tv Ralph Nader Grover Norquist CSPAN September 8, 2014 5:00am-6:01am EDT
economics reporter at investors business daily. a guest of ralph nader. and a veteran political reporter and former president of the national press club. [applause] ralph nader and grover norquist might not seem like natural allies, but throughout their careers they have fought for a singular goal -- good, responsive government. how they defined a good response of government and how they get there is what the consumer champion part ways. today they say there can be a common cause. nader, who founded public citizen in 1971, fight to protect consumers from a collusion of corporate and government interests. norquist wants to protect americans from overbearing
government interests too quick to tax. long ago nader passed beyond single concerns with seatbelts. he is built a national network of citizen groups that have had a major impact in tax reform, nuclear energy, and health and safety programs. in his latest book, he warns the united states is at a pivotal moment. americans are more disillusioned with their political leaders than never, and large majorities save a corporations have too much political power. norquist established americans for tax reform in 1985.
that group works to limit the size of government and opposes higher taxes at all levels of government. he is best known for his anti-tax pledge to which he says 260 lawmakers of the 113th congress swore to uphold. he recently advocated for the government to stay out of the proposed comcast-time warner merger, saying the marketplace is adjusting to consumer demand and the government should not meddle in a free market transaction. today we will hear our guest discuss where the left and right to come together to work for a better america. please welcome ralph nader and grover norquist, and by mutual agreement, and i stress by mutual agreement, it was agreed that mr. nader will go first and will speak for 12 minutes, and will be followed by mr. norquist for 12 minutes, and then we will have the traditional question and answer session. mr. nader? [applause] >> thank you very much, myron, distinguished guests, and audience representing various views. i think the issue here comes down to an immobilized society. people want to get things done in this country. but the powers that become as they have for thousands of years, have learned that the
there are disagreements on reproductive rights, then control, school prayer, on constitutionally required talents budgets, taxes, on kinds of regulations, and those will probably remain. however, there are huge areas and very fundamental ones in terms of constitutional procedures as well as substantive policies where there is a large left-right convergence majority in this country. it starts with the public sentiment, as a bleak and said, -- as abe lincoln said, with public sentiment you can do anything, and without it, you cannot do anything at all. his already out there in the minds of tens of millions of americans want to call themselves progressives or libertarians. they agree on a whole host of issues. i first came across this agreement going functional, going operational, from their
converging opinion into political action when we develop a coalition in 1983 to fight the clinch river breeder reactor, which already had piled up $1.3 billion and they have not dubbed a shovel on the shores of the clinch river in tennessee. our site was not getting very far, and the senator called up from arkansas, and said why don't you call these right wing groups. they're worried about this because there is a huge budget buster for my prediction it will go to $8 billion. so we formed a taxpayers group against the clinch river breeder reactor. we had some formidable foes, ronald reagan was for it, senator howard baker was for it, the general electric and westinghouse were for it, and it was quite an uphill fight. but in a stunning defeat of the clinch river, we won in the senate 56-40. i was in 1983. in 1986, against lobbyists, there was a convergence between senator grassley, republican of iowa, and another senator to
pass the false claims act which would give the government officials and opportunity if they blow the whistle, government employees, to share in the recovery that would be pursued by the justice department. and that has saved tens of billions of dollars. and we see other examples. this is not pie in the sky. we are not sugarcoating this convergence. we have examples. as of last year, for example, there was a left-right up for on e-mail to stop another war in syria. the left-right in defiance of john boehner and nancy pelosi and house almost got a bill through blocking the nsa from dragnet snooping. they lost by 12 votes on that. and at the state level, a lot of interesting things are going on. 15 legislatures have passed juvenile justice reform, only possibly because of left-right legislators. when a decision came down saying it was ok for new london to expropriate a whole neighborhood and destroy it and give it to pfizer, 25 state legislatures passed a variety of law saying quickly not in the state you're going to take private property, condemn it, and give it to
corporations, other kind of private property. so in doing this book, i go through the history of conservative philosophers and lo and behold, and a lot of them from adam smith to russell kirk were not exactly the corporatists who distorted their philosophy would have us believe. many elite they were against government planning, to be sure, but they were for a safety net, leading to milton friedman's minimum income plan.
