tv Senators Cory Booker and Mike Lee at the Washington Ideas Forum CSPAN January 2, 2016 10:22pm-10:47pm EST
generally we do not move in huge footsteps. we moved in incremental ways, and then we look at what we did and if it was good, we keep going. i would seize that moment, but in order to do that from the advocates on both sides are will have to not just advocate, but come up with a how to, the who, when, and how much, and who is going to pay. if you can answer all those questions and you can get the public writ large a good sense that you will produce a better product, they will say yes to that every day. it is getting through that forest of very difficult thickets and weeds in a way that does not vilify the other side that will get you to a better place, and at the end of the day, it is about making those citizens that are now overincarcerated, a lot of them can come back to the community,
but they have to have a place to go, and it takes money to get that it is a problem that should be solved. now is the moment. we should seize it. let's see if we can get somewhere. mr. bennet: thank you very much. mayor landrieu: thank you. [applause] >> monday night, lake erie on the major issues he expects in 2016. rome,joined by tony politicos technology reporter. >> over 3600 companies in over 2.4 million square feet of space. it can be spectacular, more
innovation, more differing categories than ever before and it is the future. is the show where solving problems -- not just entertainment and information -- it is about transportation, food , water, greater through production, we are solving big problems. >> monday night at 8:00 on the communicators. >> this month marks the second session of the 114th congress. the houses back on tuesday. on the agenda is a budget reconciliation bill approved by the senate that would defund planned parenthood. mondayate returns on january 11. their first order of business will be a nomination for pennsylvania -- that same week, we also present a -- expect a procedural vote from rand paul that would require in audit of the federal reserve. as always, you can follow the
house live on c-span, the senate live on c-span two. before the new year, the washington ideas forum heard from senators cory booker and mike lee, discussing their efforts to address criminal justice reform, particularly >> thank you guys for being here. let me make sure i have this right. you are a republican, and you're a democrat, and you guys have been working together for a long time on what used to be a hot button issue that divided republicans and immigrants. -- republicans and democrats. you're not just any republican. you tend to be a little to the
right. i don't know if there is anybody further to the right in the senate. mike lee: the rush to increase mandatory minimums was a bipartisan rush. it was in the bill clinton 1994 crime bill. the congressional black caucus was on board with a lot of the changes that brought up the incarceration rate 800%. this is something that happened because we were all participating in it. with obvious exceptions. senator lee was working on this far before i came into the senate, with an attitude that -- not many people have. he was a prosecutor that witnessed many of the cases. he brought authenticity. by the time i joined the senate,
some of my earliest conversations were with him to really join that emerging group in the senate, extraordinarily, which was a conference of -- comprehensive criminal justice bill, some of which the core pillars are things he advocated for for years. >> republicans for years would run against democrats by saying "soft on crime." you look at the caucus and bush -- dukakis and bush. senator lee, you say we may have swung too far in the other direction. mike lee: we can be tough on crime by being smart on crime. it is not always the best way to fight crime. of the mandatory minimums.
it comes at tremendous cost. republicans have approached this from the standpoint of looking at the financial cost of incarcerating that many people. i look at the human cost. we have a whole lot of people, husbands, brothers, uncles, nephews, who are locked up, sometimes for decades at a time. a lot longer than they need to be. that is for nonviolent crime. host: i witnessed a case where -- there was a young man. he made some mistakes. he sold marijuana over three occasions. he had a firearm on his person. who had three violations within a 44 hour. -- a 24 hour period time. he will be into prison until he is 80 without meaningful reform. the judge issued an opinion that said this is awful, "i feel like a monster, but the law is time
my hands -- tying my hands." host: i would like to take a step back to the two of you. we are living in an era where political -- are the political divide is deeper than it has ever been. there is anger. i was speaking to kathy morse rogers. we had a member of congress boycott the pope speech because he disagreed on climate change. when you hang out, what do your colleagues say? [laughter] mike lee: it is true, the parties disagree on a lot of issues. there are issues where we do not. this is one of many issues in
which we can attack problems that we agree upon, as republicans and democrats. this is a problem with an available solution that is neither conservative nor liberal, republican or democratic. it is an american issue that comes naturally to people like me and senator booker who are concerned about the issue and want to make it better. cory booker: i am new to the senate. my experience as a mayor, it is that you have to fix things. there is no republican or democrat way to fix a pothole, the old saying. as a mayor, i don't care what your party is, if the house is on fire, you don't stop and ask the firefighter if they are republican or democrat. we had so many urgencies. the biggest city in the state needs to have a partnership. i said, let a separate the 95% of things we disagree with and
find the five things we do agree with and work really hard. we now have the biggest economic element boom since the 1960's. so, when i got to the senate, i knew that the strategy had to be that i was going to the senate to do the only thing you can do to get things done, work with people on the other side. a senate will never move forward in a democrat way or a republican way. there must be copper mines. -- compromise. my first piece of legislation came with tim scott about workforce apprenticeship. other countries are leaving us behind in preparing the workforce for actual jobs that exist. then, the criminal justice work with mike lee. i am looking for an area where there is bipartisan support. host: you have been critical of republican leadership, an independent force in the senate.
