tv NYU Hosts Discussion on Government Reform as a Campaign Issue CSPAN April 20, 2019 3:46am-5:13am EDT
rights yourself. you have a voice in a message in every right to stand up for what you believe in and move the world. all it takes is the courage to stand up and share your voice. that is what it means to be an american. announcer: you can watch every winning studentcam documentary online at tudentcam.org. >> columnist william crystal participated in a discussion on government reform as a campaign issue. this was held at the n.y.u. washington, d.c. campus. it's an hour and a half.
it is my argument in the report that this is the cleavage that will determine -- or, the debate at the intersection will >> in the next short time. being moved up to capitol hill and so forth. and that's going to come up in the conversations. well, i'll give an introductions to the findings of our latest analysis. then i'm going to direct some questions to the panel. we'll get some back and forth going. then we'll psych into some questions from you. immediately to my left here is jocelyn cauley who is an associate director at the pe wumbings research center here in washington, d.c. the center was created in 1995 more or less.
i was in philadelphia when the opportunity to support this onderful effort came across, and it's been doing phenomenal work ever since. jocelyn is a prime researcher and associate director at the research center looking at polarization, partisan and is involved in regular election polling. some terrific analysis coming from that unit. and jocelyn's behest in many ways. o her left is william crystal, bill crystal, he's founding director of the defending democracy together, which is a project educational advocacy education dedicated to defending the nation's liberal democratic norms. he was the founder of the weekly standard in 1995.
and he was editor for two decades. has an extraordinary inventory of research and writing and issuesary on most of the today. to his left is williamson, a senior fellow in governance studies at the brookings institution. i've used her work on what words mean in terms of the dialogue and trust in government. she dade terrific book several years ago. is there something deeper and you won't be surprised. the research suggests that there is occasional times when simple questions actually reveal deep
attitudes. and of course, jocelyn know this is as whelm and karen tumulty. we go back and forth because i'm from south dakota. we don't even know where north dakota is. karen is a terrific columnist for "the washington post." she's been a national correspondent for the paper. she's received several distinguished prizes for her commentary. and she is -- spent a good period of her career at time mag zeen and is now nervous about what she's going to have to do immediately after this. so i'm going to turn to karen immediately after we get going so that she can scoot and figure out what the release means and what's happening out there. so that's our group. and i want to say that it's a terrific group.
had tremendous support here from n. y.u.'s team and pauley and tom mcintyre putting this together i have enormous appreciation for what they've done. let me run quickly to this report. it's now available on the brookings institution's website at brooks.edu. you can pick it up. it's been designed and it's pretty accessible. and my appreciation to the crew at brookings for all they did. so we'll go quickly if i can get this thing to work. ah, i'm sorry, that's the mueller report. [laughter] honestly -- honestly, i did that as a joke for my son and i'm going to have to -- to econsider that afterwards. this study has been going for a long time. we've been tracking about what americans want for reform since 1997.
more recently we've been more systematic about. you're going to see in the report, it's a more aggressive sanl sys in recent years. the first use of this survey shows this general demand by the public for significant government reform. one of the questions that i'm going to ask is what does it mean when a respondsays the fed needs very major reform. what does the term "very major" mean, given that major is by itself, major. we'll talk a little bit about this we've seen very clear change and demandast 10 to 15 y in 1997 when the question on how much reform does the federal government need was first asked about 37% of americans said very major. last time we asked it, we were in the low 60% range. so there's been this rise. and the rise is punctuated
because the question wasn't asked in every survey. it was asked at several key intervals and you'll see that in the trend data. these are the two questions that were asked. which of these statements comes closest to review, very major reform basically sound and needs only some reform or doesn't need much change at all. and in my analysis, i started to just drop that third category now because it's a very small ents not much nd change at off. we have the question question, would you rather have a smaller government delivering fewer services or a bigger government delivering more services and these come together in these four reform groups that we can identify in the survey research. the dismant >> hes who favor very major reform and a government that's smaller and delivers less. the dismant
>> hes as you might guess form ump. and they were at the core in 2010 for the t party revolution. these are people who have a very visceral response to big government. and they're asking for less. and they want major reform when you read deeply into these surveys. we'll pick that up and talk about it in a little bit. these are people who want bigger government and more services and also want very major reform. in 2016 in some of the charts in this report which we'll run through very quickly, the expanders were the corps of hillary clinton's support. people who wanted more services an felt that government was pretty much -- that the government was pretty much ok and needed only some reform. o the expanders in 2016 were
the single largest percentage number of supporters for hillary clinton, the dismant >> hes for donald trump. and the streamliner as small group the only republican in tone. and they were, you know, about 15% of the electorate at that point tor american public at that point. the rate, we find among dismantelers and rebuilders this tremendous cleavage right now. and it's my argument that this is the cleavage that will determine or the debate at the intersection at the cleavage is going to determine be a major determinant i should say of the 2020 election outcome. these two groups share a great anime distrust and towards the federal government.
you see it down the list that for example these responses are more likely than other response dants to say that that side a losing rather than winning. they're more likely to see the federal government is always wasteful and inefficient. let's go into it. we see that the demand for government reform has been increased from 37%. to 63% in october just before the election of 2018. we did a survey a couple of weeks ago and that number is down a little bit. there's some evidence that democrats are saying, we well, government is a little bit less in need of reform when we have a democratic majority in the house but 58% of americans are still saying that the government needs a great deal of reform. very major reform. you see the naurm feel it needs
only some reform has declined over time. we're at this point where reform is inviewed with this notion that government is not working. we've already looked at some of the agreements. we see the rigse demand here depicted in a simple chart. the demand for very major reform. there was an outparty kind of trend here where if you were a dem and you had bill clinton in office, you were less likely to think that the government needs very major reform in 1997 then a republican. toe there's a general agreement across party lines about the demand for a reform. this is the current trend line over time. the brookings report has a much -- a more accurate presentation. these are excel charts that i did. in fact, the 2001 surveys were back-to-back to back, right? at the -- immediately before and
after the september 11th attacks. but you could see the general trend. over time the number of people who subscribe to the expanderers version of a government that needs very major reform declined as did the number of streamliners. well, in the second chart the number of dismant >> hes go up and the number of rebuilders goes up a. up. and right now they're at rough parity. the latest data that we have shows the rebuilders at about 31% and the -- the dismantlers were at 34%. i'm going to ask him what happens to the dismanters, how could they go from 42%, 43% right before election day and tumble down? has trump been responsible for that. is that because we've done some
things to convince america that government is working better. what's happening with these trend. a little bit on the demographics. no surprises here. december mant >> hes more male, more white than the rebuilders. this is kind of a discussion here that we've seen of what's been happening in the distribution demographicly of support for donald trump and support or an -- in opposition. at any rate i'm going to try to get through relatively quickly. i want to show you do 2016 vote intention by these categories. in 19 -- in 2016 when we asked americans who they intended to vote for, overwhelming number of the expanders were leaning towards hillary clinton. committed to her and leaning towards her. and an overwhelming number of dismantlers were leading towards donald trump. what you see is that donald trump was harvesting a fairly large number of the rebuilders.
