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tv   Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 4, 2012 1:00am-6:00am EDT

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citizens. it is unclear whether the path to asylum was discussed seriously or done so in a hurry or whether he was pressured in any way and at any time in the process to remain in china. he is now away from the embassy and a local hospital asking for the right to leave. he said, i think we like the rest of the place outside of china. help my family and i leave safely, he told the associated press. the eyes of the world are watching to see his wishes are honored by the chinese government. i and everyone on our commission and in congress are concerned for the safety, where about some of his supporters. we are concerned about the
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other members of his family. that is why we are convening this important hearing today. i would like to yield to my good friend and colleague, congressman frank wolf. >> thank you. i want to begin by thanking the chair, congressman chris smith who was championing chen in congress. it is fitting that he reportedly requested to speak with congressman smith when he was at the u.s. embassy. one of the many questions surrounding his case, what the phone call was ever facilitated, as a new cycle unfolded yesterday, what began as a diplomatic triumph evolves into a fiasco. now the state of this man and his family hangs in the balance. it appears the most generous read of the administration's
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handle in this case was it was not even an accepting assurances, they have a history of brutally oppressing their own people. consider some of the following. in the last year alone more than 30 tibetans monks and nuns, they set themselves of flame in desperation at the abuses of their people. every one of the underground catholic bishops is either in jail or under house arrest or under the strict surveillance are in hiding. they are routinely imprisoned and harassed. lawyers that defend them are often given the same fate. when i travel to china with congress and smith in 2008 before the beijing olympics, every single one of the lawyers we would dinner with and what i were detained or warned not to attend.
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the one person who made it was placed under house arrest. china spends more on public security than in an attempt to control its population than on defense. china is an authoritarian state with a government continues to muzzle freedom of speech and rein in civil society. the chinese government went so far this february to deny a visa to the u.s. ambassador for international freedom. the very time the bias president of china was meeting with the president of the united states. the ambassador for human rights and religious freedom could not even get a visa to go to china. of course, in china the barbaric practice of forced abortions that chen is shining a bright line on.
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it is simple -- systematic of abuses committed by the chinese government against their own people. the washington post reported that china continues its crackdown on people who are believed to have helped chen. several have subsequently been placed under house arrest. in light of the realities in the newly emerging accounts of how the wife was treated in the days following the escape, chinese officials detained her, threatened to be her to death. is hard to comprehend why the administration would accept at
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face value assurances he would be safe upon accepting u.s. protection. you wonder if there were other forces at work. prior to the arrivals of the secretary's clinton and a diner who were heading to beijing this week for high-level economic and foreign policies talk. was there a hint of coalition? forced coercion? what were the state department and white house deliberations? when the dust settles i intend to request to review all traffic that surrounded these negotiations. the administration has an obligation to release the details of the deal struck with the chinese government, especially given out quickly it appears to have been unraveled. it has been reported that the u.s. government officials would stay with him at the hospital.
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according to one news account, he said, many americans will admit i checked into the hospital and doctors examined me. when i brought to the hospital room, they all left. was he deceived? was that part of the arrangement? why did he find himself alone the isolated and fearful hours after he left u.s. protection. there are more questions than answers at this juncture. i hope today's witnesses will shed some light on the matter, especially his friend and a person connected with some of the most courageous advocates. even though there is not much we do not know, this much is certain. the obama administration has a high moral obligation to protect chen and his family. to do anything less would be scandalous. ronald reagan famously said the u.s. constitution is a
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continent that we have made not only with ourselves but all of mankind. some in washington may forget it transcends history. freedom loving people the world over know it is true. american missed an opportunity. in america missed an opportunity and tenon them. will this administration fail to see the historic moment? the world is watching, both of dictators and dissonance. the administration must be bold. the minister is and must make sure his safety and that of his family. if news reports are to be believed, the administration
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must grant him and his family asylum and refuse to apologize despite a chinese government's demands. throughout history of america's embassies have been silence of freedom. recall the siberian seven seeking religious freedom and the right to immigrate lived in the u.s. embassy for five years in 1978. nobody in the carter administration or reagan administration said they had to leave. nobody said go out and be on your on. they allow them to stay five years. he took refuge at a u.s. embassy for 15 years. chen found safety in the embassy and now that guarantee is jeopardized.
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i am confident there will come a day when the communist party's brutal reign will end and the chinese people will experience a new birth of people. their oppressors and the one party structure will be on the trash heap of history, the same way president reagan said to tear down the wall and the evil empire would fall, the same thing will happen to the chinese government. until that day america should always stand with the chens oif the world. >> thank you very much. i would like to introduce our distinguished -- we have six outstanding human rights advocates who are testifying today. i will begin with the pastor, who is a leader in the 1989 student democracy movement and later became a pastor with his wife.
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authorities arrested them for their work. after their release they escaped to the united states in 2002. china it monitors reports of religious freedom in china. the pastor is for coli interviewed by media outlets around the world and has testified that u.s. congressional hearings. i know that when chairman wolf and i was in china on one of our major trips, we contacted fu who helped us a range to meet with church leaders. we are heading there to have a bad guy that said "human- rights." within an hour, our embassy was contacted to set, he will be deported immediately if that happens. here is a man who is being watched and yet speaks out and
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has incredible context and said of china. richardson is a chinese human rights director. a graduate of the university of virginia. dr. richardson is the author of numerous articles on political reform. she has testified for the european parliament and the u.s. senate and the house. she has provided commentary to the bbc, foreign policy national public radio, the new york times, wall street journal, the washington post. dr. richardson is the author of china, cambodia, and five principals of coexistence. an in-depth examination of the foreign-policy since 1954's geneva conference. we will then it here from the director for international
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advocacy. he has testified before our subcommittee on human rights. he has served as a human rights monitor and any countries as well as bosnia, afghanistan, sudan, and south africa. he has served as ships and the camps. he holds an advanced degree in law. he was himself a political prisoner for five years and the tree lot of for his peaceful activities. he started his legal studies in prison and became an attorney and devoted his entire practice to defending political prisoners which is what he does now with amnesty. we will then hear from a human rights advocate to for a
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furniture business who recently fled to the u.s. to escape constant monitoring and harassment from chinese authorities following her ongoing advocacy on behalf of chen. wang attempted to visit him on several occasions and participated and advocacy activities to free chen. authorities detained her and her husband for two weeks in december 2011 as they were preparing to travel to participate in an activity to free chen. we will then hear from a blogger about china. her writings explore aspects of china's past and present with heavy emphasis on human rights and the rule of law including
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multiple pieces on chen. her posts have been quoted in length. she had from contact with at least one member of his extended family after chen's the state and has been reporting on the family's situation. we will then hear from michael horowitz. he served as general counsel for the zero and be under the reagan administration. he has practiced private law as a partner at the national law firms. he has written on international issues and human rights topics. he holds a b.a. from city college in new york. i will also note parenthetically that michael has
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been the genius behind many human rights initiatives that have found their way into law in the united states. the north corinne human rights act, and other initiatives. we will then hear from reggie littlejohn. she is an expert on china's one child policy. she has testified before the european and british parliaments in the u.s. congress. she has been interviewed on dozens of tv and radio programs and has spoken at harvard, stanford, george washington university, and the heritage foundation. she is a graduate of yale law
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school, she has represented chinese refugees and their asylum cases in the united states. i would like to ask pastor fu if he would proceed. >> thank you. i want to maybe ask you to submit my written version. >> without objection your full statement and any items you would like to affixed to it will be part of the record. >> thank you. i am familiar with the details of chen's escapes and was in contact with a team of people
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who helped him flee to beijing. i learned chen left his house on may 23. after he left the u.s. embassy i stayed in close contact with both the relevant u.s. government officials and people who have been in telephone conversation with him. i have amassed a great deal of first hand information. and the developments that led to the current situation, which is rather shocking, regreting, heartbreaking, and disappointing. there are some important things that are confusing than it needs immediate clarification. first, according to the u.s.
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state department, he left the embassy of his own volition. however, according to my conversation last night with mr. chen and several media reports including firsthand information from his friend and fellow lawyer and from the wife, the u.s. officials related and the threats made by the chinese side to threaten his wife. it was after learning of this threat to that chen was left with no choice but to reluctantly leave the u.s. embassy. much of the dispute between the state department and the u.s.
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negotiators and chen's recount with the media, how to characterize that conversation on may 2 before chen walked out of the embassy relayed by the u.s. official. the message suggests -- let me put it this way. he was parked bya u.s. official before he stepped out of the embassy. he was told it was a chinest message that they want to go through the u.s. official. if he chose not to walk out on may 2, he will not be able ot see his wife and children again.
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they will be returned to the village, thecity that has been the hell for this family. as i tried to verify what really happened, chen said, after hearing that message, conveyed by u.s. official, his heart was heavy and he felt he had no other choice. it was like a one-way street. either he stays in the u.s. embassy but facing a reality that his wife and hcildren will be gone for maybe the whole life because he will not be able
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to see his wife and two children. he did not konw his wife -- when chinese guards found he was missing. his wife was immediately taken to a criminal interrogation center where she was tied and beaten and threatened with life. if her husband did not walk out of the embassy, they will kill her. he learned about that after he
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had reunions with his wife. i think that was clear to anyone with reasonable logic, that should constitute a threat. if that conversation occurred anywhere here, i think that demands a 91 call. what happened to his wife and their children. his eight-year old son -- what happened to them in the past seven-years, this enormous torture and harassment and constant threat to this family in front -- their 6-year-old daughter -- his 80-year-old
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mother was beaten up, wounded and the government would not allow her to receive medical treatment. in front of a six-year old girl. i do not know that is a threat or not, but to me, after hearing what chen has told me yesterday, i verified over the phone, i have a few questions i want to ask the u.s. chief negotiator or anyone -- who is the one really that relate information to chen. what is the wording from the chinese government? was the united states response initially to that message by the chinese government.
