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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 21, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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including a less -- ethanol train accident. we issued recommendation several years ago and said they either need to remove or retrofit the cars if they will continue to carry hazardous liquids. carrying corn oil is fine. carrying crude is not. they were not designed to carry hazardous liquids. at this point industry and others agree. they are working to improve the tank car designs and have built some improved tank cars tomorrow but we need more needs to be done, and that is why we are having our forum this week. transport'stment of agencies often try to urge industry groups to make changes that the companies resist over implementation costs. are the agencies to close to the industries they regulate?
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>> cost is always going to be an issue. it is pretty straightforward and pretty simple. dollars how many of you all in journalism say follow the money. it is about the money, and people are going to make choices and make decisions about whether or not to do things the cousin of how it affects their bottom line. .e need to understand that we need to also understand that sometimes it is going to cost them money if they do not make these changes, and sometimes they can make changes that improve safety and improved efficiency. it is all about having a dialogue and making sure people understand that. it does not have to be an either-or, that people will be driven by money. our own government is driven by cost-benefit analysis. there are a lot of recommendations we have issued
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that have not gone anywhere because the cost-and if it does -benefit doesost not support them. it does come down to money. with respect to the relationship, we have to have a balance of people who understand the industry, who are familiar with it, who know where the bodies are buried, who know enough about industry and their technology to ask the right questions and to challenge them. that we have to have an independent government. we have to have a government who will ask the right questions am a who will publish the information even when it is unfavorable to certain interests, domestic interests sometimes. we have to have a government that people can trust and that they can count on. it is a fine line. you got to have the expertise, and sometimes that expertise comes from having worked in the industry. distance,ot to have a
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and independence, and some isolation from those industries to be able to be effective. and so i would say it is a tough issue, one that we always pay attention to, and it is one that we look at in our investigations. do want an inspector who is doing inspections, a safety digit inspector for the faa who has been on a company certificate for 13 years, or do you want an inspector who has been on the certificate for three months? you probably do not want either. you want something in the between, but in order to get 13 years, you have to start at three months, though it is always a challenge. he got to look at all these issues and understand how to do it better. that is where our investigations come in, pointing out areas of vulnerabilities and asking for change. what was the high point of your tenure at the ntsb?
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>> another hard question. i would say the high point of my tenure at the ntsb was that people. many of the people are here in staff, our board members, our industry partners, the family groups, the safety the controllers, pilots, the truckers, the people who do the hard work every day. so it was getting to work with great people and work on a great mission. follow-on -- >> no. [laughter] ask me about trucks. >> does the ntsb have enough staff to do its job? >> that is a softball. i can answer that one. absolutely not. our staff is so overworked, our team -- i worked very hard, but
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i will give you an example. we have over 20 rail investigations going on right 10, and we have just about rail investigators. what that means is we cannot get , andork done fast enough that means that we are going to have to turn down accidents that occur in the future because we have too much on our plate. we have got to do better with respect to the staffing. we have mandates to investigate certain things, and then we have discretion in other areas. i think there is opportunity, certainly opportunity for the board to make a greater impact, but we will need to have some specific support and some specific direction about how to do that. for ticket only, when you think about the 3000 fatalities on the highway side, we have a small investigators relative to our aviation investigators. how do we make a greater impact in highway?
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we have to have the resources to be able to do that. we have a great team. they work really hard. they get what they need to get havedone, but i think they been working really hard for quite a few years, with pay freezes, sequesters, hiring freezes, and, you know, i do not want to lose them. they put in a lot of time, and they need some support. and they need some support from their congress to be able to do the work that they do in the things that are being asked of them. what safety recommendation or transportation issue do you wish had been implemented before you left ntsb or that you would think that transportation industry should address in the near future? >> well, i will go back to my speech. , many others worked on an
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issue, and when i came to the board in 2004, it was almost unbelievable that that was still allowed to go on. we have passed laws in all 50 --i see herkate back there -- how hard is that to require children to be restrained in automobiles? are infants.ou then as they are toddlers. now we have even got laws about booster seats for kids as they grow up. yet we still have not protected those same kids. they are just as valuable in the airplane as they are in the car, and the tragedy is i go to the airport and i watch people checking their child seats in the luggage rather than putting their child in them in the airplane. we all here stories about turbulence, all stories about
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other events. i cannot have imagined in 2004 that in 2014 we would still be talking about this issue. it is one of my great disappointments. i have a lot of hope. some have retired and moved on. but we have new people coming up. emily gibson is here. she is one of our investigators. she's a former flight attendant, and she has picked up the torch. this past year i went up with an -heldative about lap children because if we cannot get the regulations on in the united states, there might be other ways. we got broad support to put together a working group on what to do on child restraints, and i'm pleased emily will be a part of that effort went forward in the future. ata, representing the carriers, they are having their very first cabin safety working group
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meeting. they're having a conference in madrid next month, dedicate the passengerto child safety. it might not get done in my tenure, but i will be watching emily, andg you on, everyone else to try to get it done. , but're almost out of time before asking the last question, we have a couple of housekeeping matters to take care of. first of all, i would like to remind you of our up coming events and speakers. april 23, u.s. air force chief of staff general mark welch will discuss the future of the air force. may 27, donald trump. 28, ben carson, neurosurgeon and author. next, i would like to present our test with the traditional national press club mug. and in the little more than a minute left, i would like to
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ask you the final question. the national safety council has not always maintained a high profile in major debates like aviation safety. the you expect to bring a broader focus to this? >> i hope and expect the national safety council will have a much higher profile in the coming years, and thanks to you all in the press corps, they be if you comver some of these issues it will. thank you. >> thank you. how about a round of applause? [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> thank you for coming today. i would also like to thank the national press club staff,
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including the journalism institute for organizing today's event. we are adjourned. >> coming up tonight at 8:00, some of the top first amendment authors and scholars will debate the future of free speech, including college campus censorship. here's a short version of the event. i would argue in practice the wonderful balancing tests which we do so finally very quickly devolve into lawsuits regarding shutting down -- to people using political power because setting aside that issue of can you have these very fine tune tests they talk about, i would argue that history is absolutely on my side and i have lived it. i've seen in the past 20 years hate speech against homosexuals
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is a resource in the liberation of gay people in this country. i would not have said that 20 years. a man namedr day fred phelps. picketedd, he military funerals with signs that said god hates fags. the human rights campaign could've hired this guy in the sense that he did so much to expose the hate on the other side. it helped us when we have these people to argue against and when they are out there front and center we have got 20 years of an extraordinarily successful human right issue in this country to prove it. >> coverage is tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span. for over 35 years, c-span brings up a affairs events from washington directly to you, leaving you in the room at
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congressional hearings, white house events, routines, and conferences, and offer a complete gavel-to-gavel coverage of the u.s. house of all as a public service of private industry. we are c-span, created by the cable tv industry 35 years ago and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, like us on facebook, and follow us on twitter. center'stisan policy commission on political reform had its final convention in late march. susan page moderated his town hall meeting at the jfk library in boston. you'll hear from some of the members including former u.s. senators, congressmen, and white house advisers. >> welcome back. i'm susan page of "usa today." we have been honored to
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participate in this project with the bipartisan policy center and its commission on political reform. we cannot claim to have solved the issue of congressional dysfunction and political polarization, but over the past year we have tried to foster thoughtful and productive conversation about it among policymakers and engaging a lot of americans, including you. today we have another very impressive group of panelists, former members of congress and others, all members of the bipartisan commission on political reform. as we start, i want to say to our panelists, thank you so much for your service to your state and our country. [applause] let me introduce them. the cofounder of the edward m. kennedy institute for the united
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states, vicky kennedy. former utah senator bob bennett. former maine senator olympia snowe. so we have a maine contingent here, i am gathering. former texas congressman charlie gonzalez. floyd flake.ssman and former texas congressman henry bonilla. we have fuller bios in your program and online. we invite everyone in the audience are watching on the webcast to join our conversation. if you are physically here, you can fill out one of these cards with a question or comment that will be brought up to me.
