tv Newsmakers Sen. Ben Cardin CSPAN November 5, 2017 10:01am-10:33am EST
newsmakers is next with cardin of senator ben maryland. then a look at tax reform i capitol hill. first we will hear from house republicans who unveiled the bill this past week on a followed by reaction from house and senate democrats. later, president trump shares his thoughts on the tax reform bill and a potential deadline for getting it passed. susan: our guest on "newsmakers" this week is maryland senator ben cardin. senator cardin serves on the senate finance committee, where he has been the cochair of the business income tax working group. he has also been on the foreign relations committee, where he serves as the top democrat. lots of things to talk about this week. we have been hearing from social media executives on russian meddling in the election and the republicans have announced the tax plan. we have plenty of questions for you, senator. thank you for being here. sen. cardin:: it is a pleasure to be with you. thank you. susan: let me introduce the two reporters who will be asking questions. niels lesniewski returns to us on "newsmakers." he is with cq roll call covering
specifically the senate. robbie gramer makes his first visit to our program. he is with the foreign where he covers diplomacy and national security. niels, you are up first. niels: thank you. senator cardin, i want to start with really the news of the day, which is the house republican' unveiling of their tax code overhaul. i have seen your statement about it and i have seen statements from other democrats on the finance committee. i sort of know where the big picture of opposition is. is there anything in particular that you think that republicans who are from states like your own or along the east coast might really have problems with as well. sen. cardin: i think so. there are several revisions. first of all, the bill is more disappointing than advertised. the main reason is because republicans will have problems with this. it blows a hole in the deficit.
it is far greater than $1.5 trillion. so many of the provisions that affect individual tax relief are temporary in nature. they phase out. if you continue those provisions to the 10-year life cycle of the scoring, the deficits will be trillions of dollars more. i think the hole in the deficit will be a major issue for a lot of republicans. coming from a state like maryland, you will be concerned about the loss of state and local tax deductions, which is a tax on tax. there are real restrictions. the loss of being able to deduct medical expenses. the loss for economic development on the new market tax credits and the historic tax credits that are used throughout maryland for affordable housing and for economic growth. there are so many examples of where there are specific problems that will be created if
this tax proposal became law. niels: have you gotten any more information than i think the last time i talked to the ranking democrat on the finance committee about what the senate plan is at all or how secretive have the republicans then? -- republicans been about what they will reveal on the senate side? sen. cardin: the supposed schedule in the senate would be one week later than the house. sometime late this coming week, chairman hatch would lay down the tax bill. my guess is that it is not complete yet. we understand it will be different than the house bill, and that it will contain different priorities. we will have to wait and see. we do know that it will at least cause a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit, and we are quite certain it will target for
relief higher income families to the detriment of middle income taxpayers. i think that is pretty well baked into the plan. susan: we are going to move back and forth between taxes and foreign-policy issues. let's turn to robbie gramer. robbie: thank you, senator, for speaking with us. you spoke about the ballooning deficit, which in the past top military officers and national security experts and officials have framed as a national security issue. what sort of knocked on impact in the rump of a national security or foreign policy could a $1.5 trillion deficit have on the united states? sen. cardin: absolutely, it is a national security issue. the fact that we are borrowing so much money, and we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world and we cannot pay our current expenses. then there is a challenge of whether we will extend the debt ceiling so we can pay our bills. it does raise a national security issue.
why the military is concerned is when you have these large deficits, will we be able to have a realistic budget for our national defense? will the budget deficit put such a pressure on reducing spending that we don't do what is necessary in order to protect the security of the people in this country? robbie: is that an argument you will push forward with republicans as you might try to convince them to draw back from this? sen. cardin: absolutely, but i think the primary message is this, our tax code needs to be attended to. it has problems. the only way we will get permanent tax reform is for democrats and republicans to work together. my message to the republicans will be, work with democrats. we will work with you so we do not have to borrow to give a tax cut. we will target the middle income families and work with you to do it in a responsible way so we can make sure we have the resources to take care of national security.
