tv Washington Ideas Forum Part 2 CSPAN September 30, 2017 4:09am-5:20am EDT
steven mnuchin discussing the administration's tax reform a panel, followed by discussion with white house correspondents in the 2016 presidential campaign and the first few months of the trump presidency. this is cohosted by "atlantic magazine" and the aspen institute. is just over an hour. [applause] >> we are going to get to tax reform, because that is a very big issue set in motion by the president yesterday, but i want to talk about a couple issues also related to the treasury department, because they're an important part of what you doing with the country is trying to achieve, specifically with north korea. david trias was just on the stage a few moments ago, saying he and others are discouraged by the recent trade numbers, that china is still trading with north korea. new sanctions were applied last week. what is your level of confidence those sanctions will change, materially, the chinese behavior? and can you clarify, because there has been different
reporting, what exactly chinese banks are and are not doing going forward with north korea? >> sure. first of all, thank you for bringing it up. i think it's an important topic. i did have the opportunity to go with the president to the u.n. general assembly last week. it really was an incredible experience, sitting in the general assembly and listening to his speech. he also signed last week in new york an executive order, which gives the treasury department the most extensive powers on sanctions that we have ever had. these are very important powers. we will be careful in using them, but we think they will have a very big impact.
i have to emphasize that it's a going forward basis. >> have they been exercised yet? >> they haven't. we did have sanctions this week that was additional sanctions that were allowed under the executive order, but as it relates to financial institutions, as i have told my counterparts, it will be on a going forward basis. obviously we are concerned about historical activity. we are monitoring the go forward activity, and we are having ongoing discussions. >> do you think this will have a big impact? the central bank of china is or is not going forward doing business with north korea? >> again, i had very direct conversations with the governor. 's don't want to comment on all the specifics -- >> will they or won't they? >> again, they came out and they made the representation as to what they would do and what they won't do. we expect they will follow through. >> are you discouraged, as
general petraeus says he was, by the trade numbers? >> i'm not discouraged by anything. i think this president has taken a very different position. i think for too long this has been an issue that has continued. i think the president made very clear that the activities with north korea are unacceptable. threats of hydrogen bombs being tested of the pacific are completely unacceptable, and our objective is to denuclearize the peninsula. >> that want to ask you before we get to tax reform about something you said in the springtime about your role in relation to the u.s. economy and you were asked a question about artificial intelligence and automation. he said "it is not even on my radar screen." someone used to work for, goldman sachs, put out a research paper describing it as the apex technology of the 21st century american economy,
meeting it is something that is here now. did you or have you reevaluated that sense of the importance of either automation or artificial intelligence in terms of where the u.s. economy is going and how policy ought to be shaped to deal with it? >> i he to accuse the fake news of doing things, but this is one of the times when my quote was misrepresented. they didn't say the entire context. what i said was, "technology is having a very big impact in the workforce." i specifically think that robotics and -- i commented at the time -- robotics are an important part of the workforce, and i think it's a positive thing. jobs thatng over humans need to do. what i was referring to is artificial intelligence, and i specifically referenced r2-d2, for the star wars fans out there. i said, it is going to be a long time before pure artificial
intelligence takes over. that was not in that wasn't on my radar screen. that wasn't referencing whether it was robotics, tunnels of automated cars -- technology is here and having a very big impact. >> and how does what the president introduced yesterday, what congressional republicans have embraced largely though not completely, relevant to technology and preparing the american economy for the 21st century challenges? >> i think what yesterday was is thathat's important we make american business competitive. that right now, independent of technology -- and we have been a leader in technology for long periods of time -- but independent of that, we have one of the highest business tax rates in the world. we tax our worldwide income, which virtually no one else does. we have a concept of deferral,
if you leave the money you don't pay, there is trillions of dollars offshore. what the president talked about yesterday is he is focused on economic growth. to get economic growth we need to have business tax reform. middle income tax cuts, simplification. said that the optimistic appraisals of the impact of your tax reform plan could bring domestic growth gdp to 6%. are you that optimistic? >> that is optimistic. >> is it built into your own framework for paying for it? >> what we will score it to is to .9% gdp over 10 years, which is scaling up to 3%. we think that is very, very doable. we think we can do it higher than that. but if we get to that 3%, 2.9% over 10 years, that's true trillion dollars in additional revenue, that's additional economic activity, and not only
will a tax plan pay for itself but it will pay down debt. >> and that pay for itself comes from the projected economic growth. even when you look at paid fors in the details, according to the committee first possible -- >> i don't think those numbers are right. what we are trying to achieve is 1.5 trillion static. describe versus baseline. there are 500 billion versus baseline and policy, to the extent we have a policy and are rolling it over, i think it's the right thing to look at. that is a trillion dollars versus policy, and if we get those $2 trillion, that means we go a trillion dollars positive and paying down the debt. >> as you approach this audience and the country generally on this issue, your position is, don't worry about the deficit, there will be no deficit implications of this tax reform plan is signed into law. >> i would say it is slightly differently.
