tv Tonight From Washington CSPAN February 22, 2011 8:00pm-10:59pm EST
other distinguished guests. we have several students who are recipients of the scholarship. they are scattered. these goals underrepresented today are as in new -- are sm, -- some of these kids shout of a long way. we are happy to have him -- them. thank you to coming to the event today. if you read into these events, you should have found some information. take a moment to read it. because of your support, and we have been able to promote, and nurture, and find some ideas that have been fundamental to the prosperity of america. the ira and other ideas like
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debate. we would be delighted if you consider sponsoring a student. it is a very important function. all you have to do is ask any of the staff. we will give the more affirmation about that. it is an important initiative. biwkes abd simpson are cochairs. he helped secure the first balanced budget in several decades. that was a great thing. senator simpson search in
wyoming for more than two decades. he was a forceful voice for common sense and public policy. his wife and is with us. are moderate. moderator is the presence of the ncpa, john goodman. he often appears on cable and network news. his columns appear in several national news outlets. if you could please join the staff in welcoming senator alan bowles.and ersjubkine >> even though it is snowing outside, i am happy to give you that warm welcome.
in the time we have been here, i have not noticed a single cross were between the two of you. why are you so different from everyone else in washington? >> when you are associated with someone, you learn about friendship. when we started this, this was a suicide mission. it still is. erskine said, what are you doing? i said, by then -- biden called. the first call i received was from bob dole.
it took us three months to establish trust and our commission. it is stressed. that is the kind of the role in politics. it is very tarnished right now in washington. once we decided we are going, maybe they will sign it. a kind of irritated the rest of them. that is where it was. we have 14 reasons to do it. >> i always feel like we are the sonny and cher show. you can figure out which one i am.
someone knew i would lose to elizabeth dole. it was pretty early on. this was not a good sign. i always believed to get something done have to build trust and had me show respect. i trust al simpson to the bottom of my soul. i respect him like nobody else. the success we have is to the table to him. he has the ability.
they can bring people together to find common sense solutions. >> i'm going to do something i do not normally do. i will open this up and ask you to ask a few questions. what i would like to do is bring everybody in the audience up to speed on where we are. what were the marching orders that you got president obama when you said that this commission? >> this is the numbers guy. he only answers questions. i think the president knew who
he was kidding when he brought us. he knew we were. they will give you the support needs. it is not sustainable. he understands that we face the most predictable economic crisis in history. you all come forward with the recommendation. we will get behind them. that was good enough for me once i found that he would be my cochair. >> i said if we do this, i do not what rahm emanuel running me off a cliff.
i was convinced that the health care bill has to be on the table. nothing can be off the table. he said that was fair enough. we had a meeting. he said he can go through everything including the new bill. we said that was four starters. >> a lot of people are here in the audience today. they will be listening to this. they will say, how serious is this problem? what would happen if we did not do anything? >> that is a great answer. anyone can understand it. if you borrow 40 cents and did not know where you are going,
you must be this dubious -- the stupidest country on earth. it does that answer your question? 40 cents of every dollar we spend we barrault. it is not from your friendly uncle charlie. if anybody can not read the tea leaves, in the last few weeks it one of 200 trillion. it was a disaster. i think these deficits are like a cancer. i think he'll destroy this country from with in. i will just give you one simple example. today we spend 100 some of the revenues we take into this country on the mandatory
spending items. every single dollar that we spend on the military and fighting these wars, on infrastructure and research, every single dollar is bought. -- borrowers. taft is borrowed from foreign countries. if we do not change it, this country will be a second-rate palace before you know it. >> the other day here you read -- harry reid was on television. he said there is no problem with social security. it is fully funded. on the outside, charlie rangel who at that time was head of the ways and means committee i-- ths
is before the health care bill. he said there is no problem with medicare. what do you say to that? like i would say to sober up. [applause] he also says we are not doing horrible things to social security to balance the budget of the united states on the backs of social security recipients. what we did, we take care of the lowest 20% in society by giving them 125% of poverty level. anybody over 80 we get a 5% bump. we turn to a new cost of living index. we raise the retirement age to 68 by the year 2015.
the average life expectancy is 77. >> my wife is here. going to work out is thinking about it. we say nobody stole your trust fund. it has a surplus of $2.50 trillion. that is true. that consisted beautiful chunks of paper. that young person of putting in today what i will get tomorrow. there is no lock box. but he put in yesterday, i get out. in maine -- in may, and not enough came in to get out.
here is some of our beautiful paper. we need a little cash. when you walk up to the window, you get 22% less than your chance. that does not seem to start toomey. that is where we are. do nothing and that is what will happen. that is eight irrefutable figure of the system. >> it is cash-today. in they are exhausting all the funds in the social security trust time -- trust fund by 2037. by law, and they will have to reduce benefits by 22%. that is fact. >> those say they paid into
social secured in medicare, you owe it to me. what do we say that's how old are you? they say 79 or 80. i am 79. i put in when i was 15. he only paid a fee earned over $3,000. no 10 earned over $3,000. then i went to the army. i paid in social security. you do not now. i did. i practiced law for 20 years. it will take 1215 hundred. then it went to six or eight. in 1983, if you retired for all activity you got everything back
in the first four years of the benefit. plus 6% interest. it is got to be a different now. if the u.n. gives me that that i put it in at the beginning and i got it all out with it 14 years higher than it was, somebody said you are going to privatize social security. that is not our package at all. they did not go for it. you cannot believe the aarp. we went to them and ask them if they were patriots are just marketers? [laughter] they did not like that really.
cannot deliver on. we have made problems on social security. the social security trust fund is going to run out the money into thousand 37. benefits will have to be cut by 22%. i hate over promising more than anything in the world. i tell my wife out a home at 8:00 and i get home at 730. i am a hero. if i tell her 7:00 and i get home at 730, i am a dog. we have a choice in this country. we can under promise and over deliver or we can continue to overpromise the american people and disappoint them a day in and day out. i think the american people get it. >> there is such a difference between the schedule benefit and the payable benefits. that is what he is saying. by law, but they say this is 22%
less,the law says you will only pay cable benefit. that is written in. you cannot escape that one. that is the law. >> we are into wars. -- in two wars. do not need every penny we are spending? >> i say no because we put forward a plan that does come at national defence. -- that does cut national defence. when asked what is our greatest national security problem, he will say the deficit and the
debt that accumulate. why? it is no different than having a cash flow problem in any of your businesses. if you are spending their cash on these entitlement programs, there will be no money left to spend it on the military or on education or infrastructure or a high value added research. that is what the military guys are afraid of. we spend today about $600 billion a year on in the military budget. we spent about $160 billion on top of that on these two wars. we spend about $760 billion a year on national defense. we spend more than the next 14 countries combined on national defense. you will find that one of the principles we have in our budget is be want this country to be
safe and secure, but we do not believe that america can afford [inaudible] we have taken a hard look at the defense budget. we have taken it down by about $100 billion per year for the next seven or eight years in order to reduce the deficit. did the good thing you will find our proposal is that we told you where we will take every one of those dollars from. a lot of it is painful. a lot of it you never not do. >> the extraordinary thing was and the stern. -- andy stern. dr. colbern was on our commission.
they worked together on now to reduce the defense budget. conrad has been trying to get the statistics. how many contractors at the the have? i do not know. the of something between 250,000 medium contractors. no one will miss them. they do not even know where they are. they are scattered all over the world. we are saying this is an absurd. when we started, there are some politically correct people of both parties. it is real. the first time in our history we have had a war with no tax to support debt, including the revolution, and now we have to
o wars and no budget to support them specifically. >> how many military bases to many overseas? >> we need about 1000 bases in europe and asia. it is hard to believe. we recommend closing about 1/3 of those. we as the military how many contractors we had appeared they said it does rain 1,000,010 million.
the asked him what he did when he ran on a money, and he said we ran out of money and it is time to start thinking. we've got to start thinking. we cannot be all things to all people. >> the other night, the president delivered his state of the union address. i do not remember hearing the words. >> our names are not associated with anything positive. [laughter] he mentioned the deficit commission. he mentioned the commission. he made a statement that he would freeze the minimal amount.
he said this is minutes ago. he will go i think in incremental steps to something there. the budget came out. the house budget will be something. this is a good note of optimism and how we can invent our people in the system. >> i want to take it back if i can. i think we got ahead of ourselves a little bit.
should they have been talking about them in the context of long-term fiscal responsibility? this problem we have is not one making grow out of. this is not a problem that we can tax our way out dead. raising taxes is not to a problem to solve it. if you wanted to control this by raising taxes, you cannot do it. you have to raise the highest marginal rate to 7% and the
corporate rate to 80%. you'd have to raise the dividend to 50%. he wants to start their own business in this country that has that kind this tax structure? and nobody. we do not believe you can cut our way out. we want to do all cuts. we will not touch medicare. we will not touch defense. they cut it by 75%.
this is a plan that was reasonable and based on six principles. we did not want to do anything that disrupted a very fragile economic recovery. we do not getl 2013. i think you will see the house republicans get there in 2012. we did not want to do anything to disrupt a fragile economic recovery. we wanted to protect the truly disadvantaged. that is why we did the things in social security that al mentioned. we wanted to make sure the country was safe ask secure. that does not mean we feel you can spend what the next 14 largest countries combined do. we do think that you have to invest in education and infrastructure and high value research.