that heritage goes all the way back to the founder of the chicago school of economics, and it goes back to frederick hayek, who thought there needed to be a safety net. public works was fostered by these conservative philosophers or is he did not like monopolies, very eloquent in busting up monopolies. so we have a doctrinal basis here as well as current operational figures, some politicians, some writers, but most important, back there in the country where people live, work, and raise their children, the ideological schisms are not quite as a parent because these people back home are facing reality. so we have a great deal of disagreement between left, right on reproductive rights and school prayer and gun control and balanced budgets, as i said, but we also have eerie fundamental agreement. and it was illustrated in an interview in the book with the
libertarian founder of the cato institute when he said, ralph, i am against all corporate subsidies, unconstitutional laws, liberty-restricted aspects of the patriot act, and the federal reserve run amok. i said that is a pretty good start, ed. so i want to focus on the two areas of agreement categorically. one is a procedure, civil liberties, protection of privacy, to not engage in dragnet snooping, etc. so you do not engage in wars of aggression. he did not interfere with international law and constitutional law and federal law and go anywhere in the world going up with bases in 120 countries. you do not allow the pentagon to automatically get huge budget through congress without following normal appropriation committee procedures, like the budget for the iraq war, the budget for the afghan war. that is a very important area. that is where there is very, very solid basis here, as grover will point out.
giveaways, privileges come economic privileges in the marketplace, and bailouts, and this is called crony capitalism by the rights. it is called corporate welfare by us. that is a huge slice of the federal budget. the patriot act comes up for confirmation repeat next year. maybe there will be a struggle instead of just rubberstamping it as it has been renewed twice by a rubber stamp. we have on some esoteric issues, perhaps, a collaboration, left-right wants to audit the pentagon. $800 billion unaudited every year. not the way a business would run it. that is why you lose $9 billion a year, $6 billion there. there's no accounting. there's also a left-right on procurement. the government is the biggest higher. why not establish standards for efficiency and national goals like controlling pollution, advancing auto safety? and here in the audience, the former head of the general services administration, and when we hit a stone wall on the airbag, you know george will and others came out for mandatory airbag installation in the mid-1980's, i went out to see gerald who is a very conservative republican from new hampshire, and he was in the auto parts business, and i said if you have airbags in government cars, and they buy 40,000, 50,000 a year for
government employees, it will reduce accidents, injuries, in claims and costs and lost work. and that appealed to him, in addition to the life-saving aspect of it. and to make a long story short, against the opposition of all the auto companies except ford, he put out a request to bid for 5000 airbags for tempos the government wanted to buy, and that helped the momentum to get the airbag in all cars, and now it is on side airbags and front seat airbags. that is the use of the government buying cars. and that is what is so important that is not just a more dramatic issues. it is also the issues of proper functioning of government. there is going to be disagreement on taxes and the other converging area. i do not know whether grover agrees with this, but there is a left-right coalition and 70%, 80% to restore the minimum wage, to take it up close to where it was in 1968 adjusted for inflation. 30 million workers who make less today than they made in 1968, adjusted for inflation.
30 million workers. and so whether you are conservative or liberal or worker in walmart, i do not think you will fall on your sword ideologically and say, no, we want to continue at eight bucks an hour, while the boss is making $11,000 an hour every hour, eight hours a day, throughout the year. so in two hours on january 2, he makes more than a worker makes in the entire year, even before the martini lunch. and so i want to conclude by noting that this book does not sugarcoat the obstacles, and what we really need here to kickstart this big time, although there is not left-right alliance on prison reform, which grover was involved in with you to gingrich, called right on crime. there's a lot going on that is not getting a lot of attention compared to the division, the divisive areas. but in this book, i argue that there are a lot of obstacles that have to be face, but they are overcomeable if we have a number of civic groups established whose only concern is convergence and left-right alliance advocacy.
because there is a lot of convergence, cato and heritage, progressive policies, they have all come out with reports against corporate welfare. that is not their top priority, not where the grants and contributions expect to be done. they go to work every day, and that is not their top priority. it is where the grants in the targeted issues often are in conflict with left-right. that is their priority. we need to similar focus, and i have a chapter called dear billionaire, and i am looking for some rich person to fund these nonprofit civic groups. thank you very much.
