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tv   US Senate  CSPAN  April 15, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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customized to their circumstances, including the specific tax responsibilities. the future state also means real-time taxpayer service that will allow taxpayers to securely
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for example, one of those being the employer shared responsibility payment. your report suggested that the irs doesn't know which employees are going to be responsible for evaluating employers so those employees probably will not have adequate training. if i understand the report. let me ask you what complexities will the irs employees face in determining which employers must
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pay the employer shared responsibility payment? >> i think there are a lot of questions about what employees are going to be included in some very dom plex calculations to determine who is covered, who should be covered, and then who isn't covered, and that all goes in the calculation whether the employer is going to be penalized and the penalty is very, very stiff and very steep our concern has been a we have heard a lot of employers about the complexity of these determinations and they have not been able to get answers in the way or speed they need to get them. this is a new initiative but i think this is where transparency and engaging with the population that is going to be penalized is, should have happened a long time ago and needs to happen now and really needs to heed them.
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what their concerns are. >> do you see any efforts towards that direction? >> i think people are trying. i think it is not as open as i would like. i also think some of it is that the irs is not only involved in this. they're getting information from other areas. the law is very complex and there are lots of government agencies involved. it's getting better but we want to see more engagement. we want to see more guidance even if it is put out there in a temporary format. >> another area with aca. irs failed to issue formal guidance about calculating full-time employers for the employer shared responsibility act. has irs offer ad reason they won't help employers especially
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can't use website and information on the website as a defense for failure to do it the way the irs then says it should? >> right. >> is there a reason why they won't won't help employers understand their obligation? >> i have not heard a reason. we focused in on the 30-hour calculation because that's what we heard a great deal from employers. they need to have some certainty. in a way they will accept an answer as long as they have an answer so then they can do their own programing. there is a whole domino effect to this guidance. once you get it out there, people have to program their own systems and do their assurance processes things like that. people are doing the best they can. they are worried they will be penalized and penalties won't be abated if they show food faith effort. we're trying to -- good-faith effort. we're trying to identify issues and raise them with the irs and get them to engage community. >> certainly guidelines ought to
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be a defense if you attempted to follow it. >> if you followed what was generic on the website. that goes to the penalty abatement. again, why would you want to ask employer to ask for penalty abatement if they had the guidance. >> could have avoided in the first place. on responsibility payment issue, you indicated in the tax year 2014 approximately 412,000 taxpayers overpaid the penalty associated with a failure to comply. the average stated was $123 per return. what percentage of taxpayers had to make the individual shared responsibility payment. >> pardon. >> what percentage of taxpayers? >> i don't know the answer to that. it is in my testimony. i can get you that. >> 412,000 taxpayers, what percentage -- >> i don't know the answer to
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that but i could give you that yeah. those overpayments were, a lot of them were driven by software, not asking tax payers to identify their exemptions. and so they were actually exempt from having health insurance but they didn't ask, and so, the software didn't ask, and so they didn't tell anybody. and that is also true that some of the preparers didn't ask. we were able to work with the software companies to get some of those programs changed for this filing season. we'll be looking very carefully at those overpayments to make sure that it doesn't happen again. >> thanks for looking. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. so, miss olson, one quick follow-up question. is it the guidance ambiguous enough that the irs should consider a waiver of penalties until we get the guidance more
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specific. >> my personal opinion is that this law is so complex that for the first year we should be very, very lenient and only apply a penalty where there is truly egregious, in your face ignoring of basic requirements. that this is a learning process and we have to have a partnership with the tax, with the employer population so that we can identify the issues, get clear guidance out there, use this filing season as a dry run. that is how i would have approached it. >> all right. thank you, miss olson. the chair recognizes the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch, for a series of questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank both of the panelists for your willingness to help the committee with this work. i did have a question that was raised earlier about the affordable care act. part of, a big part of the funding mechanism for the affordable care act was
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so-called cadillac tax. now the cadillac tax applies to generous health care plans. a lot of union health care plans, i'm a former union president myself. so i have served as a trustee of a health care plan. the tax is about a 40% tax. it applies both to the employer and the employee. congress in its wisdom delayed the implementation of the cadillac tax until 2020, however the limit stays the same. so thousands and thousands, probably millions of more people will be in that cadillac tax category when 2020 rolls around. on top of that, so, for every dollar over the limit, you will pay a 40% tax. so 40 cents for every dollar you put into your health care over the limit.
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and it is prorated for employer and employee. so the employee will have to pay more on the tax, this cadillac tax, and employer. and then, i read it more closely. then the tax it seven, the penalty is taxed. so really comes out to like a 58 or 59% penalty on every dollar spent over that limit. i'm just wondering, do employees and employers know that? do the health care plans -- >> that is some of the problem with the affordable care act. there are so many moving pieces in it that getting education out about all of these issues is very difficult. i have not looked at the statute specifically to see whether it is indexed for inflation. >> it's not. >> then that would be something we seriously need to look at. >> we asked mr. gruber, jonathan gruber, who was one of the architects of this plan, and he explained that it was not adjusted for the rate of
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inflation because they wanted more and more people over time to be captured by that tax. and you know, i am a former, i will confess i'm a former union attorney and union president. i deal, my history i have dealt with a lot of union plans not only for the iron workers but the teamsters and wardrobe workers. so all of these plans are going to be -- and a lot of these big companies like gillette and raytheon and all -- funny the people who sat down with their employees and worked out a plan for their health care plan, the people who did the right thing, they're the ones that will be hit with this tax. it's a huge, huge problem. and it's, it's multiplied because of the, because of the amount of the tax. now we have delayed it. so more and more people will be captured. i'm wondering from the irs position, we, are we educating consumers about that? because when it hits, it is
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going to be like a tidal wave and wipe out a lost health care plans? i'm wondering if we have plans, contingency plans for that event? >> i think this is something because it so far off it is not something the irs is thinking about messaging. >> yeah. >> yet on other hand if you're really trying to drive people's behavior you should be starting the messaging now so that it sinks in to make the plans not be hit in 2020. >> yeah. the limit is cost of health care keep going up. >> right. >> you're telling them, employers and employees, you're telling them because of the tax you want them to spend less on health care. >> right. >> it is tough to reconcile. >> from the taxpayers perspective, not indexing it, i understand the policy reasons for why you wouldn't, like the alternative minimum tax. >> right, exactly. more people get captured. >> so irrational when a taxpayer
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sees that number coming up. they think they have held their withholding and everything like that, you could have all the policy reasons in the world but it feels profoundly under fire to the taxpayers. >> mr. button any comments on that? >> i echo the comments. hca is so complexity, you're dealing with what is urgent now, what is your gent now, after a while you look what is urgent now, you fall behind on some things. employer shared responsibility penalty. make they should employ first time relief items likes abatement so it gives taxpayers some relief. taxpayers are getting, not voluntary caught up in this.
