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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 23, 2016 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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work on a number of bills including reauthorizing funding for national intelligence programs and another on 911 emergency services. tomorrow they will take up the second appropriations bill of the year, spending on energy and water projects 2017. also on the agenda, measure dealing federal oversight of toxic commercial chemicals. you can watch the house live beginning at 12:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. the senate is back at 3:00 eastern to consider a bill on registering sex offenders and the rights of sexual assault survivors. a vote on final passage is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. you can watch the senate live on c-span2. on the presidential trail today, donald trump is meeting with tennessee senator and chair of the senate foreign relations committee bob corker at trump tower in new york. senator corker's hometown "manyper writes that republicans seek worker is a potential running mate." but a republican congressman who
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endorsed donald trump for president says he sees the role for the senator in a possible cap administration, but not necessarily as vice president. he serves as a liaison to the trunk campaign and says he has no inside information on trump's thinking but thinks that a different job might be the one for senator corker, saying "i will put my money on secretary of state." timesfreepress.com. >> tonight on "the communicators," the internet and television expo, sponsored by the national cable and television association. we interviewed tom wheeler by the cable industry, set-top boxes, and net neutrality. of thesee the evolution nature of television, the explosion of video alternatives. you see increased talk about
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smaller bundles and how that changes the relationship with the consumer. you see alternative pathways to n+1 kinds of over devices, that we have the thential to be entering best era ever for consumers and programmers and those who deliver. watch "the communicators" tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. announcer: this week on "q&a," vanity fair columnist and slate magazine founder michael kinsley. he talks about living with parkinson's disease and his new book, "old age: a beginner's guide."
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brian: michael kinsley, in your new book, "old age: a beginner's guide," why do you start your book by saying, this is not about parkinson's disease? michael: because i did not want people to think this was another sad saga of someone suffering. and i wanted to write -- i just did not wanted to be autobiographical, especially. and i wanted to tell the story. i wanted to be able to generalize from it, which i think you can. about what it is like to face the fact. not to face having an illness, necessarily. but the fact that you are going to die one way or another. brian: when did you know, what year? michael: 1993.
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quite a while ago. brian: what was your reaction? michael: well, it wasn't -- it was distress. i was very upset for a few days. and i think since then, i have accommodated to it. it is not the worst thing in the world. brian: whose idea was it to do this book? it is a small book. only 161 pages. by the way, it is only $18 if you buy it ina bookstore. michael: it is only $9.99 on amazon. brian: ok. whose idea was this? michael: i wrote a piece in the "new yorker" that is partly from this book and everybody said, "you ought to do a book." as a journalist you think, "i have a story, i ought to tell it." so, i resisted for quite a while.
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but ultimately, i gave in. brian: what is the story about the swimming pool? and the 90-year-old man? michael: i was living in los angeles in an apartment complex that had this swimming pool and i used to swim very early, and there was this old man swimming at the same time, like 5:00. he says to me, "i used to be a judge." no, first he says, "i am 90 years old," as if that was in itself praiseworthy. i played along and said, "that's wonderful. you really should be very proud."
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then he says, "i used to be a judge." i thought, "why is he telling me this?" and i started to get resentful. so what if he is 90? then, as his reaction slowly became more and more puzzling -- he -- he -- well, i was convinced that he had come to believe that being a judge was a wonderful thing and -- brian: you wrote about it? didn't you? wasn't it in "the new yorker" originally? michael: yes. i thought the whole thing was very touching. let me just cut through and say that. it seemed to me that he was
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losing it, you know? but he did not think so. i don't know. maybe -- it just struck me as touching. brian: you got in a little bit of trouble, though. you wrote about it, and -- michael: yes. his son wrote that he always thought you should be kind to your neighbors, or something like that. brian: he had died soon after? michael: yes. he must've died about two weeks after this incident. you know, i felt bad, but not all that bad. brian: so, michael kinsley, go over the details, so that folks that maybe have not seen you for a while know the background. your hometown? michael: detroit. brian: you went to college where?
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michael: harvard. brian: what did you study there? michael: economics. brian: then where? michael: then i went to oxford and studied more economics, although not very hard. then i came back to washington and got a job at "the new republic." oh, then i went to law school and i never used that. at harvard. then i came to work at "the new republic," and i was doing that for almost 20 years. then i went out to seattle and worked for microsoft, creating slate. brian: for somebody who has not seen slate, what is it? michael: it was the first what we now call "online magazine." although that is considered an old-fashioned term. brian: who owns it now?
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michael: it was owned by microsoft. microsoft sold to "the washington post," then "the washington post" sold itself to jeff bezos, the owner of amazon. but it did not sell the "new republic" -- i mean, slate. so, slate is now owned by graham holdings, the family holdings of the graham family. which used to own "the washington post." brian: here you are in 1984 -- your parkinson's came in what year? michael: 1993. brian: you are talking about "the new republic." [video clip] >> how would you categorize the "new republic"? michael: it has been, almost since its founding, the premier political journal of the left. and it has been on different parts of the left over the course of its life.
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it was very pro-soviet in the 1930's. in the 1960's it was connected with the new frontier, kennedy. then it became very anti-war. it is now regarded as left of center but not far. [end video clip] brian: does that make you left of center? michael: maybe i look a lot older. i consider myself left of center. many liberal left -- but not extreme left. a lot of people deny that. a lot of people accuse me of being a right-winger in disguise. brian: why? michael: well, i've written a couple of things. i was skeptical of the idea that edward snowden could have the right to publish anything he
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wanted out of government secrets. it seems to me that the government at some point has to have the last word. and that was a very unpopular position. and i have always been a debt hawk. i think the accumulated debt of the government has to be paid off. that is going to be very difficult. i take the pete peterson view. not terribly original, but i think it is true. the official left position is, where is this inflation you have been talking about? it does not exist. so that also has not contributed to my popularity. brian: how much have you thought about death? michael: i do not obsess over it.
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yeah, i haven't thought about it that much, except to write a book. brian: when you first got parkinson's, did you start thinking about it at that point? michael: i certainly thought, this is not good news, which it wasn't. but i did not think that i would be on c-span 23 years later. i have been very lucky in that sense. i have, apparently, a slow-moving case and they say you can extrapolate with parkinson's. it is not like multiple sclerosis or some of the other neurological diseases where you have recurrent crises which move the disease along. parkinson's, you can just extrapolate on a straight line
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and however much worse you are getting, you are going to keep on getting that much more worse, and i seem to be moving slowly. brian: how would you explain the way you go about your daily life today compared to 23 years ago? when you just started to -- michael: well, i do not have a full-time job. although, i do have a job and i still write. brian: who for? michael: i write a monthly column for "vanity fair." i hope nobody from "vanity fair" is watching. it is a lot easier than writing a weekly column. brian: so it is a monthly column for "vanity fair." and over the years, you did how
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many years of "crossfire" on cnn? michael: oh, about 300 -- it was six or seven. brian: what did you think of that? michael: well, i had had enough. i am glad i did it, but 6.5 years was enough. brian: why? michael: the people who accuse "crossfire" of being a shouting match, originating what now dominates talk radio and television, i think are being ridiculous. i do not think that is true. i think "crossfire" was an education for people. i do not think we needed to be apologetic, but after six years, it got a little tiresome. brian: a couple of years ago, about two and a half years ago, somebody you know pretty well was here doing "q&a." this is only about 20 seconds. i want you to explain how this fits into your life.
