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tv   Open Phones with Mickey Edwards  CSPAN  March 28, 2015 10:48am-11:16am EDT

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you have to be thoughtful how you react to that the university of arizona has lobbyists. your hospitals have lobbyists. your chamber of commerce has lobbyists. the childrens defense fund as lobbyists, the sierra club. so it's not pure like it's just those guys. you have to -- >> that's why i do think those who are taking huge amounts of our tax money, we might want to have some sort of oversight on that as regards what they use our tax dollars to demand. >> we have time for one more question. >> ...
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>> it's got two branches, the democratic and republican branches. he gives them names. here we are, it's 40 years later. in reality, what has changed and why hasn't it really changed? >> well, if the panelists want to just give a one-liner if you can. >> changed to really really really big money parties now. [laughter] >> mickey? >> citizens united was big many changing things. there's also changes in our culture. you know in our universities -- i know i'm sitting in a great university -- our universities have become all vo-tech schools. they teach you how to earn a living, but they don't teach not my and art and literature and how to be a citizen instead of just a cog in the economic machine, you know? we have more and more people because of the cable shows who hate the other side. they don't just disagree, they hate. so, i mean there's a lot of
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things that are to blame here. >> john? >> i'm a quaker. [laughter] >> wow. that was a short one. thank you. >> and -- >> oh. there's more? >> if you were born an abolitionist quaker at the founding of the american experiment, you probably lived your entire life and died without seeing meaningful progress to end slavery. and yet the quakers from 1787 on kept banging away on issue. and they helped to form abolitionist newspapers and to form political parties that got 1% of the vote and then 2% of the vote. and then they started to do more. it wasn't the quakers although i wish it was. the fact of the matter was there came a point where this issue was made real. and my friend got up and said it's been 40 years. well, it was a lot more than 40 years from 1787 to 1861. and the fact of the matter is
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change doesn't come as fast as we want but change comes when we stop worrying about how long we've been working at it and start worrying about whether everybody in the room is onboard and in the struggle. because the fact of the matter is if we want to fix this thing, we've got to all get to be structuralists, and the structure we must change is the structure that says -- referencing this young woman's question -- that somehow we can put more money into our politics but less votes. we ought to reverse that. >> 40% of americans today register as independents. change is coming. >> yeah. >> well let's finish with lee. one last comment? >> one quick comment. you know, i think the question's right. these problems have existed for a very long time. the issue is proportion. they've just grown so large, you know? it used to be if you wanted to make a lot of money, you became a banker specialty doctor or something like that. just think about this, a former congressman when he was in congress he tucked away a bunch
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of special provisions of that enenriched -- that enriched the pharmaceutical industry. when he left congress, he immediately became a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist. in one year alone he made over $11 million, i believe dollars. that's more than the ceos of many fortune 100 companies. i mean, just think about that just from lobby anything that one year. and think about his lifetime career earning potential. so those type of problems, of course, have existed for a very long time, but it's so much worse now. >> let's hear it for our panelists, please. [applause] if you want to meet the authors for book signing you go to the book sort tent on the mall the u of a bookstore tent. thank you again for coming. [inaudible conversations] >> host: congressman edwards thanks for being with us. >> guest: i'm glad to be here. >> host: would you have been saying some of the things that you said if you were still on the hill? >> guest: of course. absolutely.