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they're a victim not knowing what to do. to promote voluntary compliance by all means i think you should give them a waiver in the first year. >> okay. fair enough. thank you both. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. carter, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for being here. we appreciate you being here this. is obviously very important to all of us and to all americans. miss olson, in your 2015 taxpayer advocate report, you list the right to a fair and just tax system as a taxpayer right. you would agree to that, right? >> absolutely. >> do you agree that a fair and just tax system is one that insures that the tax credits only go to those who are qualified to get them? >> absolutely. taxpayers need to know that you know, everyone is paying the right amount of tax. and that would include not getting credits that they're not eligible for. >> so it is inclusive in a fair and just tax system --
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>> absolutely. >> that tax rebates aren't going to people who shouldn't be getting them? >> absolutely. >> in the report that we referenced earlier you stated, or the report stated that improper payments constitute 27%, 2% of the $65 billion that were handed out annually through the earned income tax credit. that amounts to $17.7 billion of improper payments. $17.7 billion of improper payments. how do you, how do filers obtain improper payments? how does that happen? >> these improper payments come in when taxpayers fill out their tax return and claim the earned income tax credit. and the payments can occur for overpayments, can occur for many reasons. it can be that they are incorrectly stating their income. they can be claiming a child that they are not eligible to claim because that's where most
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of the -- that is the eligibility requirement, to have a qualifying child. the law is very complex and it is easy to fall afoul. there are percentage of those payments, although no one really knows, that are attributable to out and out fraud. whether it is there is preparer involved saying okay, you claim somebody else's child or taxpayer decides that they will claim somebody else's child. >> okay. let me ask you specifically. is it possible, in your research, has it indicated that illegal immigrants received some of these improper payments from the earned income tax credit. >> it should not be possible. >> but does your research -- >> irs does not see that as a major issue because for the earned income -- >> not a major issue but is it a issue? >> i do not think it is because for the earned income tax credit and you have to have a
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social security number to use that on the return. you can not -- >> we're not naive enough to be that there are not fraudulent security numbers out there? >> there are social security numbers identity thieves are using. if someone who is undocumented person or illegal immigrant as you call it file as return, with someone else's social security number, that is identity they t. >> i understand. i'm sorry to interrupt, i don't know that we're necessarily going to agree on this but i want to ask you, is it possible for an illegal immigrant whose given or granted protection or protected status, illegal immigrant who is granted protected status under president obama's executive actions, can they obtain the earned income tax credit? >> if they have a social security number under that program, that is authorized for work -- >> is it possible to get a social security number under that program? >> i don't know the answer under that program but if under that program they could get a
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social security number authorized for work, theyhcould claim the earned income credit under the law. >> so the answer to my question, can illegal immigrant who is granted protected status under president obama's executive orders obtain the earned income tax credit the answer is yes? >> if they have a social security number authorized for work. that is the requirement. in the earned income credit you have to have a social security number authorized to work. your spouse has to have a social security number authorized to work and your child that you're using has to have a social security number authorized to work. >> okay. as i understand improper payments of the earned income tax credit, have increased since 2005. they have increased from 2005 to present day. >> there may have been an increase. i thought it was fairly -- >> is it possible, is it possible that that increase can be attributed to illegal immigrants? >> my personal opinion is not. that is my personal opinion.
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>> does, do any of the studies indicate, back up your personal opinion? >> none of the irs studies indicate that. i'm just telling what -- the sources of the error for the earned income credit, the majority of the errors are attributable to overstated income. >> i understand. but i'm specifically interested in illegal immigrants who are getting this? all i want to ask you, my final question, is the administration addressing, or the irs, are you addressing this at all? >> the irs is certainly looking at undocumented, undocumented persons, persons who don't have social security numbers, getting credits that they shouldn't be getting. they are certainly looking at that. >> i would certainly hope so. as we started out this conversation, a fair and just tax system would certainly involve that. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back.
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>> i thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes himself for series of questions and depending on votes, they are supposed to call votes here shortly. we'll see whether mr. lynch and i have a series of second questions. mr. buttonow, let me come to you, with the electronic filing, and that being your expertise, do you see that electronic filing has increased the likelihood of identity theft at the irs? i need you to hit your button. >> absolutely. i think what it is one of the, one of the elements that enabled that, right? so electronic filing and fast refunds have come about it offers the opportunity for tax i.d. thefts to beat the irs to the refund. so, they will get the refund quick, long before the irs has ability to go ahead and verify
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them as a taxpayer. >> all right. so if electronic filing has increased the likelihood of identity theft, further going more digital, as you mentioned in your opening testimony under future state plan, would that exacerbate the chances of identity theft? >> it could, it could very well good. if you adopt industry standards of authentication it may actually work in the opposite. one thing that we don't have in our system today is we don't verify taxpayers before they file. anybody can come and go, right? offering the opportunity for identity thieves to take someone's identity and go with it. >> all right. >> if you were able to authenticate taxpayers before they filed we would know who they are and not offer the opportunity -- >> in that you make your living, i guess with taxpayers being able to file electronically, is that correct? >> actually i don't file one tax return a year. so, i don't make my living on --
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>> your group does. i guess you're representing a group. >> generally we're in favor of e-filing, right? that is the mandate etaac has had since 1998. our original goal was to get the irs when they were at 15, 20% rate to get to 80%. we've gone past the 80% goal. >> if that is your goal and you have private stakeholders making a profit based on that and the potential danger is, is that because of that new model, that we're getting additional taxpayer identity theft, the hard question is, is what liability or what protections does the private sector have versus the federal government? that's what we, that is the fundamental question we have to have? is this all the irs's responsibility or is there a responsibility for the preparer/authenticate tore as you have just mentioned?
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>> i think it's a shared efforts, right. >> all right. >> it is definitely a shared effort and that is what the security summit is looking to do, to find where software companies can go ahead and put in those additional authentications and they have done that. >> all right. >> butted that, that detection at the back end of it is still ultimately just detection. prevention would be a better method. >> i understand that so the last question i have for you, is what impediments are you finding that would stop the private stakeholders from assisting the irs with the that authentication process? >> the irs's willingness to do so. >> so you're saying they're not willing to do so? >> so there's, the irs is clearly, obviously the tax administrator, them dealing with private industry is, is, obviously they're doing it more and more. >> but the future state plan
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calls for more electronic filing and everything to be online, well, online and transparent but online and digital in its nature so we go what we call to a virtual customer service representative versus a real customer service representative. so you're saying they're not will be to help the stakeholders authenticate? that is a pretty bold statement. if it is true we need to address it but that is a bold statement. >> what i'm saying the irs needs to view industry as a partner. >> and they don't? >> it's a tenuous relationship, right. so you definitely need to look at, if you want the best technology out there, i'm not sure that looking inside of the irs to understand that is the best place, right? >> how can mr. lynch, let me cut you off there because i'm running out of time, how can mr. lynch and i assist you with the irs to make sure that it's a
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hand-in-glove approach versus you, as i think your adjective was contentious? did you say contentious. >> it is tenuous. >> all right. wrong word but go ahead. tenuous, how can mr. lynch and i help you there? >> i think by encouraging the irs to work with industry. i mean, there is some barriers to going ahead and working with industry and on some of the disclosure rules that make it a barrier for sharing information. so there needs to be a partnership, a true partnership between the industry and the irs when it comes to all things technology. the irs can't expect to be a technology leader out there. there is many other people, many other companies, many other developers out there, who are technology leaders. >> they're still programing in cobalt. i understand that. i've run out of time. i thank you. i've got some questions for miss olson but i will go to mr. lynch and recognize him for a second
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series of questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. one of the, we have recounted some of the weaknesses in the irs system. lack of personnel. that has diminished of recent years. lack of communication between the taxpayer and the irs. the risk of i.d. theft from filings. do we have any idea how many false tax returns get filed every year? >> there are millions. >> okay. all right. we don't need to get into that. the complexity of the system as well. the health care information component that's come in recently. and then the infrastructure weakness as well. i understand some of the programs that the irs is using date back to the kennedy administration which is sad. i'm just worried about, not just worried about, but i'm worried about the presumption of
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compliance within the american people and i think most people pay their taxes, try to do the right thing. i know this country is where that is not the norm. i know greece is very, very low compliance with, you know, with tax laws. nobody pays -- well, very few people pay taxes. mostly government employees pay their taxes because the government takes it out right away. i'm just wondering with all these obstructions that i'm listing here, are we going to see a lower rate, is there a trend now you shouldn't pay your taxes? you should get off the grid? is that something that might result because of all of these factors? miss olson. >> i think particularly last year's filing season when we had such a low percentage phone calls answered by the irs, or when you won't take a payment in a walk-in site. >> yeah. >> this is sending a message, we
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can't deal with you, and taxpayer would say, if you can't deal with you, i won't deal with you. the problem with that the irs will eventually find you and it will be very unpleasant when that happens. >> yeah. >> and i think, my concern is about the future. it is combination where we are today. we have this bright picture of the future but our technology is so far behind today. we're just talking about, you know a customer account. but the data into that customer account has to come from about 200 different case management systems. and there are employees today who can't see into this system when they're trying to talk to a taxpayer on the phone. you have to call somebody else to get the answer to that. so how that is going to merge in an online account, this is very, very complex. in the meantime you also have the percentage of taxpayers who don't or won't use these accounts and for very good reasons. and the other issue that i have about the online account is, as
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we try to protect the security of the taxpayer, and we should set very high standards for that verification, because we can't have one leak. i mean that would be horrible and impact on compliance would be huge. >> yeah. >> but if we set it high, we will have people drop out. the irs right now is testing a version of the online account with irs senior management and non-bargaining unit employees. these are people who are fairly sophisticated financially. 50% of those volunteers could not get through the online account the first time around. >> that's not good. >> 50%. >> okay. thank you. thank you for answering my question. >> miss olson, i want to come back to a few things that have been mentioned today but one of the things i heard when you were in western north carolina was
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that that we have a greater need for personal contact. that even with the online tools that may be here, when there is interaction a letter that comes from the irs, there is a desire to have not only a personal contact but just someone who can manage the system and frustration that i heard in the rooms of hours of holding. of just trying to get a real person somewhere who can answer the question when they call back they don't leave enough detail that it actually leaves this, they pass the football back but they're not sure who they're getting the pass from. was that input in north carolina different than what you have heard in your other panels across the country? >> we have heard this
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consistently. you know, we have heard both from taxpayers and practitioners, that they want to talk to the irs. for a taxpayer they don't understand the notice that they have received and they want to hear from the irs what it means. and that would be true whether they get it electronically or they get it, you know, in the mail. for the practitioners, they did say that they would find the online accounts very, very helpful because then, because they could look at the background, they could go online to their client's account, see what is going on in it, but then, they would want to call the irs. they would also use the account to monitor what happened after they talked to the irs and irs said, we'll do x. so it could get rid of some phone calls, and you know, might get rid of two phone calls out of every transaction but they still, for that critical, what are you, let me tell you this. let me hear from you, they want
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that interaction. >> so obviously part of that is is that resource issue. it is a commitment issue. the reason i say that, i heard about, in your testimony you talked about having to schedule an appointment for walkup centers. we all love the fact that we need employment but the other part of that is to me, willing taxpayers, willing to give some hard-earned dollars to the irs and show up and they're saying that we can't take the appointment, because you don't have an on paintment, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> is that not insane? i have worked in collections. i won't make you comment whether that is insane or not. >> i perfectly fine commenting on it. it is insane. i don't understand the policy. i think it says to the taxpayer standing there, saying what?
