tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg June 2, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
♪ >> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: mitch mcconnell is here. he is the u.s. senate majority leader. he has represented kentucky since 1984 and is now in his sixth term in office. mcconnell has been at the center of some of the hardest-fought political battles in recent history, from campaign finance to obamacare to the current clash over president obama's supreme court nominee. john mccain once said, "there are few things more daunting in politics than the determined opposition of mitch mcconnell." recently, mcconnell pledged his support for donald trump. sen. mcconnell: i think most of
our members believe that he won the nomination the old-fashioned way. he got more votes than anybody else. and we respect to the voices of the republican primary voters across the country. we know the alternative is four more years just like the last eight. i do not think the american people are thrilled. senator thune was talking about the growth rate in this country. i believe it is the case the president has not had a single quarter with 3% growth in his whole presidency. this country needs to get going again. we know that hillary clinton will be four more years of barack obama. i think that is going to be , in the end, enough to unify republicans across the country. charlie: mcconnell's new memoir is called "the long game." it spans almost the entirety of the senator's life, from his childhood bout with polio to his recent conflicts with president obama and senate minority leader harry reid. the historian jon meacham calls it an engaging and compelling memoir, at once entertaining and
essential. i am pleased to have mitch mcconnell on this program for the first time at this desk. welcome. sen. mcconnell: glad to be here. charlie: it is a pleasure to have you here. how do you see this? what do you want the reader to come away with? sen. mcconnell: i think in a narrow when people -- an era when people are all into instant gratification, instant information, there is still a place for early preparation and playing, as i call it, the long game. most people who are successful in life, you know hit a few , speed bumps along the way to -- they are not overnight sensations. they work very hard to get where they want to go. you could argue that someone like myself in today's political world is a little out of fashion. people are, you know looking for , something new and something they have not noticed in the political environment before.
charlie: there are some who say while bob dole was right for his time, you are right for this time, further publicans. -- for the republicans. sen. mcconnell: i think the founders of this country, a lot of people do not know much about american history anymore, constructed a system that is not into instant solution. the power is divided both among the branches of government and the two houses of congress are quite different. it is hard to make a law, do something quickly. they thought that was the best thing for this country. and i think it has worked out pretty well, but patience is not something that people are frequently rewarding. charlie: velocity is a common term about everything. how fast? at the same time, is it a conservative government the founders is established? checks and balances they wanted , to make sure this country did not rush into anything. sen. mcconnell: conservative in the sense that they did not want rapid answers to complicated questions.
and so they constructed a system , that guaranteed it would make it very, very difficult for the government to do things quickly. now there have been occasions , where one side was completely dominant. take the new deal the democrats had. 76 out of 96 senators at one point. charlie: 76 out of 96. sen. mcconnell: they could not even get all the democrats on one side. the senate, normally, we are on each side with the aisle down the middle. that is pretty unusual. the first two years of president thea, he had pretty made significant majorities. could do what he wanted to. after that, people seem to be suffering from buyer's remorse. and changed the congress. charlie: he could argue he did not get all that he wanted in terms of the stimulus program. he would argue that. sen. mcconnell: we would argue that. i thought $1 trillion is more than enough. out on top of that, obamacare
and dodd-frank. he had control of the legislative process for two years, and the american people tooiled actually and decided , as a result of being seized by buyers remorse, decided to change the government. the clinton experience, same thing after two years. charlie: some will argue, and i wonder how you think about this, the country, sort of likes it if the president is in one party and the congress is in the other party. sen. mcconnell: it is funny. americans complain not enough is being done, but then they turn around and frequently elect a divided government. we have had divided government more often than not since world war ii. there is very much the feeling that maybe they do not want either side to get everything they want. your going to have an interesting election in which both of the nominees for president are quite unpopular. i think it will be a lot of tickets floating this year whether you vote for trump or , clinton. people will want to make an independent judgment about their
senate candidate or their house candidate. this will be an unusual year. charlie: one of the fears when donald trump became the youent of nominee was that might lose the senate majority. some of your senators seem to have been worried about that. sen. mcconnell: some may have been fearful of that. let me give you an example, a couple examples that are instructive. when bill clinton was reelected in 1996, my party actually gained two seats in the senate. when ronald reagan carried 49 out of 50 states in 1984, a sweep, the republicans lost two seats in the senate. when goldwater got wiped out republicans lost two seats. ,what was happening? people were voting one way for president, but then hedging their bets in the congressional races. one thing you can safely say about senate races, they are statewide. they are big enough for the incumbents we have running in purple states, competitive
states like new hampshire, pennsylvania, ohio, wisconsin, to paint their own picture. and what i have recommended is, i think it is a good idea to support the nominee. he won it, he got the most votes whether he was people's first , choice or not. the way you get elected in this country is you get the most votes. charlie: we will talk more about that. does he represent the republican party? do his values match those of the republican party that you believe in? sen. mcconnell: not entirely, no. i do not think donald trump will change basic core republican beliefs. i do not expect him to change the platform for example. i am glad that he is hopefully going to bring new voters to the party, but i do not think donald trump is going to change the republican party. charlie: some of the republicans are worried about that. sen. mcconnell: i am not worried about it. charlie: some argue that the primary season is a different time. i mean, i had some of your colleagues say to me if donald
, trump is the nominee, it will destroy the republican party. if you've the nominee and loses badly it will destroy the , republican party. i know you are here to say the republican party is way too strong for that. sen. mcconnell: it will not destroy the republican party. charlie: even if he loses that are -- badly? barry goldwater did not destroy the republican party. sen. mcconnell: there are core beliefs most republican share. post-reagan, the two parties meant something. when i was young in the south it , was hard to tell the difference between conservative democrats and liberals. there has been a realignment. i think the labels actually mean something. the republican is right of center party, democratic is left. charlie: some states go democrat. voted for obama in 2008. voted against in 2012. sen. mcconnell: that would be a purple state a competitive , state.