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you know, i say what i think. i've always done that. >> host: but as a member of the republican leadership -- >> guest: yeah. >> host: -- was it, what kind of a line did you have to walk between partisanship and what you considered to be the correct way to go? >> guest: none. i mean, i have always been one who, you know if i if i disagreed with the leadership, i, you know even when i was in the leadership, i did something else. the idea that when you're in the house you must go along is nonsense. all you have to do is be, be yourself. >> host: one of the things you talk about in your book "the parties versus the people," the open rule -- >> guest: thank you for holding it up so they can see it. >> host: the open rule and the fully buster in the senate. >> guest: yeah. >> host: why are those important and how has it changed since you were in congress? >> guest: the purpose of the congress was to be a great deliberating organization, and you had very complex issues and
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you would talk about them for a long time, and you would bring bills to the floor, and you would offer amendments to make them better. so in the house where they don't use roberts' rules of order, have their own rules, open rule means here's the bill, what are your amendments? let's hear 'em, let's debate 'em. a closed rule which has become more and more common over the years is that here's the bill, the lineup is bringing this bill -- the leadership is bringing this bill forward take it of or leave it. we're not going to get -- to let you amend it. it shuteds down alternatives and makes people vote for either too much or too little and doesn't how you to work the legislation. the filibuster serves a useful purpose because if you see that your colleagues are getting ready to do something that's unconstitutional, that you think is really bad, you can tie things up and say, wait, don't go there. and you can let the american people hear the argument, and they can contact their senators. what's happened now is that's become something they to all the
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time. it used to be very rare that you would have a fully buster, and now -- filly bust e and now you don't have to sit on the floor talk about the issue, you can just send a note to the majority leader and say consider this a filibuster, and it brings everything else to a halt. >> host: i think you report that when you first started in congress 70% of legislation was via open rule -- >> guest: yeah. >> host: -- down to about 13%. >> guest: right. >> host: particularly for the major bills. >> guest: yeah. >> host: again, going back, if you were in the republican leadership and you were in the majority would you have encouraged bringing, let's say, an immigration bill to the floor under an open rule? >> guest: well absolutely, i would have although i must say that this is self-serving by telling you what i think, because every single day i served in congress i was in the minority. we had no say about what came to the floor. but, yes i believe in open rules. i believe in allowing people to
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you know one reason i'm so strongly against fast track trade authority -- which the president is pushing for it's ridiculous -- so you have trade agreements that affect working conditions for america and whatever else, and you're saying to the congress, our legislative branch, you're not allowed to change it, take it or leave it. so yeah i was always for open rules on everything. >> host: after you left congress in '93, where'd you go? >> guest: well i went to teach. i taught for 11 years at harvard at the ebb kennedy school -- at the kennedy school, and then i went and and taught at princeton, and now i am a vice president at the aspen institute where i work on creating aless partisan -- a less partisan kind of politics. >> host: and you work with walter isaacson. >> guest: i do. great guy. >> host: mickey edwards with -- is our guest, and the first call comes from jeeves in mount vernon -- from joseph in mount
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vernon, new york. go ahead. >> caller: congressman, i'm glad to hard you, but i think your teaching should have been done in congress. what did you do to change this, what's going on when you were in it? >> guest: you know one of the things that -- it was different when i was there, you know? we have strong disagreements there were party line votes even in those days, but there was not the demonization. there were a lot of people who would work together across the aisle, and you would make your case, you would argue it as well as you could, and at the end of the process you would, in a conference committee or some other way, you would say let's get together, you know? we've got to keep the bridges from collapsing, we have got to keep the government running. and that's what's missing today, is people unwilling to compromise partly because of our party primary systems. but it was just different, you know? the problems that exist today were not nearly the same then. >> host: another joseph this
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one in persondale, michigan. -- ferndale michigan. you're on with congressman mickey edwards. >> caller: good afternoon congressman. >> guest: hi. >> caller: you just talked about the primary process. would you agree that the primary process is broken because they don't allow equal opportunity for all of the third parties that exist here in the country that in effect we're diluting our democracy by not allowing equal voices in the primaries? >> guest: well, i mean it's worse than that because what happens now is in 46 states you have what's called a sore loser law which means that if you ran for your party's nomination and you didn't win it, even if you would have been the person the majority of voters in the state would have preferred, you're not even allowed to be on the ballot. because whoever won the nomination and the endorsement gets to be the only person on the ballot what i favor is what california did washington state did, which is to have open
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primaries where, you know, every candidate for the same office is on the same ballot, and every voter -- regardless of how they're registered or not registered -- you know can vote in every election. that's the better solution. >> host: we're talking with former congressman mickey edwards about his most recent book "the parties versus the people." jack in new york city please go ahead. >> caller: hi. good afternoon. this is don calling. my question for you is all this talk about limiting dark money and the people who currently run the system i believe it would be a good idea to limit the number of terms that a congressional representative can have. what are your thoughts on that as well, sir? >> guest: well, we actually do that. we make everyone in the house for example you make everybody you know, their term end after two years. and they're out of office unless the voters say, you know we're going to send you back.
