tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN November 27, 2009 1:00pm-6:30pm EST
i'm wondering, was that a lesson that was actually learned? was there a lesson learned from 1989 that was reflected in strategic planning after that and maybe just forgotten, or was something else entirely learned from 1989? thanks. >> i am afraid that you have misunderstood me. i express myself poorly. the lesson -- in 1989 we were not quashes. -- cautious. in fact, the administration moved rather rapidly to announce it wanted an abyss -- ambitious agenda to transform europe. .
in the period of 2001-two dozen to, -- 2001-2002, lessens that decisive action can be rewarded. in a general way, they had not been the authors of military catastrophes. all major military things they had been involved with have been reasonably successful. in at least one major case, surprisingly successful they were not conditioned to think that the earlier experience or
their current experience is one that should condition them to a tragic of the american foreign policy or one that should condition them to be less decisive. as to the cost of pre-eminence, is anyone examining those costs? the nse staff has not been able to do anything about working budgets. it is a good idea for omb and larger resources to be left up to natural -- national security decisions for the last administration did a good job of coordinating national-security threat -- a strategy and that was the eisenhower administration. it can be done but a very few people in office at the moment have living memory of how to do it. a novato -- a nato enlargement -- mary cerati's runs through
this. her book is the best example i could give you of someone who handles the issue with complete factual accuracy and maximum empathy for the russian side of the argument. her conclusion is not that the promise was broken but that things were said that allow people to argue and feel the provinces have been broken even though they were not. on the legal side of this, legally do they have a case, no. emotionally, do they have a case? maybe. >> i would like to chime in with one final question john mueller in the last panel claimed that america goes in search of monsters and over in place but perthe threats in a way that
endangers american policy. we heard american policy makers talking about strategy. i do not think once we heard about domestic politics, into the discussion. i wonder if there is a link between those two in the sense -- john mueller did not go over this -- you have to go over domestic consensus. one thing that consumes america in the post-cold war is how to maintain the domestic consensus. it was central in the 1989 era when bush felt he had to keep nato ally to sustain that u.s. presence. the planning guidance at the end of bush, 41, there were talking about defense cuts but they strategy was to put a limit on
those cuts so that would go down so low. after 9/11, how do you mobilize this country around the threat that this is a single attack? that may have been what it was. it is needed to mobilize the country to prevent these kind of things. is that the case? are you really discussing new strategy concessions? how will this play at home and how does -- well as for there are international mission? iyou have to question primacy. >> i think the lawyers have an objection to lack of foundation. the foundation is that we
invented this. with respect, i think the idea that the only reason that anybody was concerned about soviet expansionism around the korean war was a profoundly historical description of the events. if i wanted to point to a single event in 1948, can you seriously imagine sitting in 1950 as a citizen or an official and saying the soviet union has conquered all of its problems and wants to establish a monopoly of communist propaganda in all the countries? czechoslovaks who was not occupied in 1948. it had been occupied before that. it had a huge army, much bigger.
i think the premise is wrong. they need to convince people that the defense budget is too small. it is easy to convince people the defense budget is what it needs. it is hard to convince people that the budget for roads or schools or the environment or pensions or health care is big enough. it is simply not true to say
that the pattern of the 1990's was a desperate effort to conjure up nonexistent threats in order to justify what was actually a shrinking defense budget during almost all of that. time. -- period of time. one of the funny things about nato enlargement was that it was almost the only foreign policy issue other than israel and some trade issues that the clinton administration faced with a was a domestic constituency that made any classical political electorate as opposed to legitimate domestic interests in foreign policy. that was the fact that there were ethnic groups in the united states who were in favor -- fell
in the central european country in asia. domestic policy and domestic politics and preferences have an impact. one thing that is striking in my mind is the change from a small group that cares passionately about the issue. boston is the -- bosnia is the classic case. there were almost 10 congressmen and some people in the world who were very interested in an aggressive policy for bosnia. as soon as we had an aggressive policy, you realized there were a lot of people with good or bad reasons opposed to it and there was the classic day when the republican-controlled house of representatives during the coast of the war boded against a greater effort -- against the -- during the kosovo war and voted against a greater effort. >> we have about two more
minutes. >> i defer to pull up on the question about promises broken. i was asked to go back and read memos. i essentially agree where philip came out. there's a danger here for the current administration to swallow this revisionist history that vladimir putin has conjured up. i have heard him personally deliver this to robert gates. he says that in the 1990's, are stupid russian leaders acquiesced while the west took advantage of us and now because we are sitting on oil money, we are back. conveniently forgetting about $55 billion in grants and various other things that were done by the bush and clinton administrations.
to ease russia's transition. i think it is a mistake to a accede to that. it becomes a justification for the dismantling of russian democracy and its attitude toward its neighbors. i think we did not do a good job of bush 43 of doing that. is the cost of primacy worth the candle? the problem is there are costs to being the primary player into the and the national system. there also costs to not being a player. if the united states does not have the reserve currency, there are many implications for our domestic political economy. sam huntington wrote about this.
i agree with what he said, a world with u.s. policy is a world with more violence and less economic growth. the sustained international policy of the united states is central to the welfare and security of americans and to the future of democracy, open economies, and international order in the world. >> we will end there. we will have more conversation later. please join me in thanking our participants. [applause] >> in just a moment, a review of the 2008 elections with an eye toward the future of political parties. then a senate hearing on proposed restrictions on overdraft fees charged by financial institutions.
saturday, a look back at the cuban missile crisis with former kennedy adviser ted sorensen and carlhiassen. two programs on democracy and the internet including a university of virginia panel on how the political process has been affected by the internet. and we will have the facebook vendor on how social networking is changing the political process. this holiday weekend, on c-span. >> hello everybody.
open to the second panel of the state of the party's conference here at the university of akron. we have a really great panel today. we are joined by four distinguished scholars who came to us from across the country to be with us. i will introduce them when they are ready to present. our first presenter is going to be dr. john petrosek. he will talk to us about the state of the party and election results looking at the 2008 election. thank you. >> thank you, david. also thanks to john greene. i was here in 2005 and i found this to be one of the better conferences on american politics that i ever attended. i was pleased to be invited back
this year. the background of this paper is simply all the excitement that surrounded the barack obama election. it is what i took to be a lot of press commentary and outside the press that we had just gone through some kind of watershed, a signal of and. the election of barack obama was unquestionably a special event. it went beyond that pretty went to questions of a major transformation in the party system, people talked about an expected a large surge in the turnout of the election. many americans and academics and commentaries outside academia talked about a decline in the republican base. generally, there was a sense that existed out there that may still be there to some degree that we did not just watch election in which the incumbents were defeated and a new group of the democrats won but rather an election where something, in
some sense, transformational happened. in many past elections there is always the story of something special that happened in the election. as an attribute of american politics, we have a penchant of looking elections where something special happens. i decided to take a look at that. i realized it is not an easy thing to do because it has to be phrased in terms of what you would look for that meant transformations. it could be a long list of things. i settled on four to make a brief and straightforward. the four things i looked at were four things that in the history of the american party system we have seen as observation points
where special things could happen. one of those things had to do with the turnout. there is a lot of discussion of the turnout. as an historical fact, we know that major transformations in the party system are associated with unusual surges in turn out, typically that bring in large numbers care to poor unrepresented from the electorate with some enduring change in the party system. the turnout was something i decided to associate with that. another thing i want to look at was the stability of the touchstones that had to do with the relationship between party identification and the boat. -- the vote. were there large numbers of republicans who defected or was there a shift in the identification of the electorate? i thought that would be reasonable place to look for it a third place i decided to look was at the party coalition that
were mentioned earlier this morning and we now have some two decades of experience with, the coalition of the six-party system. looking at the party coalitions and how they behave and what their boat looked like in this election compared to previous elections. lastly, apeek at what issues voters talked about and how those issues seemed to influence of the boat. those things struck me as four reasonable places to look at best. -- to look at this. the conclusion of this story is that there is not much in this that you could point to as unequivocal evidence of some major transformation. to show you the rock evidence
that people look to as a major transformation, if you compare 2004 and 2008, across the board you have these surges in democratic supported governments -- governors, state legislature, representatives in the house, all kinds of things happened. that is the cruelest and most fundamental thing that people look to as evidence of a result. the question that goes for these four observation point is how much evidence is there for something significantly changing as opposed to something important, arguably, but more prosaic and having more historical continuity which is just that the bums got thrown out. this is the long history of electoral mobilization in the
united states. you noticed that whenever we have pointed to large and during changes in the party system, is associate with large spikes in turn out. in 18 20s, in the 1860's, in the 1920's, there was a reversal in the late 19th century. the old system of 1896 had a decline. in the historical sweep, surges in turn out when there have been changes in the party system, when you get to -- don't want to do that -- when you get to the. we are talking about, 2008 does not stand out in any regarded this as the rock election to election turnout. there was an increase in the total number of voters in 2008. it was actually smaller than the increase in recent elections. if you turn this around and look at it with regard to turn out,
2008 does not stand out in any particular regard. there were slightly more voters, about 1% more but nothing you would regard as an unusual surge. in fact, we seem to be getting back to a level of turnout that is on par with what we saw in 1960 and 1964. it is north of 60%. that reflects a particularly aggressive effort on the part of the democrats and republicans -- there is a golden rule in american politics -- the democrats talk about the grass roots in getting out the vote but you scare the republicans badly enough, they will usually out-organize you on this front. democratic turnout simply begets a greater republican turnout. that was true in 2004 when the democrats threw a scare into the
republicans in 2002. when you look at the data, there is an increase of turnout in 2008 but less than the was between 2000 and 2004. turn that increases in america because we have a growing nation. there are no big historical jumps of the kind that we have experienced in previous transformations. turnout was on par with where we expect to turn out to be. what we are left with is a sort of picture of stability in turn out. it is interesting because there was so much discussion about an unusual surge in turn out for everybody and expected it and we did not get it. generally, when turnout stays within the equilibrium of the party system, when you do not get these unusual surges, the small variation that does occur in turn out, and this is a plot that shows the relationship between turnout of the democratic vote over the last
half century, contrary to the common wisdom, the turnout bodes ill for the republicans and good for the democrats. there is essentially no relationship between a good turnout and the democratic vote. it does not happen at any level that i have looked up. not to say that that is not a significant thing and you cannot make it make a difference but in the aggregate, if there is equilibrium in turn out, it does not produce any systematic a fact. -- the fact. this is an illustration of that. this shows that in 2008, it was an election that falls into the pattern of the elections we have known for the last half century. there is not a lot in this that i see with regard to turn out as evidence for 2008 being an
exceptional collection in any way. the number of voters increased, turnout increased a little bit, the turnout rate increased a little bit, and it increased in concert with efforts of the party that have been ongoing over the last few cycles. the party identification measure of it -- this is mostly the plot of party identification of democrats and republicans since the nes series began. you see something we are all familiar with which is the democratic advance of party ideas. given all the discussion about the decline republican base, the question was whether anything unusual happened. the first thing you look at is there seems to be a little something going on there. it is what we are looking at
following the 2008 election is some return to a previous status quo in which the fraction of the electorate that is democratic is significantly larger than the fraction that was republican on par with what we saw in the 1950's, 1960's, and early 1970's. at first glance, the answer seems to be yes. i would call your attention to two things -- we have been here before as we were in the late 1990's but the interesting thing is that i think what we are looking at here is not much more than an election spike again. most of this tells a story that parties are the movers on american politics. it moves around a little bit. it moves around in concert to
short-term electoral forces. what you're looking at here is the fact that the democrats, barack obama, were on a roll. what that role reflects is a relative surge in democratic identification. the question is, is that enduring? the answer seems to be no. i have gallup data. these the only people that collect data on things we tend to be interested in between elections. they have identical data for the same period time. their numbers were something like 52% democrat, 39% republican at the time of the election which dropped to, following the election, it dropped to 49% democrat in june
and in the september poll they are down to 46%. what you are getting -- it dropped from the 50% down to 46% and the certain republican identification dropped from 37% to 42%. there is not a lot of identification going on there. this is simply a comparison of the relationship between party identification and a vote in 2008 compared to several more recent elections. i am not sure this is diagnostic but but but many people look at elections would like to see
this. all the things we expect to see are there at about the right proportions. with the 2008 election, in regard to the total amount of party voting, it also does not show 2008 to be any different from more recent elections. the numbers you are looking at there are the proportion of democrats in voting democratic and republicans voting republican and a missing number is 17% independence and defectors. you're getting something that we all know about american politics which is high level party voting and stable levels of party voting and levels of party boating that have increased over the last decade or so. no particular change, nothing about 2008 that makes it distinctive or unusual in any way. this is not quite on this story but i thought i would show this to you. i am running out of time.