charlie: when you look at trump, what does he say to you? i want to talk more about you and this book, but when you have conversations with him when he , comes to washington, does he express some sense of how he may -- how he may not be what he seems? how he may be misunderstood, how he may be whatever? sen. mcconnell: this story is instructive. he and i were at the nra meeting, which happened to be in my hometown of louisville a couple of weeks ago. we are in the green room. i said, hey donald have you got , a script? he said, yeah. he pulled out of his pocket. i said, are you going to use it? he said, i hate using a script. it is boring. audiences do not like it. i said, donald, put me down in favor of boring. [laughter] i said you have entertained , audiences, and you have tweeted to the nomination. in my opinion, for what is worth
you need to pivot at this point , and use a script more often. even at the risk of being boring. i stayed and watched the stage. he did both. he both entertained for a while and then begrudgingly, you could tell he did not want to pulled , the script out of his pocket and read a bunch of boring stuff . it was important for him to go on record. my point is, i think trump needs to convey to the public a certain level of seriousness about the position for which he is running. i think it is not at all inappropriate to follow a ript. because it means you have thought through the positions you are going to take, and you want to advocate something. i also don't like the ad homonym attacks. for example, i thought the attack on on susana martinez -- the governor of new mexico -- charlie: after he was the presumptive nominee. sen. mcconnell: -- was unacceptable. he ought not to do stuff like
that. charlie: would you say things like that to him? he always has a counterattack. sen. mcconnell: i have not seen him since then. charlie: he says, i attack after they attacked me. sen. mcconnell: if you are running for president, you can expect to be attacked. it goes with the job. charlie: how do you see the race? sen. mcconnell: i think it will be close. you have a very upset electorate. they have a good reason to be upset. the average person has not done very well during this administration. and people feel like they are falling behind. charlie: but at the same time, as you know there are two things , happening. in the democratic party, a bit of a potest against wall street. sen. mcconnell: and, go ahead. charlie: on the republican side, more of a protest against government, a government and do not think works. a lot of republicans believe it is because they do not see things they believe in and it is inactive. democrats say there is gridlock that is bad for the country because we are not making investments in the future.
sen. mcconnell: well, i think that is the attitude. i think democrats are upset about wall street. republicans are upset about government. i also think there is a strand of democrats that think the president has not been liberal enough, which, to people like me, is truly astonishing. but whether they are angry at wall street -- charlie: not as liberal as bernie sanders. sen. mcconnell: apparently not. [laughter] from my perspective, the president has been a far left guy. he had a chance to be ill clinton after he lost the congress to pivot to the middle. , charlie: in the state of the union, he famously said the era , of big government is over. sen. mcconnell: we balanced the budget three years in a row. reagan did the same thing. he and tip o'neill raised the age for social security, the hardest thing to do in politics, and did the last comprehensive tax reform. both of them confronted with a congress they could not totally control, decided to move to the middle and do wizard things.
