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tv   Washington Journal  CSPAN  May 15, 2016 5:30pm-6:16pm EDT

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>> the government's job is not to rule us, it is to be our servant, the protector of our rights. what happens when protects our rights equally, your freedom the same as mine? we will create different amounts of wealth is we have different abilities, make different choices, some want to go and become a teacher. for us, thatus, that is what a successful life is, whether we go up or down from where our parents were. other people want to be hedge fund managers, of the people want to start new companies. you're going to get inequality if we have equal freedom.on journ
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>> every saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on book tv. you can watch all previous programs on our website, booktv.org. guess now is nick penniman, executive director of an organization known as issue one. what is issue one? guest: it is a new nonprofit focused on reducing the influence of money in politics. host: how are you funded? guest: foundations and individual donors. you have a book that says this nation is "on the take." what are you trying to say? guest: we are trying to say the problem of money in politics has reached crisis proportions. stage four cancer at this point. the public has always been generally aware of the fact that money plays a role in politics, but we make the argument we have crossed a dangerous rush holt to the point that he has created such paralysis and our policymaking that we are losing
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our democracy. host: what are the examples of this paralysis? at almostyou look every number associated with money and politics, it has grown exponentially in the last 20 years. -- we have gone from 500 lobbyists 20 years ago to over 1200 registered lobbyists. we have dark money -- money not disclosed -- in the last decade. the 2000 election cycle was an advocate of a $3 billion election cycle. this cycle is supposed to be $10 billion. the numbers go on and on. that is the math. what that ends up creating an washington is the inability to legislate on behalf of the common good. because special interest have such control over our politicians and our policymaking that it is hard to get a lot done. what is happening or not
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happening that proves the point you're making? you look at almost any big legislative moment, and there were such severe compromises made during those moments that one could argue that the public good was not entirely fulfilled. take the financial reform, right? financialf the crisis, the global economy almost brought to its knees. the fixes we accomplished, some were good but some did not fix at all. that is not just me speaking. that is also the financial reporter for "the new york times." do all kinds of stuff around consumer protection we have not done. a lot of that had to do with what senator dick durbin said around when dodd-frank was occurring, which is "the banks own the place."
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other example -- one of the major rising health crises in america is obesity. it is going through the roof. it will cost us hundreds of billions of dollars down stream. the news agency, did a six-month investigation to report about at times to legislate at the local, state, to address theel obesity crisis. after looking at almost every one of those fights, the sugar, fast food, and corn lobbies won every major policy battle. so you have to ask yourself a question when a reputable news agency looks at a huge issue like that and they conclude that we no longer -- we the people -- no longer have the ability to legislate our way out of our was the verych promise that the founders created from the get go. the argument of the book is we are losing our right to self-government.
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we are becoming more than oligarchy. we are talking about the influence of money in politics. we have lines for democrats, republicans, and independents. we often go to opensecrets.org. they write the amount raised so far by candidates is $720 million. the amount raised by super pacs supporting candidates is 446 million dollars. what are those numbers telling you? is another number, which is 158 families supplied half of the cash to presidential campaigns. that looks more like oligarchy, when you have a handful of families in this country supplying most of the cash. that means we are moving to a system funded by the wealthiest among us.
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system ends upt leaning towards the wealthiest among us. the other problem behind those numbers is that politicians today are spending four hours a day, after their time, just dialing for dollars. there was a great "60 minutes" piece done a week ago, and there was a republican whistleblower, representative david jolly, who was talking about how 30 hours a week of his and his colleagues' time was spent just dialing for dollars. host: p was on this program. here's a look at what he had to say. [video clip] ofwe all know the amount money in politics. we can have different opinions on solutions to that. i focused on the amount of time to raise that money. understand that if you have to raise $2 million for reelection efforts, how much time does it take a member of congress to do that?