i will be the straight man today. i want to make it clear that we talked, when rough and i both talk about left-right coalition, that is different than traditional bipartisanship here in washington, d.c., and state capitals. traditional bipartisanship is republican politicians and democrat it all editions and resizing their class interests as politicians deciding to raise their pay -- [laughter] give themselves pensions or invent new ways to kneecap additional challengers running for reelection, and there are class interests is that officials have, and they can tearfully be part partisan in defense of those. earmarks for decades.
you get some, i get them. we all still some and we shared with our friends. but i'm talking about what ralph and i have worked together on, issues where right and left, people of principle that are not willing to sacrifice -- this is not like moving to the center and giving the other guy something that nobody should have in return for something good. this is about issues where right and left both agree on what they want done. for instance, on the issue of transparency. but right and left, to the states, and this is moved across dozens and dozens of states,
making state budgets completely transparent. i do not mean a printed budget after it is done. i mean every check as it goes out, every contract at it is written, every grant given online so everyone can see it now, not the people who can hire lobbyists who happen to live in the state capital where the federal capital, but to make it available. it is all legally public. it sits in shoe boxes in filing cabinets and it is not accessible to the average person. we are looking to do those issues where right and left both of principle can move forward. now, if total spending at all contracts were made transparent so every american, every person in the world can go look at them, i am under the impression that people would look at it and say let's spend less money. ralph thinks that some would look at and say, martha, look at how wisely they are spending their money. let's send them more. we could have that argument, but each of us believes that a transparent government would be a better government. i believe it will be a more limited government. ralph believes it would be more expansive. the transparency we can agree on
an often people in power are not cheerful about that. right left coalitions are areas of principled agreement on perhaps procedure or even goals, not a compromise where somebody walks in and gives a big part of their soul in order to get something and moves they think slightly in the wrong direction in the hope of doing something else. i want to point out that as ralph alluded to this is not something that might happen. this is not an interesting theory. ralph nader has not written a book about what might happen if people could do this, if you imagine them. i want to go to a list of thing where this has already happened, and where it has happened in seven states it can happen in more. we are looking now at the term-limit movement. actually, in my least successful press conference was where ralph nader and i in 1992 had one on term limits where in two weeks 14 states would pass with 75% of the vote and not a single reporter showed up because of official washington had zero interest in term limits, and it has revolutionized state government, the committee system, by having this sort of rotating french revolution every six years where the leadership moves on. so term limits has gone across the country, both at the state level and the government and it shows appear, not only at the presidential level, but in terms
of the committee chairs. right on crime, where i was working with a group of folks who said we need -- we thought it was 2000, it turns out it was 4000 federal laws -- who we need to keep 75-year-old former bank robbers in prison for the rest of their lives? it cost $50,000 to put someone in prison for one year in california, $25,000 in florida. those are expensive. you are disrupting communities, families, taking the breadwinner out, you're making it difficult for people to move forward. and i am tough on crime. i am all in favor of executing murderers. i think some people should be in prison on their lives, but not the 2 million we have now. we need to look at what the mandatory minimums are doing. this is where there has been a very good right-left coalition on working, and we have moved this to quite a number of states, often starting in texas. one of the reasons why there is a problem with right-left coalitions on crime is people on the left are afraid they will be called weak on crime, people on the right will be called weak on crime by those further on the right. texas is continuing to reduce the crime rate more rapidly than other states by having two people in prison and perhaps more people under parole or
probation, but also asking yourself how many people are you actually want to have in prison. the issue of corporate welfare is one that we can agree on and we have worked together on this many ago when john kasich is taking lead in coming up with a series of suggestions when both groups on the right and left could agree on. government ought not be stealing people's money and handing it to somebody else, period. we made some progress on that. there's work to be done. earmarks was real progress. right on defense, similar efforts were people were saying, and the sequester is going to be a help -- the sequester is going to help as people who can say it is important to have a strong national defense, a dangerous world out there, keep those canadians on their side of the border, you want to have a strong national defense. but you do not have to waste money. there's a new piece of legislation that i think is very intriguing, but a republican from congress from california that will reduce the number of civilian employees at the pentagon by 100,000. experts say you to do 200,000 still have a strong and robust national defense. there are going to be a series
of efforts along these lines because the sequester puts a cap for 10 years on the pentagon's budget. the people who want more tanks had better figure out how to reform the procurement system. those people who want more planes had better participate and help when we suggest when we suggest perhaps we need a compensation system that pays soldiers more and frontload a lot of the resources that we make available to soldiers and sailors. so we can reduce the cost of national defense while making it more effective. the sequester is certainly an important project in making that continued. civil liberties. right-left, sure, a lot of interest. the government, the party of government, friends of government, what they used called loyalists during the revolutionary war, the friends of government always like government have more power because they're convinced government would never abuse it. and i think it is important for republicans to say to their conservative allies, do you really want hillary clinton to have this power you're not planning to give to george w. bush, because at some point he moves on. we trusted him, but do you trust the next guy?