i talk too much. apropos of party identification, this is the approval gap for the 2008 election. you are looking at the approval of the incumbent president among the incumbents partisans-the approval given to the incumbent on the other party and what you see is that 2008 shows no real difference from 2004 and going all the way back to jimmy carter and beyond. the way in which the partisans are evaluating barack obama is similar to the way in which partisans had been evaluating presidents over the last several presidencies. the one potential piece of troubles and news for the republicans is that the younger cohorts are more democratic. that is not tied to barack
obama. it was more an anti-george bush a fact. -- in effect. let's jump to this particular slide in the interest of time for the groups that you see on the left are you need to groups. nobody is in two places at once. it is a segmentation analysis that identifies the party coalitions. there is continuity over the five elections that you see there. the significant losses are losses among non-religious whites but they are the kind of losses that republicans incurred. that is the most unstable part of the electorate. when republicans do incur them, they allow all -- they lose elections. looking across the table as a whole, more continuity than not.
the last point is the question of what the issues in the election were. this goes to what played a role in the 2008 outcome. i will call your attention to the fact that two things are knowable and that is what i described as republican-and issues -- owned issues japan were more numerous than were democratic issues mentioned by the voters during the election cycle. somebody mentioned earlier that this story of the 2000 election was very much a retrospective story probably tied into the economy. it was pointed out that the economy was far and away the issue mentioned by most people. one story of the closeness of the election was that some of people were not just concerned
about the economy but most other things they're concerned about, terrorism, spending, traditional american values, those are things in which republicans generally prosper and those were concerns that people had. they were mentioned by partisans. the last table has to do with the boat itself and how the issues structured the boat and the short answer is that they structured the vote in makes a -- almost exactly how they structured the boat or the last 20 years. issues in which republicans tend to be regarded are issues on which the republican both prospered. it people were concerned about those things, they voted more heavily republican. if they were considered democratic issues, the democrats prospered. the two things that stand out are performance issues that lead to some interpretation of 2008 as a retrospective collection
and that was the economy which drew a partisan vote. because it was a majority democratic election, they won that vote and the other thing that stands out is iraq. that was a liability for the gop not that anybody had to be told that people who were concerned about iraq boded more heavily for barack obama. >> thank you very much part of our next presenter is dr. howard righter. was the department head from 2003 until 2008. good morning.
i want to also thank john and janet and the staff of the institute. it is an honor to be invited here and a special honor to be invited back. i appreciate that. it reminds me of the story of when george bernard shaw said winston churchill a couple of the turkish and said," come to the opening night of my new play and bring a friend if you have one." turtle wrote back," i cannot make the opening night but i will come the second night, if there is one." [laughter] i am happy there is a second night, in this case. my topic is party factions in
2008. this is something that a number of the papers in the previous session touched on. i want to provide some sort of historical context for the divisions within the parties. but there is a cast of characters, some of them were. made some democrats support barack obama while others supported hillary clinton and why did some republicans vote for john mccain while others opted for some of his rivals. a number of media commentators said that the eventual candidates had unclear supporter. i say there were clear identities and factional affiliations. let me begin with the democrats. in both political parties, we see an ongoing cleavage
structure that dates from the new deal and certainly since the 1940's. we see that reflected in the elections last year. on the democratic side, since the new deal, there have been two cleavage structures within the democratic party. that is measured by a national convention votes. one was the one we are most familiar with which is the ideological division between the north and south which is pretty much dissipated. it is not as strong as it used to be. there is a second one that have relevance in 2008. it was an on going conflict. it goes back to and re walthrup in the 1940's. it involved eugene mccarthy,
george mcgovern, jerry brown, these are all candidates run against the party establishment. i present some data that indicates that the correlation of their boats at national conventions was rather striking, despite the differences in these candidates and all the changes over time. from survey data, starting with the mccarthy campaign in 1968, we have some idea of what the base of their supporters was. for example, gallup found that eugene mccarthy ran better among college educators than a great school educated. gary hart, in 1984, ran best among republicans and independents, highly educated and wealthier white voters. we find comparable patterns with other candidates. there is a certain amount of continuity in the kinds of
support. in historical context, the battle between obama and clinton seemed to fit the second pattern. both liberals in the mainstream of their party. there were not deep it alogical differences between them but there was a difference in terms of the dissident verses establishment model. obamas's secret service code name was renegade which captures that. the only differences from the classic model in terms of their support was that obama had unique appeal to african- americans who in the earlier races tended not to support the antiestablishment candidates. the other is the content of what obama was ctenophore was the opposite of what the other anti- establishment candidate stood for. the others were responsible party advocates.
obama, to some extent, had to reach across party lines and not have a polarized situation and hillary clinton was the one saying to fight the republicans to and mail. -- to and nail. there are many correlations between the obama convention support. anti correlates with a few of the earlier candidates but not a terribly high level. i will go into that in the paper. this was reminiscent of the others. you can see in a gallup poll fairly late in the nominating process, there is a racial dimension there. there's also a gender dimension which i do not show where he is doing better among men than women. that is not surprising but there was an ideological component and
he was doing especially well among the most liberal and he does well among the highly people and his well- known support among the young. these patterns are fairly similar to those of some of those earlier candidates that i mentioned. his candidacy reflected the characteristic base of anti- establishment democrats. although he did draw on liberals much more than on conservatives, he was not as sharp as we might expect. comparing a number of the anes questions, you find a more liberal on a few issues but no significant difference strikingly on the two issues that he did differ with hillary clinton, the war on iraq, and health care. these were not issues that the supporters divided on very much we conclude from this examination that ideology takes
us only so far in understanding the fall line within the democratic party in the first half of 2008. instead, we saw the revival of the cultural gap between upscale, independent reformers and downs kill party loyalists she did better than he did among those with a strong republican identification. let's turn to the republicans. here is a simpler cleavage that we are all familiar with, you might call the north eastern exceptional per starting back in the 1930's and 40's, the northeast begins to stand out as the liberal wing of the republican party. the conservative base shifted during that period from a southern and midwestern base to a southern and far western base. that is a long story. john mccain's place in this is a complicated one for it on the one hand, he has a pretty conservative voting record overall on the other hand, there
have been a number of famous departures from party orthodoxy. in arizona, there are a couple of more conservative republicans that will try to run against him when he comes up for re-election which i believe is next year. in 2000, he clearly appealed to party moderates and to northeasterners. the evidence is more mixed in 2008. he did sweep most of the northeastern caucuses and primaries, he carried all but two. if we look at the national service, is regional support -- his national air support was not as strong in the northeast. there are two ways in which i mr. support for john mccain. that was not a two-person race
like the democrats were reported one measure is called favorable. some surveys ask if they were favorable toward john mccain norman braman. i call that favorable. the other variable is support, whether they supported him compared to the other candidates. you can see that in the first two sets of bars, the cbs survey early in 2008, in support, the northeasterners were more likely to vote for him but they were not more likely to have a more favorable opinion of him. you can find a mixed with the cnn survey, a slight northeastern advantage but not on favorability. it is a real mix. some westerners were the least likely to vote for john mccain
because of mitt romney's strengthen that region. there is stronger evidence of ideological factors. cnn used favorability and support and these are self- described ideologies you can see that the farther to the right you go, the farther down the bars get. he continues to have appeal to more moderate to liberal republicans. the democratic differences were not that great. -- the demographic differences were not that great. despite the ideological labeling categories that we saw, virtually no difference between mccain supporters and supporters of other candidates. one issue was that mccain supporters were more
conservative and in other areas there was no difference. there is a strong correlation with ideological self identification. while ideology was of limited help understanding the differences between obama and clinton supporters, it was the prime factor identifying who supported john mccain. neither john mccain or his chief rival presented a consistent ideological record. you connect rudolph giuliani, mike huckabee, mr. romney, all had been in public office with records that were not consistently conservative. the main caveat to this conclusion is that there -- this only applies to ideology, not the differences on issues. this investigation of the democratic and republican divisions during the presidential nominating contest of 2008 has produced two general
conclusions that apply to both parties. the first is the heavy hand of the past. we see in the clinton-obama race and indeed mccain obverses the field of race, echoes of struggles within the party. there was no striking departure here from that. on the other hand, the findings are kind of murky. obamas support among the masses certainly does reflect the support for earlier candidates. his national convention support was not detectable in correlated with the earlier races. with john mccain, while uc a strong ideological component, you do not see an issue-based component. and there was not as much of a regional component. the conclusion i draw is that
the reason we do not find more consistent differences of this or we might expect to find is simply that when you look at conflict within parties, you don't necessarily find clear-cut differences like we do in general elections because there is so much serendipity that goes on within each party and idiosyncratic factors. this may be especially true in an age like ours when there is some of ideological consistency within the parties, relative to the way it's been in earlier decades. you find kind of mottled patterns like the ones i found. >> thank you, professor parrot our next presenter is dr. presentercoldny. she has taught at temple since 1981. her paper is titled "superpower
america." >> i also want to say thank you to john green and all the organizers at the bliss in 24 not only invited me back but also allowing me to present on a completely different topic. my friends tomorrow on the panel of money in the 2008 election will do a wonderful job in presenting i had the great fortune last year to spend the entire academic year in the united kingdom as a fulbright
distinguished scholar. this prompted my very different topic today, superpower america, because i was frankly stunned by the perception and the detail to which the europeans had paid close attention to this election. one message you will hear today is the wild outburst two presenters talked about how the 2000 election was more typical than we may have bought -- thought, that is not the case from my current perspective. you may have seen an image like this. this is the crowd in berlin in july, 2008. during the campaign, obama made a european tour and toward concentration camps and met with all sorts of leaders throughout
the european continent are the only public appearance that he made was in berlin where a crowd of 200,000 showed up to greet him. this was a kennedyesque type of appearance. he picked the same place that kennedy appeared. because it was in berlin, there's a tendency to think this shows german support for obama. conference about u.s.-american relations, one commentator families said that while the obama event was very crowded, it was not especially karauted. [laughter] it was his only public appearance. the crowd apparently was a lot
more diverse, representatives of supporters from all over europe and not necessarily an expression of german support. i was struck with the fervor and attention in the united kingdom where significant misperceptions in the british view of the u.s. because of their own parliamentary system, they tend to erroneously see our president as a unified party leader. they do not understand that there is an independent role for congress for discussions about the election of the previous administration and the current administration absolutely focused on how fundamentally policy would change immediately after the election, which i thought was quite interesting. the other thing that was prevalent of being on a small
island is that most brits are unfamiliar with the size and scope of the u.s. and want to make generalizations about us that cannot hold because of how the birds we are. -- how diverse we are. when asked people who traveled here where they had been, easily half to 2/3 of the people said orlando, fla. as their sole experience with the united states. [laughter] this is problematic on a number of fronts. [laughter] the idea that there would be economic and occupational diversity that we have in the u.s. seems to be pretty much rejected out of hand after orlando, there was new york and san francisco and chicago i did
find one person in denmark who had spent one year abroad and richmond, va., when he was in high school. that was an exceptional experience. they have a view of the american political parties as more extreme than they really are. there was a tendency to associate barack obama with what they perceived to be labor- oriented or liberal policies in the european context and to almost associate the american republican party as being far right wing, certainly much further to the right than the conservative party. in britain. this goes back to the first point about seeing our system more unified than it really is. it comes up later on and you see that there is some anger currently right now with barack obama because of this. of course, this was very naive
and interesting that obamas election solved american race problems. the reason that europeans were so interested in obama in particular is exactly because -- we had a conversation before -- that was certainly the most important component but there were just as impressed that we would pick somebody cool, frankly. immediately after this happened the british press was consumed with the question of whether there would be a british obama. they're concerned about whether minorities have the kind of chances in their system that a minority candidate did in the american context. this was a surprising comparison because the minority population throughout europe and especially in the uk do not compare to the kind of diversity we have.