one of the fair questions that comes to us is how could donald trump get a large number of people who want bigger government and more services given that he was so hostile in his campaign towards big government? what's going on there? that is where we see this coming in the future. this is our latest survey from april, and i'll bring this to a close and we will start asking questions here. this is our latest survey just two weeks ago. 34% of americans subscribing to this dismantler point of view. 31% subscribing to the streamliner point of view. the expanders, which is
theoretically the core of a lot of the promise making in the democratic pool, are at the 17%, 16% mark. this is where the 2020 election may turn, in the fight between the dismantlers and the rebuilders. what we will talk a little bit here with our panel is, first of all, does it make sense? what are we seeing out there? and does this measure of distance tell us, give us an accurate portrayal of what the next president will have to do and who's going to win the 2020 election? not everything can ride on this. it's a simple indicator, but is this a reasonable portrait for framing what's going to happen in coming months? we have a couple of other areas here, and then we will turn this off and i want to turn this to karen so we can get started. i'm going to come over here and sit down.
this is all my chart making. i wonder if we actually -- i am not getting it here. there we are. so, i have a set of questions for each of the panelists. norm ornstein was going to be the moderator today. he could not make it because of a personal reason, and he said, you can do this. and i was like, i'm not so sure. but i'll do my best with this panel. so i want to turn to karen first and say, what are you seeing here? does this resonate with your reporting right now as you look at the field? karen: it does, but i think as is almost always the case in politics, half the job is defining the question, which is, what's the issue that you're talking about if you want government to work better?
or increasingly, the way i hear it defined on both sides, put government on your side as opposed to the other person's side? there's separate conversations going on about this. there's a conversation going on within the democratic party and the conversation that trump would like the election to be about, which is, as you were talking about, the size and role of government. what should government be doing in your lives? which is why the democrats are arguing over things like single-payer healthcare, which is, they call medicare for all. it's really at the heart of the conversation about the green new deal. what is it that government should be doing? but i think the separate conversation is -- one thing that's happened since donald trump has been our president is that we've come to realize that a lot of things that we had always assumed about government,
and specifically assumed about executive power, were not things that were written into our laws or written into our systems. they were written into our norms. so, we assumed the president would release his tax return. we assumed the president would not have the white house full of his relatives. we assumed the president would not be operating his business out of the white house. and so, one thing you hear a lot about on the campaign trail is also kind of fixing government so that what we assume to be norms are actually built into the system. it's why, for instance, elizabeth warren says that the first piece of legislation she would bring up as president would be anticorruption legislation. it is why somebody like mayor pete buttigieg of south bend, indiana, in addition to his
extraordinary personal political skills, is telling the story of essentially making a city work, bringing back basic sort of what looks like normal, competent government. and so, i think as election goes on, it really is going to be a question of who gets to decide what we mean by reforming government? >> i mean, in the buttigieg case, he is the only one who has really talked even a little bit of length about making government work. he's talked a little bit about -- he would've been right out of town if he couldn't fill the potholes, but his efficiency versus effectiveness, those are words that are music to my ears as a public administration guy but i'm not sure economy and efficiency are the terms that resonate.
do you think -- and i mean, we've got the for the people act, but that doesn't deal with government operations and performance and spending and so forth. i sometimes wonder whether jimmy carter would be the candidate that you would want for this kind of data presentation, that he really talked a lot about making government work and reorganization. is there someone here can go -- who can go deep on this? karen: i would assume it would be somebody who has executive experience. so, there are a couple of governors in the race. the other thing is just right now the sheer size of the field. we're talking like, what, 20 semi-announced candidates? right now, they are sort of duking -- i think what we're hearing is a lot of identity politics because they are all kind of duking it out for segments of the electorate, segments of the democratic electorate, which is extremely fired up right now and extremely
angry. i have been struck, for instance, by -- i was in new hampshire in february over presidents weekend. and in a day and half i was able to see five candidates. they were all getting really surprisingly big crowds. tulsi gabbard was able to get 250 people on a saturday night in concord. i think at this point, because the field is still so big, because we haven't had our first debate, i don't think the race is really settled into what it's going to be, and i also think once it becomes one of them versus donald trump, it's going to be a completely different kind of conversation. paul: bill, you're nodding your head. bill: just a couple of reactions to the presentation as a whole, and building on what karen said, campaigns are unique and idiosyncratic.
