tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 23, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EST
for university campuses, that this is a realpolitik, this is how sophisticated obama is, getting nothing in return for political recognition of the regime is staggeringly incompetent and if there was some need for looking for more creative ways to help the cuban people, engage the cuban people, then i don't think there would be very many critics but what he's done essentially is emboldened the actor on the island that is the implaqueable foe of change and expecting that you can coax some concessions out of him by total capitulation in negotiation is
ignorant, i think. >> and i want to add to that. my colleague had said -- change is no the a valid foreign policy doctrine. hope and policy is not going to guide us to anywhere positive or successful. >> thank you. >> first of all, i think the panel is excellent. thank you very much. it's a reflection, i think, certainly of my views and i think the assessment of many here the policy and why it's misguided and ill-advised. my question is a practical one. considering it is the policy now and i think the ambassador talked about what the president should do with respect to foreign leaders. i'm not holding my breath. i don't think he will do that because the policy already
reflects i think a fundamental misunderstanding of the realities of cuba. so from a practical stand poicht and i'll count myself as not in the obama camp. we have a republican majority. i'm a republican, for the record in congress. what he can -- what can we do for the next two years knowing the reality is around the edges we can do certain things but the purview of foreign policy is largely the president's -- it's his purview. what practical steps can we take? not what the president should do because what he should do he will not do. >> i want to jump right in. i think it's important to emphasize that the president can't just do his speech and the mike drop and walk away from this. he needs to own all of the violations of human rights that occur under this new policy and
be held accountable for that. i think there are some things that -- we should use this as an opportunity to educate the american people on this subject. when you see that 60% of the people support the president's move in some polls. an equal number say it will bring about change, it's important to them to explain to them what the alternatives are and how you can engage the cuban people. i actually think some of the telecommunications avenue news that the president has talked about, we should exploit that fully and i absolute expect that the regime will resist but that should be made clear too. also, the president's policy is doomed to fail because of another reason. oil prices has cost the disindependent graduation of the venezuelan aid program which was
once giving the cuban regime 90,000 barrels a day. that was down to about 40,000 so they weren't able to sell their excess to generate currency and i hear it's lower now probably half the 40,000 they need to subsist. there's no way the president can deliver any sort of windfall of revenue in the short time the regime needs it. what we should do is continue what we've always done, which is be prepared to step in with a coherent response to which will be a collapse, both in venezuela, which has security implications, but in cuba as well. i think the cuban community will play a unique and healthy role in helping the cuban economy re construct their few.
the president's inglorious jessture can't save cuba from gravity. >> thank you for the question. i think i need to say that democracy in cuba cannot -- republicans or -- or democrats. i think that all the persons who believe in democracy should be engaged not with the cuban government but with the cuban citizenship and in this sense, i have to say our main priorities. we need to stop impunity because we need to protect the persons inside the island that are fighting for their rights and
out of the island also because the state security is everywhere , as this has proved and we need to stand up for really basic rights, which are [indiscernible] that could be the sense that actually starts the concession process. to think that we can not break the system just with dialogue. we think that the cubans -- cuban people -- i mean, the persons -- the cuban persons inside and outside of the island have the right to getting both with the real changes at -- to the [indiscernible] of the world but also to you and to the democratic and to the goodwill
persons is to engage in that demand. we are engaged in [indiscernible] it could actually affect the decisions of our nation. to participate in free elections and that's something that everybody could support and that's something that is not even political because it's in the base of the democracy. it's a human right. >> i would like to add a couple of things. so far we've been talking about human rights in cuba, the cuban people. but there's a foreign policy issue beyond cuba and when you're dealing with u.s.-cuban relations, it's not like dealing with u.s.-costa rica relations.
the dimension is simple. two years ago a cargo ship from north korea was caught in the panama canal carrying warplanes to north korea, missiles. this is during the obama administration after at the beginning of his administration said he was extending a hand of friendship to cuba and what he got was an american hostage in cuba and the sending of war material to north korea, in violation of all kind of international rules. for some people, i guess being able to have a "dialogue" with cuba seems to be a great success but a dialogue by itself means nothing. what are american interests? what are american interests in the region? shouldn't the united states shouldn't the president be
concerned and speak out about a large cuban military contingent in venezuela? political police that train the venezuelan police to beat up dissidents, that participate in the abuse and the representation of the venezuelan people? on the issue of north korea -- again. a few minutes ago -- lots of people concerned about the north koreans getting into the internet. but sending cuba -- there is a disconnect. that cuba is sending war materials to north korea and we're concerned about the internet? beyond that it's not simply a couple of years ago. a couple of months ago, to my surprise, a body of the united nations passed a resolution sending or asking the united
nations assembly to send the name of the north korean dictator to an international criminal court. who was defending north korea in the united nations? cuba. cuba was the leader in rallying folks in the united nations against american policy. now, shouldn't the president be concerned about cuban diplomatic efforts to help north korea? shouldn't the president and the administration be concerned about what is happening as far as cuba and syria, cuba and iran? cuba is not simply a little island in the caribbean. we're not really talking about cuba. we're talking about the castro family's insistence in doing everything they can against the united states and the american people. that should be part of the debate.
the other thing is something very simple. now that the president is talking about lifting the u.s. embargo, what about suggesting to mister the -- the general president. remember, the reason that raul is president is because he's the brother of my del. no other reason than that. but a suggestion to him that he ought to lift the internal embarringa that cuba has had on the cuban people. a cuban cannot buy a car and engage in trailed in cuba. a cuban cannot set up a factory. you have to be a foreigner to do that. i think you're saying well, now that the policy is a policy -- yes, we're going to have, it looks like, an american ambassador in havana. what about looking at the way the american diplomatic mission in cuba functions?
do you know that the american taxpayer is paying for cuban spice? isn't that crazy? check it out. you'll probably think he's nuts. all right. is that the way it works? there are about 80 or so american diplomats. there are a couple hundred cuban nationals. when the intercession meets at clark to receive the cubans to come in, they have a cuban national there. when they need someone to clean around, to paint their walls many other things. there are more than 200 of them. now, how did those cubans get to work at an american diplomatic mission in cuba? how? this is a little story that very few people know. when the american mission needs any help, they call who else?
the cuban government entity. so the ambassador says i need a cook i -- embehalf si says i need a cook, i need this i need that. the cuban government provides it then the united states pays the cuban government and then the cuban government pay as part of that to the cuban worker. i asked someone months ago who should know these things whether all of those cuban nationals were spice and i was told well, not all of them but i was told, spb in -- somebody in the government. all of them are susceptible from pressure from the cuban intelligence surface. we have a couple of hundred potential spies, to be nice about it, that the american taxpayer pays for. in the u.s. mission in havana. what i think the congress should
do is decide that this is not a good deal and if the united states needs workers then the united states ought to go and find those workers and if the cuban government doesn't let us do that well, then that's too bad. then the level of work or whatever that the intersection laws will be to be reviewed to see what the americans can do. the problem when you have surveys -- if you ask an american are you in favor of the american taxpayer paying for cuban spies inside the diplomatic mission in havana? what percentage do you think would respond to that? and like that there are a number of other issues that have to do with the u.s. intercession in havana. this is a good time for the congress to look into it as well as to have hearings and call the administration to explain what is havana doing in venezuela?