nevertheless, a lot more attention in the press was focused on minority members of parliament and what their prospects might be. they took the party individually and look at how the parties were doing with the black minority candidates and women. i have evidence of the british fascination with obama. in a moment, i will show you a table about obama book sales. this is the number one significant difference. it was not just a surface familiar with our elections. the number of people who read the obama books was amending -- amazing. the british book award gave his one book the british book of the year award. i will come back to that. the fascination with sarah palin was unbelievable to me.
but familiarity with her nomination and with her record compared to john mccain was quite interesting to me. it was as of the selection of the vice-president in the republican candidate told you everything you need to know about the republican party. i told -- but found myself in this situation explaining why a reasonable american would choose to support john mccain. there was a poll that "the guardian" conducted as to which candidate they thought would be the better candidate. obama won 57%, and john mccain, 11%. the remainder of the british population said they did not know between the two. the five-one ratio was quite stunning. the average brit knew more about sarah palin than i did. they knew enormous details about
things that she had introduced as governor. the election night coverage in britain was significantly different. i know this because i got several press calls from people asking me to comment on why we're having so many more parties to watch the election returns. i had not been here so i could not really compare. the reporter that talked to me talks to me about great length about staying -- about keeping the polls open because the returns started early and the election results stopped at 5:00 a.m. they normally have a very large party of 2000 people. it was all over the u.k. that people were staying up all night. we would expect to stay up all
night, why are the british doing that? stunning was live coverage of the obama inauguration and all of its presidents with a 33% share of british and yours. -- british viewers. i don't know what the comparable figures were for the u.s. but they were substantial. the other fascination they have is the recent offense that day the americans and the health- care system. there was a large expo's about the s that have been running in the u.s. and it was a truth- checking exercise. they went through each individual claimants found that some more factual but for the
most part, the things about ted kennedy not being able to be treated in britain because he was too old was sadly refuted. there is almost a sense of betrayal that americans would go ahead and distort their system. i promised you evidence of obama book sales. you are on a train. you are walking along the street and people have one of these books with them. the national bookstore chain had huge outcroppings of obama book sales. when i came back to the u.s., i found that when i asked my colleagues and students if they had read the book, they said no. they had a sheepish grin compared to the knowledge ability they haven't the u.k. the number of book sales were going to be less in the u.s.
when you control for population, it is almost twice as many books sold for capital of both of obamas books in the united kingdom than in the u.s. that seems quite stunning to me. the book sells for gordon brown would not be like this in the u.k. [laughter] the british fascination with obama seems quite clear. .
the first question, it is important for britain's long- term security we have a close and special relationship with the u.s.. these numbers are extra quite high. an average of 80%. look how much they have grown since 2006. clearly in most of these categories a clear majority saying the special relationship is important. it had declined a fair amount and now is back up because of the obama election. the second question, britain's future lies more with europe and america. it is a very fascinating problem because of the investments they have made in the european union and the common -- common currency, that you would find the british public is now thinking that europe is less important. still a majority of the sleeping that but the numbers in parentheses show that a turn again toward america for more leadership rather than their
own european supranational structures. the next one, america is a force for good in the world. again, look at the percentage increase. liberal democrats still are not convinced -- they are minority. but now 54% -- up 10% from the middle of the second bush administration. the last thing, there is not a comparable floor -- for it because tony blair was the leader last time, whether gordon brown should be as close to obama as tony blair was to george w. bush. even the conservatives who don't favor gordon brown as their potential leaders still see the majority is the case. i apologize for the distortion with this, but what is this all part of? this is a part of clearly the way that in europe they view our country's capacity for foreign
policy and global leadership. this was a survey not just of brits but 17,000 adults in 17 countries. world public opinion survey. it shows '70s -- summit 2% of global citizens deal -- 72% believed dealing with the global financial crisis -- the party, followed by war in iraq, the climate change, and in the middle only, improving relationships with respondent's country. and then very little concern actually with the afghan government and the taliban. in conclusion, i have lots of other thoughts i could share in the q&a about this, but it is very important that we realize that all of the concern we have with the groups within our own country and our racial and ethnic makeup and priority and issues have very broad
repercussions. people in other countries who do follow us the very closely because of our superpower status believe that their daily lives, their economies, their environment, the future of their own security is materially dependence on the decisions we make. we shouldn't be surprised -- week actually should be a little embarrassed that we don't have the same interest in their affairs. it also stems from the a little bit lack of understanding about their own power, that many of these nations, especially great britain, have a lot more control over their fates and the fates of the world economies. i will end there. thank you. >> thank you. our next and final presenter is dr. nancy rosenblum who is the senator joseph clark prof. of politics and government at harvard university.
in 2004, she was named chairman of the departments of government. her paper today is titled "partnership and independence: moral distinctiveness of party id." >> good morning. i also want to thank john for including a political theorist on this program. this expands on one of the themes of my book, a "on the side of angels." a challenge of my democratic theory -- ferris to orphan parties. they may see them as convenient recognitions to reducing transaction cost of democracy but they do it grudgingly and echo the progressive insistence if we must have parties at least voters should be non-partisan. so my aim here is to question the claim that independence occupy the moral high ground, to try to provide an iota of dignity to partisanship and suggest something about what the ethics of partisanship might look like. during the 2008 presidential
campaign senators obama and mccain promise to rise above partisanship and if elected to govern a bipartisan fashion. the book about they were not reflexive partisans and offered track records of booking their parties. they seemed to identify strong partisanship with devices and if -- divisiveness, cast partisanship synonymous with pat -- pettiness and synonymous -- synonyms are pain is, of bickering, smallest, and president obama continues that, let's resist the contagion to fall back and say partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that poisoned our politics. what should we make of art -- this improbable self distancing? it mirrors the popular mood. one third of voters prefer the candidates run as individuals without party labels and americans agree with the proposition that the truth is we probably don't need political parties anymore, so we recognize partnership -- partisan has become invective and fashionable drumbeat of praise for political
independents. title of scores of books that were my summer reading. declaring independence, beginning of the end of the two- party system, or, we, the purple, pink, politics, an independent voter, written by the former editor of christian retelling magazine, in my favor and specialty category, party crashing of how the hip-hop generation -- generation declared. each claiming they are on the side of angels. opposition depreciates them all and the praise independents as undisputed more superiors. you might conclude this sentiment has been fired by polarization in washington where partisans appear to want to restore one another -- destroy one another. should we blame polarization for fueling anti party isn't? political analysis with the title "office center" comes as no surprise but the surprising
how swiftly that had nine supplanted titles like, dead center, the perils of moderation, and certainly from a historical perspective american political culture long nurtured independents and a value that encompasses self reliance and economic life and mine -- not partisanship. independence has always had a certain luster and progressive in transfer the charge that parties of the preferred is a democrat terrorist. schemes for eliminating for serpents -- circumventing reached a pitch in progressive era and proposals for converting partisans to independents. where voters -- i am sorry, partisans were voters -- partisans were voters bought. independences was for good government and clean election. not unique to this unit -- moment, but there is a permanent structure to into party thought and still the increased numbers of self identified independen
ts in a stipulated in manifestos. fundamentalist independences, that it is not the result of dissatisfaction with these parties. they see party division as inherently to widget to allow for personal judgment. circumstantial independents separate, current parties of crating the wrong kind of division. persistent complaint and political culture has been the party's art not differentiated and today the animus is captured by the equation of partnership -- partisan with ideological or extremists. these independents will not identify with these parents conglomerate so they emerge in practice with fundamentalists. a third type that is most adjusting perhaps, per magic -- pragmatic independents. they believe partisanship toward practical solutions.
pragmatic independents captured by designation of certain model officials as the new action heroes like arnold schwarzenegger, who repeats in every turn, how about just being realistic and solving the problem. underlying these independents types is permanent structure of anti-partisan thought, view that where partisan is seduced and bought the independent is free agent. party organizations characterized as ignorant, in art. lincoln steffens had the best line, i don't see how any intelligent man can be partisan. this attribution has stuck where partisans are said to be judgment and paired, crippled by bias, independents described as nimble purist, cognitively mobilized. that is their self description. in the hip-hop generation, 20 year old charisma is quoted, i am registered independents
because i'm an independent think. what is -- can be said for the partisan? virtues the chair did to independents not bear up to scrutiny. independent science confirms 40- year-old assessment is pure independents police interested, most politically ignorant, no less about politics and policy and partisans and the political thinking is more likely to be chaotic and even presumably informed subgroup, leaning independents, don't appear to use different are better information of the more deliberative or cognitive elite modem -- mobilize the moreover, independents are detached and weakness -- witness. not because there are less likely to vote. in either assume responsibility for the institutions that organize elections or government or allegiance or even justification's to other like- minded citizens. they create what even teddy roosevelt called, a mere 20 anarchy.
if it is true that the crucial cut political judgment is the choice of comrades, independents don't make it. detached from one another as party. recently confessed conservative independent columnist -- source of teenism, great corrector politics, where people crushed their own personality or use to fit in with the team. i think that is a characteristic position. independents are not sending a coordinated political message, even as analysts and not in the business of interpreting their votes. a report reads independents take center stage in the obama. 10 -- and as a group they remain difficult to pin down. fickle, and rounded, liable to mistrust and as you can see it and turn on a dime to oppose the people and policies. in particular, the public's to mindedness of active government product of the late independents not partisan. one cause that think of the
widespread prediction that we would be better off without partisanship altogether is it leaves little appetite for reflecting on the ethics of partisanship. partisans to take responsibility for telling a comprehensive public story about the economic social and moral changes of the time, of course the pursue partial interest but this is not unreconstructed pluralism cents a share complex concerns and the connected to the interest and opinions to a more general conceptions of the public interest, although the overstating the case to say partisan's assume the obligation that the loss of all -- for loss of john rolls would impose, to advance conception of public good that is situated in the most complete conception of justice that we can advance. but in close of this and comprehensiveness -- comprehensive account of what needs to be done are only possible if partisans demonstrate what i take to be a third element of my -- and that is, some degree of compromise. tolerance of small gains, getting less that we want in order to get something, settling
for less to bend the worst. in democracy, compromise is the essential political act, part of sterling discipline of partisanship and a compromise with fellow partisans as part of creating sustaining that w. e second only to patti, extremism is at the of the day. erroneous and destructive charge of one level wholesale as a sickness -- synonym for partisanship and in the american context also wrong to imagine accept in the hands of careful social scientists like you'll come extremism is a thought for reference to positioning on an ideological spectrum. there is however a valid meaning of extremism and i think that is what is often at work in politics and rhetoric today, and that is when it is used to indicate a falling off of the elements of what i have identified as and at the partisanship, it builds a failure to be inclusive and take responsible before mobilizing in responding to voters of an activist base, failure of comprehensiveness, that is, and responsiveness to a range of
concerns and instead a single mindedness that takes one aim to adapt to limit and finally its signals intransigence. extremist in this context is inappropriate description for those who cast of compromise as morally compromising and who don't find failure. parsons line of defense against the moral high ground of independents i believe today has become bipartisanship. for those partisans unwilling to go the whole distance to aphrodisiac post-partisan, bipartisanship is the way to demonstrate you are not just another goal long politician. sober political realists advise bipartisanship is not investing, option to be considered in the context of percy gilad torah advantage but that is not how it is being used today. bipartisanship when it is invoked as it is to convert legitimacy it is more lives than be politicized and i want to say a word about that. bipartisanship part -- compromise is imagine as a
general agreement and consensus not as a result of bargaining because bargaining does not refer to the appropriate moral common ground. for bipartisanship is supposed to reflect the jon stewart million like recognition of the reasonableness of each side, public acknowledgement that each party is the carrier of half truths or bipartisanship supposed to invoke elementary fairness, and together in the middle, which is a sanitized accounts because we know from every actual account of the bipartisan budget deal or social policy, the political compromise rarely proceeds along one dimension more or less allows for splitting the difference. the point for me here is to compromise, what about partisanship or more, just as necessary and sometimes even more difficult compromise among fellow partisans is politically determined by skilled partisans who control the legislative process and understand different procedural hurdles, who argue the merits of party caucuses, rally moderates or radicals to inform, died, cajole,.