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and i will use some of them through this conversation. if you're digitally here, send us an e-mail or a tweet. our twitter handle is bpc_bipartisan. #engagedusa. and we will read your comments. in fact, we want to start with two contrasting comments we have already gotten from twitter. from verna smith, "given unending gridlock in congress, is a time to think about term limits, some other means to kick them out for poor performance?" but a contrasting view from doug who said, "why is division bad? i am happy when congress is in good luck because america safe." [laughter] you know, we found both of these points of view in the new "usa today" national poll that released. we will talk about some of the poll results and some of the comments we gathered from a range of people.
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let's watch. [video clip] >> for the past year, "usa today" and the bipartisan policy center have joined forces to look at the nation's political polarization. this has contributed to washington's gridlock and fueled americans' happiness on how government works or doesn't work. constitution center in philadelphia, ohio state university in columbus, and now at the jfk library in boston. we co-sponsored four national polls taken by whit ayres and mark mehlman. in our new survey, americans 2-1 say the country has gotten off on the wrong track. just 2% strongly approve of the job that congress is doing,
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nearly half strongly disapprove. when we ask people what they liked about congress, the top response was we can kick them out if they don't do what we want. what about solutions? elected officials have offered suggestions, including some broad ideas. >> the thing that will ultimately make washington work is for the democrats and republicans in congress to put the people of this country first and their own political ambitions second. >> if we paid more attention to the structural limitations of the constitution, i think that some of the things that are so acrimonious today would become less acrimonious. >> but there is not much consensus on particular steps intended to make washington work better. for instance, republicans think
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the senate filibuster is a good rule. democrats are inclined to think it is a bad rule. independents are split evenly. while some experts say mems of congress need to spend more time in washington to foster cooperation, 2/3 of americans say their representatives should be spending more time home in their districts. some policy makers suggest we focus more on substance, less on politics. >> in a substantive conversation, you can often have more convergence. you still have disagreements, but you can narrow down where they are and what they are. if i talk to a republican economist, we speak a similar language. we will have different views on things like the minimum wage, but it will be a similar language. so i think that helps. and that is what the bipartisan policy center is great at, bringing experts from both sides
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and bringing them in to a substantive conversation. i think it would be a little utopian to think we would know exactly how to do that to my that that would solve all our problems. but my little piece of it is part of the answer. >> over the past year, some things haven't changed. three of four americans said our politics have become more divided in recent years. in our poll taken this month, almost precisely the same number agreed. one finding has changed. a year ago, just 20% those political divisions are a good thing because it gives voters a real choice. now that number has doubled and the percentage who say it is a bad thing because it makes a harder to get things done has dropped by nearly 20 percentage points. that could mean the polarized state of american politics increasingly is being seen as the new normal. but many continue to express concern about the showdown, the recriminations, and the gridlock
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that characterize much of national politics today. >> people can't expect that we are going to be able to solve the really big problems facing our country. >> it is not just the eyes of america, but the eyes of the world that are watching the greatest country on the face of the earth, the greatest democracy in history. we can't have people around the country lose faith in our system. and when they see craziness like that, i wonder how much it affects the rest of the world and how they view our country and our preeminence in this world. >> on that at least, just about everybody seems to agree. the stakes are high.
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>> vicky kennedy, thank you so much for eing here. not a surprise, americans say congress -- one in five americans approve of congress just a little bit. is there one reform that could improve congress's standing? >> i don't think it is one reform but a combination of reforms. i want to comment on those two comments you started off with about term limits and congress not doing anything. i disagree with both of them. teddy used to love to quote h.l. mencken. for every context problem, there is an easy answer and it's wrong. and i think those comments said in that description. i personally am opposed to term limits because legislation takes time. it takes knowledge. it takes getting an expertise about an issue. the truth is we have elections. right now over half of the
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united states senate is in its first term. over half of the house of representatives i think are in their first few couple of terms. so we have an enormous amount of turnover with our election. so i don't think term limits are the answer. the second comment, where the commenter feels safe when congress is in gridlock and doing nothing i think is a simple easy answer. but it ignores the reality that, in this country, we need to have a functional government. we have serious issues facing us. we need a budget. we have major foreign-policy issues facing us right now. we have the issues with the ukraine. we have other issues that are out there. so when serious issues come about, if we haven't been talking to each other, why would we suddenly be able to start talking to each other?
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one of the things we have been doing as part of this commission is thinking of ways that we can actually have members being together, even in social settings, where they can learn about each other as people because it is a lot easier to come to consensus on issues or to maybe listen and hear what someone has to say if you've actually met them in a non-contentious situation. >> the idea of term limits is interesting. the first question we have gotten from the audience, from a student, who writes, "do you think imposing congressional term limits would increase productivity in congress?" >> term limits, first of all, i do not support those because, in any given election, you can vote your member of congress out. in essence, by advocating term limits, you are advocating putting responsibility on someone else's shoulders rather than your own because you can vote them out. one comment i want to make about
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the video shown earlier in the discussion we are having here is some factors that cause the dysfunction now. the way you talk to someone matters. whether it is in your own home, your place of business, or your church, siblings, co-workers, whatever. and what we have now is a lot of harshness from people who have strong views. if you look in contrast to two presidents, reagan and clinton, who even if they were having the most difficult time of their presidency with pressures, with losing political fights in washington, with international crisis, when they came out and spoke to you publicly, they were
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the most nicest optimistic people and they had an attitude like tomorrow is going to be better. and let's talk about this. they didn't have that tense, harsh tone that you hear from both sides now. one way to start the dialogue in washington to improve it would need to just, hey, be nice with the way you communicate. a lot of us have very strong views and that i desperate it's how you put it. another has a lot of strong views but it's the way you put it. another point i want to make is these elected member suddenly turn harsh and they get ugly when they get to washington? you vote for these people. america, they reflect america's attitude now, unfortunately. they don't create it once they set foot off that plane in washington and say, hey, i am
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going tv mean down and dysfunctional -- i'm going to beat me now and dysfunctional. they go back home and people cheer them. america has to reflect upon itself and how, at the grassroots level, they help create this situation in washington and try to fix it. >> why do you think this is happening? all of us would agree that the tone of this course in washington and politics has gotten so much harsher and so much less civil. why has that happened? >> i have all series of answers to that question, some of them very provocative that i won't tell you. this is not the right place and the right setting. there have been changes in media. the internet has made everybody into walter cronkite. this is an old enough crowd. each of you know who walter cronkite is. the genius of the two-party
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system over american history has been to force compromise within the parties. you had to choose which party you were going to be in and then you got into the democratic party. the democratic party is the party of government. they believe government is the best instrument to solve problems. the republican party is the party of free markets. they believe that the free markets, left by themselves, are the way to solve problems. they are both right, because sometimes the free markets make better decisions and sometimes the government makes better decisions. if you are a special interest and you think the government is the best place to go to get your interests met, you become a democrat, and you run into other people who have become democrats whose special interest is very different than yours. and the democratic party has to work out that conflict within itself. the same thing is true within the republican party. we do not have a european system
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of multiple parties where every special interest has its own party. the two-party system doesn't perform that function very well anymore because you have bitter fights within parties and people insisting the rise of the word rino and now dino. you are a republican in name only, senator bennett, because you disagree with me on immigration. you did the terrible thing on immigration. you voted with teddy kennedy. i said, no, i didn't. i voted with the republican president, george w. bush, who has been a border state governor who understood the immigration problem far better than any other rest of us. and i was delighted to have senator kennedy vote with us. no, no, no, you are a republican in name only because you didn't agree with us.
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that division becomes so strong that we don't have the kind of cohesion that used to take these place in both parties where the leadership of both parties would sit down and say, ok, guys, we've got to stick together. we've got to make this thing work. we've got to compromise within ourselves and have a position -- uh-oh, we want to pass something. that means we have to talk to some democrats. we have to work this out. but the old ronald reagan line, which in my view labels him a rino -- it is better to get 80% of what you want than 20% of nothing. i remember when we were debating medicare part d, and it was a republican proposal from a republican president and there were democrats who are saying, no, absolutely not.