i would say reading the report and looking at the slides, it feels to me like actually the pre-trump split between the republican party and the democratic party. the data looks like it hasn't changed that much in 20 years. 58% thought it should be very major reform of government in 1987. 58% believe it today. predictably, liberals and democrats want the reform to be expansion and reform, and the conservative republicans want it to be reduction and electorate reform or dismantling reform or whatever. i think that does characterize pretty well the two parties over the last 15 years or so. it gets more pronounced on the republican side with the tea party. but basically if you have, let's stick to the 2012 vice presidential candidates, paul ryan and joe biden. that characterizes basically a paul ryan-joe biden race. big government, moderate liberal
and a smallish government conservative republican for we can't afford this so we have tof these benefits. i guess i don't think it -- some of the data for 2016 maps it. i think at the end of the day for trump and the general election -- trump got 91% of republicans and hillary got 92% of the democrats. it is not clear to me what you can deduce about that about trump. that's the reason trump squeaked out a victory. reluctant republicans came back at the end and had a standard race. the numbers are identical to 2012. there was a four-point gap in 2012, there was a three-point gap in 2016. trump had a better distribution of voters in the electoral college and got a little help from comey and so forth. i guess i don't know it will characterize 2020. i guess that is where i would differ. trump has changed in insofar as it will be a referendum on trump
-- relations are some referenda trump is not unlimited government republican. trump is not even a dismantler. he is sort of a destroyer of government institutions and norms, but that's a big difference. i'm serious. trump is not interested in entitlement reform. if you would have said five years ago when ryan was rising in the party and romney and had gotten 47% against incumbent democratic president and then won congress -- if you accept whatever republican president and republican congress and you would have zero entitlement reforms, zero on any serious attempt to cut the government honestly, totally cheerfully running trillion dollar deficits. trump's standards seem to be larger in their first term than obama's were in his first term. obama was, to be fair, coming out of a, presiding over a horrible recession and there was a case for him in more traditional point of view. now we're at the top of the business cycle and running a bigger deficit. i do think trump is playing
identity politics, not more traditional dismantler versus rebuilder politics. with trump, it is all about, he is on your side, and he is putting government on your side. and it doesn't have to be particularly small government and trump is intrusive when he wants to be. at least, he is urging the use of government to go after political enemies. >> and protectionist trade policies. bill: and protectionist trade policies. and immigration, it's not exactly the government out of the business of doing things, right? the one emergency has declared has been to spend more money, not to cut anything. i guess i would caution against making this -- assuming ereforthis will be dominant in 2020. if 2020 is about trump and about his character and the rule of law and his version of the republican party, i don't know how much we get a real referendum on what i would consider to be a more classic ryan-biden type, obama, i don't
know, scott walker. you can imagine the normal splits of the party. i do think this maps it quite well, but i think trump has shaken things up. there's still the two parties and still most republicans are for cutting government and most democrats are not. i would be dubious that this emerges as a big theme. trump will not give eloquent speeches in 2020 about how -- even intelligent ones or, you know, even ones that were written for him public kind that romney gave, even mccain who is less interested in this stuff. still, mccain ran on an actual health care plan that was a classic, we can help people buy insurance, but we can do it with much less government. we will give them vouchers instead of having exchanges. vouchers versus exchanges is a debate trump is not interested in. paul: vanessa, what do you think about this reading of this particular question? and think more broadly about this issue?
on the increase in demand for very major reform, i think there's a question about what does that mean? the number did go up from the kind of general good feeling in the mid-1990's, but, i mean, you know this is a very important question as to whether there's any room for a conversation about what the shutdown did or this agency is broken, or the government is wasting too much money or whatever. it's a very important question as to how you run on this if you wanted to run on it. what do you see in these questions? vanessa: yes, i think there are two things going on. the first question about the need for major reform probably taps into quite a bit different things. that will tap into the trump phenomenon in terms of breaking norms. it tracks very closely with the gallup data suggesting for the first time in a very long time
the economy is not a top issue for the american people and the top issue has consistently been good governance. i think that is capturing the concern centered on trump but more broadly about gerrymandering and various ways the sort of apparatus of the american government doesn't work very well, shutdowns and that sort of thing. i think that is there in the reform question. on the size of government question, i think you're right that the sort of classic divide of the republicans and democrats has been on this question, whether the size of government should be larger. if you want to help people think about this question is worth disaggregating a bit. a survey i did was asking people what they were glad their tax dollars did and what they were upset that their tax dollars did. i looked at the two dimensions. i looked at how popular things -- how often something appeared also howr upset but often it was mentioned. what i found, and it fits with a lot of other research, is there
is a whole set of government programs that are very popular. consensus level popular. among democrats, it probably doesn't matter. and those are local services. the most common, roads and schools. everyone is glad they see tax dollars on those things. then you see a decline in the attention paid to the issue but people still like it. not everyone mentions the sewer system, but everyone thinks the government should do it. there is a whole category of things about which there's a really largely consensus opinion among the american people. then, there is everything else, and especially the things the federal government does. and in that area, those are things like health care, social security tracks of their with -- tracks up there with your local benefits. health care, military spending, highly controversial, and, of course, spending on the poor. if you ask americans what the government does, the most common thing that anyone will mention is redistributive programs. welfare, snap, tanf, all the
programs that traditionally help low income people. when you're talking about whether the government should be involved in giving a hand up to poor people, you tap into some very long-standing divides among the american people. racial divides, ideas about who is poor, who is deserving. your question managed to wrap those things together in a way i think is really interesting. on the one side, you have this question of the institutions of government and how well they work, and to some extent, how personally corrupt donald trump is. on the other side, you have this long-standing divide about whether government's role is in helping low income people. >> this is not your question, but it came out of this stream of questions that the pew research center was doing on trust in government. really wonderful surveys. are you going to do a big trust in government -- >> i think will be a little while before we do a major trust
in government survey, though we have recently done a small -- we do occasionally update these things. just a couple of weeks ago, finding what we know about 20% of americans say they have a lot of trust in government, and that's been basically where we've been for 20 years. we did do that survey recently. i think this is a theme we think is important and we touch on in a lot of our other work as well. but 2010 big trust in government survey or our 2015 big government may not be something we do in this next year or so. but that said, these are certainly things we touch on in our work. another way to build on what vanessa just said is there is, as we know, this kind of operational liberalism and symbolic conservatism when it comes to government, and you see
that in, we recently on that same survey asked a series of questions. we asked about government spending and whether government spending in all of these areas should be increased, decreased, or stay the same. we saw that change a lot between the obama administration and 2017, but very little changed between 2017 and 2019, and very little appetite in the american public for decreasing spending in pretty much any area at all. that was true among republicans as well as democrats. of course, democrats tend to be more likely to say increase spending than republicans. but again it varies depending on the domain. and transportation is one of the few areas of consensus. transportation and infrastructure spending, both democrats and republicans at a high rate say spending should be increased. there are big gaps in the spending on the military or spending on the poor and so on. so all of that suggests once
again will we talk about what it means, let's talk about even a smaller government means what a -- or what a bigger government means or what reform means, it means different things to different people. i think we see that again and again in different data. >> one question about that. leaving aside unpacking what it means, which is very interesting, just as an empirical question, if you looked at the numbers in 2014 about the republican party and republican voters views on the smaller government and a host of related questions, and i looked in 2019, which would be, is a more similar or more different, in other words, i wonder a lot, has trump changed fundamental republican views or is a huge amount of accommodation by republican voters and elected officials? but at the end of the day, apart from superficial issues, there's still republican-ish than not.
