tv Newsmakers with Arthur Brooks CSPAN June 4, 2017 5:58pm-6:33pm EDT
and washington correspondent paul singer discussed the week ahead in washington. author anthony clark talks about the taxpayers role in the operation of residential libraries. be sure to watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on monday morning. join the discussion. former fbi director james comey will testify thursday before the senate intelligence committee investigating russian activity during last year's election. c-span3 will have live coverage of the open part of that here in at 10:00 a.m. eastern. you can watch live online and at c-span.org, from this live using the free c-span radio app for apple and android devices. >> next, "newsmakers" with the president of the american enterprise institute, arthur brooks.
he's had that post since 2009. he's the author of 11 books. his latest is "the concern of heart." let me introduce our two reporters. i am pleased to have at the table marc fisher, senior editor of "the washington post." and the co-author, with michael kranish, of the book "trump revealed," a biography written in collaboration with more than two dozen "post" reporters. and susan page, "usa today" longtime bureau chief. marc, you are up first. marc: dr. brooks, donald trump has never been known for ideological consistency. he has at various times in his life called himself a liberal and a conservative. he changed party registrations six times before settling as a republican. is donald trump and his presidency, are they a boon to the conservative cause or a hindrance? dr. brooks: nobody knows. the truth of the matter is these populist uprisings in american politics don't happen that often.
we don't have a lot of data. it really depends on the reaction conservatives have. that republicans have. we know that populism will largely evaporate in the next few years, depending on what happens in the bottom 80% of the economy. if we see more even growth going forward, paradoxically, even if donald trump that the popularity of populism would evaporate. at which time, we would see the popularity of conventional republicanism, or what is left of the conservative movement, so we don't know. it depends on the aspirational leadership the republican start showing today. that is what will be left after populism goes away. susan: is donald trump a conservative? dr. brooks: that depends on what you call a conservative. most conservatives who have held that title, the buckley-ite conservatives would probably say that he isn't, but my guess is that donald trump would not be bothered by that. his point is that he is extremely practical, living to the exegesis of the time. he is trying to do the things he
things are right no matter what the ideology. marc: why are you solidly convinced that populism will go away? is it a purely cyclical phenomena? is it something that just inherently burned itself out? dr. brooks: there is some very interesting research on this. as a think tank president, there is a study that came up in the european economic review -- 800 elections over 120 years. what it says is when you have a financial crisis, not an ordinary recession, but it has highly uneven growth afterwards which we are seeing today, the , bottom 4/5 of the economy has had 0% income growth since the first day barack obama took office. it is terrible. that is when you see about a 30% increase in support for populist candidates and economies. when strong growth comes back, the support for populism received.
particularly in the united states. this is not a populous country. this is a country that does not hate people who come in from the outside to try to work hard. when there is envy, that is when you see an appeal to populism. it does not happen very often. it usually come in the past, has not lasted very long. susan i wonder what the impact : is with the rise of a tea party movement and the election of donald trump. even if there is greater prosperity in the future, what impact does this have on the country going forward? dr. brooks: that is a good question. a lot of it has to do with the republicans now. the seeds they sow for aspirational, pro-growth, pro-opportunity politics, but it also matters what happens with the democratic party. the democratic party -- i know
you two are writing about this a lot, but most americans don't realize how dysfunctional the liberal wing of politics is today. there is a weak bench of up and coming leaders. hillary clinton and bernie sanders. it is like the recreation committee at sun city arizona. it is supposed to be the youth movement. that does not bode well. and it is moving left, and it is getting more populist and left-wing. if that is the case, it does not bode well for the alternative to trumpism. we have to watch that as well. marc: along with the populism, we are going with a period of revolt against the elites and revolt against intellectuals. as you have look at what happens when such revolt happen across history, do societies come back from that in a healthy way? certainly if you look at russia and germany over the last
century, you have two different paths, what do you see for us? dr. brooks: we could talk about revolts against intellectuals and elites, and talk about cambodia. which is horrible your the country has literally never come back from getting rid of a quarter of its population, including everybody who had eyeglasses. that had nothing to do what we do in the united states. typically you find a little discomfort with the conceit of the anointed. i say this with appropriate humility. i am running a think tank and have a phd in public policy. who the under me if this were cambodia. i think it is healthy that we have some suspicion of those who have been anointed. the concept of scientific public administration, that came out of the anointed. it came out in the late 19th century and the beginning of the progressive movement, coined by woodrow wilson.