and the people when clinton was accumulating power, it is like this -- do you want to hand this to the other team? we can make some progress in limiting the government snooping, the government's mega data collection, and making sure that our civil liberties are taken seriously, and that almost only happens in a left-right coalition because all the people who trust the government always do the right thing do not see anything wrong with the government continually accumulating more and more power. one of the reasons why i think not only did we have this about six or seven fields, and it is moving through various states, some of it is happening at the federal government, i would testify at a difficult issue, reducing the disparity between how long you are sent to prison for crack cocaine versus white powder cocaine, 100-1 ratio, and it was reduced to 18-1. i testify, and there was this dance between republican and democrat who said we would be delighted to get rid of this bill, but democrats had passed it and introduced it, and if the democrats said if you stop
mentioning it was our idea, we would like to get out of it, too. everybody was afraid we would attack them for being afraid of crack cocaine if they reduced the disparity. 18-1, where that came from, i do not know. some senator said that, and we said we will take it. and there you have it, a broad-left right coalition, and looking at mandatory minimums. all the minimums for federal crimes, treason is five years mandatory minimum, ok? things dealing with naked pictures of pictures are 35 years. this was driven by how many people you could get to your press conference when you announced that you -- a message i care, i really do not like carjacking. unlike in the 57 states, we did not have laws against carjacking at the time, but some congressmen decided we are going to have to have a press conference so we have a federal law just have the press conference, but a federal law to make carjacking a federal crime with a miniature and minimum even though states are capable of handling that.
that ralph nader has written about and that many on the right and the left have begun to participate in is going to grow in strength. one reason is we have had success. when you see people walk out on the ice and they do not falter, more people are willing to go out there. when politicians hear that right on crime has gotten a series of reductions in how long you have to keep how many people in prison and how much you have to spend doing it and crime did not increase, it fell, and things got better and most importantly, nobody lost an election, that they are more willing to move this forward in their own state. the other reason it is going to move is there is nothing else to do in this town. on the negative issues, we are going to raise taxes or cut
taxes, spend more or less money, that is settled, and as long as you are obama's president and a republican house, we are not raising taxes, but we are not eliminating any government programs, not creating any more, but not cutting taxes either. but on mega issues, nothing moves. it is like two sumo wrestlers for the next two years. they are absolutely equally matched, nobody's getting knocked out of the ring. all of the energy component smart guys in d.c. and state legislatures can look over at the successes that left-right coalitions have had on right on crime and right on defense and transparency and civil liberties, and i think you will see a lot of the energy and opportunity and talent move into those zones cause for the next two years, the next 20 years, that is an area where we can make real progress for all americans, and i look forward to working with ralph and a lot of other people in this field. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, mr. norquist. thank you for adhering to the 12-minute limit we imposed so we could have more time for questions. let's start with some questions for both of you, and some people say that the partisan divide is deeper today than it has ever been. do the two of you agree, and how
do you think the gap can be narrowed? i know you might have touched on this in some of your works, but if we could have a succinct answer to that question. to that two of you agree, and how do you think the gap can be narrowed? >> yeah, the partisan difference is much greater. year after year the government got bigger, vigor, but always just somewhat bigger. it is easy to agree if you are all heading in the same direction. just a question of speed. we now have two parties, one wants bigger government, one wants smaller government. there is no way to do that. they are fundamentally at odds. while we work to do that, ralph and i were work on the other issues. [laughter] >> you set a precedent, which i know mr. nader will follow, please be the point. >> the partisan divide is in the congress.
