tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN December 12, 2016 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
iny few presidents come knowing everything, but they generally come in with some expertise in some piece of the this is uncharted territory. definitive -- pessimistic, as you might imagine. we spent years in washington with everybody but loading the gridlock is terrible, washington never gets anything done, and now people are saying, washington might get something done. and i am a believer in our constitutional system. it is a difficult system. it is a system well designed to governmental
initiative. i cannot tell you the number of times when i served in the white house. you probably experienced this, elaine, i have parliament and envy. en -- yes.amarck: mr. bolten: if we just had a parliament, we could do this stuff and get it out of the way. but we cannot. i am those who believe even though the trump team is not coming in with fat policy papers, i am a believer in tax reform, which there is why consensus in the country we actually need and have not had in 34 years, and no significant rewrite of our tax code in 30
years, and that is because the internal tensions that we have built into our constitutional system and the growth of ideological and partisan chasms in washington have been too large to bridge. so on areas like tax reform, i'm cautiously optimistic that a successful candidate who is not ideologicaldeep divide in this country is not part of the deep partisan divide in this country actually has a chance to break gridlock in areas where i think the american people will benefit. concerned, but i am cautiously optimistic about what
our system can produce over the next year. ms. perry: thank you, so i will use my moderator's prerogative to have the last word. to this gentleman's point, i words -- if government were angels, and with that as the premise of the conversation -- constitution that has served us well, i have great faith, and we will put our faith in the constitution every time. thank you so much for your attention, and thank you. [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]
>> maybe people could get back to their seats, particularly people outside. as we started to discuss in the last panel, moving at an agenda is a great challenge. often get one thing and, occasionally get two, rarely gets redone in their first year, and we are delighted to have a terrific panel here to scout out what that looks like, feels like from the ground up. with that i will hand it over to hemmer.
will start with legislative affairs, so i have dan crippen who worked with the meyer, who, and dan jen the white house and psaki, who was in the obama administration. i would like to start off, if you could talk about what some of the challenges and opportunities of the first year are for your particular -- with in the domestic agenda. mr. crippen: i had the luxury were good for june of -- fortune watching transitions from the senate, then from the congressional budget office.
i got to see transitions from different vantage points. as my former employer in the senate used to say, many of the things i remember never actually happened. so i went to meijer there is a bit of a caveat in here. is aing with reagan, which transition i knew best, there was a consistent message during the campaign that was clear what he was about, not necessarily in specific on policy. he had a good team around him, as he talked about the white house staffing. jim baker, people in california congressmenf the who helped a lot, dave stockman, and they started the transition quickly and worked very hard. by february we had a new reagan
budget, posted put together by dave stockton. the notebook that came to the hill was called the stockton -- they created very quickly a budget that reflected the reagan priorities. ultimately it was the first time reconciliation was used. withd much of the budget, spending cuts, tax cuts, including things like blocking grants to states, categorical programs of blocking them. what's that accomplished through process,lative budget we will start by saying, and previous panelist talked about, virtually everybody has something happened in the first year, sometimes foreign policy, terrorist attacks, and in reagan's case it was the assassination attempt. i do not need to make light of
that. it interrupted progress being made. toward the end of the first year after these successes were administrationhe sent out in november a package of social security changes, thinking because they had had such successes he could probably replicate that with social security, which reagan thought needed to be performed. well,id not succeed very let a number of provisions were not very well thought out, changing benefits for retirement, for example, which many people took as being unfair. to go back to the beginning, we despair sometimes of the partisanship. differently and we think about it differently in those days. the budget resolution the
senate, there were 39 straight and managements -- straight amendments. and in the house, which was then therelled by democrats, has to be a coalition formed because the house was controlled by democrats, with democrats helping republicans, and it took a fair amount of effort to get that. not --rtisanship was are ain lessons here couple. the consistent message in the campaign, the ability to translate that campaign message into legislation. quickly, to move relatively quickly, but it all takes leadership. in this case, leadership by the residents of putting the coalition together in the house, passedassed about --
that bush 41 transition, and the vice president saw everything and was gone o limited in his abilitiesn to have a big domestic agenda. he was one of the guys who helped create the reagan agenda. it was hard for him to say the last guy did it. modest changes and suggestions, and while he did not think this, a lot of the voters thought it was another reagan term, so he had to be careful about how we positioned himself. there were things he had to address, the savings and loan crisis, and other things. his initial domestic policy was some of the limited test somewhat limited, and there was and itsomewhat limited
was not that much policy change. in looking at the congressional bush 43ffice for the transition government you see the same elements of the reagan process, fairly consistent can maintain -- consistent campaign theme, making the opportunity of that first window, but having events intervened. in the clinton administration, some of that was self-imposed or self-inflicted, such as the failure of the health care plan, but at the same time he had his budget passed, had the fairly large stimulus package, which not all of it succeeded, and it was a combination of those things that move clinton long as well his first year. with the first bush administration, there was a lot of campaign rhetoric that was not well defined from the policy that was put together was quite
defined. so their ability to move quickly was also a prospect they develop themselves. we talked about some of the things that bush 43 compass substantially, the no child left behind, the tax cuts and the changes that occur in the first year. the first year there was not repeated since 9/11. looking back at president clinton, not only did the health care policy did not get through, but it slowed down him in other things. bit off a little too much too quickly. resources are only so thick and you only have so many dan meyers working for you.
