tv Newsmakers CSPAN December 20, 2015 10:00am-10:33am EST
first time with the gavel, oversaw the rewrite of the no child left behind. a big process. i want to tell our audience that you bring to this perspective on education, particularly serving as president bush's secretary of education, and you are the former president of the university of tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, susan. is swain: alyson klein "education week" reporter. ." -- els "cq roll call niels lesniewski, "cq roll call ." mr. lesniewski: what i wanted to ask first was having completed one big project with a rewrite of the law we had called no
child left behind, you and senator murray, the democrat, the top democrat on the committee from washington state, formed what seem to be a very good working relationship at the committee. and i'm wondering what you think your next project is going to be and if there is a project you think you can ask like it done in 2016 despite it being a presidential election year. ms. swain: they still pay -- mr. alexander: they still pay our salaries next are, so i don't think we should take the year off. and you are right about senator murray, she is a terrific senator. but she understands what ,enators need to understand which is that all you want to do is make a speech, you can get your own radio show and do that. when you come to the senate, you should try to get a result. and she is very result oriented. it was because of that relationship that we were able to get something done.
number one, what we want to turn our attention to next is what we call our innovation bill could hardly get treatment -- innovation bill. the regulatory investment discussion process faster and cheaper? the house has already passed what it calls 21st century cures. working for years on a whole variety of bipartisan ideas. i hope that is our next and then the other big priority is higher education. we need to simple five the jungle of red tape that governs our education. and we need to make it easier and simpler for kids to go to college. i brought with me and little bit -- a little prop. this is a form that 20 million families fill out every year in order to get a grant or loan to
go to college from the federal government. and the testimony before a committee is that you only need to questions, what is your family size, what is your income. and senator bennett -- senator bennett and i have introduced legislation. that discourages a lot of people from going to community college. mr. lesniewski: i will ask one follow-up on that. mr. alexander: i will try to give a shorter alexander -- answer. mr. lesniewski: the first piece of that, related to the nih and fda approval process. in the 21st century, there is a lot of -- without getting too terribly wonky -- there is a lot of mandatory -- terribly wonky, there is a lot of mandatory spending. appropriators tends not to be particularly fond of using mandatory -- of turning appropriated funding into mandatory funding.
i'm curious on where you stand on that. mr. alexander: you are exactly right. appropriate use like to have annual review of how the taxpayers' money is spent. senator blunt, senator murray, and others made sure there are $2 billion of extra funding this year for the national institute of health. that is a 7% increase. i'm willing to consider what i call an nih innovation fund that would help with the medicine initiative, that would help young researchers in the other priorities that dr. collins has come up with, and pay for it with mandatory funding. but if it replaces other mandatory funding. so i'm willing to consider that under some circumstances. not all of my republican colleagues are, but i'm willing to do it. this is such an exciting time in science. we are coming up with so many
things to help people. and we have a person like francis collins, who is a genius. we ought to take advantage of that. i'm willing to do something that i normally wouldn't do, and that is going to be one of the toughest part of the innovation bill we have to decide. ms. klein: thank you. law reins in what you call the national school board in a really big way. i'm wondering how do you expect the department of education to function going forward? mr. alexander: i think it will be very different. the national school board -- it began with the no child left behind in 2001 with federal requirements for tests and reporting the tests and a few other things. but then when president obama came in, that accelerated with what they called race to the top. and then when congress -- and give ourselves the blame, we
in 2007 to reauthorize no child left behind -- suddenly governors had to come to washington and say, may we evaluate our teachers this way? may we set up standards this way? may we fix schools that we? and suddenly, you had washington running 80,000 schools in 42 states. so we got rid of all that. and we kept the tests. so we will know how people are doing. those are state design tests. but what to do about the tests now moves to the governors, the classroom teachers. that is why it had such support could everybody was really fed up with -- such support. everybody was really fed up with washington telling schools what to do. one follow-up on that. this law includes a lot of
prohibitions on the secretary's role. it restricts the secretary from doing anything on turnaround, teacher evaluations, standards. i'm wondering how you think that is going to influence the regulatory process. i know you are very careful in crafting those prohibitions and the department can still enforce this law, but some advocates are really worried that this department will try to continue to wield a big federal hammer. mr. alexander: well, they shouldn't do that because they need to read the law carefully. and there is specific prohibitions, as you said. we have an oversight responsibility, and senator murray and i have talked, and we are going to have at least three major hearings in our committee in the senate. to oversee the implementation of the law during 2016. so we will not only have the department of education, but we will have the chief state school
officers, the teachers, the school board members, and we will say, what is going on? what is the department doing? how are you taking on responsibility? what i believe is when we take the handcuffs off, we will unleash a whole flood of innovation and ingenuity classroom by classroom, state-by-state that will benefit children. ms. klein: thank you. mr. lesniewski: senator, you were at one point in your political career a candidate for president of the united states. it was 20 years ago that you are out on the trail yourself. i was curious what you make of where things stand now with -- particularly with someone like mr. trump leading in the polls as they stand right now, who is a very different character from the kind of elected officials
who are often the people who end up getting nominated. and also, what you think of the republicanrt of nominating contest is going this year versus previous cycles. mr. alexander: on the last question, it has gone better in the sense that the national committee has set some rules, and more candidates have the money they need to run with. it used to be that when you are raising money of $1000 per person, you got eliminated simply because you cannot raise money. the fact that we have more money, which some people don't like, actually allows people more choices, or candidates to run. what i think about when i look at this field is exactly 20 years ago. i remember going through new hampshire, and bob dole, the majority leader, had big signs up saying lamar 1%. i was at 1%. then things changed in iowa. i came in third.