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it's not enough. teddy kennedy said, to get the republicans to give us anything, let's take it and then argue about what more we can get later on. but as long as it is on the table and the republicans put it there, let's take it. and that is the way it used to work. now everybody has their own slice of ideology and an insistence on purity. and the two-party system isn't working as well as it used to. i do have some ideas on how to deal with it, but i do not have a quick answer for fear it may be wrong. >> these divisions in the republican party cost you your seat in the senate and these divisions contributed to your decision, senator snowe, to leave the senate. is there something the congressional leadership can do
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to make this work better? >> certainly. they obviously could have communications and working across the aisle. that is especially important in the united states senate where it requires a building of accommodation and consensus. and unanimous consent to move anything forward in the united states senate. so much of which has to occur by agreement. because the power rests within the individual senator in the senate whereas the rules of the house protect the rules of the institution because the institution is much larger. so it does require that cross-party, cross-leadership communication. certainly, they could allow the process to work. the fundamental factor is in the united states senate today and in the house of representatives, the process isn't working. they are not legislating. we are not having committees that are operating and
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functioning where they consider legislation, report it to the floor, and then have an open debate and have an amendment process, at which point, i think senator lott was mentioning earlier, you know, you work through those issues and reach an agreement with the other side in terms of how many more amendments. sometimes, it is very cathartic in the senate. you can talk, talk, talk. just let them talk it out. give them a month to talk it out on a particular issue. the ones that are sorely neglected of the ones who deserve a month. let them talk it out. let them amend the bill, have their perspectives and the views of their constituencies represented through the force of these amendments. ultimately, you get to a point where it begins to coalesce. that is how it used to work. the fact is when i first began
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my legislative career in the state legislature, the first year -- and it was true throughout my 34 years in congress -- the first year was devoted to legislating. understanding that politics is interfering in the second year in election cycle by a did not deter us in the first year about working on a number of issues that are important to the country. it was synchronized between the president and the condescending leadership to work it out, knowing that these are the major issues on the agenda and that they needed to be addressed. but that is not happening today. in fact, the legislative process has been virtually abandoned. it is all about politics, about the next election. it is not about how to craft the best policy to solve the problems. they are not problem-solving anymore. it is all scoring political points for the next election and to leverage one side and disadvantage the other side
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politically so you capture that 30-second soundbite. so that is what is sorely lacking. you have to return to a normal legislative process. i often threatened to go to the floor of the senate and conduct a refresher course on how a bill becomes law, you know, "schoolhouse rock." [applause] >> if i may, one of the reasons you need to have a refresher course on how things are done is because 50% of the folks that are there are in their first term and don't know, don't remember. that's the strongest argument possible against term limits. >> we have a suggestion from an e-mail.
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"have responses to legislation ideas become longer, less to the point, and more colorful since television cameras have been televising session? we want to pose a question to our audience online. here is our first question. can the senate retain its reputation as the world's greatest deliberative a body without the filibuster or other minority rights? we will report those results in just a few minutes. let's go to the point that senator bennett was just making, on the fact that so many members are new and we see a lot of very senior members of congress, including the most senior
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member of congress, congressman dingell, announcing that they are going to retire at the end of this year congressman gonzalez, is there a loss with so many senior members deciding not to run again with the fact that so many members are relatively junior? >> i do think, of the members that have announced retirement, it really is a loss because these individuals have such a respect and love for the institution of congress and especially the house and its legitimate function in american society. that is what you lose. now, who replaces them will be important, but i think one source where we are today is a result of what happened, is you have individuals who are being elected that don't have a love, respect for the institution or the role of government. they are elected on the platform to make sure that there is gridlock and that government will not function. and if they could reduce the number of legislative days to
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three or four, they probably would. that sounds like an extreme statement, but i assure you a close analysis of what is going on, because you don't even have the speaker of the house -- that is the individual that was elected by the majority party. they don't even vet that individual anymore with authority to go out there and broker and negotiate. i think that is the real issue. i think it is a great loss. there are some people who will say that mr. dingell served 50 something years and mr. waxman was there 40 years and george miller was there -- but i will tell you something. those were very effective legislators. you may disagree with them, but in large measure most of those that will be leaving were real craftsman, individuals that we all learned from. and if we took those lessons --
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and that is my fear -- what is left of that kind of legacy, will it suffer? or will someone else carry on? i am concerned about it. >> here is an e-mail we've gotten from gavin of syracuse, new york. how often will it happen that members of congress get together, not to talk about politics but to forge some personal relationship? would it make a difference? >> it would make a great difference. when i came into the congress,
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the other bush was president. when i came into congress, the older bush was the president. relationships were much better. and during that season while he was there, one of the things that he did -- he was in the gym with us. he exercised in the gym with the members. the connection between people makes the difference, and that connection somehow got lost somewhere between the years i started, the years i finished. and one of the things i bring to the table is an understanding of how you deal with people, how you make people work. i was the dean of students and dean of the chapel for eight years. if you can deal with that many young people, helping them to understand the things that are difficult to them, i learned in that environment that it is always possible to help people bring them to a level of understanding about that which
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they have difficulties and problems with. and i do believe that much of that could work in a political environment. but it takes a person who has that ability to help people understand not only who you are, but help them to understand who they are. i think in the congress, our problem is too many do not understand who they are. they don't understand what it means once you get elected to this office. and the things that they think makes them who they are in many instances is not really the thing that ultimately gives them the power or a sense of who they are and working in an environment where you learn how to do a deal, how to make the deal, how to make the deal work
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, how to lure people in, so that together, you can make something greater than it would be if you try to do it by yourself. >> does the president make much difference -- we are talking about congressional function and dysfunction. how much of a difference can a president make? >> the president's role is paramount. you can't have the legislative and executive branches operating in parallel universes. unfortunately, the intersection between the two branches has been diminished. and that is unfortunate because ultimately it requires that kind of communication, collaboration, and build stronger relationships when they get to know one another, irrespective of their differences. in the past, during reagan's administration, for example, there were regular bipartisan leadership meetings at the white house with the president. biweekly leadership dinners at the white house. and president reagan was very much engaged and weighed in with members of congress and also specifically with leadership.
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that is an important issue going forward on both sides. it requires both the support and the leadership and the president working together on the issues that matter to this country. does that mean that they will not have differences? no, but they have to communicate and understand one another. we as people have to demand it in the future. that is a level of accountability, they have to be elicited from people who are running for these offices at to ensure that they are going to make government work. we can't have both branches working separately and independently of one another as has been the case. >> if you look at the most recent bush presidency working with ted kennedy to get an education bill done, before that bill clinton worked with republicans to pass the
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free-trade agreement, nafta, and before that, you had to go neil working with reagan to pass legislation. and you are just not seeing that anymore. you asked about the president's influence. the presidents in those cases made a special effort to have those relationships with the congress and vice versa. for some reason, that has stopped. when you have to sit next to someone in the white house or on capitol hill, look them in the eye, and talk about an issue, you feel it more. and if you have a difference, it's going to be a true difference before you go make a speech before the tv cameras. that is different than looking at someone in the eye who sincerely comes to you to try to work out some agreement. it sets the table for something to actually get done at the end of the day versus each one individually racing out to the podium to make a speech that is going to look good on television. >> president obama does not,
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it's fair to say, have very good relations with members of congress, including democratic members. now in his sixth year, is it time for him to change that? could the remainder of his second term be different and more productive if there were things he did? >> i think there is definitely time to change it. and i would hope that he would continue to reach out. i was also struck by something that henry said early on about just civility and people talking to each other in a nice way. i think we also have to acknowledge that we have had members of congress actually decline presidential invitations. i've never heard of that before. and i think that is a place where the people need to speak out and say to their members of congress, when the president of the united states invite you to the white house, you go. and they should be held accountable, not be lauded for not speaking to the president of
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the united states. or if someone calls the president a liar during a speech, that shouldn't be something to be celebrated. i think those are acts of such incivility that we should be speaking out about that. i mean, i think that there is a lot of incivility and blame to go around, but i think the people need to speak out and say this isn't what we want of our government. this isn't what we want of our elected representatives, and we need everybody to continue -- we want you to break bread together, because a lot happens over a dinner table. we talk about families staying together and eating together and having good relationships. the same is true of a good working relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch that also among legislators. >> i agree. i find it incredible that people turn down white house invitations.