have we seen actual changes in public opinion about this sort of basic size and scope and purpose of coming question among republicans in particular? >> on that core, bigger question, which is a question that many organizations have tracked for some time, the answer is more similar than different, definitely. there has been a long-standing partisan divide on that question. it is not new or substantially changed, but like so many other things that we see in the current political environment, it is more than it once was. republicans are more on the smaller side. democrats are more consistent on the bigger side. there's also -- and i think, paul, you mention this -- there is a thermostatic element to this, right? again, this last survey we did and it looks like you cover -- you have there's similar findings, that the public is
equally divided between preference for smaller government and bigger government. during the obama administration, the balance of opinion was smaller. there is a bit of reactivity there. when you have republicans on the office, there are people on the edges might say, i prefer a medium-size government, so now i'm going to say bigger. and during a democratic administration the flip side may happen. >> but can you really separate out the rhetoric as a driving force in all of this? the degree to which the word socialism is being thrown around this election cycle. it at least feels, and i don't have the data, it feels like an accelerant is being thrown in there somewhere. >> there is this odd pattern in the trump period. in august 2016, you had the largest surge in this combined measure. so you had a bump in the number of dismantlers.
in october of 2018, two years later, you have a pretty significant drop in the number of dismantlers. that could be related to a trump fatigue of some kind. we saw some evidence that the number of very conservative americans increased during that period among the dismantlers, the ones who said i'm very conservative. that increased while the number of moderates drop and it could be there with some movement in the trump base among people who were saying, not for me. >> that is literally the voters who voted republican in 2016. republicans won the national house vote in 2016 and lost the national house vote by nine points in 2018. that's about 10 points, which is what you are showing. i don't think it's a base. those are moderate republicans who sought trump and republican congress in action for two years.
didn't like the tax cut that was passed. certainly did like the attempt -- certainly did not like the attempt to repeal obamacare and the arguments that were made. generally didn't like the kind of carelessness about making the covered work, epa, corruption so forth, and moved away from the more extreme dismantling. isn't that a reaction to trump and the republican congress? the base is as fervent as ever. deep state need to be eliminated. these were the voters who moved between 2016 and 2018, i've got to think. >> republicans succeeded like on the affordable care act and doing the one thing the democrats never were able to do, which is make it popular. [laughter] you look at, i think it's the pew poll. you look at the lines between approval and disapproval of the affordable care act, and they cross at almost the precise moment that the republicans started trying to repeal it. >> the question i guess for the
panel is it might've been expected or some of the dismantlers have left. they are kind of in a space and in a close election, that's the swing vote right there. so where are they headed? i mean, so these are people who in 2016 were saying smaller government, and there's been a drop off in that group, some movement towards a little calmer place maybe or vacuum? where are they going to end up? >> i think it's going to depend on who the democratic nominee is. i think they're headed in a different direction if it is say a joe biden-ish, amy klobuchar-ish type of person than potentially are if the alternative is bernie sanders. >> one thing to bear in mind is that part of all of these survey answers are thumbs-up or thumbs
down on the presidency. the extent to which you say the government -- if you are a republican, the extent to which you think the government needs major reform when barack obama is president is pretty high. now that a republican is president, maybe less reform. clearly something is working. i got my republican president. it is the same for democrats in the opposite direction. you think major reform is necessary under donald trump, and you did not think major reform was necessary under barack obama. your actual attitudes if you answer anything specific about reforming the voter registration system in this country or whether we need to be spending more on social security, those attitudes probably did not move very much. but there is this thermostat approach, where people are, i don't know people's underlying values because they hold values or opinions about government have shifted much when they aspond differently to question whether, is doing a really bad job are only kind of -- or only kind of a bad job. >> i really tried to tear that down and find it.
there seem to be relaxation of these traditional partisan lines, that in these combinations, the decision about whether you support very major or not so much, that was evening out across the electorate. so there seemed to be some movement there. and then you see this drop in this tightening of the band between the two. 2016, the dismantlers occupy a large share of public support. 2018 in the fall, they are in a dead heat and they're still in a dead heat this april. i'm trying to figure out whether there's something else going on. >> i guess i agree. basically, some people who were more on the dismantling side after eight years of president obama, big government obamacare, other expansions of the federal government, a lot of regulatory stuff in the second term, they
were republican-ish. by 2018, there were not so crazy about trump and the republican congress so the moved over i guess you would call them rebuilders which is more moderate versions of we can fix some of this, we don't have to tear down quite as much. i guess the convention which i agree with is if you are -- if you nominate a democratic rebuilder they can keep those , votes in 2018 and if you nominate a democratic expander, sanders, let's say, you are at risk of losing those votes. i think the green new deal is not the most attractive way to get the people who voted reluctantly for trump in 2016 or third party, and then voted democratic for congress, my neighbors in northern virginia, in 2018, that would be -- the flip side is how much the democratic party in reaction to trump has gone from being nice, al gore, joe biden, good government, john hickenlooper,
whatever, we can fix things, we don't want to go crazy. capital and market signals are important. all the kind of bill clinton and somewhat barack obama type administration, how much that is not attractive anymore in the democratic party radicalized by trump and other things. they are not interested in this complicated message. stored --ynamics are forget all that nonsense, that went nowhere and cost trump, so -- and it got us trump, so what we does have medicare for all into green new deal? there is a tension between that and what we are working on in general. maybe that is too simple, and i think these are always more complicated -- i guess i do have a fairly simpleminded view, that those voters would like one democratic message a lot more
than another democratic message. >> if i could jump in there, one thing to remember is that there are two aspects of what makes a candidate seem like, not a dismantler, the opposite, the big rebuilder. there are two things working. one is the policy, but how the policy seems to people who do policies all the time is not how politics seems to be not follow -- the people who do not follow it closely. medicare seems like a middle-of-the-road program for most people, but medicare for all, first read, it is like medicare, but for all. that seems moderate. but if we are closely following politics, we understand that it is a position of the left wing of the democratic party. you have your candidate like bernie sanders, who is like, i am not like the mainstream of the democratic party. we going to change things, right?