niels: sen. cardin, the other piece of the tax package in the senate at least does not really have anything to do with taxes at all because the been -- there have been reconciliation instructions also giving to the energy and natural resources committee that we all believe senator murkowski and company will use to open energy exploration. how much of a fight do you think democrats will at least try to put up on that, and you think -- and do you think there is any chance of stopping that? sen. cardin: these are very sensitive environmental lands in alaska. it has been our policy for decades that we were not going to drill in these areas for many reasons. first of all, the land is just o pristinele and to
that we do not want to risk the environmental loss. secondly, we have enough resources to drill for oil in this country. that is not our problem. what we need to do is make sure we have a diversified energy source, including clean energy, to maintain our energy security and also deal with our commitment to global climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and our environment. we certainly hope that will not be the case, but we do know there have been efforts made by republicans to open up the arctic and we will do everything we can to protect that pristine land. niels: on the tax piece of that puzzle, how difficult do you think it is going to be as the republicans look to do what they are attempting to do to do so within the constraints of the rules that you all have in the senate that the house does not need to be as concerned with regarding extraneous provisions that might be put in? i am not sure how well the audience might know, but there
seems to be an effort to repeal what is known as the johnson amendment regarding the ability of the churches to conduct political activity that might be baked into the house bill. how much of a challenge are those sorts of things going to be in the senate? sen. cardin: you are exactly right. this gets into the weeds. the process that the republicans is using known as budget reconciliation has strict rules in the senate for it to be subject to simple majority, and cannot be subject to the 60-vote threshold. it has to do directly with revenues. policy in and of itself is not eligible to be considered in a budget reconciliation bill. we have urged republicans not to use budget reconciliation but to use the normal process so we can get permanent tax relief. one of the problems is that some of the tax provisions have sunset provisions in it because of budget reconciliation problems. it would be a lot better working
with democrats so you don't have those concerns and we can work to gather on not only revenues, but policy that goes along with it. the issues you mention, if they produce revenue, then they can be subject to this process. in both cases you mentioned, the republicans will tie it to the revenues that come into the federal treasury as a result of arctic drilling or the additional tax revenues that we don't receive as a result of allowing charitable groups to keep the tax exemption, even though they participate in political activities. a policy which i think is wrong. robbie: senator, i would like to turn further east from a alaska. -- from alaska now. the president's upcoming trip to asia alongside secretary of state rex tillerson. what are you watching in this trip? do you think president trump's trip to the region can dispel tensions with north korea?
sen. cardin: there are certainly a lot of challenges. first of all, i am pleased to see that he is going to asia and spending 12 days there. he will be meeting with our friends in japan and the republic of korea. he will be talking to the chinese and vietnamese. he is going to the philippines. hopefully, he will be engaged somewhat in the conference that is taking place. i think the first message is that the united states and tends to be engaged in asia. we recognize it is in our national security interest. our engagement will be based upon our principles. our principles of open society's protection of human rights, the rule of law, open seas, open skies, free people. when we are talking to china, yes, number one on the agenda r helpe there help --thei in dealing with north korea. north korea presents a clear danger to the security of not only the region and the world
with the threatened use of nuclear weapons, but we need china's help to change the equation. they can do that. they share our vision of a nonnuclear korean peninsula. they can help us change the equation in north korea. we hope that the president will be persuasive with the president of china to help us in that regard so we can get an offramp and calm down the rhetoric that we have seen between the united states and north korea. there are other issues with china, including the maritime security issues that need to be dealt with so that we have read -- have a freedom of the sea. quite frankly, there are urgent human rights issues in asia. the hindu population of burma has been decimated. 600,000 have had to flee to bangladesh. we need the region to help and -- in this humanitarian crisis to insist that there be access to the affected regions so we can get humanitarian aid in and protect the safety of people and hold those accountable for those