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why has he to walk on april 2? why is there no other option on the table offered to chen? why does the u.s. embassy it not tell him that you have a choice you can stay. we can continue to negotiate with the chinese government to allow your wife and two dead children to come to the u.s. embassy so that you can have a safe environment to discuss your future. why does that have to be a one- way street? this question needs to be answered. i appreciate the ambassador and the administration officials who made the right decision on april 26 to allow chen to have
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six days' time of that freedom. some conversations were had yesterday about how chen failed. how much pressure he has received. i think i would reserve a later time to share. the bottom line, yesterday he told me -- he said my wife and i feel in danger. we are left alone. we do not have anybody at present with us.
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even as late as 9:00, our six- year old baby girl was crying for food. we were suffering starvation the first nine after our guaranteed freedom. somebody call the u.s. embassy apparently and somebody intervened they went to the hospital and they were given some food. you can read that account in the very detailed description written by one of his close friends -- his conversation over the phone about what had really happened during that night about their starvation. i want to emphasize that he told me last night very clearly
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that he does not feel safe over there. he wants the united states to help him and his family to come out of china. of course, he did not use these exact words. in chinese, is called seeking asylum or something in that nature. remember, he is still in china and his wife is not even allowed to walk out of the hospital. some of them showed up in the hospital and they were not even allowed to come close. so the hospital room that he and his family members are staying in another village in different form this time in the capital city of china.
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i it will call upon the u.s. government, especially, he specifically requested me again to talk about his requests to have a phone conversation with you. it specifically ask that again. he said i want to talk with congressman smith. unfortunately, this morning a moment ago when we tried, the phone was powered off. we do not know what happened. he at least promised me he will keep it on if possible for a conversation today. i think president clinton -- this is the moment to be labor.
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what you have promised, when you have repeatedly said in the past two years. she wants to see him and his family with freedom. as you are visiting a dialogue with their counterparts in china, this is the moment to deliver. i think he specifically made that appeal to hillary clinton to help negotiate -- to reengage with the chinese government and to allow them to have a safe exit. i want to leave the rest of the time for questions. thank you very much. >> thank you very much for that incredibly and lightning and passionate testimony. i would like to ask dr.
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richardson for her comments. >> mr. smith, mr. wolf, thank you for having this hearing this afternoon and for your extraordinary tenacious leadership on these issues. i think it is not an accident that chen wanted t to speak with you in particular. if the chinese government was serious about their commitments to human rights and the rule of law, we would not be having these conversations again and again and again, which is not to suggest we are not happy to have this conversation with you. but the fact that we are still discussing these issues is a powerful statement about the choices the chinese leadership has made with respect to political reform and the rule of law. to contain a broad picture, year in and year out we continue to document the gross abuses, restrictions on the freedoms of
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religion and assembly. i think his case in particular highlights some of the worst abuses we have seen in recent years. those include a naked disregard for the law both with respect to challenge illegal practices and to hold people to account but also with respect to the treatment of him. gross problems with respect to arbitrary detention, which we discussed extends to family members including very young children. i find this aspect of the story in particular outrageous. children should be subject to this kind of treatment. torture and mistreatment in detention. we have heard credible evidence of the physical violence against chen and his wife. his ability to communicate with
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other people, people's ability to see him and what is happening to him. i think it is a very important point to remember that chen has done nothing illegal. i think the bottom line is that all activists in china regardless of the issue they are working on remain extraordinary risks at all time. with respect to chen in particular, much depends on clarity about what he and his family want. if they do want to leave, which seems to be the view now, i think it is incumbent on the u.s. government to insist on access to him.
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we are disturbed by the reports in the washington post today that u.s. officials said not been able to have access to him for about 24 hours now. and i do not see any particular reason why secretary clinton or secretary geithner and other officials who are in china at the moment cannot have access to him. there is pressure to mount a monitory never with respect to his treatment, his family members treatment of a kind have never imagined before. there will have to be a new detail at the u.s. embassy. in the broader picture with respect to other activists and active as some in general, i think there is an enormous responsibility on the u.s.
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government on activists and other like-minded governments to watch incredibly closely, not just over the next few days but over weeks and months and years to monitor what happens to other activists who will suffer from further retribution by virtue of this incident. we know the machine has already swung into action to place restrictions on people, some who are involved in this case and some who have nothing to do with this case. i think it would be a tremendous tragedy of the heightened awareness of human rights abuses in china were to fade when the spotlight shifts elsewhere after secretary clinton leaves town. i think that is all of our collective responsibility and the near and longer term future. thank you. >> thank you very much.
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>> thank you chairman smith. i am pleased to testify at this important and timely hearing. thank you for your leadership in promoting and protecting human rights not only in china and around the world. thank you both of you. today, what is happening in china is not about this individual. this is about a system in china, which is geared towards abusing its own citizens with total impunity. we start with chen's case, years ago he was documenting abuses. the reason was, he was just documenting abuses and trying to publicize the abuses. he was imprisoned for more than four years.
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during this time he was tortured and abused. when he was released, everybody thought it is going to come to an end. that is not the case. like many other cases in china, he was illegally detained in his house. also, he and his family were abused as well. what happened about less than two weeks ago was that he escaped from the illegal detention. he ended up coming to the united states embassy. now, the situation is getting not clear. one thing we know from the u.s.
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administration officials who made public statements that china gave certain commitments -- an agreement between china and the united states about the treatment of chen, i did not know the full context of that agreement. it is time the u.s. administration makes it public. a real official document ought to be brought in. i urge the commission to release the official agreement between the u.s. and china on chen's treatment. on the context of that agreement, chen agreed even though there were reports that there were some issues involved, we have difficulty confirming it. he went to the hospital for treatment.
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suddenly we are hearing is that the same agreement that the united states and china agreed upon has been violated. now, he is asking that he wanted asylum for he and his family to the u.s. the opportunity that is there for his case -- secretary clinton is there. u.s. officials are there. you have seen u.s. officials cannot solve this issue. the agreement that was signed, we have to ask a question. what can they do to get improvements and human rights issues in china? that draws to a bigger question
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about human rights in china and u.s. engagement in places. even though there are some meaningful improvements that were taken by different administrations, current dialogue that is taking place is not taking human rights as a serious and equal partner to the dialogue. even the basic things like human rights dialogue, there is resistance. we do not know where the resistance comes from. if they cannot even rename the dialogue, there is serious questions about the administration does the intention to put additional pressure.
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that is coming into play today. secretary clinton should before she leaves make a public statement about what she intends to deal with his case. she should specifically mention the agreement -- if there is an agreement to bring asylum, what steps to read our opinion is when secretary clinton leaves, the interest will fall down. to make it clear, but secretary clinton make a firm stand and make a statement about this case. not only is this a human rights case, but this also directly involves u.s. and a case where they have an agreement.
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let the u.s. stand up. let secretary clinton while she is in china stand up and make a clear statement. this will set the tone for future u.s.-china agreements or even china policing on promoting and protecting human rights in china. thank you a ganed. >> if i can go from left to right, you're right to left. >> thank you so much, congressman smith. thank you for inviting me to this. i have been asked to testify as to two things. one is, what is the underlying issue that got chen detained. the other one is, what about those who helped him, in particular -- if something that
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has been left out of discussion in a lot of mainstream media is, why is it that chen has been the subject of such intense persecution. what is it that set off the communist party against him? it is a fact that he was the one person in china who dared to stand up against the one child policy. he and his wife expose the fact there were an estimated 130,000 forced abortions and forced sterilizations and their city in one year. it was that act that got him detained. he spent four years in jail during which he was tortured, denied medical treatment, and now has been under house arrest. women's rights -- we have
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obtained the field notes of chen guangcheng. we released those at a congressional hearing right here on december 6 of 2011. it is called the chen guangcheng report. it is 35 pages of the most horrific human rights abuses that you can imagine. for example, a woman who was forcefully aborted and sterilized and seven months, the visitors that sleep in the fields to of they'd family planning officials who broke abram over the head of a man whose children is expected to violate family planning law. they were forced to beat each other because somebody in their family had violated the family planning birth limit.
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and then finally, the use of a quota system in the detention of family members and which if one person and a family is suspected of having violated the one child policy either by being pregnant or missing their cervical checkup, women are required to have cervical check ups between two and six months depending on where they live in china, the entire family can get dragged in. there is one report of a person's extended family, their parents, grandparents, cousins, all being dragged in and tortured and find 100 yen on a day for what they call family planning learning class tuition. it is clear from the report that the spirits of the red guard is living on the in the family planning police today.
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this is the issue for which he gave his life to china. he gave his life to protect the women of china from forced abortions, forced sterilizations. the other implications that come out of the policy are genocide, the select abortion of baby girls. it is driving him and trafficking and sexual slavery not only within china but surrounding countries as well. in addition, china has the highest female suicide rate of any country in the world. there is untold suffering in china because of the one child policy and this is the issue that chen had the courage to confront. this is also the central policy of the chinese communist party which is what they have targeted him so fiercely.
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some people might ask whether chen's report in 2005, whether these things are still happening. they are still happening. about three weeks ago there was a report, there was a photograph that came from the chinese equivalent of a twitter where a woman had been forcibly aborted at the ninth month. the baby was born alive and was crying. the family planning officials to the baby and dumped it in a bucket and ground it. there is a picture of a drowned the baby in a bucket. that created outrage. i would also like to say, something people do not realize is the coercive birth lament is violence not only against women but men as well. there are many instances where men were also detained and
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tortured. in one instance there was a farmer who had committed suicide because of the oppression. another report i have submitted, there is a man who in 2008, his wife did have a second child. the family planning police came to get the fine from them. he said, please take the fine. do not be violent about it. the refuse to do that. they started a fight and a broken bottle over his head. here is a picture of him with his temple that was crushed when the bottle was broken over his head. he is now permanently disabled. the second issue i was asked to address was the persecution of pearl.