you can have the candidate with that kind of affect without proposing the most progressive solution. sometimes people pick up more on the affect of the candidate than the policies they are proposing. >> if you have been in campaigns, you know that the first reaction to a term is not always the way things are. medicare for all, seems like a -- it always does for well -- does pretty well, because people have decent experiences of medicare for the parents were themselves or others. they think, fine, let's let other people -- if it works fine for a 60-year-old, why should it not work for a 52-year-old guy who is unemployed? when you have to explain that some versions mean 150 million people lose their private insurance, because we are losing -- moving everyone to medicare, it is like, i don't know. i do think it is for a
-- it is difficult. it is important not to take the initial reactions to something that has never been through the heat of a campaign. things look good, even in several campaigns in the modern era, things look good in august or september but do not look great by election day because of the fair or unfair attacks on it. i agree on the affect and atone. some things better than others -- would last better than others with these proposals, but generally, i do think that the socialism attack is idiotic. bernie sanders is a socialist, he says he is. if i were running the democratic party, i would want to make sure that these things were thought through so that the second and third tier of the debate gives you good inoculation. against you are just some insane person who wants the government to run the whole country.
>> jocelyn, do you have a reaction? >> i mean, only to say that this is all i think very much true in terms of public opinion, people often aren't reacting deeply to the policy ideas, but this is absolutely a point that you see in public opinion polling. i think going back to the point about the affordable care act and that shift in public opinion between the obama administration and the trump era, it is both that people had things that they legitimately didn't like about the aca, but the move to the trump administration is that the things they did like were under threat. so, there is -- part of it is, people are -- all right, thank you. don't know what happened there. to some extent, people are reacting to what is really
happening. what they see on the horizon. [laughter] >> we are having a wee bit of -- >> no, that's ok. >> shall i tell a funny story about socialism for a second? >> sure. >> while we get our mics sorted. i don't know if this is true but i read a poll that suggested -- barack obama was called socialist all the time in 2008 before becoming passing aca. a pretty moderate set of policies. he was called socialist and there's some evidence to support that socialism had kicked up in american popularity because people did not know what socialism was but they knew barack obama and liked him. terms can regain new meaning,
whether it is because of a particular candidate. >> i want to talk to you before you run back, because you have to get out of here. this is the 30th anniversary coming up this month coming up this month -- you are going to try another one? it's the 30th anniversary of the 1989 national commission on the public service. paul volcker was the chair. the report was presented to george h.w. bush. there was this moment where people were thinking, you know we can do something that getting -- about getting good, right people in the government, repairing these antiquated systems and making government service cool again. i remember that was a theme in recent years. these kinds of things. so i'm sitting here saying well, the only lever that people like
me who work in these areas, and i was involved in the commission for a moment and had the opportunity to work with mr. volcker, you know, we kind of say suere in 2020 on government reform, making government work better. maybe, you're looking at the data, saying there's a lever here for for a candidate who wants to go this direction, but maybe over reading it out of a a hope to get something done. what are you thinking? >> well, i mean, one of the hallmarks of the trump administration has been the degree to which he has demonized public servants. the deep state. and i think that they found out that most people don't feel that way about government. they found that out during the shutdown. and there may be, think there is a possibility that somebody with the right message, the right messenger, the right kind of
experience could capitalize on that. i don't know who that is right now. the other thing, and we're all talking about your focus group is your northern virginia family. mine is my very large trump supporting family in texas. and they are all still there with him, but the degree to which i have heard any misgivings when i go home to texas is, you know, i kind of thought he was going to run this place like a businessman, that there was a basic, you know, assumption of a degree of competence and a degree of efficiency, that he would bring to government that i think they are not seeing in a lot of the sort of more impulsive decisions and the superheated rhetoric that we seen. -- that we have seen. so yeah, there may be an opening for that, i don't know. >> we did defending democracy together, which is one of the things were doing is to lay the
groundwork for republican challenges to trump. we did some focus groups before the election in 2018. they were comical in this way. these were reluctant trump voters, suburban kind of not trump loyalists in the base, the people came home at the end to vote for trump, and still mildly approved of trump, so that binary choice of approved, disapprove, part of the 85% of republicans that approved or -- who approved, but also part of the 35% or 85% that are not certain they fully approved. they kind of like the disruption. they think it was necessary to shake things up. trump is a little vulgar, but maybe that is necessary to get washington to change. the moderator said you guys are fine with trump in 2020? it's like, not so sure about that. some disruption is good but maybe now we need someone who can reach across the aisle. a surprising amount of sort of
interest in bipartisanship and problem-solving among some chunk of trump voters. i suspect it's a minority, probably a pretty large minority, but a minority. that is why all the polls show retrospective sort of approval for him so far, and things have not fallen apart, and economy is good, and the government seems to be functioning despite his screaming and yelling. nervousness going forward. people do want a government, they sort of are not idiots. they kind of know they need a government that basically functions, and they don't want so much disruption that services don't get delivered and we do have shutdowns for 35 days every year, something like that. i also wonder on reform, maybe there is less demand for government reform because government works better. the truth is, how do we encounter government really? social security and medicare are massive. most of these are capturing working class and middle class attitudes. may be true of poor people.
social security is, things should be pretty well automated. not get the right check at the right place. medicare is complicated but it's not worse than private insurance i'm going to say, in terms of getting your reimbursement and dealing with your physicians and so forth. the military and other big parts of the government have reformed and are generally viewed as working reasonably well. i don't think there is huge dissatisfaction with them. even your experience with -- the famous jokes about the dmv and all that. i don't know, virginia, getting your drivers license renewed or getting a new one is very easy, and it works just like pretty much like dealing with the private sector. some of that kind on the conservative side i think the idiocy of the government, which was not based on nothing obviously. everything is done by paper in -- and the private sector is now a computer. everything takes eight hours in the government office which would take eig m
i'm not sure that gap is quite as great honestly as it was. it may just be that, the anti-government sentiment that the benefits of the government are going to the wrong people, to poor people, to people we don't like, foreigners on the right, and on the left, elizabeth warren, the sanders, on the flip side of that, everything is rigged for wall street capitalists. there could be more hostility on that. but the pure kind of old-fashioned public administration, it's just not working very well -- i wonder if it actually, i don't know much sentiment there is on that. >> and, but the other thing i think that is different, too, is we have seen the demonization of law enforcement. that is i think a whole different level of essentially going after the white hats of our government.