back at home, 90% of people want to prosecute wall street crooks. there is a real wall street antipathy here. it has not hit congress yet in terms of any operational momentum. that is what we have to talk about, feeling that cap, pushing this public sentiment of convergence into operational mode. >> is the supreme court's decision -- citizens united decision a good thing or a bad thing for the country?
do both of you regard money as free, just like the supreme court did? best as free speech, just like the supreme court did? >> i think everybody should be free to do anything they want, and that includes spending money as they wanted buying ice cream cones or engaging in politics or making movies or films. yeah, i think the supreme court decision went in the right direction,. just noticed own money in
politics, no forced union dues, no taxpayer money. voluntary, fine. >> disagree. i think public elections should be publicly funded patent can be done on a voluntary manner. i think mccain-feingold is an example of the convergence, it has been eroded by 5-4 decisions of the supreme court. money is very corrupting. the idea that money is speech would horrify our founders. and i draw the decision between corporations and individuals. i think corporations are artificial entities. they should be subordinated constitutionally to the people. the supreme court's revolutionary decisions time and time again are correcting a system in our political economy where operations are supreme over individuals. and that is obviously in my mind a subversion of our democratic process. >> for the next few questions, we will have mr. nader answer first to keep a balance. is it possible to have the government of, by, and for the people of this country without meaningful campaign reform? >> difficult, because it
intimidates people who otherwise might you forward them either to run for office or just to be active. when they see mountains of money on the other side and in tv ads, radio ads, and all kinds of apparatus. i think the important thing to remember is if there is no money in politics, there would still be a problem of mobilizing citizens. they have been so stomped on over the years, we do not teach civic education or civic experience in our schools. youngsters are taught to believe not to think, to obey, not to challenge, that that is always going to remain a problem. and it has in many other countries as well. it is not an elixir for money on politics, but certainly we have to start there. it is just getting worse and
worse, and it is impeding a variety of candidates from even trying to run. >> i think it is important that campaign finance reform in order to have her elections. in wisconsin they have taken a step towards that. prior to 2014, a public schoolteacher was paid $50,000 a year, had a thousand dollars taken by force without his or her permission by the union. they never voted to join the united they could not do anything about it. they took a thousand dollars and spent it not as a teacher might want, but as the government wanted to. that law was changed at all dues were voluntary. the unions could not take her money and spend it on whenever they wanted to pick the most important thing in politics is no stolen money in politics, no taxpayer dollars taken from you, and then spent on politics, and no union dues taken through
coerced union dues. voluntary union dues, all they want to spend, that is fine. >> last question addressed to both of you, and then i will go into a session of asking you questions. could you concede a left-right candidacy which could focus on attacking the nsa, not the type of trade deals and the federal reserve? mr. nader? >> yeah, it is this what they stand for. i do not care what their labels are. barney frank and ron paul had a caucus in the house in 2010 to reduce the military budget. you could not have people further apart on that, but they were very sincere in that area. grover, i never discussed this with you and investor rights versus management. corporations spend money in political campaigns, and do the shareholders have a right to approve or disapprove? would you agree they should? >> yeah, it is easy for an investor to do decide not to other general motors stock or another. it is not easy for a teacher in wisconsin to change jobs.
that is a government monopoly that they are working for. i see a distinction there. what was the question? i'm sorry. ron paul has not been to burning man yet. i think it is unlikely to have the left-right effort show up inside a presidential race, but certainly there are individual pairings on individual issues that are interesting. it is sort of man bites dog and the president more interested when you can have a very conservative free-market republican, liberal democrat together.