and the saturday before the have two primary, i was first. and iran very close. pat buchanan won. ihe point is the day -- believe about 80% of the voters in new hampshire, and probably i will, have not yet -- probably iowa, have not yet made their minds up. i think people are changing their mind day by day. and i think they are going to go from looking at a reality show, which is what this has been this year, to sing who is going to deal with -- to saying who is going to deal with putin? who can really make a sensible decision about isis and the fear we have? that is a different set of questions, and i think people will be making their mind up from here on. i think any of several candidates could win. mr. lesniewski: do you think that -- if i'm a sort of go to
the education piece of this -- with your law now having been signed into law by president obama, that that should change the tenor in any way when it comes to republican candidates sort of criticizing, the court because that is sort of -- criticizing common core because that is now off the table. mr. alexander: that is over. anybody who bothers to say that has their head in the sand. core created a backlash. president obama was making them do it. now the law prohibits any president, and a secretary from telling tennessee what its academic standards should be. so that is over as an issue in a federal race. if you don't like your academic standards, go talk to your governor, go talk to your classroom teacher, do not bother your senator or your congressman
because they don't have anything to do with it. ms. klein: following on that, obviously we are about to have an election, which will mean a new administration, which will eventually mean a new education secretary. who do you think is the right person or the right kind of person to lead the department under the gop? mr. alexander: somebody that cares about children. that is one thing i like about duncan. the second thing i would like to see this a secretary who understands the path to better teaching is through classrooms, community by community, state-by-state, and not through the u.s. department of education. you cannot do it from here. , you canan be a leader have a national influence, it can be a national issue, but you have to do it community by community and state by state. that is why we had such huge
support for our bill. ms. klein: you mentioned secretary of education duncan, and what you see is the fact that he cares about kids. i know you have also been concerned about what you see as federal overreach. how would you rate his performance? mr. alexander: oh, i'm not going to give him a grade. i think he was a very good cabinet pick. and i have a big difference of opinion about how much influence washington should have. but i think he was well intentioned. i think you are starting to push the envelope, but he pushed it too far. and i think not only the governors, but the teachers agreed with that. we have a result that is pretty remarkable. a lot of the legislation is next due, it is kind of -- is like stew, it is kind of slopped together and then it gets passed.