>> so, in terms of this kind of general conversation, and we are going to take some questions and let you go in a second, do you see any kind of space where a bernie sanders or some of the democrats who are in the expander kind of mood, where they need to temper that was -- with sort of this can be done, or are you seeing any kickback on the campaign trail about the reality of making these programs work? >> not yet. but again, i think it's just a scramble to sort of grab your share of the electorate, which means a lot of very sort of emotional, identity-based politicking going on out there. what we might begin to see that is when they get on the debate stage next to each other. and also i do wonder if people like john hickenlooper are going to have a moment. you know, people who have been
-- people who are not named pete buttigieg who have been recently in an executive position, have a chance to talk about that. i just don't know if that is going to happen. >> vanessa? >> yeah, i think it still, as you say, very early, and i think it will be interesting to watch. it's a very, very crowded field. there are a lot of people trying to get some attention, a lot of candidates who have received less attention than you might expect going into. it's too early to make any judgments, and i think the other, it's not entirely clear what policies a lot of the candidates will stand for. when we talk about sanders, the policies are clear. when we talk with elizabeth warren, the policies are clear and have white papers associate. candidates who are clear position but beto? even buttigieg i'm not sure what positions will come with the
affect of the character that they are sort of portraying in the campaign. >> do you see any shelflife for the for the people act and is -- and these kind of ethics in government kinds of reforms, corruption? >> this is something that if, as a follow-up project to the previous work i've done on the tea party, there's great people looking at the indivisible movement that came out very much in response to the trump era and has focused very heavily on the kind of good governance reforms, very concerned about this issue, so i think h.r. one and near universal on the democratic side probably does suggest it would be a first moving proposition in a democratic administration, for sure. >> is also probably remembering that not all government is federal government, and there is really a lot going on in state legislatures, who see a lot of changes.
i spent last week in colorado. a lot of stuff is getting through that has been stymied in past legislative sessions. >> in what regard? >> believe it or not, there are two states where one house of the legislature is majority female. colorado and nevada. [laughter][applause] [applause] so, a lot of things that you might associate with women's issues that have failed four and five sessions in a row, they are looking like they're going to get through. paid family leave, all-day kindergarten, but you also see the climate change legislation that is probably going to get through very aggressive in colorado, all four cosponsors are women. >> ok. so anything that you are picking up on, this would be the jimmy carter, ethics government, government as good as the people, people coming after a president, this turmoil over the
disruptor donald trump. you had that moment after watergate where you have this flood of making government more ethical, and carter made a number of promises for bigger government and health care and so forth, energy. do you see anything in your data on the general trends and demands for those kinds of reforms? >> i think -- >> we got a dead mic. >> somehow. there we go. i think all of these kinds of reforms get broad support -- not all of them, -- but most of them get broad support across the political spectrum. they are symbolic things that people can campaign on, there is value to that. your mention of ethics, we can't have this conversation without a
-- without acknowledging that the use of government is also linked to views of politics and people have very negative views of politics. not that people have loved politicians before, but that is where you ask people about whether elected officials are ethical, there are very low numbers on that, and so some of this is happening against the backdrop of skepticism about the actors, and to some extent, people have a cynical view of republican and democratic politicians, and you overlay that on polarization, and you have this dynamic where you may think they are not what you -- that elected officials in general are not as ethical as you'd like them to be, but my guy is better than the other guy. all this discussion about making government better and really needing reform, to some extend -- extent some of that is an
, expression of dislike about the way politics work today. >> just to sharpen that point, which i agree with, i would even say the corruption narrative is different from the reform narrative and is in some ways against it. is the problem that our politicians are corrupt? i think that has a lot of resonance today.administration . or is the problem that things aren't organized well and we need to have al gore convene everyone? the underlying assumption is people are acting in good faith, it is just not set up well to have a good budget process, because we don't have omb's reviewing the regulations and stuff. actually, i would advise, warren, who probably actually at heart more of a reformer, based on her work and her academic work and all of this, talks all the time about corruption.
which is probably politically smart. the problem is politicians, more anti-political sentiments than antigovernment sentiment. that would suggest they won't have reforms which would be a component of 2020. maybe corruption more. >> you have to go? >> i do. thank you very much. i apologize for the news. [laughter] t [applause] well, i think we can go to questions from the audience on some of these issues. so up here, please. >> thanks. thanks for the provocative and interesting discussion so far. i would like to throw out two ideas, maybe turn it up some more. i do believe that trump is turning into a destroyer of the federal government, but not in the traditional republican sense of small government.