that raises these issues and makes the job easier when there are difficult topics. >> now some question for mr. nader. let me say on behalf of everybody, i appreciate the succinct, substantive answers to questions. now some question for mr. nader. as having run for the member of a third party, how would you rate our two-party system of government can and doesn't need
you have libertarian party and green party and green party often collaborating on lawsuits at the state level. they want to open up the system. i and most people in this country regardless of how they vote, hereditary voters, republican, democrat, they want to see more choice, more voice on the ballot. it will bring up more people to vote, and it will be more exciting and more meaningful campaign.
that is one. the second is i think in many ways the two parties are one corporate party with two heads wearing different makeup. we have a convergence on the other side. it is the convergence of corporate democrats and corporate republicans building the corporate state, or as grover said, corporate stateism. franklin roosevelt called that fascism, by the way, in 1938, when he sent a message of congress to start an investigation commission on concentrated corporate power. he said when private economic power controls government, that is fascism. they harass people, getting petitions on the street, they try to wear them down. we were sued 24 times in 2004 in 12 weeks by the democratic party or their allies to get off one state ballot after another. it was pretty depleting for anybody who wants to have a campaign for more that eight weeks after every day. this combination of corporatism that gets the parties dialing for the same commercial dollars is getting tighter and tighter. you have the clintons are now on the record, they are wall street, corporatists, and they are militarists. hillary clinton has not seen a war she doesn't not like. this is what we have to really face up to. the law -- we all have different
rhetoric on services. there are differences on real things like reproductive rights and school prayer. but on the frontal issues of empire, constitutional observance among civil liberties, main street versus wall street, on terms of where the budget will go, necessities of the people, these two parties are converging very great tightly, and we have to break them up and get more competition with other parties and other independent candidates and break them up in ways that is quick and functional at the local level, where you can have more choice at the local government level and starts bubbling up to the state and federal. >> mr. nader, your 2000 race for president is widely acknowledged to lead to the election to george w. bush. do you regret running that year, and why or why not? [laughter] >> last i heard bush got more votes from gore than i did. that is a minor thing. i do not think third parties are second-class citizens. if we all have equal rights to run for election, then we are all trying to get votes from one another, so we either are all spoilers or none of us are. when you say spoilers are just third parties, anti-slavery, women's right to vote, worker rights, farmers' rights -- when you just say that third party candidates are spoilers, that is political bigotry.
blame the electoral college because gore out 500,000 more votes nationwide. the only country in the world where you can come in first and lose the election because of the electoral college. and blame florida, blame the thieves in florida, blame the supreme court. you cannot blame someone exercising constitutional rights to challenge the two parties on at least 15 issues that they are totally ignoring, will not discuss, but have majoritarian support. i have left my website open to document that. you can go to votenader.org. this is where there is a nice convergence because it is a civil liberties issue. a very nice convergence. right now there is a left-right convergence to get rid of the electoral college by interstate compacts, and they have now reached 168 electoral votes. states have passed laws saying we will throw our electoral votes behind whoever wins the popular vote in the united states running for president. so it is only a matter of a couple of years before the electoral college is history. [applause] >> and one last direct question before we go and ask mr. norquist some. considering mr. norquist, why are you partnering with him on anything? [laughter] >> because we can win on things we agree on. it is very simple.
we disagree on a, b, c, d issues. we disagree on x, y, z issues. why should we indulge on this kind of political vanity and be overwhelmed by what i call the yuck factor? this is what liberals have to get over, the yuck factor, the liberal intelligentsia, because they do not feel the need out there, they do not have the empathy. they're too busy writing articles and being in the top 1% or 2% in this country to get over it. they are not affected by this. but millions as millions of people can be a media in one area after another.
