tv Newsmakers CSPAN August 18, 2013 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT
we're going to wrap up as i have been informed sharif has a media engagement. so, thank you all for coming. however, i think maybe you need a few minutes to -- follow you out. thank you for coming. the report is over there. please do take one on the way out. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> in just a moment, "newsmakers." a town hall in. later, q&a. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> welcome to "newsmakers." our guest is michael needham, the ceo of heritage action for america. it was founded three years ago.
thanks for being our guest. let me introduce our reporters. bob cusack is the managing editor of "the hill" and neil lesniewski. >> let's go right to obamacare. this is the issue that is facing the gop. why do you think republicans can do this? before republicans have funded obamacare. the election did not fix much.-- change much. it may have only have democratic control. >> for the last three or four years republicans were all elected on the promise to get rid of obamacare and have relied on someone else coming in and saving the day.
the supreme court will come in and rule it unconstitutional. the american people are going to get rid of president obama. the public and lawmakers who have all pledged that they will do everything they can to stop obamacare now have a time for choosing. in october 1 sign up. a day before the sign ups start of the defund the government. this is the time for them to lay down a marker and say have told our constituents that we are against this. we're not going to find it. there is a lot of stuff that conservatives have problems with any challenges to lay down the marker and say we are going to do what we promised we will do. >> and potentially shut down the government. >> the seven weeks to get there. washington love to play this game of setting things that can not beat him. and so saying we're going to try to inspire people and see what comes to it. if republicans went out there and united and say this is a beer that is falling apart, the
let's go out and fight or that timeout and see where we stand at the end of september. normally when you go into a negotiation you try to preserve option value. you do not take it off the table. incident trying to figure out where we should he, we should fight for something. >> your group recently commissioned a poll regarding who might get blamed in the event that there is a lapse in the appropriations because there is no deal whether it is over obamacare or anything else. i was looking at the questions. one of the questions was worded, they called it a temporary slowdown of nonessential federal government operations. can you explain a little bit about why that was worded the way? >> cr is washington speak. >> continuing resolution. when congress cannot do the job but is supposed to do, normally
the house passes appropriations hills and they come together and they come to an agreement on what the funding levels will be. >> when they cannot do that they passed a continuing resolution that say we will continue as was previously done. we have done that for the last three or four years. with regard to the poll, we framed it that way because it is an accurate description of what happened. when they continue to go on and out the door, it is a slowdown of essential employees that they will still show up. troops will still get bullets and all the stuff that is important. there is a slowdown of other things. yellowstone will shut down. many parts of the federal government will shut down. it is a slowdown while something is being litigated. what would be litigated is whether or not to fund obamacare. >> i know your organization does not get into the political endorsement. he inc. it would be fair that the voters and activists you talk about should use their votes against republicans that do not hold the line? >> vote in primaries and general elections they should hold
people accountable to representing their views and doing in washington what they say they're doing in washington. any voter can choose what standard he votes. someone that represents the values you have and follows through a something that is critical to most. >> as far as republican leaders they have not committed to what they're going to do,, how they are going to stand. they have supported appropriations bills. mitch mcconnell pointed out that the crs has said even if you defund this there is still enough discretionary spending that it would continue. how do you ring republican leaders are going to handle this? what is your response?
>> if you have a shut down, obama does not stop. i agree completely. part of the reason that social security continues to go on is that it is entitlement spending and there is a lot of entitlement spending and obamacare. that that is separate from the funding. we are willing to see a cr being passed but we do not want to defund obamacare. the amendment since 1976 has said none of the money and medicaid can be used to fund abortion. in 1982 president reagan's relationship was defunded in appropriations. every bill that has passed have had changes in appropriate programs.
and an appropriation bill it is common to defund things. what we are advocating for him both the senate and house of saying let's pass this and put this on. >> how have you been in regular communication with john boehner and mcconnell? some have been frustrated that you are doing these things. how much communication have you had? >> we are talking with leadership all the time. we have disagreements. we have agreements. don't want a friend, get a dog. that is true for people who sometimes get frustrated with each other. >> if i could shift to one of the other items that will be on the agenda when congress comes back.
it is the farm bill. your group was one of the groups that led the effort against, including the snap funding which is also called food stamps, and the foreign bill the way it has been for a long time. there is reporting that the house will take up a measure that could reduce the spending over the next decade by something like $40 billion. is that a good approach that your organization can support or is there more that needs to be done? >> there is amendment i think is important. our whole point is that we have had for the years of this unholy alliance between supporters of food stamps and the welfare program. our goal was to separate the thing so we could have an honest conversation and this country about what good foodstamp policy looks like and what are our obligations. what is a 21st-century farm program look like? we were happy to see the house passed that.