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incoming members of congress are often in short did to spend four to five hours a day spent -- four to five hours a day raising money. a horribles just life, first of all. these are people who, to to washingtoncome wanting to accomplish something on the half of the common good. instead, they are shuttled into these cubicles and closets at the republican and democratic headquarters, where they sit and half thethy people time, trying to raise money. very few of those people live in their districts. they probably will never meet any of them. my dad is a big five flesher -- fly fisher. one thing he told me was that if fish, youo catch a have to think like a fish. that is what they have to do in the cubicles. calls,efore we get to
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michael at twitter says this is nothing new. money has always been in politics at all levels. that lubricates it. it is just more out in the open now. guest: that is true but not in the proportions we are seeing today. the 2000 election cycle was a $3 billion cycle. be $10ar, it will billion. that more than triples the amount. so the amount is overwhelming. host: let me read you something that riley smith, former chair of the federal elections commission, said. he says while money is critical to inform the public and give all of these a hearing, this election proves that money cannot make voters like the views they hear. jeb bush is not the only lavishly funded candidate to drop out of the race. rick perry, scott walker, and others also raised and spent considerable sums. guest: that is the notion one or
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two exceptions somehow proves the rule. bsurd an observed -- a argument. if that is true, tell me why thousands of lobbyists are maxing out as much money as they can to the politicians they are trying to a fact, and why the wealthiest people in america are writing huge checks in the medical process. if he gets you nothing, why are they doing it? the it comes to jeb bush, press from the get-go started reporting how he was a lackluster candidate. can overcomemoney the personality flaws of a candidate. it is taking a tiny specific moment in time and trying to extrapolate that therefore there is nothing going on with money and politics, which does not hold water. host: let's go to the calls. we go back to the open secrets website. they have a chart. the darker bars in the blue
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about hillary clinton represents outside money. the lighter ours represent candidate, committee money. that up so folks can take a look and absorb it while we talked to marion, in virginia. democratic college. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i wanted to ask the cast about --obama has about been trying to get pharmaceutical prices down. ,pparently, both elites democrats and republicans, are trying to block it. is that because of pharmaceutical money? guest: absolutely. one of the first moves made by the obama white house, when they began the push for obamacare, was to strike a huge deal with the pharmaceutical industry, which said we will give you
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total immunity on drug pricing as long as you do not say anything critical about everything else we will do. way they knew there was no to take on the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies at the same time, because they have such power over the system. as a result, we do not do what every other major western democracy does, which is use our it comesng power when to prescription drugs. we have no ability to bulk bargain with these pharmaceutical companies to lower the drug prices. that was a concession made up front when they began the obamacare battle. stan, republican caller. caller: thank you to c-span. i would like to ask of this gentleman one question. what is world order? our country has been going to the dump the last 44 years. the other question is the republican and the national --
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is one human being with two heads. and i am voting for trump. thank you. have a good day. i cannot talk about world order. but i can tell you that the order in washington is one that, in my mind -- and i was a journalist before i started working on this issue -- is one that is increasingly dominated i these well-financed special interest. worlden it comes to order, in my mind, american democracy was the most revolutionary and really an even that has occurred in human history. event that hast occurred in human history. when you look at what the founders said about corruption, they wrote extensively. james madison, secretary of the