what does it look like over in legislative affairs? mr. meyer: the first four i would make is -- the first point i would make is it depends on the circumstances you take off in office. what congress looks like. aen reagan won, had democratic house and a republican senate. had clinton won, he republicans controlling b oth. much different circumstances for each one, and i would suggest that dictates the strategy as well. i remember when i was in the white house after president end of theon, at the bush administration, i got
interviewed for some publication asking if i had advice for my successor, a person who had been first head of's legislative affairs. my chemical was, the job will be much different than mine. the last two years of the bush administration, to the democrats were in the majority of congress. you were dealing with a divided government, and my feeling was phil' first responsibility was getting an agendas passed. to focus on getting the democratic leadership united in congress. and people were second guessing, and you do not get those opportunities very often, and if he had not gone for it, he would've been criticized for it. i found no fault in that, and
that is the illustration of how they have to look at it. thoseou have decided first-year priorities based on what you ran on, whether it was any of the previous folks or if it is president-elect trump on and replace of the affordable care act, whatever, i agree with what bill said in the introduction, you can only do a handful of things, but people addition to those things you want to do, there are certain things you have to do and you do not have any choice. for instance, they are faced with a continue reeling -- continuing resolution, a debt limit. nominations will be required. probably supreme court nominations. you have these things filling up in the calendar for which you need a strategy, and you need to and afterpassed,
that, how will we approach what we want to do on health care and border security and infrastructure in the tax reform package. sudden it gets a lot more complicated. but that has to be considered a front as well. you have decided what you want to do, you have to develop your strategy for each item on your agenda. who are the key players? ited president bush. it was a different approach on tax reform where you used to -- whatreconciliation versus he was doing with no child left behind, and the alert -- other example that you had was not with reconciliation and with a 50-57, he had to put a
bipartisan coalition. senator kennedy was very important, and judd gregg was the chairman of the health committee. you have to look at each part of your agenda and figure out how are we getting this was done, will we don we or under reconciliation, which by nature is a partisan exercise. in the trump case, you will try to impress way by doing reconciliation. but that will be deemed a necessity, and i do not fault that strategy either. then they will have to come back behind that and try to put coalition bipartisan on items you cannot do under reconciliation, which as we have all learned includes part of the replacement of the aca. it will be a complicated for sure, it is for everybody, that
is the weight you need to approach it in my mind. policy and so the es --egislative rol ms. psaki: one of the things isple have forgotten campaigns are aspirational and your health accountable for basically nothing. true -- and there is a consistency and there should be four what a president talks about when they are running for office and when he cometh office. that was true for president obama, including for many of the policy areas where his comments were perceived as very controversial, like talking to our enemies. but when you come in as a communications national, or in any role, there an adjustment where you realize everything you do matters, we are under a very different microscope, we cannot say we are just for certain
policy. questions, that sounds good, how are you going to pay for that, and what are you going to give up a few that? is an adjustment for me communications standpoint. you learn very quickly. i would say some of the things i'm sure the new administration will deal with that we did as well is the prioritization. we talked about that a little bit here. for us, president obama talked about a lot on the campaign trail, but when he came in we were dealing with a financial crisis. we were talking about the overlap with the work in the bush administration and the obama administration during the transition, which was essential. if we had not worked together, we would have ended up in a different place. the president came in, and that's basically what we have to do first and foremost. unpopularsome pretty
things of legislation, but there was agreement they were necessary to whether it was tarp , but when we got through republican votes, a love spinning, -- a lot of spending, and what the president wanted to do early on was health care. 20/20.ht is always of course there are things we would have done differently. what everybody has said here today is true in our experience, and i was there in the beginning as well as still now. -- you are not going to get everything you want to get done. you make choices. for us there was a debate internally about how big of a health care package. if you get a smaller health care package, could we have gotten cap and trade? maybe. i do not know. impacts communications.
governi is entirely differentng, there are some things that helped get the president get elected that you -- which is winning the hearts and minds of the american people. it is easy to come to washington and talk to people here and think you are going to convince people to come your way. but what we learned through making mistakes in the first year is you really need to use the power of how the president got elected to win people over and spend time doing that and sell your policies in a way that you get the public on your side. that seems like there is not enough time to do that when you come in. but certainly a lesson we learned. mr. meyer: you have to keep in
mind what kind of presidential resources you have, what time are you going to spend on these presidential priorities. how many phone calls, trips to the hill is not just how far you can push the policy. you have a limited resource that goes into those. president's the time. you all three seem collegial, but i suspect there between yourions various areas, whether it is the tosy advisors, trying convince legislative affairs they need to do something that your priorities might be a little different and what you want to do might be different. how do you defecate does relationships within other departments in the white house?
mr. crippen: when i went into the white house, my predecessors said one of the roles -- one of the ways i described is -- you are also the hill advisor. is yout folks told me will be surprised at the number of times you will be in meetings inside the white house when you have people who think they know what is going on in the hell is this, and that only gets three votes, and you get to kill it. >> neither of this helped --
neither of us held to that entity. we need to give be cognizant, and we were reminded early and often about the consistencies of the presidency and how important it was we develop policy to that reflected that. we developed speeches that reflected that. there is a tension. policy folks think everything is possible. we always assumed you can develop a communications strategy from whatever the policy is. without understanding fully the realities in your profession at all. ms. psaki: i joke with my staff that i am going to get a t-shirt that says it is a communications problem. sometimes it is, but sometimes it is bad policy, and sometimes we lose a vote in the house or senate because people think something is good to pass and it does not. these are some of the roots of the tension. one of the things that is a
communications or press person you have a responsibility to do in any white house is recognize it is not about what your objective is. solely howctives was things would sell the american public, we would do different policies and push different legislation. and sometimes -- oftentimes that is far more important. in the early days, the auto bill, we talk about that as being one of the big things we dated, was so unpopular, so terrible, everybody hated it, they thought it was the worst thing we could have done, and we had a responsibility to sell it as the president and economic team thought it was the right step. it turned out to be the right step. but there is a responsibility in the white house to recognize long-term objective, that they have to recognize that sometimes the stories will be terrible for a couple months because it is the