from the start of his career, obama supporters fantasized he was something other than a partisan politician, above the tawdry favre swapping of party politics. but the possibility of his governing today portends less on the luster -- influence of independents then on the skill of party leader. so, my claim is that partisanship is the morally distinct political identity of a representative democracy. partisans' don't regret conflicts of principle and policy as a grim inevitability. they don't wish for consensus. they don't imagine their party should speak for the nation as a whole while still thinking they should speak to everyone. the moral distinctive of partisanship lies in political pluralism and task of shaping a system of conflict. i will just say in conclusion, aimed at my fellow political theorists, the democratic of
viewers really have reasons to connect practice of citizenship with partners it and consider the terms and conditions of better partisanship, at least as seriously they do in partiality and independence and aspirations for institutions from which the traces of parties and partisanship have been erased, that is, my fellow terrorist should adopt these as political gloss be and take these -- cirrus should adopt this political. >> we have plenty of time for q&a. i believe we will have a couple of microphones floating from the audience. i guess i will start us off with a question, and that is, the first two papers seem to reflect and indicate there really was no electoral earthquake in 2008. how weather, if you look at obama's victories in places like indiana, north carolina, virginia, and colorado and also
some narrow losses or competitive races in places like north dakota and montana, could this be reflecting a new electoral landscape that has not quite come out yet? >> we were up here debating -- who was this question directed at? i guess i'm starting off. my answer is, yes, it is possible. my caveat to yes, it is possible, is that absent the ability to look at those cases more systematically and carefully and put them in a historical context, it is speculation that i think only time will answer. my sense of it, in more general response, is a never believed in the notion of critical election where any action does something.
a former colleague of mine wrote a book about the politics presidents meet, and i think if you want to understand earthquakes and watershed, the way to understand and is in terms of what presidents, parties, and policies do after somebody wins control of government and the extent to which they shape new agendas, new realities, and the coalition's as a byproduct of that. so, the second place -- page of yes, it is possible, is it is possible but i don't believe it and the extent to which there is a new reality for the democrats and publicans in a new system would depend much more on barack obama's success or lack of it over the next couple of years relative to some definition of progress. so, i don't know what happened in the northeast counties in indiana. fundamentally, i don't care. which is not to say it is not a good question.
i look at data and i see all kinds of disorderly spikes and things jumping around and i take it as my job to hammer it into some kind of pattern, so i don't know what these particular cases look like. a place like colorado has been sliding in a more democratic direction for reasons i talked about in the previous panel, having to doing what the changes in the state and the politics associated with the demography. indiana, everything about indiana strikes me as a place suffering from an economic recession and rejection of george bush and the republicans as a result. particularizing my response, and i prefer not to do that. i would like to see them play out. in any particular county or plays, as i said, i tend to see as a bump in the data pattern. >> some of it goes back to
jolt's presentation for earlier that there are long-term trends. i am sure many of you are familiar with, "the emerging democratic majority." a remarkable book because it came out in 2002. i did not get around to reading it until the week obama was elected. it is remarkably prescient. it starts off by saying by the end of this decade -- remember, 2002, things were not looking in that great for the democrats and they said by the end of this decade the democrats will be the majority party. not only that, but the longest chapter in the book that goes state-by-state and it tells which states are leaning to one party, which won possible democratic. they called, if you liberally interpret that as any state that is moving in a democratic direction, they all ended up more -- voting for obama. the only state, going back to what john is talking to, that it
got completely wrong is indiana. most of us were probably surprised with indiana. at the there is another factor, friends and neighbors. some much of northwestern indiana, where i used to live, get the media from chicago and i suspect there may have been a friends and neighbors effect. i think there are longer-term trends, and joel was touching on it, that will reduce the. that it road along democratic tide. >> following up, the what extent do you think young voters or hispanic and latino voters speak to a possible shipping alignment in 2008? comparing 2008 to 2004, for example, are those some of the building blocks that might lead to an expanded democratic base?
>> latinos have been a significant democratic voting bloc for as long as we have been doing the national surveys, which is really not that long. in fact, in 2008, the latino vote was slightly more republican than in preceding elections. i am not sure what one makes of that. the predisposition is to say that latinos are essentially a democratic constituency and will continue to be for some time to come. nothing like the wholesale by as for the democrats characteristic by african-americans. it is not as large and, as i say, it moved away in these elections. i don't know what the story of that is. the republicans not very successfully have tried to persuade hispanics that they are
not their enemies, they like to think of them -- they have this notion that the social conservatism and billy jack city of latinos make them a potential republican constituency -- religiousity of latinos make them a potential republican constituency. the second piece of the answer, is i'm very reluctant to project demography into the future. any demographers in here? ok. i think it is a wacky discipline. they pick anything you want and projected 50 years in the future and would look like andromeda, nothing is the same. i have never seen a democrat -- demographic projection last long. i go back to my child lived, but i remember all kinds of things were going to happen, none of them ever happened. demography gets interrupted,
number one, and number two, far be it from me to say that social characteristics don't have something to do with interest in politics, but we do this powerful linkage between the two such that we think, and social characteristics and slight political bias associated with them are constant, and they are not. going from any demographic characteristics in its current behavior to uninterrupted growth and continuation of that behavior or even excess of it, just strikes me it prediction we ought not to be making because it is probably driven more by our hopes than evidence in the past. young voters, i don't know what to make of that. one of the figures i jumped over in the book i published last year looked at young voters. young voters are definitely much
more oriented toward the democrats in terms of partisanship and the vote now than they were in the recent past. on the other hand, thinking back to my generation, the boomers and vietnam, they were the single most democratic group in the electorate in the late 1960's and early 1970's. now they are the most republican vote in the electorate. -- group in the electorate. about young voters -- i know some of you are young and my apologies -- you are notoriously unreliable. rock star phenomenon, i am with it today. equally hard to project into the future because they are very responsive to short-term trends, but they develop interests and perspectives that go with aging that sometimes undue those first responses and sometimes the first responses did not set the future, although sometimes they did. i did not mean to say, were the
facts are not a long term -- cohort affects -- sometimes it is a spike. it just pops up and gets back down to the group. i don't know what to expect there, but i am sure the democrats are pleased what they saw and the republicans, i am equally certain, look at it sideways with fear because maybe it is a spike but may be a trend for the future. >> just a couple of very big points. i would agree with john much more if i saw any sign the republican party was doing anything to appeal to the latino vote more than it has been did i have not seen any such sign. two other groups to watch in terms of trends, the women's vote and the other is educated voters. there has been a sea change in
the behavior of educated voters from 50 years ago, and that is something we need to pay attention to and certainly nothing about the republican campaign last year was geared toward -- to appear to that large and growing sector of the population. >> i a student at cleveland state university and founder and organizer of a new political party i am organizing as i feel the two parties we have today are failing us. my question is directed at you, nancy. you say we should basically compromise to try to get a little gadahn instead of seeking everything that we want to get accomplished and feel represented. my question to you is, do you not feel that our elected officials should be representing us and that there is so much
split and divide within the party is that we have, don't you think it is time we should change and you even said the younger hip-hop generation identifies as independents. so is there not run for a third party? >> yes, i think there is a difference between a permanent position of independents, being an independent thinker -- in every case you make it a fact of judgment. i gather varieties of the independents, some would typically vote with a party. i was concerned mainly with those who are always making decisions at hawk -- ad hoc and are constitutionally opposed to political organization. that is quite different from
voters who are willing to organize an order to either have a third-party or most likely influence the issues of the candidates of existing parties. it is the disposition not to organize. basically an anti-political disposition that i was printable in criticizing him. -- principally criticizing here. >> if we took the political parties, the political climate, from 18721970, i want the time period in which we can reflect on the quality of the presidents and congress -- 1870, to 1970. we have been electing people to high political office who are better qualified, less
qualified, or neutral during that time? if we go no sooner than 1970 we have a reflection on whether they really knew what they were talking about, or they didn't. you understand me? [laughter] >> yeah, and it is a tough question. it reminds me of bryce's favre s.a. around the turn of the 20th-century, why great men can never be elected president. he was riding at a time -- i am not sure about congress, but certainly in terms of the president, we have had more outstanding president i think in the 20th-century then in the last third of the 19th century. the typical president in the
late 19th century was a product of worldwide party machines, which for all the virtues of parties, in that era they did not produce a very impressive group of presidential nominees, including those who lost. you look at the 20th century, we have had a number of people who accomplished more. it goes back, i suppose, to the fact that they were different eras and expectations and resources. you have an era in which presidents have more ability to accomplish great things, or maybe it attracts a better class of people. that is kind of a rough impression i have about congress. i would have to defer to someone who knows that more intimately than i do. >> can i jump in? >> you know, if you look at the
wide spectrum of the presidents we have had in this country, there is a huge variance in the quality. you can look at that period, 1870 until 1970, we have had great presidents and we had some that were absolutely dreadful. you could probably look at the current period we are in and come to the same conclusion. i think the difference is, in the current period, the president has a much more difficult job because everything that they do is under the microscope. every accident they make -- especially in the 21st century, things like you to -- youtube and so much information, we have a different view of our presidents and our politics in the 21st century than we do 50, 70, 100 years ago when we tend to look at our institutions with a lot more respect than we do
today. i am not sure the quality of the individual has decreased or increased in the current era. i just think the way that we view them has certainly changed. that also goes for congress as well. >> if i could add my two cents. one thing i have learned from being abroad is that we are one of the few systems on the planets that, as nancy was are going, actively encourages people who have no familiarity or little familiarity with the system to seek public office. [laughter] we are looking for mavericks' jig -- this is a serious thing, in the 1992 republicans did a good job recruiting people from the business sector, saying these are people who show they have knowledge about how to get results, how to consistently
produce. in the european context -- partly in parliamentary systems but broader than that -- being part of the party organization is not only looked upon in a more positive light, but it is expected. you don't go ahead and get elected to the state legislature in eleanor and then a couple of years and the senate and then think you will be president of the united states. that is unheard of. you come in as a backbencher and it has real meaning. you have to familiarize yourself with a large variety of policy issues. you go ahead and take on a deputy ministry position and maybe you had one of the executive departments and then after a long time of being vetted and proving yourself, then you are your party leader and have the potential to be prime minister. i think as others see us become disappointing is in the right on to us this same expectation. they think george w. bush, they think of him more of, he must have been someone experienced
with lots of assets as the government instead of somebody who mostly had a private business background and only a few years with a summit- professional legislature and not necessarily the same level of political skill. so if you look back upon that time period you are talking about, you are more likely to see in some of the presidents we see as more effective, people with a resume somewhat more consistent than what you find any parliamentary context. people who have had an extensive set of political offices were very political experience. more than anything else, not so much the policy per se, but americans, in electing george bush, -- selecting someone with a little more political finesse, who understood the complexity of these actions better than what
he was doing. i think this extend out of the surprise because other leaders like that has had much better reception in europe. >> university of denver. a question mainly directed at nancy but i imagine rabin may have reflections as well. are americans unique in that elevation of independence and discomfort with parties? are there other democracies or political cultures within the united states foreign part decision is not a bad word? >> that is a terrific question. i have not done a real comparative study. although partisanship appears to be declining across western democracies, the self identification as an independent is peculiar to the new united states and that is what interests me, and elevated status that is awarded a great deal of solicitude by
politicians and others in the united states. i will ask you all. what i think are quite significant consequences for policy. i think what is unique is independence as an avowed political identity. >> you are right, i have something to say. i would absolutely agree with that. the other thing i think makes us unique is that everybody here studies non-voting to a certain degree. one of the things i found most uncomfortable in the european context is that not only is non-voting not prevalent, it is also not seen as a choice. we have all heard about compulsory voting in lots of places. but the fact that there are fines and summonses, the extent to which our local county council didn't believe that we
weren't eligible to vote -- we had two visits and a follow-up letter, are you sure that you shouldn't be voting in these elections, was stunning to me. until i got ballots and so forth. once you are a resident it is a little bit different. in the u.k. you don't necessarily have to be a citizen, eu regulations, you can both under different conditions. there, i have more of a problem -- there is a choice i obviously -- wider choice in many places but also more of a forced choice. that is something that i think is uniquely american and not necessarily as negative. >> could i say just one more thing? we followed all of us, i'm sure, the debates about what kind of partisan primary we should have. attempts by states to open party primaries, to make them blanket.