what is the role of havana with syria or with north korea or with supporting international terrorism. the facts are there. the president wants to get cuba off the terrorist list but cuba is providing hostage to american terrorists including a woman who killed a state trooper a new jersey state trooper and went to prison escaped from prison and is now in cuba and if you look at the list out there now of the f.b.i. that woman is on that most wanted list. somebody else should put that flier in the president's briefing so that he'll be aware of what he's dealing with >> we have time or maybe one or two more questions that anybody else has. the gentleman in the front. >> thank you. i was wondering what you did
think about it -- when was it, 53 political prisoners were released. and you answered my question. do you have any good estimate of how many political prisoners there are in cuba? and we learned during the talk here that the regime was adding more political prisoners as the negotiations were going on. could you elaborate a little on that too? >> could i jump in very briefly in these folks will answer it more thoroughly but when i was in cuba in 1998 i had the honor of visiting with arch bishop marise in santiago de cuba. i asked how many political prisoners are there in cuba? he said as of today, 11 million.
that's a fact. people talk about women's rights gay rights, whatever rights in cuba. people don't have those essential rights. it's difficult for us to understand that but -- so all of these people, the state reserves the right to jail anybody for any reason. absolutely arbitrary and it's shocking to me that in the context of this debate, people are in such a big hurry to justify what president obama has done has cat gorized some of these people at -- as "hardliners." ladies that want to take a walk on a sunday morning can be beaten up and jailed. blind dissidents beaten up on the side of a road and thrown into thorny bushes. people can be detained at any time and these are so-called
hardliners. one of these academics whose name i won't mention from the brookings institution said that these people have to either engage the cuban government or perish. what a wonderful notion for a guy who's supposed to be helping the cuban people vindicate their rights and what a staggering lack of comprehension that this is precisely what these brave cuban dissidents are trying to do is engage their own rulers in a dialogue about their future, and the cost of doing that can be death. i mean it's hard for us for those of clearly people who think that this is going to help in cuba have no understanding of reality there and it's hard for them to grasp just how terrible their existence is and the total ontario nature of that regime. -- do -- totalitarian nature of
that regime. >> i don't actually have the real number. i know there are hundreds of political centers. we have to remember that the cuban government has changed its tactics now. he sets person, he has person in detention. the person will spend like a week in jail and then is released. but i could tell you that one of the political prisoners of our [indiscernible] is not even a person from the opposition. he's just the son of a woman who refused to collaborate with the state security. he has been in jail for four
years right now and after the speech of obama, he was actually sent to a prison of maximum security, even when -- for the amount of years that he has been in jail, he now legally is in jail -- deserves a jail of minimum securement. i could talk about an actress in cuba known by el sexton. he was detained two months ago in havana because he was trying to make a performance and he's still in jail. he's actually sick right now. he has noack says to medical attention and is one of these political prisoners that is not even condemned by the cuban government but is in limbo with
it that you know when you enter but you never know when you are going to be able to be in your house. the political prisoners have become also a [indiscernible] of the cuban regime. he can also use the political prisoners as [indiscernible]. he can always use more political prisoners. he cannot always liberate a political prisoner who has been in jail for eight years. four years ago and he arrests 50 more or arrests 1 4 -- 100 more. the evolution of the political prisoners are always going to be in the center of our demand, in the center of our speech but we
need to know it's one of the strategies of the cuban government. we need to know that we need also demand to change the root of the problem and not just the symptoms. not just the strategies that these perverse regimes create in order to have -- to interchange with their democracy. >> the question was about the 53 political prisoners. again, that is one of the -- what you see in regard to cuba in this context is often not the real truth. first of all on the 17th of december when the president announced that alan roster was coming to scommerk we all were happy that the american hostage was being released, the
president did say that the cuban government was going to release 53 cuban political prisoners. the assumption was then december 17, well, maybe home for the holidays maybe for christmas they'll be home. well, that's not what happened. what happened was there were numerous statements on capitol hill and in the media and finally, more than two weeks later, the state department that refused to release names finally put out a list. if one looks at the list you'll find that at least one had been released a year earlier. in the list you'll find a number of folks who were just about to be released. she were -- they were short of a month or two or whatever and then, some of them were brought back to prison. and when you -- you know, what i'm talking about amnesty.
when fidel castro was in prison for attacking the barracks where many cubans died. he was sentenced to 15 years in prison but less than about two years later he was released in amnesty but the bloody dictator batista. but amnesty meant fidel could go out, organize rallies, go to the media, talk. he was free to do whatever. but that's not the case with these folks. they are told that if they engage in criticism of the regime they can and in fact they do get sent back to prison. you hear the 53 and then you start looking into it and it's more complicated than that. i was very impressed by his -- a
statement by amnesty international when they announced the release of the so-called 53. amnesty international talked about the cuban decrees that are used to send people to prison. there's one, and there are many but there's one called dangerousness. wait means is that if the government believes that you're a dangerous person that you might at some point do something inappropriate, they can put you in prison for a couple of years. there's no con spire si, there's no -- conspiracy, there's no action it's just dangerousness. amnesty said that if all that happens is the release of prisoners without changing the legal framework that sent them to prison, then the whole prisoners release amnesty said is a smoke screen to cover repression in cuba.
not everybody, i think -- someone mentioned many people are grabbed and taken away for a week or a few days but it's more than that. when they grab you and put you in prison, they beat you up, they abuse you. they put you in communicale. for days your family doesn't know where you are. it's not just for a gue days. then there are people who are always kept in prison for a longer term. there's a black catholic woman, sonia adams, who wanted to go to the pope's mass a couple of years ago in cuba and apparently she had talked to some people about either raising a banner saying freedom or chanting freedom or something to do with that and the police came. a couple of days before the pope got to havana, they took her and
her husband and they kept her in prison for about two years. at the end, they let her go. but the cuban people, as i said will regain their freedom. we have pictures, for example, of the funeral of piei, we are her death. it's a huge crowd and they're all like this. that means "l" liberstat. so their position in cuba is growing. they're more carriage use every day but the castro government would like the united states to ignore them. not to help them get laptops or telephones or printers. the cuban government doesn't want the united states to do for the cubans what america did for the polls when they were
fighting communism or for the south africans when they were fighting for freedom. and i don't mean necessarily american government but american society. somebody asked what shall we do? if anybody wants to buy a laptop, a printer, a telephone, a copier, there are good people in cuba and go get caught like allen gross. he was caught because the cuban government needed a hostage to change for the spies. >> thank you frank, and i think we're out of time. i want to thank you all for joining us today and i think at this point we can all pretty much agree what this white house's new policy is. a free pass for the cuban government to continue
repression and we should stop thinking about it as a partisan si and more of a freedom issue and please join me in thanking the panelists. [applause] >> earlier today, secretary of state john kerry spoke at the world economic forum in davos switzerland. he talked about the death of the king of saudi arabia and said he'll miss his wisdom and friendship. i want to take a moment to say how i think all of us were saddened to hear the news that king abdullah of saudi arabia had died. i'm here today to talk about countering violent extremism and king abdullah had a long history of being a brave partner with us and with the world in his work not just in counterterrorism but in his work on interfaith understanding. i remember as a young senator meeting with him and listening to him and being encouraged by
his commitment to putting together an interfaith conference and efforts to bring people together to create better understanding and he saw that as a tool against extremism and recently through his very strong endorsements of the anti--- coalition, which has been a key to building the broad coalition that we have today he's made a broad critics. i was privilege -- contribution. i was privileged to spend many hours with the kidge. particularly over the last few years. i saw him not long ago. he was obviously not well but with a great sense of humor, even in the midst of the crisis. people will miss him in saudi arabia and we will miss his wisdom, his partnership and his
friendship. >> just some of the comments from earlier today at the world economic forum today at davos. you can watch his remarks in their entirety at 8:00 eastern here on c-span or anytime at c-span org. later on washington journal, a discusses of policies proposed by president obama during his state of the union address and robert costa joins us to talk about the potential republican presidential candidates at the iowa freedom summit in des moines. washington journal, live at 7:00 a.m. herein here on c-span. this saturday, live coverage of the iowa freedom summit from des moines begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern. speakers include potential presidential candidates. governors rick perry, scott walker and chrisesty.