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it seems like your kind of dissing the institution of the presidency. why has that happened? >> i really think, for many republicans, a photo of that republican next to the president, to president obama, will cost you the primary. because it has happened at every primary since 2010. and for us not to discuss that environment, which is very obvious after 2010 -- i am a democrat and i am not blaming all the republicans and i think the president could make a greater concerted effort at times and establish those relationships. but we should not fool ourselves. this is not george w. bush's term. it's not clinton's term. it is not george h.w. bush's term. this is in a different environment, and i blame
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leadership for not trying to rein in that kind of behavior. but i'm not really sure what leadership is going to do in the way of discipline or correction. but what do you do with that political environment that is so poisoned that you have individuals that would actually turn down an invitation to go meet with the president and go to the white house? >> it gets back to valuing compromise and consensus. you are on one side or the other. they don't want any of the gray areas and sorting through the issues because it doesn't generate a lot of ratings. and that is what also has happened, whether it's through cable networks or any other form of media. the point is people want to know if you are on one side or the other. at the end of the day, we will
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all have differences. the question is how are you going to get over those differences and solve the problem? that is not what is happening today for this country. and so it is going to be up to all of us to get involved in these elections and in real time and demand that and get back to what you are saying, charlie. that does not become punitive. because of the primaries and the focus on primaries, but rather you have now a broader support among the population for compromise and consensus. that is why reforms have to take place that we are focusing on as well. >> even if you don't believe in compromise, if you don't want to compromise, you can believe in civil discourse. this report on the results of our first online audience question. can the senate retain its
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reputation as the world's greatest deliberative body without the filibuster or other minority rights? no, 77%. yes, 23%. we want to cause a second pose a second question to our online audience. here is a question from the audience. from a boston college high school student. she writes, what role does gerrymandering play in congressional dysfunction? i ask that particularly because of the conversation we had about
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members who would be crucified in their district for talking to the president because it is such a republican district. has gerrymandering had the effect of setting us up for this lack of function or this kind of dysfunction? >> i think gerrymandering plays a major role. when you think about how you shape a district, how you shape the districts, and persons wanting to be in a particular place and not another, and perhaps getting elected and then find that their district is not capable of providing for them in the way that other districts might be able to do so. it is a difficult process when you draw the lines. in many instances, it destroys a great deal of what made a district strong in the first place because you take so much away from it, so much out of it. and now you have created so many -- among each other it is
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difficult to build it back. i have not seen it built back in my years. >> you look at a place like texas, lots of gerrymandering there, congressman. >> yeah, there is some evidence of that. [laughter] there were some lawsuits in texas. i was so tired of taking the witness stand. as the reverend was alluding to, what you are trying to do is get as many seats as you could possibly win. that is what it comes down to. but as i minority, what enters the picture will be minority districts. and you could say, when you create that, are you creating a democratic district? and that has been a legal argument for a long time, because the answer is generally
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yes, because of voting patterns and such. sometimes there are these compromises, but actually, it is out of respect legally speaking of the minority's rights to be able to elect someone of their choice. some might be republican. some might be democrat. most likely will be democrat. it is not as easy as i would like to present to you but definitely there has to be a better way of arriving at congressional districts every 10 years. >> some of the biggest political fights in this country are over redistricting. and we have discussed in meetings with this group over the past year some reforms that might be considered to take that out of the equation. the state of iowa, for example, writes them about as independently as anybody could do. and that versus our home state, charlie, that it's done by the state legislature. the governor gets involved. outside interests get involved and it is a bloodbath every 10 years. >> what are the odds texas would agree to nonpartisan redistricting?
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>> that is something that the state legislature has to agree to and they are up for reelection this year so i can't you offhand. but i think they ought to at least consider it. because, again, we have an example of one state that has been a pretty objectively thus far. another consideration would be what california does where you have jungle primaries and you don't have individual primaries of democrats and republicans and let everybody run in one pile. >> the jungle primaries where the first two finishers -- >> if you don't get a majority, you have a runoff. it might be two republicans or two democrats. clearly, there are ideas that should be considered by states to take this ugly fight out of the equation. >> about a dozen states have adopted already independent redistricting commissions. frankly, you don't have to change every state in the
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country. you just need to change enough to alter the political equilibrium in the house of representatives, having more competitive seats. depending on which study you look at, nate silver conducted one study last year concluded that 35 seats of 435 were competitive. verses 21 seats out of 435. it gives you the degree to which these districts have been significantly altered to fit the political. >> in california, it was the citizens that passed a referendum requiring that nonpartisan redistributing. it wasn't the legislature that decided to give up some of its power. here is a radical idea from a tweet from george sanders of larchmont, new york. would you ever support approval voting? approval voting is where you
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would vote to an election and you vote for more than one candidate. and the candidate with the broadest acceptability would win the office. what do you think, senator bennett? you are kind of shaking your head. >> no. [laughter] >> i agree. >> they have a form of that in nevada. in nevada, you can vote none of the above. and none of the above never gets more than 4% or 5% of the vote. but none of the above has determined the outcome of the election. i think harry reid would not be the senator of nevada if they hadn't had none of the above on the ballot, because people who don't like harry, but they don't like his opponent either, so they just say none of the above. and if they were forced to make a choice, then they probably
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would have voted for harry's opponent. harry happens to be a friend of mine. he did a lot of wonderful things for me while i was in the senate. people would say to me, oh, harry reid is evil. i say, you like my record and all of the great things i did for you? oh, yeah, you are a terrific senator. well, i could not have gotten any of it done without the behind the scenes from harry reid, and he is a westerner and we westerners to together. he would say, i can help move that through. naturally, i am very careful about saying nasty things about harry reid because i will need in the next time something comes up. but the idea of having a generic "we hate everybody," "none of the above" or "do not approve," that is a copout. pick one.
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make a choice. >> here is a question on twitter from lonny. what is the line between acceptable minority party opposition and blatant obstructionism? i wonder where that line is depends on what side of the line you are on, whether you are the party in power or not. is there a line and are we stepping over the line these days? >> i think there is a line. i think there is a line. i cannot see how there cannot be. there is always a party and there is always another party. there is always a group. there is always another group. there are always people who have
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their ideas of what politics are and another group who has a different idea. you are always going to have those kinds of challenges. it's not going to be easy to change it because this is the way it's been so long for so many. and anything that is different to them would seem to be that you are just tearing up that which they truly believe in, and that would cause another degree of problems that we might not be able to solve. >> decide the line between where to stand and being abstraction is, how do we know when someone is on one side of that line or the other? >> if you are always voting the party line and always voting basically because it's the republican bill or something, you are probably going to run into some problems. you will vote against every amendment in committee because it is republican. i think that is probably the
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easiest line that you could probably draw. it would be some line of demarcation. i always thought, in our wildest dreams as we set there and there is a scoreboard, there is 435 of us and the senator will tell you that it is easier to call at 100 names than 435 so we vote electronically. i used to think, wouldn't it be great on a real controversial piece of legislation we could vote. but no one would know that that was your vote. you are legally entitled to vote. i wonder what that vote tally would look like. boy, you would have some real bipartisanship going on. i think if you just always do not entertain the idea from the other side of the aisle, vote against it because of the origin i think that is probably the easiest thing to identify. in my view. will have the results in a
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minute. do you think a two-year budget makes sense? would it change the way things work? would we have less of this cliffhanger stuff? >> just getting a budget would be remarkable these days. [laughter] that is another story. i do think a two-year budget would be a significant reform. in fact, pete domenici who chaired the committee, the budget committee for many years, also with the policy center. he introduced by annual budgets back in 1999. it gives the opportunity for congress to establish a two-year budget process and to have a two-year resolution, two years for appropriation and then go back in and engage in aggressive oversight of government programs and how they are functioning, what we can do to make them different, what works, what doesn't work.