that is part of this effort, if you define democracy as maximizing the dissipation, the effort to get everybody to vote at the notion is independents and others are disenfranchised if they can't vote in a primary. i myself am radically opposed to these open and blanket primaries, but it is one of the efforts people are making who take the position that we should vote and create petition. >> one more question from the front? >> richard skinner appeared on this question is for howard. -- richard skinner appeared this question is for howard. you drew a picture of democratic nomination struggle basically organized along demographic and stylistic lines and a republican struggle where there was sort of the vague ideological tinge to it with mccain weakest among the most conservative voters, but
remember the most conservative voters tended to be split among quite a number of candidates. if you look below mccain and the republican party is actually sought a striking demographic split between the two runners-up candidates. huckabee support was concentrated virtually exclusively among evangelicals and had -- he had a great deal difficulty breaking through with more affluent and better educated voters. by comparison, mitt romney saw his support among evangelicals be very low despite numerous attempts by him to view -- with this constituency. on the other hand, the former rather well with the most upscale voters. you can see this on the map of several states where there was essentially a three-way race between mccain, huckabee, and romney, states like missouri, tennessee, and georgia, with huckabee sweeping up lauro
areas, mitt romney doing fabulously well in the suburbs of atlanta, nashville, and st. louis, and mccain winning by basically doing ok pretty much everywhere. if you look at those maps, it would look like there was some sort of regulation in suburban developments, just like you couldn't park your car on your lawn, you couldn't put up a huckabee for president signed. -- signed. is this sort of demographics split among republicans knew, is it reflective of longer-term trends and you think it opened up the possibility for mccain being nominated simply because there are so many people who just could not accept the other alternatives? >> these are important questions. i guess part of my response would be the maps that you referred to and so forth. there were relatively few people voting. so it is hard to get enough in a
survey to definitively define who these constituencies were. the way we can for mccain, for whatever his shortcomings, amassed a large enough group that we got a substantial number of voters who identified with him. i suppose you might say it is a shortcoming of my research that i focused on the candidates that we had sizable number of voters to do that analysis for. my impression is you are right, certainly all the descriptions you made of the differences between the rummy and huckabee voters were there. if you add some of the other candidates you start getting into pretty small groups of people. of course that contest ended pretty early so we don't have a lot of states we can do that kind of comparison for. whether it reflects anything -- it kind of goes back to john's more general point about spikes,
and what i end up with is idiosyncratic -- how idiosyncratic is racism. -- these races are. if huckabee runs again, that would be an identifiable part of the constituency, as romney well as well. are they representing some ongoing -- large enough to get a real shot on the nomination? that depends on the circumstances. then i realized my open this panel i actually did not introduce myself. i am not somebody who was walking by. my name is dave cohen, a social professor of political science. on behalf of the institute i would like to thank everyone for coming. i would like to thank scholars
for travelling across the country for being here on a rainy day and i would like to thank the audience for coming and watching a fantastic panel. thank you very much. [applause] >> just ahead on c-span, a senate hearing on proposed restrictions on overdraft fees charged by financial institutions. we would deal -- hear testimony from consumers and the banking industry. democratic and republican strategy advisors on the obama presidency. after that, students make history in the british house of commons, assembling a youth parliament to discuss of voting age and university fees.
>> saturday, a look back at the cuban missile crisis with former kennedy advisers and also have world let's been over-the post cold war world? sunday, two programs on democracy and the internet, including a university of virginia panel on how the political process has been referred -- affected by the internet and facebook founder on how social networking is changing the political process, this holiday weekend on c-span. >> this is a look at proposed restrictions on overdraft fees charged by financial institutions. one would require banks to warn customers and allow them to cancel a team transactions that would overdraw their account. this senate banking committee hearing is about 90 minutes.
>> let me welcome our witnesses this afternoon on the hearing on protecting consumers from abusive overdraft fees. fairness and accountability and receiving overdraft coverage act. there is an acronym in there someplace. we appreciate you being here. i welcome the audience that is here as well. i welcome my colleague, shared brown of ohio, members of the staff and other members. i should notify my colleagues as well i am told that may be able to around 3:45 p.m.. what i will try to do is continue the hearing and tried to stagger people so we did not interrupt the flow. let me begin with a brief opening statement. i will ask my colleagues if they have opening comments. and then we will turn to the
witnesses and hear from them and then a series of questions this afternoon regarding this bill and related matters. i begin by thanking each and every person for being here this afternoon. my job is to make sure regular folks get a fair deal from their lending institutions and other institutions. the old notions that depositors in a bank, people will buy insurance policies, people who buy shares in our public companies, the people who have mortgages, all of those financial like to these. we've got to keep in mind as we talk about the stability of our financial institutions, the safety and soundness of financial institutions, it is critically important to talk about the safety and security of consumers who depend upon these institutions serving their interests well. this brings us to the subject matter this afternoon. for too long credit card companies have made tremendous profits, excessive profits, in my view, by charging consumers outrageous fees for raising rates whenever they felt like
it, it seemed. our committee approved legislation. legislation passed the senate earlier this year with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law president obama later this spring. today we need to discuss another practice i find it too many instances abusive, misleading overdraft programs that encourage consumers to over fraud accounts and then slammed them with high fees. -- overdrawn accounts. there is a responsibility each one of us has to manage our personal accounts as well as we possible can add to spend within the means we have available to us. banks have a right to charge a fair fee for legitimate services that they provide, otherwise expected to perform and conduct activities that would leave them disadvantaged. but lending restitution often add overdraft coverage to consumer accounts without informing them or giving
consumers a choice, whether or not they want an overdraft the or be notified. if they have overdrawn -- the overdraft charges usually a high fever. a consumer can pay as much as a $35 fee for overdrawing on a $2 transaction. we will hear specifically about just such a case this afternoon. in some cases the consumer can rack up multiple overdraft fees in a single day without being notified until days later that in fact they have overdrawn their accounts. many institutions also charge an additional fees for each day an account is overdrawn. the longer it takes you to realize there was a problem, the more fees you can be charged. sometimes banks can even rearrange the order in which they process purchases, charging for a later larger purchase first so they can charge repeated overdrafts fees for earlier, smaller purchases. the truth is the service of
overdraft protection often serves as nothing more than a way of lending institutions to profit by taking advantage of their very own customers. last year american consumers paid $24 billion in overdrafts fees and the financial times recently reported that banks stand to collect a record $38.5 billion an overdraft fees this year, almost double what they collected a year ago. according to the center for responsible lending, nearly $1 billion of those fees will come from young adults. another $4.5 billion will come from senior citizens like mario, one of our witnesses today and a resident of branford, conn. i will let him telephone story about how an initial overdraft of $2 and up in a $140 overdraft coverage feet in just a matter of days. the method his bank used will
sound familiar to many, many americans. families in my state of connecticut and across the country are already struggling to make ends meet. these unfair and excessive charges are making it even harder on them. last week the federal reserve to its great credit announced it will require banks to get consumers' consent before enrolling them in an overdraft coverage program. this was a welcome but long overdue announcement for american consumers. and we need to do far more to protect them from these abusive practices. that is why i introduced the fairness and accountability and receiving overdraft coverage act. my colleague senator schumer, senator harry reid, senator merkel, menendez, senator harry levin -- levin, have joined us as co-sponsors. like the federal reserve's rule, our legislation would establish an opt in in rule 4 overdraft coverage for atm and debit transactions.
customers would now have to consent before overdraft coverage is applied to their account. our legislation would go further, however, and limit the number of overdraft fees banks can charge to one per month to no more than 6 per year. that fee would have to be a reasonable and proportional to the cost of processing the overdraft. our legislation would also put a star -- stopped the practice of manipulating the order in which the transactions are posted and require banks to warn customers that are about to overdraw their account, giving their -- them a chance to cancel the very transactions they are about to engage in. finally it would require banks to notify customers promptly when they have overdrawn and accounts through whatever means the customer chooses -- e-mail, text messages, so they can quickly restore their balances and avoid unnecessary future fees. abusive overdraft policies are blatantly unfair, in my view,
and the banks know it. after it came out and the press i was working on this legislation, a few of the large institutions took their own steps toward responsible reform. i assume out of the kindness of their hearts. i welcomed it as well. a thoughtful thing to do. last week the federal reserve released a new rule that would require banks to get a customer's consent before enrolling them in an overdraft coverage program. that is a very good start. i applaud them for doing so. our legislation goes forward. and i remain committed to ensuring american consumers are going to be further protected. let us remember, regulators did little while consumers were being taken advantage by the very misleading overdraft programs for years despite the fact these regulators had the power for years to step in and put an end to these practices. this is exactly why we need, in my view, an independent consumer financial protection agency that would focus on preventing the abuses and digesting them quickly rather than waiting week
after week, month after month, for the congress to pass legislation. it shouldn't take that long. folks like mario deserve a lot better. he is one person but there are millions like him across the country and i remain committed to ensuring american consumers are protected. and i look forward to the discussions we will have this afternoon. with that, i will turn to my colleagues. senators, do we care to be heard for a minute or so? you bet. [inaudible] >> this is an important topic and i am sure there are abuses in this area. i am very concerned however, as congress often does, pushing the pendulum to the other extreme and create problems perhaps resolving others, but create
other problems. i believe that happens with some aspects of the credit card legislation. in the titular, i am concerned about closing certain services and opportunities for consumers -- in a particular. and also shifting the cost that should be borne by consumers, depending on their behavior, to more consumers brought it. i am very concerned about that. it seems to me there is no way that this legislation as it is currently drafted would do that since, as the chairman just said, it sets a limit on overdraft charges and fees no matter what a particular consumers practice is, no matter what number of overdrafts may happen. it seems to me, if that is the case at the end of the day, we are going to shift costs from
less responsible to consumers to the entire class of consumers, including those who act more responsibly. i don't think that is the proper direction to move in. i would hope we can focus on real problems and real abuses and close those without that massive cost shifting and without closing the door of certain opportunity and service to consumers who may want them. those are my thoughts and concerns going into the process on the front and and i look forward to working with the chairman and the entire committee as we move forward. >> senator, thank you. you raise a very legitimate issues. why we have hearings like this to hear these ideas and thoughts. i thank you for raising them. there are others that expressed those their concerns as well. senator brown? >> thank you, mr. chairman, for convening this hearing and your
leadership and thank you to all five members of the panel. i am proud to be an original cosponsor. we need this bill because too many americans pay too much for a service that is supposed to be a courtesy. when i think of the nearly $24 billion an overdraft fees americans pay last year, over 900 million in my state of ohio alone, courtesy is not the word that comes to mind. fees generated from this so- called courtesy are growing from leaps and bounds. centers for responsible lending said the average fee was $35. that means if a woman in toledo or a man in akron purchases something and was just a few dollars short can be charged 10, 20, 30 times the amount of overdraft. one thing to keep in mind is these are real people, real family struggling and the bankers placing and deeper in debt. people like harry from toledo, overdrawn by $6 and end up paying $113 in fees.
as a loan, $1,700 interest. 93% of all overdraft fees are paid by only 14% of account holders and the almost often folks who have lower income, often young and often non-white. charles from wadsworth, ohio, near akron, recent college grad -- drafted never paid an overdraft be in his life until a month ago, we check his balance at atm, it did not the pending transactions so even though thought he had $80, he only had 15. overdraft protection loses meaning when consumers are in greater risk with that protection than without it. .