right policy. other piece, the that people do not recognize is there are a lot of limitations to what you can say, either because there are national security reasons why cannot change what you say about certain things, or on the economic front. when i came in, we come of the political and press teams, soted to say things are terrible and awful you do not understand how bad they are. something more articulate than that, but that was the basic message. thatconomic team would say would crash the market, while the market. thehen people look back, commission's problem, and there are things we could've done better, but there are certain limitations you have when you have the responsibility of the presidency. sometimes that is hard to explain. dan?emmer: muchrippen: there was not
tension between the legislators and the communication. one of my observations of washington over my years here is ,henever anybody has a failure one side or the other, usually in an election, republicans in 2006, 2008, or democrats in 2010, i think back on the hill in 1998 when republicans lost a handful of seats when they thought they were going to pick up seats, the messaging always gets plain. it is never what you did. it was not because you were pushing and he shouldn't -- pushing impeachment in 1998. it was the message. if only our messaging could be fixed. desk civic totic b communications side -- ms. psaki: it was not a messaging plan. mr. crippen: that is about all i
have. mr. meyer: we all think, but our college we were with we think we we wereur colleagues with think we can all do our jobs. if we play to the right policy, we get the right number of votes. ms. hemmer: those are the internal relationships. what about the external relationships you have to navigate in each of those roles, whether the press, whether it is the public, whether it is congress? what were the challenges or the experiences you had trying to navigate those relationships, the person in the white house was reaching out to these other stakeholders? the legislative front, one
of the things you have to get right is how you are going to manage the outreach to the hill. you need ae ideal is person who is the head of legislative affairs to be managing that. that does not mean legislative affairs is the only ones who can talk to the hill. every administration has their horror stories. i can remember, by the time i was in the bush white house, that had gotten worked out. bolten, but heh was really good about that. harry reid is calling me, why don't you come down, that sort of thing. you have atelling -- president who is a senator, a vice president who was a senator, and you are going to have a lot of people, and i do not want to think that every
administration goes through that. if you are going to have a successful first year, you need to sort that out very quickly, putting a system in place and if there is any outreach that it is coordinated under the legislative shop. ms. psaki: in terms of --ationship with the press if there is not tension, you are not doing your job and the president is doing their job. i mean that within reason. to ige of civility needs think return or be a part of how people interact between media and public officials. i in the early days was the only woman in the press office and was a spokesperson, and this is not a gender thing, but a lot of female colleagues who worry that more likely to scream, throw stones, and it was not the most effective thing to be totally
honest. the white house the press always wants more access to the president, and we never want to give as much access as people want. but there are some traditions, as most, which exists, people in this room know, because there have been enough assassination attempts on presidents that there is a public right to know. you can argue do they need to go to the kids' basketball game or the restaurant? you can argue those points. we have been through over the last eight years a lot of changes in the media. in terms of how people consume information and how we reach the what is challenging from someone in my role and will be challenging for my successor is that there is so many outlets now and so anyways people consume information that you cannot just talk the white house
nots room because you will reach a lot of people. but those people in the press room are also responsible for and attuned to everything a president is saying and people are saying and they hold you accountable to. there is a big push and pull, which is challenging. one of the things we went through fits and starts up, sometimes better than others, was making officials in the government available. that is oftentimes people in the media want access to. they want to talk to the policy experts. sometimes they want to talk to the legislators. but the policy experts will, and the truth is that is very useful for any president. sometimes to the staffing point, you run out of resources and time and ability to do that, but that is always something that is useful. there is always a push and pull with the press in the white house, and an element of that is healthy, but there is certain parts of tradition that
certainly should continue. thank god we did not have twitter. i cannot imagine ronald reagan using twitter. ms. hemmer: you were not give him his password. mr. crippen: it is useful for policy folks to deal with media. i was always off the record, whatever the term is these days, and i thought -- but there are other outside groups, and i do not know if you were alluding to them, but domestic policy in the white house, it is your responsibility in many ways to keep up with the outside groups, to meet with them, to talk to them, to make papers.re are policy otherwise you will lose your
constituency or important advocates. whether domestic policy or somewhere else, it is the contact point for outside groups that do not necessarily have to be supporting, but that is the first place you go. we were talking about divided government in terms of enacting a domestic agenda. are there any pitfalls to having doested government or it unadulterated good for your domestic agenda? mr. crippen: sometimes much worse, that you are expected to produce more when you have a unified government. your party, colleagues on the hill, at work discretion to not agree or to interview policy and tried to get you to do things that they want you to do. it is not uniformly a good thing. mr. meyer: there are lots of
pitfalls. going back to what we were talking about before, you come in with a unified government. there's expectations they get raise that are sometimes hard to beat. -- to meet. you are going to see this in this coming year. they intend to do a major tax reform under reconciliation or theal and placed affordable care act under reconciliation, and you cannot do that in the senate under the byrd rule. i thought even with divided government where republicans control the house and senate and there were members who did not understand why they could not thethings done -- government was shut down with those sorts of claims that it could force the president to sign something, like, where did you go to your -- and it still does not work that way.
the challenges people are not realistic. they set their expectations so high, so then you set yourself up to fail if you cannot achieve everything. that is the problem. ms. psaki: ms. psaki: we are a two-party system, and the democratic party is a big umbrella, and so is the republican party. that is the beauty of it. there is an expectation that to thewill all march same german, and people have different politics, views, and these come into play. when you look back when obama came in and we had the house and the senate and a pretty sizable the center, getting health care done was really hard. it almost did not happen. that was with a majority in both houses. even with the incoming
administration, you need 51 to repeal, you need 60 to replace, right, and that is not easy. that is hard. the systems that are in place for a reason, but i think sometimes you forget how hard it is to get bills passed. >> we like to think we have a tent, not an umbrella. ms. psaki: sorry. they are cousins. ms. hemmer: i want to get your advice to the incoming administration, but i want to start with a specific question, which is you have been working. closely on creating new policies and strategies for navigating a very changed media environment. what kind of advice would you give to the incoming teen about how to navigate that? what sort of things you have learned in your time into medications in the white house that might be useful going in? ms. psaki: sure.
