentioned earlier, the common core standards for math and reading are definitely a step in the right direction. They're more aligned with international norms. So that's kind of a no-brainer, which isn't to say it's going to -- it's going to actually stick. But that is something that would add the rigor into the process.

But the other hopeful thing here is, look, the top of all those charts just like at the top for 15-year-olds, is Finland and Japan. Finland had a 10 percent high-school graduation rate in the 1950s. Japan wasn't much better.

COOPER: So you're saying change is possible.

RIPLEY: No, totally.

BRUNI: Explain how.

COOPER: Frank.

BRUNI: I have a question for you. There's a very funny quote in one of the stories I read about the survey from a Georgetown University faculty member, who said whenever one of these types of surveys comes out, people say, "Yes, but if we're so dumb why are we so rich?" And it's a kind of way of deflecting the whole thing. What is the answer to that? If we're so dumb why are we so rich?

RIPLEY: Well, I think there's many, many things -- many things that affect a country's economic growth. But we know that these scores, these kinds of scores are tied to a country's long-term economic growth. And they're becoming more weighty, more influential in a way that they weren't before as jobs become automated and globalized. So...

COOPER: Christiane had a good question, which is how did Finland do it? How did Japan do it? How did they go from having a 10 percent graduation rate to the 90 percent?

RIPLEY: Right. Well, they were up against it economically. They were in a time of serious economic peril that should sound familiar to us right now. And one of the things they did, they got very serious about education in a way that we have not. So one of the things they did, just to give you a very quick example, is in the late 1960s they shut down their teacher training colleges, which were of wildly varying selectivity and quality, much like ours. We educate twice as many teachers as we need.

And they moved them all to their most elite universities, which obviously had the effect that, you know, you're getting your most best-educated people into teaching.

But it also had a signaling effect that I think I didn't really appreciate until I spent time in these countries. You know, kids pick up on the fact that getting into teacher training college in Finland today is like getting into MIT in the United States. So it sends a message that you're serious about this.

BRUNO: Exactly.

NAVARRO: How much of it do you think is teacher quality, teacher accountability here in the United States? What -- how much or what percentage would you account -- account for that?

RIPLEY: There's -- there, again, are a lot of things, but certainly teaching quality is one of them. One of the things you see is that the most impressive, the real education superpowers in the world, they elevated the -- they raised the ceiling on teaching quality by making it much more selective and rigorous.

But then they were able to unwind some of the more draconian accountability measures. And it's only once you're able to do that and you have a high-trust workforce that you can really lift the ceiling.

BRUNI: Can we really look to Japan and Finland as examples when they're such -- they're smaller. They're more -- they're not nearly as diverse as we are. They don't have the kind of poverty rates we do? How much -- how much can we really draw from them that we can emulate?

COOPER: Just in terms of innovation, isn't the United States still kind of a leader, I mean, in terms of just creativity and, you know -- Or am I living in a fantasy -- Amanda.

RIPLEY: Yes, you know, the U.S. has a lot of assets, a lot of strengths. When I surveyed hundreds of exchange students who had spent time here, one of the things they said is that they really liked their American teachers. They liked how interactive their classrooms were. That kind of interactivity is really important to raising kids who can think for themselves, for example.

But they also said -- nine out of ten of them said that their classes were easier in the United States. So, you know, that kind of interactivity and freedom has to be coupled with rigor.

So there's a lot of things at work here. And, you know, we do have a lot of poverty. We do have a lot of diversity. But there are countries in that study that have a significant amount of poverty -- you know, Canada, Estonia -- that are significantly outperforming us at every age group. So, you know, it's a mix of things that kind of get together.

AMANPOUR: One governor of a western state said a couple of years ago that she was always so frustrated when businessmen would come and meet her and talk to her: "Where's our workforce? Where's our educated workforce?" And she said, "You know what? The pressure is to -- first thing that goes is the education budget." And it's a big deal. And the proof is in the pudding.

NAVARRO: If you were going to prioritize where most improvement needs to happen -- grade school, high school, college, universities -- where would you put it? What would you make the first priority?

RIPLEY: That's a great question. I would put it in early education. So there's a certain irony here. If you were an alien and you just parachuted onto earth and you read the newspaper about these study results in one column, and then you read about how, due to sequestration and the government shutdown, we're pulling low-income kids out of preschool, you would see that as a sort of bizarre contradiction.