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and the kind of oversight that is vital and essential. and so, that gives the opportunity for the congress and the committee to weigh in and then make adjustments through supplementals. so they don't always have to 12ess all of the appropriations simultaneously. but back in adjustments that can be made over the two-year process. just to understand how bad the process is, we already know how bad the process is from the shutdown that occurred. ultimately, we reached a de minimus agreement. we have not had a budget in the united states senate until this last agreement in december. but on the appropriations side, the 12 appropriations, we haven't had well appropriations passed before the fiscal year of october 1 since 1996, which was
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under senator trent lott's leadership. senatority leader and daschle and minority leader. and only 13 appropriation bills have passed since 2001. only 13 total, not in one year but total. just to give you the degree to which this current process has failed. so it would add significantly to improving it and getting them on a course of evaluating federal programs. >> so what are the odds of a two-year budget process? >> i think they are very good and we have an example. the murray-ryan budget is a two-year budget. we have actually done it. and let's see what happens in this two-year period. >> do you take this as a green shoot of spring that they were able to reach a budget deal? >> i think they did it without realizing what they were doing. [laughter] could i go back to the previous question?
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-- we kind of went over it very quickly but it is a very significant point. which is where do you draw the line between possible opposition and absolute obstructionism? and there wasn't anybody who had stronger principled opposition than 10 eight -- than teddy kennedy to many of the positions that republican presidents took and he was outspoken about it. i go back in history. the ratification of the constitution was one of the most bitter, divisive fights we ever had. everybody thinks, oh, they came out of philadelphia, and they waved this marvelous document and there we were. no, they came out of philadelphia into a massive opposition. and the fight for ratification of the constitution state-by-state was a bloody fight.
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and the two states where it was the bloodiest were the two states we had to have in the union or we would not have had a country. and that was virginia and new york. all the other states could have ratified. and if virginia and new york state, we would not have had a country. and it was a narrow thing in both state. and james madison, fighting the fight in virginia, was opposed by edmund randolph, the member of the constitution convention who put forward the virginia plan to begin with, and then voted against it in the convention and came home to virginia and campaigned against it on the position that it takes too much sovereignty away from the state and i can't before it. -- be for it. and the most powerful orator in the state of virginia, patrick henry.
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and they fought the constitution every step of the way. and it finally was ratified by a very narrow vote. ok, what did patrick henry do when people came to him and said, all right, what do we do to stop it? he said, we have lost. now we fight within the system. i will not fight the constitution anymore. i will now work within the structure that is created to get what i want later on. that is where the line should be. fight as best you can for your position and then, if you are defeated, you say all right, that is the way things are. now i will work within the system for what i believe instead of saying, all right, now i will shut down the system. that's the line that should be drawn. >> but of course, we have a pretty --
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[applause] we have a pretty notable example where that has happened, the affordable care act. four years ago, the republicans spent several years trying to repeal it. where do you take a principled stand in an act that you disagree with and being obstructionish? how do you know which side of the line you are on? >> i think senator bennett just said it beautifully. i think that a constant attempt to undermine what is already happened, i think a partyline vote or a decision that no matter -- by a party leader, that no matter what comes up you will never vote with another side and decision to filibuster every single thing that comes from the
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side, that is just obstructionism. that is not principled opposition. to totally revisit laws that have -- and i am feeling very strongly and personally about the affordable care act obviously, but to have a law that has been passed by both houses of congress, signed by the president, approved by the supreme court of the united states, and to still be talking about it over and over and over and over and over again, not about how to make it better, but how to undo it, i think is really not historically as far as i know what we have done. obviously, there are things you can improve, but that is not in the conversation. >> does anyone on the panel think that republicans -- [applause] continued to fight to repeal of the affordable care act had done the right thing, principled opposition not an example of
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obstructionism? >> i think they feel is sincere opposition. there might be a fringe group that just wants to be negative on the president regularly. for the most part, it is not limited to one party either. there are lots of people on both sides that have a lot of issues with it. i think are the most part, the majority of those that are constantly trying to change it or eliminate it are sincere in their feeling. >> pinocchio alert. was that? >> i said pinocchio alert. [laughter] >> that is what i am sensing from the heartland. >> i think it illustrates the fundamental primary issue why we are all here. the process isn't working. the affordable care act, i was involved in that, and i gave that my level best.
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[applause] >> i know that for a fact. >> former chief of staff asked me do you know where this is going and i didn't. you have to take it to the and then decide. you have to draw that line and decide what you can support and what you couldn't and i couldn't. buy-in.res bipartisan that's why the process matters. you have both sides weighing in on significant issue. it's the largest domestic initiative in our history. sitting at the table working across it, you come major issues. you think about the civil rights act and how it passed, that was bipartisan. social security and medicare, of theng these because constitution, giving the women are the right to vote. it is because the united states congress's willingness to work
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on landmark initiatives and that is not happening with the affordable care act. it should have been a process in which everybody was engaged on both sides. to make a difference. i won't get into the why it didn't, but unfortunately it didn't. ultimately, people are paying the price today. that's why i think so many people are saying, you know what? we prefer gridlock. with so many problems of the implementation, they say. not that there wouldn't be as your problems with an initiative of this kind, but it would be less of them, because you have more interest to make sure it works when you have both sides working on a major proposition of this kind. >> i know i have already spoken but i can't -- i have to tell you this story. [laughter] senator wyden and i in the previous congress put together a bipartisan health-care bill. we called it the healthy americans act.
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and mary landrieu called it the noah's ark bill because you go on it 2 by 2. we got up to 19 cosponsors. i had 10 republicans, and he had 9 democrats. trent lott, lamar alexander, ok, the election occurs. president obama is elected. health care is on the agenda. i get a call from don -- from tom daschle and says will you help us? and i said of course. but i said, tom, i want a seat at the table. for all the work i have done. he said, absolutely, you have a seat at the table. and tom daschle ran afoul of the confirmation process. did not get to be the secretary of hhs. a new team came in. i got a phone call -- i will not tell you the name -- i want to visit with you about health
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care. great, come on in. the individual came in. he said, i appreciate -- we appreciate all the work you have done on health care. well, thank you. interest.reciate your well, thank you. love to have your support as we work to get this bill done. be glad to do it. but i want to make it clear, it's not going to be the healthy americans act. it is not going to be your bill. it is going to be our bill. i am here to to tell you that i want you to support our bill. but there are some things in this bill i really believe in. well, we are going to write the bill. i said, do you mind if i tell ron wyden? and he said, that is why i'm here. ok, so i picked up the phone and i called senator wyden and said
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i've just been told by x that our bill is dead on arrival. yeah, they have been working on me to get me to abandon it and i won't so he figures, if you works on you and you will tell me to abandon it, i will abandon it. we had 19 cosponsors, including 10 republicans, including two members of leadership who were willing to work on a bipartisan solution because we believed that the current health care structure was impossible, terrible, bad for americans, needed to be changed. and we were frozen out of the conversation and told to go away. and it was passed with 60 democratic votes and not a single one of the 10 republican co-sponsors was ever asked to participate in the process of putting it together. so this was one place where i chalk it up not to anything evil. i am not rush limbaugh. i hoeot somebody who says
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pe the president will fail. i think this is an example of the president's in experience in dealing with the congress. he had a great opportunity and he muffed it. >> i don't know how many times i hear if ted had been in united states senate at the time he would have worked it out because he is a master at writing legislation and understands the give-and-take of the legislative process. that is why i thought it was go great today that our day began with a profound -- visiting the kennedy institute and seeing what the senate was all about and what it is going to be about and the interaction and what inspires so many young people to run for public office knowing how that process works and how he made it work. >> i have to chime in for just a second. because even in the house, there was tremendous respect on both sides for ted kennedy because of the way he operated.
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and i guess in speaking in broader terms of out people that used to be in the senate and the house that operated from that vantage point, where they really wanted to try to get the right thing done and, if they couldn't get their way, they were not going to lay on the tracks and call a news conference and stomp their feet and try to get you in their next election. he never did that. and i think that is best just to build on what olympia is saying -- was one of the great things about him. >> someone who is kind of a master legislator respected on both sides, has a strong point of view but is willing to work party -- is there a young senator or someone who seems like a prospective ted kennedy figure? >> lamar alexander. >> lamar alexander? >> i would agree with that. >> any other nominees?