i would say the way we view media now is is not a social media versus traditional media. ande is a big spectrum, most outlets are on that spectrum. i am not counting platforms that platforms, anda that is for a different pa nel. that is how we view it. the lessons we have learned are that you want to think about your prioritization, which is driven by your policy team, and really force the system, even when everybody does not love it internally, to focus on those priorities. a thousand flowers cannot bloom in government. you are responsible for everything. in terms of the way that you communicate, we found a mixture of what people would view -- and i hate the term traditional mainstream media, but i will use it because people know it is a
reference to -- and social media is probably the sweet spot, because what our objective is is to try to communicate with the american public and the american people, and you cannot be snobbish about this outlet has only been around for five years are notefore they eligible, because a lot of those outlets do interesting and really good serious work. there is an inaccurate and unfair perception that people like you throughout their that we only do -- which i have been back for two years, and that was before i came back. the fact they have an objective to sign people up for the affordable care act, but we do a combination. we didre outlets online, a lot about the iran deal, serious policies, that did a lot of good work. there is an us versus them in
social media, the online outlets, that is not healthy. the last thing i will say, while it is important to recognize the opportunity with all these new outlets, there is also a lot of risk as we have seen. i do not mean risk for president. we have learned over the reporting of the past couple weeks the way people they just and consume information -- they digest and consume information it is hard for them to differentiate what they see on line. while it is important to take advantage of all these options, there should be a discussion in this country about how to make sure people are getting reputable and accurate information, and that is where a lot of the mainstream outlets swayed that are not sometimes, but can provide that information to the public. so i think that should not be locked. that was a tirade on media. there is a lot to be said on
this issue. the advice would be relationships matter. get to another reporters who cover you and get to know what they care about what they are thinking about, and often they have their pulse on the public. keep focused on your priorities and issues. do not be afraid to try new things and recognize that sometimes things fail, but behold when things are not working, and change it. there are people who have been in the press for for a long time, and ann is one of the, who we relied on to not ask on what we should stay on things, but to get a gut check on. is this ok, or should we be doing more or doing less, because they have a better sense of the traditions of the white house that are important than -- andncoming status clearly on a lot of other issues. ms. hemmer: what would your advice be for the incoming team? i am not sure i have
advice on the committee case inside. onecurious to watch because of the things i've noticed over on thet few years is repugnant side you have a lot of folks who try to influence the process from the right who see their role in life and try to keep everything pure. considering how the president-elect got elected and his use of social media, how that is going to play out. is -- thee, he republican leadership is not going to agree with everything he wants to do. said, i am not sure he was a republican when he started running. much more independent-minded than a normal repugnant president. at some point there is going to be a tension, and is he going to take to twitter?
members,for individual when all of a sudden you have some of the groups on the right saying this infrastructure package is bad in this circumstance, and they try to make it hard for republicans to vote for it, and all of a sudden there will be this counter pressure from the president saying they are wrong, and i will be curious to see how that plays out. it changes the dynamic significantly, and it will be just -- i am just curious to see it play out. advice?er: dan, any do not have much advice for an incoming administration. the one thing that certainly helped in the policy strategy and the legislative strategies i have been involved in is we have to address a consistent message, you have to say something that is important or at least understandable.
and if you do not have a message, and i do not know what the president elect's nest will -- buta desk will be certainly be able to be consistent about your policy. if there are questions, if you just wait for the microphone. >> charlie clark with "government executive." the office of legislative affairs got criticized for not answering phone calls, and repugnant said they would have been willing to cooperate or if that had happened. and inof that accurate, general, does the legislative affairs office have a duty to return phone calls? mr. meyer: i thought it was a good idea. let me defend the obama legislative affairs, because i
know a lot of them and i have been in small groups that the has broughtr together legislative affairs bushtor's and the bush 41, 43, clinton, and obama white house. the obama folks will give you chapter and verse. i think very sincerely about how they reached out him and it takes two to tango, but we have stories on the other side, not just republicans, that they were not as visible. it really depends on your approach. atould make the case that, the beginning of the obama administration, their focus needs to be on the democrats. if applicants got less attention, i do not find fault with that. a divided government, it is a different situation. look, if you are going to try to get your legislative agenda
passed, you have to figure out how you are putting together 218 votes or 60 votes in some cases, so there is a lot of people you pay attention to, and that is an important aspect of the job. i used to work at the state department. i question relates to the filibuster. my understanding -- and i am sure you could correct me if i'm wrong -- is that the senate can at the outset change the rules on the filibuster by majority vote. secondly,e case, and, would you expect it to happen? in theory you are supposed to have 2/3 of the vote to change the senate rules. senator reid changed the filibuster rules by ruling and
precedent for a number of circumstances, some of the judges. it could happen t, yes. senator mcconnell is an institutionalist. having said that, and this goes back to the conversation we had before about having unified government and managing applications. the first hill that gets filibustered, they're going to , conservatives in the house or conservatives on the outside who are going to say, mcconnell, you are blocking it because you will not get rid of the luster. that is something he is going to have to deal with it. he has made it clear he does not want to do that. he did not want to do it before when it was done under the democrats. >> hello, everyone. my question is how would you
way of the trump ncy that given he has already saved over 1000 jobs from carrier, and he had a conversation with the taiwan president, which is breaking the 47 years.of how would you predict his way of the presidency? thank you. this sounds like a policy and communications question. i have had a lot of conversations. i start up the conversations knows?ho i speculate and conclude the conversation with, who knows? that is probably the answer. is there a way in
which the things that happen in a transition help foretell what will happen in the first year, or are they just different? mean, the nominations may. -- that,aki: even with unless somebody has a long the legislative history of it could be hard to read tea leaves to predict advice what somebody is getting. i assume the transition is an indicator, because people, whether it is or apresident-elect previous president, they learn that things do change. at least the beginning i presume the transition is a predictor of how it will operate. my point of from view on policy and experience, the first budget is also important. card-carrier never of
the green eye shape society. you expect domestic priorities will be funded. >> this question is for jen. you can say a little more about the discussion that the communications team had with the economics team about what you could not and cannocould say. and you could do that with trump's approach and the outcome of the election. and also where the market -- ms. psaki: i will try. when i was trying to illustrate is policy does not always make easy communications and you accept that. in the early days, the election and the president's first year or more shifted and changed