we actually paid for it in our budget. we believe that is important. i spent the last six years as president of the university of north carolina. i have seen the type of people that are trying to go and get the tools they need to compete successfully globally today. standards in the u.s. are not up to the global standards. in singapore, 44% of the eighth graders scored the most advanced level of math and science. less than 2% of our kids do and 34% of our kids are even prsht in reading, science, math and writing. what happens to the eighth graders in the u.s. today here in texas? 58 of them graduate from high school, 38 go to college, 28 come back from the second year and 18 graduate. you think we will compete with the guys from china with those results? i don't think so.
we do have to make those investments but in a fiscaly responsible manner. we wanted to reform the tax code. that is critical. simplify the code. if it was up to us, we would eliminate the tax expenditures and use the money to bring down rates to 23% being the maximum rate and take the corporate rate to 26%. i think this would be a great place to start and own a business. and fifth, we do want to cut. we want to cut spending whether it is in the defense budget, non-defense budget, tax code or entitlement. that is how we got to $4 trillion worth of republicans. >> the president talked about making those investments.
i wish we heard him say they have to be made in the context of long-term fiscal responsibility. if you make cuts in one area and reduce spending you have to reduce spending significantly in lots of other areas. we live in a world of limited resources. that means choices. sorry for the long answer. >> as we sit here today. >> that was spectacular, actually. i was impressed. i haven't heard the full version. >> we worked hard at that together. >> as we sit here today, give me the odds. what are the odds that something will be done on your package of benefits. >> here are the odds. there are four u.s. senators on this commission that were
sitting in the u.s. senate today. they were speaking yesterday taking three hours of debate to discuss this plan. one is dick durbin, a democrat from illinois who is the assistant majority leader of the senate, a job i did for 10 years under bob dole. he voted for this plan. to the terrible consterination of many democrats. he said best thing to happen to him that day is his son called him and said thanks, dad. that is what this is all about. it is not about gray hairs. it is about young people. your children. your grandchildren. all of the rest of it is babble. you have warner, democrat from virginia. wonderful young man. you have the other two guys
working the system on this measure. about two weeks ago 47 u.s. senators met at 8:30 in the morning to talk about just this and how to get a lot of it into legislative language and move it. that, to me, is an inspiration. harry reid, whatever he said, you know very well he would not have described to allow durbin to vote for this package as his assistant. if dole came to me and said al, that is a nice piece of bait. if you go for that it reflects on me. harry hasn't been instructionist to us in our personal dealings. over in the house you have the three arch conservatives, wonderful young men. >> absolutely. >> third in the power structure in republicans, davis, heads of
ways and means and the other head of budget. they did not vote for this package. they would have given us the 14 of the 18. i said in ayodele cat way surely you are not scared of grover anymore. grover believes if you put a penny more of tax you should be strung up by your heels and flogged. i told that to grover. grover testified for us. he said my hero was ronald regan. i said so was mine. ronald regan raised taxes 11 times. he said no. i didn't like that. i said i don't care whether you liked it or not. he said i was disappointed. he did it to make the country run. they said we are not frightened of grover. we fear if you get rid of all
of these tax expenditures, one big one is employer deduction of health care premiums for employees. they fear the employers will flee to obama care and bloat that. that is a valid fear. at least they are not cowered by the pressures of the vote. they are very fiscaly conservative. they are going to do something. that will be a bombshell. we have supporters out in the world. you have to have compromises doesn't mean you are a wimp. you can compromise an issue without compromising yourself and feel good about yourself. here are these guys. they are going to put it together. we have the the vice president.
very helpful to us. bill daley, he knows how to make the trains run. and you have sterling. our executive director for 10 months is now joe biden's chief of staff. that all sounds like inside baseball. let me tell you, gang, that is the way the system works. it is a government of men and women who know the law and try to help people understand it. >> i am pretty encouraged myself. getting 47 or 48 senators to meet at 8:30 in the morning on a day like this and you are not raising money. you must have something good going. you know this was a bipartisan group. it is led by the big six.
in the house, paul ryan is as smart and quick and fast with the numbers as anybody i ever worked with in the public or private sector. he told al and me we can expect to see 85% of the recommendations on the spending side we have made end up in his budget. i am encouraged there. dave camp, another terrific guy. really fell in love with what we call the zero option, again, broadening the base of a tax code. simplifying the code. eliminating this $1.1 trillion worth of tax expenditures, many of which you in this room like. by doing so we took 92% of the
proceeds down to reduce tax rates and we got the tax rates down to 8%, up to $70,000. 14% up to $210,000 and 23% is the maximum tax rate anybody would pay. we got the corporate rate to 26%. he really likes that. we use the other $100 billion a year to reduce the deficit. they would rather see it all go to reduce rates. we want to see some of it go to reduce deficits. >> if you want to ask a question raise your hand so those guys can see you. let's go back to health care for a moment. while you are deliberating, and while the biggest problem have you is dealing with entitlement programs, congress passes a health care reform bill that says if health insurance costs
more than 9.5% of your income you don't have to pay it. er or the government or someone else pays it. even though for society as a whole we are paying twice that much. is this not another entitlement put on you while you are trying to deal with the old entitlements. >> i thank you for what you do in that area. this is not my first time here. i think we did this 10 years ago. i think it is wonderful what you do. we couldn't even wrap our arms around health care. this is a monster. for me, i just take two things. i think it is wonderful to take care of people with preexisting conditions. i think that is important. if you take a person than begin to take care of that preexisting condition with no expense to at this time age of the person at the age of three and might live a fruitful life.
that is a tremendous expenditure. the insurance is so complex and bizarre. it is disneyland and the wizard of oz. we are go to save this and that. you mean you have an illness or accident or something and you just pay for it forever and all limits come off. come on. how can you do that? this is the one gorilla that will eat everything in the cage. i really mean it. we were puzzled. we did hit them for $440 billion or whatever it was and it could not exceed one% g.d.p. per year. i don't know any way possible how this will work and i live
in the real world of cody, wyoming where a beautiful 91-year-old lady, sharp as a tack had a heart attack. she is on medicaid. she is supported by her dear family. in 10 days she had every test known to man or woman. air flight. i think the air flight. her last 10 days of life cost $350,000. that is the way that it is ladies and gentlemen as walter cronkite would say. the huge glut of the money goes to people over 70, 80, 90. >> you can't imagine how raw the scab is on health care in washington. so approaching this subject was
the toughest one that we had. just personally i can tell you my mama said i am really proud of you. thank you so much. but don't mess with my medicare. medicare and medicaid consume about 6% of g.d.p., not including the $267 billion you need for the doc fix or the $76 billion we call for to repeal the class act. what we tried to do is to approach this from both a short-term and long-term viewpoint. as al said we took $433 billion out of medicare and medicaid principally in the short-term. we did cut those programs.
and we hope that would reduce the rate of growth in health care down to g.d.p. plus one. but we also said if it does not, and my best guess is that it won't, we will have to take more drastic steps putting in a global cap of g.d.p. plus one on all federal health care costs. you will have to enforce it with things like raising the medicare retirement age, block granting medicaid to the states to give them more flexibility. you will have to look at a premium support plan like paul ryan has recommended. which is basically a defined contribution plan as opposed to a defined benefit plan. the democrats will want you to all pay our plan and a single
plan. you will have to take a drastic step or health care will consume the entire budget before you know it. >> i would make one more comment. if you keep the medicare fees down here and everybody else's fees are down there. if they do find them it won't be the same hospital everybody cells going to. >> you are doing god's work. i tell you, this was just one sentence. you will have to cut doctors and have more co-pay from patients, probably affluence testing, hospitals that keep one set of books instead of two or three to see how much they can get into their reserves. that is what you do. try that one. merry christmas. >> real malpractice reform.
>> you have to talk about that type of reform. >> if we don't get unemployment down to 5% isn't that go to blow a whole in your whole plans? >> when you talk about unemployment, you have to talk about economic growth. you know, our budget is based on x amount of economic growth in the future. your costs will go up and your revenue go down and your deficit will be wider. for sure. >> i realize you have to stay respectful of the president. he said do your thing and whatever you decide on, i will back you.
obviously you did your job. i haven't heard you say when we got finished the president stepped up and backed us. what private dialogue has their been between the two of you on one hand and the president on the other hand about what happened to my backing. what happened to the advocacy you promised you would give in support of our firsts. >> yeah. i think that is a fair question. i would hope you saw more in the state of the union. he did touch on it and talk about the need for tax reform. he did talk about some spending reduction. i think that you will see this as a process. i think you will see more cuts. the budget that will come out
on monday. i think you will see more negotiation as the process goes forward. and i think when this debt ceiling is going to be breeched in april, i think you will see the two sides come together and you will see more of where people are willing to go. this is a process. and i think from the president's viewpoint my best guess is what he wants to see is both parties in both houses jump off a bridge at the same time he does. every one of the recommendations we made are controversial when looked at by themselves. that is why al and i are in the witness protection program now. >> just today he is having lunch at the white house this
is the first time many have been in the white house. i saw it happen with other presidents. reagan loved to have people at the white house. did not matter who they were. he loved it. that was reagan. that was because of the expanse of the man. but these are small things. people say isn't that a bunch of goofy symbolism. it isn't. it is extraordinary that you get schumer sitting next to mccain or somebody. all during the state of the union. you saw the standing up and cheering like little kids at a kindergarten party. cheering on one side. other side sitting all sullen. the american people are disgusted by that.
