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tv   Washington Journal Issue Ones Michael Beckel Discusses Congressional...  CSPAN  May 29, 2017 8:30am-9:01am EDT

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took 60 years after the end of the world war ii for this memorial commemorating those who died in the pacific and atlantic deleter. commemorated by president george w. bush on memorial day weekend in 2004. the scene here today on this memorial day monday as "washington journal" continues. back in a moment.
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host: world war ii memorial you will find veterans from world
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war ii, many in wheelchairs all paying tribute to those who paid the ultimate price on this memorial day. come to washington d.c. and travel among the mall. this is one of those must see stops in washington d.c. michael beckel is the manager of research and investigations for issue one. which is what? guest: issue one is a bipartisan organization based here in washington d.c. that's focused on government and political reform. we think this conversation needs to be bipartisan. that's why we helped bring together members from both sides of the aisle and one of the things we're most famous for is our reformers caucus at issue one which has more than 180 member of congress and governors of both parties who believe that these issues really need to be at the forefront of discussion. host: one of the findings that you have called price of power.
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if you are a member of congress not only do you have to raise money for your own campaign but also for your political party. if you want to have a say in the process. plain? guest: that's right. we have put together this new report called price of power. which looked at if you want to serve in congress, congress uses a number of different committees. some of those are very powerful and those most powerful committees members say have price tags to go with them. if you sit on one of the most powerful committees, the parties expect you to help them raise money in return. if you want to share those committees, they expect you to raise even more money. this is tantamount to a committee tax. members are spending countless hours dialing for dollars for their campaigns. now the parties are pressuring them to raise even more money to help they are respective parties out. host: what committees do you
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consider most important. ways and means is one. what happens the appropriations -- what about appropriations and budget committees. guest: there's a number of committees in congress that are exclusive. if members serve on them, serve on them exclusively. ways and means appropriations energy and commerce, house financial services committee. the house rules committee. those are informally known as a committees. they are ranked by party leaders little bit more important than the b committees who are tiered down and based on interviews, based on internal party documents, we know that party leaders expect people who sit on a committees to be raising more money who sit on b committees. that money has grown to as center nom call--astronomical sum. he says that the republican --
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national republican congressional committee expects chairman of these a committees to be raising $1.2 million this election cycle. while chairs of the b committees are expected to raise $875,000. that's a lot of money. host: from your report which is available on line, in addition to raising money lawmakers on both sides of the aisle especially the highest ranking members of powerful congressional committees are increasingly expected to help their parties raise vast amounts. this leads to members of congress working as telemarkets rather than as the people serving in the nation capital. they spend hours each week dialing for dollars and hitting the fundraising circuit for committees subcommittee chairs. this coincides with them gaining greater responsibility and time commitment for their own legislative work. my question is you don't meet the criteria, then what?
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guest: it's very hard to advance in the committee system in the responsibilities. if you don't participate in this fundraising system. members on both sides of the aisle have started speaking out about this. to say this isn't right. you shouldn't have to buy a seat on any committee. you shouldn't have to buy a committee chairmanship. if the house wanted to change this, they could pass a rule that said it would not be taken into consideration. that fundraising prowess would not trump any of the other skills that are coming to the table. the house could change this tomorrow if they wanted by implementing a rule to do that. host: for democrats 202-748-8000 and republicans 202-748-8001. we have line for independents. our guest is michael beckel of issue one. congress passed some pretty significant campaign finance laws in 1974, 1975, post watergate era. over the last 40 years, those
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laws seem to have been watered down. what have been the mistakes what was created in 1974 and 1975. guest: citizens united certainly changed a lot of things. as many of the viewers know, citizens united was big supreme court case in 2010. that said independent spenders, corporations, certain types of nonprofit organizations, they could spend without limit on advertisements that were not coordinated with the campaigns that they were trying to aid. members of congress are facing increasing amounts of pressure to raise money for their own campaigns. we know that modern campaigns are expensive. you got a very expensive robust campaign operation if you're running for a house seat, running for a senate seat. you want to hire field organizers. you want to have able have people knock on doors.