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so the voters are the best term limit mechanic nhl. there is a -- mechanism. there is a lot of turnover in congress in both parties and in both the house and senate. yes, some people stay for a very long time, but there's enough turnover. that's not -- the turnover's not the problem. and what would be worse is denying the people the ability to choose who they want representing them. even if that person's already been there for a while. >> host: mickey edwards, your assessment of the fist 50 days of the -- first 50 days of the 114th congress. >> guest: you know i was very hopeful that after the election and, you know, the leaders in both parties were talking about, you know getting it together but nothing nothing's changed. it's now just as party line, both parties equally guilty, you know? one down, you know we don't want to budge on this, or we don't want to budge on that. you know why are we allowing this great democracy of ours to function as though it's a football league, you know, it
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was the nfl and it's the cowboys against the eagles every week instead of, you know, saying let's sit down together, you know? .. doesn't mean they're not good, well, honest americans who care about the country. they are in a system that pits people against each other for party advantage rather than working as americans in common. >> host: next caller right here in tucson. >> caller: will we here about dark money usually associated with the american public, can you talk about the dark money that is also alive and well among the panel i heard a lot of words like right wing, koch brothers, paul ryan, heritage foundation but i heard nothing
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about telling money to the democrat party, and i want listeners to walk away that this is not just a republican/conservative problem but also happening and a democrat problem. can you please speak to that. >> let me just tell you before you use his knee my was going to use it. all this corporate money comes into the election and labor union money. nobody talks about that. labor union money is even worse because with the labor unions first spending money from people who don't want to be contributing more be members of the union and therefore still contribute to the labor union which contributes for those purposes against their will. their is a serious dark money problem. this serious problem with all the wealth that goes into these campaigns, but it is a problem
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of the system, not democrats republicans and put people on a more liberal side like to say if republicans were just seen that would end the problem. yar absolutely right it comes from both sides. >> from rhode island. don't think she is here. anymore? we will move into an. >> probably covered by snow. >> en in phoenix is not covered by snow. go ahead. >> thanks for taking my call. i am happy to talk to you. it was a really great panel. i just noticed i have two points now the air the last caller talked about the emphasis on dark money being referred to as republican which of course you are calling for much university or speaking at a university and
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i guess there's a bias that most universities. my question has to do with i thought that at some point there was a rule having to do with congress people, senators were legislators or staff having restrictions placed upon them as to how long they must wait before the bikini lobbyist. >> that is still the case. i don't remember whether it is a year or two years that you are not allowed to go immediately from congress into a lobbying job. some people get around it. they go to work for a firm where what they're doing is kind of giving internal advice about how to do something and later they moved to lobbying but that leaves still in effect. >> host: why did you retire?
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>> guest: i got married because voters gave more votes to the other guy. that is not fair. >> host: who was it who beat you? wikipedia he beat me in republican primary. >> host: what was the issue? >> guest: sera lot of issues. there was an orthodoxy among republicans on things like term limits. i disagree with line-item veto. i am me. it didn't always go over well. >> guest: did you consider lobbying? >> never thought about it. i was offered a position as a lobbyist and never made any money in my life and was going through the conversation and decided it didn't want to do it. i believe in lobbying. is constitutionally protected. i believe in it but i didn't want to be in a position of calling on people like it just worked with, my colleagues, trying to get them to do something. i thought it was demeaning to me to do that and i wouldn't be
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comfortable doing it. >> host: as a freshman congressman what kind of pressure did you get to go along get along or whatever? >> i didn't. the kinds of pressure you would get. when i was in the leadership of the sun the committees that decide what committee assignment you might get. and if somebody would say we are not going to let you be aren't this committee unless you promise to vote with us in this regard which i never would have done. the most important thing, two words for every member of congress to learn is when leaders state -- said the non them, stick it. you can't away my salary, you can't wake away my office. of the selected by the people to do what i thought was right and represent some. that is what i always did.