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she reached that to me about six months ago. she was running a free chen guangcheng campaign. she was doing get inside of china. we started e-mail in each other. we felt we were a sisters in this cause. she was the one that when he made his great escapes, she drove 20 hours and she disguised herself as a career, got into the village, and then drove him eight hours between beijing that. their plan worked so well he was not discover to be missing for four days. on the day he was discovered
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missing, she and i skyped on and off all night long. she was alone and afraid for him and his family. she was also afraid of herself. at around 5:00 in the morning, there was silence. i found out later she had been detained. i am very concerned about pearl. i am concerned she may be tortured because she was the head of this whole network that was to free cheng. we know many instances in which key activists have been tortured for the chinese communist party to distract from them who were the other people in the network. in these discussions that they include pearl at all times. i appreciate how congressman smith and congressman will have been including her. he would not feel free until his main supporter from the
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outside is also freed it. thank you. >> thank you for that testimony. thank you for bringing attention to the underlying cause of why the full weight of the chinese government came down and for reminding the world that the concern we have to have for her well-being. >> thank you. last month, i was arrested in a respect full, non disruptive demonstration. when the news came out, i sent an e-mail and said we are down to the china 5. he said soon it'll be the china
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0. we're back at the china 6. we are worse than we were. part of it is the failure of the administration when the incoming president of china was here to send a clear signal that the rights of the heroic dissidents represent human rights. where would the same the first. the real question is how could this have happened? i have often said that one of the great things we could do for the pursuit of american interests would be to replace the state department with the aflcio this is the issue of bargaining. anybody at the teamster union would understand that they are bargaining for the life and free them of such a growth hero.
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let me give three things. the first one things do is welcome this man to the embassy. much more importantly, send a signal to china that time is on our side. if the other guy needed to sign the deal, he was in my pocket. the chinese understood that as clearly as possible. he bargained on that score. we don't fix the verbal promises. you get some good faith action before you close the deal and turn over the house or what ever it is. the first principle that anybody would say is ok, you
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want to do deals, bring his wife and child here. we do not even talk until she is there with him. that could have been done. and the most critical thing was not only to understand the risks that you and your client run, but to put yourself on the other side and the risks that they run. anybody from any labor union would have said to the chinese we have all the time in the world. you spend time building goodwill in the u.s. and united states. every minute that this man and his family are at risk, it is destroying what ever it is you
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are building. as long as it takes, it takes. he is comfortable. they were so focused on our needs, our risks, and not the risk and problems of the chinese that they just rushed negotiation. even if i did not care one iota for human rights in china and all i cared about was the agenda of the secretary geithner is pursuing in his visit, i would be emphasizing chen guangcheng case because that is what puts china on the defensive. ronald reagan understood that
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when he dealt with the pentecostal. every time the russians wanted to negotiate nuclear weapons policy, he would say what are you doing about this? a winner they getting out? when will they begin to understand that these dissidents were not in the way of american policy but that they were for a policy. ronald reagan was able to negotiate a better deals on weapons and on dollar relations. if you focus on your weakness and do not understand the vulnerability of the other side, i get fired in your first week of the teamster union. these people who have been negotiation have held the life and safety. how sad it makes me. how sad it makes me at the sheer incompetence of the
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people. what do you do to protect this now? you have that chart up there that is an extraordinary charge. as soon as this happens, the chinese created blocks on the internet. the great freedom i guess we did better. if you type in the the word a"blind man" in china, you get blocked. the problem with the stories about this that they convey a premise, a take away message to the american people that china has to control what they get to see on the internet. as you know, this is true only because of our horrible, misguided policies.
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we honor the intent in appropriations. we say, give this money to groups with a field tested capacity to bypass the internet firewall system. there are $30 million that was appropriated years ago in state department accounts to tear down internet firewalls. there is a board of broadcasting governor sitting there with $800 million. they easily could have reprogrammed. just 10% of their procreation to scale up so they do not crash when 2 million users a day access the system. we have it in our capacity to allow 15 million chinese at any
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given second to search the word "blind man" anytime they want no matter what the bureaucracy says and we have not done it. we have not done it in violation of clear congressional intent. we have not done that because we have not pushed the bureaucracy of the state department. there is one possible clue. when asked why one of the most successful programs has not received significant support by the washington post, the response was because if we gave them support china would go
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ballistic. the way to deal with this is sunlight, and information. all the policies are meaningless. he will be isolated. nobody will know what happens to him. as nobody knows, as long as chen and blind man cannot be found out, he will be persecuted and isolated. is there will be taken. we have funds sitting in state department accounts. we can make it happen in two-
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three months. i hope one of the things that will come out, chen will regard every pain he indoors. let's come out of this a determination to get this administration to pare down the internet are well.
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ability to pyrrophyte. these kinds of things cannot be done. it is so you have the ability to broadcast 50 million people in 10 minutes. clearly have it on cell phones. did but under this man. >> thank you very much. it is extraordinary. i like to introduce our next panelist. if you could proceed. thank you for being here. >> thank you for having this
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hearing and for giving me this opportunity what i know. last friday, i was on twitter and i had been falling because i work from home. i saw a tweet from china someone they found on the chinese microblog. slashed officials and thugs with two knives. now he is on the run the tweet has a number. i grabbed the phone. when i did that, i did not expect to reach him. i thought i have lived here long enough that the police would have taken him already by now or he won't answer without knowing the source.
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but i find him. i find an agitated, scared young man in his early 30's. i talked to him. he told me what happened. that is the night of the day when the guards and local authorities find chen guangcheng missing. he told me everything. i said "hold on, let me get my recorder."
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i want to get your words online. that is what i did. i did that. i recorded his message. he told me what he knew. within hours, i put it on the website. volunteers are doing this on their own. i pur the recording there. within 15 hours, i put a chinese and english transcription of the conversation. i forwarded it to of the media outlets.
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that is why the story is so quickly on the pages on international news. otherwise it was still be heresay. after the conversation, the next day i found out that the lawyer was able to find him. he was still on the run. he called immediately. no police was coming. no authority came to take him. then he was still at large. lawyers quickly formed its. one of the lawyers contacted him. he was on the run. right now, we do not have any word from the chinese authorities.
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is he in police custody? isn't the police responsible to find him? for crying out loud, and he is innocent. what happened? he told his lawyer that the black car has been following him all round. he said he that he witnessed how his uncle's family was beaten before.
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there is a response. the second day, one of the nine countries of the city, the official web site hosted a statement to or three sentences saying that chen guangcheng slashd our officials with knives and is on the run. that is the entirety of the statement. we are trying to apprehend him. that statement made no mention of chen guangcheng and why this man, innocent man, slashed a whole bunch of authorities. no. that is the chinese government. that is the statement. from a reliable source, that is
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based in the u.s. the young man told me that his father who is eldest brother of chen guangcheng, the thugs took him away that night. the night slashing happened after his father was taken away. this is in the hands of the authorities. i want to talk about the state that i found this young man was in. 11 times i counted. he was appealing to the law to defend him. another moment he was desperate. he was sobbing. he did not believe the law would defend him.
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if anybody is interested that can go to my website, i want to emphasize.
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"i love my motherland but look what she gave me." she said "at the bottom of the society, this is so tragic." i also want to quickly give you my impression. after i talked to him, i can't shake off his image. on one hand, he is just a villager. he is what the chinese official propaganda would like to call "low quality people, not suitable for democracy." i find him to be reasonable, good hearted, and intelligent. give it.
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he represented the goodness of china like his uncle. you have the good people represented by chen guangcheng. on the other hand, you have this thuggish governments. where are we? i am american. where rae we? -- are we? who are we spending with? if you allow me, i am not listed to speak on this. i wanted to pick up on dr. richardson's speech. these are people who are living in china but have the technical sadness to climb the wall.
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over this belief at how this could have happened, overwhelming anger and betrayal. for 6 days, the us embassay, five characters are magic words for many chinese. china is a big country. the one island, safe haven, called us embassay were so overjoyed, so miraculous, and yet we dropped the ball so terribly. we allowed this to happen. i am not going to comment on how
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it happened because others spoke very eloquently. we also have to remember and understand that what chen guangcheng represents for so many chinese, he went to the village, got robbed. got lost their jobs. chen guangcheng as a blind man is a source of light. i mean this literally. he represents the bravery that is on short supply in china.
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he lives in the poorest village. he did not go to school until he was 18. he is blind. where on earth do you find such a man? tell me. he is the symbol and the soul. for him, we must understand the larger picture. i am an ordinary citizen. my picture may not be the larger picture of our state department officials.
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the one-piece i saw in this larger picture may well be the most significant piece, which is china's pro-democracy citizens, whether they are outspoken are not our look upon the u.s. for support, if we fail chen guangcheng this is a horrible blow to the population. that is our persecution for change in china for the better. we will suffer the pain for years and years to come. we will lose all credibility. may i read a few quotes i took from twitter? number one. "the us betrayed us/"
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"obama has no teeth." "now we cannot trust the us embassay, i can't tell you how angry i am." "in 2012, the entire human race is unable to rescuse a blind man." "after i read the report by cnn, only the chinese themselves don't know what is going on." "the chen guangcheng case is a challenge for the us ideals and a test of american strength. if us gave up on protecting, it
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amounts to to giving up its leadership role in the world." "the u.s. will never be able to stand straight up again." she is based in canada. she is an activist and a journalist. that is what i am hear to say. i am happy to have said it. thank you for this opportunity. >> thank you very much. it is almost numbing to hear you say what other chinese individuals are saying online. that should be a wake-up call in itself.
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i would like now to yield. >> i am very sorry. i cannot speak english. i will be using chinese through an interpreter. ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. i am here as a supporter of chen guangcheng.
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i have helped him and his family. it i hope they're telling you all about what has happened to me, it you will be able to get the real feeling for what he has been there in the past as well as accurate a possible picture of what is in store for him in the future. >> [speaking chinese]
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>> on august 26, 2011, i went to help chen guangcheng's daughter be able to attend the school that she should have been attending.
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i went with some other people. this trip was very much and good will. we wanted to show the local government that we were coming in peace and goodwill. we decided to stay at a local spall which was open and not secret. it was far from the county. they could see us. they were able to what us while we were sleeping. we wanted to be very clear the only reason we birther comet the sole goal was -- the only reason we were there, at the sole goal was to let his daughter attend the school. we did not get a good results. there were 7-8 strong guys that are watching us all the time. there were several cars watching us. we did not make any progress. when we went to try to visit the family, we were met with
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violence. they pulled us out of the car. >> [speaking chinese] >> on that same year, i went with an israeli journalist. i went to complain. nine we went to complain about the brutal treatment we had received. the night before that, if there were two women who also tried to visit.
