tv CGI America Denver Bloomberg September 6, 2014 9:30pm-10:01pm EDT
>> turning ideas into action. the clinton global initiative attracts some of the world's most influential people. leaders in business, politics, and philanthropy. the goal -- find solutions that promote economic recovery in the united states. on a bloomberg tv special, from this year's meeting in denver, colorado. we sit down with former president and cgi founder bill clinton. >> we should look at this money as a one-time stimulus to the american economy. >> and discuss the path forward for american businesses. with zillow cofounder rich barton, ch2m hill ceo jacqueline hinman, and robert rubin, the former treasury secretary and
former goldman sachs cochairman. >> the government is not meeting its challenges. i think that is a real threat to our future. >> coming up -- we will hear these newsmakers weigh in on the policy and business challenges of today's economy. >> what's your sense of what is going on in an economic recovery? it feels like we are fumbling along. how would you characterize this economy? >> i would say we don't have enough internally generated growth. we can't do that unless we unlock investment and direct it to high-growth areas. we have only two options. one is not favored by the house of representatives, which is to say we have cut the deficit by more than 50%.
we have to get the structural deficit down, but right now, with interest rates lower than inflation, this is the best time we will have to undertake a massive effort to build a 21st-century infrastructure. if we did that, we would have massive internally generated growth. the other option to do the same thing, which would require less of congress. they would have to put up a little matching money. would be to put up an infrastructure bank with public and private funds. we can seed it with a negotiated incentive structure with big companies that have more than $1 trillion in cash overseas, and would like to repatriate it. to be fair, there is a wariness to do this in both parties. if you require that a big percent of that money goes when infrastructure bank with a guaranteed tax-exempt rate of return, which it would have if
the government set it up. i believe we can negotiate an attractive deal. i know that john chambers at cisco has been trying to work with companies like his. >> is there a right number? is there a right corporate tax rate? >> basically, have fewer deductions and incentives. maybe even have an alternative minimum tax for corporations. let me back up -- i raised the corporate tax rate to its current level. >> it was a different era then. >> it was exactly in the middle of the oecd countries. the wealthy countries. i don't believe tax rate is a theology. it is about economics. if the government is going to spend money, you need revenue to cover it. if you ran a big multinational company, and you had operations
all over the world, and you earned this money legitimately -- you would be reluctant to bring the money that you had earned home. if you had to pay the difference in what you paid there and will what you pay here in a world where now the average corporate tax is 25% or 26%. the way to do it without giving up money is to require those that pay under 20% to pay a little more and to finance the repatriation. we should look at this money as a one-time stimulus for the american economy and require a certain amount of it to be -- they could pay a modest amount to the treasury. the most important thing is the infrastructure, and putting people back to work. if you funded it that way, then the people who put up the money for our more modest program could invest their pension funds in the investment bank. other corporations could put money in the infrastructure
bank. that's what i think our two options are. we should try to get -- separately -- a corporate tax reform rate that is competitive internationally. we should do it without giving up money by closing loopholes and requiring everybody with x amount of income to pay a minimum tax. >> coming up next, the former president talks about what really matters to america. immigration policy, income inequality, and the minimum wage. ♪
>> welcome back to bloomberg's exclusive interview at cgi america. we are with former president bill clinton. >> you spent a lifetime believing that policy matters. over and over again, immigration comes up. this is not one that public-private partnerships can solve. it needs federal policy. if you were running the show, what would the path to immigration reform look like? how would you cut the path?
>> first of all, i would be sure we had a targeted approach for skilled immigrant labor that reflects the current demand for the economy. i believe we needed a broad-based immigration reform, to give people a path to citizenship who were here working. we need reasonable quotas in the future. that should be coupled with -- most of the anti-immigrant feeling in america, ironically, is in places without enormous number of immigrants. they are in places that feel like they have been left out and left behind. everybody is at the front of the line. neither party really does much for them. >> you have given us a good sense on how you would lead us in the direction of some policy. how would you lead us in this political climate? we do have a new house majority leader who he has suggested that he is open to immigration reform
and a path toward citizenship. >> you have immigration reform opposed from the right and left. on political and nationalist reasons on the right, and for economic populist reasons on the left. i think that we need to -- the president has certainly shown he is willing to enforce the laws. he has been attacked repeatedly by the immigrant community for sending too many people back. he has actually changed and modified his position. i support that change. this is an important thing. we live in this interdependent world. one of our big advantages in the interdependent world is there is somebody in america from everywhere else. we are 4% of the world's population.