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constitutional convention, was keeping meticulous notes. he recorded the word "corruption" more than 50 times. what the founders were talking about when crafting the constitution is the kind of corruption that was the bending of the mechanisms of government away from the common good and towards what they called "the factions." today, we call that the special interests. so if there is an order going on, it is not one of the founders wanted. they wanted a truly representative democracy, where we could solve our problems collectively. , as he tossedt upon, is the former executive huffington "the post." national grassroots organization called the alliance for democracy. guest: i am head of a group
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called issue one. "huff post"f the exectuive. host: just wanted to make sure i followed up. i wanted to make sure i got some of your bio out. director of issue one, which has been around how long? guest: 2 years. stewart in go to washington, independent. caller: it occurs to me that a lot of people are considering response to citizens united. i was wondering if you could dodict, if he is elected, you think he would have a positive impact on what he does on what we are this guessing -- on what we are discussing? with many things
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trump-related, it is hard to tell. he has been outspoken about this problem. hisas talked about how republican rivals have been bought by the lobbyists and special interests and wealthy donors, and he cannot be bought because he is self financing his campaign. but he has yet to rollout a single policy solution to the problem. it is hard to tell what he would push. it is also hard to tell what kind of test he would apply to any supreme court justice coming in about citizens united, because he just has not gone there yet. he is kind of all problem and not a lot of solution, at this point. at some point, we hope he will really start talking solutions. twitterdy beach on wants to know more about your position on citizens united. can you talk about the democrats position on citizens united while conveniently excluding union money, as he puts it? guest: there are almost to their
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questions there. citizens united had really nothing to do about should union money be included or excluded. there was a piece of legislation that tried to move a couple of years ago that would disclose that, and there were concessions made for unions, which is why it died. a trulye going to have transparent and functional system, all of the money has to be disclosed. union money, corporate money, individual money. we are seeing a lot of malarkey and the system where corporations are starting to arise and then disappear within months to move more money into the system. so the transparency problem is huge. the union problem has to be addressed just as much. host: democrats call (202) 748-8000, republicans (202) independents can
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call (202) 748-8002. looking forward to talking some more of you, including guy, calling from washington. democrat. caller: talking about the money historyics, go back in and you find abraham lincoln had all of the big money going to him when he ran for president. that was in the republican party. the second thing i would like to bring up is if you go back and history, all the way back to the ifnding fathers up to 1932, you read anything about the labor movement, you will find -- theor movement was united states became a great country after 1932. my father went to work in the mines. and i am old enough to know how
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when the labor movement gets big , the -- gets paid -- gets big. guest: i do not know there is anything i have read about linkedin and major money in his campaign. campaigns back then were a totally different creature. what i read about was reagan riding his horse around, literally. and we know about the great debates. but money of the time was not a huge factor. politics were much more local. much more about handshaking and building coalitions. a lot of the stuff we see today did not exist back then. there is also a profound lincoln warned -- thishe was after the civil war had been settled -- he warned about the rise of corporate power in massca and the ability of
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aggregations of wealth and money to start exerting themselves on the political system in a way --t would threaten their threaten the integrity of the republic. that is what we are seeing today. our republic is being threatened i these mass concentrations of wealth that want to exert themselves over policymaking. host: what, if anything, do you expect to change and how will it happen? realistically, a lot. we are seeing a new reform movement arising. occurreditizens united -- 2010 -- we have seen more than 600 resolutions passed at the state, county, and local level against citizens united. we have seen great victories, which included progressives and conservatives organizing in placesgainst this, like tallahassee, florida. we are seeing an incredible rise in energy.