obama, after losing the congress in 2010, after having his own way legislatively the first two years after losing the congress , in the midterm of 2010, did not pivot to the center. he doubled down to the people he controls, the regulators, the board, and all the rest continued to pursue a leftish , agenda, which is why i am astonished that the sanders people do not think the president has been progressive enough. charlie: let me put you back into the picture. you are the one who said at the time that he was elected, our responsibility is to see barack obama is not reelected president. many people said your responsibility is to make sure that you act in the national interest of the country, not to play politics and depend on electoral success or failure. sen. mcconnell: i am glad you brought that up. in the book, i point out that one reporter got it right. bob woodward, who did not snip off the rest of what i said.
and by the way, i did not say it when the resident first got elected. -- president first got elected. i said it two years in after he had been rebuffed early. i said, i would like for barack obama, politically, to be a one term president. but what got snipped off, the rest of what i said was in the , meantime, there is a lot we need to accomplish with the country. during that two-year period between the time he lost the house and got himself reelected, joe biden and i negotiated three bipartisan agreement. the extension of bush tax cuts, the budget control act, which reduced government spending for two years in a row for the first time since right after the korean war, and the december 31 fiscal cliff deal, which prevented a tax increase on 99% of americans. now, the point i am making charlie is sure, there were big , things that i disagreed with the president on. obviously, as the republican leader of the senate, i hoped he would not be the president in
a second term. but there was after all the meantime. that is what i did in the meantime. charlie: so people misunderstood. sen. mcconnell: they just snapped off the balance of what i said. i set the record straight in the book. charlie: you talk about the idea of focus. joe biden somehow could negotiate and keep focus in terms of getting something done. sen. mcconnell: well, what joe was willing to do is not sort of lecture me like the president likes to do to me and others and impress us with his intelligent. -- intelligence. charlie: you are suggesting he thinks he is the smartest person in the room and he wants to show you? sen. mcconnell: he could resist that. it is kind of grading on people, and i hear that complaint from democrats as well. the beauty with joe is he does not waste time trying to convince me of things. i don't waste any time trying to convince him.
we were able to get to the things we could come together on. the president deserves credit , i think for designating joe to , do these negotiations. he knew what he was doing and did it well. charlie: a man of the senate. sen. mcconnell: and a personality type that did not try to convince your political opponents of something you you know you cannot convince them of. so yeah we did some business , with the administration. ♪
charlie: how close did we come, during the difficult years of gridlock to coming to a grand bargain? sen. mcconnell: that is a very good question. the two biggest things the country needs for the future are entitlement eligibility changes. that means medicare and social security have to be adjusted to the demographics of america tomorrow, rather than in the 1930's, when social security was passed, and the 1960's, when medicare was passed. youngsters being born today have a reasonable shot of living to see 100 years old. reasonable shot. last year, the average male lived to 79. the average female, 81. the programs are simply unsustainable, and they are eating up more than half the budget. charlie: people can lead a productive life for a longer period of time. sen. mcconnell: absolutely. the president is extremely resistant to tackle that. he knows it needs to be done,
he simply does not want to do it on his watch. the other thing we have been unable to do and what the country desperately needs is what reagan and tip o'neill did 30 years ago. we need a major overhaul the tax code to make america more competitive. charlie: in other words, if there was entitlement reform, and therefore having a look at revenue and spending and investment, you could therefore make changes in the tax code in terms of deductions as well. sen. mcconnell: yeah, but the idea of the tax code is not to grow the government. reagan and tip o'neill had an agreement. it would be revenue-neutral to the government. it wasn't revenue neutral to the people who lost preference in the tax code. the revenue produced would be used to buy down rates. president obama will not agree to that. he also will not agree to entitlement eligibility changes without the kind of thing that would pass congress.
you get my drift. he is unwilling to make the deals that would have to be made in dealing with a congress he does not control. so those issues, those mega issues, we have not been able to solve. charlie: my question was, how close did we come to a grand bargain? was a close? sen. mcconnell: not that close. charlie: there was the famous question about john boehner. he could not have made the deal. sen. mcconnell: there was a serious discussion. i was involved in those. charlie: democratic senators were involved in that? sen. mcconnell: this is mostly the administration and the republican leadership. the president would have had to bring the democrats along. because they were not interested in doing these deals. it would have required the sort of thing reagan and tip o'neill did. the kind of thing that clinton and their pelicans did. -- and the republicans did. these deals have to be done with a guy with a pen. there's only one person out of 300 million americans that can sign something in the law. the president and the system is a very important player, the
most important player. what do you do, and again, i talk about this in my book, what do you do when you have divided government which happened after the 2014 election? i had a press conference after it became clear become the majority leader. i said, what are the american people looking for when they elect divided government? i think they're saying, we know you have differences. why don't you look for the same you can agree on and do those. we cannot do the mega stuff because the president does not want to do it but there is a lot , of things that ended a dysfunctional senate. it was completely dysfunctional before this current majority. we could not even vote anymore. we had 15 rollcall votes in all of 2014. the whole year. we had 200 last year. everybody is getting to participate regardless of party. we did trade promotion authority. we did a complete rewrite of no child left behind, very unpopular, left over from the bush administration.