something is happening. the debt limit, in my mind, will be it. ber nankey said he hoped the republicans would not vote against the debt limit just to get spending cuts. but there are lots of democrats doing the same thing, including conrad. that is where the hair and the eyeballs lay on the floor when that comes up. >> having negotiated a balanced budget in 1997, i can tell you it is a process. we will not go through that overnight. >> let me just mention another thing. it is a shame we are in america now, where you mention that joe
biden is helping us. somebody will go oh, god. he is terrible. get over that. get over that. this system can't work with that type of hostility. it is disgusting. i see progress on so many fronts on a person-to-person basis. here is one for you. do not throw your dinner roll. bill clinton is very helpful to us in this process. very helpful. put it in your notebook. >> very good. >> solvant americans owe you guys a great debt of thanks for your hard and popular work. thank you very much. i read your plan pretty carefully and i understand why they are back loaded. serve scared to death of this
thin recovery we have. there are some that think it is more smoke and mirrors than anything. the census said that 11% of american homes were vacant. this matches up with a shadow inventory of r.e.o. owned by banks, 7 million houses. we have 8 million american families over 90 days delnkt and entering foreclosure at 5%. 14% of home mortgages are delinquent in america. so, this is a fragile situation and a chance of a double dip are going up. you are proposing plans that move-in changes gradually. yet the facts on the ground are that we are on thin ice. >> ok. >> are you guys working on
fannie mae and freddie mac, getting our government out of the housing finance business? >> that would be a good move. >> you know that is what the other commission was dealing with. but they crumpled in a partisan chaos, really. that last commission that reported. too bad. fannie mae, i was on the floor of the senate. how can these guys be on the public stock exchange? because if they go broke it won't be the shareholders that go broke, it will be the treasure of the united states. this is stupid. they said well, that will never happen. merry christmas. but we can't fight stupidity. lot of people thought they would get two or three homes and live it up. it is a shame.
greed is what made america great. i mean that in the sense of the people who earned all of the tons of money back in the rockefellers and all of the things. all of them. at least when they gathered the bucks they decided to do something with it. they built a library in every county in wyoming. they built this or they did this. now a days we have people in the higher echelon that take care of themselves first. and that just irritates the american people more than you can ever know when they read that the guys that got the money gave the bonuses to a bunch of jerks who tell people if it weren't for us you would really be broke. that is arrogance. it is out there. people are fed up with it. they are tired of it. that is not good. not good at all. >> short question, short answer. go ahead.
what do you think of the fair tax and if it is a good idea is there any chance it would be passed? >> i babbled last. you can go. >> we had some people come to us and talk about the fair tax, some talked about the flat tax. we wanted to keep some progress itchity in the tax code. we thought that was the right thing to do. we had three break points. we also had a proposal to cap revenue at 21% of g.d.p. i think you had one of your writers say the most it ought to ever be is 23% of g.d.p. we tried to keep the amount of money the treasury was taking in to a manageable level and since we wanted to balance the budget that means you have to keep spending at that level. so, our proposal, we felt, was
fairer than any other one we looked at. it was progressive and it really did reduce rates. we thought it was the right way to go. >> i think the thing that surprised of us of this $1 trillion of the $100 billion of tax expenditures, they were put in there and you don't need to touch them. just let them roll. and we found that 2%, basically 2% of the american public use them. 400 top income earners in the united states pay an average of 16% income tax. buffet was right when he said i pay less tax than my secretary. we were stunned to learn these things about where do these things go. average guy has never heard of any of them, expect the home mortgage interest deduction, child care and so on.
i won't name things like harry potter, the name that will not be mentioned in the energy industry. i am from cody, wyoming, the heart of the greatest fields in the country. elk basin, oregon basin. let me tell you, there are things in there that are not really needed anymore. and they cost $1 trillion per year. parking for employees. where the hell did that come from. you wouldn't believe what we found. if you get rid of every one of them, including, but give the little guy the break on the home industry. 12.5% unrefundable tax credit does help the little guy. not $1 million in interest for two homes. we say $500,000 for one home. the one you live in.
now you are taking on the national association of realtors. we are across the street from our office. our office has no sign and we lived in a cave. we had two employees. and a budget of $500,000 for the year. and they came over and laughed. boy, you really got one here. you will never get to first base. you are going to get to second base. we never promised anything but moving the ball five yards down the field. we moved it a hell of a lot more than five yards. >> last question, one sentence answer. what is the biggest problem with democrats? >> spending. what the biggest problems with democrats was. spending.
most democrats want to spend money for the entitlement programs, spend money for non-discretionary spending. they are afraid to cut defense. spending is the biggest problem i will have with the democrats. >> what is the biggest problem with republicans? >> defense. they think that if we do anything with defense, it will destroy it all. that is not true. that is simply not true. >> thank you. [applause] >> next, remarks by a vice- president joe biden. next, the supreme court and the constitution. later, scott walker on the state budget. after that, libyan leader small- market duffy -- libyan leader moammar gadhafi.
>> tomorrow morning assistant labor secretary jane notes on jobs and the economy. tz on that, dr. gary wilke the current health care law and the budget debate. later in the day, the role that economics plays in the political unrest in the middle east. we will hear from the governor a tunisian central bank. the carnegie endowment for international peace posts this event. live coverage is at 3:30 p.m. eastern. >> next, vice-president joe biden talks about his senate career, but partisanship in congress and the president's budget. he was invited by senate
minority leader mitch mcconnell. [applause] >> thank you everyone. welcome to the mcconnell center and to our impressive guest. this year marks the center's 20th anniversary and we're delighted to begin the celebration with our very first visit from the vice president of the united states. america got a close-up view of today's guests through the two thousand eight presidential campaign and they got a sense of his good for humor, his mastery of the issues, and his lifelong love affair with words, especially his own. [laughter] and they got a sense of why it is almost impossible not like
joe biden. anybody who has ever studied the career of joe biden or sat across the negotiating tool from him knows that there's a lot more to america's 47th vice- president than a winning personality you do not win a senate seat against a popular incumbent a digit 29 and hold for 26 years with charm. -- at age 39 and hold it for 26 years with term. joe biden has always given it his all. he set the tone early. the new castle county counsel, little not afraid of ia hard work. he had to juggle his work at the law form he had -- law firm he had just founded and raising his family.
he earned a little extra income as a lifeguard. [laughter] he also should do is not afraid of a challenge. he threw his hat in the ring for an uphill battle for the senate in 1972. it was a biden family affair. his sister was the campaign manager. his brother was the finest year. his older brother was the volunteer coordinator. and his mother was in charge of coordinating dozens of caffeine -- campaign coffees. joe was only 29. many voters mistakenly thought that his dad was the candidate. he won anyway and voters would send him back to the senate six times after that appeared in a distinguished 36 year career, he established as -- the substance of as a leader in some of the most important issues of the day. he was a leading voice on
criminal-justice and the courts as they top democrat and, he earned the nation's respect in his role as -- in current policy. on most is in the senate, we would not agree on as much as the weather. the from our list is in the senate, i always remember be impressed by the junior senator from delaware. it was not until later that i learned the source of his determination. as a child, he suffered from a debilitating stop -- debilitating stutter. usc's for it in school. he was determined to overcome. with the help and support for mothers and his own hard work, he did just that. later in life, he would recall how he used to stand in front of a mirror at night as a child in recent speeches and poetry trying to overcome his handicap. to this day, when he is asked
about the most significant moment of his life, he does not want to the day he won his first senate race. he does not say it was the day he became vice president. he says it was the day he overcame that's better. despite all you want to, he recalls the early trial as a blessing. even if i could, he said, would not wish to with the darkest days of the stutter. the impediment ended up being a godsend for me. curing it strengthen me. and i hope it made me better person. and the very things it taught me turned up -- turned out to be indelible lesson for my life as well as my chosen career. and it has been a truly remarkable career. from the new castle county council to the u.s. senate to the white house, joe biden, jr. has forced a uniquely american story and it is far from over. now that he has moved to the
other end of pennsylvania avenue, i am happy to say that our relationship is still strong as evidenced by our work on the bipartisan tax bill that preserve lower income-tax rates for everyone who pays taxes. it was partly because of that worked in new york times recently referred to the vice uber-liaison an ove with the senate. i still call him joe. i am proud to introduce to you, my friend, the distinguished vice-president of the united states joe biden. [applause] >> thank you very much. it is an honor to be here today.
thank you for that introduction. i was told, i do not know if it is true, but this is one of the larger gatherings at the center here. i do not know if that is true, but i know that, if it is true, the reason why. you want to know whether or not a republican and a democrat really like one another. [laughter] i am here to tell you that we do. this is a beautiful, beautiful center. although my staff is relieved because i told them this was taking place outside on the 50 yard line. they are delighted is inside. [laughter] this is not just educating people about our history and our constitution, but engaging in important questions about how to inform our present. mitch and i have worked together a long time.