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[begin video clip] brian: i want to ask you with the high point of being married to michael kinsley is. >> every morning at breakfast, the conversations we had going through the papers as we did for so many years is just a great delight. he helps me be wiser and smarter every day. [end video clip] brian: who was that woman? [laughter] michael: i have breakfast with her every morning, i never thought to ask. that is my wife. brian: how did you meet her? michael: she was on the committee that hired me at microsoft. over 20 years ago. brian: i might as well ask, what is the best thing about being married to her? michael: oh, gosh. brian: be careful. [laughter] michael: where to start? i better not answer that. everything about being married to patty is wonderful. brian: what role has she played,
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and you have been married since 2002 -- what role has she played since your parkinson's has regressed? michael: she is good at making sure i behave myself and take my pills, do my exercise, and all of that stuff. and of course, it is very nice to have someone nice to complain to when things are getting bad and so on and so forth. brian: if you have had a really bad day, what happens? michael: if i've had a really bad day -- brian: what is the difference between a normal day and a bad day? michael: only there may be something i cannot do. although, there are very few of those. i have stopped driving at patty's insistence. that is the hardest thing to accommodate. brian: you talk about that as it
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relates to other people as they have to stop driving. what is the impact you have found it has on people? michael: especially men more than women, although i think both genders -- it is not just an inconvenience. there is a sense of freedom about having a car and being able to go wherever you want to go. that is hard to give up. brian: you talk about losing your edge. you were worried more about that than almost anything. what does that mean? michael: this is what a neurologist told me after i was diagnosed. i suddenly, two or three weeks after, it occurred to me, i wonder if this is going to affect my brain? of course, parkinson's is a brain disease so that was a nonsensical question, but i
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really meant, obviously, was thinking -- is it going to affect my thinking? and thinking is how i earn a living so that became pretty important. and i asked this neurologist, what is going to happen? and he said it -- he was trying to tell me it was not such a big deal. he said, you may lose your edge, as if that was nothing. and i thought, gee, my edge is how i earn a living. it is why i have my friends, maybe why i have my wife. she might not enjoy reading the papers so much at breakfast. brian: what is your edge? do you still have it? michael: other people have to judge whether i have my edge.
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i think i have lost very little of it, if any. but people do -- most people lose a little something. about half of people with parkinson's, over the years, lose a lot of something. so -- i don't know. i cannot tell. to me, i seem just about as sharp an edge as always. brian: back in 2007, you were sitting with another person that was well known, and i'm going to run it in a second. but before i do, you quote a woman in the book that has multiple sclerosis saying, "we all pray for somebody famous to get our disease." why did you use that quote? michael: i thought it was very
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telling about, i think, our sort of crazy system of approving drugs and other medical procedures. i thought that illustrated the point rather well, that it is a competition between different drugs to get fda approval, to get invented in the first place. so who was -- brian: let's watch. [begin video clip] michael: we have both taken our pills, and if there is any excess shaking going on, it might be parkinson's. it also might be the fact that the capital hotel had no hot water this morning and it was very cold. [laughter] michael j. fox: if we have good chemistry, it brings it to a
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whole new level. [end video clip] michael: that was obviously michael j. fox, who is really famous. he has had parkinson's -- he was diagnosed when he turned 30. i was in my 40's. he really had a bad luck there. he has been a hero of parkinson's. he is the founder of the michael j. fox foundation which last week merged with the main parkinson's foundation from before he was diagnosed -- i don't have the details, i just read a press release. basically, the michael j. fox foundation has taken over the field. brian: you used humor there, and the introduction is written by michael lewis, who said he got his first job from you. that you introduced him to the reading world. but he also says you have a great sense of humor.
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i read this, so i must say, it is funny. how hard is that? michael: i thought you were going to say, "i don't know where michael lewis got that idea." [laughter] brian: how much of a risk is a use of humor, that people out there with parkinson's disease might be offended by it? michael: in my experience, people are ready to be offended by anything. in a way, although many people have parkinson's much more severely than me, i still feel like i have a license to make a joke i might not otherwise make because i've got the disease that i am making fun of. brian: you have always had a sense of humor, though. over the years, has it ever got you in trouble? michael: yes. you are going to want to an example.
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brian: this is not a example of your sense of humor but, the gaffe thing you are responsible for? what does it mean? michael: a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. brian: what year did you invent that? it was when gary hart was running for president, 1984. brian: anybody offended by that? michael: no, not that they have ever said. gary hart probably was not too pleased, if he ever saw it. brian: does it still hold today? michael: somebody wrote in huffington post last week saying, it is no longer true that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. he had a theory i could not quite follow.
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maybe 20 years ago, i could have. brian: you have a habit in your columns of quoting arianna huffington. is that something you have developed on purpose? michael: i was writing one of my first columns for "vanity fair" a couple years ago. i put in this obviously fake quote from her, just for the heck of it. and graydon carter, the editor of "vanity fair," loved it and said, i want one in there every month. so, every month, i somehow stick a phony quote from arianna huffington. brian: calling somebody darling. did she react? michael: i have not spoken to her or even seen her for a couple of years. i hope she knows that it is all in fun. i'm a great admirer of hers. i think the huffington post solved several problems that
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online content was facing. you've got to hand it to her. i don't know if you need to hand her $305 million, but she needs -- or whatever it is she got. but you've got to hand it to her. brian: she sold it for that, aol. we are going to get into the deep brain surgery. tell us when you decided to do this? and what was it? michael: it is a washington story. i have friends who were very close, they were all officials of the carter administration.
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jerry kept trying to force on me this memo about this operation, from hamilton jordan, which his friend was doing, very experimental at that point. i did not pay any attention. finally, he persuaded me to read it. and hamilton and i got to know each other that way, because i had not been very nice to him in office. brian: he was chief of staff to president carter? michael: yeah. it is in operation where they put to essentially the same thing as -- brian: a pacemaker? michael: yeah, a heart pacemaker, these are called sometimes for short brain
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pacemakers. they send little shots of electricity into whatever part of the brain they think will help. the operation lasted nine hours but they put in 2 of these brain pacemakers. brian: where? michael: i can show you. i think i won't. brian: on your chest? michael: yes. there's one here, one here. that is where the batteries are. that is where the electricity comes from. and they run up your neck and a they end up in your brain. and they curb the effects of parkinson's. i say curb, not cure. supposedly, they push the disease back by about five years. which is a good number.