yesterday i got a note from him thinking me, and monday george w. bush called me and thanked me for the work on the bill. that is pretty remarkable. i think what we have here, unlike the health care law, we've got a law that will govern the federal role in elementary and secondary education for 10 or 20 years. and so teachers, governors can have some stability in what is coming from here for them. ms. swain: 10 minutes left. the's spend a little time -- supreme court is taking up yet another review of it could i'm wondering what you think it's ultimate stage will be over the next four or five years. mr. alexander: over the next four or five years, it will be changed step-by-step with the health care system with more freedom, more choices, and hopefully lower prices. ms. swain: what are we to
understand from the number of state exchanges? mr. alexander: that this was an historic mistake. that the design of this health care law was a bad idea. it expanded the health care system that already cost too much. it told people that washingtonthan you. better thann knows you. so, we are going to have to change it. and we are going to have to good carefully so we don't hurt people more than they have been hurt. ms. swain: and where will you find partners to do that? well, we can do it in a partisan way. i like the no child left behind fix. i mentioned earlier, we passed a health care law. those against it are trying to repeal it the next day. we fixed no child left behind. the next day, governors and school board members and
teachers are making plans to implement it. they are not worried about it being repealed. we need to approach up eventually in a bipartisan way. ms. swain: do you think you can find a democratic -- mr. alexander: we are going to have to do that. produced the increase in their premiums. there has been bipartisan support for repealing the medical device tax. there is bipartisan support for changing the definition of a full-time job from 30 hours to 40 hours. so i think yes we can. mr. lesniewski: on the affordable care act, it in the budget -- excuse me -- in the sort of on the bus spending agreement -- the sort of omnibus spending agreement that we are seeing in washington this week, there are a number of obamacare related taxes that are being
delayed in some way, shape, or form, which means that if you look at it from a budgeting exercise, you are going to have a large deficit hole that is going to be created as a result of this, even if these are taxes no one ever expected they were going to pay. how do you sort of rectify that situation going forward? how do you think that sort of situation -- mr. alexander: well, you put your finger on a pretty big problem. the medical device tax is delayed for two years. that costs money. everybody is for delaying it. a lot of senators. but it costs money. as we fix the health care system step-by-step, we will have to find ways to pay for it. this is a good week to talk about it because everybody talks about the debt. the legislation we are considering this week does not
add to the debt really. that is just a third of the debt about theing up inflation rate. it is the two thirds of the budget we don't work on, which is mandatory spending, that is the big problem. so we need to keep in mind health care costs as we try to fix obamacare. and for our audience, that is social security and medicare. mr. alexander: yes. social security and medicare. these are programs that neither republicans and democrats are very brave about fixing. ms. klein: you mentioned earlier that you are ready to start working on the higher education act. you have been one of the leading voices calling for higher education institutions to have some skin in the game when it comes to student debt paid i'm wondering how you think that might play out. mr. alexander: i am concerned about over borrowing. they might say, oh, i have to
pay those back. so one way to deal with that might be to have institutions -- and i'm talking about all institutions -- to have some role in a default of a student loan. and then have more opportunity to counsel a student about what the loan ought to be. and then we ought to change some rules and say if you are just going part-time you shouldn't be able to borrow as much as if you are going full-time. so risksharing, or skin in the game, is an interesting concept. it has bipartisan report -- support. it affects the thousand institutions, and we don't want to have -- it affects 6000 institutions, and we don't want to have its affect discourage people from going to college. ms. klein: you have talked about the need to streamline federal grants and loans. i'm wondering what you think the simpler system might look like.
mr. alexander: well -- [laughter] that 180 question form a minute ago. we are sitting in a hearing, all the witnesses said you only need to questions. what are we try that? we may not get that form down to two questions, but we will get it closer to that. the department has taken some steps. you are to be able to fill it out your junior year in high school, not your senior year. you ought to use your tax return to. instead of having a variety of loans, there should be one student loan, one private loan. many students don't even know about where all you have to pay is a percent of your disposable income, and if you haven't paid it off after 20 years, it is forgiven. mr. lesniewski: senator, a
little bit of time left here, i wanted to turn before we close to the question of the rules of the senate did something that you -- senate. something that you and i discussed previously. effort,involved in that , and i justthers wanted to sort of let the viewers know what it is that you guys are attempting to do next year in 2016 to set up the senate to perhaps work more efficiently come 2017. mr. alexander: michael is -- my goal is to see if we can make it work more efficiently without destroying minority rights. the ability -- [indiscernible] you don't think so much about that when you are in the majority. you think about it pretty
quickly when the steamroller is running over your. we would like to do it early next year to take affect the following year. and we would like to do it through the regular order, through the rules committee. in other words, do it by consensus. we don't want to make the senate to more complicated. we would like to make it less complicated. less standing around and waiting time. if you watch c-span, you see a lot of standing around and waiting. we don't like that either. i think we have a chance to do it, but senator schumer and i have argued about this. change in needs a rules, i said it needs a change in behavior. i'm convinced it needs some changes in rules, but it still needs a change in behavior. don't know that, it has been a very successful year in the senate. the trade bill, the highway bill