what is your sense of the democratic leadership? do look back at harry reid's leadership and think he did not find enough common ground with republicans? cory booker: i'm not one of those guys that wants to get stuck casting stones. i will give you an example. oh, applause for stone casting. all right. [laughter] cory booker: chairman grassley is the chairman of the judiciary committee. my biggest issue when i come to the senate, after i saw the destructive impact of this criminal justice system on a city like newark, which is 80% minority, we have criminal justice system so biased, two dramatically different justice systems are expressed by the wealthy and privileged than by the poor.
you are treated better if you are wealthy and guilty then pour in innocent -- than poor and innocent at times. there were issues i radically disagreed with. i felt like his leadership was a block to reform. i thought about attacking him, but i sat with him instead and begin conversations with him and worked over a. of time -- and worked over a period of time. maybe i need to get to this point, but these party shenanigans of leadership doing this or that, i am trying to work below all the noise and say, "hey, we know as a country, i'm a democrat, and we know the debt issues in our country are going to be severe if we do not start dealing with things like social security, like the medical expenses of this country, where we are paying
much more than other nations and have less good health outcomes. take a senator like flake for example, one of my first votes against something the president signed is the farm bill. why are we subsidizing the very thing making us sick? [applause] cory booker: i found allies on the republican side for wh -- who were with me. to me, that is something to get done. i know we are in a town that loves to sit back. democracy is not a spectator sport, but this city seems to think so, that they can break down the process of it all. let's get back to governing. this nation, this is what distresses me.
america used to be number one on issues that mattered. the top nation on around the globe for infrastructure developed. -- development. we have fallen in everything. one of the things we tag is for is for no longer being the most competitive place is our dysfunctional political system, which cannot get the most important things done at times. in life, you have choices to make, to accept things as they are or take responsibility for changing them. be the change you want to be in the senate. i have become a fan of senator lee, though we disagree, we have found common ground. [applause]
host: can you find common ground on the tougher issues? you guys fundamentally agree on criminal justice reform. but what about social security, spending priorities? there are lines in the sand on both sides. your site will never agree to any revenue increases. "obamacare must be repealed, not a dime for planned parenthood." mike lee: we will not always agree on all the issues. but this can be a rebuilding exercise for us, where we can come together. we don't always have the same priorities, but we are able to identify common priorities and depending on the kind of abstraction you start at, you always find common principles.
let's reform this mandatory penalty. there is always some room for agreement. host: let's start with a tough one. one time of a -- guantanamo bay? cory booker: the president wants to see guantanamo bay shutdown before the end of his term. host: there are fewer and fewer detainees. the cost begins to come in, is there possible common ground? it's not going to be there forever, is it? mike lee: it is difficult to say. i want to know what the alternative is, what the solution is bit where were those prisoners now go? if i were to hear a reasonable proposal, i would be happy to
consider it. host: you're not completely opposed to shutting it down? mike lee: i would not call its existence a prime directive. it is not something written into the constitution that we have to appear to -- adhere to. i would want to know what the plan is. cory booker: my sense is, traveling the state of new jersey more than new jerseyans i've met, meeting with the wealthiest suburbs and orthodox jews and the bahai, i've never heard anyone in my state talk about guantanamo. [laughter] cory booker: i've heard people talk about social security, the tax system moving things offshore, and things that matter to my state.
