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tv   [untitled]    June 14, 2012 9:30am-10:00am EDT

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ruination of johnson in '68 and lots of problems the tea party is problematic for republicans. i like them myself, they're my kind of peeps. but as an analyst i'll put it to you this way, i was going to say this in my closing but i'll do it now. one of my ironic criticisms of norm's book they don't take the thesis seriously enough in this sense. seems to me that the real prospect and problem for the republicans is that they might fracture in two, either for the reasons i was just mentioning or for other reasons and there was talk would there be a tea party candidate this year? should there be tea party candidates challenging for congressional offices? that would look something like the wallace candidacy in '68 and it split the republican party and at that point i predict that tom and norm would look back with fuzzy sentimentality on the imprudent lead irship much mitch
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mcconnell and john boehner. >> norm, could you comment on the tea party, whether you see them extreme and part b, not asked here, could you comment on the occupy wall street movement and whether you regard that as extreme. >> sure. you know, i think these, let me say the tea party movement is a populist movement just as the occupy movement is, it rose during a time as it usually does of economic turmoil, populism is deep in our dna. it was an attack on leadership and establishment leadership, but i think we often use tea party as a kind of shorthand that simplifies things a little bit too much, and it gets to one of steve's points, the headaches for john boehner especially, less mitch mcconnell who i think has been very cold-blooded in his strategy in a way that boehner hasn't, but it was in the house far more than the freshman tea party members, the members of the republican study
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committee including long time veterans like jim jordan of ohio and mike pence and a number of others who poetz eposed a much challenge. part of the problem was there is a natural tend i can when you have this movement emerging and people who are energized to ride that tiger and exploit it as much as you can and believe that once you have taken them past the finish line, you can co-opt them and i'll change the metafomet metaph metaphor. if you cultivate a hungry and rabid rottweiler and it scares everybody in the neighborhood that can be fabulous until you go outside and it may not recognize who the master really is. i think it's been frustrating for a john boehner who at root is a legislator and a problem solver, that he can't control his troops, and that's a part of what's going on here. what's also true, and stu, you know this as well as anybody, having interviewed and talked to
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candidates who become members, the tea party people coming in as freshmen in 2010 viewed themselves as different from the 1994 class, the gingrich class. what's the difference? we share a lot of ideology, but they went washington, so if you think the 1994 gingrich republicans went washington, and they compromised and you're not going to do that, this tells you something about where we are. word or two on the occupy movement, which i think also emerged from the same roots in a similar way, but it tells you a little wit of a difference, almost the tribal difference between the two parties. the tea party movement was leaderless, emerged from the bottom up but they organized, they found candidates, they moved through and into the political process to have an impact and they did. the occupy movement has occupied. they're sitting there, waiting for something to happen, and they've had an impact i think in changing the dialogue, the 1%,
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the 99% that's out there and the fact that you had the publisher of "the manchester union leader" before the new hampshire primary saying that he was going to endorse newt gingrich and not mitt romney because mitt, nils g nice guy, embodied the 1% tells you the impact they've had. have they had an impact on the politics or the legislative process, no. find me one candidate who was recruited as an occupy wall street candidate to run for any office. i haven't found one yet. so there's a real difference and it gets back to why will rogers says i'm not a member of an organized political party, i'm a democrats. >> a number of questions, combatants have taken a shot at, it's been in part of their earlier comments but i think this is a very direct question and norm, i'll start with you on this, maybe i'll elaborate. the question is simply, doesn't
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it seem like democrats are unwilling to meet the gop halfway, and if i may just add to that, it seems to many i think steve that the republicans went more than half way for much of the last century, they went 80% of the way, 90% of the way and republicans are sticking up for republican principles while democrats are refusing to move at all their way. comment? >> i don't -- i do think that there is a point to be made, that if you're a status quo party and you're a party that doesn't like the status quo, there is some unease that you just continue that status quo. although we made a point of saying talking about a status quo that goes back a century and it's a status quo that started with teddy roosevelt and building some basic regulatory regime. moving through the roosevelt era and we're started the new gilded age upon us still leaves me with