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i think citizens united helped create that. there is such awareness about this problem that people are realizing it is time to mobilize and move. that has been great to see. the significant rise in grassroots energy. one of the reason we hear it so much in the political campaigns this year is in part the fact that you see every republican and democrat talking about it, and the outside of means that it is in the air. host: more calls in the moment, but let's hear more from the republican from florida. ago, you talk about something called the stop act legislation and what they would do. [video clip] would have a finance
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director, campaign staff that is responsible for the operations of the campaign committee, raising the resources, but as a member of congress, your first priority is to do your job. the idea is to let members of congress do their job, but the campaign stop raise the money. this would only apply to sitting members of congress, not challengers. as a challenger, you can spend your time doing whatever you want. once you are elected, you hold the public trust. could thatpenniman, work? guest: sure. it could work. we have to do a whole lot more. it is the beginning to the reform. let me step back and applaud the representative for what he has done. there's a long tradition of whistleblowing in this country, and i see is what he is doing us right in that tradition. he is blowing the whistle last the whistle last public servant, and he considers to be an utterly dysfunctional system
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that is destroying the ability and he congress stop act should be applauded for that. we have got to go beyond what he is talking about. there are four things i would mention. number one, we need to talk about new ways of financing politics. how do we get away from millionaire and billionaire donors? how to be incentivize small donors, the same way bernie sanders has, and i have seen ted cruz with small donors. but how do we incentivize more of them as opposed to a few citizens? number two, ethics. in the state of south carolina, if you are a registered lobbyist, you cannot make a campaign donation to a politician because it looks like corruption because when you have announced to the lobbyist that you have some kind of axe to grind with the government, you throw money on top of that and
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it looks at drives. i would love to see that the comp are still washington. number three, transparency. dark money is on the rise right now. you have to eradicated. finally, we have got to fix the federal election commission which oversees finance laws for elections oriented is supposed to but it is an good luck right now and a tweak would fix that. everyone asks if there is a silver bullet to the cause? the answer is no. there is no super bowl it. the four things i mentioned are absolutely 100% -- there is no silver bullet. the four things are mentioned are absolutely 100%. exertingt a matter of the will of the people at this point. the political will of the people to get this passed and done. host: lots of folks waiting to talk to nick penniman from issue one. from michigan, republican. couple ofhave a
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questions. how come people with money protect their wealth from people like bernie sanders -- not into poverty, but maybe they would say they should be taxed 50% to like allve money people should have power or kids should have college totally paid for or health care? was how much should we have to pay in taxes? what should be a tax top amount? we talk about common good, but i think people in citizens united, that is sometimes the only way they have from some people who try
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to take money away from that so they can give to the opposite side. if you can give a group of of somebody else's money, you have a lot of people in your paper. to her. guest: i cannot speak to the nuances of bernie sanders' tax plan but i can talk to the bigger issue, which is let's talk about the hedge fund loophole. this is a tax loophole that allows hedge fund managers to be taxed at a lower rate than almost everyone else in america. warren buffett, who i think we all respect, has joked about paying a lower tax rate than the secretary does and that is because of the loophole. for more than one decade, there has been an attempt in washington to close the loophole. if we did, it could generate revenue for things like improving infrastructure, .chools, whatever
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unfortunately, because of the power of the hedge fund over this town, we have been incapable of closing the loophole. and when warren buffett was asked about the, he said we cannot get it done because of the money in politics. because it is becoming what he called a plutocracy as a result of citizens united. when you cannot get something simple done like that that may many americans agree with, and because of the way the town is rigged, and i think that shows you how difficult it would be to make change unless we first address this problem. host: in new york city, barbara. caller: good morning. the supreme court has said that money is speech. instead of trying to regulate how much money people can give, how about an idea of regulating or same that donors can only get to people to would represent
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them? in other words, you could only get to the senators who your state or whoever is running for that position, and as far as the presidential, everybody could get to the presidential because the president represents everybody? as far as corporations and unions, they would only be able to give the location where their headquarters are staffed. what something like that help or is that possible? guest: that is an interesting idea and personally, as a citizen in america, i love the idea that we are strict giving to congressional districts, so i can only donate money to my congressman. i like that idea, but given where the supreme court currently is, that would be hard to pass. i also went to go back to the notion that citizens united was
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somehow the death of democracy reform. it was a bad decision, a misguided decision in many ways. there is a part that i agree with as former publisher and journalist, but there are parts that i do not. it is not by any means as this massive roadblock that stands in the way of cleaning up and addressing the problems. as i said, there is legislation to address aspects of this problem and the supreme court would have no problem if we, the people, exerted political will over politicians and got that legislation passed and it would take care 75% of legislation overnight. we have to realize that the only thing holding back progress in this issue is not lack of policy idea but lack of the people's power. lack of us exerting our willpower. host: you notice there are partisans -- there are part of citizens united that you like. which ones are those?