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>> so we've heard a little bit about a directive memo that, would suggest as people try to comply. there is this compromise, here is mydown payment. in the past, it is, in the past if they're not up to speed on all the tax returns, we've taken that money and we held it and you need to get caught up. once you get caught up we'll be able to agree with this. is it true that now when someone comes in with a check, and a compromise, that if they are not caught up, that we're sending the check back to the taxpayer? is that true? >> the irs release ad memo this week saying if you file an offer in compromise and give us your down payment and you're not in compliance with all your tax returns we are sending the money back to you, we are sending the offer back to you, and say get
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in compliance. >> i will ask a second time, is that not insane? >> yes, it is insane. >> so we have american taxpayers who are willing to pay their taxes albeit reluctantly, but they're willing to do it. and we have the irs, who is giving the money back, or, refusing to take the money because they don't have an appointment? >> yes, that makes no sense. >> that should be headlines. i don't understand why we would do that. so what can mr. lynch and i and mr. jordan and i do with commissioner koskinen to help him perhaps see the error of their ways? what would you recommend? >> i think raising this in this hearing is certainly done a lot but i honestly think that the irs needs to do a better job when it makes these decisions, of analyzing the consequences of these decisions. and not just look at, we're saving money because we're not
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handling these in-person contacts that are $60 per contact. you may have spent $60 but you might have brought in $5,000 serving that taxpayer in that walk-in site. that not the analysis that is happening. that needs to be asked for. >> would you be willing to give this committee in the next 45 days or so, your recommendations on what legislative fixes that we, you would recommend? or actually, i'm asking you to do that. >> yes. >> so if you would be willing to do that, what i would like to do is, is to make sure in a bipartisan way we address that. there are a number of others, i think they're about to call votes. i am going to recognize the gentleman from ohio for series of questions. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. miss olson, thank you for being here and for working with your office. the, are you familiar with -- we
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had earlier this week the gao in this committee room talking about the $385 billion annual tax gap that exists. you're familiar with the gao's report? >> i haven't read their most recent but i'm familiar with the tax gap. >> would you agree that is pretty accurate figure they put on it? the gentleman here from the irs frankly agreed with gao's finding. >> i think that data comes from the irs. >> you think it's right? >> it is as correct -- it is known tax gap. there is an unknown tax gap, criminal activity, things like that. yes, i think people, there is general consensus that's the figure. >> obviously all the americans pay their taxes, expected all revenue would be again rated and they get type of service they expect from their government and that is not having because of failure to collect all revenue due? >> we look attacks gap as tax on
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taxpayers paying their taxes. >> exactly right. gao recommended, gao had 1 is 2 recommendations to the irs would help deal with this significant tax gap -- 112. our understanding the irs implementerred 53 of those 112 recommendations s that your understanding? >> that is what the report said, yes. >> obviously that too seems to be not reflective of what is best for taxpayers, failure of the irs to implement all the recommendations. and mr., the chairman was just talking about this appointment issue which i didn't know about which you said a couple times was crazy or the term you used or the chairman used was insane. did any of the 112 recommendations deal with that issue. >> not to my knowledge. >> should be 113 at least then? >> okay. >> one of the things i'm concerned about irs will not implement, now 112, now 113
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recommendations that will make sense that will help taxpayers, treat them with the respect they deserve is focused on something i think potentially can harm taxpayers, harm their most fundamental liberties and is this old geolocation, stingray operation. are familiar with what stingray technology does? >> i have a high level of understanding. i'm not detailed. but i understand what you're talking about. >> yeah. the witness who was here earlier this week said that he believes, we posed a number of questions to mr. dalrymple who frankly couldn't answer many of them, but said he would get back to uses but one thing he offered to the committee, he believes 37 times this technology, without a probable cause warrant, was used on american taxpayers. >> by the irs. >> by the irs, yeah.
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good point. there are other agencies using it too, i believe without fourth amendment probable cause type of warrants. and that the irs is currently in the process of purchasing an additional sting ray unit, additional technology at cost of several hundred thousand dollars. would you believe, do you believe that's in the best interests of taxpayers? >> i don't know that i have enough information to answer that question. i need to know who is going to use it and what are the protections for using it. and, i don't have the knowledge about that. if it were not, if it were available to anyone on the system side of irs as opposed criminal side and due process protections and court orders were not -- >> let me ask the question this way, miss olson. >> yes.
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>> of those 10012 recommendations gao made, we know frankly should be 113 recommendations based on the discussion between you and the chairman, do any of those 113 recommendations encourage the irs to purchase an additional stingray technology unit? >> not that know of. >> yeah, that's my understanding too. so, but, potentially, potentially you would agree with me that the stingray technology infringes on the very taxpayers you're supposed to be advocating for? it infringes on potentially their most fundamental liberties? >> i have a lot of concerns about its use. i share your concerns. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from new york, miss maloney. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thanks to the panelists and thanks to the ranking member. the irs is developing the taxpayer experience of the future, virtual taxpayer assistance through individual
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online accounts that will replace the personal interaction for digital-savvy taxpayers. miss olson you write in your report this plan has been driven by a really important consideration and that is the lack of appropriate funding and continue all cutbacks to the operations of the irs. in your opinion, does the plan have the potential for making the agency more efficient and saving money for the future? >> i personally don't think so. i think it will create a lot of rework for itself. >> and if were to move forward with this program, is it important or is it necessary for congress to make a lot of contributions or or contribute substantially to the cost of it or -- >> well it is going to require significant up-front costs. >> how much? >> i couldn't give you that estimate. parts of it are in the president's budget proposals,
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things like that but it is, you know, just a, because we have systems still in cobalt. because we are, are just very archaic in our systems, to pull something off like this, to have it really an integrated system is going to cost a lot of money. total reengineering of the irs ip. >> mr. buttonow, the most recent annual report from congress from your organization makes the observation, and i quote, future challenges require digital transformation at the irs and you state, and i quote, the irs needs to transform its taxpayers services and compliance capabilities for the efficiency through digital tools. it has been reported that some of irs's systems date back to the kennedy administration. well those systems support the transformation that you're talking about, mr. buttonow? >> ultimately. now this is not going to happen
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overnight. what the irs needs to do is build, if they want to have an online presence, an online taxpayer service, they need to start iterating on that now, which means give us a solid plans what the details are. start improving on each iteration. so as the irs develops its capabilities, systems that support those capabilities will need to be upgraded. >> the irs commissioner, john koskinen, acknowledges the responsibility to serve all taxpayers including those who prefer personal over digital interaction. i guess i will ask this question to both of you. is there anything that you would have, that you have not seen in this plan that should have been included to improve taxpayers services? >> well, my, again my disagreement with the irs is that, we all agree an online account is vitally important. my disagreement is that the online account is not going to
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substitute for inperson, or phone assistance, that personal contact. it will supplement it. as i said in my testimony the federal reserve has borne that out in its surveys over the last five years, that people who are digital, mobile banking users, visit their branches on average three times in the month before the survey, by 87%. it is extraordinary percentage. people want multiple choices and they will use the online account. they will also use the phones. and they will also do face-to-face and we should provide that to them and i don't see that in the plan. >> mr. buttonow? >> i agree with all the statements. this is not a replacement. this is absolutely not a replacement but we need to go online. the irs needs to go online. it needs to serve taxpayers where they want to serve. increasing preferences as millenials come online, they want to deal digitally.