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their heads were beaten. they were thrown in the woods. other than the government giving a warning, there was no nation at all for what they did. >> [speaking chinese] >> on september 20, we went to the house of the fourth son in chen guangcheng's family. we went there to ask his daughter if she had successfully been able to go to the schools to supposed to be attending.
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six people rushed in. we're not able to carry out the conversation at all. we had to leave the school supplies. we were followed by the car. >> [speaking chinese]
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>> on september 21, we decided that one person should remain in the motel is staying at. the rest of us would go to this goal to see if there is any progress. our car was stopped. their read three men on
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motorcycles to were waiting for us. we left. we did not go into the school. we had not left for very long. we were pulled out of our car. the reporter that was with us was escorted away. the rest of us were taken to an old into a house on the outskirts of the village. we were body searched in a very insulting way. we were beaten. we were taken to an old abandoned house. at night, we were taken to a police station and interrogated for stealing a cow.
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i refused to sign a statement that they prepared for me. i was sent back at 2:00 a.m.. i was in the police station being interrogated. at 5:00 a.m. i was home. on the 21st, let the person who had remained at the hotel, was also ordered the way. i was there by noon. i called some reporters. there were a political police that appeared and said me home. -- and sent me home. >> [speaking chinese]
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>> on the 20th of october, a journalist asked me to come for an interview. i want to complain about the treatment that i had received previously when i had been beaten and harass. the only thing was they handed me a form. the whole time there were seven or eight guys are watching me. -- who were watching me. when we got in the car, they had not even stopped. the journalist assistant was almost pulled out of the car before it even stopped. >> [speaking chinese]
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>> on the 26 of october, myself and several volunteers along with a british telegraph reporter were heading to a county to bring the school supplies. we were going to bring them to chen guangcheng's brother's house. we're followed the entire way. then the county government answered our request. they said you can go see him. we were trying to get police protection and escorts. we cannot take our cameras. they slapped me very hard in the face.
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there is no protection to speak of. we were kicked out of the police station. the next day we met a japanese reporter. the political police appeared once again. they took our clothes and shoes off. they gave us a full body searches after we were completely naked. >> [speaking chinese] >> i was working with a tv station helping them trying to cover this.
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that was the smoothest time trying to go and see chen guangcheng. i did not encounter too many problems because they're staying in a big city that was very far. with also taken out our cell phone batteries. we taken precautions even though we did that, the police worked through the police to investigate and interrogate me. >> [speaking chinese]
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>> on the second of december, i arrangers several other volunteers to give them bolden's with the picture on them and several major cities and the process. we were in contact with each other. the contact itself was there. we were detected by technical means by the technology of the police. there was no due process reported with us.
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they searched the house. we were both detained illegally for 14 days. for about 10 of those days, we were in our home town office which is part of the cadres school of the potential commission which is often used to put away political prisoners. it is very dirty. there were four volunteers who kept their activities up they were also detained illegally. they insisted on the balloons and the givebacks. -- the giftbags.
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their detention was completely legal. >> [speaking chinese] >> there are hundreds of people that have shown their concern. i should be considered one of the lucky ones. everything that i have encountered is not nearly as violent as a lot of people have encountered. they have been beaten terribly. their skulls have been broken. i heard the story of a high school kid he was beaten in his genitals. i have had a lot of contact with reporters and i am a catholic. i'm not considered quite as egregious so i am not subject to it as others.
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>> [speaking chinese] >> we can see what happens here when you have a brutal regime. they have no respect for the law. they're stopping on people's rights and the laws themselves. chen guangcheng and his wife
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have suffered more than i have. he himself is known all over the world for knowing what he did, standing up for other people's human rights. he is a father of two who is trying very hard to protect his family. what should be done that pows should we treat him? we need to show him -- what should be done at? how should we treat him? we need to show him. >> i want to thank the panel. congressman smith just got a call.
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he will be back in. i want to thank the panel. i wish every member could be here to hear it. i have a number of questions and observations i wanted to make. i want to thank the media. it is easy to criticize the media. if it were not for the media covering this story, every time she reference to it, it draws from somebody who was with care. i want to thank the media. i also want to make it clear we appreciate the bravery of the chinese people. i hope they would know that the representatives of the state department in beijing do not represent the the point of the american people. there is a distinct difference. is a representative here today? will you be getting this
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information to secretary clinton? i understand she is there today and tomorrow. is that correct? i appreciate that very much. the other thing i would say, when i think of the words of ronald reagan when he said the constitution were a cabinet with the entire world, i think president reagan were the president, the difference this
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would be -- can you at imagine what would be said by president reagan versus this administration? i have some questions if he does not come back in. i have been here since 1981. i see a direct parallel with what is taking place in china with the unraveling of the remaining government comment the activities of the chinese government are parallel. it is like they found the playbook and they did not realize what happens. they're following his playbook. it is similar to what took place with regard to russia before it fell. i wanted to ask the question, can anyone explain the difference between the comment that i heard on the news yesterday that chen wanted to kiss secretary clinton if he could versus the reality?
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was that a translation problem? >> i was on twitter and chen guangcheng had a ball conversation with the closest of friends. she is the wife of one of the most prominent dissidents living in beijing. chen guangcheng had a conversation am. over the phone call, when she told chen guangcheng that he wants to kiss secretary clinton, he said that is not
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what i said. i said i wanted to meet him. in light of the past, at the time i thought how convenient. i thought it was not something significant. i also don't want to over interpret. over the last two days, this does run over my head. did they pretend not to hear it? i am just asking. congress can ask the same question. he did say he wanted to kiss clinton. he want to meet clinton. -- he did not say he wanted to kiss clinton. he wanted to meet clinton. >> that comments with the put out by the state department?
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>> that was put out by the state department. the tweets i can send to you that clarifies this confusion. >> yesterday, they called me yesterday morning and gave me a briefing. he said that he was going to the hospital. he was going to be with chen on thursday and friday. does anybody know if he was with him today? have you spoken? >> i have no idea. i would be with him on thursday and friday. nobody knows?
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do you think the environment changed? i have heard some positive things. i was the one here opposed his confirmation to the ambassadorship. i told him so. he said i think you'll be proud of my activity. i heard very positive things about him.
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do you think this went south after people came from washington, that he was trying to do the right thing? others came out from washington and it went south? does anyone have any feeling? was he trying to do the right thing and then when washington intervened it went poorly? does anybody have a comment about that? >> i think it was just written in the cards. i want to come back to my judgment. this was predictable based on the sacrifice of bargaining leverage and the absolutely inexcusably poor bargaining that took place.
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if it turned out that some of these people in the state department were pleased after the end of a verbal agreements where we indicated that we needed to get this thing wrapped up, so much more is a criticism. there may be cables that indicate whether it was good will or malice. i come back to the notion that anybody skilled and serious bargaining could have predicted the outcome of a negotiation that took place. >> can you go into more of detail? i do not think he is that one.
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can you tell us why you think this would be important and how it should be helpful? >> i think it is supposed to be immediate circumstances. i think with every hour that goes by when american officials do not have access, and the stakes go up. the washington post has been reporting that american officials have not had access to him since they left the hospital. i think it is a moment that requires some fairly dramatic action. it demonstrates the gravity of the situation. we have made the point for a long time that until a much broader spectrum of government officials fight, the u.s. looks stronger and more coordinated.
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the broader group of diplomats raise these issues. in this particular moment when a very visible gesture is necessary to get things back on the rails, to have and not just secretary clinton or ambassador lock, but you have a broader cross-section of the u.s. government officials to demonstrate the breadth of concern. all of the agencies that participate can be tasked with at least one human rights talking point. i think this kind of coordination across the u.s. registers with the chinese side.
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the u.s. was any more poised to demonstrate a broader commitment than it has been in the past. i think this is a great moment to set a new presidents. -- a new precedence. a lot depends somewhat happens in the next 48 hours or so. >> i've written every official in the obama administration. i have asked them to go visit a house church, underground church, with a buddhist monk to visit. not one person has responded.
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but i also think that kind of coordination across the u.s. really registers with the chinese side. it was not my feeling going into this before the incident arose. it was once again my sense that going into it u.s. was any more poised to demonstrate a broader commitment to human rights than it has been in the past.
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i think this is a great moment to set a new president. >> i think talk is not going to work anymore. i think it would be marginally useful. i think the chinese would interpret that for political consumption only. i think action is very important. and said this is a sign of weak in this. it was a symbol of resistance.
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the ironic part is i think you have made the point, that will translate absolutely in the negotiations that geithner wants to do. it is seamless. that is the point that was just made. if we project weakness, they will accept that on every level in which they deal with us. i think that is the problem. i think the only response, i come back to what i said. i have said, when any member ofi think there may be other actions. one that i think is very clear and directly related to the protection of all of the people caught in this tragedy is for the united states to openly and robustly mount a commitment to
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tear down the fire walls so that the kind of censorship that takes place, not even a handful of chinese can type in the word of chen, let 20 million chinese type in the word chen and get it on their cell phones. we can do it in two months to three months. that will protect chen guangcheng and his family. it will also send a signal to china that we are not a weak country, we are not a surrender in country. a speech by the vice president, that is politics. the chinese will understand that. it will not affect them. >> in the interest of mr. smith, i think what i am going to do is recessed the hearing briefly so he can come back in. let's recess for five minutes if we can. [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] >> back from their short break, the executive congressional commission now kids from -- hears from wang xuezhen. he says he is concerned for the safety of his family. this is about 40 minutes. >> the commission will resume its sitting. i just want to apprise everyone bob fu has made contact with chen guangcheng. we just had an interesting and enlightening conversation. we are going to put him on the speaker. >> [speaking chinese] >> [speaking chinese]
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>> i want to make the request to guaranteed because -- the
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translation, i am sort of lost. he wants to come to the u.s. for some time of arrest. -- of rest. he has not had any rest in the past 10 years. [speaking chinese] >> [speaking chinese] >> i want to meet with secretary clinton. >> [speaking chinese]
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>> i hope i can get more help from her. >> [speaking chinese] >> i also want to thank her face to face. >> [speaking chinese] >> i fear for my other family members lives. they have installed seven video cameras. even an electric fence. now, he wanted, he said those
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security officers in my house, he said, we want to see what else chen guangcheng will do. >> [speaking chinese] >> the thing i am most concerned with right now is the safety of my mother, my brothers, i really want to know what is going on with them. >> [speaking chinese] >> thank you very much. >> thank you very much. you have a panel of people who have just testified. they all deeply care about you,
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your family, as well as those who helped you, including those we are desperately concerned about. your nephew and others. one person who just spoke, mrs. wang. she spoke of her efforts to see you and how she was mistreated, including steps searches. the word is getting out. there are a number of members of the press and international press. your case is the test of the chinese commitment to protect you, which they have given. we are very dubious about those assurances. it is also a test of the united states and whether or not human rights do manner. the secretary of state, who did not meet with you in the embassy, that she go to you and me to you and you and your
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family and supporters need to be on a plane coming to the united states, for the rest you deserve. >> [speaking chinese] >> and very quickly, christian bale, the great actor called one hour before this hearing to convey his solidarity and concern for your well-being and that of the rest of your family.