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guest: before, it should have been a question of freedom of the press. it was an organization that wanted to run something called hillary: the movie. and 90 minute documentary on hillary clinton. according to this law passed in 2012, outside groups had to cease and desist within 60 days of aprimary or 90 days general election. citizens united is a nonprofit and in the context of what was going on with hillary clinton and barack obama in 2008, the federal election commission said no because they are an outside group and this is an ad and not the documentary film. ind, that was a massive breach of freedom of the press. to airld be allowed
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that. one of the things that the justice has said in citizens united was you do not want the court or the judge deciding what is journalism and propaganda it basically shut down freedom of press. from the freedom of press perspective, the hillary movie should have been aired and that was a great part of the decision but they overreached and they said that as a and they said therefore, as a result, any corporation , any union or any other entity should be allowed to spend whatever they want in the context and that is what has created the super packs into the notion that therefore all political giving should be unrestricted and create a super packs. so it may overreach so they keep up with a great decision and then >> host: calling from livingston texas, hello there.
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>> what drew you into the job that you're in, what turned on in your mind. when i worked as a reporter ande editor. i worked for 13 years before he got involved in this cause and that having thing that drew mee cause is i solve really brilliant ideas about how to fix the country's problems not because they were not constitutional or because theyti were not well thought through oo researched but because a small group of special interests defendant wanted to happen.
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when we come up with ideas collectively to fix the proble problems. i thought it over and over. i realized i had to go for the throat and attack the dysfunction was standing in a te way of making progress on othera issues. we also had a wonderful group called the reformers caucus for people to together as a plan of reformers so there were members of congress and senators and members of the house andho governor we have 140 of these guys. we had republicans and democrats alike to blow the whistle to say that the game is over and this
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is a crisis point. i think that could happen on at short-term big of a federal election commission. a couple blocks on annual basis because they are dysfunctional. they are doing two things they they're not supposed to be giving him , coordinating with campaigns directly with theey an campaigns.
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henderson nevada, hello, david. >> caller: my comment is basically the biggest problem is the house and the senate i don't care who the president has been, they can't get passed the house and the senate. a i think donald trump would be the only one that could do thato and the reason i say that if he would be the only one that would ask me, the person that voted for hii voted forhim to help hi passed out of the senate. he would sit there and call out any republican or democrat in the house or the senate that is not along with the plan and askk me to stand on the lawn at the barber shop, go to the lobbyist and get him to change his mind because he is hurting america. that is my comment. >> guest: donald trump for me
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is so unpredictable to figure out which way that pinball woulo go. if we can get the point of donald trump will come out and,i talk about real solutions to the problem that could be a major leap forward in his presidential campaign and the campaign in general because what we need is a debate between the candidates right now about exactly what they would do to fix the problem and donald trump looks so many of them escaped by talking about the problem and created using citizens united is a code word of mouth rolling out thento at solutions. watching this program ask what they would do to fix the problem. >> host: what do you have to say, susan lexyou for >> guest: thank you for taking my call.l.