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some pause but i can understand that point. having said that, i think if you look at for example the trajectory of disetionary domestic spending which is most of government as we know it, it has been both leveled off and declined significantly. steve talked about how those deals were all so bad and republicans have been screwed repeatedly. i'll go back to my friend, jeb bush, who noted the 1990 budget agreement where you got some significant spending restraint with tax increases, and as conservative bruce bartlett has said many times, when you find that you cut taxes, you don't cut spending, when you raise taxes, you do, and that's where we've seen the dynamics at work. i think you do see some significant opportunities here to do more than meet half way with the gang of six plan and steve mentioned the simpson-bowles commission. i will just note that when president obama said positive
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things about the gang of six plan and said this is a framework from which we can work, senior republican leadership aide in the senate wrote to politico and said "well that kills it if he's for it, we're against it." i think we're not seeing that dynamic play out quite the way that some of the critics would have suggested. >> now -- oh, this is way too fun. first of all, we should i think speak precisely and say ex-conservative bruce bartlett. anyway, and obama saying positive things about the gang of six deal, you know, i had a slightly more cynical take on that. that was his way of killing it. given the atmosphere you've described the quickest way for obama to kill a deal he doesn't like is to praise it publicly out front. maybe i'm being too clever and clinical, i don't know. here is the problem to restate it. i've actually, i'm surprised norm hasn't brought it up, i've toyed with the idea maybe we should raise the taxes on the 1% because so many vote for obama and they deserve it.
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but the more serious part of the theory is that if you want people to want less government, maybe that will pay for all the government they're getting and they'll want less of it. i think that's the check philosophy. i'm an outlier there and no longer welcome at grover's wednesday meetings. however here is the difficulty. we've seen now under obama is we have seen the federal government's share of gdp go from historic range of 21% to 23% in peacetime up to about 24 to 27, with the projections of entitlements taking it up over 30 in years ahead so there's a ratchet, we've hit the ratchet with obama care and the stimulus which raised the baseline for a lot of programs going forward and we're told, oh, meet us halfway. that's notwithstanding any reasonableness on my part or i suspect boehner and others have said they're open to higher revenues, not necessarily higher tax rates, the old supply side argument but obama really wants to tax the rich whether it's
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economically efficient or pro-growth or not and that's going to be people have to move off of that if there's going to be any move on the republican side. >> to get one response? >> i could give a fairly robust response to that, including that basically if you look at most of government other than entitlements which have been supported by both, that spending has gone down but the more important point is you've seen a willingness. you can say it's a cynical move by supporting something. when a president says that he is supportive of a plan that makes dramatic cuts in most of government, including medicare, social security, and medicaid, which is what the gang of six plan endorsed by tom coburn, saxby chambliss, lamar alexander and mike crepo and others have, you'll have a hard time backing away from that and that's a different marker other than republicans like john boehner
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have laid down. as soon as they got to the diamond issues eric cantor backed out and made it clear there wouldn't be any negotiations over that sort. we're now dealing with a world in which there will be some increases overall because we have a population that's aging, and living longer. that, however you want to deal with t we are going to have some increases in entitlements, although we can curb that rate of growth but when you've got taxes that are at the lowest level of gdp since the 1950s, the idea that cutting them further will enable you to deal with deficits and debt i find just bizarre. >> okay, the next question, there are members of -- i get this question all the time when i give speeches. this is one of the classic questions of any speaker. we have members of the media here so this is a terrific opportunity to beat up on somebody, right? so the question is, and we'll start with you, steven, and then norm. how much does the media make the
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republican party look more extreme than they really are? is the media a factor here or not? >> i think it was a quote that went around in the 2004 election i think it was from evan thomas who said "the media is worth 15 points to john kerry." i think that's completely wrong. if that were true republicans would never win. they seem to be able to win despite media criticism or hostility, whatever you want to say and also i think what's really fun these days is people, i just watched robert reich give a lecture, i would like the good old network and watch the same old news, the criticism we select the news we agree with, that's a reasonable criticism, but i think to the extent that media bias, i think the most egregious in the goldwater years. look at the media coverage it was atrocious. that doesn't happen as much anymore. you can criticize individual pieces but i don't tend to play