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this is about one but five hours. >> hello. i am the chairman of the independent party. i am the founder of politics in people. it is great to have people here us tonight. i want to give a special welcome. we are going to be looking at the people versus the party. we have with us the two of america's leading advocates for a restructuring of our political process.
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jackie is the president of in a network of more than 40 states. she is a frequent commentator on independent voters in politics. jackie has a book coming out entitled "independent rising, outsider movements, third parties, and the shuttle for a post partisan america." mickey edwards is the forme chair of the republican house policy committee. he is a distinguished educator, regular political commentator and, columnist. is that this book is due out
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this summer. it is the parties versus the people, how to turn republicans and democrats into americans. you can see what i wanted to have them both here with us tonight. before i bring into the stage, i like to hear a clip of each of them in action. we're going to see to various short speeches ---- two very short speeches. to see jackieng salit appearing on "box and friends."and give us a moment and then we are going to have a look. >> democracy is about process.
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it is not about policy outcomes. it is about process. wilmot tap about the institutions, our political system is not working. our election system is not working. our governing system is not working. i want to say the root cause of these problems is the amou of control over all of the systems. our governments have ceded to the private clubs, at the political parties that control access to the ballot antagonistic lines are drawn in his sits on what committees. >> i am a member of the anti-
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party. that is about what 40's arm of the country is today. people do not lilike partisansh. they did not like the tongue of the debate. this is what they want to see changed. >> we do not believe in labels. we believe and ideology. what we're looking for is solutions. both are right. we do want to get the dialog moving. >> there is no middle ground. >> there is no middle ground. that is an important point. >> i am going to veto it. >> there is the middle ground. there is a way to bring americans together a round structural reform. the parties have be system
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there. the president is trying to play at the center when there is no center. what he needs to do is make a strong stance. >> let me ask you to join me. >> we have to be careful now we are fully micd. >> i am glad to have our audience get to know your thoughts more.
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i'm going to start this off with a couple of questions. then we're going to open up to all of you. e two of you are the country's leading advocates for the kind of structural reform that move power away from the political rties and to the american people. you approach this from different places in history. you are a highly respected member during her 16 years in congress. he had been a leader of the independent movement for over 30 yes. you are both advocating for some of the same kinds of political changes. the sameinds of reforms. i wanted to ask you to speak to what is going on in the country that brings the two of you together, asking for what would
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be some radical restructuring. >> thank you. hello. great to see all of you. it is great to spend this time together. i thing that may be as a place to begin i would say there are two things that your going on that bring us together. i just want to comment that it says something about our political culture. be would be sitting heraving this conversation with all of you. for starters, i think maybe it is important to reflect on that.
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in some ways, that is the very issue. two basic things. one of the things that is going on is that there is a political does alignment's from the major political parties. 40% of the country considers himself an independent tay. that is a remarkable number, particularly in a system that this so substantial. they talked about how controlling the political party is. they have made a statement in which they have said i do not consider myself to be a part of
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that. i might vote for that process. i might parcipate in various kinds of elections. i am making a statement. when you have that kind of soci political shift going on, which i think is substantially misinterpreted by the political class and by the media,hat tells you that something is happening. what is the thing that is happening tax different ways to describe it. the political institutions that are designed to be the representatives of the american people are not playing that role. they are not representing any
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kind of ongoing and meaningful and substantial way the ncerns, the interest, the worries, dreams, aspirations, and desires of the american people. that disconnects where institutions can activelactuallo longer function and they're expected roles. things start to change or perhaps more accurately the opportunity for change opens the door. we see this in independen all over the country. we're building a local ones.
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this only happens when there's a historical opening. this is where the political process is. this is where i think we are. these are one of the questions that comes to the floor. what can we do to remedy the state of our political process so the american people can begin to express our desires, and needs, in dreams. how does that political structure need to be changed in order to make that possible? much to say about all of us.
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that is how i would characterize the basics of where we are at. >> one of the interesting things is that after my article, of the the book grew out of a magazine article from years ago. it is out deterrent republicans and democrats into americans. people say but what can you do about it is figure out of the progressive movement. this is not ordained.
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it is a system that group up pushed by the political parties. one of the things i said is that the revolution has already begun. 40% or more ar already dependent. look at when scott won the elecon. it does not matter about how a republican win in democratic massachusetts. i taught at harvard. it is by democratic state. we have two things happen simultaneously. inside the beltway, you have more and more rtisanship. you have more and more decisions based on what is going to help our party when in november. the country is going in the opposite direction.
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the country is fleeing from this situation. there are more. i will mention the additional exampl. the real bottom line is that it is systemic. it is not about who we collect. we do this every year. we elect people and it does not work so we throw them out. it is always like charlie brown hoping lucy will not follow the football. if you think in terms of economics, what do we know about economics or cultural issues taissues?
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incenses' works. we've created a system which every incentive is to not compromise. every incentive, whether it is how you have to win a closed party primary, one of the examples i used in delaware. there isn't nearly 1 million people in delaware. -- is nearly 1 million people in delaware. it is not small place. nearly a million people there. people were shocked when mike lost the republican primary for the senate. the woman you bit him, christine o'donnell -- who beat him, christine o'donnell only got 30,000 votes. we have a sore loser laws that if you ran in a party primary
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and lost, if you cannot have your name on the ballot in november. we have a system where 30,000 people could deny the rest of the million people in delaware the chance to choose among all the possible candidates. one of the things i'm trying to do is to break democracy. looking at all of you, i have never met most of you. i know one thing. when you go to buy a phone, when you go to buy soap, you want choice. the only place we do not allow choice is one comes to letting the people who wl make our laws. when you get to the ballot in november, you have a or b. maybe there are five republicans need to be considered. we do not allow that to happen.
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parties to not allow it to happen. we talked a lot about redistricting. those of you who are up close i am wearing loafers. ina said the guy. -- i am a city guy. after i won, i was the first publican elected in my district since 1928. my dirict was 74% democrats. i was not supposed to win but did. the oklahoma state legislature and was a nine-one control by the other party. they were bothered by the fact that i won. the majority of the state
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legislate in 37 of the states can make that decision. it is a big upside down "l" and dianne saw preferential. i keep thinking look what they did to me. but what they did to me. they did not do it to me. the most important part of the constitution says that every single representative must be an inhabitant of the state for which they are elected. it was thatork legislators are supposed to know you and your
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concerns. we are supposed to know them and their integrity. it got destroyed because when they withdrew my disict, i was representing eight farmers, cattle ranchers and small town merchants. i did not know there have issues or concerns. they cannot articulate as needed to be done. why was this done to the people tax that was done because my party does the same thing. the party thought it would to their advantage to redraw the district to take other republicans out.
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jackie says so well. she is really good. we have to change the system. >> let me pick up right there. where a lot of americans, the last election people voted for so he couldbama an help lead the issues i want to ask you both, here we sit in the middle of the elections. how you understand what has happened tax what wa? >> i have a number of thought
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about that to share. i want to preface by saying i think it is very important because what we're talking about here is that the majority of people voted for barack obama based on many of different things. one of the motivating factors was thedea that obama was going to be able to lead a post partisan political culture. i think it is important to maybe pause for a set against and to reflect on the fact that historical change of that
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magnitude, and that is a very significant transformation, it does not happen in an even line. the it moves in stars and things moved forward and then they fall back. things get in the way. just speaking for myself now, it is important to remind ourselves that this is a monumental change that this i being set after. i think what is happening is part of the broader international process.
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it is a difficult process. it that said, i think i would point and maybe for things that are worth noting. people know as president obama came to washington, he came there on the heels of first having won the democratic primary with the support of voters. that is to gave obama the nomination. of the 34 states that did have open caucuses, they were very substantially for barack obama.
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they were the architect of the entire set up. in the general election, they brought by eight are nine points. obama comes to washington. he has the post partisan mandate. that is how we can make them again. there are many people who are registered republicans that are very fearful and upset about the partisan character of the untry. in any event, a new president comes to washington. here's some things that happened. first, and the congressional democrats are there. you know them better than i do.
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this is a might have votedor our guy. this is our show now. we're good to tell you how it is going to go. the economic situation was continuing to deteriorate. this produced broadbased reaction including the rise of the tea party moment. if you bring the tea party in,
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duke can make hay with that. why they were enormously prideful cment that is a historical a vulnerable thing to have happened. while there was great pride, there were other things in the mix. he was a progressive. he bailed out the banks. let's face it. i think the republicans figured
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out very early, and this is very machiavellian. they came to understand that if you said the to everything but that did was it pours obama to become partisan. whether not they could have played that, i'm not going to speculate it. that provoked a strong reaction and response. including from independence. this is that we sent. saw the play out in 2010.