not only was the bill the same corporate welfare laden program that we have seen for decades, but it made it law. we should be passing a foodstamp bill that shows what the values of conservative republicans are. they need to start with a clean sheet of paper. part of what happens when you put the bills that show the values is a party is people can start to understand them. people can say the republicans and the house passed this type of foodstamp bill and here are the conservative values that they showed them what it means. the senate showed different values. people can go to the voting booth and make that decision. house republicans basically said that we are going to split this bill.
we are going to say we are not interested in food stamps and welfare for the poor and needy. we are also such a corporatist party that we will not get rid of the farm bill. that is a dicey position to be in. >> the way that it seems like it is likely to play out, it seems that the house passes its standalone food bill, goes to conference with the senate on one piece or the other and they will have both of them back married together. do you agree with that?
do you think the house republican leadership should even entertain going? >> that is a possibility. i hope that we have this opportunity. we have been trying to talk with frank lewis about what a modern farm bill would look like. we would love the opportunity to do that. let's vote for a bill that really shows our values. we have an act that is the last bill you would ever have to pass on fannie mae and freddie mac because it winds them down. we would love the opportunity to have a one-year extension on the farm bill and then work with the committee on really updating farm policy from 1930 statism what a 21st economy is. >> your economy does not endorse candidates.
mitch mcconnell is in a primary now. some of the things he has done your group has criticized. do you think that mitch mcconnell is doing a good job? >> i think there is the job of the minority leader which is a very difficult job. we have been very critical of a lot of what he has done. there's also his job as a senator from kentucky. it is his job to explain to his constituents. heritage is about taking the information about what is really going on and explaining it to your constituents. we want constituents to be able to ask tough questions of their member. you can do it with any senator. we put it very transparently on our scorecard. here's what we thought was
important. here is how they voted so that individuals can make determinations for themselves. >> quick pivot to immigration. the house has not acted on an immigration reform bill. there is talk of a republican version of the dream act. it seems by looking at your website that you do not support going into conference with the senate no matter what. would you keep vote any immigration bill that will lead to any conference? >> we have not announced any yet. in this environment right now it is very difficult to handle immigration the way we should be by saying we need to keep the border secure. we also have a gigantic and balance. all of the questions do not
require amnesty. you get all the economic benefits that people talk about without necessarily giving amnesty at this time. that is the position we support. this is dissipated over the last couple of weeks and months. it will be very difficult to get away from the senate bill. >> it will be better for them not to act on immigration and this environment. the american people have a lot of concerns right now. unemployment is out of control. there are some pretty serious issues that need to be taking care of, immigration being one
of them. in the poll we released yesterday i think it was 1.5% or so who said immigration was at the top of their list. we have some pretty important issues to deal with, most notably obamacare. we should not be distracting ourselves right now with an immigration bill. >> if i could continue with immigration. if it is preferable that there is no immigration conference as with the farm bill, it is the same procedural situation that might play out or that you might be concerned being played out. what is the better way to do all of this with a divided house and senate where one is controlled by republicans and one by democrats? do you inc. that the democrats in the senate are better at winning these battles right now?
>> they have the senate. they have the presidency. when you look at issues like immigration, you really get an opportunity to really substantively move the ball forward on immigration. it is prudent to figure it out. a temporary worker program is a no-brainer. many on the left do not support it because they do not sign up for labor unions as much. the house passed one in the 112th congress last year that went nowhere in the senate. there are many small, common sense steps we should be able to do in a bipartisan fashion right now. in terms of a large immigration bill, which if one passes this year or next year will really take the opportunity to modernize our immigration system out the playing field. no one will want to touch this again. we need something that shows the conservative values that republicans would have.
this is not the time to do immigration reform. is the same true of tax reform? dave camp and max baucus have been barnstorming the country, holding these events to promote tax reform. is tax reform another issue that could fall in the same category as the immigration issue where it developed the same way? >> it is worth having a conversation about tax reform. the house has signaled that they are done with tax increases. that is very important. it lets you show what your conservative values with the. when i think back to the fiscal cliff, it would have played out very differently if the house
had passed and innovative program of tax reform, brought downgrades, did in a revenue neutral manager. these thinkers said we passed the tax cuts. we support that position. this reforms the tax code. it takes something nine times longer than the king james bible and makes it more progrowth and understandable. we put those options down. we have a deadline coming up on december 31. show them your values. i think we can do this with tax
reform. i think on the corporate side there are perhaps opportunities for gathering in a bipartisan fashion. i am more skeptical on the individual sites. i think he has been pretty clear that he wants tax increases. most americans feel they are taxed enough already. >> you have reference conservative values. at least twice you talked about obligations to the poor, sick, and elderly. where are conservative values as they apply to our obligations to others? >> conservatism is about making life better for everybody. the mistakes that republicans make is to start slicing and dicing americans in different ways than the left does, not based on race or economic class. school choice is a conservative policy. it is about making life better for people. having strong values is a conservative value. conservatism is about having timeless principles that are written on all of our hearts and translating them into modern policy that makes. how would you apply these principles? >> one in seven americans is on food stamps. this is a program that has grown
far out of any tradition that might be targeted toward people who are really needy. if you wanted to have a program that is done through tax credits or empowering for oh, that is always fair game. people access money they could use to go provide a better education for their child. there are all sorts of ways you can look at problems and do this in a way that is empowering to people rather than having a one- size-fits-all all government. they launched the progressive movement at the very start. it was very emphatic that this was an attempt by people who we learned so much as research has gone on, as science has improved. he gave a speech. he said the only problem with the declaration of independence as the preamble. we hold these truths to be self- evident that all men are created equal. they created government to defend the rights. that is the problem. government job is not just to protect your natural rights. it is now to solve problems. had the declaration of independence just than a list of 17 grievances, that is cool.