started in august, september 2008 before he was even elected. there was a recognition that he had a role once he was elected, and even before when it was looking he was going that way, that he would have a powerful role to play in helping to get some policy across the finish line. there is the old story of secretary paulson -- maybe you were there for this and you can articulate better than i can -- getting that on his hands and knees and begging him. for us, we had an economic team reunion on friday night. aucous a wild and rock' party. one of the things they talk about was how they are terrible communicators. they are brilliant economists and very smart people, but you recognize early on that if we have peopleould
that were, not professionals by trade, but very good at television. that is not often how you pick cabinet secretaries, right? what our experience -- there were many conversations, not just one where it was always a push and pull between the press team and economic steam about what could be said publicly in terms of articulating to the public how bad things were. but you didn't want to scare people at the same time. one of the biggest mistakes we made early on was when christie rauner made a predation about the unemployment rate. that was perhaps necessary at the time that people in the media would have argued that would have gotten people to vote for the recovery act. then, it held us to a standard we could not meet. we could never meet that with the press side and that was
challenging. not sure. the economy is in an entirely different place. --re are obviously lots of the economic agenda is always a big part of what any president typically faces or addresses. -- the economiclots of things undet umbrella. i don't know if i can make any predictions about how president-elect trump or anyone on his team will handle it. if that was what you were asking. >> in terms of -- i thought i heard you say that you received the economy to be a lot worse. ms. psaki: i did not perceive it. it was worse than what we articulated from the government. there were lots of other people saying it, but there was something about the president or treasury secretary articulated
how bad it was. it was a concern of what impact that would have on the market, on the economy. that was a real discussion we had on a very regular basis. >> sure, but i look at, typically i hear people say how great things are right now. and that is obviously something trump does not do and i would argue -- hey, things are pretty bad for the average person. if you could jump into a time machine, which you do so and maybe say something a little differently? mr. meyer: it is different between when you are running and done. think jen would disagree when president obama was running for president, he talked a lot about how bad things were. elected, there is an instinct that takes into talk
about how it will get better. thinkit didn't get better righ. my recollection is we're going to put these things in place and try to get better. i've been in the same type of meetings that jen referenced. it's expressed you don't want to talk down the economy because it discourages people. we try to build up confidence. that is a distinction i would make. ms. hemmer: we have to stop it there because we have to clear the stage for another set of analysts. panelists. thanks to all of our great panelists. [applause] >> we will take one more 10 minute break and come back foat 10 after for the foreign policy panel.
from the brookings institution which should start in about 10 minutes. coming up tomorrow at 11:00 in the morning, we will hear from former speaker of the house newt gingrich at the heritage foundation. looking ahead at the incoming trump administration. at 6 p.m. tomorrow afternoon right here on c-span, jeh johnson talking about cyber security and looking at hacking and the election again. that is at 6:00 tomorrow on c-span.
>> we are a few minutes away from the brookings institution look at the presidential transition in the trump administration. one last panel looking at the global challenges facing the trump administration. when this is over and about 45 minutes, we will show you what of what we have been showing you in new york at trump tower. some of the comings and goings throughout the day.
discussions. we are really delighted to have three of the best here. i've gotten to work with all three of them over the last set of years. this is a terrific group of people. starting with our moderator, the executive vice president here at the brookings institution, my colleague for many years who's also twice that basinge ambassao a special coordinator for italy at the white house. he has this from all different sides of the equation. he was going to be a a special r for italy at the white panelist, but the moderator bruce jones got sick. we will ask martin to do double duty, because i think he has his on observations and input what these transitions are like and what they look like. also, two colleagues from the miller center, one of whom i was fortunately enough to have a
colleague and government and another we have been fortunate enough to have as a public zelikow.philip and in the history department at the university of virginia as a past director of the miller center and executive director of the 9/11 commission which was a report on one of the great first year crises in american history. and eric edelman who was very important in my first year in government. eric has that is mentioned -- i will tell this joke even though a few people have heard been chief of staff and later national security advisor for vice president cheney. wow, you must either be the greatest foreign service officer in the history of the department or a total political whore. [laughter] to which eric responded, the two
are not mutually exclusive. [laughter] true story. >> also the undersecretary of policy at the defense department and a chair at the miller center. secretary, energy secretary, including a number of other different posts as well. eric will also win that one year visiting fellowship ends will be a senior fellow at the miller center in january. i will hand it over to martin to lead us in this discussion. mr. indyk: thank you very much. or and challenge of serving president bill clinton in the white house in his first year in office and i was handling the middle east. experience between
the three of us when it comes to presidents, both , when itn and democrat comes the foreign and national security policy. i was reviewing the record from andmiller center timeline was reminded that in clinton's first year of office, in february, it was world trade center bombing that few people will remember. the initial one, six people killed and 1000 injured. in june, clinton ordered the first use of force in his presidency against saddam hussein in retaliation for the attempted assassination of george h.w. bush on a visit to
kuwait during the first year of clinton's presidency. famous don'tad the ask, don't tell policy that caused a huge ruckus and political blowback. in september, we had yasser arafat shaking hands on the septembere lawn, the 13 of the accord. october, black hawk down and the whole reaction to the situation in somalia which led to withdrawal of troops in somalia which had a real big impact on his credibility when it came to diploma oative force. and then we had nafta. it is just a reminder, phil can talk about 9/11 and the impact
it had on the bush agenda when we go to eric in a moment, it is -- prime minister peopleould often remind that it drives foreign policy in the first year. so, it's likely to be in people the it drive first year of president trump's administration as well. so, what is the advice to presidents in their first year to draw from your experience about what they should try to put into the place when they first -- with the kind of phenomenon from drinking from the fire hydrant when it comes to foreign policy? mr. zelikow: the default
tendency of government is to drift and remain on autopilot. noise andmpanied by then things happen and then you react to them and then your tenure ends up being defined by your reactions. the part is thing to do in government -- hardest thing to do in government is actually to corral people together and accomplish something purposely. that requires great skill. not actually very hard. times, agencies, at most in some ways that is the default mode. people keep doing what it is they have been doing and then stuff happens. you will always be busy. the inbox will always be full, there will always be meetings and events, and many things to discuss. there will always be noise and turbulence. the caravan will move on.
my advice actually, and this gets a little more into processes for if there are people here who wanted some concrete advice on how to make a difference. for this sophisticated washington group, and there are some veterans here of many things, three things -s. one, if you want to do anything big, you have got to do it with the congress. do it with the congress. there was a very great tendency in these meetings about foreign policy. to be very executive branch centric. i've served in many executive jobs and have only worked with congress when i have to. it has happened several times.