you should worry about the deficit. we have gone from 10 trillion to 20 trillion of debt. we need to create economic growth, and we think our projections are very reasonable. 2.9% is a very reasonable number to project this to. >> mr. secretary, the statutory corporate tax rate is 35%, but there are many studies that say the effective average corporate tax rate is about 24%. cutting it to 20%, how much of the difference would that really make? and is it worth giving up that revenue for a 4% differential? >> if that's your argument is exactly why we need tax reform, and why we need tax cuts, because people spend so much time trying to figure out how to get around, whether it is special interest or other tax things, to get around paying a very high tax rate and they
don't pay it anyways. this is about broadening the tax base and making a fairer. [applause] >> thank you. when you talk about race, 12%, 25% -- you still don't have income brackets assigned to those rates. why not? >> again, we have done a lot of work on this. i think the point we are trying to make is we spent a lot of time on this. we can't have six people design the entire tax code. i think we have done a great job, the house and senate. we have everybody on the same page. we talked about brackets. but as opposed to releasing them, we will work with the committees. the committees have the right to have input. they are the ones who read the bills. but let me comment on the 12% rate, because when you raise the standard deduction, effectively and10% rate disappears,
people who are paying 10% are going to pay zero. is about creating middle income tax relief and simplification. >> gary cole was on cnbc this morning, a top economic adviser in the white house. he says the president is open to a forced tax rate, maybe 39%, maybe just under 39.5%. is that true? >> we did put in the release that we have designed the race. we have said the committees will contemplate to the extent we do that it would be if we need additional money for the middle class reforms and there are people that have different views on whether we should or shouldn't do that but this is not about a tax cut for the rich and i can tell you in the high tax states -- i have had the pleasure of living in new york and california -- my taxes are going up in any event, not down.
onuctions are worth over 5% the high tax states. >> can you say to this audience in the country that when this proposal reaches the president's desk, what it must have is a winributional -- if you this argument the estate tax will be eliminated and the distributional tables will reveal that the top 1% will not get a tax cut. >> it has been the president cost objective from the beginning and this has been dubbed the madrid general. -- the minuti roll. we are talking about income taxes and if we change it that has a different distribution. but it is the president's objective that income taxes will not be a cut on the wealthy and different states have different impacts on this but that is our objective. >> let's talk about the different states. you mentioned california and new
york, one of several higher taxed states. one of the acronyms that get kids around -- that gets kicked proposal to eliminate federal tax deductions for what any earner pays in state and local taxes. 52 congressional republicans representing districts and those districts paid higher than the average state and local tax by about $3800 per year. peter king said he can't vote for any tax reform proposal that eliminates state and local taxes. if you use a large percentage of that, have you pass this? >> first of all, don't you love that politicians, we have our own language with acronyms? american, ifverage you start talking about salt, we will be thinking about dinner. to yes, that is now referred
as state and local taxes. this doesn't help me, this hurts me. i think longer-term, getting the central government out of subsidizing states is the right ring to do. it's just not fair. the federal government should not be in the business of subsidizing states. this is something that started in the house plan and that we have agreed with. obviously for people in california and in new york and new jersey and connecticut and other places we understand the impact. that is why as we look at the rates, even at 35, they are not getting a tax rate. this is something we will work with congress on. >> is it negotiable? >> i would say that this is a exercise to get tax reform done. 's theesident talk
one issue is tax reform and we have a plan that has a lot of support from congress and we look forward to working with the committees. >> to get tax reform you need a reconciliation mechanism which means you have to pass a budget resolution. the freedom caucus members would like to hundred billion dollars in entitlement cuts as part of that -- can you live with it? >> as he said, we do need a budget. i believe if we get a tax plan that people want to support in congress we will get a budget that goes along with that. one will lead to the other, and it will go through together but obviously they are connected. >> can i get you to be more specific on your orientation to this idea about 60 entitlements as part of that equation? >> i have a lot of conversations
with them and with the senate object -- this is a congressional issue and we will work with them as budgets are developed in both the house and the senate. as a conceptual idea, are you in favor of getting rid of the debt ceiling as a matter of law and as a matter of practice? i asked the president about this, and he was open to the idea. >> as you know, there are certain things i come to with a lot of experience and some things i didn't -- the debts dealing i had heard a lot about that until you actually go through the debt ceiling it's a little bit different. i was operating the government like a piggy bank, sitting every day with my team working on our cash numbers and watching what came in and out and we were operating with too little cash. the first thing is i was very happy that the debt ceiling got
raised but the first thing i did that day was raisin next or $20 billion for same day settlement to increase cash. my view is that congress has every right to appropriate money and they get to do's white house and it will stop the wind we agreed to spend the money we need to agree to be able to pay for it. get rid of it or whether we approve a debt ceiling simultaneous with spending, in one way or another we need to give out how this express system because at the end of the day republicans and the democrats agree -- we are not going to not pay our government debt. it is absolutely inconceivable. issue and a live there are those in the administration that i have talked to who wonder could any future president's up some of the leverage that comes with a debt owing growth?