the five year highway bill had not been done in 20 years. cyber security, permanent r&d tax credit permanent internet , tax moratorium. comprehensive energy bill. a whole array of things. what were they in the category of? important, worth doing, could get a presidential signature, but not the mega issues we really needed to tackle. charlie: are republicans in the senate, and you as their leader, willing to say, in order for us to remain competitive, we really have to invest in the future and make that kind of commitment that has to do with research and development, has to do with supporting science, has to do with a whole range of things? sen. mcconnell: we had a major bipartisan agreement on significantly plussing up nih, the national institutes of health. up? ie: plussing
sen. mcconnell: cancer research, the president and vice president are interested. the cancer moonshot, which we are interested in doing. the president is interested in precision medicine. i am particularly interested in some kind of fda reforms that would quit slowing down getting into clinical trials for exciting new things like interbody cell transfer. taking it out of one part of your body -- charlie: the research they have done on brain cancer at duke has gotten fast tracked. sen. mcconnell: we have bipartisan agreement to do that. we can do it without dramatic overhaul spending increases. we are massively overspending. we have added more debt during the obama years than all the presidents from george washington ahead to george bush. so i think the overall spending does not need to go up, but some of the spending needs to go up. a highway bill is a good example. we had not passed a five-year, fully-funded highway bill since the 1990's.
and so that is infrastructure, and that is important to the country to keep the transportation system working. charlie: should we do more? sen. mcconnell: we certainly need to do more in selected areas. in selected areas. charlie: bridges, highways, rapid transit? sen. mcconnell: medical research. charlie: but i am talking about infrastructure for a second. it seems to me, and i am asking this as a citizen might ask are , there areas of common ground where we should have done more? are you simply saying, we have done more than you think we have? sen. mcconnell: we have done more than you think we have. the reason for that is everybody , is angry about their own situation in life. they are blaming the government, which is understandable. but there is no dysfunction in the senate anymore. i have just given you -- charlie: harry reid is the now the minority leader. and you are the majority leader. sen. mcconnell: we are opening the place up. people are getting to vote, to participate on a bipartisan basis. we are bringing forward legislation. we are passing this will be , inside baseball for a lot of
people, but we are passing individual appropriation bills that fund the government, as opposed to leading to a big old omnibus at the end of the year, which is embarrassing for both sides. that has not been done in 20 years. all of those things are happening. they are not going to make the front page of the new york times, but they are happening. charlie: if garland were nominated by hillary clinton, president-elect to be a supreme court justice would you support , him? sen. mcconnell: here is the deal. we are in the middle of a presidential election year. you would have to go back 80 years to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential election year was filled. you have to go all the way back to grover cleveland to find the last time a supreme court vacancy occurring in a presidential election year was confirmed by a senate of the opposite party. let's go back to 1992. joe biden was chairman of the judiciary committee. charlie: he wishes he had not said what he said. sen. mcconnell: he was not a
vacancy, but he said gratuitously, if there is a , vacancy that occurs this year, he would not fill it. chuck schumer said 18 months before the end of george bush 43, if there is a vacancy, he , would not fill it. so what is anybody saying here? if you are in the middle of an election year for president, a vacancy on the supreme court will not be filled. it is not about merrick garland personally, although the president calling him a moderate does not make him a moderate. but is not about him personally. charlie: talking about republicans in the past in terms of judicial appointments. sen. mcconnell: this is the supreme court we are talking about. charlie: he is on the court of appeals. sen. mcconnell: this is the supreme court. charlie: he is on the court of appeals. sen. mcconnell: so were clarence thomas and robert bork. you know what happened to them. that was not a presidential election year. charlie: it really started acrimony about supreme court justices. sen. mcconnell: started under nixon. nick sent had to supreme court
justices shot down. there was a majority democratic niate shot down two of xon's. then bork and thomas. it is safe to say i studied this a lot, wrote a law journal about it a long time ago. what does advice and consent mean? i think the answer is whatever , the senate says it means at any given point. we are at a period of senatorial assertiveness. and, but even putting assertiveness inside, it was never going to be possible to fill a vacancy in the middle of a presidential election year. when you have got a president going out of office. charlie: are you not rolling the dice? some will argue that, if hillary clinton is elected president, and she may appoint someone more to the left of judge garland. therefore, you will get something more than you might have gotten if judge garland, who is a temperamental -- man of temperament --
sen. mcconnell: i have heard that argument. he is a nice man, but we will not get anybody more liberal than merrick garland. charlie: i would not say that. sen. mcconnell: i would. i have looked at his record very carefully. charlie: i assume you may have had that conversation, but not official. i would suspect there is some other people that might be nominated. i do not think the president things he chose the most liberal. i think he chose the person who we thought would make a great judge but who was as close as he could find in the center. sen. mcconnell: that is what the president is saying. i have looked at judge garland's record. charlie: and you find -- sen. mcconnell: a very liberal guy areas charlie: do you think you could support him if he were nominated by president elect clinton? sen. mcconnell: i would not be voting for him. as to whether or not he would be confirmed, we would see what the senate looks like at any time. charlie: you are now in your sixth term. 1984. 32 years, right? sen. mcconnell: right. [applause]