let me jobs and have only just i mean with a couple of concrete examples. once in the past and one right now that could be informative for this administration. one from the past. all of you know that president-elect obama did as one of his first acts, i will close guantanamo. his first act. this --ot in preparing they put everything in motion, the executive order, the speech -- they did not consult with congress before they made their move. had they consulted with congress before they made the move, people in congress would have quietly said yes would have helped you? people, suchch republicans. senator john mccain, for example. you see the challenge here was if you are going to people, such republicans. senator john close guantanamo, replace it with what? then, if you have a plan for, well, let's replace it with this
and then we have kind of a plan on which state will get it. then, you might have a chance of getting the lyrical support among the reverend -- political support of all the representatives of all the other states. [laughter] and get it out of the way. by announcing we are going to close guantanamo and then you have not done the homework with congress about where and how, what happens? every member of congress gives out a study. the politics of this becomes poisonous and movement is impossible and here we are eight years later and guantanamo is not closed. possibility. it could have been done, but because you were thinking executive branch centric, it didn't work. i will give an example of right now. a lot of discussion in the news about terrorists or about
different things to restrict trade which is a big-time foreign policy discussion. maybe the most important foreign-policy question in the foreground of this administration. how many of you -- raise your hand if you know what i mean when i say the word destination basis taxation? all right. six or seven of you. gely important with respect to trade right now, right now. the house majority led by imporh respect to trade right paul ryan, kevin mccarthy and kevin brady are developing corporate tax reform that takes all the broken stuff having to do with income shifting and all of that, which is a long broken problem, very serious. ordering of gigantic cast piles overseas. they are trying to develop an
approach that has to do with territoriality and destination basis that would turn our corporate tax system into an income system that is a facsimile of a consumption-based like the systems almost all of our trading partners use. it would create an equal playing field for companies. because the border adjustments t all of our trading that will happen in implementing this system, not altogether dissimilar to the border adjustments you make of the byproducts, this would have an effect, if their plan goes through, having a huge impact on import intensive products. there will be no taxes at all on things being sold for export. enormous implications for terms of trade. as the people who were watching this understand. there will be lots of adjustments, arguments over wto
compliance and so on. i happen to think it is a creative idea of great interest. my point is this -- if you in the executive branch, the people right now on the landing team like dan d'amico and others, and the people interested in doing something to show economic nationalism and thinking about whether or not to withdraw from that or hold their fire, you cannot work that agenda and also do what paul ryan is trying to do at the same time. chance, itn gets a is going to have a substantial impact that you will want to wait and see what that impact is before you decide whether or not you want to do a lot of other stuff. it could result in the reprieve of hundredsion of billions of dollars and a lot of other things.
so, congressional partnership. i spent a little time on those two examples. i will not spend a lot of time on those other suggestions because i want to hear from eric and so does martin and so do you. policy staff on work. in my professional experience now going back more than 30 years, i've seen an enormous decline in the quality of written staff work in the government regardless of administration. what happens then is people make their staff larger and hold more meaning because people don't know actually have to do written analysis. written concrete operational analysis with detailed choreographies, describing pros and cons. , and then isolate the key issues. concentrating time and focus.
a trivial like procedural detail. quality staff work is a matter of life and death. that is not hyperbole. that is a true statement that i have seen happen in the wars in iraq and afghanistan. it is a matter of life and death. third and final point -- there is a lot of good discussion we will get into about the staff and the executive department and so on. i want to tag something that is not get much attention which is the need to link policy planning and policy analysis to budget development. budget development. you actually study the nsc staff and then didn't notice what is omb into the staff system, the
answer is not much really. everyone in here who has private sector experience knows of course you manage with budgets, except in national security. except at the top of the government and that has very large consequences and we are about to enter a period in which they are going to be fantastic budget strain and arguments which i hope will be resolved and will be the first importance. that is a maxim worth remembering. mr. indyk: thank you. eric, what is your advice? mr. edelman: thank you, martin, it is great to be here with you. thank you for bringing me to the miller center to be part of this terrific project which i think is fabulous work. that he start out with a concession. yesterday, when i should have been preparing to speak here today, i was watching the
redskins instead. [laughter] the redskins managed to beat the hapless philadelphia eagles. as i was having pangs of bad conscience about not preparing, i was watching the game and i thought tomorrow i should talk about blocking and tackling. the really simple things that need to get done in government that we kind of don't do. onould say two things -- one personal and one on policy and they really are the same thing. first is on the personal side. one of the biggest challenges that a president has in national security is getting their arms around the apparatus of the government that conducts national security affairs. it is not a new observation. henry kissinger made this observation back in knockin1966 before he wrote a famous
essay about foreign policy. seven years ago, i think i was here on this stage doing a book event for the late peter rodman's book which makes the same observation. this is the first and most enormous challenge the president has. so, the focus on personnel is really important, but as one of the earlier panels noted, the tendency is on the high-profile cabinet positions and not enough attention that is focused on putting together teams of people who both within the agencies can work together and across the agencies can work together, because if you cannot get that kind of teamwork, you will inevitably have all sorts of this functions, project -- dysf unctions, particularly in
the first year. it takes about nine months to get everybody in place. we were both part of the romney transition team planning in 2012. we began our work in july and by the eve of the election, we were wasared to go in and philip on the intelligence side and i was on the defense side, we were prepared to go in. we had all the cabinet designees and we had focused at least on the defense transition very much on the question on how we can get people who can work together so we don't get the kind of dysfunction that we have right now with secretary , and we have had another defense departments with the subcabinet appointees. ,second, part of that personnel thee is to understand that
career elements in the department of defense, state, central intelligence agency, other agencies are not the enemy. they are the subject matter experts who can help you succeed, but only if you establish a relationship of trust with them and provide them leadership. who have to have commanders know what direction the team is trying to move in. i will say that on that score, they have to overcome the new team, they have to overcome a deep bias. colleague service used to have what she called her iron law transitions which is no matter how much you hated the last group of political appointees which were the overlords in the outgoing administration, the new team a few have nostalgia for the old one. [laughter] which i think is a testimony to
the rough shakedown that every first year of an administration turns out to be. the second piece of advice i would give is to try and, in the early period, spent some time in the first few weeks before something happens to actually before youthe policy start trying to change it. inevitably caricatures of what the policy actually is. the folks in government have been working this and extorted everin extraordinary detail. it is not that you should not change the policies. every administration wants to do that appropriately, but you need to undstand what it is you are changing before you start changing it. all too often, a lot of people come in with bright ideas -- i
completely agree with philip that it is staff that has not been adequate -- the first order of business is to understand what it is in place before you start to change it. mr. indyk: thank you. one of the things i'd like to focus on is the relationship between the white house and the anderent departments agencies of national security. nowlearly have a situation where there is a good deal of tension between the incoming president and the cia. and the standard tension between the cia and the fbi. you think back to kissinger's and, also with brezinski rogers, the nsc and state
department were really loggerheads in the early years of the nexixon administration. we have the same in bush 43 between rumsfeld and colin powell. what's your sense, given your ensure it -- how to does not end up thi dysfunctional or is it the nature of the personalities that you will have these kind of tensions? anything that you could advise about what could be done to avoid what we have seen in the past? yes, there is.