it is the issue of loyalty. it is almost "animal farm"-like in that democrat badpu good, attacked mueller as a democrat when he has been a lifelong republican and so on. the leading symptom of this diagnosis is what happened in the last week, which is that he has proposed to dismantle the office of personnel management. i believe that is the first step toward a jacksonian spoils system, where the loyalists have the power and anyone else has no power. just throw that out for discussion. the second observation is that in 2016, a remarkable number of bernie supporters voted for trump, and that suggests to me that what people were looking for was something substantially different from the past, perhaps
reformer type rather than incrementalist. i think the democrat best situated to beat trump next year will be that kind of a person who arouses the emotion of big change rather than tinkering around the edges. thank you. >> why don't you take the first swipe at that? go ahead. >> sure. a couple things. the idea we could end up with a large deeply corrupt government is one that i worry a great deal about. whether you think government should be large in terms of services it provides to people, or whether it can be large and not provide services at the same time. that is a serious concern. in terms of the data, sanders supporters were not moump than e supporting clinton in the obama primary were likely to vote for mccain. there was not actually more interparty -- democrats did not
leave the democratic party or people who voted the democratic party did not leave in the general unusually high rates. i think that's worth knowing and it also provides good clarity about what is undoubtedly going to be a highly contested democratic primary. presumably, there will be relatively little drop off again in 2020, no matter who the democratic nominee is. but i think your broader point about the possibility the federal government can remain large in the sense that it allocates a lot of money and small in the sense that it provides you benefits is a real concern. >> i will take on the question of opm. we will go back here. we must have done something to cross up the wires, don't you think? i am very concerned about the
lack of interest in how government works in the trump administration, and the breakup of opm is an example of it and of concern. it is the language that underpins it and mick mulvaney's history with government reform efforts in congress and as acting head of the consumer product safety -- not consumer product safety -- financial bureau. it is very troubling the language that is being used. we have switched from a merit system to an entitlement system, which is how the current director, deputy director of omb describes the current system. we have got to be very thoughtful. i am hoping that the house and the senate as well, two government operations committees in their current iterations will raise this to the point of investigatory concern. the problem is that we have so
much investigatory pressure and the investigatory staffs on capitol hill have been winnowed down over the last decade or two, that there is no room to take on a quick hitter on what is happening at opm, given all the turmoil that has taken place. and that is of particular concern regarding these maneuvers that are kind of below view. you could get to a point where we unravel the systems that have been protective over the decades. maybe not efficient, that can be done better, but the reform effort being led by people who do not see the purpose of the civil service system as to protect merit but may be as a way to get to other ends. >> i think congress can, should, protect the basic, all these basic structures and norms of the federal government and civil service.
i think trump will have trouble doing too much damage. i think he has had trouble doing damage in the first two years, and he has had a republican congress. he wants to affect change at the fed. he won't succeed getting herman kaine or steve moore confirmed, so you will have a tradition of an unpolitical fed. preserve opm, civil service department of justice more or , less, rules and regulations. a second term of trump would be a totally different ball game. then you are on the road, conceivably to the latin america type politicization of all agencies, whatever you think of the current set of structures and procedures and norms, which are complicated and could use some reform, i am sure. a lot of them were put in place decades ago. right now, you can't fix them, you just need to defend them. this is not the moment to have your own fancy opm reform agenda.
in my opinion, i think nancy pelosi understands this perfectly well, this is the moment to say we cannot polici we need to protect department of justice, rules and regulations, and more of that attitude. maybe in 2020 -- doesn't mean you couldn't have a big surge in 2021 with a new president who says, we have escaped the bad form of change, of disruption. here, you want change and the public is not satisfied with government, with politics and there are things that are obviously not optimal. let's have a serious reform agenda. that might be intelligent for candidates looking ahead to -- for their presidencies to talk about -- i suspect 2019-2020 is more a defense of norms against trump. >> i think so. way back in the back.
>> i'm a former republican, one -- a moderate republican. what bothers me, talk about government reform. i think 12-14 of the head of the government agencies are acting now, not approved by congress. how can you have reform with people like that? it is kind of funny how the guy who kept merrick garland out of the supreme court is now having a russian factory built in his district at home. >> you know, one of the ironies of this period has been the vacancies and layering of federal government.
donald trump before he becameere were too many people in the federal government, but did nothing to de-layer or streamline. you have these vacancies that create what i call a neckless government. you have department heads, acting in several places but you that these dense networks of nerve endings. nerves that lead down to the bottom of government and you are seeing the effects whether it is through the shutdown its effects , on the faa and its engagement in the max 8 review or you see it in other agencies that are just poorly led. the president does not have an agenda, so his lack of action on some of these things creates vacancies and vacuums that kind
of work there will in a random way. we really don't know which agency is going to fail, but the odds are that there is one or two that are going to have a very serious problem, it's going to pop up, we have another breakdown in the federal government, a highly visible breakdown like we saw at the border. suddenly, you have more fueling of the demand for very major reform. he is just doing a lot of damage. it's kind of random. there doesn't seem to be a strategy there other than chaos. >> the failure of congress to meet its responsibilities is really shocking. i came to washington in 1985. congress took its role and responsibilities quite seriously in overseeing the federal government. not just scandal overseeing but actually making sure programs are working as they wish them to work which wasn't the best way for them to work, a powerful committee chairman had views about how some education department had some tiny little programs that should work and
you had some interest in it. but they were very diligent. you could not leave vacancies open long. they knew that was a way to avoid congressional scrutiny. they would start harassing. i was chief of staff of education, so i would get calls. why have you not filled the assistant secretary for vocation yet? certainly in reports to congress, the appropriations oversight. if you wanted to transfer $4 million, totally apolitical from a research center here to there because they are doing more important research -- there was not even an issue about it, the place did not need the money. the place did not need the money, or something. you still had to go to the hill and talk to some committee staff director and really get them on board this. this total collapse in congress, among other things that have collapsed in congress, of that sense of routine oversight. people come to congress, they want to be on tv or have a grant or a green new deal and don't
actually want to bother with actually doing what subcommittee appropriations chairman, authorizing chairman or members used to do. the class of the committee system in congress has been really bad. because you can't oversee everything so you need to have these committees. i'm not excusing what is happening in the executive branch, but i think it is a structural matter having -- congress -- there's a reason the founders were concerned to have congress have the ability for the power of the purse, the ability to confirm officials. when whitaker was able to be put in to justice, someone who hadn't been confirmed, jumped over a line of succession that previous presidents strictly adhered to and have him running the justice department, never testifying before congress, again, without the normal checks congress would have, that is a pretty shocking thing. i think so far we've dodged the bullet in sort of really getting to a really latin american type
kind of third world situation where you just put cronies in charge, working for the president and personal friend and business allies, but you are beginning to go down that path. congress is not doing as much as it could to stop that. >> there are some younger members of congress clearly quite committed to showing up for their hearings which is unusual and a good sign but the more fundamental changes that need to happen, one challenge is they don't have a lot of visibility for the public. so for instance, people understand that gerrymandering is bad, that is something people have opinions about, but the idea that term limits are a bad idea, which most political scientists would agree, if you want effective government you can't have lobbyists longer than members of congress, that is a very bad system, or the idea that we need to invest more money to have professional committees and other things that
most would say is an obvious thing so that you can have professionals who are capable of what you are discussing. those are reforms that are almost consensus views of people who study the intricate networks of congress and almost entirely unknown and not agreed to by the general public. >> i think we will take one last question and bring this to a close. any questions? oh, how to choose. let's go here. >> it seems to me a lot of the research speaks more about people's attitudes toward the legislative branch of government than the executive. so when you were talking about when to repeat questions i keep thinking about how do you tease out whether that is changing in
an era when norm breaking might finally, just as the recent statements have said, be focusing on what happens when you put an executive in charge who doesn't follow the standard rules on what the legislature does in implementing and the form of government that we had? and have enjoyed my talk walking. i was going know, and then you were like yes. it was good to see your engagement. we use surveys sometimes. it is fast and relatively less expensive.