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they wanted to send a message about partisanship. i think that continues. i think the challenge for the presiden to take a breath and a pause and to reflect again on his independence are. why is it the case that a 40% of the country now identifies themselves as independents and not a part of the party system. the american people are making a statement about the system. there is a need to restructure and reform it to bring democracy. i think the president has to find a way to come to terms with that and make a statement. i understand he is the president and a democrat.
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this is a complicated country. he has to find a way to reach out in a way that shows but today are. they eliminate these structural partisanship that reinforces the negative political sucture. >> he was going overseas on a trip somewhere. i do remember what about. there was a columnist in the washington post. he wrote a column about the present going overseas. what he said was that for the next period, the president was
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going to step out of his re as the head of government to be functioning in his other role as head of state. i was teaching at the time. i asked my students what jumps out at you about them? i got the answers you might expect. if he is not want to make his one hat, he will be talking to people about fly over rights, a trade agreements. i said that is the the answer. the president is not they had the government. we have three separate inpendent equal branches of government. most of the major powers of government, whether it is going to war or raising taxes are creating programs are all
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congressional talents. it's i think like every other president forgot that. whatever president obama did, he has enormous talent. he was elected as part of a system that as it was constitutionally designed should have required him to reach out. nancy pelosi famously said that this is where obama was saying let's bring the republicans in. then mitch mcconnell trump that by saying the party was to
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.efeat obamacare i a bomb had to work in the system that existed. -- barack obama had to work in the system tt existed. how do you not a cheap that? congress operates in precisely this way. how many have actually seen the house a representative stacks? it is adjusting thing to observe. one of the things that happened, i happen to be on the commtee because i was in the
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top range of the leadership. it shows who got to sit on what committees. the ways and means or appropriations. one of the things that the parties do is to say you are very smart. you know economics. you know tax policy. he would be really great. we will put you on the ways and means. these are our positions. if you promise you'll be loyal to the committee, we will put you on the in the committee. committees used to be a place where you would sit together and reason together and take witnesses and hearings and think
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about what needed to be done. now, it is constant war. you use this as a means for winning the next election. some of it is even nutty. i went in front of the democrat lectern to convince them of how smart i was. there was this gas but that went out. its like cooties the from the
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other room. the republicans have to go to that cloak room, the democrats have to go sit in this one. that is held the entire congress is structured. it is like if you went to a therapist and they said, what you need to do is you need to have two sofas facing the opposite direction. the system inside the congress is just as bad as the election system, just as bad as the redistricting stem. we have a system inside of the congress where it is designed to make everyone identify with teams and identified the other team as the ones to be vanquished.
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you don't have to be a member of congress to be speaker? you don't. in brita and in canada, you need to have supported people from another party beside your own. >> when you were talking about the branches of government. obviously, that is a very important thing to observe. one thing i was thinking about, we were talking about the president and at happened off of the 2008 election and all of these in a way that the issues
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were in the air. i was thinking that what the three branches of government are the three branches of government. the president is as a branch that is selected by the whole of the american people. the electoral college notwithstanding. when i think about the issue of trying to move the political culture forward in a post partisan direction, that is true. the president has this very unique and special relationship with the american people as a whole. he was important. in some ways, one of the ways i
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think about the opportunities that exist now, i think that relationship has to be manifest, all we say, in ways that go beyond just the ordinary activity of governance. >> absolutely. the founders talked about energy in the executive. the president is not in terms of authority and hierarchy. he is a national leader and he has a poll but that no other person has. the constitution requires him to report to congress, but in the modern age, that gives him the ability to reach out over the heads of the congress to talk to the american people directly and to lay out an agenda.
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the president has a responsibility to talk about what needs to be donand do it in a way that no one can match. the question is to pascal obama and did that. at present cannot simply say, i don't have the authority to do this. i am cstrained by the constitutional system. what other means to have to try to persuade the congress, the constituents to talk to members of congress. that is what the power of the presidency is. some do it better than others. >> i think that that is so important. as i see it, i think the american people -- it is
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interesting, the system is so partisan, so structurally partisan, and yet on the day that american elects a president, it is the american people who are thinking. maybe one thing that is happening in the country is the value d importance of that is becoming greater. the potential of what can get created out of that is becoming more visible. i was thinking about the party's versus the people. it is section of the title of a chapter in my book.
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i washinking and it embodies a deeper truth within that which is that the parties are not the people, the people are the people. the constitution, of course, it recognizes the people, and not the parties, as we well know. i don't even think that that is the technical issue. it is a time to remind ourselves that the parties are not the people. we have to find ways to take action politically that reflect that and expss that. "you have been playing james
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madison on the stage. the first four presidents disagreed about a lot. the founders were not unanimous on almost everything. what was the one thing that they agreed on? parties.ate political they said it over and over for. they said it in writing, speeches. i fell know if there are any political scientists in the room. of political scientists like to say, but yes, there was political parties in their time. they're not anything like the parties we had today. the might have had a few issues, maybe it was western expansion. they had a few things in common,
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but it was not like you had with the parties marching in lock step on almost everything. it does not matter whether it is system in this package or a supreme court nomation. all of the democrats on one side, all of the republicans are on the other. if you could bottle this, it is an amazing thing that has been work he because by some magic, you can have this group of people to be either party. you have white, black, hispanic, old, gone. it is amazing how they are able to make that happen. you have the democrats over here, you have the republicans over here, at war with each other all the time. it has become, how can my party when the next election. one example is that if you decide because this university is so good, you want to do
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something, you migh say, let's get together is a big group and we will build a new building. you would get together and you would say, what do we need? what kind of equipment we need? there is only one thing you would not do, he would not say, ok, all the republicans sit over there, all of the democrats sit over there. >> i will open it up for questions. i am going to call on people but wait and to you get a microphone so that we can hear you. the floor is open.
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>> thank you. thank you for your comments. as you were talking about republicans are over here and the democrats are over here. some people would say that we independence, we are in the nter. i think that they put this forward as a way that we are going to bring america together. we have to be in the center to really and truly be together. i feel that this is an anti- extremist attitude. extremism is bad, it is bad for the country, so we have to come together in the center. i know, in your book, you talked about this issue out independents are defined in the census and i wonder how you would address this.
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>> at the won's movement did not come from the center, the labor movement and not come from the center. none of the great advances have come from the center. what i believe comment democracy is about a vigorous debate between alternative viewpoints. if you want everyone to be in the same spot, you could have the kremlin. they're pretty good as that. democracy for acquires a vigorous exchange of ideas but it should not feed related to the glove that you belong to. sometimes, for jackie has already confessed that she is a progressive, what can i do food -- what can i do? in some ways, we might be together from others, we live feet apart. we both thought about what is
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the right thing for america from our perspective. i think that at some point, because there are 320 million. this is a whole different thing. if the first three people decided to go to dinner together tonight, they could have a nsensus. if they went two rows back, you cannot have a consensus. you have to compromise. that is what the people require. i am not advocating that we come together in some blushes little for never pushes for any advances. i'm saying, let's look at the issues on their merits and come together on principle. if >> i would like to tell you that we are ve close to fascism. you might not believe it but the democracy that we have now, if
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obama does not win, we are bordering on fascism. the other side did not play by the rules, they do not play fair. they are liars and they will do anything to get into the white house. this situation that went on in florida, where a young boy was just walking along tell khrushchev death, the manager sheriff -- the man who shot him. i am a retired new york city police officer you have half financial of the relation to this guy could be in
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the 10th grade mentally. he could be a psycho. you wanto tell me that if you threaten mcome off file of shi'a fifth of -- you want to tell me that if you threaten me, i will shoot you. [applause] >> she carries her own. >> a lot of times, first of all, thank you. it is great to be here. when we talk about the impact of partisan, it seems kind of distant from the lives of the american people, like regulation. one of the things that i think partisanship hasone in this country is to keep black and white people separate.
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we have done a lot of work as independents to create ways for what we call the overtaxed, which is the white middle-class, and the underserved, which are people of color and poor people in general, to come together and have dialogue. this is so in human. the democrats think that they are representing the african american community and other people of color, but they don't. in fact, they help to create the antagonism. there is something so profoundly disturbing about this system from that vantage point -- is not that they cannot sit together but they keep us from sitting together and i just won it the two of you to comment on it. >> interest in enough, that the
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vision that you talked about, you may remember a number of years ago when it was a much hotter issue that it has been since, about creating a majority-minority district. i was teaching at harvard at the time and there was a meeting at a facuy members and it was very interesting because people are looking for what they think would serve their advantage. so, this was not something that involved a republicans. the white liberals on the culty were very much in favor of keeping distric the way they had been. they said, because if we create a majority district, that will take them out of other districts and increase the number of republicans. do not worry about it, we will take care of you. we will watch out for your interest.
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the african-american members said, well, thank you for taking care of our interest, but we would like a seat at the table, too. there has been historically, there is a great new book out. you will be shocked to find out, i wrote a very good review of its -- of it. it is by a well-known liberal writer. he makes the case for the baltics. one of the things that he brought up is the tension that existed for so long. -- she makes the case for liberal potics. how do you resolve one of the political advantages? the other says, want to be full players. this is really tough. >> a couple of thoughts about this. in my mind, what you are raising
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is connected to the question about senators them. i think about some ofhe history of what has gone on in the independent political movement. of course, you have been an outspoken and leading figure in that movement in our audience should know that you ran for president in 1988 as an independent. you became the first woman and african american to access the ballot in all 50 states. [applause] more than that, your message that campaign and since then, and certainly and all of our world, the independent political movement is try to find ways to build new bridges between communities and constituencies and americans that are divided and separate it from one another. we have been very excited and i
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am very gratified over the years when we have seen at the ticket a coalition which we sometimes call the black and independent alliance come together which happened in 2008 with the election of barack obama. we have also seen this happen in new york city year in some of the mayoral racesnd the election of michael bloomberg. this is very imptant stuff. one point about senators and issues -- about nators of -- one thing about centrism. centrism is presented as the thing that brings people together, but it is the baltics that drives people apart. we saw this manifest in the earliest days of the early political mood. -- but it is the politics that
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drives people together. we were trying to create a new national party. there was terrible fights, a tremendous fights that went on about whether this party was going to be a ntrist party or what we called a populist party. at a party that brought ordinary americans together across racial lines, across ideological lines, to create a new type of politics. so, i think that for people who have been involved in the independent movent, that fight between andcentrism and populism, -- that fight between centrism and populism has been a
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very moving fight. this is important for people to be educated abouthat. this is something that i write about in my book. i deal with the history of this flight. historically, this is a very very importa fight. those that advocate for a centrist party was that we would bring a more conservative democrats, who are white, and the more liberal republicans, who are right, in a centrist party. the black people would be happy. i am not making this up. people articulating this as a pieces or as a blueprint for how to build the independent movement. many of us have been in the independent movement for a long
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time and we fought against that. that is so important as a part of that history. >> i have a commercial interruption. i have two invitations for everyone here on may 5th, the new york city independence party is hosting a theater night at the castillo theater. the play explores the love affair between thomas jefferson and sally, and his slave and examines the in human compromise our founding fathers made at america's birth. >> they asked me if i was going to sing tonight.