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that game much. >> norm any thoughts? >> of course, tom and i have written a lot about this. i do think there was substantial liberal bias in the mainstream press in the 1960s, i think there's no doubt about it. i think our media environment has changed radically. we have a partisan press now that is back to the future, but with much greater reach, depth and immediacy than we have ever seen before. this is not like william randolph hurst and that added to our complications, creating different sets of facts for people and if we're going to talk about the media you have to start with that, and when you live in a world where 30% or 40% of the self-identified members of one party believe the president isn't legitimate because he wasn't born in the united states, it tells you something about the way our media dynamic is working. that's left the remaining mainstream press with a bit of a dilemma and i believe they've solved that dilemma by falling back on an old shibolith that
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you report both sides of the story, whether there are six sides of the story or one side, you report both sides of the story, so that means if there's a holocaust denier and a holocaust victim, you want to give them both sides equally, if there is he aa hit and run driver and a hit and run victim, and i don't think it works very well, and other things i think it's helped to enable some of the distunysfunction we have no. go back to the filibuster when you get news stories that say bills died in the senate when they got a majority of support and died only because of filibusters and you don't mention the filibuster that seems to me to be an inaccurate way of reporting what went on and means in the end however this plays out with either party you're not holding people accountable for their actions. >> norm i want to follow up with this and then you get a shot at this. try to imagine, this might be uncomfortable but try to imagine mitt romney as elected president, the republicans win the senate, pick up six seats or
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something, the house is about the same. shouldn't we expect the democrats in opposition to behave just like the republicans are behaving now, or do you think that they will be magnanimous, looking to concede the republican agenda? are they really going to behave so differently? >> it will be interesting to watch and i think democrats are going to say did it to us we'll do it to you, but whether they can work together to do that remains to be seen. but let me give you another scenario that's more comparable. imagine if the democrats hold the senate and mitt romney becomes president. do i think at that point the democrats are going to say, screw you, we're going to behave the way the house republicans did, we're going to behave as a parliamentary party, block everything, hold everything hostage? no. i think mitt romney is going to go to democrats in the senate far more frequently than he will
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to republicans and say, please, help me out here, and i would bet a considerable amount, not $10,000, i don't have that kind of money -- [ laughter ] -- but i would bet a considerable amount he would find plenty of democrats willing to cut deals with him. >> steve? >> one of the problems that norm and tom correctly identify in their book is that both parties are now subject to enormous pressures from the outside groups. now i didn't develop this argument, we don't have time to but some of the reforms are part of the cause of that, it's their fault this has happened. however the groups are, and so there exists on the left, i think of examples, the rough equivalent of grover norquist no tax pledge, the pressures brought from organized labor and certain other groups for the democrats to draw a line in the sand is going to be enormous, hard to resist these days with
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the independent money and all the way political organizations are established. i'll end with this point, this is one of my arguments with norm we had in another domain on political reform in general, richard lugar might still have a seat if you had the robust central party organizations undermined over the years by various campaign finance reforms schemes and so forth that have actually diminished the power of central party organizations and increased the power of independent organizations and insurgent groups such that a political party establishment is not very well established anymore and can't come to the rescue of the moderates or long time serving members. >> probably time or maybe one or two before closing statements. so let me start with you, steve. this is a question that was asked and norm raised the debt ceiling vote or votes earlier, and so somebody asked, was the debt ceiling debate an example of extremism or do you think that it was an appropriate tool