former governor mike huckabee. ben carson and sarah palin. the iowa summit, this saturday on c-span, c-span radio and c-span org. next a state department briefing with spoke person. she talks about the depth of king abdullah and yet that hugh's upcoming meeting at the united states. this is 40 minutes. >> i have a couple of items at the top. as all of you have seen on the news, the secretary is in davos switzerland to attend the world economic forum. in addition to ordering the forum, which he already has done, he met with the sip rien president, dr. claus, the founder of the world economic
summit and may attend a meeting with boon key -- bonn quay moon. the secretary will troovel to they jeera and also mentioned it in his remarks on january 25, in if an tofrlte make sure the upcoming discussions are peaceful and credible. he'll meet with retired major general buhari while he is there. last item, we remain deeply concerned by the increasing violence and blood shed in eastern ukraine, which has resulted in a russian back spreatist attack and what appears to be a complete violation of the minx agreement. the russian backed rebels have responded with attacks resulting in the depths of 262 people in
the last nine days. russia is actively supporting the separatists by supplying them with heavy weaponry and vehicles including tanks and heavy artillery pieces as well as providing military personnel. not only have we seen no commitment by the separatists or the russians to implement the per len -- berlin statement separatists have publicly commented on their suspension to take more territory. we urge them to restore you cane release -- ukraine's control along its side of the international border. russia holds the keys to peacefully stop -- stopping the conflict. and i have a -- let's get to as many as we can.
>> i want to start with the travel announcement. >> sure. >> i'm a little confused. >> yesterday here, you said that , in regards to prime minister netanyahu that it's a matter of long-standing practice that neither the president nor the secretary of state meets with candidates in close proximity to their election so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a notic election in a foreign country. is there an exception for west african country that is begin with m and end with a or what's going on here? >> they're entirely different scenarios in our view. i mentioned why the secretary is traveling there. certainly, there are concerns about violence about the implementation of the elections. obviously he'll be talking about all of that, the importance of enforcing the electoral process and he'll underscore concern
about serious post election violence or destabilizing factors outcome. that's something we've done other places as well most recently in afghanistan. it's something perhaps secretaries of state have done. israel in the situation with the prime minister's visit. which again, we said we welcomed. we're just not meeting with him as a policy. there's a difference between hosting a meeting exclusively with one candidate and your own country and visiting a country and making clear to all candidates and all parties about the need to keep reduced violence about the need to see the electoral process through. >> is he going to meet with the 12 other candidates of the nigerian election? >> he's meeting with two other candidates. it's not a situation where we're hosting one candidate or another or he's meeting to support one candidate or another. >> ok, it's not out of the administration's control to invite some other israeli
politicians to come at the same time as prime minister netanyahu and i believe some will be here for the big conference. >> we've made a decision which the white house made yesterday and we've echoed about our plans. we remain in close contact with prime minister netanyahu as well as in -- many other officials in israel. >> the afghan scenario you mentioned, that was a case in which the secretary was trying to broker a deal after the election. >> he was there before as well. obviously the upcoming election in advance were a key part of his message as well. >> on israel specifically there were quotes in a couple of reports today from unnamed u.s. officials, one of which says this is attributed to a source close tot secretary. the bilateral relationship with israel is unshakable but playing politics with that relationship could blunt secretary kerry's
enthusiasm for being israel's primary defender. i believe that referred specifically to the united nations. is that accurate? >> i'm not going to speak. i'm sure it won't surprise you, two unnamed quotes from the podium. >> i'm going to say it right now. playing politics with the u.s.-israeli rhythm could blunt secretary kerry's enthusiasm for being israel's primary defender. am i lying or am i correct? >> as the secretary said himself, certainly the way israel went about announcing or confirming the trim was unusual. clearly the trip is going to happen. he's remained engaged with prime minister netia humidity there's a great deal that he does behind the scenes to support israel. i'm going to leave it at that. >> does that mean that the secretary's enthusiasm for defending israel could be blunted? >> i think the secretary spoke of this himself a couple of days
ago. >> a couple of days ago? >> yep, two days ago. he spoke to his views on the prime minister's visit. >> i'm just trying to find out if it is correct that the secretary might be less enthusiastic in his defense of israel at an international forum now because of the unusual nature of the prime minister's -- >> matt, the reason i point to what the secretary said is that he spoke to the fact that he remains engaged with prime minister netanyahu that there's a range of issues we work together on. >> i understand that. but either the rhythm is unshake or it's not. if it is unshakable, it would seem to me the annoyance or whatever, the surprise with which you viewed the prime minister's upcoming visit would not -- does not have the potential to blunt the secretary's enthusiasm. >> the rhythm is unshakable. that hasn't changed.
i'm not going to speak further to unnamed quotes. >> but -- ok, forget about the unnamed officials then. i'll try to put this in my mouth so it's me saying it. am i right or wrong? >> we've addressed this extensively so i leave with you those comments. >> is there an absence an outrage from this department? the secretary of state being the top american diplomat and this is a foreign policy issue. this is a foreign leader who is basically intervening in the american process. shouldn't there have been perhaps a stronger reaction? >> i understand your desire to weigh into this further. i'm not going to weigh into it further. >> by the way, i think there was an israely president for meeting before an election with peres back in 199 . >> and irked look up who
criticized that at the time. >> yes he criticized him tremendously at that time. there was a lot of talk that this was basically a ballet and basically crude the way it was done. don't you think it should have caused a stronger expression or -- >> since i've spoken to this extensively. i'll leave the answer to the analysts, including yourself. >> is it correct that the secretary met with ambassador durmer for two days and the subject of the prime minister's visit was not -- >> yes, that is correct. >> and was the secretary surprised after learning of the invitation and the prime minister's acceptance that the ambassador did not mention that to him? >> i think that's say to -- safe to say. >> ok. if that's safe to say why can't you address the other part of it, my initial question about potential blunting of his enthusiasm for defending israel? >> i think, matt clearly, not
only the secretary but others in the administration, including myself, have spoken to this repeatedly. i think there's no boetsch in speaking of it further. >> do you know if the secretary has spoken to the ambassador since? >> i don't have any -- obviously he left on this trip. i'm not sure if he's spoken to him since then. i can certainly check on that. >> where was that meeting? >> here. any more on israel before we continue? >> that the administration essentially would be looking for some sort of payback against the netanyahu government for this viff. is that something that the secretary would endorse, payback? >> i'm not even sure what that means and i'm not again going to speak to an anonymous quote. the secretary spoke of -- on this two days ago. any more? >> including the meeting from -- >> no, we had no role in that.
sure go ahead. >> the anti-iciss coalition. i'm not sure if you saw this -- >> i did i think. >> the west for not inviting they said is disheartening. what's your response? >> well, i would say -- sure i know what you're referring to. i'd say a couple of things. we have enormous respect for the courage and the tremendous fights they've taken to isil to recapture territories. we've seen consistent and continued gains. in coordination with the government, the united states and coalition have been very supportive of iraqi sports -- forces and have continued to do so. london was an turment for a small group of coalition members to work directly with the government to each areas for our cooperation, even with the kurds. as head of government, prime
minister abaldy was the representative of the government at the conference. >> do you believe that because abattie was there, there was no need -- >> as a representative, he was the head of government. general allen and ambassador mcgirk have met with ambassadors on every trip they've taken to iraq and will continue to do so. >> was it a united states decision to not invite the kurds? >> i would not put it in those terms but -- let me finish. as appropriate the head of government attended to represent all of iraq. the kurds are part of iraq and so they represented their interests. as you know, they work together, as in we work with all of them to defeat isil. >> you know very well iraq is about basically two states. i've worked with both of them independently. >> curled stan is a part of iraq as you know. >> but you provided them arms.