[laughter] charlie: you sat next to legends. bob dole, ted kennedy. and so many others who have come and gone. how is it different? sen. mcconnell: i do not think it is all that different. charlie: in terms of the institution or membership? sen. mcconnell: i think the perception that we are at each other's throats is incorrect. it is a very collegial place. charlie: you and ted cruz are best friends? sen. mcconnell: i cannot tell you that every twosome loves each other, but it is a collegial place. and, let me give you some examples. most americans do not know much about american history. i am not blaming them for that, but we have not had a single incident where a congressman from south carolina came over and almost beat to death a senator from massachusetts. charlie: when did that happen? sen. mcconnell: that was in the 1850's. charles sumner. charlie: with a cane? sen. mcconnell: almost killed him, and one of the major incidents leading to the civil war.
anything we say pales in comparison to what hamilton and jefferson said about each other. charlie: we know that now because of hamilton the musical. sen. mcconnell: we have had raucous debates. what is different today? the internet and 24-hour television. , inhe american people get their faces on a virtual daily basis the kind of debates we , have been having for 200 years. they assume it is because we all hate each other. charlie: the argument is made that, because of redistricting, and in terms of the house of representatives, that we are getting more ideologues coming. they are less open to compromise and persuasion in the house and in the senate. sen. mcconnell: not true in the senate. we do not have a freedom caucus in the senate. this is a group in the house that i think has been a challenge for the speaker. and the previous speaker. we have maybe one or two people that operate that way. they mostly go over to the house side for reinforcement.
52 of my 54 members i would call the constructor caucus. they get up and say, how can we make a difference for the country? they're willing to talk to democrats. the senate operates on an extremely bipartisan basis in a whole lot of ways under the new majority. honestly, that was not always that way under the previous majority. but i am interested in making progress of the country. most of my members and that is a good idea. charlie: does the president and his administration, not just the president, realize that you have been successful in communicating to them? and is it resonating with them that you would like to, in the remaining seven months, do something really constructive in finding common ground? and if so, they should be held accountable if in fact it is common ground they believe in. sen. mcconnell: we have been doing that on a whole array of things i mentioned to you. they are on the way to being signed. charlie: here you are giving credit to the president. sen. mcconnell: he has to sign the bill. charlie: exactly.
but you are saying this , president, who i have said these things about, at the same time, we have found common ground and signed off on it. sen. mcconnell: charlie, why is that happening? it is because of what i and the speaker choose to send to him? we can spend all our time sending him things he will veto, or we can understand that there is certain -- and we have done that at least once -- or we could say, we know we have big differences. why don't we work on the things we can agree on? and i'm giving you a whole litany of things. much more is coming, particularly in funding health research, that he will sign. and the goal is not to make a point, but a difference. and you make a difference in this current configuration of government when you pass something worth passing, that you know will get a presidential signature. that has been the agenda in the senate. charlie: how about trade? sen. mcconnell: if it were not
for the guy your talking to right now there would be no trade promotion authority, and there would be no trade deal. that was an interesting situation in which i was totally aligned with the president against harry reid and nancy pelosi. and both democratic candidates for president and the republican candidate for president. that is a classic example of putting the presidential election aside, looking for what we can agree on to make progress for the country, and that is how we got trade promotion authority. whether the trade agreement the president has now negotiated can be approved in a nemazee are like this -- charlie: a political year. sen. mcconnell: with all of the major candidates. charlie: but he used that as a legacy act. sen. mcconnell: it is a step in the right direction. it needs to be passed. the question is, can you pass it? i do not think it would do the transpacific partnership, the agreement, much good to be
brought up and defeated. charlie: will you bring it up? sen. mcconnell: here's the point. if it is defeated, it is a big step back for international trade. if it is not done before the president leaves office, it is still there, and so is trade promotion authority. unlike most things that we do it , does not die at the end of the congress. i think the worst thing that could happen to the transpacific partnership, the agreement is if , it went down. trade promotion authority, the ability to negotiate the agreement and send it up is , there for six years. it is there for this president and the next one. charlie: on the question of where we go and in terms of what can be possible to do, if in fact there had been common ground found early on in the obama administration, say after the first two years when there , we havenge in 2010 found common ground, and therefore would there have been a lot more done? did we miss an an opportunity to
find things we can do together, democrats and republicans, senate and house? you were not the senate majority leader. sen. mcconnell: i was involved in things. charlie: i just want to be historical for a moment. did we miss opportunities that would have served because both people would have realized what the possibilities were? sen. mcconnell: absolutely. and i mentioned it. the two biggest things the country needs right now for the future are changing the eligibility for popular entitlement programs and comprehensive tax reforms. those are the two sort of mega issues that will determine whether or not we succeed in the future. and divided government is the perfect time to do hard stuff. because, together, no one can take political advantage. i was running for the senate right after reagan and tip o'neill raised the age for social security. since they did it together, i was never asked a question about it in the whole race. charlie: not a political issue? sen. mcconnell: it was not. this would be the perfect time.