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tax professionals that file 57% of the returns out they want to interact with the irs digitally for basic information. when it gets to more complicated areas of tax administration, things like compliance, then i think there is higher opportunity where people want to go ahead to talk with the irs. but they should be able to interact with them online also. >> i agree with you. it is certainly the way of the future. everything's online. >> -- great example of, right? >> they communicate almost entirely online. read online. they're not even reading normal newspapers. everything is online. i feel it is a way we have to move and go towards. is the irs moving towards going online or not? >> that is definitely its view of the future. >> right now can you interact online? >> no, you can not. you can find out where your refund is. irs last october took off the only service it had where you could email a question and have someone answer it back to you.
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so, even as it's moving forward it's moving backwards. >> my time has expired. thank you. >> i thank the gentlewoman. i thank both of you for your testimony. they have called votes. we have only a few minutes left. i think we'll both skip the closing remarks. thank you so much for being here today. if there is no further business before the committee. the committee stands adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> signature feature of c-span2's booktv is our coverage of book fairs and festivals across the country with nonfiction author talks and interviews with call-in segments. booktv this weekend is live from maryland's state capitol for the 14th annual annapolis book festival. starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern. this year's topics include political campaigns with matt bye, with his book all the truth is out. die an ream, with her book on my
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own. race in america. dewatkins, living and dying while black in america. mark moye i can't remember house president's obama drone warfare and defense cuts and military am at that rich imperiled america. also the tragedy of richard nixon. go to booktv for the complete weekend schedule and the upcoming book festivals. live coverage of the presidential race continues tuesday night for the new york state primary. join us at 9:00 eastern for election results, candidate speeches and viewer reaction. taking you on the road to the white house on c-span, c-span radio and >> during his weekly question time session, british prime minister david cameron responded to members questions on the panama papers data breach and tax reform. this is about a half hour.
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>> order. questions to the prime minister. wendy morton. >> thank you, mr. speaker. this morning i had meetings with ministers of couldleagues and others in addition to my duties in the house i will have such further meetings later today., wendy morton. suc >> thank you, mr. speaker. tha i visited the laser form manufacturing who supply claysma for the tower of london. would my right honourable friend agree with me supporting small businesses and personal increase in income tax allowance came in this month, shows unlikely on this side of the house, party's enterprise as per racer and believe enabling hard-working people to keep more of the money they earn? >> let me join her in congratulating the firm she mentioned. she is absolutely right, that it is small and medium-sized businesses predominantly will ba
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providing jobs future. we want people to keep more of their own money to spend as they choose. the historic move last week to 11,000-pound personal allowance, people gained by 2018, will pay 1000-pound less per taxpayer. we would have taken four million of the lowest paid people out of taxes all together.ound that is the action of a progressive conservative government. >> thank you, thank you, mr. speaker. i'm sure the whole house will join me in mourning the death today of the dramaist arnold wexler one of great playwritespy of this country. one of those great angry young men of 1950s, like some of those changed the faceally of our country. yes, mr. speaker, the european commission announced new proposals on country by country tax reporting. so that companies must declare
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where they make their profits in the e.u. and in blacklisted tax havens. conservative meps voted against the proposal for country by country reporting and against the blacklisting. can the prime minister now assure us that conservative meps will support the newg. proposal? >> first of all, let me join the rightort honourable gentleman in mourning the loss of the famous playwrite and all the work he fm did. quite right to mention let a me, let me, let me also welcome, let me welcome the country country tax reporting proposal put forward by commissioner jonathan hillard appointed by this government,il united kingdom commissioner. this is very much based on thego work that we've been doing,sion leading the collaboration between countries of making sure that we share tax information as we discussed on monday, this has gone far, faster and far furthee under this government than anypv
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under any previous government. >> mr. speaker, proposal put forward by the british spe government, why did conservativt meps vote against them? there is sort of a disconnect here. the "panama papers," mr. speaker, exposed a scandalous situation where s wealthy individuals seemed to believe that corporation tax and other taxes are something optional. indeed as member for ronald melton informed only for lowt's achievers apparently. when the mhrc says the tax gap is 30 billion pounds. why is he cutting hmrc staff by 20% and cutting down tax offices which loses the expertise of people to close that tax gap? >> well, i'm glad you want to get on to our responsibilities to g pay our taxes. i think that is very important.
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i thought, his tax return was a metaphor for labor policy. it was late, inaccurate and it was uncosted. but, turning to the, turning to the specific questions, he is absolutely right. he iss absolutely right to identify the tax gap and that is why we closed off loopholes in the last parliament, equivalent of 12 billion pounds. we aimed to close off loopholes in this parliament, equivalent to 16 billion-pound. so thehe hmrc is taking very strong action, backed by thishoe government, backed by the chancellor, legislated for byva thisle house. i at this i'm write in saying since 2010, we've put actually over a billion pounds into hmrc to increase its capabilities tom collect a tax that people should be paying. the difference i think between this side of the house and the right honourable gentleman, we believe in setting low tax rate and encouraging people to pay them and it's working.
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>> andrew korby. >> i'm grateful to the primeatef minister drawing attention to mg own tax return. warts and all, the warts being my handwritings or my generous donation to hmrc i. i actually paid some more tax than companies owned by he might know quite well. [shouting] the prime minister, isn't, mr. speaker, the prime minister isn't cutting tax abuse. he is cutting down on tax collectors. the tax collected helps to fund ourown nhs and all the others services. last month the obr reported that hmrc doesn't have the necessary resources to tackle offshore tax disclosures. . . offshore tax disclosures. the government is committed to taking 400 million pounds out of h.r. indices budget by 2020.
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will he now commit to reversing that cut so that we can collect the tax that will help to pay for the services? >> i'm afraid his figures rather like his tax return his figures are not entirely accurate. at the summer budget 2015 we give an extra 800 million pounds to hrmc to fund additional work to tackle tax evasion and noncompliance between now and 20 to one. this will enable h.r. into to recover billion in tax over the next five years. we've brought in more than 2 billion from offshore tax evader sin 2010. the point i would make, i think we should try and bring someiss. consensus to this issue. four years in this countryhave labour governments and conservative governments had an th attitude to the crowd dependencr and overseas territory that their tax affairs were a matter for them. they are compliance others were this g not for them and the transparency was a matter for them. this government has changed that.
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we've got the overseas territories row of the table. we said you've got to havewe suf registers of ownership. he got to collaborate with the uk government. he's got to make sure peoplemakr don't hide their taxes and it's happening. and he gets to ct should welcomx so whe the fact n that huge progress h been made. raising taxes sort outha the overseas territories, closing the tax gap, getting businesses to pay more, getting international leadership to the cell issue, all things that never happened under labour. >> jeremy corbyn. >> i thini think the prime minir for the answer to the only problem is the redbook states hmrc spending will fall from 3.3 billion, the 2.9 billion by 2020. in regard to uk crown dependencies and overseas territories, only two days ago the prime minister said he had agreed they will provide uk law enforcement and tax agencies with full access to information
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on the beneficial ownership of companies. seems to be some confusion because the chief minister of jersey said this is in response to a need for information without delay where terrorist activities are involved. we welcome his commitment to fighting terrorism, but is jersey and all the other dependencies actually going to provide beneficial ownership information or not speak with the short entry that is yes, they are. that is what is such a big breakthrough. i totally accept are not going as far as us because we are publishing a registered beneficial ownership. that will happen in june. we will be one of the only countries in the world to do so. i think norway and spain are the others. what the overseas territories and crown dependencies are doing is making sure we have full access to registers of beneficial ownership to make sure people are not avoiding the taxes. in the interest of giving full answers to his questions let me given the figures for full-time equivalent.