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you want to be buying television ads or radio ads or internet ads to reach people on facebook and twitter and all of these things cost money. add to that, the threat of outside groups coming in like super pac's, other dark money organizations that spend on politics without disclosing their donors. many members of congress feel like they're in a arms race. they want to make sure they got enough resources. everything they will do is focused on having enough money and that leads to them spending far too many hours dialing for dollars when a lot of them would rather be focused on committee work and forging those relationships with fellow lawmakers to help address some of the big problems facing the country. host: let me talk about the mechanics. the capital is behind us. they lead their use offices and they
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go will to make the money. guest: both party have operations just blocks from the capital. they have lawmakers able to leave congress and walk a few blocks across the street to offices maintained by the rncc or dccc where they have call centers. they have a phone and provided with binders of names and background information about who each donor they trying to reach. they got sample scripts. they can respond another way. they want to help make that process as efficient as possible. they're spending substantial amounts of time away from the capital also during business hours to reach out to these people try to connect with done with donors. host: our guest is a graduate of colorado college and with issue
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one. michael beckly is -- beckel. steven is on the phone from south dakota. caller: i wanted to bring up with the last person you had here mr. caldwell. i will call him privately about the corruption here in the v.a. because they tried to kill me because i'm a whistleblower. i have an idea what he's promoting. if you take the members of congress generally proud christians jesus where they claim to be their leader then, say you can't serve two masters how come they're monetary interests and not the people that they are hired to take care of? host: thank you stephen. guest: thank you so much for the call. lot of members of congress feel conflicted. they want to be pending -- spending their time serving constituents responding to the needs of the people they represent.
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we believe that the only dues members of congress should be worried about are the dues to their constituents and to the constitution. it should be as simple as that. unfortunately, lot of the fundraising pressure now is so high that it's very hard for members and we have former members, such as the cochairs of our reformers caucus, the republican from tennessee and tim romer a democrat from indiana, who said, when members of congress wake up in the morning, they should be worried about serving their constituents. they shouldn't be worried about who they are going to call and try to shake down for a campaign cash. it should be that simple. host: read to you tweets. this is from michael who said only thing that citizens united changed they were fewer reports of shopping bags full of money and campaign offices. this lead to this question publicly funded elections reforms to citizens united help solve the problem?
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guest: issue one is trying to jump start that conversation on capitol hill now. being able to say that democrats and republicans should be coming together to talk about what common ground there could be on these issues. there's a lot of room for a lot of different solutions. people know that citizens united was a game changer and the amount of money and amount of time being spent trying to chase that campaign cash. really taking members of congress away from their day jobs. host: this is from carol what is the solution? guest: issue one is advocating for a number of changes. there's a number of reforms that people can learn more about on our website at we think there should be more transparency when it comes to who is spending money in politics. when you see these ads on your tv, if you're a viewer nasa wing -- viewer in a swing state, in a
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battleground state -- we think there should be stronger enforcement when it comes to existing laws on the book. we know republicans and democrats have started speaking out to say that the federal election commission is plating is dysfunctional. to say this is the cop on the deed. that cop is not donkeys job. there aredoing -- thatcop is not doing its job. host: the report is called "the price of power." put together by issue one. it's available online at allen, brooklyn, new york, democrats line. govern. caller: we have to go back to the decision to see what is really wrong with our process. we allow broadcasters to make
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profit by selling ads to every commercial purchaser including campaigners. the only reason campaigns are in this mad scramble to get money we've given away the licenses to broadcasters for free without a process that determines whether the broadcasters should be entitled to those free licenses. if buckley says that money equals speech in hands some who wants to bay ad. that means the speech is money and when the government in the form of fcc grants free listen they are giving money to broadcasters without a debate about whether that's a proper thing to do. guest: that's for the call. that's a very influential landmark supreme court case. really the basises for a lot of the modern campaign finance laws that we have.