we have grievances today. let's write them down and solve them. conservatism is about something very different. the role of government is to protect the natural rights that given to us by god. >> john mccain has taken a leading role on importing the nuclear option on executive branch nominees. indicating that he wants a big role. mccain will be on the table on the debt limit increase. are you concerned about senator john mccain? >> i am always concerned about dealmaking for the sake of dealmaking.
if one party says here is what i stand for and another says here is what i stand for and in the process you have to say how do we get something done? that is different from saying it is really cool to get some people in the room and let's try to negotiate something. sometimes you look at what senator mccain has done.
he has had great accomplishments. he has had a heroic path for the country. other times there is an enthusiasm about gangs for the sake of gangs. >> this is a little broad, hypothetical. for those people who are watching, if someone out there and the audience happens to be a conservative who has substantial financial means to give money to some group in washington and they have not done so before, why would they get it to you incident the club for growth or americans for tax reform or some other organization?
why is yours the one they should be giving their money to? >> there are a lot of good groups out there. they're also great groups and allies. when you look at washington dc right now the voice of the best parts of the money is not representative. there is a ruling class in washington that is ultimately about favoring those who have access to lobbyists. one of the few groups willing to come into town and say we are not here on the side of big business or big labor, we are on the side of the american people who want to hold their member of
congress accountable. we have a proven track record of translating the nonsense that goes on in washington, food fights that are created to give 30 second ads out. we are doing the best. this is about cocktail parties. there are very few people and very few groups who will stand up to an entire culture in this town and say this is not what we need. >> how important it is that the republicans hold the house? >> they will if they are bold and inspired people. i had a washington insider to me that we are being unrealistic because it is impossible for the house to inspire the nation when their approval is a 12%. i said to him, and he looked at me like i just told him the world was round for the first time, maybe the reason the approvals 12% is you never try to inspire the american people. if the republicans want to control the house, even have to tell the american people what you stand for. why is it important? so we can have a corporatist farm bill past? i do not think so. we have certain values that the american people want. the republican party will be best served at both the house and the senate and the presidency in saying to a whole
bunch of people who feel disempowered and might they have no advocates in washington, we are willing be that advocate. in 2005 i was working at heritage as the chief of staff. we had hundred thousand dues- paying members. if you look at earmarks and the bridge to nowhere, as you look at all of that escaping, our donor base grew to 700,000 people. people looking for leadership in washington. the democrats party would be better served trying to inspire people rather than keeping a status quo. >> thank you very much for being our guest. we appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> "newsmakers" is back with bob cusack and neil lesniewski. people will remember senator jim dement joining the heritage foundation. what is the relationship between heritage action and heritage? >> they are in the same building. we have a conversation before we came in the air. they exist in the same building but the cuts of the legal situation, heritage action literally plays rent to the heritage foundation. they act somewhat autonomously from one another. the heritage edition being more additionally a think tank while
heritage action is arranged as an advocacy arm that seems to be primarily focused on outreach to conservative groups throughout the country. >> they have to have separate lobbying arms. >> unlike the club for growth which does endorse this, the heritage action does not. as they have shown, they have amassed a fair amount of power. you know that when republicans are complaining about them, they have done something that has attracted attention. >> are they making life
challenging for speaker boehner? >> i think they are making life very difficult for speaker boehner. the whole tea party movement is great for elections but as far as governing, they are very frustrated that as far as trying to move bills, whether it is the farm bill or other legislation, when you have a powerful group saying do not vote for this, certainly democrats for the most part are not going to give republicans any political cover. getting the boat to move bills through the house is a lot more difficult. we have seen that. this was a major embarrassment for gop leaders. they do get upset at him. >> what does this mean ultimately?
it sounds as though ideology is more important than leadership and power? >> it sure sounded like that. one of the things that michael mentioned during the interview was that they are interested in making the case to the voters that members of congress should be doing innings. for instance, they favor an extension of the armed bills so that they can rework it into separate pieces and have a vision for what the farm bill should look like. it is entirely possible that their vision will not be the one that is the most popular in the contrary.