>> in coordinate nation with the iraqi government. >> so now they are very angry because they believe, as most -- on the ground, they haven't been -- no representative of their -- of the kurds has been invited. >> our actions over the course of several months, including supporting them and a range of ways with materials -- let me finish my answer -- in cooperation with the iraqi government answers that question. we also had many meetings with them but they are a part of the iraqi government. i understand the views of some and your personal views. but that remains the case. prime minister abadi remains the head of the iraqi government. we're going to move on. go ahead. >> are there reports that two hostages have been kill window i sighs? >> we've seen those reports. i believe you're referring to
reports on twitter. we have no confirmation of those reports. i'd certainly refer you to the government of japan but i don't believe they'd put anything out specifically. we continue to call for the immediate release of these civilians and all other hostages and we're fully supportive of japan and continue to coordinate closely. on japan? go ahead. >> what do you theo, what do the united states think about -- [indiscernible] >> i spoke to this a little bit yesterday. our position on ransoms is well known. we believe that granting such son -- concessions puts all of our citizens overseas at greater risk for kidnapping. we've spoken about that frequently. >> any decision oar the
authenticity of the video? >> i would point you to the government of japan. i don't have any independent analysis from here. >> one more? >> sure. >> yesterday you said you're prepared to provide any support you can. does that provide military support or intelligence share something >> i'm not going to get into differences we have with japan in government. >> what actions actually have the u.s. taken? >> sure, i think that's similar to your colleague's question. i'm not going to detail our private conversations. we remain in close contact with the government. they're a close friend and a close partner. obviously, this is a terrible situation but i'm not going to detail that more publicly. any more on japan? >> i don't know if you've seen that there are already some heads of government and foreign ministers who are going to go to saudi arabia tomorrow. is there any change in the
secretary's travel plans given that he's already on the road? >> i don't have any travel plans to announce. i'm sure you've all seen the statement that we put out from the secretary last night about the depth of his friend king abdullah. the secretary has a planned trip to they jeera on sunday so nothing further to announce at this point in time. >> i wonder if you could speak to the announcement of the new king. do you think he'll be somebody who will steer saudi arabia well. do you still see any kind of changes in the close ties that you've had with them? >> we look forward to continuing the close partnership between the united states and saudi arabia under the new leadership. obviously they're in a period of mourning right now but there are a range of issues we have worked together on, whether it's the arab campaign initiative or the campaign to defeat isil.
we have a long history of cooperation and no indication that that cooperation will change. >> any indication that the new king -- he objects less to some sort of a deal with iran. can you comment on that? >> i don't have any analysis. obviously, the king passed away yesterday. they've been an important partner. i'm not going to analyze saudi politics from here. >> also a very close ally within the system. muhammad has been named deputy. is that something you look at? >> we will continue to work with a range of officials, senior officials. leadership in saudi arabia in the weeks months, years ahead. obviously we're going to have a period of mourning at this point in time but i think it's safe to assume we'll remain in very close contact on the ground and through the secretary as well. >> what are the -- for the new
saudi arabia under the new king in yemen? >> what will we see in yemen? >> yeah, are you talking to the new king? i assume that you are. >> i would remind you that he was named king yesterday. king abdullah passed away yesterday. the funeral is today. so obviously we will be in close contact but i'm not going to analyze what their role will or won't be in different conflicts around the world. we expect our close cooperation to continue. >> he was crown prince for several years before his hatch brother passed away. what is this building's assessment of his views on human rights, on freedom of expression, on the ability of women to participate fully in saudi society? >> i'm not going to analyze his personal views from here. as you know, we have a long history of cooperation on a range of issues. the effort to degrade and defeat
isil, the arain peace issue, a range of conflicts around the world. as is true of many of our important partner there are still issues where we have differences on. issues on human rights, freedom of speech, issues for rights for women are certainly things we have raised with them. but we're going to give them a certain period of time before we engage in diplomatic discussions with them. >> that has u.s. engaged with him while he was named crown prince on these issues? >> you would expect there would not be any change? >> exactly. i expect we'll continue to work on the same issues. >> so last night it was revealed that the ambassador staff had
been reversed -- embassy staff had been reversed further. i'm wondering what the status is there right now and how -- whether or not you believe that the upcoming, i guess, emergency parliamentary meeting on sunday is a good thing and where you see this transition going. >> sure. on the security piece, information we put out last night, just to reiterate for everyone here in response to the changing security situation in yemen, the united states ambassador has fupt reduced it -- embassy has further reduced its american personnel working there. the embassy remains open and continues to operate. we'll continue to operate at normal with reduced staff and we'll also continually assess the situation. there's no new update on that
since last night in terms of staffing changes to a security posture. on your second question, as you noted, we understand there's a plan for a meeting -- an emergency session on sunday to decide whether to accept the president's resignation. when that meeting take place, the constitution provides that the speakers of palment will -- parliament will become acting president -- if they accept his resignation, that the speaker of the parliament would become acting president until an election could be formed. if they fail to accept him, he'll remain president for 930 days. in 90 days they must accept it. we're in touch with a full spectrum of political leaders in yemen. helping the political transition
to move forward as well as to say we oppose new political violence we've seen and we expect them to clear the resolution and accept the resolution. clearly the situation is very fluid on the ground but we'll be watching closely over the course of the next coming days. >> do you have any preference as to whether they accept or reject his resignation and in the interim, so today and tomorrow up until the meeting do you still regard him as a president? >> yes, he remains the president. it's up to the yemeni people to determine what the future is. >> so you don't have any preference as to whether they accept or rent -- i mean, you would think that will if you're calling for things to calm down then a rejection of his
resignation would be preferable than -- would be more preferable than an acceptance of it but i don't know. is that not correct? >> i don't think we're in a position to assess what the impact would be, matt. i understand why you're going down that road but our focus is enin encouraging a reduction in violence and abiding by the constitution, the g.d.p. initiative and the u.s. security council resolution. >> does the stragse believe that the rebels and their military o pose a direct threat to -- pose a direct threat to u.s. interests? >> well, they have made public statements that indicate others otherwise. obviously we expect and tall on -- call on them to abide by them. meantime we take every precaution to keep our men and women safe. >> is the the judgment of the
administration that these guys are not a direct threat or don't have the intention or desire to attack the embassy or -- >> i understand what you're saying but they've said that they don't. obviously we've watched the situation on the ground. there's a great deal of violence. it's very fluid so we still watch that very closely. >> but they do on days chant "death to america," and that tight end of -- kind of thing. it's not as if they haven't expressed anti-american sentiment in the past. >> we continue to assess our security needs every day. it is important to know that just this week they stated that this was not their intention. >> we've been in touch with a ring -- range of political leaders. i'm not going to get into the details. >> can you say whether the u.s. embassy is -- >> he had prior plans to leave and he'll be returning i think
later this week or early next. >> then the employees who were move from the embassy, are they going to stay in the region for the time being or coming back to the united states? >> some may be he roket -- relocated but i'm not going to give you details. >> but you're clear that the embassy is still open for business? >> yes. uh-huh. >> [indiscernible]. >> they were not evacuated. they've been departing trailer for a reduction in staff. i'm not going to get in to how for security purposes. >> you don't expect the situation to go back to the status kuo, do you? >> what do you mean by that? >> by that i mean there's a new record in order yemen. obviously there are new forces that you might have to work with. >> clearly there have been a
range of events that have happened over the course of the last week. we're not they eve about that. but also, as i outlined, there are a numbers of -- number of steps that parliament will take. we're going to see that process seen through. >> clearly you would like to see some sort of cooperation with them continue or occur. >> well, the hooties are a legitimate political constituency and have a right to take part. that said, we condemn their violence. we certainly have concerns but i'm not going to get ahead of where we are in the process. >> the former president plays a major role in this. and i wonder if you have a comment on that or any contact with him?