their government is treating them, with how wall street is treating them, how banks are treating them and how their lives are going in these tough economic times. >> i thank the for the for that comment. we don't always draw a distinction between regional banks and larger banks. so we thank you for those comments. senator reed? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding the hearing and i want to thank the witnesses. i was in rhode island yesterday and the two largest parties are commubte banks, not larger banks. they have avoided some of the
excesses and they're an example that should be emulated. i'm pleased to be here today but also a sponsor of the overdraft coverage act. i hope we can include aspects of this bill in the legislation if not pass it separately. the federal reserve has taken some steps but i think we have to do more and the legislation that senator dodd has proposed will do that. i think it will provide a sense of opportunity, transparency and choice for customers. senator brown's comments about perceptions i think are absolutely right. i think most people had a suspicious that no real in-- suspicions that no real increases in income, yet executives were enjoying huge, huge paydays, that the deck was
stacked against them. and i think the more we learn about what happened in the financial situation, the more that suspicion is drawn out by some evidence about how when large institutions get in trouble, they get help, but when families need help in avoiding foreclosure or excess charges, that's their responsibility. so i think this legislation is timely, appropriate and extremely important. thank you. >> senator murphy? >> i thank you very much mr. chair. my mind goes back to our credit card discussion earlier in year. i had magui from salem, oregon, who had had a credit card account for 15 years, always paid on time. couldn't believe it when they said she had a late payment. they called up and the credit
card representative checked and said here's the thing. we got your payment on time but if you'll notice in the contract, we can sit on the payment for 10 days and we did and when we posted it it's nour late and there's a late fee. and magui said i think the phrase that captures the sense of millions of americans, how can that be fair? that's the same standard of reasonableness and fairness that we need to bring to this conversation. i think any bang customer who finds out that their bank has reordered their transactions in order to multiply the number of overdraft fees they're being charged would say how can this be fair? certainly this is an important conversation. i'm pleased to be a co-sponsor and i look forward to the testimony. >> thank you very much, senator. i appreciate that. i'm going to leave the record open for any other comments
colleagues want to make. i want to introduce our panel of witnesses. mario, who is a con stitch went. has traveled here from bran ford, connecticut and will testify before us in regard to his own personal experience. we met a few weeks ago and i thought his story was so compelling that he deserved a national audience. we thank you. jean ann fox is from consumer advocates of america and he advocates for issues, including electronic commerce and consumer protection. frank pollack is the president and c.e.o. of the federal credit unit. its members comprise men and women of the army, coast guard. john kerry is at citigroup.
he is -- carey. he is responsible for business practices, external affairs, and government registrationlations. and michael calhoun is from the center of lending. it's a research and policy institute for focusing on consumer lending and protection. again, we're very pleased to have all of you with us today. we thank you. and by the way, any of your full opening statements and comments and any supporting information you'd like to offer will be included in the record. we begin with you. we're very grateful to you. there's a button down there that should activate the fike phone. >> -- microphone. >> i got it. good afternoon, chairman, senator dodd and esteemed members of the committee. my name is mario, livieri.
i'm a senior citizen and live in connecticut. i'm honored to be here today to share my story with you. i hope you will do right for consumers by me. until a few months ago i was a customer at a prominent bank in my town. i'm no longer a customer there because i don't think they treated me fairly. over the summer i wrote a check for $200. when the check was cashed it overdrew my checking account by $2:17. my bank charged me a $30 fee for my attack. -- mistake. i had no idea i had overdrawn my can. if i had i would have immediately deposited the money in my account to cover the overdraft. instead it took the bank over a week to notify me of the
overdraft. by the time they finally got around to telling me, i had made a few other transactions with my a.t.m. card totaling $100, and the bank charged me $140 in fees. now, i owned a small business building and bum -- lumber company when i was a young man and i've been in business for over 50 years. i'm quite sure they would never have done this to me 50 years ago. now i know it's important to stick to budget but i also know you don't get anywhere in business by treating your customers unfairly. so i called the bank and after a bunch of arguing they agreed to refund one $35 charge but insisted they pay all the other fees. i told them i didn't think it was fair. they told me it was legal. that was the thrift institution in washington, d.c. that told me
it was legal. i'd been in business too long for that to be an acceptable answer. with that -- if that is legal it shouldn't be and certainly isn't fair. i'm glad my senator chris dodd is doing something about it and i'm grateful for the entire committee for an opportunity to discuss my story with you. there are a lot of folks like me in your state who are in the exact same situation. they make a little mistake and get slammed for it by their bank. i hope we can stop abusive overdraft coverage protection so that no bank has to go through what i went through. thanks for fighting the good fight on what have of our consumers. thank you. >> mr. liviri, thank you very much. appreciate that. jane, we thank you for being with us today.
>> thank you, chairman dodd, members of the committee. i'm jean ann fox, director of services for consumer federation of america. we enthusiastically support senate bill 1799, the fair overdraft coverage act and we also commend you for the proposal to create a consumer financial protection agency what happened not only implement the fair overdraft coverage act but also enforce the law. thank you for doing that. in dockett after dockett the federal reserve has failed to protect consumers from abusive overdraft lending. the rule that was announced last week will be a help but is not sufficient to protect consumers. along with a recently announced changes in big bank overdraft
programs, the rules are too little too late to provide the reforms that american consumers need and want. banks extend credit when they pay a deposit to extend a consumer's checking account. banks permit this transaction to go through, loan the banks money and then the largest banks charge a typical $35 fee for the extension of that credit. these loans are not thorlsed by consumers. no consumers ops in on typically overdrafts that are provided as a courtesy by the bank. consumers do not get a contract that the bank promises to cover overdrafts up to a certain
limit. they do not get a warning when the transaction will trigger an overdraft and a fee and their credit worthiness is not evaluated when these linds are made. the typical debit card purchase overdraft was just $20. so banks are charging $35 to loan $20 for a few days and the typical overdraft did not exceed $78. these small loans come at astronomical costs. the highest bank fee, up to $39, banks pile on extra fees if you don't repay in a day or two. the majority of the largest banks charge sustained overdraft fees. you can be charged $35 for your first overdraft. if you don't pay that back in five days it costs you $70.
these loans are taking out of the net deposit into consumer's banks accounts. making the banks the next customer who gets paid out of your next paycheck. and these loans are extremely expensive. for the fdic's typical overdraft, if the fee is just $27 and you get three weeks to pay it back, that's 7,027% a.p.r. and these loans come with balloon payments. you don't get an affordable repayment schedule. these get paid first, which can cause other checks consumers have written to get bounced and banks use tricks and traps to drive up the number of transactions by ordering the largest withdrawals first so that that wipes out your balance
and then they can charge overdraft fees on all the other smaller transactions. in polling that c.f.a. did this summer, we found that 71% of american consumers say they want banks to get permission to cover overdrafts for a fee. $85% of americans want banks to be required to disclose on the a.t.m. screen if a withdrawal with trigger an overdraft. 70% say that banks should pay transactions in the order they receive them. in polling done for consumers union they found that consumers expect that if you don't have enough money to cover a transaction and you use your dep -- debit card, the bank will reject it. the consumeers trapped in overdraft are the ones who can least afford it. about 1/4 of bank customers paid the $24 billion in overdraft
fees they were corrected last year. they are most likely young, and noirts. fee-based overdraft lending traps consumers in as tron knockically expensive debt and deprivates families of money they need for basic needs. these are not a convene queens. these are dangerous high cost loans that must be reined. in we urge this committee to reverse the drain by supporting senate bill 1799. thank you. >> thank you very, very michigan. grateful for your support. we welcome you to the committee and anxious to hear your perspective. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you to the members of the committee. i'd like to thank you for this opportunity to testify today. as you mentioned earlier we
serve the military and the department of homeland security. we're a skert institution. our total fee income represents less than 10% of our total income in any given year. while our first priority so to remain safe and sound, our strategic objective is to offer services that offer low fees and high rates on loans. we've been recognized in the military community as a leader with our overdraft protection programs and we've always viewed that as a valuable service for the military member. in their line of work, maintaining good credit is important. thus our program dates back more than 10 -- 20 years, preceding most of the programs that have come into question today. from the beginning we believe 245d either members should apply for our low-cost overdrafting or
they should not be included. we offer a line of credit attached to a member's checking account with a minimum of $500 overdraft protection. 45% of our active checking account members have such a line of credit. as a result, our programs have always been opted in. we believe strongly that every consumer must have opted in rights. at the pentagon credit union we charge interest rate calculated on a simple basis with no other charges and fees for overdrafts. by using a line of credit product which is formally recognized as a loan and subject to all federal lending requirements, the cost of the disclosure is fully disclosed and appropriately proportional to the overdraft amount. we post transactions smallest to
largest to avoid extra fees. we provide separate mail lings for each overdraft event. we believe that rapid notification is important to those members so that they can pay off their overdraft quickly. in short, we have attempted to craft a product that is truly consumer friendly. we have not received a single complaint from our membership regarding the record order in which we process items in more than 20 years. there are members who do not choose to opt in and those who cannot qualify for a line of credit. these members are not allowed to overdraft their account, with the limited exception of an offline debit transaction. in those stances we do charge a $30 fee. this does not happen with great frequency with -- and we recognize that the proposed bill
will ban that feoffment we support that. however, we do believe that merchants and networks should be required to process aural transactions in real-time which would eliminate this exception issue. we felt that there was more that we could do for our military members in the area of overdrafts this. summer we eliminated as many of the nonsufficient fund fees that we could. it's calmed warrior's advantage. it waives the checking account fees for up to two occurrences in any rolling three-month period. importantly, this program is separate and distinct from our overdraft line of credit and goes beyond the minimum requirements of the proposed legislation. under this program a military member can use all the money available in their checking account plus their line of credit and still have two additional instances of return
items every 90 days with no fee or charges beyond the interest on their loan. our research indicated this program would result with just over 0% of our military members with checking accounts never experiencing a fee. this program represents only a beginning. we intend to extend this program to our entire membership and we're at work on our next version. thank you very much for this opportunity to testify. we we are indebted to you for the work you're doing. >> mr. pollack, we thank you very much. mr. carey, welcome to the committee. often times we have these discussions and hearings and people like citibank and others are the subject of our concerns, but i'd like it to reflect here that at citi, a.m. fees, pin transactions and debit transactions, when they are not
sufficient funds, a real-time posting of debit and a.t.m. transactions are part of si trvingts i's program and we compliment citi for doing that. since we berate you for doing things wrong, i want to applaud you when you do something right. >> thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about the bill and offer some recommendations. we've heard today the policy that is some of the banks ploy in applying their overdraft transactions can be very confusing, frustrating and often expensive for consumers, especially for those who don't manage their daily finances coes whichly. there are many stories we've heard where a consumer incurred an unexpected fee for a transaction that could easily be
avoided had there been better information at the point of seasm. it's the $5 cup of coffee that ends up costing $30. at srvings citi we help customers avoid overdraft fees. we have never authorized a.t.m. or debit transactions if we know the money is not there and therefore we do not charge an overdraft fee when a customers attempts such a transaction. we encourage our customers at the account opening and throughout their rhythm with us to link a savings account or a line of credit to cover potential overdrafts and avoid either an overdraft fee or a bounced check fee. this is one of the best ways to reduce the risks and costs of overdrafts. separately, we do allow overdrafts for checks and h.c.h. transactions, because this
situation is very different. with these transactions, customers have the sole control over the transactions. we cannot know what amount they're writing on the check or exactly when the check was written. in those cases we allow customers a cushion to cover a small overdraft. further, in order to avoid large overdraft situations, citi will not authorize a payment beyond a reasonable amount. today fewer than 20% of customers are charged an overdraft fee a year. of those only a few are charged more than once annually. while we have concerns of aspects of the bill we fully support the goal of protecting consumers from unnecessary overdraft fees and support the additional efforts to approve consumer awareness regarding overdraft protection and alternative payment options. we agree that banks should
provide more trance parent so consumers can better manage their own money. we believe in the importance of giving consumers the ability to make their own choices. we believe there are opportunities for reform to provide consumers with greater choice and control. of course, most consumers do not overdraft and never will. still, consumers may not understand the effect of opting in to or out of overdraft coverage. in the future they may find themselves in the circumstance where they wish they could proceed with a specific transaction even if they know they would be charged a fee. i'm not referring to the $5 cup of coffee that ends up costing $40. it's about someone being stranded without wash -- cash in a foreign country and being able to access $100 from an a.t.m.