we worked together on the judiciary committee when mitch first into the senate. we got to know one another. there are many good things i can say about it, but one that i cannot say about any other leader, democrat or republican, who might serve after being elected to that -- whom i served after being elected to that body considered times, mitch knows how to count better than anyone i have ever known. [laughter] you think i am joking. this is not a joke. when mitch says, joe, i have 41 votes or i have 59 votes, it is the end of the discussion. [laughter] and you know that is true. he has never once been wrong in what he has told me. [applause] a lot of the newer members in the white house, younger members to come in to the white house, with the president and to our
campaign, are very, very bright young women and men. but they do not know the senate like kind of the senate. and they do not know mitch like i know which. and it -- like i know mitch. and it has been an education. [laughter] ladies and gentlemen, every state in the country should have a facility as beautiful as this. but then again, not every state has a mitch mcconnell presenting it [laughter] -- representing it. [laughter] the rest of us tried to figure out how to get a high school to name a jim natomas. -- a gym after is. -- to name a gym after us. [laughter]
if you want an example of ability, comesion down to this center. don, i cannot see you. how are you, buddy? i have known don for years. he has come to each of our caucuses and he would record a history minute. he would come up with a unique aspect it came up with the senate. i think it is the greatest institution that man has ever created. i definitely mean that. i was elected to the united states senate for the seventh time in november 2009 and vice- president at the time. i had to make a choice. for everybody else, it was easy,
but i did not like leaving the senate. don stood up at the democratic cost us and come in an attempt to make me feel good, made me feel very, very old. [laughter] don stood up and said that he wanted to point out to my colleagues in the democratic caucus, only 13 people in the entire history of the united states have ever served longer than me. [laughter] at first i was proud, but then i thought, oh my god, i cannot be that old. it is not possible. [laughter] but, don, it is reduce see you here. i am extremely proud having served in the senate. i am extremely proud. they kidney in the white house. but i am very proud -- they are still my colleagues in the senate. i may be the vice-president, but it is still in my blood. i cannot think of two better
people than don and mitch to tell you all about the united states senate as an institution. that is what you will be discussing today. look, folks, at the outset, i want to say a few words about the situation in egypt. a country of this the most dramatic changes we have seen in the middle east in generations. obviously, today is a historic day for the people of egypt. and the president will speak to this issue within an hour on national television. so i do not want to get ahead of him. that is not a good thing to do. [laughter] but all kidding aside, this is a pivotal moment in history. it is a pivotal moment not only in the middle east history, but in history, i would argue. we have said through the beginning of this administration that the future of egypt will be
determined by the egyptian people. with the united states has said and what we have stood for is a set of core principles. the first is that violence and peacefulntimidation against protesters is thoroughly unacceptable. secondly, the universal right of the egyptian people must be respected and their aspirations must be met. thirdly, the transition that is taking place must be an irreversible change and a negotiated path toward democracy. i would add one last point. i think mitch would agree. even in this contentious political climate, on this issue, the united states has largely spoken with one voice. democrats and republicans alike,
speaking with the same voice. this unity has been important and it will be even more important in these delicate and and fitful days ahead. i will not speak more about this today. i had planned to speak more about it, but it is much more appropriate that we all wait and the president will deliver his statement on this in about an hour. but what is the stake -- but what is at stake in egypt is not only about egypt alone. it will not just touch egypt alone. you may remember that all this began when a fruit vendor in tunisia, fed up with the indignity of a corrupt government and a stagnant economy, literally set himself on fire. in doing so, he ignited the passions of millions and millions of people throughout that region.
word spread across national boundaries and rumors emerged, led by people no older than the students in this room, using the same social media tools that many of the students in this room used, a powerful example of our increasingly inter-connected world. it is a vivid demonstration of the transformative times in which we live, times that many of you will have the opportunity to literally shape. few generations ever have the opportunity just to bend history just a little bit. few ever have that opportunity. this generation and we do. as we begin the second decade of this young century, so much is in flux. the shape of our economy at home and around the world, the power centers of the world, the
outcome of armed conflicts and the battle of ideas between modernity and traditionalism -- it is raging as i speak. it reminds me of a line by the poet william butler yeats. "it is true -- it is true what mitch said. i stuttered badly. i had an uncle named ed finn again he was a genuine intellectual. he was loved william butler yeats. my colleagues in the democratic caucus always give me because i always quote irish poets. they think a good because i am myers. that is not true. i do it because they're the best poets. [laughter] one of the volumes that sat on the bureau that i shared with my
ankle was yates. there is a great poem he wrote called easter sunday 1960. it is about the first rising in ireland in 1960. there is a line in that home that describes his ireland at the moment, but it better describes the world today than it did his ireland in 1950. he said "all is changed, changed utterly. the terrible beauty has been born." ladies and gentlemen, all has changed in the last 15 years internationally and all continues to change. the question is what will be born of it? quite frankly, the good and bad news is that it depends on new. it depends on us, back to that cheeping moment in history.
it depends on our ability to adequately understand and engage the truth of our time. but that requires us to dispel some of the myths of our time. what are the myths of our time? in my view, one myth that is prevalent today throughout the intellectual class as well as ordinary working men and women is that our political system is broken, that it is dysfunctional, and that it is incapable of making progress. then there is the myth that america has fallen behind our competitors and will not be able to compete with the major economic forces of the 21st century. already, there is a pole in a national journal and others that shows that the mayor -- the measure of americans today believe that china has already overtaken the united states of america, that other economies are stronger than ours, and that
our best days are behind us. a third myth is that we will be mired in war for generations, that we will simply have to adjust to it. and the biggest myth of all in my view is that those other myths are inevitable, that we do not have the power to change them. but i am here to tell you today, as a kid at 29 years old, i was young and idealistic. but mitch could tell you that i am more optimistic today than i was when i was 29 years old entering the senate from a working-class family. so much is in flux. rarely, rarely, rarely will people have an opportunity to begin to change the dynamics
when so much is in flux. in our generation, mitch, we are growing up. but our idea to change the basic structure of the world and the superpowers was beyond our comprehension. it was not possible. it was not possible. but i am absolutely confident that these myths that i referenced will not become the reality of the world that we live in and that we have the ability to shape our destiny. we are not passengers of history. we are drivers. we are drivers of history. i would like to take these myths one by one. i apologize if this is more like a seminar or a lecture than it is a speech. but people say that our politics is dysfunctional. early in my career, after i lost my wife and daughter, mike mansfield took a special interest in me and i reported to
him once a week, going to his office, which is where your offices now, i believe. no, not true, that is where carries offices. i realized -- that is where harries offices -- harry's office is. he was taking my polls. i walked in one day and jesse helms had been on the floor. he was railing against the disabilities act on the floor. he was really taking on bob dole. he was really going at it. it was sitting across the desk from leader mansfield. he said, what is the matter, joe? i said, that jesse helms. that guy has no heart. and he looked at me and he said, joe, what would you say if i told you that this is 1973. that dot and jesse, at
christmas, adopted a young man who was in his early teens, still alive and well why speak to -- who had serious disabilities. he was increases. i said, i'd feel like a fool. he said, well, they did. he said, everybody sent to this place is sent because their state sees something special in them, everyone who was sent here. and, joe, if you do not mind my saying, i think it is better for us to look at why they were sent than look at why they should not be your. then he said one last thing and i think mitch will tell you that i kept this. he said, joe, you have the right to question and you should
question other senators judgment. but you do not have the right to question motives, because you do not know what their motive is. that is a device that has served me well. to the surprise of everyone, maybe even mitch, jessie and i worked on funding the united nations. we worked on increase dade with -- we work on increased aid with president bush for africa. jesse even had me promoting his book on television. which i did. [laughter] the reason i tell you this is that i never thought when i arrived at that would happen.
i sat with strom thurmond for almost 30 years in the judiciary committee, next to him. on strom thurmond's deathbed, i got a call from his wife, nancy. she said, joe, i just left the senator's room. i said, how was he doing? she said, he is on god's time. but he asked me to call you. i am standing here with his doctor. he asked me if you would do his to -- if you would do his eulogy. a liberal civil-rights kid who ran because the civil rights in 1972 would be doing strom thurmond eulogy, which i did and honestly did. it was something that no one could ever have imagined, nor could i have. the point i'm trying to make here is, whether it was when mitch and i arrived at whether we expected we would actually be able to work together, if you are open-minded, sticking
closely to the principles that divide the from the other guy -- if you're open-minded, it is impossible to see -- to not see the other man's perspective. we are in the first heterogeneous society in the history of mankind. without being able to see the first -- the other person's perspective, it is difficult for me to see how this republic can continue to progress. when democrats recently took a shellacking, as the president said, and we did, this last november, the pundits went on to predict, with so little bipartisan cooperation, what we call the lame duck session, that last couple of months, when we still had massive requirements to deal with, that everything would come to a grinding halt.
i knew better than that, not because i am smart, but because i knew mitch for real. mitch and i come from the same tradition. we have significant disagreements, but we recognize the sincerity and the intellectual grounding of the other man's position and the necessity of finding common ground in a nation that is as a heterogeneous as ours. and one more thing. never have we said something to one another that we have not kept our word. as bitter as our disagreements may be. so, after the election, a very bitter election, with very little bipartisan cooperation in the previous 20 months, we still have a lot to do. but during what we referred to as a lame duck session, a lot of people thought that it was going to get worse. but i knew better and so did
mitch. so i talked to the president. i said, i want to go sit down with mitch. he said, ok. [laughter] good luck. [laughter] lots of luck in your senior year. [laughter] no, he said, do it. so mitch and i sat down and started talking. i do not want to get him in trouble and he does not want to get me in trouble. we talked bipartisan and frankly about the big things that need to be done. we could not agree, even the two of us, on some of them. but we agreed on a process. we agreed on a process. we were able to reach the only major compromise only truly bipartisan event that occurred in the first two years of our administration. the compromise on tax policy,
which mitch acknowledged, which we both believe has spurred the economic growth. we have a long way to go, but it was not only a compromise, but one that was useful for the economy. look, i am not naive. just like we were told before the lame duck session started after the november results, we were told nothing would be done. now we're being told that, for as much as you got done, with as much cooperation that existed and the system happened, it will not happen again. now there is a fundamentally new congress headed by republicans and a new breed of republicans. i do not mean that in a negative sense. like every party changes and grows. the senate is now equally divided or so. they say nothing can be done. i do not accept that.