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in hmrc in terms of compliance the numbers are going from 25,000 in 2010, the 26,798 and 2015. it not a much expanded, tell the people you connect after collecting the taxes and making sure the forms are properly filled in. [shouting] >> jeremy corbyn. >> the transfer is quite right to the number of people people collecting taxes is important, therefore why has he laid off so many staff at hmrc who therefore cannot collect those taxes? [shouting] in 2013, mr. speaker, the prime minister demanded the overseas territories ripped aside the cloak of secrecy by creating a public register of beneficial ownership information. realty now make it clear that the beneficial ownership register will be an absolutely public document and transparent for all to see who really owns
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these companies and whether they are paying their taxes? >> let me be absolutely clear. for the united kingdom, we've taken the unprecedented step, never done by labour, never done by conservatives, of an open beneficial ownership register. with the crown dependencies and overseas territories have to get full access. we did not choose the option of forcing them to have a public register, because we believe if that was the case we would get into the situation he spoke about his some of the might of walk away from this cooperation altogether. that's the point. are we going to be able to access the information? yes. are we going to be able to pursue tax evaders? yesterday did any of these things happened under a labour government? no. >> he talks tough and the granting that. it's not a public register he's offering us. is only offering us a private
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register that some people can see. it's quite interesting that the chief premier of the cayman islands, alden mclaughlin, is today apparently celebrating his victory over the prime minister because hes saying the information certainly will not be available publicly available directly on any uk or non-cayman islands agency. the prime minister is supposed to be chasing down tax evasion and tax avoidance. he is supposed to bringing it all into the open. if he cannot even persuade the premieres of the cayman islands or jersey to open up their books, where is the tough talk bringing the information we need to collect the taxes that should pay for the services that people need? >> i think he is misunderstanding what i said. in terms of the uk it is an absolute first in terms of register of beneficial ownership that is public. he keeps saying it is not public. the british one will be public.
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i think this is important because it goes to the question asked by the right honorable member we are also saying to foreign companies that have dealings with britain that have to declare the properties in the properties they own which were move a huge field of secrecy over the ownership of london property. i am not saying we complete all this work but we've got more tax information exchange, more registers of beneficial ownership, more chasing down tax avoidance, more money recover from business and individuals. all of these things are things that happened under this government. the truth is he's running to catch a biggest labour did nothing in 13 years [shouting] >> andrew stephenson. >> thank you, mr. speaker. my constituents john anthony cluff whose daughter was tragically murdered by her ex-partner whilst she was out on bail our campaign to save nine
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women's refuges which are currently a threat because labour run council proposed to cut all of the funded. does the prime minister agreed with the family and the that labour run counties council should part with the victims of domestic violence? [shouting] >> first of all my honorable friend does raise a very moving case, none of the whole house will wish to join in sending our sincere condolences to mr. and mrs. cluff. in terms of making sure we stop violence against women and girls, no one should be live in fear of these crimes, that is why we committed 80 minutes of pounds to tackle violence against women and girls. this includes funding for securing the future of refuges and other accommodation based services, but it helps with local councils make the right decisions as well. >> angus robertson. >> the united kingdom and its offshore territories and dependencies collectively sit at
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the top of the financial secrecy index of the tax justice network. since the leaking of the panama papers, france has put panama on a blacklist of uncooperative tax havens and offices have been rated by the police in panama city. what the british authorities done specifically in relation since the late of the panama papers? >> first of all in terms of who is at the top of the pyramid of tax secrecy, i think it is not unfair to say that about our crown dependencies and overseas territories because they're going to cooperate with the three things we asked them to do in terms of this standard, the reporting standard, the exchange of tax information and access to registers of beneficial ownership. that is more the we get out of some states in america, like a delaware. i think in this house we should be tough on all those that facilitate lack of transparency,
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but we should accurate in the way we do. he asked but what would think about the panama papers. we have a 10 million-pound funded crossed agents reviewed to get to the bottom of all the information. it would hugely be helped if the newspapers and other journalists now shared this information with tax and specters so we can get to the bottom of it. and his final question on blacklist, we are happy this will blacklist but we don't think you should draw up a blacklist solely on the basis of a territory raising a low tax rate. we don't think that is the right approach. that's the approach the french have taken in the past the entrance to take action against tax havens, this government has done more than any previous one. >> thirty to 50 dwp staff have been specifically investigating benefit fraud whilst only 318 rc staff have been systematically investigating tax evasion. surely we should care equally
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about people abusing the tax system and those abusing the benefits system. why has this government had 10 times more staff dealing often with the poorest in society abusing benefits tha then with e superrich evading their tax is? >> i will look carefully at his statistics, but they sound to me entirely bogus, for this reason. that job, the predominant job of the dwp is to make sure that people receive the benefits. the predominant job of hmrc is to make sure people pay their taxes. the 26,000 people i spoke about earlier, all of them are making sure that people pay their taxes. the clue is in the title. >> jesse norman. >> thank you. thank you, mr. speaker your will and carol davis and many of the farmers are still awaiting their
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2015 payments from the rural payments agency, nearly four months after they were do. this fall to the of the rpa website last year that it is causing great personal and financial distress and threatens the future of our businesses. will the prime minister agreed to meet with farmers on this issue and press the rpa to make these payments by the end of this month, and does he share my view that at the very least farmers should receive interest on the amounts overdue? >> i have met recently with both the nfu and the welsh nfu and contingent meetings with farming organizations including my own constituency. i know have been problems with the payment system. the latest figures show 87% of all claims have been paid. i believe the figures are in line with the national average but that is no consolation to the 13% of that received those payments. that's what have a financial hardship process.
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we have made archie payments amounted to over 7 million pounds but we duty to make sure the lessons of how to make the system work better in future years are properly learned. >> if the british people vote to leave the european union, with the prime minister remain in office to implement their decision? >> yes. [shouting] >> neil carmichael. >> again on europe, try to does the prime minister agreed that your opinion is not just the world single biggest market also an apple source of foreign direct investment providing 50% of the investment we receive, and also an excellent platform for supply chains to thrive and prosper, meaning see billy to get the skills and innovation they need? my constituency, a whole lot of
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high-tech companies thrive and prosper as they do in the united kingdom? >> i well remember my visit with my honorable friend with they showed me i think a world first, in a bicycle that was printed on a 3-d printer. i did not get on and give it a try but look like it would even carry some of my weight. he's right, because the single market of 500 million people and that is a great market for our businesses, services, and increasingly the market and the supply chain is getting more and more integrated. that is why we should think carefully before separating ourselves from it. >> brain tumors are the biggest cancer killer of children in people under 40. but despite that come research into them receives less than 1% or just over 1% of the uk's national paint on cancer research. this would be the subject of us beat -- speech next monday. will the prime minister have a
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work with the secretary of state for health so that the minister answering that might be able to bring within or some long overdue good news a change in this area? >> i'm happy to do exactly as he says but it is an important issue. we invest something like 1.7 billion a year in health research but there is always this question when it comes to cancer research. this thing ha has got up a thiro nearly 135 million pounds but there's always the question of whether that is fairly distributed between all the different types of cancer. i will make sure the minister can give them a very full replied. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i have a steel producer at the heart of the constituency and so i share concerns raised by the future of our steel industry and energy intensive manufacturing. north of england still has significant manufacturing it is being held back by green taxes, high energy costs and emissions targets. what more can m i right angle fm to develop energy intensive
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industries? >> i think my friend raises an important point. the changes will save the steel industry over 400 million pounds by the end of this parliament. that is a good example of the steps we can take. it was an excellent debate in the house about this issue. we need to work with everything we can do in terms of procurement. we need to make sure we're taking action against dumping, and we are. we need to make sure we reduce the energy costs where we can. we stand by to work with any potential purchaser of the port talbot works which will safeguard steel jobs in other parts of the country to see a we can help only commercial basis. i'm satisfied with doing everything we can. we cannot totally buck the global trend of this massive overcapacity instead, massive decline in prices, those are the key areas in terms of power, plant, procurement, all areas where we can help. >> stephen kim's. >> research by the sutton trust
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shows that 30 schools into academies doesn't mr. improved them. thousands of excellent library schools, parents want to continue to be maintained by their local authority. what our ministers plan to offer parents enforce all the schools they come academies? >> i think the evidence shows the academies work as part of our education reform. let me give the house of commons, let me give the house the evidence. if you look at those schools that converted into academies, 88% are either outstanding or good schools. a few look at the sponsored academies, often failing schools -- hold on. if you listen, if you look at what happened with the schools that were often failing but are now sponsored by academies you see on average a 10% improvement over the first two years. all the evidence is the results are better, the freedoms lead to improvements and also where there are problems, intervention
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happens faster with academies. we have got 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools and i say let's finish the job. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister has met many great people but i believe he has yet to meet the veil of the show's very own gasb asparagus man. would you like to overcome that the mission by join me in the veil for the upcoming british asparagus festival which starts on saint george's day and show support for our fantastic farming industry. >> here, here. >> i'm happy to say that my honorable friends and statistic is only one constituency a way. we share the same railway line, so if there's an opportunity for some great british asparagus i would be very happy to join him. >> can't i take that prime minister back to his response to the honorable member for
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penndel? i met mr. and mrs. cluff. it was a truly dreadful case. women's refuges are facing absolute crisis. the changes that the government opposes to make to housing benefit will force the closure of women's refuges. he needs virtually to look again at these changes, because the lessee makes refuges except they will be closing up and down the country. will he do it? >> what i would say is what we did in the last parliament with rape crisis centers can we are doing the same type of thing with these refuges and that's why the 80 million pounds to fund is so important, and that is why my right honorable friend the second estate has written to local authorities to claim this money is available to make sure those refuges are there. >> mr. speaker, as part of world autism awareness week last week
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the national autistic society launched its biggest ever of awareness campaign called too much information. young alex, the star of the film, with your in house and met many and monday. research shows 50% of autistic people into families sometimes don't go out in public because they are afraid of what people think and the public reaction to the. will the prime minister meet with me at the charity to discuss of the government can support this campaign, and that we can help tackle the social isolate station so many problems -- so many families through this campaign answer assistance to? >> let me take you to give my friend has been campaigning and legislate on this issue for many, many years including the landmark legislation that went through in the last parliament. we have been working closely with the alliance and addresses of 325,000 pounds since 2014. she's right there is more that needs to be done, and raising the profile of the understanding of what having an autistic child or being autistic is all about.