others have said it is leverage you can find in other ways and it creates on mrs. kerry ripples of anxiety, not just in the domestic economy but in the international appraisal of the united states. >> this is something we want to figure out on a longer-term basis and my number one issue was making sure the debts dealing raise. i am happy that it not only got raised but that my special powers. refilled, the treasury superpowers, which takes us into next year. what i would say for now as i am comfortable we can fund the government through january. i don't have enough visibility beyond that. but i am comfortable that we are not going to be in a situation on december 8 where we default on the government if we don't agree. i am hopeful that as part of the december 8 negotiations -- and it is critical, the president could have done a longer deal
but wanted to make sure we had military funding, and that's an important part of the negotiation. i am hopeful that the debt ceiling will be extended. >> back to your appraisal of future projections on gdp are pretty% -- we much there now so what is so exciting and dynamic about taxes or with we are going to end up at 2.9%? isn't the idea to get higher? >> i never said we would end up at 3%. what i said is we are very comfortable with that projection , that we can get to higher than 3% sustained gdp growth. i think we are using very conservative numbers and as you said, there's a lot of expectation already in the economy since the president has been elected that it's going to get tax reform, we will get
more, and we have had numbers that look very, very good, quicker than we expected, that people are reacting to the anticipation of all this economic change. >> let me throw this -- retroactive to the first of this year? yes or no? >> we would like to but we will see. >> subject to debate, revenue neutral. clear, on a be static basis it won't be revenue neutral but -- >> help the audience understand the difference between static and dynamic. >> sure. static means there is no change in activity. people don't change their let's just take the corporate rate -- either what we are coming back to -- there's no
question, companies are spent too much time trying to figure out how to keep money offshore. we think this will have a major impact ringing back trillions of dollars. the money will be invested here combined with indoor miss capital investment. it's going to create enormous jobs and enormous revenues. by lowering the tax rate we can get a lot more in revenue. people spend a lot more time to gearing out how to get around taxes when they are 35% versus 20%. >> and assuming changes in behavior, more economic growth you aore -- let me ask couple other issues that have cropped up. there have been issues raised air, ther use of president said yesterday he was unhappy with the. has either hear the chief of staff issued a directive to be
more specific with cabinet secretary's about what is or is and what heble wants cabinet secretaries to do when it comes to travel by air? >> i can only comment on the situation as it relates to me, i can't comment on other secretaries because i am not involved but there have been no different directives as it relates to me. -- i veryve an audit comfortable that we followed all the proper procedures to stop i have never had the government pay for any of my personal travel in the limited number of times we have used it for either security issues when i had to have secure communications -- i am on the national security council and sanctions aren't important part of the job. and there have been times we couldn't get to places when we needed to be there. i understandve and
why taxpayers are concerned about these issues. i am very comfortable and i look forward to the report reviewing our travel. >> what do you think is the future of paper currency in general? how much do you think it will be a part of the way americans iansact their business -- carry very little cash with me so i am curious about that, and alexander hamilton, andrew tubman, alexander -- >> alexander hamilton was the first treasury secretary -- let me comment first on currency. i do think the long-term trends are going to be to less physical think you know that we are very happy with a number of electronic returns that we have now. as it relates to government
payments, the number of payments we make to social security holders and others through ach electronically as opposed to physical checks, i think the trend toward how we can move away from paper checks in hard currency, i inc. there's a lot of decisions is in the economy i think i am surprised as others are and how there is still a big demand for physical cash. when you look at the number and even though we have many more electronic transactions, they cash in circulation hasn't declined at the rates we may have asked active. and i can comment that i am -- for theinvolved last two days we has been very involved in figuring out how we can get major amounts of cash to puerto rico.