the liberals are more rigid on all these issues, i have found, than people who are really conservatives, corporatists in conservative garb. you can see that in the question of the question of the 2000 campaign. get over it. the democratic party could have blocked bush on iraq. they succumbed to bush. they could have blocked him. look at what the republicans are doing to obama. get over it. stop finding an alibi before you're not standing up to the american people and their rights instead of dialing for the same commercial dollars that the republicans do. [applause] >> and now some questions for mr. norquist. before ralph nader came along, the free market was acknowledged doing a lousy job of protecting consumers from flawed automobiles and corporations ripping them off. why do you think things will be different now if you realize your dream, as the questioner asked, of drowning government in a bathtub? >> the actual quote is you want the government to be small enough where you can drag it in the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub. it is a question of size, not of
government gave them a government monopoly. monopolies are created and enforced by the state. we work on this together. regulation on trucking, regulation on buses to keep prices high, and airlines as well, rail, buses, all of these issues, the government came in and set prices on floors, not ceilings. i am not in favor of ceilings either, but they like to pretend they're coming into help consumers reap the cost of state interference in the economy. it is not to make things better, and if you look at the larger governments, they do not do a better job at these things. i think consumers working voluntarily without violence, without the threat of forcing 200 hundred million americans decide how they want to approach things from a consumer's demand increased safety or in products and government can get it. the government can't tell you how to be safe moving away from something that is does not work anymore, just as quickly as congress. i want the economy to be able to predict when safety and health are at risk, to be able to move not as quickly as the fda, but as quickly as microsoft or the guys who make your iphones.
you want the taxi guys fixing things or uber? choose. >> for someone who hates government, why do you support only those candidates who want to use government to control women's health by outlawing abortion in all circumstances as the republican platform demands? >> yeah, why do you hate government? this is the oddest thing. when people who want a limited government are called antigovernment, ok? cancer doctors are not anti-cell. they like cells. some cells do good things. some cells reproduce so quickly they hurt you and can kill you, ok? government, where you have some modest and minimal rules, keep your hands on your own stuff and do not touch other people and otherwise you're free to live your life and believe what you want and do what you want, that is a -- there is a big difference between disagreeing with big government and not
liking any government. we had wars against people who were masters at big government. we do not want government like that. we want more limited government like we have, and i think our government has gotten too big. i cannot list many of those 4000 laws, nor can i tell you what they are, and you can be put in prison. we have too many laws, regulations. government should be small. that has nothing to do with hating government. the government created by the constitution is actually a thing of beauty and makes things, people more free. so i am not there with that. i work on tax issues, and i work with candidates who want to keep taxes and spending more limited, and that is what we work on. >> ask the abortion question again. >> right. just a brief follow-up, why do you support only those candidates who want to use government to control women's health by outlawing abortion in all circumstances? >> i don't. i support a lot of candidates who work there. i focus on tax and spending side
of government. candidates come with a big package of issue. the central issue of our day is the total size and scope of government. and reducing that as an overall cost in how people operate, that is what we work on. >> [indiscernible] >> ok, well, we asked the question and he answered it as he wishes. i'm still being asked about for a more specific response -- >> there is a false premise in the question. i will not do that. >> tax reform went nowhere in this congress. don't you think that you're no new taxes pledge inhibits lawmakers from devising a better, fairer tax system? >> the question was, does the taxpayer protection pledge get in the way of tax reform? no. as a matter fact, if we remember back in 1986, the only reason we could do the tax reform act of 1986 was that the pledge existed. it is why i created it about
because there was a very few told a bunch of congressmen to go into a smoke-filled room and think something up, what they brought back, because they would move all the little pieces back and forth come at the end of the day, it would be a trojan horse for higher tax. no matter how much did it, what they would bring back would be a net tax increase. reagan said i will veto the next tax increase, and i got members to say they will not vote for it, but that was enough to force tax reform to be tax reform, revenue neutral, lower rates. this was without the pledge, you do not get tax reform. you just get tax increases. the pledge is why we got the sequester, because the president could not talk people into a $1.4 trillion tax increase, which is what we he was asking from a supercommittee. $1.4 trillion in higher taxes. obama wanted another $400 billion in spending, and we agreed it could be cut.