in the limited time, the most valuable resource for human being has is the time they have every single day. for me, i'm constantly scanning the horizon to deal with things of monumental importance. i am from jersey, not taxes, but i'm discovering oil exports. controversial issue, right? if we stay on the current trajectory we are on, even with obama's energy plan, we will still only have 20% renewable energy in our country by 2030. if we were able to renew the production tax credit, we could actually get to 40% or more renewable in the total package. in the city that has four times the asthma rate, i'm writing a
book right now about a kid that has died from asthma that has particulate matter in the air, costing so much productivity. this is a really important issue to me. is there a common ground ultimately being talked about by saying, hey, maybe we can allow more exports if we find a way to get businesses what they need, which we don't do in congress? we give businesses reliable expectations for what the tax picture will look like for a wild. social security is a controversial issue, right? but there are only four or five tiles you can turn. -- dials you can turn. there always are mandatory minimums. that makes for discussion. whenever one issue with social security is there are 5 million
american seniors living below the poverty line. i come to the discussion and i want to say that is the problem i want to deal with. i know what the dials are. when i hear people like chris christie saying, "should we means test this?" i will not negotiate that right now. why isn't that discussion happening? host: who says it is not? cory booker: i met with a group of democrats the other day to have a conversation about, hey, can we open a dialogue? there are people in the senate. i know what people want to write about, what captures the headlines, but my colleagues are have profound respect because they do not want to make speeches, they want to solve urgent problems.
it must be horrible to go to the united states senate and say, hey, it has been a good experience in a short two years, because we have been able to get real good things done. the states are very similar, of course. host: mississippi and jersey? cory booker: yeah, two peas in a pod. [laughter] cory booker: exactly. we came together in a way that the houston not. --house did not. we came up with a bill to fund positive train control, which will get more resources to my area, which is the busiest in rail transport, the northeast corner. it is a good compromise that
move things forward. it made no headlines. host: this is a shockingly optimistic discussion. i'm concerned. [laughter] host: i have to do a little bit of 2016 presidential politics. cory booker: we will not run together. [laughter] mike lee: if we did, it would be lee-booker. host: three of your colleagues are running for president. mike lee: i'm the only republican senator not running for president. [laughter] host: what is going to happen? is there any chance donald trump is your nominee? mike lee: who knows? he's doing really well in the polls. it is an understatement to say he is an unconventional republican candidate. i still think that you will see
surging from the other candidates. i think rubio has begun a surge. it is reasonable to suggest you might also see senator cruz make a search. -- surge. we have never had this many candidates from the outside who have taken off like these guys have, trump,. , carson-- trump, fiorina, carson. host: you have got a darth vader - luke skywalker relationship with cruz. mike lee: which one am i? [laughter] host: yesterday, they were saying ted cruz is done because he has ruined all his relationships.
maybe he was han solo? how does that work out? mike lee: every presidential candidate can behave in an unpredictable way. i have several friends running at the same time. i want to be the referee between them, make sure they don't beat each other up. host: could you see yourself supporting donald trump? mike lee: i will support whoever's the eventual nominee. host: even if it's trump? mike lee: we will see. [laughter] host: i saw somebody float a little while back a biden-booker ticket. cory booker: what, are we going
to the movies together? [laughter] cory booker: i am not tight with biden. i do not know if he will run are not-- run or not. i have come out and supported hillary clinton. i look forward to working on her campaign. [applause] host: would you prefer if biden did not run? cory booker: i think it helps the democratic process for there to be vibrant debate and discussion of the issues. i am happy that bernie sanders is in the race, bringing up very important ideas and viewpoints. in the senate, he has been one of my trusted allies. i don't think this is a bad thing to have a lot of people on the democratic and republican side. this is one of the more vibrant elections we have seen.