that did not lead, in my view, anywhere good. so when we try to treat society not as communities, or families, but as groups of people united together in their faith, when we treat it like a scientific experiment or in a newtonian way, that is an elite intellectualism that is worth rebelling against. that is what we see from time to time. i don't know what this one will do, so let me stick up a little it for the anti-elitism. it generally does not the two ghastly places in the united states. susan: conceit of the anointed is a terrific phrase. anointedkind of an kind of thing. susan one of the few people who : might rebel against the conceit of the anointed would be the president. he has had an anti-intellectual streak that is part of his
appeal in the election. if you are running a think tank, people who read, write treatise , do papers, not powerpoint presentations, are their ways you adjust to an administration with an anti-elite sentiment? dr. brooks: donald trump has not said anything overly hostile to the american enterprise institute, or think tanks, but he is just not as interested. i understand why. that is part of his appeal. it is part of the reason he was elected. he was going to do something unconventional. the real question is what can we , do to the helpful? the american enterprise institute was founded almost 80 years ago. 1938. the point was to get a freer, stronger country that would push power to the periphery of society. the point of the free enterprise lift up the to
people who were poor and do not have opportunity. that is why i am in the movement because poverty is what i care about the most. when i look at the despair that led to a trump victory, that is opportunity to deploy our ideas. any intellectuals -- we have to look at the cause that led to this and say, what is the opportunity to let the people in this country and truly make the country great again from the outside in? susan: is there anything that the american enterprise institute does differently now compared to the obama administration? i understand the relationship obama administration would have been different, but it was also a different group of people. is anything you have changed in the way you operate? dr. brooks: we have more people who are involved overtly in the administration. for example we lost scott gottlieb, at the fda.
another person becoming the chief economic advisor. one of our board members is betsy devos, the education secretary. that never would have happened under obama. we did things with the obama administration. we had good relationships with them as well, but the relationship will be different. we have a responsibility to look for cases no matter who is controlling the white house or congress to lift people up and make them better. we do not change the work we do, we just look for the opportunities that are on the table. that changes according to the political winds. in fact it has and one of the reasons -- one of the things we're doing is we have a new project called the human dignity project. the basis of that is looking out over the political landscape over the past couple of years. it is clear we have a despair-based political movement going on right now.
whether you are talking about the unbelievable popularity of bernie sanders or donald trump. when you look at cities and towns across the united states, and you see men, white, without a college education, 45-54, a 320% increase in drug overdose deaths. it is an epidemic. a 78% increase in suicide. that is an economy of despair. we are putting together entire despair.swer to we are putting together entire new programs. it is a social entrepreneurship. for places like a.e.i. to talk about how we work and deal with education? how do we deal with the opioid crisis in a way no think tank is never thought about? how do we deal with criminal justice reform that gets every oar in the water? 98% of people in prison will come out?
currently 70% of people who were imprisoned as far as we can tell are unemployed. what are we going to do about that? that's a big focus right now. it is what gets me up in the morning. marc: i'm glad you brought of the opioid crisis. everywhere that i went in the 2016 campaign, whether democratic or republican rallies, they wanted to talk about what they saw tearing the communities apart, the heroine and opioid use. the way it is ripping families and communities apart. there was tremendous frustration with all candidates that they might pay lip service as clinton and trump did during the campaign, but it has already vanished. i haven't heard anyone talking about this in recent months. why do politicians not engage on that issue?