some people argue that divided government is the only time you can do hard stuff, which is why i mention reagan and bill clinton and tip o'neill. bill clintonwas different from barack obama? sen. mcconnell: transactional. charlie: obama is not transactional? sen. mcconnell: no. and willing to accept the government he had rather than the government he wished he had. clinton like barack obama had the government he wanted, but then the american people changed. charlie: this is 1994? sen. mcconnell: right. then the question is you do not , have the ability on your own to do what you want to legislatively. do you go to the political center and make deals? or don't you? clinton went to the middle, obama has not. charlie: what is your taste that he is so far to the left? sen. mcconnell: it is a regulatory rampage all over the country. this is the worst recovery of a deep recession since world war ii. on average, america over its
history has averaged a growth rate of 4% a year. this administration has not had a single quarter of 3% growth. in fact, it averaged about 1.5%. charlie: a big problem? sen. mcconnell: it is a big problem. most people think -- charlie: the answer to growth is they have done everything they , can do with monetary policy. the answer is, in fact, creating more demand in the economy. sen. mcconnell: the way you do that is you stop the regulatory rampage. there is not a single business in america that is not being overregulated. health care, financial services, ep fcc, you name the agency. ,charlie: but then they did not. the question becomes, who does not think it is too much regulation? sen. mcconnell: how people expand -- charlie: business people feel like they're is too much regulation. sen. mcconnell: they are the ones who make decisions to expand employment. charlie: do you think wall street is overregulated? sen. mcconnell: i am not talking about wall street. charlie: but i am. sen. mcconnell: you can talk
about wall street, but main street is where the jobs are created. charlie: agreed. sen. mcconnell: big firms on wall street can deal with any regulatory environment the government puts forward. they can deal with it. it is the little guys who are drowning, the regional banks who cannot make loans. the small businesses that cannot expand because of the regulatory assault that has been going on all across the country. it is a main street problem. not a wall street problem. charlie: are you talking about dodd-frank? are you talking about other kinds of regulations? sen. mcconnell: dodd-frank is part of it. charlie: regulations from various agencies? b, fcc,connell: epa, nrf you name the agency. there is a steady stream of people in my office every week. there is a new rule from the labor department called the fiduciary rule. it is destroying the services. just one after another. what it does, charlie is it creates a kind of sclerosis in
the system. your system is clogged up. everybody is limping along. that is why we have this tepid growth rate. the labor participation rate is the percentage of people that want to work, is back to where it was in the 1970's under jimmy carter. charlie: i do argue with you a little bit on the fact that we need to create more demand in the economy so consumers want to spend more. i believe if consumers are spending more that businesses would be investing more because there was the demand their. they would be willing to solve the demand and in fact hire more people. that is the central economic argument. sen. mcconnell: you and i can argue economics. but i am telling you that in my opinion, the people who create jobs, uniformly, across the country -- charlie: feel like they are not creating them because of regulations make it -- sen. mcconnell: they cannot borrow. regulations i was just reading , an article today by one of the founders of home depot, ernie
mark who said, regretfully, they , could not have started home depot in today's environment. charlie: because of the environmental issues? sen. mcconnell: no regulatory , issues. charlie: health care issues? sen. mcconnell: micro unions, quickie elections, the effort to turn us into a western european country. the president would not put it that way, but that is what he wants to do. charlie: you think he did. sen. mcconnell: he did. charlie: give me an example of a western european country. he does not want to turn the country into france. president obama does not want to turn the country into france. i am not defending him, i am just saying, why would he want to do that? go ahead. [laughter] sen. mcconnell: he would not put it that way. so let's look at what you have got in western europe. big debt high taxes, , overregulation, slow growth. what has been the last eight years high taxes, , overregulation, slow growth. the formula is the same. when you do all of that, you