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>> host: lincoln, mich. your honor with mickey edwards, his most recent republicans and democrats into americans". >> caller: thank you. two questions. why can't we limit the amount of money the same for everybody and that way it would take away -- the money like jeb bush made the remark that he already has enough money to win the election. why would we want to go out and vote if politics is his money and the other one is wouldn't it help to go back to one vote for one person and do away with the electoral college? >> first of all don't take what jeb says seriously because if having a lot of money is also took to win an election you would be asking me questions about president romney. said jeb has raised a lot of
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money but that doesn't mean he will win the election. he might, he might not even get the nomination. the problem let me focus on fat first part, the electoral college. the supreme court in citizens united and other cases has made it impossible to limit the contributions so it might be is that you want the same kind of money going to each of the candidates that the supreme court said you can't do that, you can't limit speech and they say contributing money is the same as speech so what did the people on the panel, what has to happen is a constitutional amendment because as long as you go with the court's decision about how they interpret the constitution you can't do anything about it. >> host: mccain feingold good? >> i don't remember enough about that but you have transparency,
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i mentioned to the panel's vote when i was in office, i couldn't take corporate money everything was reportable, everything was limited so i think it was $1,000 in the election cycle. that is what we need to go back to. so what i propose in my will actually is no contributions from anybody except the human being. no corporate money no labor union money, no pac money no political party money. >> guest: la >> host: loren is calling in from all, pa.. >> caller: i want to refer to the last question during the panel referring to gore vidal. i think we should all go back and read a great deal, gore vidal's essays. what a great american. you were in congress i believe during the insanity of the
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nixon/reagan drug war and now we have the biggest mess in our history. what would you suggest on how to get out of this just absolutely ridiculous thing that has been going on for 70 years? >> guest: i wasn't there during the nixon years but i was there during the reagan years. there is the movement away from having criminal penalties. it is not just colorado. dc is doing it. i think there is a movement towards more and openness either by making whatever drug use penalties there are much less would legalizing as colorado. i am kind of libertarian is the idea the federal government is going to tell us everything we can or cannot do is appalling to
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me. we have run up the cost of government by putting people in jail, in prisons for what should be a minor offense. >> host: at the top, and have a drink at 5:00. during the reagan years. >> i was close to reagan. it declined -- tend to be not very ideological. that is why you work across the aisle. thank you but there was a time when tip o'neill and ronald reagan were not an exception.
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i have many friends on the other side of the aisle, not just personal friendships but working together. society was different than. society, our culture today. you see it on c-span, you see it with the call ins. so many people today are so full of a anger and hatred for people on the other side i must tell you i sent a note to brian lamb saying why do you have a democrat call in line at the republican call in line, why not just americans call in? there is this polarization. it is much worse. there was one studies it said today an increasing number of people would really hate it if a member of their family married somebody of the other party. it is ridiculous. >> host: on booktv we use the east central pacific time zone
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numbers. marshall in illinois is calling from the east central. >> caller: what to you said about the polarization, from my personal point of view, don't you think the left is actually pushed everything, whatever people want to say about the right they have always been consistent but my call goes back to the congressman about 40 years ago during the continental illinois scandal, the chicago area, rich tradition of corruption and crime. i was of one man show lobbying on the hill trying to warn of the bank's imminent collapse. i have the opportunity to meet with members of the banking committee and staff who are very kind, gave me records, very
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kind, let's say this, my warnings fell on deaf ears. it continued. i went to my senator's office in dixon. >> host: i apologize, can you bring this to a conclusion? >> caller: my question is this environment we are talking about has been in the making for 30 years. a lot of it evolved from the campaign finance reform post watergate. >> guest: you have got a lot there. it was the real mistake to get rid of glass-steagall. you start talking about banking problems. i think that when we start opening it up where banks can get into all kinds of activities and things that put at risk the people they have given home loans to or people they lent money to that was a serious
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mistake. i think regulation, keeping fiduciary relationships in the banking industry, glass-steagall was a terrible mistake. i can't deal with all this of you asked that that is a central part of it. >> host: san francisco, please go ahead. >> caller: hi, mr. edwards. i have a theory i have been working on for a long time. it is not a conspiracy theory. i would like to your opinion on it after i briefly give it to you. i think that all of these problems stem from one single source and that is there's a big board going on between the ultra rich and everybody else. the very rich have plenty of money to beat the discussion. they only allow people in power who will not talk about it, like


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