we have made to giant cast shipments and in times like this we want to make sure that people have cash and the economy continues to function. cash for the first seeable future is not going away. >>. tubman or andrew jackson? >> what i have said before is that the number one reason we look to make currency changes is anduse of counterfeiting there are three or four different parts, some of which are public and some of which aren't -- that is what i am focused on at the moment, any these changes are very far out in the future. i am focused for the moment on how to protect the currency and the technology changes to it. >> give it up for treasury secretary steven mnuchin. [applause]
you have the number two new york times bestseller, which takes us from the campaign -- [applause] >> i like this smattering of applause. [laughter] read,an unbelievable good spoiler alert, trump wins. [laughter] from being inefly the hallwayen and outside morning joe in new hampshire. >> it's interesting to share that nickname with marco rubio back in juneun on of 2015 not many faults were taking donald trump as a candidate seriously. covered in controversy,
and nbc dropped his universe from the network. macy's was dropping him, univision was dropping him, nbc said we need to have a reporter covering the campaign and i was literally just standing around the newsroom so they us i did to me. >> and it was going to take six weeks. >> because he would never release his financial information and if he did he wouldn't make it through the first debate. everybody was very wrong about donald trump's prospects and we got very lucky because we started taking it seriously much earlier than anybody else to and i would be following donald trump from campaign rally to campaign rally for months on end where i was the most familiar face to him in a crowd. it would be me and local news reporters were he didn't know anyone so he would walk up to me over and over and we end up
having longer conversations. i ever shared the same air as donald trump, the first rally i ever went to was june 30, 2015. he was just honing his greatest campaign hits, mexico ascending wall, and build the the media is terrible. and then he calls me out from the crowd, you haven't looked up at me once. our thinking, how does he know my name? how does he know i was here? i yelled back at him, i'm tweeting what you're saying. you like that and he moved on. [laughter] essentially the stand-in for the media. he always knew that if he saw the press and you can't see
anybody standing by the cameras. he knew that i would be there because i was at every rally and had been there from the beginning stop when he wanted to rail against the press and wanted to make it personal he knew he could call me out and that i would become the face of it. he also didn't tend to like my reporting because i was often time fact checking him or saying rings that he did in court there. and then there was the moment going into the morning joe set -- donald trump -- he doesn't know the rules are boundaries of politics. he doesn't know what's appropriate and what's inappropriate -- i think that has become pretty clear stop in this instance, i just got off the set and talked about his change of tone.
he seemed to like it because he walked in and kissed me on the cheek. inappropriate thing to do among colleagues or friends are in a social situations but when it is somebody who is running to sit in the oval office doing it to a reporter covering his campaign they can cross the line and it can make me at the very least seem like my reporting is not going to be fair and i remember thinking to myself -- nobody is going to take me seriously. hoping the cameras didn't catch it. i was asking if the cameras caught it, they didn't, but i heard donald trump on stage and on their with me get an joe saying she was so great i had to kiss her. of how he dide
-- iidacy don't want to say seriously because that's not the right word. he didn't understand the boundaries of political life in the boundaries between a candidate and a reporter and what the role of a free press is. i venture to say he still has a hard time under ending that. news, i think it is probably safe to say that donald trump has not kissed you again. >> joe biden has. [applause] [laughter] >> that's another story for another day. >> perhaps another presidential run. well,knows you quite maybe from the saturday night live party because he watches so much tv. and he rails
against you but then he embraces --, furtherntext goes back and i think it's notable that a lot of people who cover him have started with tabloids in new york city. this -- iking about may be wrong but prior to covering him as a presidential candidate my last two interactions were not returning his phone calls when he was pushing for an exit ramp on the west side of the highway for his development program. the former mayor used to be described as unavoidable for comment. [laughter] >> donald trump has taken that national.
he is a compulsive communicator and everything is transactional. ascribesgrudges, he moral characteristics to positive and negative press. if you write something positive about him it is immediately transformed into a moral virtue. if you write something negative it is transformed into a negative moral virtue. it's like you are negotiating over a car. he wants to sell you on an idea and more than anything else, people misunderstand him in a fundamental way. he is at heart not a real estate guy, not a politician -- he is a salesman. is what willy loman would have been if he had been successful.