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i think she's right to do that. let me put in a plug for the strange incident of the dog in the night which is at the whitehall theatre. i took my children the other day. it is absolutely excellent. >> thank you very much, mr. speaker. authorities in peru, el salvador and panama have raided offices, seizing documents and computer equipment know what is not on the door of the law firms branch in the uk. whilst recognizing operational independence of law enforcement agencies, does the prime minister share my deep concern that as we speak documents are no doubt being shredded and databases being wiped, undermining the opportunity to bring further potential wrongdoing to light? >> the honorable lady makes an important point, which is we need to make sure all the evidence coming out of panama is probably investigated. that is why we set up a special
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cross agency team including the national crime agency, hmrc and other relevant bodies to make sure we get to the bottom of what happened. she is right to reference the fact these organizations are independent. it would be wrong for a minister or a prime minister to order an investigator into a building in a particular way. that is not a rubicon we want to cross. empower the national crime agency, empower hmrc, give them the resources and let them get on with the job. >> cannot draw the prime minister's attention to the tragic death of jane smith in my constituency? she was 21 months old when she was stamped on by her mother so vitally that it punctured her hard. the pathologist said her body resembled a car crash victim. yet she been no to social services since the day she was born. they knew about the violent boyfriend. they knew about domestic violence. they saw the doors kicked in.
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they smelt the candidates. they saw the bruises. they saw the cuts. -- canada's. they did nothing. that prime minister will understand that people and burn want to know how this could happen. yet they are concerned to note that the serious case review has on its panel people are directly involved in the organizations we investigated. will the prime minister look at what we can do to make this and other series case reviews more independent so that we can make sure no other child suffers a life and death of jane smith. >> here, here. >> i think my friend is right to raise this. obviously, in the work we all do we cater about some hideous and horrific incidents, but anyone watching television thatnight and seeing the description of what happened, it simply took your breath away that people can behave in such a despicable and disgusting way towards their own children.
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there's no punishment in the world and my benefits that sort of crime carried out by the child's own parent. at the system will be a serious case review. i will look carefully at the suggestions he make made a notee secretary of state for education will do so as well. the our criticisms of the way these cases are done but to start with we must get on with a serious case review because it got to get to the bottom of what went wrong. >> that are currently over 7000 people in the uk needing an organ transplant including 139 children, and many will die because of the shortage of available organs. the welsh labour government has introduced groundbreaking legislation in wales. with a prime minister join in supporting that changed the law for life campaign for opt out organ donation throughout the uk? >> i'm always happy to look at this again. i've looked at it before and have it come out in favor of opting out. we debated in the last
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parliament ended quite a lot of moves to making opt in much these you. we found if you look at different hospitals there's different records in terms of how well they do. my personal position is that something we should support to continue to drive. this house can vote from time to do on this issue about whether wants to go down the welsh track rather than the track we are on. personally as i say let's make opt in work better. >> my butt out of a friend will be well aware that our colleague lord bates has started a 2000-mile walk -- awareness with olympic truce and money for refugee children. will my right of a frenchman and wishing lord bates well -- >> i've written to michael bates to wish him well on this long walk and to get support for the work is that over many years for
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the olympic truce. he leaves me a bit of a hole in the house of lords where he is into fantastic work from home office on security issues, so we wish him a good walk and a speedy return. >> at the ealing hospital, technically junior solheim experts doctors i met last week are dismayed that the governments own policy assessment of new contract find a disgrace against women which is over half of them. as the prime minister is a self-confessed feminist leader progressive government, will he refers -- [laughter] with the reverse this blatant injustice which has no place in 2016? >> i'm grateful for the question and backhanded comment. this contract is very pro-women because it involves a 13% basic pay rise, because it restricts
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the currently our rent is ours that some junior doctors are working that are unsafe. and because it gives greater guarantees about levels of pay and amount of money that doctors will get, i think as people start work on it and with it they will see it's very pro-women. >> thank you, mr. speaker. over 200,000 economic migrants came from the european union in the period for which we have got figures. the propaganda sheet set out to the british people claims we maintain control of our borders. have withdrawn from the free movement of people, or is that she'd simply untrue? >> -- sheet. economic migrants attempted european union did not have the right to come to the uk. they are not european national. they are nationals of pakistan or morocco or turkey. none of those people have the right.
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this is very important. and, frankly, this is what it's important we do send information to households so they can see the truth about what is being proposed. what he has just before is a classic of the scare story we get. britain has borders. britain will keep its borders but we've got the best of both worlds. >> stephen patterson. >> mr. speaker, stirling university in scotland universal sporting excellence. elite sports have been rocked over recent months by international doping scandal which threatens to see our countries thrown out of and banned from major sporting competitions. can determine what further action can be taken? >> i think is right to raise the siege. the world anti-doping agency has been a lot of answers in recent years. there's a relevance for anticorruption summit on may 12 where we will look at corruption in sport and bringing forward new codes of practice that we
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will adopt in this country. we hope others will adopt. there's the question of whether doping should be made a specific criminal offense which is something we should look at and debate in this house. >> what progress has been made in implementing servers tos and clinical standards published in december 2013, and are absolutely essential for rolling out the seven-day nhs? >> perhaps i ca got specificalln the clinical standards but the truth is that what is good is that others within the nhs support the decision of the seven-day nhs and recognize of course we should pay tribute to all those doctors and nurses who work weekends over to for the very important point. what we're trying to move towards is an nhs where the individual has access to the family doctor seven days a week and also where hospitals were on a more 70 on a more seven-day basis because that will save lives and improve care. i'll write about the specific
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detail. >> here -- [inaudible] an important civic duty. is the prime minister unaware of the sadness and anger which has resulted from the closer academy for the deeper each schools of -- were the prime minister urgently review the attack? >> i'm delighted the honorable lady asked this question because i know we'll be debating it later today but let me be clear. we support peart covers. a great will to play but no school should think that simply by having that you solve the problem about how to engage with theirs. let me say to the honorable lady, there's something in the labour motion today that is inaccurate and should be withdrawn. the labour motion says the white paper proposes the removal of peart covers from school governing bodies. it does no such thing.