we have got about, depending on the year and the economy, anywhere between 21% and 23% of the world gdp. you don't have to be a mathematical genius to know that we have to sell something to somebody else. if we want to maintain prosperity, you have to have a steady workforce, and it needs to be young. youth matters. demographics matter. we have a lot of work to do on the other side. how do you create jobs and change the job mix? we need to raise the median income in the workforce. i think this immigration reform is really important. >> income inequality -- president obama has called this the defining challenge of our time. i will take a guess that you would agree since this was a subject you were particularly passionate about. what is the single most important thing we can do? either a new policy, or redeploying one of the policies that you used effectively during
your administration? >> first of all, in the short run, the most important thing we can do is to lift the bottom, the working bottom by raising the minimum wage. you could raise the minimum wage so much -- for example, it is going to be interesting to see how the seattle experiment works, but the research indicates that it if you keep the minimum wage at roughly half the median, you can get the best of both worlds. you can give people enough money to live on. that adds economic growth. they don't have enough to save, so they circulate it in the economy. it turns over, and it contributes to growth. i think making some adjustments in the earned income tax credit and the childcare tax credit to help working people with
families at the lower end of the wage scale is important. the third thing that will help a lot is it will take us three years, we got to take care of medicare expansion. it creates thousands of jobs in every state, it brings money in, and rewards working people. over the long run, social mobility may be even more important. that is we have proved in america that we would accept a slightly higher rate of economic inequality than many of the most wealthy countries in europe in return for more social mobility. that is we would take in more immigrants and give them a chance to start out low on the totem pole and work like crazy and build a middle-class lives. that is not a credible position. we have less social mobility in america than a lot of other countries now. >> when we come back, a panel discussion on political gridlock and how american businesses can move forward. ♪
>> welcome back to bloomberg television's special coverage of the clinton global initiative in denver, colorado. we continue with the conversation on the u.s. business climate and how to keep america competitive. >> what defines american businesses? >> the united states has tremendous advantages. we have a dynamic and entrepreneurial society.
we have flexible labor capital markets. we have vast natural resources. revolution in energy. we have the rule of law. if we are going to realize that potential, this is the key, we have to meet a host of policy challenges. the problem there is while they are they are difficult, they are doable, they are also difficult politically. and we have a political system in gridlock. the key to our future is the reestablishment of a political system in which you have a congress and willingness to compromise. it is only in that manner that our democracy can work. it is only if that happens that we will meet our policy challenges. i personally think it is likely. we have a dynamic society. it is in gridlock now. there are no guarantees. it could be a long and messy process. >> what's holding back american businesses?
what are the key policy issues -- impediments -- jackie, you are nodding. why don't i start with you? >> there are some fundamental things that i think all american business -- frankly, they are bipartisan issues. we like a stable tax policy to predict what is going on. we feel very strongly that we need an immigration policy. as a nation of immigrants, we need workers at all levels of the chain. >> can we be globally competitive if we do not solve our immigration problem? >> it is a significant impediment in our economy. it is something we want from a workforce perspective. that all businesses want. >> can i ask both of them a question? >> yes, please. >> i have friends in big technology companies who say they are moving operations out of the united states. they cannot bring in people from
abroad to fill key roles. >> rich, you are having problems with access to talent? >> we absolutely are. we have a couple of problems. we have an immigration problem that's linked to a computer science education problem. the very best jobs in the world -- i have a company called glassdoor. we are one of the largest job sites. we analyze all kinds of data about the job market. the jobs are in computer science and engineering. there are literally hundreds of thousands of open, unfulfilled jobs. these don't have american kids applying for them because they haven't gotten the education. only one out of 10 public schools in the united states even teaches computer science. this is really something that we as a society have to change. now, another part tied to that problem is immigration. so because we cannot find all the computer science and engineering talent in the u.s., we look abroad.