i was taken aback by the $1.4 trillion tax increase. i would love to focus on that. when do we get to talk about the $200 billion spending cuts we all agree on? because we had percentages of the republican party getting elected by promising to their constituents that they would not raise no net tax increase, and promise me, and harry reid sometimes the states that, i am sure, the pledge, if you read it online, is to the voters of your states and to the american people, that i will oppose efforts to raise taxes. only if you convince the people that the tax reform you're talking about is not a trojan horse for a tax increase can you ever get a consensus to do tax or form. i would argue that is the opposite of what the premise
that somebody tried to put into the question. tax reform happens only when taxpayers are convinced that it is not a hidden tax increase. >> two more questions for each of you, if we could keep the answers brief, and i thank you both for doing that. i have one last question for both of you. mr. norquist, do you think the republicans will shut down the government again if president obama does not accede to their policy demands? >> no, i do not think they should take the approach that was taken last year. i think what it would have been better to have passed shorter bills. the idea shutting down the government and thinking that the press will focus on the issue you want them to focus on instead of the shutdown is historically inaccurate and not a good idea. and besides, we are taking the
senate in a couple months, so hold your horses. >> mr. nader, if you could briefly say, what is your most serious disagreement with mr. norquist. >> excuse me. regulation. health and safety standards are absolutely essential because people cannot discern the degree of pollution in the air, water, food, emissions from nuclear plants, all the things that are invisible forms of violence. i even got milton friedman, when debating him once in pittsburgh, to agree them he was against all regulation, including licensing of doctors. i said, you mean a barber can put a sign up and say cardiovascular surgery, low price? he said, sooner or later people will find out. sooner or later. [laughter] he did agree pollution had to be regulated because there's no sensory -- there's nothing that people can detect. carbon monoxide, you cannot smell or taste it. that is an area i think i can persuade a lot of people, including grover, because last i heard he breathes. he smells. he eats. he drinks. and the more we can get together
on the things we already agree upon in principle, the easier it will be to enlighten each other. i think they will enlighten us on some of the real wasteful programs that we have been very fearful of challenging for fear that they will all go down the drain 100%. it undermines the support the for these programs. more of this will come if you subscribe to my column freenader.org, and i want to say, grover, i will pay for one full-time person if you pay for one full-time person and we will start right on the spot in a few weeks, the first totally committed convergent advocacy group in america. >> we're almost out of time, but before asking our last question, we have a couple of housekeeping matters to take care of. i would remind you of our upcoming events. ken burns, september 16. september 17, ceo of wells fargo. mr. norquist and mr. nader, you're welcome to come back and join the audience in asking questions.
i would like to present our guests with the traditional national press club mug. on my right, mr. nader, you got one 10 years ago. you can add this to the collection. mr. norquist, here's your first one, i believe, and i am sure you will be back for another one. can you each take 30 seconds to answer the following. i know we are a democratic republic, but if you were emperor of america for one day, what would you do? mr. norquist, you first -- >> shoot the emperor. no emperors, never. [laughter] >> and mr. nader? >> abdicate. [laughter] >> i like his answer better. >> thank you again for coming today. thank you especially to our very special guests of honor.
we are adjourned. [applause] tonight, on the communicators, a discussion of merger proposals. >> the issue with consolidation is you have these huge companies that are not in control of distribution, but content also. it is an infrastructure that we as a democracy rely on to govern ourselves. >> it is faster and minority
you are seeing the developing world adopt these technologies very rapidly. that is fantastic for improving the human condition. for allowing people to the benefit. expectations in a positive way. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on the communicators on c-span two. c-span 2. >> this week on "q&a," our guest is "washington post" national reporter david fahrenthold. he talked about his front page article involving medicare and other investigative pieces.
>> david fahrenthold, on august 17, front page, sunday the headline "medicare scheme that just kept rolling along." what is the story? >> it is about something that lasted a long time. this is something that took me a little while to understand. the power wheelchairs scam. it was a scheme where people will submit false claims for a power wheelchair. it is a very expensive device. they will get a patient who could walk and did not need a wheelchair and send it to medicare and medicare would pay them back. each one of these chairs cost $5,000. medicare would pay $5,000. sometimes it cost the supplier only about $1000 wholesale. they made $3000 or $4000 profit. it is started in the mid-1990's and did not end until last year.
>> your article is in los angeles, why? >> i wanted to see where you can see the government explain to prosecute a power wheelchair case. i went to see the case of a woman from nigeria who lived in l.a. who have run a scam for six or seven years and ended up getting over $4 million from at the government. they prescribed more than 1000 wheelchairs. it was fascinating. they brought in some of the people who had been her patients and they walked in. it was the first sign that were not legitimate patients. they described the scheme. they were corrupted. it made $3000 or $4000. >> what happened to her? >> she was convied