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>> to understand that there will be more to come. >> i do. this is wonderful. the music is total engrossing. it is very popular. jackie is dynamite. we have tickets on sale. you can check in at the registration table and we hope you will join us. my next invitation is to join me in taking politics to the people national. i began this over a decade ago to bring these types of dialogues to independence-minded new yorkers. in january of this year, i took the international -- iook this national. i launched a blog and a book group so that independents across the country could te part in this dialogue. i want to encourage you to
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joined our boo club. also, our audience to sign up yourself and invite friends and colleagues from around the country. you can find it is at www.polit >> when we were talking about obama in the 2008 election, i was thinking, he got some of the cultural aspects right, but he did not address the structural issues. we have talked a lot about to open primaries and the need for reform, which addresses are the structural impediments for democracy. party primaries were referenced
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and they were a structural reform which was a cure for smoke-filled rooms. the parties figured out how to turn that to their own advantage. find it odderson, i to be advocating for structural reform. how do we get it right? the mobilization aspect of it, so that it comes together and works, so the people that run the show cannot come together and take it back. >> the power in this country rests with the people if they exercise. democracy is not a spectator sport. one of the things that the people in the state of california found that when they go to open primaries. there are 24 states that have provisions for initiative
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petitions where the voters can take control. they come up with the changes and the law. in this case, what they did was redistricting. they get the signatures, they run a campaign, and they change the laws. i am not want to ask how many of you have been to a meeting where your member of congress, you're house or senate member, was present. it is important at the state legislative level, many do not have initiative. initiatives to have a referendum where the legislature can be pressured to submit the issue to the voters. in addition, when you're a member of congress comes to meet with the constituent, you should be there and say, that senators so and so, if you vote 95% of the time with your party, as a great many do, then you don't
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belong in congress. you are obviously not representing us. we're not all in agreement 95% of the time. you say to the house mbers, we want you to support a provision that requires a speaker of the house to act in a non-partisan way, change the rules so that you cannot be elected speaker unless she gets 60% of the vote. come up with the changes that are required and this requires confrontation. this requires confrontation either when you're a member of congre is back and you can talk to them or you go to washington state, or you go to albany, or you get an initiative going. we're in the mess we're in because the american people have not said to stop. it is time to say stop it. >> to add a couple of things to
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that, i was thinking about fred newman, a founder of this movement who passed away a year ago. he wrote a book a number of years back called "the end of knowing," which is a wonderful book. one of the things he wrote about and that he practiced is the idea that cultural transformation does not happen in an orderly fashion. that is what they're talking about. it actually occurs out of chaos and out of new things happening in the cte of chaos. i felt very close to this. i've been thinking about these. so much of the discussion about this particular structural reform that we are in favor of,
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people will often say if you had independent voting, of this is what the outcome is going to be. it will help the democrats. what is going to happen? what is the impact? i have become very fond of saying i have no idea. i rlly don't know. 40% of the country are independencts today. they need the opportunity to vote in the first round. we will take it from there. not know what is
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going to produce. >> hello. thank you. ias glad to hear that the women's movement, the civil rights movement, all these movements were not centered. there were not party movements. they wer movement of independent people. i'm glad that you just said what said about cultural transformation. that truly is how things change. i'm a little perturbed that people all over the country, some black people, all kinds of people, white people, are sing that president obama did not do this or did not do that
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they said that this ship up the establishment. 20 million americans voted. jesse ventura go elected governor. he was supposed to be governor. i think about obama end that way. the cultural thing that happened was an african-american was elected president. thats thchange. i would like to know your commen on this. you both have eloquently addressed the whole by partisan gridlock, it the whole chokehold on the system of the american
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party. kenya address, the cultural impact would be based on what we have seen from perot and jesse ventura? >> i appreciate your question. i think a couple of things. one is that i think that one of the halifax half of that -- one of the effects of that a is that turning planpoint what you saw subsequently was the extraordinary resistance of the existing institution. it is the ability to manifest or respond to that or create a new political process off of that.
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president obama should have set off a huge chain of events in which there was a broader reconsideration of the way institutions function. that is not what happened. in fact, arguably what happened is that those institutions began to perform more and more as character shares -- caricatures of themselves. th is what i said before about the unevenness of the process. the country takes a huge step forward. then you start to see these institutions which are dead. they are continuing to control this even though the american people have spoken out and seven want to go do something different. that is the fight. that is what we are doing.
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some people say open primaries, what happened to storm and the barricades? i think it is important for people to appreciate how extraordinarily revolutionary it is to restructure the ruling institutions in the way that we're talking about. >> i cannot add to that. how does underline what you said. you're doing away with party control of the election process, a governing process. that is storming the barricades.
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>> and the majority take all system, it seems like this as rt of the problem. it reminded me when she wrote the book called "the tyranny of the majority" about dierent ways to do democracy, different ways of weighted voting. it is the plurality, not the majority. >> there are lots of reforms out there. a lot of reforms and not make any sense.
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i talked to the people of americans elect. ask me to support them. they came up with this brilliant idea that will solve the problem. they'll have a presidential candidates and one party and a vice presidential candidates of the other party. vice-president have no more input. it does not make any difference all. there is another one. a friend of mine is pushing this. it sounds good at first. familiar withare the statement, it has a runoff primary. you would find that a great many of the cases that whoever finished second in the first round wins the runoff. when you have an actual runoff, not just dropping down the list
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, between two people, the boaters can look at them, siz them up head-to-head. often it is the one who won the first round. i think it has to be much more fundamental. it has to be opening it up to democracy. let the voters choose among all of them. [applause] >> sorry. i wanted to ask you if you could coent on the relationship between the extent of social prices and our -- crises in the country. i work as a medical doctor in
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health care and education come in housing. the country is rlly in a crisis. all these people live this every day. it seems to me there's a strong relationship between that and what you're talking about. partisanship people can talk about. i wanted to ask you if you can comment on this and how we can express the relationship to the americ people. we can talk about it in a way that has to do with the fundamental need. >> i cannot give an answer that is as good as your question. i will say that one of the things that happens is that when you have the kinds of crises that we have, whether it is the
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banking system or the health care system, you have so many programs. in the way it works against. people start becoming so focus on policy outcome that they want. trying to get them to focus on system and changes is much more difficult. they do not realize. if we elect the person who thinks the way i think, we will be better off. for their part did the same system. nothing gets changed. when you have problems as deep as the one step you talk about, the only way to deal with them is to get people whose focus is notn the next election but on solving a problem to sit down togeth.
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crisis makes it harder to do that. if you are starting out -- look. one of the things talking about obama. there were conservatives after obama's election who thought obama was a canyon socialist. there were liberals who were mad that he was not. people laid out these extreme positions. how do you get together and deal with the problem? there is no good answer to it. it is there a problem. you t your finger on a very important problem have. >> i think what you're describing here is how do you treat environments is the
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priority. this comes up a lot. i'm sure you dealt with this when you were in congress. there are a lot of creative, innovative new ways of looking at issue is whether its a science or medicine or youth development and education. the vested interest past two protect the constituencies, the special interests that they represent. the incentives for innovation and bringing new ideas and approaches to bear on social problems is very minimal. in some ways i think that is the point of pressure. that is where we have to tackle the problem.
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we have to trade in new set of incentives so that the new approaches and new issues can be brought in and experimented with. we just don't have that kind of system right now. >> that is what is so great about the bringing together law enforcement and intercity it. you had your constituencies. you have your office. fuel to hold onto that. -- you have to hold on said that. let's i wanted to thank you for a biting me to this event. you mentioned how the president
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is there for congress prepare. the media makes a much of the election that it takes the focus away from the fact that congress is running the country. is there any way we can bring that back for people to be made more aware tax ? >> i have had the opportunity to do several things with sandra day o'connor oil. . she would say this is a failure and not only teaching critical thinking, which is not done very well anymore, but a failure in
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teaching civics, teaching about our system of government. people do not understand that. a lot more people would worry abouwho they vote for for congress and for president if they understood the system and how it is supposed to work. i have been on many radio and tv shows. make sure you're doing a pre- interview that obey conjure for that will be there. we're talking about basic reforms. it is not just i want to change the electorate system. these problems are a lot deeper.
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>> we haveo stop. before we do, i want to put in a plug here. you can pre order them tonight. i want to give you the title. jackie's book is a." independent rising."
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of want tohank everyone for coming. i want to share with the my biggest take away. i cannot thank you enough for spending time with us bear the most important thingbout tonight's event is all of you. i he you saying that it is up to us to continue to build the movement for a very important americans that can restructure the process, create a new culture, increase in the space for innovation. i felt very energized our dialogue. we'll see everyone else at the next politics for the people. thank you so much. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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abed >> coming up next, former treasury secretary lawrence summers and chief economic advisor to president reagan, martin feldstein discuss tax policy and financial reform. then your calls, emails and tweets and walker will talk about the economy. jane harmon discusses foreign policy and a round table debate on the u.s. prison system. >> coming up this morning on "washington journal," former comp patroler david walker will
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discuss the latest on unemployment figures and then ranking member jane harmon addresses u.s. foreign policy and the edges community and she will also talk about chen guangcheng and the security deal signed this week by president obama. finally america by the numbers looks at the u.s. prison system with james lynch and institute of justice executive director michael jacobson. they will analyze growth of the population and reasons for imprsonment and more. >> the billingd going up in 1903. it was not the first and not the tallest. we see this all the time. skyscrapers. stop and think what was the technology? back in the 1890's, they were explained as a railroad bridge on its end. how else do you explain this?