i do not except that because i accept as a basic premise that all the men and women elected to congress from liberals to conservatives, mainstream republicans and mainstream democrats, they all ran for office because they love their country. they all ran for office because we basically all agree on the nature of the problems we face. when that exists, i believe, as my for policy staff is always kidding me about -- i have a phrase that i use not infrequently -- reality has a way of intruding on one's prejudice. i do not mean racial prejudice, on one tightly held view. we have a lot of work to do for this great nation.
our politics are very difficult. but i respectfully suggest that the myth that there dysfunctional is just a myth. they are not dysfunctional. the second myth is that we will be overtaken by our rivals, that younger americans will inherit a world in countries -- for countries like china will dominate us. it is true we are going through the worst economic time at home since the great depression. but so is much of the rest of the world. perspective is important. it is important to keep in mind our relative strength and the world has not changed. we are still -- let me emphasize -- we are still the strongest economy in the world by a factor of almost three. our economy is almost three times as large as china is, as large as the next three largest nations in the world.
these countries and others have made significant progress, progress that was not imaginable 20 years ago, lifting millions of people at a party in the country. good for them, good for us, before the world -- millions of people out of poverty in the country. good for them, good for us, good for the world. you remember those days, mitch. remember going up to the wharton school, talking about the there was no inevitability around the dominance of japan. we need to have some perspective here. our gdp is almost two 0.5, almost three times as large as china's.
when it comes to per-capita gdp, it is not even close. ours is 10 times to 11 times as large as china's. the average income in the united states is $46,000. japan is $38. china is $3,600. most important to remember is our capacity to innovate remains unrivaled with any country in the world. that is the single greatest strength of an open, divers, dynamic society that looks to free-market. that is america. that is who we are. that has been the history of the journey of this country. it is not borne out of chauvinism. it is a reality. so why worry is this? i raise this because you already think you have lost and you cannot win.
-- i raise this because, eat you already think you have lost, the clearly there is no way you can win. there's already an in of -- there is already an inevitability. there was talk about the decline of america. i am confident that mitch as well as me reject that premise. we had one more point. this is not a zero-sum game. the president and i want to see china progress. we want to see it grow. it took 30 years to get 20% of the population out of abject party. we would like to see it all out of poverty. china, when it grows, benefits not only the chinese people, but other nations as well. because, when standards of living rise, democratic values
historic we have followed. stability in a china moving towards democracy being pushed by a system that raises their living. i will give you an example. south korea. ladies and gentlemen, is not to say that we do not have -- it is not to say that we do not have to get our house in order. we have a herculean task ahead of us. our long-term debt is simply not sustainable. we all agree we have to act. but this is why there are two parties. we have different prescriptions on how to act on this. we agreed we have to cut spending and get the deficit under control. republicans want to cut the deficit, too. and so we -- and so do we.
some had to decide how much and how? we have cut out programs we cannot afford any more. and the programs we created we think they're doing good. we talk about community action programs. the mayor in this city cares about those, i expect, like every mayor around the country. but we cannot afford it today. what we are cutting is not just waste. we have to actually cut some muscle. we have called on a five-year freeze on discretionary spending, on un-related security. over the next three, you will see a red book where the devil is in the details. when i was a senator, i would
hear a president, democrat or republican, say where is the budget? and i would say, let's see what the details are. the details are real. where we sometimes agree, as president obama made clear in the state of the union, when it comes to our jobs, there are three key places we do not think we can compromise. we think we have to invest while we are cutting other worthwhile programs in some cases. those areas are education, innovation, and infrastructure. some people believe and many very smart republicans and democrats believe that it is not governments place -- it is not the federal government's place to be the engine behind education and innovation. to the extent that it is about it for structure, it has limits.
but we believe that government has a place and a necessary requirement to make sure we invest in those three endeavors. it is a legitimate argument and one that needs to be debated and resolved. we believe, they believe, many, that we can afford these -- that we cannot afford these investments. and many believe that we cannot afford to not invest at this moment. in our view, we cannot lead the world in the 21st century if our students rank 25th out of 34 oecd countries. and math, ranking 17th. we cannot lead the world, in our opinion, if we remain 12th in the percentage but of college
graduates that this nation graduates relative to population. we'll be quick to lead the world if we're dedicating less than 2% of our gdp toward modernizing our infrastructure. when china and other countries have been investing up to 10% for the last decade. 2% is a 20% decline in what we have invested in gdp -- as a percent of gdp during the eisenhower administration with the highway program. we cannot leave it are incentives for research and development spending is weaker than 16 of our competitor nations. we do not think we can lead the world if we fail to innovate. lead in innovation, inviable -- and by technology, in
renewable, in cutting edge research. there is a legitimate argument -- i disagree with it -- that we cannot afford that right now. the specter of the date is so much more debilitating than the promise of the investment. i get it. but i disagree. so that is what we will be debating, in part, about the economy. to win the future, in my view, we cannot postpone investing in the future. in the free enterprise system alone, it has never in the past been the major investor in the most cutting edge and economically risky future innovations. to insure that all children have an education that allows them to travel as far, as high as their
talents can lead them, that is what we should be doing now. our children are the very tight strings that -- kite strings that moves our country's interest along. it is international interest that every child qualified to attend college, should attend college, notwithstanding their economic standing. just as we invest in fighter jets, just as we invest in intelligence services, we think it is in our security interests to invest taxpayer money in getting children who have the intellectual capacity and the promise to get too great universities like this if they can market their on their own financially. i think that is the only way we
can lead in the 21st century. my wife, who is a full-time professor while the second lady -- she teaches 15 credits. many of you know that is not an easy burden. she thinks she works harder than you guys do because she has to bring those papers come to correct them. [laughter] is a constant battle. my deceased wife was a teacher. my current wife is a teacher. i love the debate between the math and english and physics professors. i like to -- i do not have a dog in that fight. i have a queen in that fight. [laughter] we are in the cusp of being out- educated. to build a modern
infrastructure and accommodate a population that is expected to grow by 100 million people in the next 40 years, that is the expectation of demographers here in the united states of america. go to your airport, go to the congested airports, try to get on a train if you can find one, get on my highway and the metropolitan area and you tell me, without a fundamental change in our transportation that, how will we be competitive with another 100 million people in 40 years? to modernize outdated roads, bridges, air systems, and our ports, you can make your widgets in hong kong, get them to the port more rapidly, and export them at 20% less than it would
cost you to send them out of the port of philadelphia, los angeles, houston, what have you. we are woefully behind the rest of the world. it is more than steel and concrete. it is also about making high- speed internet available to every single person at every recess in this country. we rank in the teens in terms of being wired. we invented it. [laughter] i realize the joke that al gore did not. but we did it. [laughter] it became known as the internet that 1.7 billion people use a day, generating trillions of dollars in economic growth. it is above vehicles of the future, renewable fuels that will power them so that we can
literally began to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. let me raise see what happens? if the worst happens in the transition in the gulf states, what happens if, all of a sudden, the access of oil is cut off? how much longer can we rely, put our future, our fate in the hands of the changing times, whether it is the middle east, nigeria, or venezuela? that is why we have the goal of being the first country in the world of having 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. and that 15% of our energy comes from -- it is not an environmental issue. it is a security issue. a recent meeting with the
advisor report to the president -- they are some of the most brilliant minds in america. they sat with us for ours describing some of the innovation promises in the future. for example, they described new building material that is lighter and stronger than ever seen before. one of the scientists describing it to a set, "it would take an elephant balancing on a pencil to be able to break through a sheet of graph been -- of graphine the thickness of an umbrella. we are completing the genome for several different cancers. it can not only save billions of lives, but billions of dollars. these are all within the reach
of this great country. they not only make our lives better, but create new jobs. the internet continues to do this in the beginning of the 21st century. the final myth like to dispel is that war is the specter of our future. many of you remember, after september 11, the pundits said, "our way of life will never be the same." well, a week after the attacks, had the opportunity to speak to thousands of students at my alma maters at the university of delaware.