>> i think we've spoken to the former president and as you know i point to the fact that the u.s. department of treasury imposed sanctions on him last november for engaging in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace and security of yemen. >> yemen has said this is basically his getting back to power. >> i think we put sanctions in place because of our you -- view he was engaging in acts threatening the peace and security of yemen. i think that clearly speaks to what our concerns were at the time. >> they used to be two different countries until they yuneled. there are some indications that there could be a split between south and north. what is the u.s. position? >> we continue to support the
unity of yepen and their institutions. >> but if there was a move towards the states, would you support that? >> our view continues to be that we of the country. >> no, but you know in reality on this very point -- i mean four big governors in the south seceded, basically. they conduct their affairs autonomously and they control a very strategic area. i mean, now you have iran's influence in the strait of hormuz and in bab al-mandab as well. >> well, i've spoken over the last couple of days about our concerns about iran's influence. go ahead. >> tribal anbar leaders are reportedly here. i'm not sure you if you have talked about them in the past -- >> tribal anbar leaders -- >> they are in washington. >> are in washington? >> yeah, they've been here for a few days. >> let me see i have anything on
it. if not, i'm happy to talk to our team and we can see if we have anything specific. and then let's just finish yemen before we move on to the next topic. >> given the events of the last 24 hours, how worried is the u.s. about its ongoing counterterrorism operations inside yemen? >> well, i think that is one of our primary objectives, as you know, and our partnership and cooperation with the yemini government. it has been. we hope it will continue to be. it's ongoing. so at this point, i don't have any concerns to express, but obviously it remains a priority and remains one of the reasons we feel it's important to have a strong presence there. >> as you're assessing the security situation -- though are you also reassessing the counterterrorism strategy in the way it has played out in yemen? >> in what capacity? what do you mean by that? >> the u.s. counterterrorism strategy, the way it's been in effect so far, are you also assessing how you can conduct that counterterrorism strategy right now? >> do you mean with whom or with -- in what way? >> given that there is no clear government right now. >> well, as i mentioned, we're in touch with a range of officials. i'm not going to get into more details on that. our cooperation on that front is ongoing.
obviously, it's something that we feel is a priority and we hope it will continue. >> is the yemeni national security apparatus intact? >> well, i think there's no question that there's tensions and a great deal of violence on the ground. it's an incredibly fluid situation, and we're watching very closely, but i'm not here to proclaim what is or isn't. obviously, institutions have been at risk over the last couple of days. you saw the submission of -- the resignation of the prime minister. there's no question this is a challenging situation. >> is it -- who is running the country? do you have any idea who is running -- i mean -- >> president hadi remains the president of yemen. >> well, i mean who is administering the country. i mean -- >> well, as you know, parliament called an emergency session on sunday. obviously, this is a fluid period of time. we remain in touch with a range of officials. any more on yemen before we continue? go ahead. >> what can you say -- yeah, what can you say about the relation between the u.s. and the houthis? are you cooperating with them? is there any relation with them? >> there's no meetings i have to read out for you or to confirm for you. there haven't been. >> could the shared concern or distaste for aqap possibly be
the basis for a relationship between the u.s. and the houthis, should they come to power? >> we do have that shared concern. there are countries we have shared concerns with that we don't engage with as well. so as you -- as i noted just a couple of minutes ago, or not even that long ago, we -- the houthis are a legitimate political constituency. we encourage them to be a part of a peaceful transition. we still have concerns about their -- the involvement in violence, and certainly we continue to make that case. >> have you been able to ascertain the extent of their relationship with the government in tehran? >> i don't have any assessment of that. i've spoken about our concern about the history or recent history of their engagement. we didn't have -- i don't have anything new in terms of their recent engagement or anything to confirm for you. let's just finish yemen. yemen or a new topic? >> yemen. >> yemen, ok.
>> yeah. any back-channel talk with the houthi? >> no, there's no meetings to confirm or read out for you. go ahead. >> the newly appointed chief executive of the bbg said his agency faces a number of quote-un-quote, challenges -- russia today, the islamic state, boko haram -- all in one sentence. would you call those remarks appropriate or inappropriate? >> well, i think, one, let me note that the broadcasting board of governors is an independent federal agency supervising all u.s. government-supported civilian international media. i'd certainly point you to them for specifics. i think the broad point is the u.s. government -- would the u.s. government put those three in the same category? no, we wouldn't. however, there are concerns, i think, that our -- we agree with in terms of the fact that the -- russia's own independent media space is shrinking and the kremlin continues to apply pressure on the few remaining outlets. and while r.t. is available to many viewers in the united
states -- you're here in the briefing room today -- many russian authorities have curtailed the ability of bbg broadcasters to broadcast there. so those are challenges and certainly concerns that i think the new head of bbg was expressing. >> do you have -- just to clarify -- do you have any problem with the way he put it? >> i think i'd point you to them, and i just stated that wouldn't be the way that we would state it from here. >> how would you state it? >> we wouldn't state it in those terms. >> well, the secretary of state is a member of the bbg. >> sure. i just stated the concerns we have, which we agree with. >> right. >> i would state it in that way. >> ok. so you would not, then, put r.t. in the same category as boko haram and -- >> that's what i just said two minutes ago. >> yeah, but you would agree that it is a challenge and -- >> correct, i said both of those things. >> can we stay on -- roughly on this subject, i'm just wondering
if you have -- on ukraine, you had some pretty strong comments at the top. and i wanted to know if you had any further information about the bus incident. >> i don't have any further information, no. >> ok. and do you know -- and i suppose that this is probably better if you have -- on ukraine, you had some pretty strong comments at the top. addressed to secretary kerry -- >> oh, i do have one thing. this may have been out there matt, but i didn't talk about it yesterday. yesterday's report from the osce established the trolley bus was likely destroyed by a mortar or rocket coming from a northwestern direction. based on this information alone, it isn't possible to definitively conclude who was responsible. obviously, we would condemn, of course, the attacks, the impact on the local population, and certainly we continue to call on all sides to take every precaution to prevent the loss of lives. >> do you know if secretary kerry has any ukraine-related meetings? >> bilateral meetings? >> phone calls? >> let me see if there are any calls -- >> given -- i mean, just -- your very -- were quite strong, and it evinced a more particular concern perhaps than you have
had in the past for that situation, so -- >> as you know, he met with eu high representative mogherini yesterday, and certainly they talked about -- >> right, but i mean with russian or ukrainian officials. >> he doesn't have any calls i have to read out. he's also had a pretty back-to-back schedule over the course of the last two days. >> all right. >> do you have any more on ukraine before we continue? new topic? happy friday? go ahead. go ahead in the back. >> sorry, very short. >> sure. go ahead. >> could you give us an idea of the status of the dialogue between the normalization of diplomatic relations between bolivia and the united states, please? >> sure, sure. i think you're referring to -- and tell me if i'm correct here -- some comments that were made by bolivian government officials. we welcome the recent comments by the bolivian government concerning their interest in strengthening the bilateral relationship. there are a number of areas in which we find common ground with bolivia, including the environment, commerce, rule of law, and education. go ahead. >> do you have anything on the
impeachment of the former thai prime minister and the ban on her participation in politics? >> i think i have a little bit of something. let me see. we have previously expressed our concerns about the political situation in thailand. in that context, the united states takes note of the appointed legislative body's decision to impeach retroactively former prime minister yingluck. we also have noted the separate criminal charges that have been filed against her this week. we believe that the impartial administration of justice and rule of law is essential for equitable governance and a just society. we believe it is a matter for the thai people to determine the legitimacy of their political and judicial processes. assistant secretary russel is visiting bangkok next monday where he will meet with political leaders on all sides civil society leaders, and others and will also discuss our current -- our concern for the situation in thailand directly with the government. >> i believe that his trip will be the most senior -- he will be the thai people to determine the legitimacy of their political and judicial processes. the most senior u.s. official to
visit since the coup. is that correct? >> that may be right, matt. i'm happy to double-check with our team if that's correct. >> can you, and can you also -- i've forgotten what the consequence was or whether there was any for u.s. assistance -- >> well, there were some impacts on assistance. >> could you just -- >> we can certainly recirculate that to all of you if you'd like. >> all right. and then i just have one more, and apologies if you have addressed this previously. >> ok. >> but do you have -- does the administration have any thoughts on this case of this argentine prosecutor who was -- >> i actually have not addressed this. i would keep your expectations low. >> never. >> we are aware of the allegations against president kirchner, but as this is an ongoing investigation, we have no comment on the specifics and refer inquiries to the argentine government. the united states and the >> we are aware of the international community continue to work with the argentine government as well as victims of the amia bombing and their families to seek justice.