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no. >> it would be easier if we had a list. >> can i give you a name that will surprise everybody? chuck schumer. i was the ranking member of the rules committee when chuck was the chairman. everybody said to me, this is going to be terrible. before, it was dianne feinstein dianne -- feinstein. we worked everything out without any difficulties, no problems. it was just wonderful. no, dianne has moved onto intelligence. you have schumer. he's a tough partisan. it's going to be awful. i never asked chuck for anything he didn't give me. i made sure all of my requests were reasonable. but, ok, this is reasonable,
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and i would go to chuck and sit down , and chuck would say, ok, we can work that out. i know he has a reputation as a brass knuckles, back alley fighter, and he is as tough a partisan as you are going to come across, but chuck is transactional. if he can make a deal. i think if chuck were the majority leader, or i prefer minority leader -- [laughter] and lamarr alexander was the majority leader, i think you would see a very different senate. >> a couple more quick names. now that i am thinking more. orrin hatch is one. in the house, bill shuster. hal rogers. they may not be household names, but they are within the institution itself respected as people who really want to work with you to try to accomplish. >> it is interesting that senator schumer and senator alexander are mentioned.
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because they are working on new processes in the senate to get things going. well, let's report on our second question. would you support a two-year budget so congress can conduct budget talks half as much? 87% yes. 13% of no -- no. budget. of a 2-year let's ask our third and final question -- would congress be more productive if members of their family spent more time in washington? you can vote at our website vicki kennedy, i've heard a lot of people talk about the need for people, members to spend more time in washington. in our poll, we asked if members of congress should move their families to washington or leave them in the district. by six to one, americans said they should leave their families in the district. they were much more concerned
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with members losing touch with what their constituents wanted than there was about forging relationships that would help in washington. i wonder if that's just a hurdle you can't overcome when it comes to spending more time in washington or moving your family there. >> i think the notion of leaving your family back home is a relatively new phenomenon. i mean, historically, families always moved to washington. certainly, it was expected. in the senate, for a six-year term, the idea that your family would be someplace else, and teddy used to talk about it -- he would say, they are in five days a week. the idea that your family would be someplace else was just unthinkable. it was a chance, as well, to have a chance to have dinner with your family if you could. he talked about this, and he did this really with my
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children, as well. we would have picnics on the capitol lawn. the senate would be in session. sometimes, there would be a band in the very old days. the marine band would play on the capitol lawn, and on a certain day of the week -- do you remember that -- we would sit under the tree and had a picnic. the bell would ring, and he would go back in for a vote. it was the idea that you could have a civilized life, but you also had the sense of normal family life. it allowed you to meet other senators, to meet their families, to meet their spouses in the senate spouse club where we would have regular lunches. i had wonderful across the aisle -- a wonderful relationship with senator bennet's wife, other spouses, and that made a difference in how our responses interacted on the floor. all of those things make a difference. you get to know each other as human beings. so i think it is a terrific idea to spend time in washington. you are there to do a job.
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and it is to represent your constituents in washington -- think about being in a workplace. if you aren't getting along with your coworkers, how productive can you be? if you don't know your coworkers names, how productive can you be? so i'm very, very much in favor of it. [applause] >> this audience agrees with it. i think it must be hard on a member of congress to not have their family living in washington. when your constituents are suspicious of the idea, what do you do, congressman? can you book them and say, no, it's important for me to have them there? >> there is a distinction -- a big difference in the term of a senator and a term of the u.s. house representative member, which is two years. you win in november, and a year later, you are filing for office again. my dad was elected to congress in 1961. mom and dad had eight kids. we were lucky to have a home back in san antonio, much less one in san antonio and one in d.c.
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we would visit dad in the summer, two at a time because he lived in an apartment. but i was saying, when i was in congress, i still remember the congresswoman from new mexico was in charge of taking a survey or poll -- 75% of the members of the house did not have their families in washington. it's not that you don't want them there. one, i think it is a financial situation. it's really, really difficult. secondly, you are running for office. you will be back home whether you like it or not during that campaign year, which is every other year. so as much as i would like to see it, because it does make for a more complete member to have family there, it just makes it a and enables you to get along, and you'll see other members -- henry nye, we doubled
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with my step kids and your kids, but they were just visiting back then. so i can see the advantages. it is just the practicality of it with the two-year term and the financial constraints and challenges would make it really , really difficult. >> charlie and i are good examples. conservative, liberal, we get along great. we didn't agree on a lot of things when we were in congress, but we always got along. i probably got mad at him a couple of times, and vice versa, but we did have opportunities to hang out like that. it really helps when you are trying to work on something. maybe it is too out of 10 issues that you might agree on, but is more than you have not. now. in washington. if you are for continuing dysfunction in washington and gridlock, you probably don't want members to spend more time in washington. if you want them to work together and get along more, you will want them to be in washington more.
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because you do build those relationships that make it harder to just be ugly for political purposes. and it just lends itself to more compromise. >> here is a question from our audience, from kate atkin -- she kennedythe harvard school. she writes, what message do you have for the millennial generation both his voters and individuals who might run for office or otherwise engage with government? what responsibilities and incentives to they had to get involved, and how should they get involved? congressman, let's start with you. i wonder also if there might be some attitude among some young people, why would they want to get involved in a political system where it is so hard to get things done and where there is such a personal cost? >> i think the millennials have already proven, if you look at the last presidential campaign, that they are interested. they want to be involved. they want to be engaged. they don't necessarily know fully what all of that means,
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but what they do know is who they want to be seated in the white house or in the congress representing them in their particular communities and particular areas. i do believe as they grow, and particularly in this age where they have access to all of this hardware to communicate with each other, i believe you are going to see some turns very soon in terms of how they connect to one another and how they go to the polls and how they see themselves in relationship to other people who are surrounding them. i do believe that you will see a mage grew -- a much greater turnout in the future because they see themselves as the future. and i think if we cooperate with them, push them, help them to understand politics better than they do, i think that we will find that this will be a generation that may really change the whole scope of politics as we know it today.
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millennials, once millennials are elected to office and increasingly taking positions of authority, will they be different from the current generation in terms of how they work? >> i think they will. >> they will be. they think different. they talk different. >> what will be different? >> i think they come out of institutions, universities, and other places. and they have a different mindset about what life is about . and most of them are relatively mature. they have exceptional communication skills. they will be able to speak in such ways that they can present themselves, and people understand what they mean by what they say. i do believe that we are going to see a dramatic change in the next 2-3 years. and i'm using just populations of young people because i use them
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-- deal with them so much. their ideas are great ideas. at this point, they need to find a way to get people to listen. when millennials rule the world, how will it be different? >> i think they will learn not to take their cues from the current climate in washington. i've definitely gotten that impression from young people as i've traveled across the country, speaking on college campuses and talked to so many. they constantly ask me the question about what they can do to change it. how best can they contribute. they do wonder or not they should participate in running for public office or in public service. i tell them they absolutely must. they always ask me the tricky question, if you left the united states senate, why are you asking us to get involved? [laughter] i said, well, that is a good question.
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i said, i am at another stage in life. i can best contribute this way in convincing people that you can change the current dynamic. they are early in their lives. they have their entire lifetime ahead of them, as well as the country. they need to be involved and make an impact because of what at stake. they ought to demand results now from those in public office because it will have profound implications for them going forward given the enormity of the debt and the other problems that had been long deferred. frankly. they want to be involved. i'm so impressed with so many. they are problem solvers. they are looking at the world around them. they are aware. and they want to change this political system. it is going to encourage them to run for office. as i did in my generation, i was inspired by president kennedy, and we need to have a whole new generation of young people thinking about it, especially at these times when there are so many issues that could have a tremendous impact on their futures.