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as well as not getting his tax return on an time he's bringing forth motions to the south that are simply wrong. >> order. [inaudible conversations] former president clinton is came in today in your city of half of his wife conformer second of state hillary clinton. he's going to be at the college in new york city, riverdale section in the bronx, the head of the nuke state primary on tuesday. see his comments live at noon eastern here on c-span2. >> live coverage of the presidential race continues
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tuesday night. >> a significant c-span2's booktv is her coverage of book fairs and festivals across the country with nonfiction author talks, interviews and call-in segments. this week in booktv us live from maryland state capital for the 14th annual annapolis book festival. starting saturday at 10 in future. this year's topics include political campaigns.
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go to booktv for the complete weekend schedule. >> democratic presidential candidate bernie sanders is that the vatican today in rome to address a meeting on social, economic and environmental issues. he held a news conference when he arrived. has live coverage and more live coverage of former president clinton campaign stay at the college of mount st. vincent in your. that is scheduled to start at noon. while we wait a look at how voters perceive politics from this morning's "washington journal." >> rick shenkman is a history news network founder and he is the author of this recent book "political animals."
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do shark attacks affect elections? >> guest: that's the sort i begin the book with. 100 years ago in 1916 the worst -- struck southern new jersey. the movie jaws that everybody has heard about is seen will pick is based on the star of what happened back then. in a two-week period, four people were killed by shark attacks. what does that have to do with politics? i want a book on politics. four months later woodrow wilson was up for reelection and he won the state of new jersey, but in those small towns which have been devastated by the shark attacks come you can imagine what happens. people were sharks and hotels emptied out and everybody went home. it was a devastating economic development for the energy. as soon as he held the vote, what happened?
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the people in those towns voted against woodrow wilson in overwhelming numbers. in the same proportion of those people voted against herbert hoover at the height of the great depression. why was that? woodrow wilson could not possibly have been anything to help those people really solve the shark problems. that was a problem beyond the powers of the president. people are irrational when they vote. and particularly political scientist have found when bad things happen to them they take out of their angst on the incumbent party. no matter who that income is and whether the incumbent is responsible or not. the book is about how our brain works. 40 years ago when i was in college we didn't have an idea of how the brain works. today we do. mostly a result of neuroscience but also the inside of evolution psychologist, political psychologist, and all the sides of the last 20 years has changed
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our sake of how the brain operates our politics. >> host: what is stone age thinking? >> guest: the stone age lasted for. of a two and a half million years and it was during this period that the human brain was mainly evolving. here's the thing. it evolved to help hunter gatherers address the problems that they face as hunter gatherers. it didn't evolve to help us in the 21st century address the problems we are facing. our problems are far different. when you're living in a small community, you know everybody can you work with everybody. you know your leadership inside-out because you are living with them. in many cases they are kinfolk. today the modern world there's millions, billions and billions of people we don't get to meet our leaders. all we do is see them on tv. we often read the wrong, don't understand when they are lying to us or manipulate us. the book is about how you have
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to protect yourself against your own brain. your brain will trick you into thinking you are living in a small community and you know these people, and actually you don't. >> host: rick shenkman come and introduction to your book you write i'm going to tell you the story of people who have been paid in ways that seem absurd. your focus on behavior associated with being disengaged from politics and apathetic. and not correctly sizing up our leaders, punishing politicians that tell us hard truths and not join empathy and circumstances that cry out for it. is there a general impression that you can give of what voters are like an american? >> guest: i don't know what to do with that question. give me something a little bit more. >> host: are voters curious? >> guest: okay, good.
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voters are curious about what's happening in their immediate circumstances. that's what the human brain is designed to do, be curious about what's happening about things you can see. half is devoted to visual task. we are responded to what we can see, particularly because of our nervous system what we can do. when you're in a group of people you can sized them up, read their body language, get a good sense of who they are. at least a certain a building to have an assessment of who they are and what they are like. you can't do it in the modern world, and the political world because most of the time you are seeing your politicians only on tv. your nervous system isn't coming into play and that means you're not focused. did you can't see somebody's eyes and now they are really looking at you, it's hard to read them. in any case our brain is again playing a trick on us. act in the stone age when we
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were reading people's emotions, let's say you're going out on a hunt and you want to look towards the leader, you could tell whether any particular moment is he feeling courageous or is he frozen by fear. you can read that emotion but you had a deeper understanding of a person because you live in worked with him all the time. in the modern world we don't have that personal experience with our leaders and yet our brain makes us think we do know them. here's the question. are we serious? hunter gatherers, there's been an example who are not curious about who is leading them. what human beings do all day long? they gaza. that's what we do, gossip about people. what is gossiping to? gossip helps us understand was up, down, whether someone has made a mistake, speculating about their motives. that means we are automatically
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engaged as human beings in our local politics. but in a multicultural world that we are living in with millions of people, we don't have that natural nervous system reaction to people that live far away from us. you are in washington, d.c. host of the american people are hundreds if not thousands of miles away. i live in seattle, washington. seattle as far away from washington, d.c. when things are happening there it's hard for me living in seattle to try to get really excited about what's going on in d.c. if i see two candidates duking it out, okay, i can get excited about that momentarily. but that feeling quickly evaporates. i happen to be a political junkie so of course i think attention. most americans are living their lives, not paying attention to politics. they seem to display indifference, displayed a lack
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of curiosity. that's because of the way the human brain works. that's not an indictment of these people. it's an indictment of human beings, our brain wasn't devised for television politics. it was devised for small intimate groups. we are good at that kind of politics. not so good of politics were talking about things happening along way away. i hope that enters your question. >> host: should we trust her instincts when it comes to politics? >> guest: know, that's the main point of the book. basically in our daily lives we trust our instance because they are constantly proving a pretty good. if you're walking on the sidewalk and your tires screeching your instinct is to look up quickly, look around and pull back and make sure you're not about to get one over by a bus or a truck going by. that's the same as if you were a hunter gatherer 10,000, 100,000 years ago and you heard a tiger in the woods.
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you have this fight or flight response. in our personal life, often our instance were. in politics i argue in the book you could almost never unquestionably go with your instinct because you instincts are generally not suited for the kinds of problems that we face in the modern world. >> host: you look at the work of psychologist drew weston. you write about some of his work. here is his explanation of what goes on in our brain when we turn a blind eye toward information we find objectionable. otentially troubling political information, a network of neuron's becomes active that registers the conflict between data and desire and searches for ways to shirt off this big it of unpleasant emotion.
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notice what we do not do. we do not expend cognitive energy to digest the information . we immediately try to reconcile it w can you give an example of what you need? >> guest: let's take the example of what he was talking about. back in 2004 when john kerry versus george w. bush. he put john kerry voted inside an mri machine and then he told them some information about john kerry that wasn't flattering, something that made him look like he was a hypocrite. what happened inside their brain? a very briefly registered a reaction, of course it was shock and disfavor with what they were hearing. then immediately their brain shut off that information and those neurons went quiet. they went in after. the same thing happened when he put bush voters in the mri machine. when they hurt unpleasant information they have an initial
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reaction and then they went quiet. their neurons went quiet. what is that? that is what other social sites is referred to our psychological immune system at work. we don't like this. we like to find out that i believe we hold about somebody that we like, and then it turns out that here's some country information to what we believe about that person. that creates dissidents. the human brain does like if you and makes us anxious and feel bad. it quickly tries to figure out a way to get rid of that information. it does it by closing the door on the information so that the neurons go quiet. and that our psychological immune system improves. we restore our feeling of well being. when you are talking about donald trump voters conflict all accounts has been called out by political, politifact and all
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these other fact checking organization for telling one lie after another after another after another, like for instance, when he debuted his campaign and you start talking about how thousands of muslims were dancing on the rooftops of apartment buildings in new jersey as they watched the twin towers fall down and they were shooting. that just wasn't true. what did donald trump voters make of that? their brain, just like other voters, it's not just about true of trump voters. we don't want it that bad information about a candidate who we are trying to support so they basically ignored. they are not bothered by. their brain was able to shut off that information. this is how the human brain works. that's what drew weston's research shows. >> host: rick shenkman as a guest, "political animals: how our stone-age brain gets in the way of smart politics." the numbers are on the screen.