>> right. well, i'm less interested in what you had to - what you think about what the prosecutor was saying than about his sudden and untimely death apparently at the hands of someone other than himself. >> well, it's an ongoing investigation that remains applicable as well, matt. i would say, just since you've given me the opportunity, we express our deepest sorrow for the tragic death of special prosecutor alberto nisman and extend our most sincerest condolences to his family. he courageously devoted much of his professional life to pursuing the perpetrators of the 1994 terrorist attacks on the jewish community center in buenos aires, which killed 85 and injured hundreds. judicial authorities are investigating his death, and we call for a complete and impartial investigation. for over 20 years, the united states, we have continued to work closely with the international community and the argentine government seeking justice. >> as you know, there's widespread suspicion that iran had played a role in this
attack. does the united states share that? >> there's an investigation by argentine authorities. we're just not going to weigh in or speculate. >> and does that include any potential iranian hand in his death? >> we're not going to speculate in any aspect of his death. >> any quick update on the cuba talks? >> on the cuba talks? >> mm-hmm. >> assistant secretary roberta jacobson gave a press conference today. she gave one yesterday. so i would certainly point you to both of those for more specific details. go ahead. >> one on syria? >> sure. >> forgive me if you already addressed this, but this barrel bomb today in -- just outside of damascus in -- have you issued any statement or any condemnation? >> we haven't, but it's a good question. let me talk to our team so we can get you all some comments on that. >> ok. >> ok? great. thanks, everyone. >> this saturday cannot live coverage of the iola freedom some -- iola freedom -- iowa
freedom summit. 2008 vice presidential nominee sarah palin. the iowa freedom summit. >> earlier today, josh earnest discussed boehner's interest invitation to israeli prime minister. here is more. >> there has been discussion about the relationship with netanyahu after that invitation from the speaker. on a scale of one to 10, how
irritated is the white house with prime minister netanyahu? >> well, jim, let's unpack this a couple different ways. the first is -- [indiscernible] >> toe of the measure is there. let me restate the thing i said before, which is that it is inconsistent with long-standing practice for the leader of a foreign government when they plan to visit the united states to contact and coordinate a visit with the leader of the united states. the invitation that was extended and the acceptance of the invitation did represent a departure from protocol. but ultimately, it is the responsibility of the speaker of the house to make decisions about the floor schedule of the house of representatives. certainly if we had the opportunity to weigh in on the schedule a little bit more, we would welcome the opportunity and make a variety of changes. the other thing we have made
clear, jim, is that the president at this point does not plan to meet with prime minister netanyahu on this visit that a netanyahu on this visit that i'm on care right now so i'm glad you got it but gated apparently is scheduled for march. the reason for that is that prime minister netanyahu's visit comes about two weeks before the israeli elections and this administration goes to great lengths to ensure that we don't give even the appearance of interfering or attempting to influence the outcome of a democratically held election in another country. and for that reason, the president will not be meeting with the prime minister netanyahu when he visits the u.s. in march. but as all of you have noted on a number of occasions, the president has spent more time talking to prime minister netanyahu that any other world leader. and the reason for that is simply that the united states and this president recognizes that we have a clear national security interest within our alliance with israel.
and that kind of commitment that we have to their national security is unshakable certainly transcends partisan politics, and something that despite some of the differences of opinion that we have with the current israeli prime minister doesn't undermine our commitment to israel's security. our differences of opinion about the strategy we should pursue to resolve the international community's concerns about iran's nuclear program are long-standing. we have been talking about this difference of opinion for years now. over that same timeframe, since 2011, while president obama has been in office, the united states provided israel with more than a billion dollars for the iron dome system, including last summer when israeli supplies were running low while they were being shelled by extremists in gaza. we have not allowed -- this president has certainly not allowed the disagreement over our iran approach to in any way
shape the commitment of the united states to the national security of israel. >> benjamin netanyahu is scheduled to speak at the joint meeting of congress on tuesday, march 3. you can watch those remarks on c-span. next, a discussion about a new book called "we are better than this: how the government should spend our money." this is about 45 minutes. edward kleinbard. he has this book, "we are better than this: how government should spend our money." you say in here that you are supportive of business in a dutch uncle sort of way.
what does that mean? guest: i am a fan of business and free enterprise. i understand the value of the capitalist system. i do not have any patience for random government intervention for the hell of it. but on the other side of the coin, business in america i do not have any patience for today, when they lobby in washington, it tends to have a somewhat hysterical tone. the sky is always falling. the slightest effort by government to correct market shortcomings -- it is the end of the world. the purpose of the book, in effect, is to give a stern lecture to government, but more important to get people involved in understanding how taxing and spending policy of the government directly affects our lives, our happiness, and our
future. host: is the new thing that business is saying the sky is always falling or has it always been that way when it comes to lobbying? guest: it is not a new development. what is a new development is first the volume. there's so much loving that goes on. it is so persistent that it is hard to escape. it is hard to hear yourself think over the din of lobbyists. also, the rest activity on behalf of the members of the congress to the messages. you need to bring a lot of skepticism to job if you are a policymaker. unfortunately, i think that we
are underendowed in skepticism. host: the topic of your book is how the government should spend our money. you write, if we put government to work in useful areas, our country would be healthier wealthier, and happier. what exactly are those areas that you would like to see government working? guest: the basic problem -- we saw it just after the state of the union address -- we argue about taxes all the time in this country. taxes are not what government does., a finance is what government does. what government princely does is spend money. the question is are there opportunities for government to complement the private sector, and fill out the picture. in the book, i divide into two categories -- investment and insurance.
in investment, the most obvious two examples are infrastructure and education. let me give you an example. david -- of bookings were on this to demonstrate that spending 10% more on public education of kids, grades k-12 -- 10% per year, about $1,300 a kid -- leads to increased wages for lifetime. that is a fantastic investment. there is no private firm in the world that would look at those numbers and say anything other than let's jump in with both feet, but is government the need to make that investment. those are the kind of points that the book is trying to make.