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brian: let's watch your doctor explain some of this. where is he located? michael: he was at the cleveland clinic. last i heard, he was at ohio state medical school. brian: here he is in 2010 talking about this procedure. [begin video clip] >> it is basically a brain pacemaker. it is a tiny wire that gets implanted into the brain, with four contacts which send calming electrical signals to calm the anxiety in the brain. this pacemaker has a microchip inside, a battery that sends calming electrical signals up to your head to these wires and thereby improves the electrical
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chaos in the brain. [end video clip] brian: you had this done in what year? michael: 2000? brian: 2006? that is what i read. what happened to you once that's nine-hour operation was over? michael: it was amazing. when you come out of the operation, all the symptoms of parkinson's are gone. as he said, it is as if you do not have it. that is peculiar because they have not turned it on yet. but even so, it is like you never had it. the symptoms go away. and that is because the process of installing the pacemaker rubs against -- i'm sure this is an amateurish way to put it -- it rubs against your brain and has the same effect as if they turn it on. -- as if they turned on the electricity. but over the next few weeks, the
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symptoms returned to where they were before. but then you go back and they flip the switch and immediately, like within a few seconds, you start to see the benefits, dramatically. brian: over the years, how often do they change batteries? michael i have had the batteries changed twice. brian: they have to open you up? michael: well, no, it's a simple operation which takes 45 minutes. it is getting it into the brain that is the tough part. simply putting pacemakers in your chest is very easy. apparently. brian: as i told you before, a fellow that has been here for over 25 years, our leading history producer and has
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produced a lot of documentaries on the capitol and the white house and places like that, his father worked for nbc and had parkinson's, had the surgery. mark and his brother danny and one of our folks here had cameras in there during the operation and they made a documentary out of it. he is no longer alive, but he did not die of parkinson's, he died of cancer about two years after he had this operation. let's watch this. you might remember the scene. [begin video clip] [drumming] >> testing, testing. i am anxious to get on with it. [guitar strumming] >> so we can see right here, these are the tips of the electrodes, entering through two
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very small holes. >> easy for you to say. [laughter] >> little bars in your ears. i look in your eyes and i'm thrilled with confidence. -- filled with confidence. >> this will be for the rest of the day, right? try to be stylish about it, please. [end video clip] brian: like you, had quite a sense of humor. what is it like? michael: it is very odd because the worst thing is they screw your head to the board. the operating table. you cannot really move it. that requires a lot of self-calming.
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i recognize all those little tests when they make you take the tiny circular thing and put it in a different circular thing. brian: you write a lot about the testing part? how much testing have you had? michael: there is no reason to test, really, except for the fact that i was going to write this piece and i decided to use myself as a guinea pig. i took a cognitive test. what we saw here was a test for the physical effects of parkinson's, and the test i took were for the cognitive effects. brian: what kind of testing they give you? i don't think he likes it -- i it.t think you like td
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michael: it lasted about five hours. another time -- i mean, i think the physical side of parkinson's, they have a very clear standard, and they have a very -- they have a rating system. it is all very clear. the extent to which they have, what level you are at in terms of the symptoms. the physical symptoms. the cognitive symptoms, every test is different. mean, they take -- they use the same tests, and i have done it about four of five times. they are different each time. brian: we have a little more video from that particular operation. let's see if you remember this part. [begin video clip]
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>> this is the part where you are going to hear a lot of loud noise. it is not going to hurt you, but it will make your teeth chatter, a little bit, very noisy, ok? >> this is as far under as i am going to get? this is as far under as i am going to get? right? >> ok, ready. [drilling noises] >> whew. >> yeah. >> i feel fine, i never felt a thing. >> yep.
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>> i recommend it to everybody. >> yep. >> everybody ought to have 2 holes in their head. [end video clip] michael: first of all, i don't remember it very clearly. the second of all, he is right, there are dime-sized holes. i did not realize that until the day before the operation. i was expecting something like this. a dime is big, you know? it doesn't really matter. and -- brian: he recommended that, and of course, that is part of his humor, but what was your reaction after having this? michael: the operation? absolutely. at that time, they discouraged you from taking it. they said, except as a last
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resort. i insisted that i wanted it anyway. and they gave it to me. but it is now -- they do it much sooner in the course of the disease, because they figure, why shouldn't you have some more good years? brian: and how long did it take you to recover, get up, walk around? michael: oh, i was walking around the next day. to completely recover took close to a year, because you have to go in and they have to adjust the electrodes. the electric-whatevers, because they have different effects. if they give you too much juice, you are all over the line again. if they don't give you enough, you're not getting the effect.
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i went back there every three months for one year. so 4 times or so. and they adjusted it. brian: you said this is not a book about parkinson's. i want to get to some of the other things that you talk about. who should read this? michael: everybody! [laughter] but who is this really pegged to? michael: it is ostensibly aimed at -- although i'm delighted if anyone reads it -- it is ostensibly aimed at boomers who are just reaching the point where they are going to be getting parkinson's and other things in larger numbers. parkinson's is the disease of old people and most people who get it are old, in their 70's or 80's or later.
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brian: how would you characterize a boomer? michael: a boomer -- you don't have to characterize them. a boomer is somebody born between 1946, when all the soldiers came home from world war ii and could get to work the building a family, and 1964, which i guess was chosen somewhat arbitrarily. a boomer is somebody who was born in that framework. brian: how would you characterize their attitude? michael: oh, well, in this book i tried to make the case that boomers are known for and deserve to be known for maybe excessive competitiveness. brian: is that true? michael: well, i put it in the book -- brian: i mean, have you felt
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competitive in your life? michael: yes, i think so. i am not competitive for fancy sports cars and stuff like that, which boomers are associated with. but i am competitive. brian: the longest word in the book, i think, is -- i'm having a hard time -- immortaphilosophic? michael: i think that may be a typo. brian: no, you are talking about larry ellison. in other words, what were you getting at with larry ellison? he spent $400 million trying to stay younger. michael: i don't remember this word, but larry ellison and a few others want to stay alive for ever and i say, it would be more efficient if all they want to do is extend their lifetime
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to get in on what bill gates spends his money on, curing malaria and things like that, because you were going to save more person-years that way than by trying to extend the life of someone like larry ellison. brian: what do you say in your book about what is important in life? michael: well, i go through the list. the premise is, this is -- this is not -- you don't have to be a saint, you just have to be a reasonable person. you start off with wanting consumer goods -- the fancy car, the nice house -- and then you start to think about that and
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you think, what is that going to get you really? what really counts is cognition. you've got to retain your marbles if you are going to enjoy this stuff. then you think, well, what really, really counts is reputation, because you are going to be dead longer than you were alive. your afterlife reputation is going to be more important in the long run than cognition. i am missing one. brian: i have video of a man he talked about in the book, joseph kraft, who died in 1986 a columnist based at "the washington post."
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before we show the video, why did you use joseph kraft as an example? michael: because joseph kraft, when i came to washington in the late 1970's, he was in his mid-70's -- he was a big deal. he was the guy you aspired to be. well, jim fallows, a well-known journalist today, wrote a piece about him, about how he represented the monarchy of washington journalists. and yet, you can walk through "the washington post" newsroom today and ask people, who is joseph kraft? and they would have no idea. brian: let's look at what joseph kraft looked like. our audience can ask themselves from the remember joseph kraft? i remember when i first came here he was in the paper a most every day. [begin video clip] >> i would like to ask you, as you look ahead in the next four
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years, what sacrifices are you going to call on the american people to make? what price will you ask them to pay to realize your objectives? let me add, governor carter, that if you felt that it was appropriate to answer that question in your comments as to what price it would be appropriate for the american people to pay for a carter administration, i think that would be proper. [end video clip] brian: he was only 62 when he died of heart failure. why was he such a big deal? michael: beats me. he was very good at articulating the -- well, that sounds mean -- conventional wisdom. there are few journalists at any given time who have the reputation.