, strong democratic leaders working on them. but the one thing we didn't do was bring the appropriations bills up in june and july. we can to that with the change in roles. we need to do with a change in behavior. ms. swain: the republican debate this week was, of course, in reaction to the mass shootings we have seen the recently. unfortunately, a number of these have been on campuses over the past year. i'm wondering if there is a solution to the fear americans are feeling right now, and if so, what it might be. mr. alexander: there are probably many solutions to it. one solution has to do with mental health. early next year, our committee will begin to take all the bills we have on mental health, and we will do our best to change a system that really turns out onto the street people who are having a hard time dealing with
life, and might be a person than he would harm some other person. that is one area. but it is a tough -- it is a very tough problem. in our foreign policy we should never leave countries like syria and libya -- as the u.n. refugee quarter later told us -- empty vessels where people flee their homes, flee their country, have huge migrations. other countries create havens for terrorists. so part of it is foreign policy, part of it is mental health, part of it is learning to live in a world of the internet and mass information that is hard to deal with. ms. swain: would you support any restrictions on the internet? mr. alexander: that is hard to do. i don't want to give a flip answer to that, but i am for knowing as much as we can about knowing about a terrorist in
afghanistan who calls nashville with the intent of blowing up a mosque or synagogue richard. so if there is a due process way to look at social media of suspected terrorists, we should look at that. ms. swain: that is it for our time. we could have done in our show easily, so i would like to invite you to come back after the new year and tackle some of these issues with us again. mr. alexander: thank you, susan. ms. swain: thank you for being here. " guest, lamars alexander. our two questioners, alyson .lein and niels lesniewski he worked with senator patty murray and democrats to get it done. you talked with him about the
education department essentially being reformatted under this . how do you see the rollout? -- under this new law. how do you see the rollout? ms. klein: obviously, the obama administration will only be in office for another year. they are eager to put as much of an imprint as they can on the law before they leave office. alexander andator senator patty murray will be watching that closely. that they are me going to hold three hearings. it sounds like senator alexander will certainly be watching to make sure the department of education follows the law, does not overreach. ms. swain: can you anticipate that the education department will have to be restructured as a result? ms. klein: i think that is still becoming clear. i don't think there will be a
massive restructuring of the education department. the bill combines a number of programs into a larger block grant, so that will change administrative processes. in general, i think the footprint of the federal government on k-12 education will be smaller, and we're are still waiting to see how that impacts the department. ms. swain: the other issue, which is the necessary revisiting of the higher education law. ms. klein: it sounded like he is ready to get moving on that. obviously, he has a good, working relationship with senator patty murray. haven't they already begun to take some steps since restructuring student aid? ms. klein: yes. it seems those will be resurrected for a short time. obviously, it sounds like the senator's priorities are streamlining the financial aid process, talking about this idea
of risk sharing, bringing some skin in the game for colleges. student that has been a huge issue in the presidential campaign. even hillary clinton has a proposal along those lines. ms. swain: you have covered congress broadly, and you heading conversation with the sensor about restructuring the senate. how it tenable is that goal? goal? a tenable is that mr. lesniewski: if there ever were a time where it could get done, and i'm not saying that it will, but if there was ever a time it could be a done -- it could get done, that would probably be next year. the senate electoral map for the election is so tight that they really don't have any idea whether a mitch mcconnell, a republican, the current majority leader, or chuck schumer is going to be the majority leader in 2017. and so that is the time where if
you are going to make any changes, even if these are incremental changes as senator alexander would put it, cutting down on the standing around time, the amount of time c-span viewers are listening to classical music, if that were to happen, the time to do it would be when you don't know is going to benefit from it. ms. swain: indeed whatever happens with the majority, the fact that the gemma craddick -- that the democratic leader will be different -- we are talking on a day when there was an interesting the sketch and on the floor about the fact that there is such bad blood between the two leaders on the floor. what is their working relationship? mr. lesniewski: it is always the most important working relationship in the senate, the way the two leaders get along. certainly, there have been tensions on substance between mitch mcconnell and the current
minority leader harry reid over the years, but what they have sought to dispel is this notion that this has become a personal matter more than just a matter of policy. their policy priorities are very different. different. is the case with anyone who has been in the senate and long, long time, a lot of these people do still get along personally. their wives know each other. it's not necessarily that difficult. when people are watching the sunday morning, the house is likely to have joined the senate in passing this omnibus package. beforehner's last gift passing it on. mr. lesniewski: it funds through
the end of september, so there will not be a shutdown stand up, and it also addresses a lot of long-standing tax provisions they have been trying to sort out for ages and keeps people from getting hit with tax hikes at the end of the year. ms. swain: what is your perspective on the deal? in terms of the department of education, which i closely -- some of the new programs would be funded under this omnibus, so it seems like a good faith effort, bipartisan effort. it allin: and they got done without having to work through this week this year. so, and a college meant. thanks for being with us on "newsmakers" this week. ms. swain: thank you. weekend, the c-span cities tour explores the history and literary culture of
worcester, massachusetts. located approximately 40 miles west of boston, worcester theed a role in industrial movement. we will learn about the life of henry george on book tv. then we will visit the american antiquarian society, one of the repositories in the country of pamphlets, books, and periodicals related to the history of the united dates. next, we will talk to author jeanette greenwood and her book "first fruits of freedom." >> there were lots of -- there were quite a few societies organized by black