he has that same characteristic of not only wanting to sell you the product, but have three -- she sellsn himself. >> eisai trump has the shoeshine, but not the smile. i am struck by how little trump actually smiles. there is not really a joyous moment for him. thank you for seamlessly filling the shoes for the review -- [applause] >> great job. this morning you have the piece in "the washington post which takes us on air force one. he's returning from huntsville, alabama. now we know that his candidate lost. it seems like trump's hostile takeover of the republican party
doesn't mean he can drag a republican incumbent across the finish line, nor does he have full control of this race now that general steve bannon is a there and his candidate won. he is isolated, angry, dare i say low energy. >> is an interesting moment for the trump presidency. 250 days in to his term and he is struggling to navigate washington and the party he has dominated for two years now, the republican party. ands searching for wins what is so intriguing is that he's not driven by ideology or the same values that have often shaped the republican party since ronald reagan, he is searching for victory and they have been elusive. he has been able to confirm a supreme court justice but that major legislative win is out of his grasp.
you saw him trying with the alabama raise where he endorsed lucas strange, to get the establishment to work with him, to try and make some progress on stalled objectives. but the president whose power comes from the base has a base that identifies with him viscerally on his grievances with the culture in the establishment but they don't necessarily take orders from him. ands a leader in spirit they don't seem to be breaking theyfrom the president but aren't following him point by point. this has real consequences for president trump because it tells us that he may still have the base with him in 2018 if he theses to run again but base is not going to be helpful on every turn in trying to get legislation that congress. if he wants these wins -- if you
tally them up, his executive ,rders, executive authority even those actions have been challenged in the courts. moment weuate this are seeing a president continuing to express confidence on fox news and twitter that he is getting so much done, but alabama was a wake-up call. he still hasn't figured out formula. he needs to get a couple should he was. >> just yesterday trump was treating about all these judgments. he most of any president, counts the renaming of the center. women's entrepreneur week. it goes on and on, turning back rules. deal," the the salesman that glenn speaks of, he can make a deal but he hasn't made any.
that is hisn as calling card? card, hes his calling has been selling himself as a dealmaker for decades and he is a self promoter more than he is anything else. she creates the razzle-dazzle and he convinces people that he is too big, too good, too much of a genius to fail and people buy into it. he has perpetuated back and extended it with his run on "the apprentice." don't discount that. people on the campaign trail, supporters, would point to that and say he will know who to hire. you laugh, but it's serious. base -- he doesn't necessarily have control of his days, but at the same time i think is ace feels like they know what he really wants even
when he is not at liberty to say it. his base new that judge roy moore was more in line with what donald trump would have wanted, it was mitch mcconnell in the establishment republicans that were forcing him to endorse the incumbent strange. he had the ability to convince fulks that they can believe whatever they wanted to believe about donald trump, he would issue, anddes of an it's because he didn't stand for one thing in particular. that is part of his appeal to people. this is a guy that can make whatever deals he is going to make, work with democrats, work with republicans, find a way to convince independents. he is just going to get things done. he doesn't have a track record of doing it. i don't know when he is going to be able to pull something over the line, when he will assign legislation. the big but if i don't know if
his base will hold them accountable, or what they will do. this is what we would hear when you would talk to folks -- it's everybody else's full but donald trump's. it's congress is full, the swamp won't let him, the media is not on his side, he could do it but you guys want to stop it because he wants to help us and you just want to help your special interest. a great anecdote that exemplifies all of this from the campaign trail. i talked to a man and said, why do you like donald trump? he said, because i'm going to build the wall. i said, what if he doesn't build the wall? it's ok, i trust his judgment. >> on the shuttle bus back to the parking lot, i wouldn't be recognized, so all the people would just talking about what happened, and they had a completely forgiving tone about
anything that trump did and often said something like, well, he will do what i would do. i'm not always going to get it right. completely forgiven. failing new york times, the post, covering the mueller investigation, which must make it harder for you to cover a fairly paranoid white house. they are not organized enough to be operationally paranoid. [laughter] actually -- most the time they are more caps off at each other than they are at moller. mueller. there is an overstated hostility toward the press. it was palpable early on when spicer was going through his first set of gyrations before we
have him cleaning himself up. it really was walking into that welding, a very hostile environment. but it has hunkered down into the usual trench warfare. between, -- itp is on its surface amicable stop the issue, the main problem is the truth issue. they say things routinely that and thee or contorted nutritional value of your interaction with anyone on the be of thee tend to junk variety. [laughter] this isquickly, something that everyone in the white house wants trump to get off. i took methadone
[laughter] >> facebook is methadone for twitter. i will say street out, my bosses are probably pretty please with my decision. i just found -- maggie haber met andi are working on a book i had a realization, i took twitter off my phone about a month ago and was deliberating and i was trying to organize my day, and around 7:00 in the morning i was making my schedule and deciding who owes going to talk to and i looked up and it was 9:00. on twitter,ff someone had said something nasty, and it had totally hijacked my day and i realized that the balance had gotten out of whack.