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and he was one of them back then. he was like tom friedman or maureen dowd, someone of that ilk, that level, only more so, because there are more outlets, there's more reputation you have to spread around. brian: in your book, we were talking earlier about still having your marbles, when it's all over, you write --
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michael: well, that is sort of what you want. you want to be thought of as sharp as a tack. there are a couple things you have to explain away. you can do that. brian: you say "death before dementia" is your rallying cry. then you give this statistic michael: i got that from the alzheimer's association or some reputable source. it is true, as far as i can tell, unless a cure comes along or something like a cure. brian: do people who have parkinson's usually get alzheimer's, too? michael: no. parkinson's and alzheimer's are two different diseases. but people with parkinson's have a much higher chance of getting parkinson's dementia.
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they cash -- well. brian: robert mcnamara. your story. former secretary of defense. michael: he is only in the book because i ran into him on an airplane and robert mcnamara was the secretary of defense under jfk and lbj and he, in my view, and in the view of many, was responsible for the vietnam war. i found myself sitting next to him on an airplane and i asked where he was going. he was going to denver to meet his girlfriend. he must have been in his 80's. and they were going to go cross-country skiing from aspen to vail or something. and he obviously had led quite a
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wonderful life after he did this damage, in my view, in their -- and the view of many who know a lot more than he. brian: he lived to be 93. michael: oh, 93 -- that's even better. brian: did you talk to him? michael: yeah, not about anything important. i guess i was a little afraid. but he had led this really nice life. if everyone could live until 93 and be cross-country skiing with their girlfriend at that age, or boyfriend, that would be pretty nice. and so, i use him as an example of what most boomers will not get.
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brian: the last chapter, i have to say, kind of surprised me because it is the only place in your book that it is really political. the name of the last chapter is "the least we can do." why did you decide to do it? and what is it about? michael: it is a pet peeve of mine that whenever people start to think in these general terms about generations and what they mean, you are always bumping up against the greatest generation, tom brokaw's term for the world war ii generation. the question is, what can boomers do that will equal that? the answer many people come up with is a national service program, where you don't -- they
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don't need you in the army but you can be put to work teaching or something. i think that is a horrible idea. but people think it is a great idea and it was about boomers, so i just put the chapter in there. brian: so how do you think we can get out of this $19 trillion of debt? and how can boomers impact that? michael: i think boomers can put up with a tax increase. it is not very romantic, i mean, we could afford to make a sacrifice of paying our taxes, wiping out the debt, and then spending the money that needs to be spent on the infrastructure, on schools.
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i mean, what's happening in schools is terrible. most people agree, but most people are not prepared to say "i personally will fork out x billions of dollars, but i am prepared to pay more until it hurts to solve these problems." it is a very unpopular idea and it is going nowhere. brian: you say infrastructure risks automatically classifying you as a bore? michael: well, i've done it. brian: do you consider yourself a bore? michael: well, infrastructure is pretty boring, but whenever i go to new york, you get out at penn station and it is shocking how seedy it is.
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foreigners coming to this country, that might be the first thing they really see. i think that is terrible. brian: you talk about stein's law. herb stein -- michael: i think that is true. brian: do you find anybody who believes that it can or can't go on? michael: most people on the left think that it can go on. i took a lot of heat about a year ago for arguing in a couple of pieces that it can't. so far, we have not had to pay
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the cost, so so far, i am completely wrong, but i think in the long run, and itake no joy in seeing so, i am right. brian: what is buck raking? michael: it is a term invented by jacob weisberg, the now-head of slate. it is journalists taking money for giving speeches, in essence. brian: and you decided to do some buckracking after you got alzheimer's -- i'm sorry, parkinson's? michael: i had always refused to do it. not because i think it is so terrible -- i think it is fine. there is a tradition of it. the chappaqua tradition. mark twain did it. it is one of the ways journalists and writers can support themselves.
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but it is a little icky and so i did not want to get involved and i did not need the money. but then i got parkinson's and i thought, maybe i do need the money. so for a year or so, i did it. brian: do you still do it? michael: no. well, i don't get asked anymore because people know i have parkinson's and they think i am sitting in a wheelchair somewhere. but i turned down the few offers i get. brian: and you walked in here today normal like you did -- michael: i just have this squinting thing going on at the moment. brian: is that new? michael: it's three or four years. brian: is there any way to deal with that? michael: oh, probably, but i didn't realize that having a
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chronic disease would be so time-consuming. that is one of the big surprises, you know? you have to take all of your pills at a certain time and you really ought to see this specialist and take up boxing and -- it is time-consuming. brian: would you get the idea of doing the boxing? and how long have you done it? michael: i have only been doing it for about a month, but i got the idea from watching "60 minutes." leslie stahl is married to the guy, a very good novelist who has parkinson's. you see aaron shuffling along, and then you see him boxing quite loosely. i thought, wow. the next day i was walking down the street and i see somebody putting up a banner that says,
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"urban boxing, grand opening," and i thought, that must be a sign. brian: how is it working? i michael: my wife thinks it is working very well. that is all i need. i'm going to keep that up. brian: how long do you box? michael: you don't really box because that would be terrifying. brian: you just hit the bag? michael: no, you have -- at least the way they work it at this place, there is a guy there who wears these mitts designed to be hit. he is good enough that he is not going to be injured. and then i wear regular mitts and pretend like i know what i'm doing. brian: you told a story in your book about the fact that you
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were offered the editorship of "the new yorker" magazine, in and the impact of when the owner found out you have parkinson's. explain that story. michael: gosh. well, yes. tina brown had quit and they were looking for a new editor. i went up to new york, they offered me the job. brian: what year was this? michael: this was 1996 or 1997. i said, i have to check back with microsoft, because i promised them i would. brian: you were at microsoft? michael: yes, i had started slate. he then called it -- well, we
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had dinner. all the newhouses. a very warm family. on the way back -- i said i will talk to you in the morning, but when i come back to my hotel, he called and said, "i don't think this is going to work," and withdrew it. over the years, i have thought about this a lot, and i don't think -- and i believe him -- i told him i have parkinson's and he said it didn't matter and i believed him. but i also believe that he wouldn't have offered it to me if he had known from the very beginning. brian: why did he withdraw it? do you know that? michael: i think it is because he really wanted david remnick, a guy who has done a very good job with it. i put on a pretty good show for him.
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for the moment, he was swayed, but then he decided he wanted to stick with his first love. brian: you are how old? michael: 65. brian: how long do you expect to live? michael: supposedly parkinson's doesn't affect your lifestyle -- lifestyle, yes, lifespan, no. they say in the obituaries that somebody died after a long illness or of the side effects of parkinson's or something. i expect to live -- well, i hope a normal lifespan. which according to the statistics i think would be 15 more years. brian: one last question. what do you notice the most of people's reactions to the difficulty that you have with this disease?
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michael: it is their sympathy, really, which i am grateful for, although i could live without a lot of the time. but it is that people are basically very nice. brian: the book is called "old age: a beginners guide." forward by michael lewis. our guest has been michael kinsley. this, as he said, is only about nine dollars something on amazon and is 160 pages and is about facing the end of life. thank you so much for being with us. michael: thank you, brian. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪
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>> for free transcripts or to give us your comments on this program, visit us at q -and-a.org. also available as podcasts. >> coming up this weekend on q&a, u.s. senate historian betty koed. the workerbout office does. you can watch q&a sunday at 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. eastern here on them. the house returns today for their final week before the memorial day break. they will be working on a number of bills including reauthorizing funding for national intelligence programs and another on 911 emergency services. tomorrow they will take up the second bill of the year taking on energy and water projects. also, a measure dealing with
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federal oversight of toxic commercial chemicals. you can watch the house live here on an starting at noon eastern. on the other side of the capital, the senate is back at 3:00 to consider a bill on registered sex offenders and the rights of sexual assault survivors. final passage scheduled for 5:30 p.m. more on the week ahead, we spoke with a capitol hill reporter. >> we have a holiday break coming up what is the workload like for congress this week? li, congressionally speaking. leaders do you want to wrap things up before the memorial day recess, as you said. there are some adjudging things happening on the committee level. in the senate, they are going to spend almost the entire week on a big defense bill, a $602 billion bill, this is one of those big packages, there will be hundreds of different amendments on it, mitch mcconnell, the majority leader wants to get it wrapped up before memorial day.