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i feel that citizens united needs to be overturned and i also feel that professional lobbying needs to be banned nationwide. we also do not need the electoral college anymore. we have good communication hopefully everyone is literate so i think we need to get up to date on that and as far as congress goes, i feel they should be as many people that work like that on main street and get into the real world if they don't achieve anything then they shouldn't get paid for it. thank you very much for your time. i think we are all feeling my congress is not accomplishing enough on our behalf these days. i definitely agree with that sentiment. when it comes to overturning citizens united, i will say that citizens united was in over reach, it was fundamentally a bad decision, but we do not need to wait for the constitution to
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overturn citizens united to start fixing aspects of the problem. if you want to overturn citizens push forou can either constitutional amendment, which is a long process and a question about whether or not to get it over the finish line, or you can send challenges to new supreme court's or justices to try to knock down that aspect that needs to be addressed. is tore practical route send out challenges to the supreme court the question whether or not they really got it right in some of the decisions. host: there is a sweet from jd redding, do you believe the new model of the clinton foundation donors presents problems? guest: i think it presents a lot of questions. whenever you have got a couple figures like bill and hillary
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clinton, who have hundreds of millions of dollars around hundreds of millions of dollars around them from all kinds of enemies around the world. whether it affects other aspectv of their lives and decisions as. public servants so yes i think it brings up questions that none of thebut noneof them have beeny answered yet. >> host: republican charles, welcome to the program.ud you >> caller: welcome. i applaud your efforts on the series of issues. you say there i said that therec silver bullet that will requiref many changes. i wonder if you feel one ofverne those changes is for the government to pay for the campaign expenses instead of having donations and so on. thank you. >> guest: the system of public financing system in which aolitc
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politician once they apply and are qualified to get the amount of money in the campaign those are interesting but ultimately, i think that we have got to look at creating systems that again incentivize small donors to give money so that politics is funded by all of us okay and the reason i'm saying that is because of the very simple principle such as those that pay the piper calls the tune and right now america is wealthy corporations and individual donors paying and ultimately they have a better chance of calling the tune thang the rest of us. we have to get to the point we are all paying the piper and therefore the team and the loyalty of the politicians rests on all of us which is what the founders intended. number two, the reason i want to see more system is because every study that has been done shows when someone contribute any amount of money to politics whether it is a dollar or thousand dollars, they are much
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more engaged as a result. they were dogged politician and keep track of what they are up to and they talk about politicians and neighbor neighbd her nasty politicians when they are not doing the right things s and it also ends up increasing and enhancing the civicnt. engagement. talking about financing politics i want to see all of this finance politics not just the millionaires and billionaires. >> host: joe in florida. >> caller: i was scrolling through the television and hit on 60 minutes on a program where congressmen have to spend at least 30 hours a week across the street in this no-name building heading up big donors, senators
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and congressmen. it's too good to be a lie so i t will leave it at that. >> host: we talked about this earlier in the segment about four or five hours a day, 35 hours a week. regardless of anything else you think about money and politics, this is a fundamental question for us americans is that the way we want our public servants at the high year through elections and pay through our tax dollars they are essentially our employees. is that what we want our employees doing sitting in little cubicles on the closet dialing for dollars to wealthy people but they probably will never meet. i think the answer to that is no. expee's legislation that has been proposed to incentivize th system and get them off theup fund-raising treadmill and we just need to start pushing for them at this point because thee current system as it is is not
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only killing current people in office it is destroying them and distracting them away from doing the work of the public but it's also retelling people from getting into the office of the upcominand theupcoming public sf there is anything clear all of us americans today we need a lt likmore great public servants in office right now. >> host: american folks find more information about theon organization? i >> guest: is issueone.org. >> host: thanks for coming on ton,first-time guests. appreciate youguest. appreciate your time and insight on things. blanca thomas edison said that i didn't fail 10,000 times i just found 10,000 ways that didn't work, but he eventually got to where he was trying to go
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and i had the great fortune to participate at the highest level of athletics. i've been in the faith community as a tester for fine for eight years, the political arena, i phoned my own business and some of the corporate board of some outstanding companies and i've learned a lot and all of those things and i take my experiences and do my good, bad and ugly and try to pass on the wisdom that i learned to the reader in the seven truths they mentioned that because you lose it doesn't mean that you are a loser and that
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for me was grown and nurtured through my athletic career and of course you put on top of that the components that says it doesn't matter how difficult things are. every storm runs out of rain. the sun is going to shine again. life can be hard, life can be difficult and life can be messy. i try to encourage the reader to understand tomorrow will come. and digging deep as a matter of saying what everyone of us have within ourselves, that special something to say i'm going to fight another day, i'm going to
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fight through the bad business deal and i'm going to get to the mountaintop and if we all regardless or skin color and gender or what part of town he grew up in if you are liberal, conservative, republican, democrat, that special something that we all have within us. at some point in time we have to call on it. >> you can watch this and other programs on linux booktv.org. >> this is booktv o book tv on television for serious readers. here's the primetime lineup. john discusses his experience as a patient of magnetic stimulation for autism

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