atrocities for what they have done. it is a heavy agenda. clearly, he will be talking about trade issues and mutual defense issues. he will hopefully also be talking about human rights. robbie: senator, some of your democratic colleagues have put forward provisions to limit trump's ability to use nuclear weapons in the event of war or even prevent him from going to war with north korea without prior congressional approval. do you support those amendments? sen. cardin: let's be clear, north korea has created a very dangerous situation by violating international norms on the development of a nuclear weapon and now testing ballistic missiles that would be used as a delivery system for those nuclear weapons. they have created the crisis. president trump has made it worse with his rhetoric and a statements about whether he is with or without allies willing to take issue. what we should not be doing -- a military option is not where we
want to be. the consequences could be catastrophic. the current trend is not acceptable. we do not want north korea to develop a delivery system that could reach the continental united states. we really need to have a surge in diplomacy. that is what we are looking for . for, a surge in diplomacy in north korea. congress has not authorized the use of force. the president does not have the authority to preemptively use force. the president is commander-in-chief, and when he makes orders, obviously the military will follow those orders. what we are saying is, under no circumstances should we be using nuclear weapons and we should not be looking at a preemptive strike. what we should be looking at is a surge in diplomacy. susan: we are at the halfway point. we are talking policy issues as we are coming off of several days of social media executives testifying before congress about russian ads placed during the election year and prior, which
were at least intended to sow discord in the american public about some hot-button issues. i am wondering -- you have put out a statement calling russian meddling an act of war. if, in fact, it is an act of war, what kind of response should the united states make, and what can this country do to protect itself going forward? sen. cardin: let me first make this point. what russia did in the u.s. elections is part of a much larger strategy they have in europe and now in north america to try to infiltrate our country and to try to affect our democratic institutions, including our free elections, to increase russia influence globally. a freedom watch financed a study that showed that in the last decade, russia has been involved in 27 countries in europe and in north america. this is part of an overall strategy. first and foremost, we have to defend ourselves. we have to recognize that russia
uses social media to try to compromise our democratic institutions. we have to protect ourselves against cyber intrusion, with cyber security, protect ourselves on the freedom of press to make sure it is not being manipulated. we have to protect america's resiliency working with allies against propaganda, the fake news that russia uses. they have their own media through rt and sputnik. we have to defend ourselves. congress has authorized an appropriation as part of legislation i authored that allows us to work with europe to have resiliency and the protection of our democratic institutions. we need that type of defense in this country. yes, we should take action against russia for what they did. congress passed mandatory sanctions against russia. the present needs to implement those sanctions against russia
because of what they did to us. robbie: senator mccain has spoken a lot about waiting for another shoe to drop, so to , in this investigation into the trump campaign's ties to russia. what do you think the next shoot -- shoe that might drop in the investigation will be? sen. cardin: let's be clear. russia uses every tool they can to carry out their mission against the united states. they will hire the best lawyers in america to represent their interests and to mislead us on what are real facts and what are not facts. in the election campaign, we know of many contacts that were made between russia and the trump campaign. what we don't know exactly is how much cooperation was received by americans in helping russia carry out their design. that is what the investigation is all about, and that is what the investigation in the
intelligence committees in the house and the senate are all about. i am not going to make any predictions. we will see how this investigation goes forward. it should be given full resources and authority to carry out the investigation and look -- let them come to a conclusion as to who is responsible for what. niels: senator, if i can return to one of the foreign-policy questions that you alluded to yourself, which is the humanitarian crisis in myanmar or burma. i understand and i think you may have just introduced or unveiled some new legislation on that front with a number of other senators. can you talk a little bit about what you are attempting to do to help address that crisis? sen. cardin: several members of the senate, both democrats and republicans, have joined in legislation to make it clear that we will respond to the humanitarian need.