first, let me talk about the nsc staff issues and that i want to touch on the fbi-cia. sc staff to large? yes. is it micromanaged too much? i think so. it is extremely large and they are holding constant meetings. it is not a democratic- republican phenomenon. mr. indyk: 400? it was 50w: professionals. it is generally regarded as having a highly functional staff. mr. indyk: i thought it was too small , . mr. zelikow: it was not. we were only able to win the cold war and anend the gulf war. running 50% of,
the united states economy, they did that with nine white house staffers. this was not because roosevelt was disengaged. thattells you something what you are doing is important. eisenhower's system was entirely different but also highly functional. the point about that is rather than get into -- shrink it by a third. a meaningless thing to say. like, what do you want the staff to do and what do you want the executive department to do and then work on the staff numbers that flow from that if you are clear about how these jobs are defined. most of these jobs do not come with a written job description much less any training. not one day of training.
if you work on the substance of what these people do, what the different roles are, a lot of this stuff will then begin to take care of itself. if you begin to realize the more you blow through staff, in some ways you make staffers more powerful. you'll make a president anymore don't make the president anymore wiser. i'm uneasy about this. when i did a 9/11 commission work, in one of the administration's we looked at was the clinton administration nctional withysfu the director of the fbi who had suspected his white house clients might be engaged in criminal activity that he would have to investigate. matter who was going to be elected in november, a difficult relationship with the fbi director was and is assured.
that is one of the reasons the congress tried to give the fbi director a high degree of independence. we will see how that works out. if you keep the current director, it is strained. if you fire the current director, it could be worse actually. there is a problem. with theall this intelligence community. this is the point i wanted to make, is all this is undermining a condition of trust. i want to stress the value of trust is not so the president will salute when the intelligence community talks . that is not the point. you get the trust not so that they will always agree, you get trust so you can have healthy arguments. distrust condition of
results in frozen relationships were each side begins behaving in passive aggressive ways and throwing their assessments across others, ignoring. what you don't get is the healthy give and take and interaction which can be tough-minded and has to be. the greatest intelligence disaster of my lifetime was the wmd capacity with iraq in 2002. the problem in that catastrophe theyot that that interacted too little. they should have interacted much, much more. they should have been a much more tough-minded argument going on about the nature of the intelligence. that should have been going on even back in the clinton years when those assessments originated. you're building trust frankly so that you can have those kinds of discussions with different
intelligence agencies quarreling over different things and fbi has their thing and the cia has their thing, but nobody in the conversation feels like they are questioned by that. as the atmosphere gets frost ier, it is not a matter of who agrees with whom, it is a matter of the quality of the thoughts and discussion. mr. edelman: i largely agree. first of all, it is natural that your cabinet officers and the other members of the national security council, when they meet with deputies or principles, are going to represent the view of their agency which has a specific mission, and therefore will look at things differently. in the department of defense we look at things differently than we did in the department of state. from the white house, you have yet a different view. at various points in my career,
having been in all three of those positions, it is natural and you want some disagreement. you don't want unanimity. it is different than saying unanimity. the last thing you want is groupthink, premature closure on issues before people think they have the answer before they talked it through. as philip was suggesting. that is a very hard thing to work straight. people have every big personalities, previous reputations, etc. one of the challenges is that the cabinet secretaries and the director of cia or national of roleence have a kind -- on the one hand, they are the instrument of the president and imposing his agenda on the respective institution. on the other, they are the voice of the institutional interests
and prerogatives of the institution they sit on top of and try to make that point of view heard in the interagency deliberation. maintaining the balance of those two roles is very hard for individual cabinet officers. frankly, an emotionally intelligent president will be looking for people who can balance those two roles when they take their cabinet officers. mr. indyk: do you expect to see warfare of bureaucratic that was seen between previous national security advisers and other secretary of states or secretary of defense? we don't know what the secretary of state will be up this point. we have former head of defense intelligence agency, national
security advisor, which has pretty strong views about the intelligence agency. baked intoke it's the system already. is that -- mr. zelikow: as a couple of the panelists said earlier today, who knows? i will say this -- anybody who thinks it does not matter, whether someone was a three-star or four-star, never worked a day in the pentagon. mr. edelman: i think i will be very interested to see how the dynamic between, or among i should say -- and kelly. dynamic, general kelly and general mattis, which are fantastic. general flynn who was a first-rate professional -- it
will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out. mr. indyk: does it matter that we will have a general in charge of the civilian side of it? i do think it matters. i think the law was drafted pretty carefully back in 1947. the circumstances have changed the circumstances we were facing then. maybe the urgency is a little bit less than it was, but there still is, there are a number of issues that come along with this. i know general mattis. he is a really extreme will, thoughtful, well-rounded officer and i am sure he is aware of the pitfalls and the dangers. i'm sure you will be trying hard to avoid stepping in those. there are issues having to do with democratic civilian political control of the military that arises from this.