andcided to get rid of it there are some downsides, particularly tweeting out the good work of my colleague -- in general i feel like i have control over my day. >> so your funds are twitching from time to time. still waiting for trump to pivot? [laughter] >> are any of us still waiting? \ is it possible or have we realized that the trump of the campaign, the trump of the early white house, this is trump. pivot question, most people are in the same space, which is that he does pivot from time to time, but he is so unreliable.
he is not ever going to pivot in a certain direction. we see it with a bipartisan deal he cuddled the debt ceiling, on the budget. there was a week of stories about the president moving in a more bipartisan direction, but then a few weeks later, it's the nfl, it's racially charged controversies about patriotism and so many other controversial es, and any inroads he made the democrats are washed away from another pivot. it's a complicated time for president trump, because he doesn't seem to know where he wants to go. he loves the adulation that comes with white partisanship. the news conference of bipartisanship. but he doesn't have a core conviction that will keep them moving in that direction, which is why i have doubts every time i hear president trump is moving in a new direction. but he pokes yes,
a stick at a tender spot, like race relations. it's not going to cut clean for. even the owners weren't with him. attention?ntion good is there any strategy behind this?his opponents say this is strategic, he wants the distraction, it doesn't bother him when the nfl takes up four days and we aren't paying attention to health care or other things. the tax bill, maybe it still detracts from that. even today there is still a lot going on with the nfl. >> i think back to the day after the access hollywood tape came out. i spoke to president trump iphone, then candidate trump, and he said his advisers were telling him to quit the race, apologize profusely.
he said none of that, i trust my instincts, i'm going to follow my own advice, i have been through different things in life personally, i have been through bankruptcies. he believes that he alone can decide what is best for him, and his advisers can only go so far in counseling him. that is why he continues to make these decisions, to have incendiary positions, because he believes that is the way he connects with his base. >> lightning round. we have seconds left. does trump get impeached? does to get reelected? where do we go from here? >> all of the above. i don't know. he could get impeached. he could quit. he could not run again. the could run again and get elected. >> and none of it would surprise you. >> i don't think he could predict. he is full of options. [laughter] >> ditto. >> retweeted.
and the thing i would say, if mike pence somehow becomes president, not saying he will, he was involved in a lot of the early decision makings with little flynn. i think, in that scenario, it's highly unlikely. but i think pence becomes an object of significant scrutiny. >> and bob, bring us home. >> the biggest asterisk in american politics is robert mueller. we can speculate all we want, but we really do not know. we just know it is very serious. if you look at the reporting, this is very serious, possible obstruction of justice, possible financial crimes. until we really know more, we won't know the answer. >> so watch "washington week," by the book, don't tweet glen. thank you. [applause]
♪ >> please welcome the coinventor of crisper and a core member of the broad institute of m.i.t. and harvard, and atlantic senior editor rob sanderson. >> ♪ >> all right. now for something completely different. sung, unlike most advances in biotechnology, crisper has a real level of cultural penetration, where i think, and the audience can correct me if i'm wrong, people have a good idea that this is a revolutionary gene editing technology. but can you tell me how exactly it works? >> sure. it's a pleasure to be here.