we educate a lot of foreigners, of non-u.s. residents. we educate them in computer science. we get them phd's. >> it is a significant revenue stream. >> it is, and still, we make it hard for those people to stay. the interesting image that everybody can grok, is that every time a phd is handed out in the united states to someone who is not an american. a green card should be stapled to it. >> you are an advocate of putting the right policy in place. are there policies that would, if redeployed, help us reduce the inequality? >> yes. there is sometimes a tendency to conflate income inequality and stagnant wages. they are separate but related questions. i think we should focus on media and real wages, and increasing incomes for workers at all levels. president clinton talked about this the other day. it is his driving vision. i think the kind of fiscal policy i mentioned before. all of the kind of policy they have been talking about in
education and training -- anything that promotes economic activity and equips our workers will help address those issues. i happen to believe in collective bargaining. i think it is a good idea. unions should work with companies to help make them effective. progressive taxation, obviously, increase minimum wage. >> where do you weigh in on the minimum wage issue? >> on a federal level, you get a bunch of people together, you sit down, try to figure out if increasing the minimum wage would adversely affect jobs. i don't have that kind of analysis available to me. i think $15 on the national level would be a good number. >> any other impediments to growth we should talk about? you've got one! [laughter] >> i could spend all day talking about it. let me ask both them a question.
i am a very strong supporter of regulatory protection across a whole range of areas where the private sector by itself does need to function within the framework of a regulatory system. i have an impression that we could do a better job of weighing and balancing the costs and benefits. i have a feeling you are not going to wildly disagree with that. >> infrastructure, different types of regulation, there is always a need for balance. balance between business interests as well as appropriate infrastructure standards, appropriate environmental standards, etc. i think this will be a work in progress. i am very optimistic, particularly when i look at the state and local level. we are sitting in a location, colorado has had an excellent balance of the needs of energy
manufacturing and the environment. it is combined with a good business approach. >> a good, decent policy here in colorado on an issue that i know is near and dear to you -- ride sharing services. >> yes. we had a flareup in seattle. >> which got really annoyed, the situation. >> uber, it is a revolutionary, transformative kind of transportation. now people are realizing that there are people who are getting rid of their cars. it is more economical to use uber. >> you did that for a week. >> i did it for a week as an experiment. in seattle, the seattle city council two months ago took a vote to cap the number of uber drivers that were allowed to be in seattle. a very low number, something that was way lower than what the market was demanding. there was a huge uproar. the people wanted uber. a huge uproar. the mayor felt pressure and two or three months later they reversed that decision.
>> the ideal regulation for new disruptive companies like would be what? >> we need regulators that are open-minded to progress. not just companies that are open-minded to progress, but we need a government that is open-minded. if you stifle innovation, i can guarantee that you will get stagnation. >> coming up next -- former president bill clinton talks life in politics and whether hillary rodham clinton will run for the white house -- again. that is next. ♪
>> welcome back to our special report from the clinton global initiative in denver with more from former president and cgi founder, bill clinton. i'm not going to ask you about secretary clinton's decision to run for office. if you feel like sharing that, i am sure we would all be happy to hear it. [laughter] >> i don't know, but i'm for whatever she wants to do. [laughter] this is an immensely rewarding thing. i wanted to say to all of you that the fundamental fact of power in a highly integrated, interdependent world is that it is more dispersed. the good news is you have more of it. you can come here and form alliances and drastically increase your impact. the bad news is, people who are trying to wreck things have more influence, too. the traditional nationstate all
over the world is under stress, which is driving some people to support more authoritarian governments. we don't want that in america. it's not like you can't have a meaningful life outside of politics, but it's not like politics isn't still really important. for the rest of the life of everybody in this room, you will live in a period where power is more dispersed and the competition to exercise it in positive and negative ways will probably go to people who are most effective in recognizing the new realities, organizing and deploying according to it. whatever she decides to do, she's going to do good. >> what does that mean about you? in other words, you have spent
more than a decade out of office devoting your life, creating this extraordinary foundation for the public good. what would a return to the white house for your family mean for the foundation, and for the work you are engaged in that is so meaningful today? >> i hope that we would be able to continue to do that with what we do, but that we would set up certain rules, be totally transparent, so that no one would think that someone was helping the clinton foundation because they wanted an edge with the federal government. when hillary was secretary of state, for example, i cleared every speech i gave. particularly those i gave -- as i do every year -- to raise money for the foundation. i cleared in advance on what the policy would be for taking funds from non-american sources. the white house developed a policy that i reported every penny we got. if we made a mistake, someone could see it and say hey, i
think this is wrong, but i don't think we should shut down the clinton global initiative. more than half a million people in the world get their aids medicine from contracts we negotiated. we should not have to shut it down. if she were to run and become president, the last things she needs is for me to be underfoot. [laughter] she is the ablest public servant i have ever known. i would help. whatever i was asked to do, i would do. just like i do for president obama. just like i did for president bush. if you have been a former president, you need to show up when you're summoned. [laughter] i do. i hope that we can keep this. this, too, is a part of advancing the public good in the 21st century.