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to constrain government? >> i'd answer it this way, the debt ceiling -- the fight over the debt ceiling represents the new moment we're in, when republicans are saying, actually become now the conservative party yelling stop, enough is enough. norm is right, it's a dangerous thing to do, although i'm not much impressed by credit ratings. the same people who said fannie mae and freddie mac were just fine, so the downgrade doesn't actually get me terribly excited. the optimist in me thinks that this might prove to be, however the election turns out that that first run of the debt ceiling which ended pessimistically and is a bit of a train wreck t might be the fiscal equivalent in the fullness of time of the raykubic arms control which ended in fear and gloom when the moment people came back and said we have to see our way through this. it's possible. we may have to go a couple more
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rounds on this and we can display out lots of games about a lame duck election and election results and other matters but i'll stop there. >> norm, isn't this just a modern version of the gameful chicken and the republicans are playing it better than the democrats? >> i will say i was appalled by what happened with the debt limit and we've written about this. you don't play chicken with the full faith and credit of the united states, and you know, it's true. the debt limit, which is a stupid thing to do first of all, we're one of only two countries that does it, you are ratifying previous debts. you're not actually extending it but it's been a political football ever since we've done this and if you look at the votes over many decades, it's almost funny, as you watch the parties exchange their scripts with each other, as the presidencies change, and the level of hypocrisy as you stand up and vote against the debt limit, and piously say that you're going to stand firm for fiscal responsibility, when it's the other guy's president, and then you take the script from the other guy and say we've got
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to be responsible here, when it's yours. all of that is enough to leave anybody cynical. but the fact is that every time in the past the leaders knew that it was a game and they weren't actually going to endanger the full faith and credit of the u.s., and they had votes in reserve if they needed them, lots of members needed cover, so that they couldn't be attacked for voting to increase the debt limit. this was different. i don't hold much truck with ratings agencies and i've ude standard & poor's as both standard and poor, but when they wrote about this and said here is another 11th hour rescue, we've had that before but the politics of this leave us with no confidence that you'll be able to manage the future, and then we looked at the debacle that followed with the super committee. here are the political equivalent of "the avengers" but with cryptonite, and they can't act, and now speaker boehner, who said when he became speaker, there's some things now we have to behave like adults and be
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responsible and that includes the debt limit, leading the charge for another hostage-taking mechanism it says to me we're operating on dangerous ground here. and we can get away with it as long as there is no other reserve currency and other countries and systems are doing worse than we are, but other re currency and other countries and systems are doing worse than we are. it's not a game i believe we should be playing. >> this reminds me, i was interviewing a candidate earlier this cycle. i won't say what office he was running for or what state he's from. we were discussing his position on raising the debt ceiling and the like, and i said, would you really -- would you really push hard enough so that we would actually go in default? and the candidate, who was i thought reasonably bright and articulate and knew something about this area. looked at me, he said, well, you know, it's because everyone would know, it would just be a technical default. the u.s. government isn't going to really default. it would just be a technical
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default. i thought to myself, i'm sure the european markets would be very content with that, just a technical default. we don't have to worry about that. i don't know whether that's radical, but that's different. okay. now we're going to go to the point where each of our gentlemen will have five minute closing statements then i'll have a brief conclusion. i gather this has been all figured out. apparently we're giving with steven with a five minute closing statement on the question about whether the republican party now is too extreme. >> okay. start my timer. it seems to me that you cannot conclude the republican party is too extreme when you begin with this very odd premise that democrats or liberals are pragmatic problem solvers. even as in the case of obama they self-consciously use the fundamental rhetoric of large-scale changes. when conservatives seek changes or reforms they're being radical
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or extreme or rolling back the clock. this is a nice way of avoiding having to argue the merits of any issue very closely. i thnk it's a species of lazy his tor schism. we should step back and avert our gaze for a minute from some of the particulars of the hypothesis we discussed tonight including some of the reforms that norm suggests of reforming the filibuster, voting reforms and so forth which i think would make very little difference actually. i think i to step back for a moment, again, and look at this from the summit, so to speak. everyone ought to put on the top of their reading list this week an article called "the fourth revolution." find it at newcriterion.com. the author makes a challenging argument i think may be krkt. he says we're on the cusp of a fourth great political revolution in america. the successor to the party revolutions of 1800, 1860, that brought a new order to our governance.