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as we know. >> let's look at the results from the third question. we asked, would congress be more productive if members of their family spent more time in washington? here is what we heard from you. yes, 61%. no, 39%. so a little at odds with what we saw with our nationwide survey of americans. we have gotten several e-mails and comments that go to campaign-finance and what kind of factor that plays in dysfunction. here is one robert of oklahoma city. he wrote us, can we get money out of politics and keep members in congress over weekends in d.c. and reduce their vacations? he has a lot of things. and this -- obscene amounts of money are squandered to buy media soundbites aimed at distracting voters and discrediting opponents.
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because elected officials are beholden to their benefactors, the idea of voting based on the goal of representing constituents is lost. is campaign-finance the most critical component of both congressional reform and restoring public confidence in government? senator bennett, what do you think? >> ok, here we go. if i could wave a magic wand, i would repeal mccain-feingold. i would get presidents elected under the old system starting here with the john f. kennedy. his father had all the money in the world. the kennedy quip. close, helection was said, my father said he would buy me the presidency, but he was not going to buy a landslide. can you get money out of politics? the answer is no.
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you cannot. and it's like trying to stop water from running down the hill. you can build a dam that can store a little bit of it for a but itnd divert it some, is going to run down the hill one way or the other. what we have heard -- done with campaign-finance reform -- i weaken the parties in taking control of campaigns away from the candidates. it is improper to give that much money to the party. it is improper to give that much money to the candidates. but since we have something pesky in the constitution called the first amendment, you can express yourself in a political campaign. and if you can't give the money to the party, you can't give is much as you want.
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you can't give to the candidate is much as you want, then you become sheldon adelson and you buy your own ad. pretty soon, the outside expenditures takeover the campaign and distort the campaign. the people who buy those ads are a, nasty, and b, bad marketers. they produce bad ads. that is part of the circumstance where everybody is turned -- off about politics. and i don't want to have anything to do with it. a woman in new hampshire said, i don't vote for any of them, it only encourages them. they hate politics because of the way it's been done. if we could go back to the old days when the parties that were professional, that knew how to do right kinds of campaigns and intelligent kinds of ads, and candidates who could say, no, you are not going to run that ad in my campaign because it is going to make me look bad, i think we would have a whole
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better situation that we have now. now, it's all, get money out of politics. you're not going to get money out of politics. all we are doing is distorting the direction which the money goes and empowering people who otherwise would have their influence tamped down by the power of the parties themselves. the parties are weaker now than they have ever been in american history. i look back at the candidates who were elected before we started campaign-finance reform. people like frequent roosevelt and dwight eisenhower and jack kennedy -- we did pretty well in those days -- the final passage of mccain-feingold occurred, and we said, now this will get big money out of politics. the first election fought after that was between al gore and george w. bush. yeah, that was an election with not very much big money, wasn't it? that was an election where we
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saw all of the benefits that came out of that, didn't we? so, you touched a hot button with me, and i appreciate the opportunity. now you can boo and hiss all you want. [laughter] that is the position i take. >> it's unfortunate you don't have any opinions to share with us. [laughter] we have this system where we don't control the spending by billionaires. who have particular points of view. should we loosen the restrictions on party or eliminate them altogether so that it would strengthen the parties? what do some others on the panel think about that idea? >> the supreme court is probably going to be dealing with that. there are restrictions of what we can raise as an individual in the primary and in the general. the parties are restricted to a certain amount, but super packs
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are not -- super pacs are not. you're not going to get the money out of politics or elections. it is going to find its way in some fashion. the question is, can you do some things that might level the playing field? i'm not real crazy about just saying, no limits at all. you should be able to give me $5 million to run or such. and no restrictions. i don't know if that is the solution. just because a super pac can do that and shift the money over. i do think disclosure could be an important item. we could be doing those things so at least you would know where that money is coming from for the multimillion-dollar ad. we can't even do that in congress. you just don't get rid of the money. like i said, it is going to find its way in one way or the other.
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>> i think it is an important issue for us at the bipartisan policy sector, as well, and looking at recommendations, given the supreme court decision, which is a higher hurdle now, and citizens united, which did release the fourth of the super pacs. i hate to bring up a sore issue, but my issue in mccain-feingold was trying to draw a distinction between ads that were electioneering ads that influenced the outcome of an election. those were purely advocating a position on an issue. and it survived the first supreme court challenge. it did not survive the second, which was citizens united. then the court took it another 100 years back and said that corporations were people. that ultimately led to the super pacs. i think it is important to demand accountability and disclosure of donors to these organizations. because that is one way of
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having transparency. many of these organizations that have one donor or thousands -- i think that would help to some degree. short of a constitutional amendment, getting around citizens united -- i think we should get rid of leadership pacs. i think i was down to one of three in the senate maybe when i left, maybe 5, but that would be it, who do not have a leadership pac. i wasn't there to raise money perpetually. leadership pacs are designed to get more money in addition to your reelection committee. it's a lot of pressure to place on an individual, senators and members of the house. more than half of leadership pacs, as well. it is more money and more of a time commitment. there are some things we can do. looking at others emphasizing small donors, and maybe we can get through tax credits and that
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sort of thing to help bring in smaller donors and have a greater emphasis on their participation. i am going to have to leave a little early, but i do want to point out that this group has discussed at great length in the last year the amount of time senators and house members have to spend raising money not just for their campaigns, but for their parties, senate, house pa cs and all of that. and something has to be done to cut back on that. [applause] because they spend in many cases up to half of their time in washington raising money. >> that is a result of mccain-feingold. seriously. >> no. >> for the first half of my career, the most i could ask anybody to contribute to my campaign was $1000. do you know how many phone calls
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you have to make at $1000 apiece to get enough money to wage a senate campaign? >> it was indexed though. >> so it went up, and now it is indexed, and now it is $2500. you don't spend quite as much time on the phone. the example of eugene mccarthy who probably took out lyndon johnson in the 1968 election -- eugene mccarthy went to five people, raised $100,000 from each one of them, fully disclosed who they were, and went to new hampshire and did a good enough job in new hampshire to frighten lyndon johnson out of running for reelection. eugene mccarthy in today's world could not have done that because he would have had to raise that $500,000 from 500 people instead
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of five people on the phone call every thursday afternoon. you are over there at the committee making phone calls. you couldn't do it the way you used to do it. and we've changed politics. the burden of fundraising is a direct result of the campaign-finance activity. pardon me. i didn't hear you. >> the public financing, he is saying. senator snowe, do you want to respond to that, to his point? >> i talked too much. >> having fewer donors? >> illuminating limits. >> well, it is the amount of but it was growing up
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financially before mccain-feingold. people found a loophole in the existing campaign laws at the time. i think what bob is referring to is not allowing political parties to accept soft money. there was a ban on soft money. it leveraged these other groups. so i think the sphere of influence went to these outside organizations as opposed to the political parties who cannot not get leverage with candidates running for political office. that is something maybe we have to look at again in terms of whether or not you allow political parties to accept certain contributions. i don't know. i would have to really look at that. the question is more money in the system. that would have been the case. but the floodgates opened with citizens united, which again struck down a my provision, which was attempting to address these organizations. if they ran an ad 60 days before an election, and they identified the individual by name -- tell senator snowe to vote this way on a particular piece of legislation, and i was up for
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reelection, that would be considered a political ad, and then they would be restricted to the amounts of money they could receive. it would also have to disclose their contributors and the donor's name. unfortunately, that was struck down. not identify me by name, it would not be considered an electioneering at. >> i just want to say one thing. i do not want to belabor this point. this is such a complicated issue. it is something we are discussing as a commission. the problem with just allowing unlimited contributions to a candidate is exactly the problem we are seeing with the super pacs right now. would allow a few wealthy individuals to handpick some candidates. it would've stacked the deck. you would only have their hand-picked candidates able to
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afford to run for office grid we are sitting here talking about our concern for gerrymandering and districts that don't represent the face of america or the face of their particular states, and i think this, in another way, has a potential to totally corrupt the process. i think we need to think about other ways. i do think there has been unintended consequences for some campaign-finance reform. personally. we need to think of other ways. maybe television time actually gets donated. you know, why does it cost so much? this is a public service? i'm sorry for all the public -- television people watching this, but maybe there is some sort of contribution back to the public good or other kinds of concernedt i'm very with unlimited, and i just couldn't let that go. [applause] >> definitely a consultative topic. i think bonnie gorman has a question with a solution to our problem. this will be our last question. she writes, women are better