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the big thing to look at here is john mccain, he is the chairman of the committee with jurisdiction, and he wants to lift the spending cap and raise at six under $2 billion number he said by at least $17 billion more, congress passed a big budget bill last year that set the limit, he wants to lift it. there's going to be a partisan fight there. the democrats don't want to lift the cap, they want to hear to the budget deal they passed. lift theamendment to spending cap did pass with overwhelming bipartisan support in the committee, it was 23 to three. support on the can the level. that is not as early going to translate to democrats on the floor. that will be an interesting element to see. can mccain left the cap? there are also a couple of other provisions in there that will be controversial and fun to watch. one is with guantanamo, obama
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has wanted to close that for years. democrats support him, but the republicans do not. the do not want them to transfer those presented to the united states, so there's already some linkage in there that limits obama from closing the prison. republicanahoma wants to make those restricted even tighter, so he's expected to offer amendments that will be closely watched. women in thing is the the draft, should they have to register? we haven't had a draft in decades, but men of a certain age still have to register for it in the event that it is reinstated. women do not. there's been this push to have them register as well. for number ofial reasons, but there was an amendment that passed in the a $610ast week passed billion defense bill that would have to be reconciled with whatever the senate comes up with. but they included requiring
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women to register, and mccain and mcconnell both support that provision. it will be interesting to see if people try and take it out. there was a push in the committee to try and take it out, and it failed. we expect to see that on the floor, that will be interesting to watch there as well. host: on the house side, summarize what goes on activity wise? and give us a brief sense of the hearing for the irs. that one start with tuesday, the has to do share a committee is going to have its first examination, they want -- ofa move towards impeachment virus commissioner john koskinen. this is a years long push, but more recently, a number of conservatives in the house, the freedom caucus met with speaker paul ryan and said listen, if we don't get some earrings on this thing, we are going to force a floor vote, and that puts ryan in a tricky spot for it almost
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immediately, the chairman of the judiciary committee -- we had heard him say anything, and then very suddenly, he announced a series of hearings on the impeachment. that's going to be tuesday. it will be much watched. level, the committee puerto rico debt crisis -- they have been, for months and months trying to negotiate this deal. he finally came up with something, and on wednesday, the national resources committee will have a markup vote to restructure that $70 billion in debt. this has been very controversial, because the democrats are worried about a reduction minimum wage, they are worried about pensioners on the overlooked by the bondholders. there are all kinds of different issues that are going on there. when the white house announced
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the deal, you have nancy pelosi and the very liberal ranking member of the national resources committee -- they all endorsed it. it wasn't a full throated we love this thing, but they said they are going to support it. you can expect that to move fairly quickly through the committee on wednesday. you want the floor on the house. -- they areo be going to take up back to the appropriations, they had a number of appropriation bills last week, so moving on that strategy. department of energy looking at the water and info structure projects is the $37 -- $37 billion bill. on the surface, it's not a controversial bill, the department of energy usually passes pretty easily. but last week, the democrats on the veterans affairs bill put a whole bunch of controversial amendments, and it was kind of chaotic on the house floor as a result. there were confederate flag amendments, lgbt amendments, and
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it's an open rule, and expected to be an open rule on this energy bill, then you can expect the democrats to throw some of these poison pill writers on -- riders on there. this of their going to fund raise on the lgbt bill, which failed. it could be another shouting match on the house floor over not the form of energy bill in itself, but some of the amendments. host: that's my close -- mike lilus >> next on the communicators, we broadcast from the conference in boston. sponsored by the national cable and telecommunications association. from the expo, we interview the fcc chair about the cable industry, top boxes, and that
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neutrality. >> you look at things, you see of the nature of television, the explosion of video alternatives. aboute increased talk smaller bundles and how it changes the relationship with the consumer. to see alternative pathways the consumer. the potentialve ever entering the best era consumers, programmers, and those who deliver. >> watch tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span two. president joe biden and former house speaker john boehner received the notre dame laetare medal at the 2016 commencement ceremony. according to notre dame's website, they were honored for
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civility and dedication to our nation. "laetare" is the latin word for rejoice. [applause] speaker boehner: it is truly an honor and privilege for me to be here with you all today. just a regular guy, who used to have a big job. [laughter] you know, it has been six months since i left public service. it has given me time to reflect. something occurred to me a few months ago, about the difficult task of what we call governing. governing, in my view, is the art of impossible. -- the possible. politicians these days are
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constantly being pushed to be impossible. and this being a presidential election year, you have been hearing a lot of impossible promises. but governing is not about promising the impossible. governing is the art of the possible. governing requires us to look for common ground where it can be found, without compromising our principles. and a speaker, i drew a distinction, because i truly believe they are different things. and the fact of the matter is, you can find common ground with the other side, without compromising your core beliefs. ladies and gentlemen, vice president joe biden is one of those people. joe and i have had many disagreements on many different issues. [applause] i can imagine what he is doing back here. but, you know, i learned the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable from my father growing up.
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we always figured the need to keep are looking for things we could agree on. while i'm republican and joe is a democrat, we are americans first. so, mr. vice president, it is an honor to share the stage with you today. thinking about what i was going to say this morning -- [applause] applaud for joe, come on. [applause] i was thinking about what i was going to say this morning and decided the speech i have is not really the speech i want to give. when i was sitting in the seats out here, like you over 40 years ago, i could never imagine that i would have spent some 34 years
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in public service. never could have imagined that path in life i would take. i began to think about what is really important. i know a lot of you are think about what am i going to do? let me tell you something, you can think about that tomorrow, next week, frankly, you can think about it next year. what you can think about right here, right now, is who do you want to be? you know, i played football in high school for a guy named jerry, who came up here and did not win as many games as he would like to as your head coach. but i learned a lot of things from gerry faust. but i sent more hail mary's in high school that i did my life. when i look back on my life, gerry faust, i am a high school guy, taught us how to be men, leaders, what is required of us. another good friend, lou holtz.