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through a new party becoming a dominant and long-lasting majority. it could be this fourth revolution is already under way. see the results from wisconsin last week. now, political scientists will recognize this as a variation of the classic realignment theory as described most famously by sam lubell. in the present case, it's this, what walter russell calls the blue state model of governance is irretrievable broken. we're not just looking at some growth of entitlements but extraordinary growth, multiple times that's gross gdp in another 30 or 40 years. it seems that some state-level democrats get this. you see democrats in san jose, san diego, chicago, the mayor of chicago, the governor of new york, the democratic legislator of rhode island seem to get this. though i think national democrats don't seem to know it yet. pearson argues compellingly even if obama is re-elected in november, increasingly he and his ideology are going to look
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like the last gasp of a dying era of governance, putting him in same ranks as john adams, john buchanan, herbert hoover, heralds of the end of an age. suppose the clash of the parties that's been described here could be diminished through process reforms i think takes optimism to a whole new level. and as i said a few moments ago in extemporaneous comments, i actually think that the thesis norm lays out ought to be taken more seriously. i think the problem of democratic stability has been taken too much for granted. and the prospects for instability have been too much banished from our mind from the great success of post-war democracies in europe. i think it's not impossible six years from now greece could be governed by a military government or spain could ask for help from nato in keeping order in its streets if its
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unemployment goes to 40% because of the gathering storm on the contine continent. our prospects aren't as dire as norm cleverly suggesting republicans might be extremist in the same way holocaust deniers are extremist. we're more stable than that. there's a prospect of the republican party breaking up unless it loaholds together for principles. if it becomes a me, too, party, again, it will be cut up. that's why i'll repeat what i said earlier and conclude on this note. if that prospect comes along, norm will, as i say, look back with fuzzy warm feelings for john boehner, mitch mcconnell, and at that point, stu, pass the airsick bag to norm and the last word. >> thanks. let me just start by saying how much i valued having steve as a colleague. i'm sad that he's going to be leaving us soon. he's -- steve is of all things
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moving to california. and we won't go into that, but i would also note that steve has been somewhat of an apostate within the conservative movement in his own party. we quote liberally and quite favorably from pieces that he's written trying to bring in a conservative movement and also have in steve somebody who takes a very conservative position on climate change but acknowledges there may be a problem which has resulted in him being ostracized by many as well. i have a lot of sympathy for him in what he's trying to do. i am uneasy about the future. i don't believe we're going to see an emergence of a new majority. i think we're an evenly divided country. the large part of the problem we have is not structural, it's culture rigtural right now. moving beyond a tribal politics, back to something where we view the tribe in a larger sense and
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look toward problem something is difficult to do. our book is a lament of problem solving. as i look at the trajectory over the last few years attend think about the entitlement state and think about raining inin ining in -- we dio parties playing to reign in health care cost. repeal and replace is repeal and we'll talk about it later. medicaid, the single longest component is long-term care for the elderly. we're looking at a population that's getting older and people living longer. long-term care is going to be a huge problem. funded largely through medicaid. anybody who really believes if you cut it 30% and give it to the states, they're going to find a formula for taking care of the elderly in nursing homes that goes beyond moving from one nurse's aide for every five patients to one for every 25
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patients is simply diluting themselves. has there been any willingness to sit down and discuss how liberals or conservatives can figure out a way for society to deal with the problem people are going to have with their parents and grandparents down the road? these are problems whether you're liberal, conservative or anything else need to be resolved. they're not going to be resolved entirely by government. government is going to play a role. we're no longer at a point where we can even have a conversation on those things. how we move to that point remains an enormous challenge for us. it's a challenge for both parties. i worry about a democratic party that over time may well, itself, become more extreme or more liberal. it has moved, as we have said in our jargon, probably on the whole to about the 25 yard line using the football field analogy, while i believe the republican party has basically moved beyond its own goal post. but you can imagine a democratic
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party that loses almost all of the remaining elements of its moderate and conservative movement and that decides more and more to dig its heels in. i do not think that's happened and i think some of the rhetoric has been kind of ridiculous. a democratic party that took all the reigns of power and didn't enact card check or any of the labor wish list items, that came up with a health care plan that not only didn't do single payer but didn't include a public option. the idea this is the secular socialist machine that newt gingrich called it or that this is an administration an a democratic party that as herman cain said just the other day consciously, deliberately is trying to destroy capitalism i find a little bit ridiculous. but you can imagine both parties moving further apart an leaving those traditional conservative jeb bush type republicans with no easy place to go. on

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