dr. brooks: drug abuse is hard to deal with because it is not clear what to do. that is why we are putting policy together to give suggestions to policymakers. here are the things you can do to make it better. without that information, policymakers can ring their hands. they can go to the hospital sent -- and console the parents of the constituents, but it seems like there is little more that they can do. when you find more and more people addicted to opioids, and ordinarily it starts with legal opioids and its connected to the medicaid system where most people who are poor are getting opioids for pain prescriptions and getting them cheaply from medicaid. there are a lot of policy angles. but it is complicated. our job in this policy infrastructure is giving people solutions. and then they are going to talk about it. they are begging us. politicians say, tell us what we can do, and we say we will tell you what the medicaid prescriptions can do differently, how we should
be separating pain clinics from pharmacies. all of the policies and things we can do in communities. and how this connects to the education system, to workforce training, to opportunity and dignity and the sense that every human deserves to feel needed. if they don't, it is a knock on pathologies. once we get that together we can have real solutions. susan: it is the politics of despair that propelled donald trump into this unexpected election and his remarkable victory in november. how would you assess how he has responded to that now that he is in office? what grade would you give him? dr. brooks: it is hard for me to give him a grade because a lot has slowed down his agenda. you can give him a grade based on his intentions or results, but those are two different things. susan: give us a grade in those areas. dr. brooks: with his intentions,
some people like it and some hate it. he said he would pull out of a bunch of treaties. and he has been pulling away from a lot of international treaties because he said they were job killing and ceding sovereignty to others. again, beside the point whether all of us like it or dislike the agenda he is trying to follow , through. but it is unclear whether he can do all the things he thought he could do. which is what is getting slowed down. i think he is for filling his promises with respect to his intentions, but not with respect to his outcomes. his supporters would say that it is not his fault. susan: would you agree that it is not his fault? or do you think he has missed at -- missteps in ways that has squandered early opportunities to have actual results? dr. brooks: that is the case with every president who has ever been president of the united states. anybody who is a new executive squanders tons of opportunities because they think they can do more things than they can.
you think you can drive all over the place, but the truth is you can only drive between the rails on the freeway going south. that is what trump is certainly finding out, that is certainly what barack obama found a early in his presidency. there is nothing very surprising about the fact he is doing less than he said he would do and less than he thought he could do. the only real question is how much he learns. marc: are you saying that the opportunities he has squandered and his inability to move forward on his agenda is equivalent to what happened to barack obama in his first year, or is a different because donald trump had no political experience and want to to take on the white house as a ceo? dr. brooks: certainly that is the case. it is always a different situation for each president. obama came as a senator, and had a highly advanced -- experience team around him and advice from the clinton administration who
said do not try this, try this. nothe case of trump, he has staffed up to the extent he can have experienced around him to tell him the things he can do. different circumstances, but it is really important for us to realize that there but for the grace of god goes anyone. marc: let me go back to populism. you suggested that political parties are part of the solution here, beta program that appeals to the american people. do ideologies and parties matter world or american society where automation will take away far more jobs than outsourcing ever has? where we are heading into a period where the nature of work for many people is in doubt. dr. brooks: ideology is not important as someone who has been sleeping on his brother-in-law's couch and hasn't had a job for a long time. that is as it should be.
ideology is more important for the people in the ideas in this. ideology is a way that you express your values. i think political parties must have ideology. ideology should be the way that we try to instantiate the concept of human dignity. what i would love to see if the democratic party and republican parties duking it out into way -- to lift people into dignity better. republicans can do it more through the free enterprise system. i think if they are fighting on behalf of the people at the periphery of society, that is the example of ideology, or least the expression of ideology that can be really fruitful. then, people who are just trying to get from one end to the other, who don't have that much ideology, they can pick from the democratic menu. little d. that is what we need, not just parties with more ideology, but aspirational leaders. the problem with populism is
that it says there is a parade going down that street, i have to jump in front of it because i am a leader. that is not leadership, that his followership. we need people who want to stand up and say, do you see the better country? do you see the way we can lift people up who are at the margins of society? do this together with me. that is aspirational leadership. when that happens, you can get magic. susan: they for us to her through aspirational leaders, people we should be paying attention to. dr. brooks: here's the good news. in washington, we pay a lot of attention to washington, but washington matters less than we think. it is supposed to. the founders did not washington
to be the end all and end all. there is a focus on what is local. that is extreme important because then you can find a pipeline of leaders who are aspirational, who have good ideas at the state and local level. and there are tons of them. susan: tell me a couple. dr. brooks: i used to work with this guy, he got term limited out. the speaker of the house in florida. a guy named will weatherford. he is coming back here we should watch that name. he was the republican speaker of the house. i have never heard somebody -- i heard him speak to his conference of republican members of the florida house one day, and he was talking about poverty, talking about people in need and dignity, it did not matter what his party was. he was going to instantiate those views with conservative policies, but i thought that is a guy for the future. he will come back. there are governors doing a good job. i look at doug ducey in arizona,