i said to them when i say now. that will not happen. we cannot let that happen. while americans have had several predicaments before. after pearl harbor, when president kennedy was killed, during vietnam, the predictions have been wrong about what was going to happen with this country. granted, our lives have been more inconvenient by having to metalrough more menta detectors. they were wrong, the pundits, because they continued to underestimate america, because they failed to realize literally the journey of the history of this country. we have a limitless reservoir of character and resilience and strength. we have demonstrated a generation after generation after generation -- and i might
add, your generation is the more significant, talented generation in history of this country. the generation of students at this college, at this to anniversary -- it has been almost 10 years since 9/11. as you know, our way of life in doors. our country has faced great threats before, nazism and communism, 18,000 nuclear weapons and that the united states of america during the cold war. today, al qaeda possesses -- poses a serious threat to innocence, here at home and abroad. but let's not overestimate their strength. bankruptemists' ideology failed to produce the
progress that they seek. we are a broad range of people, not only the students in this hall, and are transforming the country by raising their voices, not by set deniability -- not by accepting an ideology or orthodoxy. we need to maintain a broader perspective. we need to broaden our focus. that is why our foreign policy is aimed at restoring america's leadership and standing in the world. there are many forces shaping this young sentry, of which violent dexter mizzen israel, but just one. that is why we are closing -- working more closely than ever before with rising powers, like russia and china. that is why we built an and president coalition to encourage the iranian leaders
to quit in enriching uranium. that is why we are working with partners -- i might add that the iranians are trying to take advantage of the situation in europe. the heavily this closed the bankruptcy of their system. i it -- they have only disclosed the bankruptcy of the system. i say to the people of iran, let your people marched let your people speak, really sure people from jail, let your people have a voice. [applause] it is a bankrupt system. that is why we are working with partners in asia to bring about the complete and verifiable and of north korea's nuclear program. china is beginning to move. reality has a way of changing events. that is why we are working to stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction in failed
state, to adjust to a rapidly warming planet, food, water -- these are the real problems that we face in the 21st century. and to encourage the inevitable transition to democracy wherever and whenever it occurs, whether it is in sub-saharan africa, asia, or egypt, it is true today that we are more encouraged to fight wars in afghanistan and iraq. i have been to iraq 19 times. i just got back from multiple trips three weeks ago from afghanistan and pakistan. and afghanistan, we will bring this year a transition to responsibility over security in certain regions to the afghan devore man. in july, we will start drawing down our forces determined by
the pace of the conditions on the ground. [applause] by 2014, security of the entire country will be in the hands of the afghans. in iraq, where the united states at about 150,000 troops on the ground when our administration took office, we have already brought home 100,000 combat troops. the remaining 50,000 will come home at the end of this year. [applause] folks, we have reached the end of our combat mission. we have shifted our remaining focus to advising and assisting our iraqi counterparts and enhancing our civilian-led efforts to support partnerships along bear wide range of sectors, political, educational. two things are essential to meet the 20% share. the first is to sustain our economic strength in ways -- to
meet the 21st century. the first is to sustain our economic strength. it is the key to our ability to lead the world. secondly, and equally important, we have to ensure that our policies match our values, that our policies match our values. they must usually be reinforcing. the moment our nation declared our independence, we showed the world the values behind our revolution -- our revolution and the conviction that our policies must be formed. the line that i think is the most informed peace says that we must leave by the informed consent and by the decent respect for the opinions of mankind.
our founders understood then and the united states believes now that our example, the example of our power, must always be matched by the power of our example. we must never forget that wisdom. let me conclude by saying that i am sure that the republican leader will disagree with some of the things i have said today for some of the prescriptions i have offered for the future, near term and long term. but i know him too well. i know that neither of us would trade our country's future for the future of any other country in the world. that is not borne out of chauvinism. that is born out of the stark reality. i also know that we share a conviction that, when we find common ground like we did in december and i hope we will in the months ahead, that there is not a single solitary challenge this country faces that we cannot surmount, not one.
we also share the conviction that we can sustain our position in the world and we can and must strengthen it. we share the conviction that america's best days are ahead. seeing so many young people here today only strengthens our conviction that our greatest aspirations are within our reach, that we can, and the worlds of another irish poet, make hope and history rhyme. he said, "history teaches us -- but rarely does the moment comes when we have a chance to make hope and history rhyme." we cannot make a utopia, but we can surely make the world, our circumstance better.
and the prospects of the circumstances of the world will better not only us. it has been a genuine honor to be invited. i thank him for always being straightforward with me over the years. i looked closer to our relationship, being able to produce some of the beginnings, some of the compromises that are necessary to do what we both believe, and enable america to be convinced in the reality we have, that the best days are ahead. may god bless you all and thank you. [applause] ♪
>> a discussion on the supreme court and the u.s. constitution. after that, libyan leader. tomorrow on "washington journal ," rebecca heimmlich discusses a labor bill. after that, the national association of community help centers on the new health care block and current budget debate. "washington journal each morning at 7:00. later in the day, a look at the
political unrest in the middle east. live coverage at 3:30 eastern. >> abraham lincoln is a unique contemporary perspective from 56 scholars, journalists, and writers. while supplies last, the publishers are off been -- offering c-span viewers the hardcover edition of five top -- for $5, plus shipping and handling. go to c-span.org/books. >> members of the legal community debate the future direction of the supreme court. will your discussion on the
book -- we will hear the discussion on the book. this is a one-hour discussion. >> good evening. i am the president of the library foundation. we are happy to have your this evening. many familiar faces. ainge is said to my colleague, -- i just said to my colleague that there are people waiting in line that were already rehearsing their questions. this is a very good sign. we certainly have people that would like to answer them this evening. i want to remind you that there is an opportunity coming up in
march which is a chance to vote for measure l on march 8. this is the opportunity to restore the full service of the public library. it was cut back and to -- it was cut back and can be restored by voting yes on march 8. please do that. it would mean a great deal to all the. -- to all of us. a quarter of los angeles does not own a computer. it is impossible to graduate from high school in los angeles without getting access to a computer.
we have for free waiting for the students almost 3000 computers, extraordinary programs for free, as well as a free trader. every student with a library card can have a free trader at the expense of the library foundation seven days a week from 3:00-10:00. [applause] it is incredible. it is available in english and in spanish. this program is free to the public and there is nothing quite like it anywhere else. to this is the largest research library in the last. we like to think that one of the reasons why you are here is because they value at the importance of having a library
like that in their community. much of what happened here could not have happened without my colleague, the founder of this series, a woman that has produced more than 1000 free programs for the citizens of los angeles, for the people a los angeles. [applause] >> thank you so much. i do hope you will vote yes. this would make it to 121 -- i am not recounting. tonight, we are presenting a conversation between two cobbler -- to scholars of constitutional law. they disagree about essentially everything. they never come to fisticuffs and they model the possibility of gracious and civil conversation if they did erupt into an -- a scrimmage, we have
a wonderful moderator on hand. this'll be the form of a conversation. please turn off your cell phones, thank you for the reminder. we will open it up to you for questions. we will be circulating microphones. we will open up for questions, not grants. -- rants. ask one question. that would be great. our very distinguished guest tonight, erwin chemerinsky is a professor of law at the university of california irvine school of law. he continues to believe that law is the most powerful tool for social change. he has authored six previous books and more than 100 law review articles. his book, which we are celebrating, will also be on
sale after words if you would like to purchase it. he will be signing. he has argued several cases before the supreme court. we are very honored to have him here tonight. we are honored to have dr. john eastman. he was dean there from 2007- 2010, when he stepped down to become attorney general of california. he was appointed dean in june of 2007. he serves as a director of -- a public interest law firm affiliated with the claremont institute. in the role of moderator is jim newton, an editor at large of a los angeles times. in his 21 years, he has worked
as a reporter, editor, bureau chief. from 2007-2009, editor of the editorial pages. he is finishing a presidential biography of dwight d. eisenhower. please join me in welcoming them. [applause] >> good evening. it is nice to allow all of you here. it is a special treat to have michael panelists here. as adopted, these are to eminent constitutional -- as noted, these are to scholars here.
i would like to admit of front that i am not a completely neutral moderator tonight. my biography it is called "justice for all." that said, i will do my best. i know i have some allies in the room. one of the things i most admire about these gentlemen is their ability to disagree agreeably. thank you it to you both. give us a sense of what constitutes -- constitutes the conservative assault. >> let me start by thanking the
program before inviting me. i am honored to. jim newton is one of my heroes. john eastman is very much my role model in terms of being a dain, an activist, a scholar. since richard nixon ran for president in 1968, conservatives have saw to remake almost every area of constitutional law and have largely succeeded. we focus on individual liberties, the rights of criminal defendants, the separation of church and state, specific areas like schools, you see that the conservatives have succeeded. guided not by the original understanding of the constitution, but by the principles of the republican platform. you can far better understand
what the republicans -- what the conservatives are doing on the supreme court. i wanted to tell that story. it is not that every decision is conservative. but most are. it is not that every decision demands the change of the law. when you look at what the supreme court has done, there's been a dramatic refashioning of basic constitutional principles. >> tell him why he is wrong. >> the language of the but, but -- of the book -- we believe that the constitution has a meeting on its common. board to be an assault on the constitution -- they are rejecting some of the moves away from the constitutional text. making things, to make
constitutional law. it is an assault on that deviation from what the conservatives think is the constitution's meaning. before i give it back to him, let me thank him for being here. i would have had trouble getting through the whole book if we did not have to do this. [laughter] it is a bit on characteristic. normally, his writings are -- this one is much more political. we will talk about that during the course of the evening. >> let me say a couple of things. this book is the reflection of what i have been doing for the last 30 years. each of the chapter starts to the story of a case that i handled. in that sense, it is my view of
what has occurred in constitutional law. john says deviating from the text of the constitution. every justice that has been on the supreme court follows the text of the constitution. the problem is, the questions that come to the supreme court cannot be answered by the left. the president has to be 35 years old. each state gets to senators. that is not litigated before the supreme court. the book begins with a story of a case i argued in 2002 and involves a man who was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for stealing $153 of videotapes in california. he received his sentence under california's of restrikes law, even though he has never committed a violent crime.
the text cannot tell us that. it is a choice that has to be made. the supreme court has said that grossly excessive sentences violate the constitution. if anything is grossly excessive, it is 50 years to life for $153 of videotapes. i lost that case 5-4. as a result, he is not eligible for parole until the year of 200047. -- 2047. how can we get to that point as a country that is not cruel and unusual? >> that case is a good example of where i think the book is not
entirely accurate. it is not accurate on law and the facts. at one point, he says that the people who voted for three strikes, there is no indication whatsoever that they had any indication that a nonviolent third strike could lead to the third strike penalty. that is just not true. it was in the ballot statement. this will lead to incarceration for a very long time. that is part of the statement. i remember the conversations about that initiative. the people decided to do this and it is not for stealing $153 for the video tapes. but for having do that after having a series of felonies. the question is whether the people of this state's debt to impose a sentence that tries
repeat offenders with two prior felonies away for a long time as a way to protect the property rights of others. whether the constitution prevents the people from doing that. we have this notion that grossly disproportionate crimes -- punishment violated the: punishment -- cruel and unusual punishment. it was somebody that was sentenced to hard labor with shackles 24 hours a day. the supreme court had said that was an unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. subsequent cases have said there is no proportionality qualifier in the length of the sentence the self -- itself.