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consensus makers than men. when selecting more women to congress help relieve gridlock? what do you think? >> that is yours. [applause] >> that's the way it is, you know? >> we have now a record number in the u.s. senate, 20 women. in the u.s. senate. they do seem to behave -- not that they are conservatives and liberals -- they do seem to behave in a different way than the men do. senator bennett, what is your perspective on that? >> you're going to say yes, right? >> you got together for dinner, right? >> we did, and they still do. we get together. we have regular dinners. personal dinners. we never had a disclosure. on occasion, we invite the women justices of the supreme court. and they, in turn, invite us to the supreme court for dinner. so it is more personal, but we can
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talk about families and friends or what is going on, issues, whatever the case may be. there's no personal agenda. the point is you build a collaborative environment in can ultimately build on. i think you saw that during the shutdown when the women of the senate decided to take matters into their own hands and change the direction. we had that camaraderie built from years of just working together, having time personally to spend together. >> we will have a final comment from raymond -- he writes, the main reason why there is a divide is because half the people believe government is the problem, and the other half believe it is the solution. thank you. you will have our last word. i want to thank the bipartisan policy center, the cochairs and members of the commission on political reform, the edward m
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kennedy institute, and the john f. kennedy library, and our great audience. here in boston and onlline. thanks so much for being with us. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] we hope you won't stand up yet. we hope to see you on june 24 for the release of the commission's final recommendations in washington. i would ask the panel to stay seated. secretaryformer dan glickman, a cochair of the commission, for closing thoughts. >> thank you. it was terrific. these panelists were outstanding. senator bennett, i wish you had some strong views. it really disturbs me. bpc, i want toe thank again vicki kennedy and the kennedy institute. i want to think heather campion and the kennedy library. trey grayson, and our great moderator, susan page who has been responsible for all the stories. i served in the house for 18
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years. there are words inscribed above the speaker's chair by daniel webster. i used to look at this periodically. it said the following, let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, institutions, carve out all of this great institutions to see if we also in our day and in our generation may not perform something worthy to be remembered. and, you know, i thought to myself, that is the point of government. that is the point for us here, to perform something worthy to be remembered. even in disagreement in a vibrant democracy, the goal is always to engage the issues in a way that our descendents would be proud and get the job done for our people, and also, bear fruit to the ancestors of our past, like daniel webster, that we are in this thing for the right reasons and recognizing these are not all abstract issues. america's leadership is at stake. our ability to be the beacon of hope for a world, to be that
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city on the hill and do the right thing for our citizens is very much dependent upon a strong and effective system of government at all levels. today, we have talked about congressional reform. over the past year, we have talked about political polarization, ways we vote and choose our elected officials, how to increase opportunities for public service and develop the next generation of leaders. we have been hard at work behind the scenes, as most of the folks up here have talked about, to figure out recommendations for the future. but we need the input of the public. so we want continued feedback on twitter, facebook, instagram, or just the old-fashioned snail mail way to let us know what you think constructively we can do to help our political system, our democracy become more resilient. over the next three months, we will continue to discuss these issues with your input. the commission will reconvene in washington on june 24 two
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-- to announce recommendations and report to the nation, the congress, and the white house reforms to improve our political system and the follow-up necessary to get things done. after the commission releases our recommendations, we need your continued support to urge our leaders to implement the solutions. and you can sign up on the bipartisan policy center's website as a citizen for political reform and help advocate for political reform across the country. as we close today, i remember what john f. kennedy wrote in "profiles of courage" -- "the stories of past courage can teach. they can offer hope. they can provide inspiration, but they cannot supply courage itself. for this, each man, each person must look into his or her own soul. it will take plenty of courage to make change. i hope all of us will find the courage to strengthen our democracy and ensure that america can continue to do
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things worthy to be remembered. thank you very much for being here. i appreciate it very much. [applause]
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[no audio ] minutes from now, georgetown university law center. also, talking to justice stephen breyer. this is about 10 minutes from now on c-span. a discussion about how the insurance industry is responding from the health care law. this is from this morning's washington journal. >> how they are responding to the affordable care act.
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a senior correspondent for kaiser. thanks for being with us. talk to us about how insurance companies are responding to the latest news that 8 million people have signed up for the affordable care act. >> well, they have got new customers. more than they expected to be at this time. foropen enrollment period these folks buying individual coverage directly from the onurance companies closed march 31, and the insurance companies now have all of these people signed up, and they are trying to figure out who they are, how sick they are, hand -- how that will affect things. we know that the affordable care act prohibited insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, and that also effectively prevented them from finding out whether or not
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had pre-existing conditions when they were applying for insurance and when the insurance companies were accepting them, so they really do not have a good idea of what sort of conditions these folks had, what they are going to cost, whether or not they set the right rates for this year, and they are trying to figure that out, seeing who they have signed up, trying to figure it out from the early claims that are coming in, how ill these folks are, and they have to very quickly figure out what their rates are going to before 2015, because the filings are starting to be due in the next couple of weeks. host: typically, we are concerned about the largest insurers and what they are doing. guest: the largest insurer is united health care. into the going
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exchanges. a lot of insurers were quite there would be a lot of disruption in the market, that you would get a sicker pool of people, and they had concerns about whether the software would work, which turned out to be very well-founded, and so united states back. some of the other big ones, aetna, very cautious this year. cigna was also very cautious. another for-profit insurance company that went in was wellpoint. that is better known and based in california, and they are known by their anthem blue cross and blue cross was the umbrella organization that went into these organizations in a pretty big way.
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luke ross was already in the individual health insurance market, and they had to protect and so they were sort of the lead players in just about every state to do that, and in 2015, the industry has seen a pretty big turnout in the first year, 8 million people signed up. the president announced last year. out whatnow figuring to do for 2015. it looks like people are interested. it looks like people signed up, and united health said last week that it was reconsidering it. it was looking at expanding its presence next year. plans, luke ross plans to sit out 2014, the blue cross plan in iowa and north dakota they said they would be , in those states. in 2015, so it looks like we will see more offerings than we had this year.
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which, in some states will offer significantly more selection if it translates into an even increase. across all states, because there were some states had only one or two went in for 2014. we might see that get better. host: when you're talking about the strategies for different insurers, some are holding back and waiting to see what happens. guest: depends on whether they are in that business to begin with. again we are talking about , individual insurance, which you buy through the exchange. you are a direct customer of the insurance company, rather than the health insurance that a lot of us know, which we get through our employers or employer risk -- employer-sponsored.
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you are buying directly from the insurance company, so if you're in that business, you want to protect that and not just sit aside and let newent -- new entrants come in. companies in that business tended to want to stay in it, be in the exchanges, have offerings when you went on this year, they wanted to be there on the menu so you could pick from them and hopefully, from their point of view, at a competitive price that was financially responsible. there were new entrants this year. the affordable care act created these health-care co-ops which were not profit, private plans that got subsidized. by the government for their startup money. in half the states, you have a co-op. and, you know these, by , definition, wanted to be in the market this year. some did very well. some of them did not so well. they priced too high, which was
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i believe the case in connecticut. they did not get a lot of enrollees. or in states which were very dead computer problems, worse than those on for example, maryland. didon not work well and never got fixed the way it should have been. the co-op in that state had some problems getting members. it had trouble getting the word out because people had trouble getting on the exchange. these larger insurance companies, individual insurance is a less, lower part of their business as a proportion of total business. and we are talking about united health care or aetna. multibillion-dollar companies. united as an entire provision about health care services and not insurance. individual insurance is a small
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piece of their pie. they could afford to sit back and see what 2014 would look like. now that they have seen all the new entrants, they are starting to look at that again and say, maybe this could be an area of growth for us. and maybe we ought to be there in a bigger way into thousand host: if you would like to join -- conversation, i want to ask you, if i am a consumer looking for help and shorts -- health insurance, what does it mean for you? guest:


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