host: let's say our tax system remains the same, where would you shift spending to complement what we do on the private side? host: the book rejects the premise of the question. the book says that frankly we should tax more. not a gigantic amount. about 2% of gdp would radically change america for the better,
and would enable us to invest in our kids so that they have genuine opportunity. what size increase the is to discover that the united states is one of the four countries in the club of rich countries where we systematically spend more on the public education of rich kids than poor kids. what a bizarre way to run a country? we systematically spend more money on rich kids than poor kids on education. host: because of the way it is structured due to our school districts? let's go back to the premise that tax rates will not change. guest: right, tax rates will not change. the book is heavily focused on things like military expenditures. there are only two places in our budget where we systematically spend more than other countries __ one is the
military and the other is healthcare. military, i cannot speak as to whether we need 11 nuclear aircraft carrier groups, or nine, or 14. i do feel strongly that if weare going to spend the most per capita on the military then we need a tax system that will be big enough to allow us to be the new sparta, if that is what we want to be, but also meet other economic obligations. the other place where we overspend as healthcare. that is __ if you're looking for wasteful use, healthcare is a nightmare. we spent close to double per capita per person on health care.
we basically spend the same as other countries than in public funding of health care, then we duplicate that all over again with private resources. that is really a tax on ourselves. it turns out that we are all very interested in our own health and survival. so, we can tax ourselves with government or private. the next country after us __ norway or the netherlands __ spends about 12% versus our 18%. my objection to the affordable care act is not that it is too much, but that is too little. i believe in
we have congress for example that will not allow medicare to negotiate drug prices. we overpay through the private side for drugs. by doing so, we enrich the owners of those drug companies. that is where the waste is. host: what is the purpose of the joint committee on taxation? guest: is one of the a handful of committees in congress with members of the house and senate. this is the one that has some substantive responsibilities. its principal purpose of existing is to have a staff. its staff will be the nonpartisan resource for congress on taxation -- democrat and republican, house and
senate -- to help draft legislation, and most importantly to estimate the revenue consequences, tax collection consequences, of changing the law. every time there is a tax bill the jcc scores more or less how much revenue we can expect over the next few years. host: you talk about income inequality in your book. what about the fact -- this is a tweet -- could you please cite other economic buoyant countries that have 40% of its citizens who pay no income taxes? guest: this is one of the classic red herrings in political rhetoric today. there's virtually nobody in the united states who pays no taxes. it doesn't really matter if the tax is called an income tax, payroll tax. everyone pays taxes.
the way the u.s. tax system is structured -- on the federal level, you pay payroll taxes from the first dollar of wages you earn. a minimum-wage worker is paying into the tax system. these are not in fact moneys going towards the segregated retirement account for the benefit of the individual. we have income taxes on top of that. one of the reasons that we have a significant number of individual americans who do not pay is because most of those americans are either elderly -- they are in effect past their wage-earning span and are collecting social security -- or they are children. you look at that 40%, there are very few working adults that fall into that category. those of course are paying
payroll taxes, state, and local taxes. when you add them all up everyone pays taxes in this country. it is true that the income tax is collected primarily from the middle-class americans up through affluent americans. also, for the reason that we deliver lots of social programs through the tax code. if you unbundle the income tax and say here's what we are collecting on the one end, and here is what we're spending on other, you would discover that what other countries might deliver as what is called making work pay programs -- we deliver those kinds of programs through the tax code in the form of the income tax credit.
the consequence of that is that if people want, and we wanted to make everyone happier, we could have a tax system that collects and another bureaucracy that writes out checks to other people. instead, we found a way to short-circuit the process. the result is a kind of confusion you get in that question. host: let's take some calls. dorothea in florida. guest: good morning. i would like to ask more on taxation when it comes down to student loans. i know a lot of people like myself who would love to go back to college, but it is hard as i'm thinking that what loan i might be able to have and what i have to pay back. i'm interested on how working around taxes on student loans. if a student has a loan, in my mind, somebody could buy that loan. i would like you to touch on what the president said in the
state of the union on free college for two years. how would that be paid? guest: it is a great question. what can we do to make college affordable? the fact is that to be a high functioning adult in america today, in this extremely complex economy, you need a tremendous amount of investment behind you. you need investment in the form of capital, machinery, computers. you also need a tremendous amount of investment in yourself in the form of education -- human capital. we make human capital investments extremely expensive in the united states. we make it quite difficult for low-income, ambitious americans to get the kind of investment in themselves that they need to fully realize their potential. this is exactly the kind of
problem that the book addresses. it is a perfect instance of where the united states fails its own citizens. other countries, germany -- college is essentially free. people pay tax, but in turn, everyone gets to share in those benefits, including the ability to attend university if you meet the entrance requirements. in the united states, rich kids go to college for free because they have parents. middle-class, working-class americans leave college burden by tens of thousands of dollars of debt. in my law school, $150,000 of debt. that kind of debt actually forecloses opportunity. there are many people who graduate from my law school that would like to be public
defenders but say, i have to go work for a corporate law firm just to be able to handle my debt. the president proposed two years of free community college and also a tax credit that would enable you to attend a normal college. those subsidies in my view are too low. he proposes to pay for that by closing a famous loophole in the taxation of investment income. today, if you die holding investments that you bought for $10 and are worth $100, all of those capital gains are forgiven. the slate is wiped clean and then your heirs can sell that
investment and pay no income tax. that is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. the president has proposed closing that loophole. it is a notorious loophole. i do not know any economist who supports that loophole. by closing out a loan, you have money to fund this committee college program. host: our next caller from sarasota you are on the air. guest: this is very enlightening. i want to make it clear that as a mensa hungarian, i was privileged as the middle-class child to have nine years of private school. it is now $32,000 per year. fordham is now $63,000 a year. it is the seventh most extensive university in the continental united states. you are at the university of southern california where you
mentioned this incredible debt that students will accrue. there's also the issue of stafford loan fraud, fraudulent programs, a program in georgia used in -- an affirmative action grant and bought a women's college and flipped it back to the state. that program was shut down. i agree with you about the investment in education and public schools. physically, i am in mississippi traveling. they are number 50 in education. new jersey and massachusetts are at the top end. one other comment that i wanted to make, the federal government also prints the currency. i would like to read your book. guest: i encourage other viewers to follow his lead and buy the book.
caller: i have a question about small business. i am hoping you can enlighten us. i hear so often about how small businesses are the engine caller and yet, i have neighbors and family members who have small businesses and are doing extremely well. is it true that small businesses are overburdened by taxation and regulation, in your opinion? or is this merely a hype to get better tax breaks? thank you so much. guest: this is a great question. i think a lot of what you here in washington small business is heightype. small businesses create a lot of jobs, it also destroys a lot of jobs. every time a new restaurant opens in your nearby mall, jobs are created. when it closes nine months
later, those jobs are lost. it turns out, as an economic matter, where new jobs are created tend to be new businesses rather than small businesses. those two are not the same. there are lots of small businesses -- the local car businesses -- the local car dealer, for example -- who has been in business for the last 40 years. there's nothing new about it and it is not necessary the greatest job creator. there's a lot of hype around the word "small business." a lot of what you described a small business isn't. a lot of business income in the united states -- this is a very unusual feature of the u.s. system -- is not earn through corporations, but rather directly through people. often we confused
small business on the one hand with the term flow through enterprises that have been taxed only to their owners. the fact is the largest firms in america are flow-through businesses large investing partnerships are flow-through businesses. there is an awful lot of very affluent americans to try to hide behind the skirts of small business in order to protect their low tax rates. host: proffesor kleinbard, in your book you talk about something called the growth fairy., what is that? guest: the growth fairy is a common rhetorical trick used in washington today. it is the idea that -- it is as if the nation were allergic to
bees and taxes are a bee sting that will send us into shock. that is just not true. we just lived this. taxes went up on january 1 2013, they went up significantly. and yet the world went on. bill o'reilly showed up for work the next day and has continued to. people have claim that they will not work a day in their lives if taxes go up, the deal happened nonetheless, showed up to work. yet the united states has had two great years of growth. we see evidence all the time. the book goes very carefully to demonstrate that the moderate tax rates we are talking
about -- there is essentially no correlation between modest changes in tax rates from the low rates we have to higher growth. to the contrary, raising tax revenue and using that to fund complementarity investment -- like my example earlier, education -- in turn graduates would have higher wages for the rest their lives -- that kind of return is simply not being captured by the growth fairy story. the assumption and through dynamic scoring -- the buzzword of the month in washington -- all of those assume the investment has zero returns, and that is false.