check the length of the sentence. that was a legislative judgment. the court has held that repeatedly. >> prior to california's three strikes law, no person in the history of the united states and never received a sentence of life in prison for the last offense for shoplifting. in california, there are 47,000 people serving life sentences. half the states -- all together, they have -- 57% of the third strike was not a serious or violent felony. we have to put it into that context. it is unique to california. john is wrong about one thing about a lot. the supreme court has said that there is no requirement that the
sentence be in proportion to the crime. the supreme court has never had a majority opinion with that. in 1980, the supreme court thought it was cruel and unusual punishment to give a person a sentence of life without parole of cash in a bad check for $100. my point here is the supreme court has to make a choice. the text does not tell us. the family did not discuss the three strikes laws. there needs to be a joyous -- a choice made by the justices. the choice that was made by these conservative justices are imposing a set of conservative values. area after area, the every made
constitutional law. >> one of the notions widely debated is the question of aboriginal as umm. -- originalism. >> it is not perfect, but it is the best we have. it really transfers the power from the electorate to the on elected branch of politics. i published a piece and one of the harvard law journal. going for the various different theories that might give court's authority to strike down pronouncements and packs of the legislature if it is not because if violates the text of the constitution. the one theory be rejected is
that there is a natural karloff that binds -- a natural higher law. another theory is that the judges are smarter than the rest of us. or maybe they have the ability because their job gives them the time to think through these problems. that is creating a federal common law. everyone of the different alternatives that you come up with in step with the judges are substituting their judgment for the ax of majority because they think is better policy. when you deviate from the checks of the constitution, what confines the judges from getting that right or getting that wrong? why should they have the final say rather than the people? there is a counter majoritarian views that we need the courts to stop majority tyranny and i am all in favor of that.
every time we expand certain rights, if we were to say that the people and the state of california cannot impose the sentence on him, we are contracting the rights of the property owners whose rights he violated. to take that judgment of how to balance those rights away from the people in handed to in not elected judiciary is the great problem with the living constitution. >> if it is not a useful or valid tool of interpretation, does that give judges the authority to do anything at all? >> conservatives follow originalism only when it serves the ideological agenda. if there is any place that we
can, it is the framework of the 14th amendment. very much approved that we would call affirmative action today. justice scalia and thomas k. no attention. -- pay no attention. they held that corporations have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money in election campaigns. the five conservatives in the court did this. i challenge anyone to find -- let alone to spend unlimited amounts of money. in most instances, we will never be able to tell what the original intent was. let me take the second amendment.
you might interpret that by focusing on the second clause. or you might focus on the first. it is right for -- you look for the original understanding. james madison drafted the second amendment. it included an exemption for conscientious objectors. there are strong arguments on the other side. conservatives talk -- there is not an original understanding out there to be found because they were not thinking of the questions today. i can relate a personal example of this. i was the chair of the charter reform commission from 1997-
1999. it is much like the constitution. it creates the entities up city government. the voters -- questions came up about interpretation. the city's office, attorney's office would call me and say, what was the intent of your commission on this? we discussed it and this is what we found. if they agreed, they would say, can you write a declaration? with regard originalism, if we really followed original intent, it would lead to poor results. article 2 of the constitution refers to the president and vice-president. there is no doubt that the original understanding was that
the president and vice- president -- another example -- there is no provision of the constitutional -- but says the pro-government cannot deny equal protection. if we follow the original understanding, the federal government is not limited. the bill of rights were meant only to apply to the federal government. to answer your question, throughout american history, the conservative and liberal justices have looked to a variety of sources for their decision. they start with the camp -- the start with the text. the elected president, tradition, they look at modern needs. that is not a constraint in the sense that you cannot leave this
deductible to answers. we do have an unelected judiciary and we have asked them to make choices. the power of the courts to review the constitutionality is nowhere mentioned in the text of the constitution. it was not expressly discussed at the constitutional convention. >> i take a different view. [laughter] i do not think it is accurate. the discussion about judicial review is part of the constitutional convention. there's an entire debate about whether to give the courts the power to strike down legislation that they disagreed with on policy grounds.
during the course of that debate, where they rejected this power of revision in the courts, it was discussed that the question on the revision discussion was whether they would have the power to act as legislators. the convention specifically denied that power to the court. when we move away from the constitutional text that they are enforcing and given a policy judgment, do we think that this is better for society? we think it is bad policy -- they are acting as a court of revision, the very thing that the constitutional convention denied to them. it transfers power to an unelected body. that is why it is important. are there ambiguities about what particular text meant? yes.
when i get off of the text and said, it does not matter whether the says this or not, this is what the law ought to be. that is no longer a legitimate role for the courts. >> does anybody do that? >> they do and i will give you a very good example. one of the most contentious issues of our time, abortion, you are hard pressed to find in the original decision a tight the text. even those that defend the decision have had trouble rationalizing it on constitutional grounds. we end up with a statement by the three judge -- a controlling opinion that says even if it is wrongly decided, the essence of our constitutional system of
government is the power given to the courts, not to the elected branches. that is an astounding rejection of the basic premise of our constitution. people overlooked it to you agree with roe. it is an extraordinary assertion of raw power. >> it is my turn to say i disagree. john has said that when court struck down the laws, they are being anti majoritarian. of course. the whole constitution is meant to be anti majoritarian. it is a document that can only be changed by a supermajority of congress. forcing that document -- conservatives and liberals want to be anti majoritarian. they just disagree where. the conservatives are willing to strike down a federal and state
and local laws regulating laws. they're willing to strike down affirmative action programs. all of that is anti majoritarian. no judge or justice thinks himself as a policymaker. every judge or justice is interpreting the text of the constitution booking not all the sources that i mentioned, starting with understanding tibet, social needs, -- understanding, social needs. the fourth amendment, the unreasonable searches and seizures, and every day in criminal cases all over the country, judges decide what is reasonable versus unreasonable. that is a policy choice.
when the supreme court does it, they're making a policy choice. the court has to decide if there is compelling government interest. is there an important government interest? what is important? it is a policy choice. i disagree with everything john said with regard to abortion. roe versus wade -- the supreme court has said there is a right to privacy protection from the constitution. in many instances prior, the right to marry, the right to procreate, the right to keep the family together, the right to control the upper and you have children.
the issue was in light of all of those decisions, the prohibition of abortion affects a woman's right to privacy. there was a much harder question of protecting fetal lives. the choice should be left to each woman. that is what drove versus wade is all about. but the statement on refers to -- john refers to -- the most eloquent was robert jackson. a state cannot require students -- the whole purpose of individual rights is to take our most precious liberties and take him out of the vicissitudes of popular majoritarian well. roe versus wade takes the issue of abortion outside the control
of the majority. >> in his book, he says it more clearly than any other legal scholar i've seen, that the key question with regard to abortion context, who should determine whether the fetus is a human person? each woman for herself or the state legislature. i think that is the brother of the question. if you accept the premise -- the rub of the question. who qualifies as a human person, and to doesn't? you find yourself making the same arguments about property and place of the old south made. the notion that there are -- how
to balance those rights is the legislative judgment, not one to the courts to decide for us, reminds us of lincoln's first inaugural address. we will have ceased to that extent to be a democratic form of government and will hand over those basic policy judgments to the unelected branch. when is not tied to any text in the constitution, you are asking judges to make a basic policy judgment for this society. it is just not true. modern science has proved that time and time again. the question -- we all know that we have dna at the moment of conception. the question whether it is a human right subject to protect. the constitution simply doesn't answer that question. to pretend that it does is the height of judicial activism,
contrary to any original understanding. they cannot even find which clause it is sen. -- it is in. if i cannot even. the wright amendment, the notion that it is rooted in constitutionalism -- it is a weak argument. >> as d.o. except the constitutional right of privacy? -- do you accept the concert is a right of privacy? >> i do not think i have the right to privacy to take somebody else's life. i also accept a right to liberty, but it does not extend -- >> where do you find it? >> when i was given the different grounds on which a court could strike down?
of the majority -- acts of the majority, i laid out the proposition that there was a natural law. both sides of the mat abortion debate make appeals to that. you could easily spend a roe versus wade going the other direction with the same kind of reasoning. the unborn child from the moment of conception is a unique in its dna. and the laws allow for abortion would be a violation of that individual's constitutional rights. you could easily spin out an argument that is no more grounded in the constitution's text and the actual holding. you've got to a different argument about higher lot of 40. we have this fight throughout our constitutional history. early on, the court bought over
if we recognize there is a natural law or natural right that is not grounded in text, should we enforce it? what gives the courts the right to enforce it? it parallels the disagreement right now. it is an interesting line up there. it was a very defined body of law. >> you mistake his opinion. he does not mention the numbers, the first amendment. the right to privacy has long
been recognized by the court. the supreme court has interpreted the word liberty as safeguarding many rights that are not enumerated in the text. i gave a long list of those. what the court says, like it has said in similar cases, liberty includes a right to privacy. if you accept that, the question is, do laws that prohibit abortion and french a woman's right to privacy? -- in french a woman's right to privacy? -- infringe a woman's right to privacy? if that is excepted, the question before the supreme court is, does the government have a compelling interest for protecting fetal life before the moment of viability?
bat is an on debatable question. -- that is an on debatable question. what the court said was completely right. scientists, theologians cannot answer the question of when human persons began. because of the profound a burden on the woman, we should leave that choice to each woman to make. i think it is misleading, offensive to compare a woman's choice about abortion to the slaves that were entitled to protection under the constitution. [applause] >> the statement is that it to be up to a woman to determine whether the fetus is a human being. the old slave owners argued that it should be up to them to determine whether the slaves were a human being or property.
the argument is directly parallel. >> let me ask a more political question. there'd been two changes on the court since president obama took put -- took office. if the ideological balance has not changed much, the partisan has rated the partisan balance has shifted some, obviously. how significant is the 2012 election for the composition of the court going forward? >> i think the 2004 election was crucial in terms of determining the ideological composition of the court may before long time to come. i think this is where john and i will agree. >> but that on your calendar.