we have gone deep. the project you are talking about that you are talking about, the deep focus discussions, we have all done it. this is one that i am still trying to tease out to figure out what should we say about this combination? it could be that it's kind of interesting, but it's not it is not determinative, or it tells us something that confirms what we are seeing in other indicators. it is a good point and all of us have done a fair amount of this work overtime. we always need to remind ourselves that going deep and talking through and reporting on this is very important. >> i think one practical thing that happens when you do focus groups and everything else, in a hyper partisan, very polarized electorate, which we do have. whether the causes are and whether we will inevitably have it. i am less certain than some people.
you get this kind of cyclical thing. in a very polarized electorate, that's going to trump everything. some people could be disquieted about certain aspects of the behavior of trump and scott pruitt and jared kushner and all of this. i suspect if you did polls in missouri, they are not that different from those in indiana. about judgments of these things. at the end of the day, because we have such a polarized country of red states and blue states, the republican candidate wins for senate and defeats the democratic incumbent. because the internal structure of the parties is so centralized, but in any case, you sort of have to support trump if you are a republican, the republican senate in this case, an intelligent guy who is interested, teddy roosevelt said he is interested in these arguments, is basically on board with supporting trump. at least publicly. i do think a lot of what we
might consider normal thrust, the reform agenda that could get bipartisan support, which is to -- which used to be the case, it gets not obliterated, but muted a lot by the partisanship and polarization. >> i will also add, i mean, i think to your point these questions are about, you are asking about the federal government. they are broad questions about the federal government. i wouldn't characterize them as questions about the legislative or executive. we have tried to tease apart, what are you thinking about when you are answering this question? i do think it is emerging -- it is merging together of the elected officials in congress, the bureaucracy of the president, that said, if you ask about -- you know, we and others track favorability about the institutions like congress, the
supreme court. usually people are not thinking about the supreme court when they are thinking of the federal government, so we could put that to the side. favorability to congress is much lower than it once was. you can pull apart that this trend in feeling negative feelings about the federal government is something we see when we ask about the legislative branch. it's harder to ask about about the presidency, the cut their -- because there is a single individual and that person is your party or not your party. what we see when it comes to presidential approval and this is not unique to the trump era, is that out partisans are much more negative about the president of another party and -- for they were if we go back to eisenhower. of course republicans had more favorable views of eisenhower than democrats did that -- did but the gap is a lot bigger than it was for clinton.
the gap for eisenhower is smaller than it was for clinton and that gap was smaller than what it was for bush, and that gap is smaller than it was for obama, and that gap is smaller than it is for trump. i think there is evidence to suggest that these dynamics are both about the legislative branch and about the executive branch, as well as broader bureaucratic, you know, with the federal government bureaucracy is. public opinion polling is asking people who do not think about this for a living, who are not deep in the heart of -- your question about opm made me think that a lot of americans would not know what opm is. the discussion that's happening among policymakers and people who study these things is different than the discussions at the level of the average american.
>> well,av from this. we have to bring it to a close. is it real quick? >> it's real quick. >> ok. >> what we have not talked about is the media and what people are listening to. when we were traveling on i-70 during the election and i said i have to know more about hays, kansas than this motel along the road. we went in and i had a conversation with a woman in her family furniture store. when she heard where i was from she says, "i'm so sorry for you." [laughter] in my head, i did not say, "i would reverse that." but, you know, i asked hert she was thinking about. she really expressed that she saw living here as being in the middle of a maelstrom of discord
and it immediately came to mind to me, where is she getting this point of view? i watched pbs news hour and she watched fox news. very best work on this topic is being done at the pew research center. if you want to know what the media consumption patterns are and how those are affecting attitudes, pew is the place to go for much of this work. i want to say thank you to this group, to my wonderful colleagues. [applause] i have learned a lot. thank you to nyu for this beautiful facility. i see matthew, who was instrumental in the design of this building. thank you, matthew. thanks for coming. thanks for teaching me something here. hopefully we have brightened
your day. don't get too unhappy later. ok, talk to you soon. [applause] [crowd chatter] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this weekend on c-span. tonight at 8:00 eastern, a forum on immigration policy and how to protect immigrant children. at six: 30 pm, historians and community activist discuss the history and intersection of islamophobia, anti-semitism and white supremacy. at 9:00, president george w. bush and robert gates talk about leadership. c-span2 atok tv on 2:00 eastern, we take you to the
san antonio book festival, and then sunday at 9:00 eastern, president arthur brooks on his book "love your enemy." tonight on american history tv, america,p.m. on reel the u.s. agriculture department's film mocker see at work on puerto rico. then sunday, at 4:30 eastern. the changingice on role of u.s. democracy in foreign policy over the last 100 years. watch this weekend on the c-span networks. it is important that our congress, and the members of congress can come together and focus on passing the policy in legislation that is meaningful and impactful and important to the people.
that they dismiss petty politics and come together to protect the american people. q&a, highek on cue -- school students talk about their experience about s we are all he want to make a better world for ourselves and the generations that will come after us. >> i think that our young people are very inspiring and passionate about our ideals and seeing all the delegates here, i have confidence in us that we could come together to reach a consensus that is educated and informed and crosses party lines. say,e one thing i can especially as i look around me at future leaders and fellow members of this rising generation that we are so involved and we care so much. if one incredible thing has come from all of this is that we are all awake. >> sy