crisper is a gene in the system. you can think of it as a word processor for the genome. the genome encodes the blueprints for life. cells,dna inside the and it is very long. if the genome was a document in microsoft word, trying to edit it would be pretty simple. you would open up the search-and-replace function, type in what you are trying to locate, and word will automatically replace the cursor where you want to edit, and you can't backspace and type in the right word. but the genome is not microsoft word. a genome is not in microsoft word. works is youystem can give it rna and this program is like sequenced -- it
the search streams you are typing into the search box. it takes this rna and goes into our dna, our genome and searches along the dna until it finds a place where the rna and dna match each other. happens, a scissors for cutting dna will make a cut where the rna matches the dna. when this happens, this dna cut is the equivalent of a cursor in microsoft world -- word, and the cell will react and edit the dna sequence. you can give it a new piece of dna that you want to incorporate into the genome and the cell well by itself incorporate that in. you can using that, edit a genome. [applause] >> wow. i find that mind blowing every
time i hear about it. and i know that you are not a historian of science, but i wonder if you could give us some sense, if we look at the history of biotechnology, what are the big breakthroughs over time and how does crispr compared to them? >> it is a long history. we have been manipulating genetic information of living organisms for thousands of years . it began with agriculture where we began to cross breed and generate new crops with improved traits. more yield or drought resistance, you name it. that is really sort of antiquity type of genetic engineering. what we do now really began with biology, then of discovery of enzymes that are proteins that allow scientists to be able to splice dna together.
that underscored the revolution in molecular biology, launched major companies that have ushered in this new way of like killer therapeutics. -- molecular therapeutics. the next has to do with the sequencing of the human genome. we can read every single letter in our genome. the human genome has 3 billion different letters and we can read these. after we were able to read the genome, we now want to be able to modify the genome because as you sequence it for many individuals, we are learning genetic differences that may underscore disease or may underscore improvements in health, reducing risk for disease. how do we do that? that is where the gene editing technology takes place. crispr is not the first technology but one of the easiest that makes it cheaper
and much faster to do it. you can think of the older technology as -- we watch tv and the tv has to be tuned into a specific tv station to receive the signal. the older technology, you had to build a new tv for each station. tv you can tune to new stations. he do not have to build a brand-new tv to watch her favorite program. >> one of the things that this is we have been identifying you as the inventor of crispr. bacteria invented crispr and we are borrowing it and using it for our own ends. when you look at the intricate machinery of bacteria, are there other tricks like this that we might be able to steal? >> nature is probably the greatest inventor of all times,
so we certainly did not invent crispr, the bacteria main system. can evolve so it can counteract against viruses or dna that enter these bacterial cells. it is a powerful system. we took this natural system and made it so we can edit the genome of human cells or plant cells. is only one of many different systems and usually when we talk about crispr, people are referring to crispr cast nine. of years ago we collaborated with scientists at the national institute of health and we found another one. cap 13 too use crispr diagnose and detect bacterial infections or cancer dna with
much higher levels of sensitivity and with very fast speed, and very expensive. >> you said something interesting. you said nature is the best inventor of all time. crispr really represents a sort of radical expansion of nature's own creativity because you bring the human mind to bear to it. whenever i have had occasion to talk to the layperson about crispr the first part -- the first thing they want to know about is medicine so what is this enabling in the field of medicine? >> crispr is an exciting and broadly applicable tool. in medicine, one of the most exciting potential is the ability to use it to treat genetic disease. as we sequence the human genome we are identifying specific mutations that may underscore disease.
today, there are over 6000 diseases identified that have underlying mutations, like sickle cell disease or cystic fibrosis or epilepsy, and many other diseases. we may think that if we can go cellshe disease affecting and be able to modify the dna in the cells so we can remove the specific cause of the mutation, then we can have a way to recover or rescue the disease patients.n these that is what the gene editing system has the promise to do. it is really exciting because it is the way to get at the root cause of disease, not just masking the symptoms but getting rid of the underlying cause, and that potentially leads to cures for many genetic diseases. [applause] >> what about diagnostics?
i have been reading that crispr could make it so that if there were an ebola outbreak somewhere in africa, you could make very cheap strips that could take saliva that could identify ebola in someone system immediately on the spot. are we going to see dice -- diagnostics like that? >> i think so and hope so. i think crispr-based diagnostics, based on crispr cap 13 is one of the 30 year things you will see coming out as an application in the real world. crispr cap 13 is a protein that you can easily programmed to be as a detective of different kind of viruses or bacteria. design a different rna that would recognize the genome of those organisms. is it going to detect the ebola
virus or zika virus, the same thing. it is cheap to produce and very rapid and stable. piece ofut this on a filter paper and create something similar to a pregnancy know where the outbreak is happening or the patient can diagnose it home rather than having to go into the hospital, all of the ways the disease is being spread. i think containment is an issue and this is a really exciting possibility. >> i know this is also making science much easier. we recently ran a story about one of our staffers where the scientists had used crispr cast nine to go in and manipulate the genes that paints butterfly wings. they were able to play with the patterns and colors and they would show up in the next generation of butterflies almost immediately, and i was struck by
this quote by a scientist where he said "we had dreamed about fictiona science possibility that someone two generations would be able to do and now this is like an undergraduate project." are you getting thank you notes from scientists? where else are you seeing research being made much easier by these techniques? >> the biggest impact crispr is having on the world now is accelerating science, accelerating research. the genome is large, 3 billion letters, so it is very complicated. or a very small fraction of the genome actually encodes proteins. the rest of it is called non-coding sequence or dark matter. some of the underlying aspects may lie in that dark matter.