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he won a lot of games here, including a national championship. you never met a man who was more optimistic, more hardcharging, but always having a smile on his face. it was another person that impacted my life. pope francis. i have tried for 20 years to get a pope to come address a joint session of congress. i never kept trying. -- i never quit trying. thankfully, he decided to come. i found out my daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild. and he was going to be born right before the pope's visit. and working to get the cardinal to try and baptize my grandson. the vatican has two vows, and you are a head start over the u.s. to make a long story short, they
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told us the holy father would be happy to bless your child, but did not want to do a baptism outside the church. it is to be the day. i grandson was born on august 11, the pope came on august 24. lights and cameras, we got rid of all that. sitting down, i realize there were several cardinals, the pope, my chief of staff, and i said, why are we here? the meeting was breaking up. i was standing up to my family in an adjoining room. and the pope turned to his assistant, said give me a glass of water. really? [laughter] so, i watched the assistant get a glass of water. you brought it back to the pope, i was waiting for him to bless
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it. but he just took a drink. [laughter] the greatest head fake in history. [laughter] but after his address, the pope was getting ready to depart the capital. and we were standing in the first floor of the capital, and i realized it was just the pope and me. and he took his left arm, grabbed me, told me near, said the nicest things anybody is said to me. you can imagine, if you don't know, i get a few tears in my eyes. and as he took his right arm, put it around me, gave me a big bear hug, he looked at me and said, mr. speaker, please pray for me.
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i said, who am i to pray for you? but i do, and i did. but what did i learn from these people? i learned it wasn't the job they had, whether it was the pope, gerry faust, or lou holtz. they helped me decide who and what i was going to be, throughout my life. and through the power of the holy spirit, i was fortunate enough to wake up the next day and decide, i am out of here. [laughter] [applause] and if you want to know about the holy spirit, just google john boehner, holy spirit. you will get it. i will finish on this note. the word means rejoice. trust me, every day since last october, i have been rejoicing. [laughter]
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god bless you. god bless this great institution. and good luck to you on your future. [applause] >> thank you, speaker boehner. ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the united states, joe biden. [applause] vice pres. biden: let's get one thing straight. i do not like john boehner. [laughter] i love him. notre dame, thank you. thank you for this honor, the laetare medal. i can say without fear of contradiction that it is the most meaningful award i have ever received in my life. and my mother, catherine eugene finnigan, i wish you were here.
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but she is looking down to see me receive this. but i must say, father jenkins, my grandfather, ambrose finnigan, who played for santa clara at the turn of the century, a newspaper man from scranton, always presented notre dame. santa clara, that a football team, referring to them as the notre dame of the west. he said, hell, we are the santa clara of the midwest. grandpa, forgive me. i played football at the university of delaware, high school. and i finally made it to the 50-yard line of the stadium. [laughter] it is worth the trip, man. you all think i'm kidding. i am not. [laughter]
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father, you said that policy is a full contact sport. i agree. but father, to the detriment of the nation, in my view and i think john would agree with me, it has recently become a blood sport, full of invective and arguments. i have been there a long time. john and i served together for over 25 years. i've been elected to the senate seven times and vice president twice. i have not seen it like this in my career. you quote the holy father, when you said he addressed the joint session of congress and said our
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responsibility is the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, the chief aim of politics. father, i had the privilege of spending time, like john did, with the holy father, he not only consoled me and my family when we lost my beau, but when i met him, and i walked up with other heads of state to be formally introduced to him in the basilica, the monsignor who i had just met earlier, because i had met with pope benedict, i hope he was not the reason he resigned. [laughter] but before he could, the holy father put out his hand and said, mr. vice president, you
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are always welcome here. you are always welcome here. think about him. that is the message he has sent to the world. it is the reason why he is the most respected man in the world, as i speak here today. not just among catholics, but muslims, hindus, other christians, the jewish committee. that is not hyperbole. he literally is the most respected man in the world. you are always welcome here. and i believed the message he was urging, that congress was to extend to everyone, we, who hold high office, to extend our hand and say to americans, you are always welcome here.
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i was raised by presidents who were the embodiment of catholic social doctrine. and i was taught by the sisters of st. joseph in high school. everyone is always welcome in my home. i was taught by my mother that no one was better than me. but that everyone was my equal. i was taught by my father, who struggled, that every man, everywoman -- he meant everyone -- that regardless of their station in life, regardless of whether or not you agree with him, is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. my father used to say that the greatest sin of all was the
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abuse of power, whether economic, political, psychological, or physical. he is the reason why i wrote the violence against women legislation. he abhorred the notion of the abuse of power. totally consistent with what his holiness talks about now in our roman catholic faith has taught us for over 2000 years. as taught by my family and my faith, that a good life, at its core, this is why i truly like john, is about the personable. it is all getting down to being personable. being engaged. i was taught by my family and my
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faith to look beyond the caricature of a person, resist the temptation, when you disagree, to ascribe a negative motive. because when you do that, number one, you do not truly know what that person's motive is. and number two, and makes it virtually impossible to reach common ground. i was taught by my family and my faith never to confuse academic credentials and sophistication with gravitas and judgment. to have a heart to try to distinguish between what is meaningful and what is ephemeral. and the head to know the difference between knowledge and judgment. most importantly, my family and our faith warned me against the
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temptation of rationalizing in the pursuit of ambition. i know it is her birthday, but she will not mind, this is an important business trip. i know it is his last game, but i have to take the redeye back to see it. he will understand. i know we have been planning this family vacation, for a long, long time, but i have such an opportunity, if i leave. it is not only wrong, but if you engage in this rationalization, which everyone does, never underestimate the ability of the human mind to rationalize. and if you do, you will become
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very difficult to weather the storm in reality, in truth. and it will. reality will, in truth. in 1972, i was elected the second-youngest man in the history of the united states, i was 29 years old, not old enough to be sworn in. i had to wait 13 days to be eligible. 41 days later, reality intruded. i was in washington, hiring my staff, and i got a phone call. a tractor-trailer broadsided my wife and three children, killed my wife, and killed my daughter. and by two boys, it was
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uncertain. thank god, later, fully recovered. being elected at 29 to the senate is pretty heady stuff. it is the stuff of which ambition can get out of hand. but reality intruded. 42 years later, it happened again. many of your parents and people in the audience have gone through worse than i have. they know, many of you know, my soul, my son, my beau, the attorney general of the state of delaware, the most respected in the state, volunteering to go to kosovo to set up a criminal
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justice system during the war. and john, i just learned the president of kosovo is naming a boulevard after my son, the major joseph r. biden boulevard. he did volunteer as attorney general, but you do not get an exception because you become federal property when you become a national guard. you go to iraq. a year later, he came home and decorated soldier. the delaware conspicuous service cross, in the best physical shape of his life. while running 10 miles, he had to lay down. diagnosed with stage four
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blastoma in the brain. two years later, it took him, after a heroic struggle. he has got to get up. last words were, dad, i am not afraid. promise me you will be all right. my dad had an expression. he said, you complain and never explain. did., ever and i think back on it. iat would happen if john and
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only followed our ambition? missed his never birthday or an important thing. thank god i never missed a game for an unimportant political event. said it best, when he was attorney general, during a commencement speech, he went to 2011use law school, the loss will commence it. he said, you will find peace when there are certain rules that are not malleable. your conscience. conscience should not be malleable. s are another. with are the means, all
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the learning you now possess, they are the things that will guide you. they will also be the things to save you. father, i have read some accounts how john and i are old school. we used to treat each other with respect, hang out with each other. john and i are not old school, we are the american school. comes wheness only you deal with your opponent with respect, listening as well as team, islass of 2006 not hyperbole. you are the most educated, most tolerant generation in history
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of the united states of america. engage, gauge -- engage in the terrorist pursuit of finding common ground, but you will be incredibly more success. that is where you will find the role and it will make us all better for it. it is a true honor to be here with john. it is a great honor to receive this metal. may god bless you all and may god protect our troops. vice president biden: i got to leave, because there is one more thing important. is graduatinger
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from the university of pennsylvania in three hours, so so long. congratulations to the class of 2016. today is your day of celebration, and you have earned it. be voices for peace and my because your voices will make all the difference to you and all of us. >> do not be afraid to take on cases or a new job or a new really stretches your boundaries. vice president biden: spend your summer abroad on real ships instead of internships, and the specter of living in your parents' basement after day is not likely to be your concern. >> from colleges and universities around the country,
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on c-span. hill, the houses in its final week before the memorial day break. this afternoon they work on a number of bills, including authorizing national intelligence programs. tomorrow they will take up the second appropriations bill of the year, taking on energy and water projects. also toxic and commercial chemicals. you can watch the house live on c-span as soon as they gavel in. workingte is back on registering sex offenders. the vote for passage at 5:30 p.m. we will take a look at corporate tax evasion with former michigan democratic senator carl levin on "washington journal."