we know that hundreds of thousands of rohingya muslims who have been in burma for a long, long time have been affected by the burmese military. they have been killed, they have been raped, their villages have been burned, and many have fled in order to save their lives. this bill will provide a way in which the united states, working with the international community, will provide immediate help and assistance to protect those who are the most vulnerable. but we go further than that. we recognize it is the military that was primarily responsible for these atrocities and for this ethnic cleansing. we strengthen and reinforce the sanctions we have against the burmese military and make it clear that we will be watching, including other parties that may want to have business with the
military, but that will not be permitted under u.s. law. we strengthen our sanctions. we also make it clear we want to hold accountable those who committed these atrocities. we recognize that we want to work with the civilian burmese government, but they have to be able to control what is going on in their country. we have been disappointed that the civilian leadership has not been more outspoken on behalf of the rohingyas. niels: if i can just follow up on that and ask, how are the discussions about the situation in burma with senator mcconnell these days? he has had a long-standing interest in that country, but he seems in some respects to be perhaps more defensive of the civilian government then necessarily some of his colleagues in the senate at this point. sen. cardin: well, i think we all were very hopeful with the reforms that took place in burma
with the election of a civilian government, a government in which its leader was herself a victim of the humans rights violations in her own country. she showed tremendous leadership in standing up for basic rights. she took on the military and she was successful in winning the election as the head of the government. she was recognized by becoming a nobel laureate. obviously, she is a courageous individual. the problem today is not the fact that we have a courageous person that is the leader of burma, the problem is that she is not able to control the country and the military is still controls what is going on in burma. i would think all members of the senate recognize that the seeds that were there before the civilian election for human rights violations have now surfaced again, and we have to be as strong as we were before the reforms started to make it
clear that we will not tolerate the retrenchment back to the days of military domination. susan: we have five minutes left. the state apartment has announced that secretary tillerson is going to stay after the president's visit, specifically to travel to myanmar to address these issues. have you had an opportunity to talk with him about myanmar/burma, and are you on the same page? sen. cardin: yes, i have. we have had a chance to talk about these issues. i have also had a chance to talk to the president directly about these issues. it is clear to me that this is a matter in which the united states must show leadership. i am looking forward to the president putting a spotlight on this issue during his trip. the fact that secretary tillerson will be going to burma i think is a very positive sign. we need international observers in the country. we need them in the state where the burmese rohingya live. we need to see what is going on and document what has happened and look at the safety of the
people in the country, and to hold those responsible accountable. yes, i have had a chance to talk to the administration. i think they understand the importance of u.s. readership, and i hope they demonstrate it during this trip. susan: four minutes left. questions? robbie: coming out of the deadly attacks in new york, president trump has vowed to end a visa program for immigrants coming in under the diversity visa program. what is your response to that, and is there opposition among democrats in the senate? how are you discussing with your colleagues how to oppose that? sen. cardin: unfortunately, we know president trump's playbook. whenever there is an episode where we should have national unity, he seems to want to use that for a political message. this was a tragic episode in new york. the victims are obviously in our thoughts and prayers. we want to come together as a nation. we know we are an open society.
we know that our way of life will allow those who want to disrupt it opportunities, and we want to do everything we can to make them safe. we want to make sure we have the strongest possible vetting system on who comes to america, and that we use the most advanced intelligence in order to try to understand what people are doing that are trying to harm us and that we have a strong homeland security and national defense. it is interesting, the president is always selective on how he deals with vulnerability. he does not talk about his budget that did not fund these programs that were critically important to keep america safe. he talks about one part of an immigration policy recognizing that we need comprehensive immigration reform. we desperately need comprehensive immigration reform. the united states senate passed that four years ago, and actually dealt with diversity visas that he is referring to in a positive way. let's work together to improve our immigration system, but don't demagogue the issue as the president seems to always want to do.