it is making it possible for scientists to get information we do not know. crispr cas9 now withcrispr cas9 r, they can crisp .ake the change in weeks that new information knowledge will help us build new medicine and do many other useful things in the world. scientists used embryo.o edit a human this has been tried in science with some success but with wide -- in china with some success but with widespread errors. this does not mean that the era of designer babies is upon us, but is that a future possibility?
can he foresee, and in what amount of time, a world where people are able to select pre-birth traits like intelligence? >> designer baby makes great headlines but it is something we are pretty far away from what we can do now for a couple of reasons. one, we do not really know the genome all that well. for the vast number of things you would want to do, we do not know how to do it. we do not know how to make a baby with blue eyes or how to increase iq by 20 points. it will take decades if not longer to understand that. the second thing which is more important, even if we knew something about a genome, it is so complicated that there are complemented interactions between these two traits. one simple example, there are a small percentage of individuals who carry a mutation in the gene
called ecr5 and they are immune to hiv virus infection. you may think this is a great thing to introduce into the population to eradicate aids. it turns out, just because it reduces the infected ability of hiv virus in humans, it increases the susceptibility for west nile virus. we do not have a west nile virus epidemic now that you can imagine if we prophylactically introduced this, we would end up with a problem. that is to say, the genome is so complicated we do not want to be playing god, and it would have to be thoughtful and careful. [applause] can put off any sort of ethical fears we might have about designer babies for some time.
nonetheless, are there applications of this technology that give you pause ethnically? is a popular technology and one of the applications scientists are exploring something called a gene drive. it is a way of using crispr so you can rapidly spread a genetic trait in the population. if you have thought about using to beene drive system able to eradicate mosquitoes, you introduce a trait that makes them sterile so they will spread that trait and eventually they will not breed and the species will go extinct. wet is something i think need to be thoughtful and careful about until we deploy something like that. it,ainly, before we deploy there are ways to contain the spread of the gene drive, that is very important so you have to be thoughtful to do that.
that being said, species are going extinct all the time. it is more something that we really need to be thoughtful as we move the technology forward. >> you will note here in washington, being thoughtful about eradicating mosquitoes is not in the plot lines. [laughter] i want to ask you about a subject close to my heart. for our magazine, i wrote about the quest to bring back the willie mammoth using crispr to edit the genome of asian elephants. church, whogeorge is spearheading this project, is a friend and colleague of yours. i would hoping whether you would tell us if there is a baby mammoth in a tank somewhere in boston. you deliver that news here. >> sorry i have to disappoint you. i got started into molecular biology after watching "jurassic
park." that being said, there is so much biology. while it is at a rudimentary stage. we have made great progress already but there is still so much more we do not understand. for something like resurrecting an extinct animal, it will not be just crispr. many other technologies have to be developed, biological knowledge has to be understood and gained the forward develop that so i think we need to be a little more patient about that. boo. >> thank you be -- thank you for being here. it was fascinating. ♪ >> c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. this morning, cofounder and cochair of the march for racial justice talks about the state of
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art levine reports on the mental health industry. mr. levine is interviewed by dr. jeffrey lieberman, director of the new york state psychiatric institute, and author. currentlyhealth is offered and continues to be portrayed as an alloy good, and more people need to receive more treatment regardless of the quality. the furious debate over obama care has speared the truth, that even having insurance is not a good, safe tear. what he is saying is that funding needs to be sufficient to provide services to people, but it has to be good quality care, which most of it is not. you as well as anyone would
know there have been discussions --r the decades in various and they keep offering new message to mather. there is no culture of enforcement, and that is why i have argued that what we are facing in this country is what amounts to an epidemic of behavioral health malpractice, even if it is not acknowledged as such within the legal system. is because the reality of malpractice attorneys as they do not take the case unless someone has died. afterwords on c-span's book tv. education secretary betsy devos talked about education policy at the kennedy school of government at harvard university. several students in the audience