So we know that, you know, quality matters more than quantity. That we have a lot of testing and a lot of homework in the United States. We spend a lot of money, as -- as you've noted. But we don't have a lot of quality. We don't have very smart tests; we don't have very smart homework. And I think that starts but doesn't end with the quality and selectivity of the teaching -- teacher training program.

TOOBIN: How come it's so much better to talk to you than talk to any member of Congress?

RIPLEY: It's a low bar.

COOPER: Amanda, great to have you on. Amanda Ripley. Appreciate it. Thank you so much.

RIPLEY: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next the panel, it's a disturbing story in so many ways. The attack on an SUV driver by a group of bikers. We have the latest bombshell: an off-duty NYPD detective has himself been arrested for allegedly participating in the assault. Off-duty or not, was it actually his job to step in to stop what was going on? We'll try to a former detective sergeant to try to get some answers next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back.

New York police say at least two undercover officers were riding their motorcycles the afternoon that some of the bikers and their group got into a confrontation with the driver of an SUV. The cops were off duty at the time. Today one of them was actually charged with assault. As for the second officer, police said they have no information that he took part in the incident.

But there is this question: As an intense situation spiraled into violence, did the officers have a duty to stop it or at least to attempt to stop it?

We're going to get some insight from a former police officer. What is the right protocol in a situation like this? Joining us is Jerry Kane, a former NYPD detective sergeant.

Detective, thanks so much for being with us. What -- what is the responsibility of an undercover officer off duty, not on a beat, and a detective, no less?

JERRY KANE, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE SERGEANT: Well, an off-duty undercover officer has different responsibilities than just a plain old off-duty officer. An undercover officer is supposed to protect his identity at all time. That said, all -- that's always a guide. And there's always the flexibility and a possibility that an undercover would break from his undercover role and take police action if somebody's life was at stake.

COOPER: The -- the allegation is that this officer banged on the rear windshield, banged on one of the windows of the vehicle. I suppose he could make the argument, "Well, I was -- I was trying to -- I thought the person had done a hit-and-run." I mean, there's any number of defenses he could make. But the fact that he didn't report or apparently did not report to his superiors for several days that he was there, does that concern you?

KANE: Yes. You know, an undercover officer who's caught up in a violent situation, he certainly can observe, take down license plate numbers, memorialize descriptions of people that are taking bad acts, and then immediately go to his superior and his command and say, "Hey, I was -- I was in the middle of something, and I need to pass along information I was able to gather." It seems that the officers involved in this incident didn't do that.

TOOBIN: But isn't there a distinction between when an undercover officer is on duty and when he's not on duty? If he's not on duty, what difference does it make if he's an undercover officer? He should -- he should help, right?

KANE: Well, like I said before, certainly, there's an opportunity or a possibility that he would have to act if he should. And I believe that, especially at the end when the man was dragged out of his car and was being beaten, certainly, he could have been killed at that moment, and someone should have acted if there was a police officer there. And it seems there was.

But that said, undercover officers, off duty and on duty, come across crimes all the time. And in their undercover role, what they're looking to do is build big cases against criminal enterprises or other bad actors. And they'll record that information, and they'll report it. But they don't jump in and act all the time.

And, you know, so if the training is sometimes confusing for these guys, and the rules are sometimes confusion that's because there's a million different possible scenarios these guys can come upon. And what we hope is that they'll use good judgment when the time comes.

COOPER: We should point out this is a detective we're talking about. I've worked with detectives on personal stuff in the city. And I have a huge respect for them. I mean, this isn't somebody who's new to the beat or -- I mean, detectives are of the highest level and have great respect in the New York City Police Department.

KANE: Oh. It's a prestigious rank, and it's respected all over the world, as it should be. And it's possible that this detective is a very, very good police officer and has been and failed to do the best that he could at this moment. I don't want to judge a guy's whole career.

COOPER: And -- and again, Mark Geragos made the point last night. And I do think it's an interesting point. I talked to somebody today who was there just on background.

But and Mark's point was, we don't know what each of these bikers saw, including this detective. For all we know, this detective saw a hit- and-run and a driver take off and was banging on the windshield in order to stop the guy and -- and even maybe, you could argue, trying to get the family out, you know, the other side. We simply don't know what this person's defense is. So it is very easy to rush to judgment, and one should always be cautious of that. But it certainly raises a lot of questions.