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host: joining us is former u.s. senator carl levin representing michigan from 1979 to 2015. now he is with wayne center university. good morning. guest: good morning. host: what have you been doing since congress? guest: at wayne state law school, i helped to teach a tax course. the tax professor there, a wonderful guy, alan shank, talked about what the tax code is supposed to provide. and i used my subcommittee hearings to show how a lot of people evade and avoid paying taxes and were using gimmicks. and to teach students to show how broken our tax system is. and how it has taken advantage of by some of the wealthiest individuals among us and some of the most profitable corporations among us. host: how do they do that? guest: there are a lot of
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loopholes. one of the corporation, apple, shifts its intellectual property to itself offshore and avoids paying taxes on almost all of it. other corporations, for instance, hedge funds, use a gimmick in a loophole in the law called carried interest, which allows the big guys at the hedge funds to pay a lower tax rate than people who work for them. it is a loophole in the law. we showed literally tens of thousands of americans were hiding their income and their assets overseas illegally. a lot of them in swiss banks. we went after a lot of swiss banks aiding and abetting american taxpayers to avoid paying taxes. after we showed that, the irs said, come on in, pay your back taxes, we will give you amnesty,
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but we will charge you interest. over 55,000 americans who had hidden bank accounts came in. we collected about $6 billion. there are a lot of gimmicks used to avoid paying taxes. but tax havens, the cayman islands for instance, have been soaking up huge amounts of our money that really is needed in america for the things we need to do, whether it is infrastructure, education, reduce our deficits, defense, you name it. host: you mentioned the cayman islands. why is that location make it easy for this kind of thing to go on? guest: they have a lot of folks making money off of it. a lot of attorneys, accountants, nominal trustees who form corporations and trusts to help people hide their money. and corporations also form, like apple or others, form corporations that they own in tax havens, not just in the
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cayman islands. there are 20, 30 famous ones. there is a building down there, which i think has 10,000 mailboxes. host: when it comes to this process process, is it illegal? guest: in some cases, it is illegal. there was a recent conviction of brothers who hid their assets. technically, these corporations are arguing that they are not illegal. they are avoiding taxes, but nonetheless, most americans realize what is going on here is that by using loopholes, if they are technically legal, we are losing a huge amount of revenue. there are over $2 trillion of american corporate money sitting overseas in corporations. these are the most profitable corporations we have in this country.
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we lower the tax rate, you bring it back. well they should be able to set well, they should be able to set their own tax rate, but that is what is happening. how do they reduce the tax rate down to 5%, and then then we will bring it back and pay taxes. meanwhile, taxes are not paid by that money in congress cannot act. we got to go after the tax havens. it is a huge issue. it is a bipartisan issue. the polls have been taking of democrats and republicans and independents showing all three groups want to close these tax havens, close the tax loopholes that should be closed. i call them unjustified tax loopholes. it performs a useful economic purpose. but there is no economic purpose served when apple transfers its intellectual property, the jewels of the apple crown, to itself. there is no economic purpose there.
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they are not producing in that tax have anything. they are not selling. they are not designing or creating anything in the tax havens and most of that was done in the united states. host: former senator carl levin joining us to talk about tax havens, not only his work in congress and what he is doing now. first caller is bruce for senator carl levin. go ahead, bruce. caller: how long have you been in congress, serve? guest: 36 years in congress and the senate. caller: it always amazes me when people complain about tax loopholes in the way tax laws are written. who wrote the tax laws? weren't you part of voting or accepting them, and then all of
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a sudden you got on the attack. guest: not all of a sudden. i heald hearings over a decade. it showed the damage that was done by these tax loopholes. we had some impact on a number of bills that were able to get passed. we closed a few. i did not vote for all the tax laws. i voted for some and against some. it is lopsided. there are too few people on the corporate side, but on the individual side. there is a lot of pressure on congress. some people cave into it. some people don't cave into it. but this is a major issue and will be a part of the presidential campaign. i have no doubt there will be a debate among candidates and people running for office about closing down these tax havens. so the answer is, i sure went after them when i was in the congress. and i had a little success.
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but there is a long way to go. host: here is stephen in connecticut, independent line. caller: thanks for taking my call. it is like a permanent problem, these corporations, like ge, these hedge funds, pfizer just running. it is just destroying the middle class. i don't see how hillary clinton or donald trump can fix it if these lawyers are so powerful. can't we have an apple tax law day where they got to pay? guest: what we have to do this not just for apple, but for other corporations using tax havens. elections have consequences. whether it is a presidential election or an election for a senator in your state, people need to raise these issues. by the way, people are angry about these issues.
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all of the public opinion poll show the anger is there. the tax issues are so complex and has provisions are so complex, it is almost impossible for the average person to deal with it. so the average person has got to try to focus as much as they possibly can on what they do know. is carried interest provision where hedge funds operators can have a lower tax rate? -- a lot of people know about it. raise it with your candidates. host: as far as a fix, is it going after specific loopholes, or a total rewrite of the tax code needed in order to make the best of it? how does it work? guest: a lot of people say you have to rewrite the tax code. that is a dodge as far as i am concerned. sure, you got to reform the tax code. it will probably not happen.