-- put that on your calendar. >> john kerry -- the ideological balance -- george w. bush got to replace justice rehnquist. you continue to have a conservative court. sonia sotomayor will be liberal as an injustice on the current court. i do not think we know enough about elena kagan. we know less about elena kagan's philosophy than any other nominee to the supreme court. every nominee since 1981 was confirmed. most of them had been judges for a long time. elena kagan has never been a judge on any court before going
on to the supreme court. the fact that she had never been a judge means that we do not have prior experience and your philosophy. -- and to her philosophy. unlike some law professors. >> been as a result, i do not think we can know where she will be on the ideological continue them. look at the other side of the ideological continue them. john roberts turned 56 last month in january. if your name is on the supreme court, -- he will be chief
justice until the year 200045. -- 2045. clarence thomas has been on the supreme court 19 years. both anthony scalia and anthony kennedy are 74. it is not likely that a justice will leave before 2013. >> except for the editorialize in along the way, i agree with that. the impact of the 2004 election was to perpetuate the balance that was there. it actually moved to a little bit right.
the result of the 2008 election locked in that status quo with younger versions of -- with sotomayor and elena kagan. we can predict with greater certainty where elena kagan will end up. i knew her as a professor at the university of chicago. there was no doubt where her early life philosophy was. she will manifest that. she and justice sotomayor are easily going to fit into the seats that were vacated on almost every issue. >> would you have voted to confirm roberts? john, would you have voted for sotomayor and elena kagan?
>> i testified against the confirmation of samuel all legal. the reality is that these are not moderate conservatives. when you talk about roberts, they are everything that liberals fear. when you put them together, they are the four most conservative justices at anytime since the mid-1930s. president get picked based on ideology. >> i should have voted against justice sotomayor and elena kagan. i probably would have voted for justice sotomayor. voted againstd've elena kagan, though. i do not been she had the level of experience necessary. it is not just because she lacked judicial experience.
that is my prerequisites. we have had great injustices that have been appointed without having had judicial experience they have all had a wonderful experience either in the law practice itself or much more extensive experience on the court. she had not of that. that should have been disqualifying. whether she will make -- i have a high regard for her intellect. but one likes to seek one or the other kinds of experiences. >> you are arguing against a law school deans. >> the district courts are split
on health care. large philosophical questions about whether the government has the authority to force people to buy something in the private marketplace. iyour predictions? this is heading to the united states supreme court. >> the supreme court is going to uphold the federal health care law. the last supreme court case to deal with the scope of congress among the state was six years ago. the supreme court said that congress constitutionally could criminally punished small amounts of marijuana for medicinal use. congress can regulate almost a
$1 trillion industry. since 1937, the court has said that congress can regulate economic activities which have an effect on interstate commerce. the insurance agency is a huge agency. the easiest way to explain it is imagine that congress decided it was going to tax each individual some money to go into a fund for health care. everybody is going to need health care. children need vaccinations. if a person as an automobile accident, you take them to the emergency room. congress has said, you have to pay that money into the income- tax unless you want to opt out and buy your own health insurance. i do not see what the difference is there.
there is a terrific piece in sunday's ballot times. it explains why it is still likely in -- the l.a. times. >> i think it is a much closer question than that. you talked in a phrase that is critical. this might be possible if it bore an income tax. we would used as part of the proceeds to pay for the health care system. but it is not an income-tax. it is not tied to your income. it is not an excise tax. it is a direct tax. because not everybody is going to pay its, it is a direct tax, not apportioned to population. it is one of the reasons why they did not sell it as a tax when it went through congress. there was a promise made that
this was not going to be a tax. because of the way that it is structured, it is not a constitutional permissible tax. we are left without it being a tax because the power to regulate commerce among the states, even expansively interbedded in the new deal, cannot force me to make me -- make you engaged in commerce? can regulate york inactivity? it is a close call. there will be for a solid votes the state is perfectly constitutional. there'll be four solid votes that say that it is unconstitutional. i think justice kennedy will go toward the unconstitutional side. >> anything more? >> so many things.
john says that congress cannot force people to engage in economic activity. that is just wrong. think of the 1964 civil rights act. hotels and restaurants cannot discriminate based on race. it forces people to engage in economic activity. the question that john avoid is when you look at health insurance overall, whether people buy it or they don't, if -- there is a substantial effect on interstate commerce. justice scalia was in the majority saying that congress may prohibit a person from growing marijuana for personal consumption. clearly, the individual mandate can be justified.
>> let me make a wager. i will take you and your wife out to dinner is justice scalia and boats that this is constitutional. >> so long that it is not deemed a felony. [laughter] >> i know you have questions. let me ask you one more. another issue is that of same- sex marriage. i'm curious about your predictions. does that same rationale inevitably apply to same-sex marriage? >> it is going to be a 5-4 decision. i think it will be 5-4 with the
supreme court of voting that there is a constitutional rights for gays and lesbians to have a marriage of equality. there been to supreme court cases industry. do you know who wrote -- justice kennedy has never taken the original list approach to that john has argued for today. justice kennedy has looked at events around the world in interpreting the constitution. in a case last year, justice kennedy said that it is cruel and unusual punishment to pose a sentence of life without parole on crimes convicted by criminals. he emphasized there is no country in the world that would do this. into a dozen 5, justice kennedy wrote the opinion that said that the death penalty -- at least
seven countries and the world allows this punishment. justice kennedy wants to be on the right side of history. he knows that canada has long allowed marriage of equality. mexico city does. almost every nation in western europe do. justice kennedy is going to say, there is no legitimate interest in keeping gays and lesbians from being able to express love and commitment that heterosexuals have always had. >> justice kennedy is the deciding vote. i agree that it is hard to read and not think that he is predisposed to go the direction that he has just described. the supreme court addressed this issue in a very cursory formed
in 1972. after the race marriage case, where they held up the right to marry was a fundamental right, the minnesota supreme court said, that was different. the relevance of your skin color it to the provinces of marriage is not relevant. the relevance of gender is irrelevant. they are not the same kinds of cases. that was up on a mandatory appeal, a procedure that we do not have much of any more. the supreme court dismissed it as not presenting a valid federal question. that is a ruling on the merits of that claim. it is binding on all the lower courts. judge walker's decision does not even mention the case. the one thing that will get kennedy landing at my direction on this was to ignore -- the one
thing they said is it may -- they have undermined by a subsequent decisions, but it is for us to say. there is going to be this kind of, what are you doing there jumping the gun on this type of atmosphere? i also think the notion that this does not -- there is no legitimate government. the lowest level of review that we have prayed requires that we reject all the possible grounds for distinguishing between heterosexual and same-sex couples with respect to any of the purposes of marriage. if procreation is one of those purposes, as always been, there is clearly a rational basis for drawing a distinction. this is why i was strongly critical of the massachusetts decision. the california supreme court
decision, though i disagreed with it, was more intellectually honest. this is a fundamental rights and sexual orientation create a subset classification. both of those things give us a heightened scrutiny. therefore, they struck it down. that was more intellectually honest. we cannot conceive of any legitimate governmental purpose for making this classification. there were parts of his opinion that -- procreation has never been part of the purpose of marriage we have never mandated that you prove your capability. think about the invasion of privacy. but the notion that it has not been part of the institution is just preposterous the faults. if there is anything that will
get justice kennedy leaning back toward not taking a step, it is the kind of overheated rhetoric in that opinion. >> can i respond? >> i can see twitching. >> it is not going to be based on a 1972 dismissal without any opinion whatsoever. however when things about marriage equality is vastly different today than it was in 1972. i interest and why judge walker did not pay any attention in 1972. it will not have any relevance. they will decide the merits of this. i still do not understand what legitimate interest there is in keeping to a man or two women from being able to do so. the only is procreation. heterosexual couples have been
able to marry, even if they do not want to procreate. gay couples and lesbian couples will procreate whether or not there is marriage. day couples -- our children and those couples better off if their parents are married? if one believes that marriage provides the stability that is good for children, there really is no legitimate basis for keeping gay and lesbian couples from being able to marry. [applause] >> with that, we would love to hear from you. >> thank you for a fantastic
discussion. i love this stuff. i am curious. i know there are a couple of cases in the ether that deal with religion. how did you think that the court will deal with issues such as national prayer breakfast or under god's in the pledge of allegiance. >> there is an area that i do agree with in his book. the court is about to take a wrong step in a religion case, but it is not about religion. they will deny standing to anyone to challenge a religious displays that violate the constitution. they're going to go that way in the arizona case. standingoc