tv Senators Cory Booker and Mike Lee at the Washington Ideas Forum CSPAN January 3, 2016 3:12am-3:37am EST
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. i'm grateful for trump, not just because it has made watching late-night tv more fun, but he is awakening more people to the process. when you get 20 million people watching the presidential debate, that cannot be bad for democracy. we have challenges, problems, but what we want to repent for is not vitriolic actions, but silencing the opinions of good people. the nation's biggest problem is not engagement, but lack of engagement. i celebrate the political process that will get more people in the game. host: ok, thank you. [applause] ♪ worn out from the washington ideas form from loretta lynch.
she sits down to discuss the justice system, policing. this is 25 minutes. >> good afternoon. notice, we put you on the couch. we always want to put administrative officials on the couch. not that any of you need to learn a little bit more, but is it good to call you the new attorney general? still? ok. obama called you the only one who can battle monsters and terrorists and still be a charming people person. [laughter]
dealingant program -- with recidivism rates. loretta lynch: the department of justice is awarding 53 million dollars in what are called "second chance" grants. this is an important part of the department possible work, making -- department's work, making sure people who come out of prison have a chance to rebuild their lives. they focus on things as buried as varied as father-son interaction, job
training, education, the many barriers that we have seen in the wave of people who come out of prisons to becoming productive citizens again. that is the goal. we are very involved in the department of justice, obviously, in fundamental fairness and individual accountability, making sure that people do, in fact, serve time when they need to. but, there comes a time when we need to decide how we reintegrate individuals back into society in a way that benefits them and keeps the community safe. host: this is a grant program. that always has the width of the experimental to me-- whiff of the experimental to me. is that fair? loretta lynch: we still have limited dollars, but jurisdictions and organizations can apply. we try to look at the track records in the field. we look at experience, not just anecdotal, but where we can find it. actual success. the application process is all about website. the department of justice program is the main body that will be managing the grants. host: give me an example of a community that is doing well? loretta lynch: i can't tell you who. but, when i was an attorney in
brooklyn, in the district, we had five counties, brooklyn, queens, long island, staten island, we had entrenched pockets, particularly in brooklyn and queens. one neighborhood was brownstone, a mile square. many of the residents never leave the neighborhood except when they go to jail. we saw a cycle, over and over again. we were involved, directly, in reentry programs in the community in conjunction with the da's office, where was not just the office talking to returning offenders about the cost of reoffending, but also providing them with educational services, family management, and information on housing and things with real barriers. those were the programs we were
looking for. host: during the katrina ten-year anniversary, there were a ton of studies. one of the most fascinating once had to do with recidivism. the prisoners that went back to the ninth ward, their recidivism rate was higher than going back to the old neighborhood. but, if the family relocated to houston, atlanta, the recidivism rate dropped in half. to me, that sounds like the answer. that is the best evidence i have seen anywhere that the best way to deal with recidivism is to relocate out of the neighborhood. is that a goal? loretta lynch: the goal of the program is to not remove people from their homes or neighborhoods. there is interesting research and data coming out of the housing and urban development department that talks about what you mentioned, but in a larger sense. where you live matters. it matters because of acce