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most people were afraid of this thing and as a matter of fact you might think we were all loving it. we love innovation. we're in new york. but actually this thing looked a little bit scary. the poor guy who had this building was not too happy. nobody wanted to be in it because they were afraid it was going to topple over. >> this weekend, lectures in history. barry lewis on new york city in late 19th and early 209 century saturday night at 6:00 and 10:00 eastern on c-span 3. former treasury secretary lawrence summers and chief economic advisor to president reagan martin feldstein discuss ideas for tax reform. the two harvard university professors debate the capital gains tax and tax code. it is about an hour and 20 minutes.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the project began about six years ago and it brought together a truly destictive group of policy experts, academics and practitioners. in that context, we don't endorse specific ideas but we do organize serious discussions around issues that are critical to our economy. and in that respect, we have events like we have today with
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academic and policy experts and practitioners. when we have papers, those papers are subject to rigorous peer review. we believe that the objectives of economic policy should be growth and competitiveness, broad based expansion of living standards and opportunities and economic security. and we also believe that they can be mutually reinforcing. we support market-based economics but we believe equally that it is vital to have a strong government perform those functions that markets by their very nature will not perform. the hardship that many americans have been experiencing and continue to experience requires a serious commitment by policy makers and in support of that commitment, the hamilton project has had a number of discussions and events around short-term policy changes. but our primary focus continues to be long-term economic policy.
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we believe that our country is well positioned in transforming the global economy because of our enormous long-term strengths but we also believe in order to realize that potential, we need to put our fiscal situation on a sound basis. we need to have strong public investment in areas critical to our economy and we need reform in the areas that are so central to our economic success. including health care, immigration and tax reform. and that takes us to today's program. there is widespread agreement that our texas system is badly flawed and badly in need of reform for the future of our economy. beyond that, however, the agreement breaks down. there are many different views as to the purposes of tax reform and as the changes are necessary to accomplish these purposes. our objective today is to better
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understand these different views. the effect of various proposed tax reforms and the criteria for evaluating tax reform. in that respect, let me make a few brief comments as framing observations with respect to discussions to follow. number one, major changes in our tax structure and in the level of taxation. for example, increased revenues that increase confidence could promote growth, reduce inequality and contribute substantially to establishing a sound fiscal trajectory. and that was my point before about increased revenues contributing to deficit reduction, with room for critical public investment. number two. having said that, there are vigorous debates about what purposes tax reforms should have, what the effect should be
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and particular changes and what the level of taxation should be. number three, any substantial tax reform will have major winners and major losers, and that creates a very difficult substance with respect to tax reform and very difficult politics. number four. any substantial tax reform will inevitably have multiple effects on our fiscal position, on inequality and on growth and finally, as we all know, the post-election period of 2012 and the first few months of 2013 will pose fiscal issues of enormous importance, whether that leads the constructive action or the political system kicks those issues down the road, remains to be seen. but it is our view that tax reform, at least that is
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potential for helping catalyze a constructive response and could play an important role in that response. with that, let me outline our program and briefly introduce our panel members. as you can tell from looking at the program, this is a truly remarkable set of individuals. remarkable may be an overused word but i think it clearly is after fastball ar after -- after to believe the group we have today. a dozen economic facts about tax policy. the paper will be presented by adam looney, policy director of the hamilton project, senior fellow of the brookings institution and one of the nation's leading experts on the economics of tax policy. also if you look at the extraordinary working group that
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helped guide this paper, it will give you a sense of the truly distinctive strength of the hamilton project able to bring together such an extraordinary group. then we'll turn to our first round table, titled the economic case for tax reform. and again, this is a remarkable group for this discussion. the discussions will be martinfeld seen the, professor of economics at harvard university. president emeritus of economic research and former chair of american council of as advisors. former president of harvard university, former assistant to the president for economic affairs. the moderator will be zanny mintor beddoes, economics editor of "economist."
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i said i wouldn't comment on the participants' resumes and i won't, but i would like to make a few personal observations. martyfeld seen the and larry smers i've had the chance to discuss with for years. they are challenging but they also are excellent listeners who process what they hear. are open to changing their minds and then give you reason to conclusions with strong grounding. so in addition to their preeminence, they are well suited to the recent discussion the tax reform needs so badly but so seldom gets. i've had the privilege of being on panels with zanny. she is not only an incisive moderator but frequently knows
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more about the subject at hand than the discussors. our second round table is key principles for a successful reform effort. the discussors are john engler, president of the business round table. the president and chief executive officer of the national bureau of purchase, preefer of economics at m.i.t. the chairman and counselor for the center of american progress. and senior fellow brookings institution. former vice chairman of the federal reserve board. the moderator is michael greenstone. seen the major fellow of the brookings institution and professor at m.i.t. and a former chief economist. i'm not going to go to their
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resumes but i would like to make a couple of personal observations. john eng learn r was a committed republican but worked across the aisle with both parties. that is a spirit we're going to need to move forward with tax reform and move forward on the issues of our country. i was in the clinton administration with john pedesta. john is now standing chief of staff as well as a friend and he has since been a major force to serious policy by founding the center for american progress and advising members of congress and the administration. i also had the opportunity to soy with alice. she was always an effective and thoughtful colleague and has long been a major voice for what arguably is our country's most fundamental policy challenge and that is re-establishing sound
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fiscal conditions. jim has what is thought by many to be the most important zob the american economic profession. he has -- job in the american economic profession. he has accomplished successfully succeeding a giant in the profession, marty feldstein. by the way, in terms of the president or head of the national economic research, marty was that. i asked marty if that was true and he said yes. [laughter] finally, michael greenstone has provided outstanding leadership at the hamilton project. and has also provided frequent tutoring for me and so many members of our project. he has really done a remarkable job as you can tell from this morning's program. today's program will give all of us the opportunity to listen to
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and engage preeminent thought leaders on the economic issues of our country. for developing the construct and bringing this program together, i would like to thank in particular michael greenstone, karen anderson, the deputy director of the hamilton project and adam looney. i would also like to reckitt benckiser nies les samuels. key as always to the work of the hamilton proggets, i thank the enormously talented committed and hard working staff of the hamilton project, without which, nothing that we do would happen. with that, adam, i turn the podium over to you. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> thank you for that warm introduction. the tax code has become more complicated but sufficient and increasingly its view is less fair. advocates for tax reform would tell us by broad tng tax base, we can have a simpler system with lower rates. but increasingly that is not all they tell us. that some tax reform is an opportunity to reinvigorate economic growth, to create jobs, a way to boost revenues without raising rates and to help solve our deficit problems. a way to do all of those things at the same time. today we wanted to provide the foundation for discussion of what tax reform should accomplish, but also to put up guardrails on that conversation, to keep it grounded in the essence of what tax reform realistically can accomplish.
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drawing on the expertise of the many distinguished tax experts, the hamilton project has put together a dozen economic facts about tax reform to facilitate the tax discussion. i hope you have all picked up a copy on your way in. our start point is the observation that the economic context today is far more challenging than earlier tax reform eras. it is not just the political rate or the tough fiscal changes that we must make. we face three important long-term economic issues. the rising budget deficit, concerns about growth and competitiveness and right to qual quality. -- equality. any tax reform is likely to be judged how it impacts those
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three issues. so the first issue, if i can get to it -- is the daunth outlook for the federal budget. the basic purpose for the tax system is to raids revenue for u.s. services and -- raise revenue for u.s. services. in 2015, the government is expected to spend $12,000 per american but receive only $9,000 in tax revenues. that comparison understates the challenge as an aging population and continuing rise in health care cost also increase federal spending well above historical levels. to that end, and to examine the role of revenues in the broader fiscal debate, the document
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provides evidence about how tax revenues in the united states compared to other countries, examines how various tax options affects. a second long-term economic issue is increasing international competition for business activity. the rise of more educated and capable workforces around the world and other economic changes have contributed to reduced economic opportunities for many americans and challenges for many businesses. one sign of the impact is a trend in stagnation in earnings. for many american workers over the past several decades. concerns about competitiveness have encouraged greater scrutiny of how rules, regulations and tax provisions affect or impede economic activity. the tax reform has widely been touted as an opportunity to boost economic growth.
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in the document, we summarize economic evidence regarding how the current tax system impedes economic activity and how much we can expect tax changes to improve our economic prospects. finally there is the issue of growing income inequality and its relationship to the tax code. pretax income has risen by more than 250% since 1979 for house holds in the top 1%. at the same time, households in the middle and bottom have experienced much weaker grothse. changes in the tax system have tended to exacerbate these inequities. the people who have received the biggest income gains have also seen the largest tax cuts. it is quite clear that issues related to inequality are pair
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-- paramount. it expands on these three areas. just to pique your interest. how it affects the employment and earnings of workers. a key consideration in tax reform is how much tax rates hold back the u.s. economy. how much lower rates would spur economic gains and whether increases in income can help offset losses from lower rates. the figure in your text illustrates how a 10% cut in margal rates would affect the employment and labor decisions of a typical american family. the average estimate across all
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of these studies suggest this family would increase their pretax earnings by $450. that is an increase of 0.7%. yet that same 10% tax cut is predicted to reduce federal income taxes paid by 4.6%. in short, the evidence suggests that type of tax cut has a large effect on revenue but modest effects on labor supply. fact six examines the limits to what a base-broadening tax reform can accomplish in the form of lowering tax rates. we often hear of tax plans lowering their rate. 20%, 15%. even 999. those plans are sometimes light on details how they affect revenues or change tax burdens that fall on different groups. we put together a cheathe


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