mr. indyk: let's go back to congress in a different dimension of this. i was conjuring up his mental image of high school chemistry class gone wild. [laughter] where you let the students use any compounds they want and start mixing them up. who knows what will happen? you stand outside in the hall and you hear all these things fizzing and smoking in the classroom. fumes begin to leak out through the door. oh, i wonder what is going on, i wonder what will happen? mr. indyk: it feels like that. -- weody is wondering have not had a president that se diplomacy as
constructive ways moving forward. what kind of challenge is that going to pose to the national security agencies where we've got the first instance of that thethe phone call to president of taiwan. kellyanne conway said they would move the embassy to jerusalem. mr. zelikow: president of taiwan. from beijing to jerusalem. kind of centralized these operations in asia. mr. indyk: so, do you have any experience with the national security bureaucracies to deal with this disruptive approach? mr. zelikow: this is what they thought was going to happen in december 1980 after reagan was elected. they thought the apocalypse might be coming. it did not quite turn out that way.
you have to recover some of the images people had back then. this is different. this is amp -- different situation. he's on the one hand, no one who went through this campaign thanks, ah, a natural born diplomat is he. [laughter] but, on the other hand, this is a man who wrote a book called "the art of the deal." i have an a thousand word -- art 8000 word called the wo "wilof the global deal. here is the interesting thing that i think he will encounter. things they will want to get signed. the domestic agenda alone, i can
see where that is going and there are serious people involved in this. that will take up 150% of the oxygen in the room, just the domestic agenda and immigration. mr. indyk: the infrastructure bill. mr. zelikow: this little thing about health care. man. they are serious and that is moving. that is 150% of the oxygen in the room. what is left over for foreign policy? how much noise do i want foreign policy to make in the first six to nine months? when president bush came into office, he was looking to make a lot of headlines in foreign policy. he had some heavy lifting he wanted to do on the domestic side. so do mike pence and paul ryan. there is that factor. there is another factor. team find people on this who will want to pick fights with about three quarters of the country's in the world. ithink i can seriously guess
without working hard. it turns out if you do that, you and make a lot of noise take up a lot of oxygen. i think the last few years have been very bad for the united states and the global system. is,ig take away from that ladies and gentlemen, we have to enter a time of preparedness. we need to make our country stronger. is, if you think as if it were 1975 after the vietnam war, if you like even darker analogies, 1935, we would counsel preparedness. preparedness does not mean you go around picking fights with everybody you can find while you are getting prepared. if you speak softly and carry a big stick, first are getting -- start getting the big stick ready. all onld actually avoid necessary fights while you were
getting stronger, while you are making your institution stronger. then, you would try to attract all of the friends you possibly could if you really were worried about our situation in the world. you see, that begins to drive you even if you are worried about your position in the world as the president-elect says he is, that will drive you into thinking about diplomacy. if you want to attract friends, avoid unnecessary fights while concentrating on preparedness. diplomacy will be your handmaiden. mr. indyk: eric, we will go to the audience questions, but you work as national security advisor for vice president cheney. it seems like vice president will take on a lot of the load when it comes to foreign policy. what do you think about that? how will that work itself out? mr. edelman: i think there is one big difference between the relationship of president george
w. bush and dick cheney had, and andy is in the crowd so he can correct me if i'm wrong, and the relationship that president electron advice president-elect -- president-elect trump and vice president-elect pence have -- he had no political aspirations. the relationship he had was unfrayed from that that occurred between other presidents and vice presidents. pence is clearly someone new has a political future in electorate politics and that will introduce potentially some tension. i also think that -- i have very high regard for vice president-elect pence -- i
thought of all the statements made by any of the candidates in the three debates on foreign affairs, he was the most is clearly someone new has a political future inarticulate, most compen discussing syria and russia. but in the second presidential debate, it didn't take too long for the president-elect to throw him under the bus in terms of those positions. i think there is potentially some danger here in that. i would say to your earlier point on disruption, this i know is heresy for the foreign affairs clarity, i was not troubled by the phone call from president of taiwan. i think it is fine to perhaps throw folks in beijing off balance a little bit. other me. not gatheb
what does bother me is one would have hoped it was the result of a deliberative process and a clearly thought out strategy with a plan for how you manage all of this. it is pretty clear from the president-elect's comments over the weekend that that was not the case. i also think that the reaction from beijing, which was actually pretty mild, should not have elicited a tweet storm. i think part of the issue here is it is fine for the president to try to change our policy. he was elected. he has the right to do that. it is fine to decide you don't want to be bound by the one china policy anymore. but you say i will not be bound by things we have undertaken as a nation before through multiple administrations has a ripple effect he may not be aware of in terms of the way it will call into question both for our
allies and potential adversaries, america's commitments in other parts of the world. i think that is a very -- i think our commitments have been undermined by the incumbent president who has not paid enough attention to that and has been pretty dismissive on harping on credibility. i think it is very important. just to give you an illustration of what we mean about diplomacy and strategy. eric was talking about the phone call from the president of taiwan. we both share the view that in itself it is not necessarily shopping. cking. we are getting ready to adopt an economic approach that probably is going to confront china economically in some fashion. aboutare some arguments how.
we were already to push them fairly hard economically. the question is a strategic manner. yourself if we are actually going to have -- we might have an economic competition with china. you should say to yourself, let's as the late this too and make it a confrontation with them on their other core interests. having to do with her definition of sovereignty and other things in the region and let's confront them all at the same time. is that the smart play? mr. indyk: the president-elect addressed that yesterday. the president of taiwan would have a little bit of a problem being a card, used in the trade-off. mr. zelikow: you could imagine, gee, if henry kissinger on steroids was available -- mr. indyk: he is available. mr. zelikow: he is not taking steroids. [laughter] if you confront them on all of
these fronts simultaneously, then you are worried about everything. we are going to construct this incredibly elaborate deal. we will roll back our and then try to re-craft the whole bargain from scratch on all of these issues. skills of test the the wisest and most experienced statesman we had. couldybe if we thought we pull that off, that would be one story while we are doing the domestic stuff. >> china also holds over a trillion dollars of our treasury. >> but you see the problem. rebuttal to basically the kind of strategic approach that eric and i are counseling which is not so much ducting a fight with