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these rules governing campaign contributions and governing campaign spending. when i was putting together the price of power report, i talked to members of congress, who said over the course of their career, they might raise the same amount of money from election cycle to election cycle. because those ad rates that television stations were charging were going up and up they were not able to buy the same type of intensity or the same type of reach with their ads. it was difficult if you were raising a million dollars in 1990, that bought you a certain amount of ads versus a million dollars in 2000. that only bought you a fewer and fewer ads. that's one of the pressures that members of congress are facing. that's why many folks have started trying to reach out to other platforms. we've seen an expansion in the amount of digital advertising. we've seen an expansion in republicans and democrats trying to tap into small dollar donors
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doing online fundraising trying to raise money from more people. it's not just a select few who are making campaign contribution. donors want to support candidates. there's a lot of donors out there that support liberal candidates or conservative candidates. if you donate, you're more likely to vote. you're more likely to be a volunteer. there are ways that money in the system is good. we want to make sure that people feel engaged and they feel like they have their voice listened to. it's about making the government more responsive and making members of congress more responsive to their constituents. host: your report is bipartisan looking at both democrats and republicans. let's talk about the four republican chairs of four key committees. some information we can put on the screen from january 2009 until december of 2016, congressman jeff hensarling
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raising over $8.5 million. he's the chair house financial services committee. greg woulden of oregon raising close to $4 million. congressman kevin brady and pete sessions chair the house rules committee, each raising $2.5 million. guest: specifically raising that money to help their party. that is money that they raised through their campaign and through their leadership pac. they then in turn transfer back to the nrcc or donate it to their fellow house republicans. we talk about the ways that they're trying to curry favor with fellow lawmakers and curry support from the party. if you want to be in one of those powerful positions. the party expecting you to be a prolific fundraiser in many case cases reaching out and trying to
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tap donors. they think you've got leverage over them. these are done nors of course -- donors who want to have access to powerful lawmakers. they might be trying to build relationship with these committee chairman. they might be trying to have policy meant towards a particular perspective. when members of congress are going through the ranks and leadership they're often doling out money through their leadership pac to fellow house republicans or democrats and they're steering that money back towards the parties itself. i thought it was striking. we found in the report that across the board republicans and the democrats on these committees typically transfer between 10% and 20% of their campaign funds directly back to the party. if you're a donor giving money to a candidate that you support you're probably expecting that candidate use that money to funnel and fuel their own
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campaign. when in actuality a lot of that money going back to the party almost like a tax where you had 10 to 20% of that money just being transferred back to either the nrcc or the dccc. host: you quote congressman chris shades former republican lawmaker from connecticut. saying basically, you have to buy these positions. guest: he was a member who served for a number of years. he said it wasn't always this way. it was wrong for people to be meeting to buy committee seat. that's why this report was trying to ute out-- trying to outline some changes. fundraising prowess or the ability to raise money will not be taken into consideration for committee assignments or for committee chairs and there's a number of other thing that the house could do to try to tackle
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that problem of raising money from the interest that get regulated this notion of transactional giving. whether there's cooling off period between they take none from lobbiest or meet with lobbiest to get something done to try to break that cycle of making it look like people are buying access and buying influence. host: the report "price of power" tom is our next caller from ohio. good morning. caller: good morning. i think it's a shame that our country has to operate on all this money. if you're not up to trait and feel you're responsible enough to run as a political system, why should you have to get your millions and millions of dollars? every time one of them individuals hands a million dollars or so and a check with
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one hand and got the other hand for something to come back to. i'm 82 years old, i voted democrat all my life until this last election. i lived in florida. i know what donald trump is. my sister-in-law went to school with him. he is nothing but a crook. he was a crook then and a bully and he's still that. i don't believe in the political system at all. host: tom, thank you. what would you say to him? guest: that's a common frustration. people want to have faith in their government. right now, the belief in congress the belief in the faith in the institutions of congress is at all time low. we talked to members of congress and former members of congress for this report saying that the members of congress hate the system. the public certainly hates the system. the donors hate the system.