slow the economy down. you slow the economy down. and you do not have much growth. charlie: ok, so let me, because you take the position. i am just raising questions here. we have seen the president takes , great credit in what has happened to the economy. bear with me. sen. mcconnell: i am bearing with you. [laughter] charlie: he believes he believes , the economy has significantly improved from where it was when he was president in 2008. we came out of a recession in 2007 going into unemployment 2008. around 9% and 10%. it is now 5%. is that progress? sen. mcconnell: well, it depends on where you start the measurement. go back to 2007, we have not recovered. of course from the low point, things are better than they were. but remember, this was the most tepid recovery after a deep recession since world war ii. and the pattern in the past has
been the deeper the recession, the quicker -- charlie: is that because of systemic problems in terms of structure or by that policies by a president? sen. mcconnell: overregulation. ask anybody in business anywhere , large or small in america. , charlie: is donald trump talking about that? is your nominee talking about overregulation? sen. mcconnell: i do not know what he is talking about. charlie: he is your nominee. he is your nominee. you wish you would talk about that rather than the republican governor of new mexico. sen. mcconnell: you and i are not sitting here talking about the presidential race all the time. we are talking about that book right over there. charlie: let me go to the book. a lot of this is in the book. this is what it is. sen. mcconnell: much of it is. charlie: the interesting thing about "the long game," and i do like it very much the title, you have said to me that senator -- and you have said so in interviews, that senator kennedy played the long game. he decided he wanted to be in the senate, and he would have impact in the senate over the long time.
i would argue to that people like warren buffett have been successful investors because they're playing the long game. they invest in companies, american companies, and they hold over the long-term. sen. mcconnell: i like that. i think that is the clearest way to have a successful life, is do not look for quick fixes, not to think you can be an overnight sensation. some people are, but most people aren't. you just knuckle down and keep going. charlie: you had polio when you were two in alabama. sen. mcconnell: yeah. charlie: a loving mother. sen. mcconnell: yeah. charlie: had much to do with the man you are today. sen. mcconnell: i think it was an early lesson in what we are talking about, how tenacity and hard work can overcome adversity. i was a very young guy. the less memory and the worst memory i have in life is visiting warm springs, the polio treatment center that president roosevelt set up.
they told my mother that after two years of hard work, she ministered this physical therapy regimen four times a day that kept me from walking prematurely. i was not going to have a brace. i would have a normal life. but for her, i would have had a different kind of life. it was an early lesson in tenacity and hard work. charlie: and love. sen. mcconnell: and love. charlie: she kept her eye on you. sen. mcconnell: she did. charlie: and understood the consequences. sen. mcconnell: yeah she did, , indeed. even at that early stage, i thought it was a good lesson. i have tried to apply it. i have watched you in your career do the same thing. like a friend of mine said, the harder i work, the luckier i get. ♪
♪ charlie: so, you have changed kentucky politics. sen. mcconnell: the state has changed dramatically from when i began my career. charlie: as a judge. and then -- sen. mcconnell: we have a genuine two-party state, now probably tilting in the republican direction. sorry i take no personal credit , for this, but i have tried to help along the way. we are now a state that i think andwe are now a state that i think republicans will carry most of the time. and that is a big change from
the south you and i grew up in, where republicans were nonexistent. charlie: lyndon johnson signed the civil rights bill and said i am changing the republican party in the south. sen. mcconnell: did not do it immediately. charlie: then came george wallace and ronald reagan. sen. mcconnell: it changed in presidential elections, but not all the way down to the state level in congress until very recently. charlie: when you look, i know many people who look at america today, and they say the following. we have got the best economy in comparison to other economies. we have got the strongest military. we have got the best universities. we have got the best, the best, the best. we have technology, all these things. the only thing that can stop us is washington. you seem to be suggesting that is right. in your judgment, if you impose too much regulation, you will stifle the economic miracle that has been america.