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there are too many very complex alternatives. charitable contributions. i don't think there are many willing to give up taxes for charitable contributions. there are loopholes who serve and economic purpose. i don't support the oil and gas deduction. but it serves and economic purpose. i am a green guy. i would rather not look for more fossil fuel, but it serves an economic purpose. but these tax havens and transfers by corporations to themselves in tax havens of their own intellectual property serves no economic purpose. the economic purpose was served when those patents, royalties, designs were created in the united states or when something
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is manufactured, wherever it is manufactured, or when something is sold. those are economic purposes. but to allow corporations to shift to their own corporation, shell corporation in these tax havens, their intellectual property, is pure tax avoidance. host: let's hear from fred in maryland, republican line. you are next. caller: hello, senator. thank you for your service. i was thinking that the average corporate tax rate in england is 17%. in ireland, 12%. wouldn't it be great to reduce the coporate tax rate to be more competitive and get rid of the loopholes? guest: that is one argument which is being made. the effective tax rate is like 12% or 13%. after you take the deductions and credits and so forth, the so-called real tax rate or
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effective tax rate is more like 12%. facebook is a profitable organization that pays no taxes. why? because when mr. zuckerberg sold his stock options a couple years ago, made a whole lot of money, which is fine, he deserves to make a whole lot of money. but the corporation got a tax cut equal to the taxes that mr. zuckerberg had to pay on a stock options. that is a loophole that should end. as a result of that, you have a corporation, facebook, which is going to pay no taxes for the next three or four years because that tax cut they got to that tax benefit from the sale of those options in the caching in -- cashing in of those options
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is carried forward. as a matter of fact, that company got a check from the treasury i believe of $50 million that year that he cashed in his stock options. host: what do you think about the release of the information of the panama papers? guest: it dramatized what is going on in that tax haven. you got a law firm that wrote hundreds and thousands of deals creating corporations that serve no function. they have boards of directors, and they are used by people all around the world. this is a global problem. that is what the world bank is looking at. that is where i will be speaking at about the use of tax havens. this is not just a problem for american treasury that loses a lot of money. it is a problem around the world. as a result, corporations in
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this country that used to contribute perhaps 20%, 30% to our treasury of our total and take of taxes now contribute about 10% of our total revenue that comes in to the u.s. treasury. you know, we have needs in this country. we have needs for infrastructure. huge job-creating functions like infrastructure. we have needs for education and additional defense spending in this country. we have deficits that are not sustainable, at least healthily at the current levels. we ought to be doing deficit reduction. you cannot have highly profitable organizations avoiding paying taxes and still have those kind of needs. it seems to me there are two solutions. one is tax reform. i have a few disagreement on that because there are so many different ways and so many different ideas of who should
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pay more, and who should pay less. and these are these unjustified tax loopholes that ought to be closed now whether you can get to test reform or not. host: the release of those papers prompted the obama administration announcing new changes from the treasury department. i want to get your thoughts. [video clip] president obama: number one, we are requiring banks and other financial institutions to know, verifying, and report who the real people are behind shell corporations that set up accounts at those institutions. one of the main ways that companies avoid taxes for wealthy individuals, is by setting up shell corporations and make it harder to trace where moneys are flowing and what taxes are owed. we are saying to those institutions, you got to step up and get that information. second, we are plugging a gap in our tax rules that foreigners can't evade taxes. the treasury department and irs
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are issuing a proposed rule to make sure foreigners cannot hide the hind anonymous shell organizations. these actions are going to make a difference. they will allow us to continue to do a better job of tracking financial flows and making sure that people are paying the taxes that they owe rather than using shell coporations and offshore accounts to avoid doing the things that hard-working americans are doing every day, and that is making sure they are paying their fair share. host: what do you think about those proposals? guest: the president is right on target. it is important one should be written a way that would be more effective. there have been bills introduced to do just that. senator whitehouse has a bill. but the very important initiative the president is taking -- and by the way he
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supported legislation when he was in the senate. one of the big problems that we have in america is that we are totally inconsistent. we insist that when corporations use our banks that they disclosed the real beneficial owners of those corporations. but we do not require corporations formed in america to disclose who the real owners are. and the secretaries of state around this country say they oppose it. but the people who really favor the disclosure of the real owners, so you cannot have hidden money, whether it is used by terrorists, tax avoiders, you cannot allow in america, corporations to be formed without indicating who are the real beneficial owners. who really control those corporations.
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host: and that is because of current law? guest: and that is because of current law. we have states from thousands of corporations are year. host: one of the most common faith? guest: delaware, nevada. it is no big deal to say, who is the real owner? who controls it? who gets the benefits? so that you just can't use phony trustees and lawyers who are on the boards of directors. corporations were formed for an important purpose. they were formed to provide limited liability for people. you can limit the liability of the assets given. that is the purpose of the corporation. they have been very useful. but it is not the purpose of a corporation to hide who the owners are. they are being used that way,
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and america is totally inconsistent. we are hypocritical. there are bills i have introduced that are pending in the senate and house. law enforcement, up and down. federal law enforcement want us require that when you form a corporation, you have one line, who are the real beneficiary owners? host: our guest is senator carl levin, currently at wayne state university. he was a senator from 1979 to 2015. michael from georgia. you are on with our guest. caller: how are you, senator? good to see you. this is my question. i work for the irs. we had this lady on, republican, for and hour. she stated all of these lies. we know that my livelihood would be in jeopardy if i take any
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type of untoward action. and the democrats are talking about tax evasion when the republicans nominated a tax evader. it is total hypocrisy. guest: the nominee of the republican party is going to have to show his tax returns. the pressure is going to grow on him. the whole issue of tax avoidance is a big issue. it will be in the campaign. mr. trump will be under tremendous pressure to put his money, or his disclosure, where his mouth is. he said before he would do it, he would not do it, then he would do it. the previous speaker who talked about it, i did not hear her. i do understand she is suing people who represent the irs, which are supposed to be social welfare organizations. this is true of both parties, by the way. there are organizations
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supoorting candidates of both parties that use a provision in the tax code, which is aimed at allowing people to contribute for social welfare corporations, but a lot of those entities and corporations, a lot of those 501 c4's misuse the right have under the tax code. but the important thing here is that there are folks that say they only went after the concert -- conservative organizations. a matter of fact, that is not true. they messed up. the irs messed up by not insisting that these entities used the contributions that they get for social welfare purposes. and that was true both by conservative organizations and by liberal organizations. the irs did not adequately, as far as i'm concerned, enforce the law. it was even the inspector general that said they did not pick on conservative organizations.
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you never hear that. that is a direct quote. that is an accurate quote from the inspector general of the irs, there was not the picking on just conservative organizations. they had the same problem with progressive, liberal, democrat organizations as they did with conservative organizations. but there were many more conservative entities of this kind that had this kind of funding. so it appeared as though they were going after conservative instead of democratic. but it was not accurate. they treated them the same way. in my judgment, improperly. host: from michigan. mike is next, republican line. caller: my question is, are you going to go after al sharpton? we talked about donald trump and his problems. i wondered if we could discuss al sharpton in his problems with the irs. guest: whoever is not obeying by
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the law or they are running for office and being open and honest about their own tax returns ought to be treated the same way. if al sharpton runs for office, he ought to disclose his tax returns just the way everyone who has run for president in recent years has disclosed their tax returns, including hillary clinton, by the way, disclosed for the last 20 years. sooner or later, the demands for mr. trump will be such that he will have to do what every other candidate has done. i don't know what the al sharpton situation is, but if he runs for president, he must disclose his tax returns. host: how difficult is it to up a shell corporation? guest: $100, a couple of hundred dollars. host: is that it? guest: i don't know what the current cost is.
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down in the tax havens, you can do it for a couple of hundred dollars. cost a little more if you are going to delaware or other states that make a big business out of just forming corporations. i don't know how many millions of corporations that were opened last year in the united states. not just in delaware, by the way. you got to have revenue if you are going to have a community. you got to pay for your schools and education and roads. the roads, bridges in this country are in terrible shape. we need infrastructure. you got to pay for it. you can't just borrow from the future. and if there are folks out there you should be paying taxes that aren't, either legally or illegally, but should be paying taxes and are not paying taxes, then by god you got a close the loopholes and collect. host: here is bill from new jersey, independent line. caller: good morning.
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why problem is that when i -- >> we will take you live to the floor of the house. general speeches starting when they returned to a number of the chair: speaker's rooms, washington, d.c., may 23, 2016. i hereby appoint the honorable mark meadows to act as speaker pro tempore on this day. signed, prine, speaker of the house of representatives. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the order of the house of january 5, 2016, the chair will now recognize members from lists submitted by the

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