KANE: I mean, it's literally hundreds of bikers in some of these -- these groups. So it's hard for anybody to see all the -- all the things that go on.

TOOBIN: Do you think maybe cops should have a different hobby than riding with hundreds of motorcyclists up the West Side Highway?

KANE: You know, these groups, everybody knows what these groups do. They use their numbers to slow down the traffic and basically take ownership of the highway. I don't think any off-duty police officer should be in a group like that.

COOPER: Jerry Kane, it's great to have you on the program. Really appreciate your perspective. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So they were up to no good.

COOPER: Well, I mean -- I mean, if you've ever seen these -- it's not a gang. But they do often...

AMANPOUR: But that's the first time I've heard somebody explain.

COOPER: Oh, no, no. There's a long history of these large groups.

TOOBIN: The answer to your question is yes.

NAVARRO: Do we know now how many -- how many undercover cops were involved here?

COOPER: No, we don't.

NAVARRO: We know of two?

COOPER: We've got to go.

Coming up, stories you might not have heard of. I'll ask everybody on the panel "What's Your Story?" Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Time now for "What's Your Story?" where I ask the panelists about maybe stories that they are interested in and maybe other people missed. Jeff, what's your story?

TOOBIN: I just finished a great book, "The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking," by Brendan Koerner. It's the story of the hijacking epidemic in the early '70s. I don't remember. And I mean, I was alive.

COOPER: You don't remember?

TOOBIN: I mean, I remember there were hijackings. NAVARRO: What were you doing in the '70s that you don't remember?

TOOBIN: I was a little kid. There were five weeks sometimes. And the stories are scary and frequently hilarious. It's a great book.

COOPER: There's a great movie, "Carlos" (ph).

AMANPOUR: I've flown out of them since they were in Beirut and around Iran and this and that.

My favorite story, of course, is Malala, Malala, Malala.

COOPER: You're interviewing her.

AMANPOUR: I'm interviewing her tomorrow, talking about education. I mean, this is a girl who's put her life on the line. And I think she's a prodigy. The way she talks is unusually sophisticated and clear and very beautiful. Only 16.

NAVARRO: She is a picture of grace and posture.

AMANPOUR: She is.

NAVARRO: Love her.

COOPER: Frank, what's your story?

BRUNI: We talked about the Redskins controversy last night. I think there's a bigger story in the NFL, which is the dysfunctional culture, the violence. This week the Aaron Hernandez, of the New England Patriots, trial began. There's a new book out called "League of Denial" about the concussion crisis. There's a lot -- there's some widespread problems in the NFL, and I'm a big football fan, so it concerns me. Goes way beyond the Redskins controversy.

TOOBIN: "Frontline" has an amazing documentary about the concussion.

BRUNI: It's really upsetting as a fan to see what it leads to.

NAVARRO: All I want is for them to stop asking me for money to build stadiums for billionaires. That will make me happy.

BRUNI: Well, that's a big problem, too.

COOPER: Ana, what's your story?

NAVARRO: Well, today something happened, something unexpected, unscripted photo bombing of Harry Reid and Democrat presser going on in -- at the Capitol, going on in Washington. And it got broken into by the mayor of Washington, D.C.

COOPER: There's the video right there.

NAVARRO: They've got a real problem. Because they are funded -- their funding comes through D.C. appropriations. So they are not being able to perform some basic duties of the city. And they went in there, demanded -- he demanded.

And Harry Reid said to him, "Don't screw this up. I'm on your side." Sort of an unguarded moment.

And that's why I'm telling you, everybody's getting the blame. Even these folks in D.C., who are mostly Democrat, are very angry at what's happening.

COOPER: We are -- we are out of time. I want to thank everybody on our panel. Thanks very much.

That does it for 360 LATER. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again tomorrow night at 10. Hope you join us.

Up next, "SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN" with Jake Tapper.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight a CNN special.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't engage in hostage taking.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What a train wreck.

TAPPER: A muck (ph) of metaphors about D.C. dysfunction. But now a possible ray of hope? Talk tonight -- and just talk -- about a deal. Even if it won't last past the middle of the football season.

OBAMA: I'm happy to negotiate on anything.

BOEHNER: We need to sit down and have a conversation.

TAPPER: Also, in a partisan world...

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: My intention coming here was to help solve problems.

TAPPER: ... he isn't beholden to either side. Independent Senator Angus King of Maine is our guest.