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but there needs to be more political will and engaged constituents can help push members to take this action to speak up, speak out against the system. to say, we want a government that is more responsive to average americans. we want to feel like the government is working for us and not the select few. that's the problem with so many transactional relationships in here. the perception is that the government is working for a select few and american people feel left out. the american people want and are craving democracy that works for them. host: our guest is michael beckel. covered money and politics for the center for responsive politics. now issue one, michael from alabama, good morning. caller: good morning. i was listening to the young man. very interesting conversation this morning. happy memorial day. i'm a veteran myself, 24 year
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service. one thing i have noticed -- i will relate these to you your last caller there, some concerned veterans of america. he kept using keywords. i've been a c-span junkie since the late 1980's. he kept saying change in policy. when they start looking at the organization i noticed that his funding is from the koch organization. this group, keep saying policy and they trying to get a to free market. as a veteran, we want the best service. let's be honest, don't use us. don't come out the way he was like we're concerned over this and that. i'm looking at policy. what i looked at the website and i looked up most of the -- in the last election, they put a lot of money against democrats. i'm an independent. they put a lot of money against
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democrats. when it comes to policy and i've been watching as a veteran and my son just left college to join the marines. the conservative side is taking away more and her each year. trying to change for the price of just say, we need to save money after everyone served and as this young man is talking about. you really got to look where the money is coming from and who's behind the money. the average person just can't run a campaign anymore to get the congress. you got to have some backer. democrat or republican side. host: michael, thank you. michael beckel. guest: we know that money alone doesn't buy elections. money is a necessary part of the equation. it is a threshold that most candidates need to raise. they need to raise a certain
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amount of money to be competitive. to be able to hire the people that they need to do. to be able to hire and buy the ads they want to air in that drives some good candidates away from entering into politics at all. it is sort of -- the average house race cost more than a million dollars. the average senate race, millions more than that. one of the main reasons that i have been active in this issue area, i think it's very important to follow the money. like you said, to be able to say, look and follow the traces. see the connections, see the networks that are involved. following the money with help show alliances and networks. see how different groups are related to each other and see which groups might have influence. we think about the reforms going on and types of reforms that issue one would like to see we
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are very straightforward. we think there should be more transparency in the process. issue one itself is getting a mix of funding from foundations and from individuals and we're transparent about where our donors are coming from. host: how does this translate to the highs position like paul ryan speaker of the house? guest: speaker of the house according to republican ken bucks new box is on the hook to raise more than $20 million for the nrcc this election cycle. we've seen headline after headline in recent months where he has been spending an extraordinary amount of time raising money and transferring those significant amount back to the party, helping embattled republicans both in congress and some of the top candidates that
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are out there. that's why the nrcc and dcc exist. they want to expand those caucuses within congress and they want their top party leaders whether it's paul ryan or nancy pelosi to be helping them raise significant amounts of cash to help out the party in the upcoming midterm election. host: jerry from alabama, good morning. caller: good morning. i called several times on the same subject. congress they seem to be interested -- until we recognize one of the big problems and attack it, we can't never collect congress. the problem with congress is it's frozen. it has frozen for hundred years. over a hundred years. there are three or four times as much many people in the congressional district as it was hundred years ago.
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three or four times your representation has shrunk in this past 100 years. when somebody opens their eyes and sees where the real problem is in the actual make up of congress physical make up, that should be at least 12 12 -- 1200 members of congress maintain the size it was in 1913. guest: yes members of congress represent a large number of constituents. i think we have seen that there are members of congress who want to work together and tackle political reform issues. there was a bill introduced last month for instance to reform the federal election commission. we saw six house democrats working with six house republicans to be able to introduce this bill. it's a small step forward being able to find that level of bipartisanship. that's one of the issues that
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issue one is active in this area. that's one the reasons we wrote this report, the price of power report. try to spark a conversation and get people talking and be able to say there is a way forward. there's a way forward for congress to be tackling these issues and a way forward to be more responsive to the needs of average americans. host: mike bees, you get the last question from pittsburgh pennsylvania with mike beckel with issue one. caller: i appreciate service people. [indiscernible] just get back to what caused the problem. the gop's main concern was one person one vote. [indiscernible]
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everything else -- host: thank you mike. guest: we know that there are democrats and republicans who want to come together and tackle these issues. right now, we are trying to foster that conversation on capitol hill. issue one is putting out white papers like this doing deep dive investigations like this to try to move the ball forward to say that this is a bipartisan problem, both parties feel like they are in a fundraising arms race. there are solutions to deescalating that process. host: michael beckel with the advocacy group issue one. thank you very much for being with us. the website and new report price of


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