and i never really likes him because he the democratically elected guy, but looking at his policies he is doing a lot of things on the money to help people in ways that express his particular political views. but on behalf of the people that everyone should be fighting for. there are two. there are 33 republican governors today. i have met a lot of them. utah, tennessee, many of the things in florida, texas. you say, let's get some of that in washington, d.c., because i like it and i think it is right. >> this is a conversation that could go for a while, but we only have five minutes left. marc: i would like to turn overseas and get a look at the role of international alliances that have defined policies since world war ii and which trump does not seem keen on. whether it is nato or the eu. these were designed not only to unite europe, but to keep
germany in check. that was the immediate goal after world war ii. are those goals outdated? is the president right that we should pull back from those alliances? dr. brooks: the president has a very good point when he talks about the fact that these alliances require balance, the -- they require people to participate in a way they hold up their end of the bargain. not just because fair is fair, but because strength requires all parties participate in alliances. look at nato. it is not just giving germany in check your nato is protecting the free world. it protects the concept of democratic capitalism, an unalloyed good in the world. that is what nato is all about. in check soviet aggression but is doing important today -- important work today too. the big threat to nato is the fact that the countries of nato have made agreements. they are not complying with
them. we should not trash nato, we should celebrate nato and say we should also a great it and put our money where our mouth is. the european countries are supposed be paying 2% towards defense. they are not living up to it so let's pop champagne corks about what an important alliance this is an put pressure on her allies to they will do their part. susan: before you were a best-selling author and the head of this historic think tank, you were a professional french horn player. i was a student oboist. marc: i played trumpet. >> i played around with the piano. susan: your experience with professional french foreign, other lessons from that they you apply to the work you have done as an intellectual and an author since then? dr. brooks: there are. there was a talk i'm doing these
days called " life lessons from the composers." it is behavioral science and how it relates to what was going on in the lives of the great composers when they were doing their work. i did that for 12 years, including in a symphony orchestra in spain. almost everything that i have learned, the things that i think, came from the wiring of the days of music. it is amazing. my favorite composer in music was bach. everybody has heard of bach. even people who don't like classical music have heard of bach. he is considered, by a lot of people, to be the greatest composer who ever lived. he said one time something interesting that affected me to this day. before he died he was asked why , do you write music? he wasn't even famous in his life. his answer was the aim and final end of all music as nothing less than the glorification of god and the refreshment of the soul. i thought, i want to be able to say that.
the point of work is to serve others. the purpose of work is creating a better life for more people. i actually left music. i went from the sublime to the dismal and became an economist. the reason is that i found that through studying the free enterprise system, and pushing opportunity in democratic capitalism to the four corners of the world, i could be more like bach. i can do something that glorifies god and refreshes other people. it serves other people. that is the most important thing to me. that is a little bit of bach. i'm no bach, but there is a little bit of that music in the work we get to do at aei. >> as we close, the twitter page solicited questions for you. there is a related one and we will close with this. if you had to choose between the green enterprise system and bach, which would you choose? dr. brooks: let's say the free enterprise system and bach.
it is a trick question. you can't choose between them, it turns out. in the modern world, had it not been for the free enterprise system -- i grew up in a lower middle-class family in seattle, i would never have heard bach had it not been for the classical music industry, for the free enterprise which instantiated philanthropy, which made it possible to support the seattle symphony, and the records that made it possible for me to buy and play as a kid. free enterprise capitalism made it possible for me so i can't choose. >> it feels like a conversation we should have around a dinner table a bottle of wine. thank you for the interesting conversation. dr. brooks: thank you so much. >> "newsmakers" is back after our conversation with the president of the american enterprise institute. arthur brooks. our questioners are susan page marc fisher of the
washington post. one thing that surprised me was giving donald trump something of a past by this in his point presidency. what did you think of his assessment of where the president is right now? you have spent so much time covering the russian investigation and so many other things. marc: i think he is hoping it will move in a direction that he will like and does not want to say thanks to further antagonize a president who is very susceptible to criticism and sensitive to criticism. i think it was clear that he saw this president as something of an anomaly, who does not listen to advice from think tanks, who does not care especially about policy, but really is a populist animal. i think we heard in his rather sharp denunciation of populism and implicit criticism of the president. >> help people understand the influence of place like aei can have within a republican
administration. well he heard this president is not a bullet point presentation kind of guy, there are aei people throughout the administration. susan: it can be influential with an administration that has a like-minded approach. while there are ways where president trump is not a classic conservative or a classic republican, he is more closely aligned with aei policies than the obama administration was. that is one reason that he gave president trump a little bit of benefit of the doubt in the early days of the administration. also, i think they hope to be influential as things go forward. as budgets get made, and as education policy is laid, i think that there are always some think takes it in of having real lines into the administration. in this case it might be more through vice president pence than president trump.