even if it costs them $135. it's our position that consumers should be given the choice of opting in at the point of sale. the choice of control should lie in the hand of the informed consumers. t.o. so consumers should be alerted at the a.t.m. terminal that the debit will overdraft their account and choose at that moment whether or not they want to go forward. and in the absence of the choice, perhaps the transaction should be denied. understandably, updating the technology to provide such transparency will take time and it will be incumbent upon the merchants, networks and banks to accommodate this at the point of transaction. with this, all the issues in the bill about how many fees can be allowed, whether they're reasonable, exactly when the customers should be notified and the other policy and business
implications of those points all become moot. informed consumers can decide whether a fee is too high or being charged tuvene based on their -- too often based on their personal needs. we have some important points of concern in the kurt bill that should be addressed. i thank you very much for the opportunity to participate. >> thank you very much, very creative thought. good to have you well-here as well. we thank you for coming before the committee. >> thank you chairman dodd and members of the compete. -- committee. thank you for your little and providing for consumers and thank you for inviting us to testify today. nearly five years ago federal regulators found serious problems in overdraft fees. they advised banks to consider
prohibiting overdraft fees on debit cards and to limit the fees. had this guidance been enforced we would not be here today discussing the explosion in the amount and frequency of those fees. instead, the regulators chose to not enforce the guidance and in the intervening years, american families have lost an additional $70 billion. current overdraft practices are a pipeline out of the pockets of american families. federal regulators have the authority and duty to stop this abuse. their hands are on the valve to cut off this siphoning of consumers' money but they refuse. i focus my comments today on debit cards, as this is the largest and fastest growing source of overdraft fees. overdraft fees on debit cards a abusive and should be prohibited. it's a penalty fee totally
unrelated to the cost and the bank can stop the act by doing as citi does, just declining the transaction, and there is no n.s.f. fee when -- when that is done. this is like a town with an intersection with a green traffic line and then town impose is a high fee on travelers who use the intersection. there are lower cost at tivers but these abusive high fees are driving them out of the market. several banks have discontinued alternative products because of the revenue from high overdraft fees. overdraft fees are turning debit cards into high cost cred cards without the protection of the card act. these fees cause immense damage to families. more than 27 million families
pay over five overdraft fees each year. it is taking families out of the financial main stream, as we run into counselors who feel that they cannot tell families to get a bank account because these overdraft fees drive them into a financial hole. these abusive overdraft fees also hamp the banking industry and our overall economy. they disadvantage responsible programs who don't charge these feings and it occurrence our -- turns our banks into a competition of who can enroll the most customers in overdraft programs and then depleelt their accounts rather than which bank can offer sustainable credit and fair financial services. one testimony moan -- testimonial from a banker said "if i had two more products like this i could quit making loans
altogether." we praise the reforms that are set out in senate bill 17 9. it imposes critical limits on the amounts and number of fees. the recent consent rule was too little too late. there was consent on credit cards before the card act but that did not solve the problem. overdraft abuses demonstrate the need for a consumer financial protection agency. if overdraft abuses had been the primary focus of an agency they would not have developed in the way they have. there's a need for an agency they can act quickly and respond to problems. it is said that to whom much is given much is required. the american taxpayers have given hundreds of billions of dollars to the big banks and taxpayers will pay for this for this -- many years.
it is not too much to expect that the resim yenlts of this aid will use it to restore the american economy that they helped bring down and at the very least that these banks will not in return siphon away families' hard earned dollars and also the many businesses in dire need of the boost those dollars would provide if available. we again call on the financial regulators and especially the o.c.c., which oversees the biggest overdraft programs, to enforce the overdraft guide sitting on their shelf and issue regulations with substantive protections for american families. we urge congress to enact substantive overdraft reform, closing the gap in the card act and putting an end to these abusive palaces. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. calhoun and thank you all who
are here for their thoughts and idea. mr. viliri. i wonder if you had received notice -- you talk about this week that went by between the time you wrote that check for $197 and only had $197 in your account. would you have continued to use your debit card to make additional purchases had you been notified right away? >> definitely not. definitely no. . >> i think you told me at one point that actually in the notice you received that the postmark -- >> the mostly sunny -- notice was given to me on the 18th and the postmark was the 24th. then they sent me another one on the 16th and the postmark was the 22nd so i didn't know that i was overdrawn. as soon as they told me, 10 minutes later or a half an hour
later i brought down money and every day -- everything was fine. >> had you been notified more promptly you would have dealt with it. you had enough money in your own accounts to more than cover those things. you weren't short. you just weren't aware. >> right. i didn't have it in their bank. i had nit another bank, which was close by. >> you're a multiple banker here. >> no, i didn't have it in their bank but it was down the street a couple of blocks. as soon as they told me it was overdrawn i just went and got the money and brought down cash to them. it wasn't a serious problem. i was with this lang -- bank for 10 years. before this when i did something -- and a lot of times it was there mistake. but if it wasn't, as soon as you put your card in and pin number
and so forth, this shall it would say insufficient funds, go see your banker. $20 and $30 was all the things were for. it was not a serious amount. the serious amount was the $35 to get $10.60. >> so the technology existed in your bank where actually the machine notified you. >> oh, sure. >> that's interesting. let me ask the panel if i could, mr. carey in his testimony talked about the frustration that consumers express centered on a.t.m. and debit transactions with the overdraft coverage fees could have been avoided if the customers had only known at the point of sale that it would result in a fee. in our bill we asked for a study to look at this particular point, so we've already accommodated your interests in some degree. although we hear from mr. viliri
that actually the technology existed at his bank where they were able to notify him instantly about whether or not there were fund to cover that particular transaction, but you made a good point. but even if the technology were readily available at a reasonable cost, overdraft coverage fees should still in reasonable. you get $2.07 you get a $35 fee. if someone was overdrown by $5000, $250, having a fee that would somehow be proprogress natt to that would be somehow more reasonable to me. but even with a matter of a few cents, young people, who are inclined the -- to use the card
more frequently for small transactions, where each transaction is $35 or doubled. >> senator, i guess the question is directed at me so i'll give it a shot. >> because you made the point. >> i made the point. that's fair. at citi at this point if you were to go and buy that $4 cup of coffee and didn't have $4 in your account, we wouldn't authorize the transaction. basically the transaction wouldn't go through and the customers would have this decision to pull out another means or paying for it. what we're essentially saying is that's what ought to happen until the technology is there at any point of sale. simply deny the transaction in its entirety and have the customers go some place else or use some other mechanism to pay for it. that what i when you do that --
when this technology gets built and it's not that far away because it's already in the a.t.m.'s. you can make the decision about whether or not you want to incur the fee. nope, i don't want the fee. i'm willing to go some place else. and that's where the real choice is. my concern is in -- if we give a choice in a static environment, where i opened an account two years ago and i opted into this thing and i had no idea i would be inoccurring this fee, that's the problem. you asked about the reasonableness of fees. it's a slippery slope. my concern is certainly in the debit and a.t.m. space establishing limits and establishing those -- what's reasonable or not. i think that's worth discussing but i think when we start talking about people writing checks and bouncing checks and banks offering the service for overdrafts rather than having a check bounce, that's a good
thing. >> my point i guess i want to make is in the absence of these other matters being adopted i wanted to determine whether or not it was reasonable -- our bill. >> in essence what i would suggest is that the transactions should be denied. >> may i ask other members of the panel? >> when banks talk about overdraft fees being set high to serve as a deterrent, that's a bit disingenuous. if they wanted to deter overdrafting, they would deny transactions at the tm. >> the g.a.o. found that the average noninterest fees, including overdraft fees increased by 10% or more since the year 2000 so how is the imposition of these fees as a deterrent fair when increasing revenue is coming to banks from these fees? >> we've been serving the largest banks' overdraft fees
for the last several years and the fees have gone up. more banks are charging tiered fees so the second, third, and fourth overdraft is more expensive and now they're started to add sustained overdraft fees so you can get charged $35 immediately if you don't pay the bank back in a few days. it's another $35. some banks charge an $8 per day sustained overdraft fee. i heard from a young fellow in indiana in summer. just out of high school. he made a $10 math error on his bank account. he had four debit transactions that overdrew his account by $6.58. his bank charged $35 for each. he rushed down and deposited $100. that was sucked out to pay the overdraft fees and he was still overdrawn and they charged him $8 a day.
by the time this young kid's family got in touch with me he was $500 in the hole. that's not a deterrent or service. that's a death trap. >> anyone else want to comment on this before i turn to senator reid? >> if i may add, that is what the practice was not many years ago and that was the big selling point, in fact, of debit cards was that they had a limit. they were different from cred cards and again is what these overdraft programs have done, particularly debit cards is they have turned them into sproodnarle high cost credit cards with none of the protections. the card act limits the number of fees and is pat earned similar to what you have in 1799 and requires that those fees be reasonably proportional and be consented too. it seems like you need at least those protections in a noncredit
situation. >> thank you. senator brown? >> thank you chairman, and thank you, senator reid. a question for mr. calhoun and a question for mr. polllack. the american bankers association say that consumers appreciate having overdraft protection, that it's a service that their members' customers want. why are your survey findings so different from what the american bankers association tells us? >> there are many surveys. our survey was done by an independent group, a larger sample. nationwide more than 2,000 responsibility skenlts people -- respondents and people want to know what it will cost them. when they're told $35 it's a whole different kettle of fish. for people who want it covered there is an alternative. both a line of credit which, the
typical charge, if you use overdraft protection from a line of credit is less than a dollar from an overdraft versus $35. or they used to regularly offer linking as some still do. linking your credit to your savings and some impose like a $1 fee each time you access it. banks are discontinuing those programs because the regulators have allowed these abusive products to drive out the good ones. it's not an either or. if someone truly wants coverage for overdraft they can have it and on a fair basis that's profitable to banks. >> so five or 10 years ago it would be much more likely for a bank to set up a situation that the overdraft, if you, will would simply be money taken out of my savings account. there would be a link there and the bank would do that
automatically and i would get the statement about that. that's much less common? >> yes, many banks don't offer it and those that do actively discourage and it point people towards the high fee overdraft instead. >> mr. pollack, at the pentagon credit union where you work, do your customers complain that you decline these debts transactions ? do you hear discussions from customers? >> actually, we do not. we share the view and we think our members do as well, that when they don't have money in the account they prefer to know that and not be charged a fee to get $20 or $5 for a cup of coffee. and so we have had no complaints. >> you don't have the technology mr. carey talked about that someone is notifyed that they would be overdrawn but still has the option to be overdrawn and
pay the fee in case of emergency. you don't have that technology yet? >> that's correct and we reject if you do not have available funds. >> as citi, you said. >> right. >> would you know if most credit unions around the country have the policy that you have or are other celled unions more likely to mimic credit card unions or some banks that do this? >> it's probably 50 hear 50. rough live. -- 50-50. >> are the larger credit unions more likely to do it? the smaller ones? >> the larger ones are less likely to charge a fee. in the house meeting, the second largest credit union showed up, which is north carolina state employees. they do not charge fees either.