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we will begin taking your calls in just a minute the you can also participate via social media @cspanwj is our twitter have a. let's begin with a call from robert in worcester, worcester, massachusetts, on our democrat's line. go ahead. >> caller: i don't know what this guy is talking about but the average person really does not know politicians know that the average person is almost ignorant. when you have a commercial tv and you see a tight commercial and assess it will take the ring off her husband's neck, and next day that same woman will go down and buy that cause of that powerful commercial. people are not voting with their
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hard. they are voting with her head. you've got to put them both together. you have to have a head and you have to have a hard. when you let the politicians do any tricks, speak on a global, that is a sin. never let a politician walk to your church and speak on a public or this is for all you black people down south. >> host: let's get a response. rick shenkman, what did you hear? >> guest: the caller is right that the american people don't know a lot of facts about what our government functions. a majority don't know with 100 u.s. senators. even though that's a nice the number and is easy to remember. a majority don't know that we have three branches of government. a majority of the american people believe on the eve of the iraq war that saddam hussein was behind the 9/11 attack and that the reason we were going to
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invade iraq was to take revenge for him having destroyed the world trade center and attacking the pentagon. when you are what's called a low information voter, which is unfortunately true of the majority of the american people, low information voters are more easily manipulated by politicians because they don't know enough. so politicians can stand up and if he is articulate and he is enthusiastic and he can make a case and connect with you as one person to another person looking for a tv came as i'm doing right now, if i'm excited and a passionate and you are impressed with my passion, enthusiasm and what i am saying makes sense, you don't have the independent basis upon which to evaluate my argument or my information. you are just going with kind of your gut and a hunch. that is what an argument in my book. >> host: edwin tweets ntu, i
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respectfully disagree with you, can't read politicians from watching them on tv. body language is all telling. >> guest: body language is important. there's no question about it but how fast we make the evaluation of candidates? i cite research in the book where we make up our minds about politicians and basically anybody that we encounter and 167 milliseconds. that's fashion it takes to blink your eyes. ett people more time to make an evaluation, -- dvd of people -- they doubled up with her initial impression is. the problem is your brain is playing a trick on you. back in the stone age when we were making these superfast evaluations, of course it was very, very important because if you encounter a stranger in a force or the jungle you had to
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quickly be able to size up. most of the time that meant this is a person who was hostile and a threat to your life, for probably you should run or you have to kill the guy. for the hunter gatherers living in their communities when they would size people up, it wasn't just on the basis of body language or facial expression. it was on the basis of deep knowledge of the person because you were living with them and working with them. be if you have an over reliance on body language and you think you can tell whether somebody is lying to you are telling the truth based on the body language, you are defeating yourself. let me go one step further. win a politician is telling you something and they believe it to be true, then your psychological
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system doesn't work. our cheater detection system only works if the person is telling a lie, think that they are lying. politicians are really good. they are like used car salesmen. they are really couldn't tell you something that at the moment they convinced themselves that they actually believe. that's why you can't rely on your ability to meet somebody in the body language because if they are sincere, and politicians are always sincere, your cheater detection system doesn't work. >> host: let's hear from barber, democrat, martha's vineyard. >> caller: hi, peter. thank you so much. richard, this is the best best news ever. the first day of the new era which i'm christening occasionally come up with the phrase paly apologetic. paleontological, okay? this is our brain on the drugs the politics that we don't understand how our brain works.
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peter, i've got homework assignment for your staff. you need to assembled experts that richard will lead you to on evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology and get them together with richard in three hours, or you assemble asd them at a book fair somewhere. this is the story. i want your producers to look back at an e-mail i just sent in the last segment for democrats only. it has no text. it is only visual somewhat to prove richards point. the subject line is just about blew. this is my message for the democrats to unify. you have a visual pun and i want to see if richard can figure it out. this man is walking the walk and talking the talk, listen to what he says. richard, keep on using the emphasis you using in your speech just like i am deliberately using it now because there is this penetrate
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of quality to assertion. we are asserting, this is the truth. we are not thinking it or hypothesizing it. this is the dawn of a new age. >> host: arbor, thank you. rick shenkman, any response? >> guest: well, very complementary so i will not disagree with her. let's talk about another aspect of how our brain works. basically from neuroscience we've learned in the last 20, 30 years that we have two ways of digesting information. one is called system would and the others called system to. system and basically you are not thinking, just taking in information, matching it up with other information you already got in your brain. if there's a close enough match, your brain doesn't think hard about it. he just assumed this new information is light visible information and you treated the same way.
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system number two is higher order cognitive thinking. guess what we want to do in politics? almost always politicians don't want you to use system number two. they just want you to your system when. what do they do? they will use red meat words that will get your system one juices flowing so that you're not really thinking, you just what acting. for republican on stable say something like muslim terrorists and that activates certain neurons and you are reacting fearful or angry and you're not thinking. thinking. thinking. you were just reacting to the democrats do the same thing. they will tell a sob story about somebody rather than to try to get you a pathetic and go along with the program. you are not really thinking about it. the largest kind of reacting. what i'm arguing in the book is that the only way to safeguard
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yourself against manipulation by politicians is to always second guess or automatic reaction. you've got to second-guess or automatic reaction. don't talk yourself to politics. that goes against all of the stuff we learned in the 1960s where trust yourself, trust or so. in personalized kosher soap and politics don't. is a difficult message. i'm hoping people will take it to heart. >> host: brenda, connecticut, democrat's line. what's the name of your town? >> caller: niantic, connecticut. i just wanted to call and say that i did watch the debate and i don't think that there should be any more debates. i really hate to see things deteriorate to the level of the
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gop side. i was very proud of her performance. i think senator sanders did very well also. but i just hate to see them hurt each other in the primary. i'm disappointed in senator sanders, entity think that -- and i do think that him running as a democrat is, if he continues to criticize hillary to the extent, or each other, that it could hurt us in the long run in the general election. >> host: let's leave it there and, rick shenkman, given that the was a debate last night, i don't know if you watched that
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but i'm sure you watch some of these debates, how would your book, "political animals," fit into some of these debates? >> guest: let me tell you what i recommend in the book, which is when you are sitting watching a political debate, basically you are in the same role as somebody who goes and attends a broadway show. what you wind up doing is evaluating the performance of the candidates who are arguing with each other. i don't think that's terribly helpful. what is helpful, even if they're not a political junkie most americans, you do other things we were not following politics all that closely, you can still gain tremendous, real insight into what's going on in these candidates campaigns by monitoring your own emotional reaction. pull out the pen and paper when you're about to sit down to
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watch one of these debates. every time you feel a strong emotion of some kind, fear, anger, enthusiasm, patriotism, whatever you are feeling, chop it down next to the candidate's name. at the end of the debate, instead of evaluating their performance is, look at you how you emotional reacting to what they were saying. you want to have a roadmap to these candidates campaigns. you will understand how they're trying to manipulate you by the emotional buttons that they were trying to push during the debate. it's no accident when they take a certain line at a debate. they have a lot of advisors ahead of that debate telling them if you say this, the voters will have this reaction. if you say this, the voters will have this reaction. study yourself and you will have a very keen understanding of what the politicians campaigns are about. that is much more helpful than just sitting back like you're at a broadway show and saying, gee,
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this person did well and this person didn't. we all play the game and i play the game as well but it's not helpful. this approach are now on i think is more helpful. >> host: florida, republican line, please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i have a comment concerning the statement that you're just made about donald trump line about the muslims dancing in the street on 9/11. he is not lying. i seen this with my own eyes. >> host: rick shenkman? >> guest: all right. if you did see with your own eyes come to know why? because in the middle east, people were dancing. there's videotape. we all saw after 9/11 muslims in the middle east and in other parts of the world, people who are happy to see the united states, the big bad superpower, as it is used in some parts of the world, getting knocked down
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a little bit. people were dancing industries but it wasn't muslims in america and it was an american muslims who were doing this, but our brain confuses visual information that is is taking in. of the big shocks on 9/11 besides the attacks themselves, the other big shock was that people hate us to the point where they are happy to see us killed by the thousands. impression powerful on your mind, but you do not see american muslims dancing in the streets. that did not happen. host: pardon me. the next call for rick shenkman comes from suzanne on the independent line. go ahead, suzanne. caller: hey, rick. what you just said about the


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