niels: this is probably not fair to ask this as the clock is running down on our interview, but one of the other issues that you have on your plate at the foreign relations committee is that you are apparently going to be trying to work on an authorization for the use of military force. that is the sense we have gotten at least from chairman corker. do you have any sense yet on what the timeline is going to be for trying to draft a new authorization, and how broad it should be? sen. cardin: first, i want complement secretary tillerson and secretary mattis in their testimony before the senate foreign relations committee. i thought they were very direct in their answers and very helpful to us. it is clear to me that we cannot allow the 2001 authorization that was passed by congress immediately after the attack on our country on september 11 aimed at terrorists in afghanistan to be used for
worldwide military campaigns against terrorists. we need to update and replace that authorization with one that makes sense considering how much we know now about terrorists locally. -- globally. we certainly do not want to have an open-ended authorization for american ground troops to go basically anywhere in the world. it is important that congress replace the 2001 with an authorization that makes sense. senator corker and i are going to try to work together with an agreement on this. it is not going to be easy very we have those who think we should give our military open-ended authorization, and we have others who want to make it much more restrictive. we will do our best to come together with an authorization that is in the best interest of our country. america is stronger when we are united. congress should be with the
administration and a clear message to our men and women who are wearing the uniform of this country that they have the troubled support in carrying out their missions. passing an updated authorization for use of military force would be in our national interest. susan: senator ben cardin, that is it for our time. thank you for being our guest on "newsmakers." sen. cardin: my pleasure. good to be with you. susan: niels lesniewski, but start with taxes because the democrats on thursday had a big press conference with house and senate leaders where they talked about the model they used for the health care law and stirring up a big public relations campaign to make their case about why the republican plan will not work for middle-class americans. but, on the other side, the republicans are united in the fact that they want to pass tax legislation. it is a must pass for them as they go into the 2018 election cycle. they are energized around this. what do the prospects look like on capitol hill? niels: the early prospects make this seem like it is a must pass for the republicans.
the question really, and this goes back to what we talked about with senator cardin at the very top, is basically whether or not you can get, if you are the republicans, enough of your own republicans in the house from places like new york, new jersey, california, high tax states on board. they were skeptical generally speaking with the initial draft. the question largely will be whether you can get them on board or whether you can pass the bill without them, and then obviously the senate will have a -- have a summit different someities, -- have priorities, partly because of where republican senators are from. as i was talking to one of the republican senators the other day, there are no republican
senators from new york or new jersey. you do not have to worry so much about the same issues in threading that needle. susan: in fact, the senate bill may look very different from what we have heard from the house. so there is a long process to go through before it gets to the president's desk. how are the members reacting to the president's statements about basically negotiating via twitter? niels: well, he is apparently wanting a bill to reach his desk absolutely as soon as possible. this is sort of going to be the challenge because whether or not he can convince -- and how much capital that trump and his supporters will put in to getting republicans on board will be a real challenge to see how quickly something can actually make it to him. susan: robbie gramer, let's turn to foreign policy. there were some welcoming words from senator cardin about the president's trip to asia and some hopefulness about what may come out of it, particularly on the area of burma. what did you hear there?
robbie: i heard some cautious court will optimism that i think -- cautious optimism that i think is par for the course these days in foreign policy where there is a lot of lawmakers and officials and foreign officials who are still trying to gauge how trump does foreign policy. he is obviously not like any president in past modern history where he will stick to the script and let diplomacy rule the day. when diplomacy can come out on twitter, seemingly without warning, that can really unnerve a lot of foreign leaders. i think there are a lot of foreign leaders who are nervous about trump's trip coming up in asia, and i think what they will look for and what lawmakers will look for is in addition to the policies is the tone the president's sets. -- president sets. susan: with the country's
meeting, are there any that are particularly important? robbie: they are all particularly important. i think south korea will be critical. sen. cardin talked about how we needed diplomatic surge with north korea. that is definitely something secretary tillerson is working on around the clock. he is pursuing that with a hollowed out state department. the state department does not have an assistant secretary of state for east asia. we do not have an ambassador deployed to south korea. there is a lot of diplomatic heavy lifting that goes on below the echelon's of the secretary and the president that need to be done day-to-day that really the state department is struggling to get done now. susan: it will be an interesting and big foreign policy week, it also back here in washington a lot is going on with the russia investigation and taxes. thanks both of you for being here with your questions. niels: thank you. robbie: thank you for having me.
>> tonight on q&a, a biographer in author of alexander hamilton, and his new book on ulysses s. grant. young and dashing and handsome and romantic. in a way, he was a perfect leading man for a musical. he was a very different kind. he was playing and iconic. the charisma of ulysses s. grant was that he had no charisma. the drama is that he was not dramatic. he was not as fascinating. he was more deep than hamilton. he reminded me much more of george washington. george washington had eight la