sen. mcconnell: three things need to be done. change the regulatory environment. adjust the entitlements to fit the future, and do conference of -- comprehensive tax reforms. those three things, the country will take off like a rocket. charlie: what is the responsibility of government having to do with conditions in the workplace, having to do with the environment, having to do with health? what is the responsibility of government in those areas to its citizens? sen. mcconnell: the government has some responsibility in all those areas. the question is, how much? like anything, you can overdo it. and this administration seems to believe that it can create employment. it cannot create employment. you can only make employment more difficult. so there is a balance that has to be achieved that has been it essentially out of sync during the obama years. until we get that balance right,
we will not have the kind of growth rate that gives our children the kind of opportunities we all have had. charlie: is it about experience before he went to the presidency? or is it about instinct and ideology that he had grown to adopt? sen. mcconnell: no, it is about ideology. i mean he is a very smart guy. , i do not think the fact he was a first-term senator had anything to do with this at all. it is not experience at all. it is an attitude, approach, philosophy. there is a reason there are two parties in this country. we have different views about what america ought to be. the democratic party is almost entirely the party of the government. we are mostly the party of the private sector. obviously you need both. ,the question is what is the , appropriate balance? charlie: would you say that during the administration of bill clinton that the democratic party was the party of government?
sen. mcconnell: yes. charlie: so if you are for welfare was, as patrick moynihan was -- sen. mcconnell: moynihan actually voted against it. clinton vetoed it twice. the top his list, but he was pragmatic enough to conclude he needed to sign it. that level of pragmatism i just do not see in president obama. divided government is the perfect time to do big stuff. we have not had that opportunity with him. charlie: do you see that level of pragmatism in donald trump? sen. mcconnell: i do not think we know. i think he is a largely unknown factor. charlie: does that scare you a bit? sen. mcconnell: it is appealing to a lot of voters. charlie: does it scare you? sen. mcconnell: i think he will have to rely on the system, the constitution the congress is , there. i think he is much more likely to become like republicans mostly are. because it will be impossible to operate otherwise.
charlie: you cannot govern otherwise. sen. mcconnell: this is not a dictatorship here. you cannot just do anything you want to. you have to operate within constraints. charlie: what worries you most about the country today? i mean, we believe in all the things we said, what worries you the most? sen. mcconnell: it is not a happy choice for the president, but that is the choice the american people have given us. charlie: very unpopular. sen. mcconnell: both of them are. and so, the american people are going to engage in a choice they are not very happy about. but this is a big, as you point out, successful country. we will survive the presidency of hillary clinton or barack obama. neither one of them will be able to do anything they want to do. i am eternally optimistic about our country and our future. we have big problems, and i would have loved to do more during this period of divided government that we have, but we are who we are. we will be making a big decision, this country, about who we want to be in the white house for the next four years. charlie: did you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and see a future president? sen. mcconnell: no.
charlie: not once? sen. mcconnell: no i wanted to , be the leader of my party in the senate. i had hoped to be the majority leader. but the long game i have been involved in prevented that for eight long years. in fact, charlie the election i , got elected leader was right after we went into the minority in 2006. and so, it was kind of a long eight year wait for the opportunity to set the agenda, fix the senate, and the dysfunction, -- end the dysfunction and try to get us , back to the days i observed as as an intern back in the 1960's. charlie: here is what is interesting. bob dole said to me, the second-best job in washington is majority leader of the senate when the opposition party holds the white house. sen. mcconnell: it could be. it gives the opportunity for big accomplishments. that is what i had hoped for. we will settle for something less. charlie: suppose hillary clinton
is elected. in the famous words of margaret thatcher about gorbachev, this is a person i can work with. sen. mcconnell: i hope so. we will see who gets elected. if we do have divided government, it is an opportunity for big things. but they are not going to be done on the political left if the republicans control the house and senate. it will have to be done in the middle. charlie: any caucus within their body? sen. mcconnell: we do not have these caucuses in the senate. charlie: but you do have them in the house. this book has gotten a lot of people saying good things. i mentioned a few. it is "long game," senator mcconnell talking about from his childhood, talking about the loving care of his mother, overcoming polio the march to , kentucky politics, and the march to washington. emilyiage to a wonderful , cowell, who has been at his side. it is the story of an american
mark: i am mark crumpton. you're watching "bloomberg west." fundamentally unfit to be president, that's how democratic front runner hillary clinton described likely republican nominee donald trump during a speech today in san diego. ms. clinton: even if i weren't in this race, i would be doing everything i could to make sure donald trump never becomes president because i believe he will take our country down a truly dangerous path. mark: secretary clinton delivered her remarks at the start of a five-day trip to california, one of six states holding primaries june 7. house speaker paul ryan says he will vote for donald trump. ryan made the announcement on twitter and in a column for his hometown newspaper.