host: darryl from alabama. caller: thanks for having me. a couple of points -- the professor is present in some are so concerned about spending. i think we have been doing some spending, that is why so much of our tax dollars go towards the debt. he does not even talk about that. he lives in the universe where -- we could get more money for capital gains -- we know were all the money is going. it is going to the debt. where is the return on all of that? he throws out these lines about how great a country we are, then he trashes us. we are tax whiners, bragging on france. i travel all the time in europe. they are poorer, they have problems. people want to come to america where the tax whining is and where some of us want to stop throwing your money away to government so they can go in debt and waste more of it. guest: it is difficult to
respond in a short period of time. the reason the government is in debt in the united states is simply this -- first, we cut taxes in 2001 and 2003. then we went to war and spend $1 trillion or more on war without -- for the first time in the history of this country without in fact raising taxes to support that war effort, without asking for any sacrifice from americans. then, we had the greatest recession in the history of this country but for the great depressions, a deep recession that cut federal revenue collections dramatically. those are the reasons why the government that has risen. the fact is that government deficits have come way down
since 2013 by virtue of the fiscal cliff tax deal, and the stronger economy. as it turns out, the president has cut the deficit to 1/3 of what it was. to confuse the man-made crisis that we put ourselves in by cutting taxes in 2001 and 2003 by going to war without paying for it and then underresponding to the financial crisis is really a very misguided way of looking at the world. there's plenty of income in this country. this is a robust economy. the national debt is not a problem once we recognize the solution to is raising money. where money ghost today in this country is to the military health care, and the elderly.
we havfe virtually nothing left over for any other activity. in the book i suggest 2% of gdp. that does not turn us into france, or even the u.k., in terms of the total amount of revenue that we raise. but, it would enable us to send some money on ourselves and the working lives of middle-class americans. host: james in seattle. caller: i have three points. ronald reagan dropped the tax rate down to 28%. he did not create a bunch of jobs. bill clinton raised the debt
ceiling 17 times. he raised taxes because of the mess he caused. bill clinton did not cut taxes. he added two taxes to the top tax bracket. here comes president obama. also collected deficit is cut under bill clinton. under reagan, it tripled. it went from $250 billion to $3 trillion. now president obama has brought the deficit down to raise the top taxes. they should have been raised to 60%. president obama cut government workers. if you look at it, what has happened was the republicans were the big spenders and democrats cut the deficit and were less spenders.
guest: there is actually a lot of historical merit to james' point. bill clinton was the only president, i think the last century, since wwii, to have a budget that was not only balanced, but producing a surplus. by the end of the clinton presidency, we had a robust economy -- i think people would agree a more optimistic book on our own future, and we were producing a government surplus that was paying down preexisting national debt. the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 reversed that. it was those cuts without any
commensurate spending reductions that put us on the current course. the fact is -- i would like to ask people to focus a little more on the other side of the coin. taxes are how we finance what we want out of our government. and to ask what it is that we want out of our government and if we are heading that. all of federal revenues today go towards, as i said before, military, health care, and the elderly. it is only about 10% of government spending that is discretionary, nonmilitary spending. -- 20%. it is a small fraction of our total revenue that is going towards investing in ourselves
and our own future. that is the difference. california, years ago, had one of the greatest university systems in the world. it was very low cost because the people california paid for it. we could be in the same position in the future if we choose to be. that is why i said just in the book that all of the taxing and spending stuff can be understood as a way of expressing our fiscal soul. we have -- through our government -- we express our values. this is not just about the economics, though the economics are always overplayed. it is not just about economics. it is about what we want to be and what we value. we have to make sure the kids of working-class and middle-class americans have the same human
capital behind them as rich kids do. if we want good quality jobs for people who are not software engineers infrastructure is a , good way of doing that. at every turn, i think the problem is not what james said in terms of the history. but we need to get past that and look and think about what are our values. this budget stuff encapsulates what we want as americans and what we want to be and what values we really honor in fact. host: norma from texas republican line. caller: yes, you seem to think we should have equal opportunity. but is it equal opportunity for
those who made themselves wealthy through their own efforts, who have approached life with more intelligence and effort, and maybe worked their way through school after they got out of school bought their clothes at garage sales and eat beans and cornbread forever, and economize until they can make their own business? is it equal opportunity for those people who have to support their cchildren and then go around and do the same for other people's children who may be did not make the same amount of effort? i do not speak as a wealthy person. why is that equal? why should they have to bear the
burden that those of us who did not extend the intelligence and effort that they did? guest: it is a very interesting point. some people are more intelligent than others. kobe bryant, even with his recent injury, can play basketball better than i can. we all have certain skills. none of us earned those talents. i did not make myself smart. that was a gift from somewhere that i did not control. i did not choose my parents. i did not choose to grow up in a household that pushed me that encouraged me, and enabled me to make the most of my talents. those all gifts that i was given. i have the point of view that in
fact our outcomes in life, an undifferentiated porridge of effort and luck on the other hand. it drives me up a crazy when people who succeed in life refuse to knowledge that luck had anything to do with this. i worked for many decades on wall street. during that time, i worked with a lot of a rich and smart people. in that time one person said to me, i have been very lucky in life. i was a sad comment on people's own sense of morals. i'm not suggesting -- i think we're getting confused about equality of opportunity. i'm not as simpleminded egalitarian. i'm not suggesting a communist state in which everyone has the
adam smith was very much a believer that men and we needed to develop a moral sense of a sense of what the right to do was and then act on it. he expected people, and my joke was he thought that the people in the marketplace enjoying the freedoms of the marketplace would all be mentious, not the caricature that we use him for today. he has been terribly misused in
popular rhetoric. host: wouldn't the fair tax be the most equitable way to finance government? it would finance cronyism. guest: a consumption tax does not have to be one rate. the more you spend in the year the higher your tax would be on the last spending. my colleague at usc has done a lot of work in this area. there are a lot of economic reasons why a consumption tax would make sense. a consumption tax does not have to be one rate. the more you spend in the prebate is a terrific idea that would never fly in the united states. the idea is that you just get a check for existing. and you go on from there and use that.
would that we lived in a society where that could be a rational conversation to have. this progressive consumption tax disadvantage is that you are not taxing capital income as it is earned. so investments are not taxed until it is spent. if you're very wealthy, that could be generations from now. and you are at the risk of leakage in the system. imagine that we had a progressive tax i can promise , that congress would give a one year discounted rate on consumption in order to boost the economy. i view a progressive consumption tax as very vulnerable to that kind of political meddling. the first instance that times get the least it
tough. host: edward kleinbard, a professor at usc and the author of this book, "we are better than this: how government should spend our money." >> on the next "washington journal. a discussion of tax policies proposed by the president. a report of previews the iowa freedom summit in des moines and a possible 2016 presidential candidate field. proposed by the president. a report of previews the"washington journal," private 7:00 a.m. eastern>> this saturday, led coverage of the iowa freedom summit from des moines. speakers include 2016 presidential candidates rick
perry, scott walker, chris christie, mike huckabee, donald trump, and sarah palin. the iowa freedom summit this saturday on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. next, secretary of state john kerry and french president talk about the world economic forum. then, former ambassador arc ginsburg. secretary of state john kerry told leaders at the world economic forum that there has to be a long-term amendment defining against care groups and the global community cannot shy away from extremist attacks. he outlines ways nations can contribute to the local fight anti-played tribute --