after the interview was over arthur brooks mentioned he had a , long-standing relationship with vice president pence. marc: these think tanks are having an impact, even if it is not at the top level of the white house. talking to people senior staff , at energy and state. they say that the trump transition teams and initial appointees are working from the playbooks, the policy handbooks that have been put together by places like aei and heritage. susan: although it is a dysfunctional administration in many ways, it limits influence of all the outsiders because there is so much turmoil inside. >> what about his critique of liberalism? particular the notable quote was the description of bernie sanders and hillary clinton as staff members at sun city, and that it should be the purview of the young and vibrant wing of the party. marc: i think that many democrats would agree with that critique.
the see their own party has not produced a bench. some people blame president obama for that, for not having developed the young and democrats that would create energy of the state level we have seen on the republicans. it is a cost for concern for democrats of all ages because most of the prominent figures of the party are senior citizens. >> if you are looking for aspirational leadership to address poverty, you would have a hard time identifying leaders in either party that would fit that definition. paul ryan might be one. the speaker of the house has traditionally cared about some of these policies, but this has not been an aspirational time in washington. this is a time of pitched political battle. when we asked him to name the leaders we should be watching, he named a former official in florida, and the governor of arizona. that is far from d.c.
>> how much time do these people spent thinking of people on the periphery of society? marc: not enough. i think that is clear. i don't think we would have donald trump as president if more politicians at both end of the spectrum have been paying attention to the people expressing their desperation in this election. that group of voters has been ratcheting up their cries for help for 30 years now. and whether it was their votes for donald trump, barack obama, or ross perot, or ronald reagan. a clear and steady and consistent message from a lot of middle-class americans that the economy was not working for them in a way that it had for previous generations. >> in the campaign, you heard very little about people on the periphery. you heard a lot about the middle class. i think the partisanship of our time, the focus on raising money distracts and a finds a lot of
our political leaders. when you talk to them in a forum ofe this, you get a sense how any political leaders care about these issues, but i think they find it difficult to engage with them in a serious way. >> when congress comes back from the break, tax reform and health care on the agenda. what does the debate look like? susan: i think the health care debate is going nowhere. after seven years of promising to repeal the affordable care act, republicans find it difficult because they have to replace it. health care is hard, as president trump discovered. the big tax overhaul has become very difficult. their ambitions are being produced to a tax cut. this has been a hard time to deliver on policies. to actually get things past. we have gone 130 days or so without a legislative victory, is because this is a tough town to get things done in. marc: this is where arthur
brooks' point about ideology comes into play. there is an allergy to ideology , at least in the president and a lot of his supporters. the fact is if you don't have the ideas that will create innovative policy you will not , get anywhere. you will easily fall into the paralysis we have seen in washington for 16 years. >> thank you for your time, please come back. >> thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] ♪ >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. it is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> former fbi director james comey will testify thursday before the senate intelligence
committee investigating russian activities during the last year's election. c-span3 will have live coverage for the open part of the hearings at 10:00 a.m. eastern. you can watch live online at c-span.org, or listen live using the c-span radio app for apple and android devices. prime minister theresa may is calling for tougher measures after three menus to vehicle and nine stegall seven people last night in london. they were killed. at least 12 people were arrested in connection with the attack. the prime minister said the elections would go on as scheduled. here is her statement concerning last night's attack. >> there comes the prime minister.