so i think the larger credit unions are more apt to have programs similar to ours or citi's. >> thank you chairman. >> thank you, senator reid? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and thank the witnesses for your wonderful testimony. let me ask mr. carey. you have initiated these steps with respect to your policies as a result of any type of regulatory suggestion or is this just something that you think is good business? >> this is something -- this has been our practice really since we invented the a.t.m. and that we've never done anything -- >> have to be careful, because somebody invented the internet. >> there's not as much dispute oob around this one. it's essentially been our practice that if the funds are there the transaction doesn't go guard. >> the majority of banks, both
large, medium and all sizes charge these fees. i guess my point is that do regulators ever look at you and say that's great or do they -- in any way sort of try to suggest what a good fee structure would be with respect to the consumers or do they just remain aloof? >> your first point, i have yet to be in a regulator where they've said everything i've ever done is really good and pat me on the hand. their compliance oversight as well as the safety and soundness oversight, that they challenge us on all sorts of issue about how we're approaching specific things. i have hat -- not had specific conversations around our practices with respect to debit and a.t.m., but nor would i expect to have them because i think it's not a driver of consumer complaints. they're not surprised that the
exow in fact cost them 40 bucks. and respect to h.c.h. and checks, our customers like the fact that we can cover off a transaction that's important to them rather than bouncing the check and having the bounced check fee from a vendor and all the flowdown problems west virginia that come from it. >> thank you. there's some evidence, i think, mr. calhoun, that consumers would rather be denied in some cases, particularly debit cards, than to have automatic fees. is that your finding in >> we polled and 80% of consumers prefer to be denied rather than imposed a $35 tee -- fee on a debit. one of the striking things is i mentioned the joint federal guidance that was issued five years ago.
that's five years ago, almost. february 5. even going back further. the o.c.c., going back as far as 2001, was approached by a bank that wanted to offer one of these overdraft programs, kind of a new thing then on debit cards and it was very similar to the programs that have been described here today. in august 2001, the o.c.c. responded in very harsh criticism noting all the lack of consumer protections and the program was never instituted at that time. and why the change of heart by the regulators ? have consumers certainly -- do consumers suddenly have more money that they want to pay in fees? they have actively condoned the development of these overdraft programs. >> ms. fox? >> also, the comptroller of the
industry has set a set of guidelines and none of those add any consumer protection. it talks ago misuse -- of the account. if the banks let you overdraw, you've been invited to do that. nothing about the ordering of payments says that the consumers shouldn't be charged extra fees. so the regulators have failed to curb this practice. as the fees went up, overdrafts became more per vay sieve, more transactions were covered by it and more money went out of people's pockets. >> that is consistent across the board? not just o.c.c. but o.t.s. and other -- >> it's the federal reserve that writes the rules that implement the federal banking and credit
laws and we've been urging them nor years to require banks to comply with truth and lending when they extend credit when letting you borrow from an overdraft. over and over they've failed to do that. they've added rules to the truth and savings, but they have failed to provide a basic set of comparable protections to overdraft lending that every other creditor has to comply with. >> mr. pollack, you pointed out that essentially that's what you do voluntarily. because of your practices, if someone has overdraft protection, you're consistent with all the lending laws, is that correct? >> yes, sir, that's correct. >> you've not seen that as an impediment to business or profit building in >> to the contrary, we're doing quite well.
>> your policy about debit cards is that you don't charge these fees etc. with respect to checks you do charge those and unlike mr. pollack's organization, you don't do it through an overdraft but automatically? >> as i said in my testimony, we have programs similar to what penfed has. on account opening and throughout the relationship, there's an opportunity to link a savings account or a line of credit and then customers can move those funds back and forth and make sure they have the appropriate coverage. so we do have all those things. at those points of sale the money can move over and cover those transactions and people aren't denied of them. what i was focusing on was if someone simply didn't opt into those programs. in the current environment we simply wouldn't authorize the transaction if there weren't funds there.
>> yes, sir? >> a lot of times it's been my policy -- it's been quite a while, but i remember having a credit card or a debit card or whatever and you put it in the machine and you say you want $200 or whatever it is and then it says the fee will be $18, do you want to continue. if you say no, the transaction is null and void. that's ok. as long as you know what it's going to cost you. if you want it you do it. if you don't want it, you just put no and forget about it. doing it without you knowing what they're going to charge, that's a horse with a different garage. >> i couldn't say it better. >> that's a new one for me. a garage of a different color, i guess. >> mr. chairman, thank you. >> thank you very much, senator. good questions. let me pick up on the points that senator reid was making.
it may be double playly ca active. for many, many years the federal reserve, because it is the federal reserve, ms. fox, you're correct, who has the primary responsibility of consumer protection and they've been aware of these overdraft abuses for a long time. a report in 2005 called overdraft programs "abusive and misleading." that's four years ago, their words to describe this. and over the past several years the federal reserve has issued modest rule after modest rule. i'm pleased to see what they've done but i understand in a sense. i'd love to be convinced that it would have happened in the absence of introducing legislation and also absent of the consideration of the financial regulatory reform proposals that are out there. and as i say i have a lot of respect for ben bernanke and i
don't see -- say that lightly. i think he's done a very good job and i do welcome these changes. but are these sufficient rule changes going to be adequate enough and doesn't it -- let me take advantage of the panel here. i say this not because it should be punitive or adversarial but merely to complete the entire picture. if you're looking at creating stblet and safety and soundness, at the same time it's very important that mr. -- people like mr. livieri, hard-working, ran his business for 50 years. does a simple transaction and ends up paying $140 for a $2.17 overdraft. unfortunately this happens with great regular la later and the idea that in this reorganization of the regulatory process --
look, all of you understand and know the senate pretty well. the likelihood i could take a bill like there, get it out of committee, get it on the floor of the united states senate, get it in a year or two to be completed by the body of the 135 other people, thoff the -- to have the president of the united states sign it into law, in order to get changes that the federal reserve four years ago called abusive and misleading, seems to me it cries out for a different process that would allow an agency with responsibility of confirmation by the senate, appointment by the president to watch out what happens to the mr. livieris of this world. i shouldn't have to go through this process on every matter like this. this could be delegated to a responsible regulatory body. in the great depression we came up with a federal deposit insurance corporation.
we didn't require a piece of legislation every time a bank failed. we guaranteed that if you bought a stock you wouldn't be defrauded. obviously there was bernie madoff. but shouldn't we today in the 21st century, given all the wonderful technologies that exist today -- i apologize for the length of this question but it seems to me it cries out. this is a further example of, instead of waiting around, hoping and waiting for a biffle to be passed by congress, we'd have a responsible regulatory body making these kinds of decisions. doesn't it cry out for an independent consume summer your lawn mauer breaks today, you can call somebody and say, the warren ties aren't there. who can help me out to get my money back from a faulty
consumer product. who do you call? when all of a sudden you're mr. livieri. you've been taken to the cleaners. he called his senator. you shouldn't have to call your senator. >> and if he calls the bank regulatory industry, they'll say this is legal. they can charge you any monument, any number of fees, over and over for the same overdraft. there are no limits on what the banks can do in this area. you're correct that a consumer financial protection agency would be very important to keep this kind of abusive practice from getting out of hand. >> mr. pollack, you're in the business of financial services. do you have any reaction to this? >> at pfcu, we believe that the cfp sarvings a good idea. we think that the ant of an agency to focus solely on
consumer protection will make that agency more effective. the fact of the matter is that today regulators have a very difficult job and have to cover a lot of ground and i don't think that anybody at any of the regulatory agencies was trying to do a bad job. i don't think that at all. i simply think that when you're trying to cover a lot of ground you can't do as well as when you're focused on one sole area. we believe strongly that the cfp sarvings beneficial to the american consumer. >> i think the best thing i can say is that clearly there's an opportunity to improve consumer protection, whether it's through the cfpa or whether it's through
enhancing the authorities, senator, you probably know that better than i do but clearly the stories that you're describing here deserve attention and if it isn't being done by the regulatory agencies, the questions have to be asked as to why not. >> mr. calhoun, we know where you stand. but you want to make additional comment? .
if i am deeply in my funds with a transaction and i am buying a newspaper in the airport, how difficult would it be to give me a real-time warning and have me choose whether i want to pay the overdraft fee or simply not proceed with the transaction? >> right now, technology is there, but it is not capable of being done now. in other words, it is not like we have to invent a new idea. we do not have to invent the transporter room in order to make this happen. the technology is there, but the processes are not. that requires the cooperation of merchants, the cooperation of banks, and it requires the cooperation of the networks to get that done. so it is not there today, but, for example, it is at your own
atm, and it should be at your home atm about having that capability. "if you do this, you'll be overdrawn. would you like to go forward with the fee?" it is not that far away, but there has to be the incentive to go out and build it. part of that, and that is the point i have been trying to make, is until that is there, perhaps the transaction should not be approved. if there's a market for that, the need for that, then let's build it. let's give consumers a choice at the moment they need it most. >> it does not seem that long ago, that that was the response. that was just a few years ago, wasn't it? >> according to the testimony today -- again, at citi we do not do it. if you do not have the money or it is not linked to another
account and there's not the money for you to withdraw, the transaction was not authorized. i suspect that was a much more typical practice early on and has migrated over time. >> i would echo the comments that it will not be immediately available to have point-of-sale retail -- real-time mornings, and it is critical that reform not be dependent on that -- point of sale real-time warnings. there is going to be a gas station in some small county that it may be 10 years before it would have two-way communication, and i think as this bill properly does, it ought to set the goal and incentive to move in that direction, but in the absence of that morning, the practice and the law should be that no fee should be charged on those debit transactions. if the bank, for convenience or for a particular customer, wants
to cover it, this bill does not prohibit it. it prohibits those abusive sees -- fees, which is another point that has not been covered. these fees they get more defaults. these are from accounts where people have fallen into a whole -- hole where they cannot make up the money. overdraft fees have a $500 limit. once you hit that limit, you're getting checks or overdress turned down -- overdrafts turned down. because the people to put you behind, and a lot of people cannot test that out and cover their deficiency, next month, they are facing more of these. >> right now, we have the old style that would work, which is at a bank could say that you
have a choice -- you could either sign up for a line of credit and have your overdraft covered by a line of credit, or you could choose to turn down the transaction if you have hit the limit, or you could use a third option. but there are a range of options to address this that we do have the technology for now. >> that is correct. >> it is a great line of question and an important point. i forget which of our colleagues raised this -- it may have been you, senator. but as i heard, it was something like 17% or 20% of consumers that are paying about 90% of the fees. am i close to accurate on that? something like that. it is a relatively small number of people, and those are primarily people who are in difficulty.
lost their jobs, are in difficult straits, going through a medical crisis of one kind or another, they are in a tough spot. is that correct? >> the fdic did a very extensive study released late last year, and they reported that 9% of customers had 10 or more overdrafts in a year. 25% a banking account customers over drop in a given year, so it is a very small fraction of customers -- 25% of banking account customers overdraw, so it is a very small percentage of customers that are keeping the banks afloat. i think the $38.5 billion includes bounced checks and overdraft fees, but that is the cost to consumers of not having sufficient money and the bank account going ahead and loaning money -- in the bank account, and the banks going ahead and loan money.
>> the fdic report that 90% of all overdraft fees are paid by 14% of account holders -- 93% of all overdraft fees are paid by 14% of account holders. the worst of people who are struggling the most are paying the lion's share of these billions of dollars. that is ridiculous. >> there really are two subgroups. over 27 million families will pay five or more overdrafts in this year. so that is a pretty good hit. and then there is this group that just gets hammered because that same study found that the average household in that high use group paid $1,600 a year in overdraft fees. but the abuse is not just that very high use.
it does spread across a much larger swath of account holders. 27 million, to be precise. >> a couple of points was making -- was making because i anticipated this question, i wanted to see if there was a disproportionate number of people who receive and overdrafts at the -- overdraft at the -- overdraft fee. this is limited to a group that would otherwise be bouncing checks, and it actually does not load up on the lmi. it spreads out across the entire spectrum. again, i want to make sure we are focusing on the problem, and the problem, to me, is around the velocity of electronic debit and atm transactions where people are just simply caught unaware.
>> and again, we appreciate what citi has done. have we said that enough times? i appreciate the step in the right direction. tell me again how that works. >> it is primarily made up of people who are writing checks overdrawn through ach transactions, and the question i ask is if it is disproportionately affecting lm i, and it is not. it is spread out across that spectrum, and i think the reason why is because we do not charge that, so people are not caught -- they are not using debit cards the way -- >> i suspect another factor is a lot of low-income people do not have checking accounts. there are 10 million people in this country that never access a traditional financial institution other than through credit cards and debit cards, so there is that element. >> a few years ago, congress enacted af 9t need 9 to require
that federal benefit recipients get direct deposit -- enacted aft 99, so we have pushed a lot of unbanked consumers into mainstream banking without making it safe for them to have bank accounts. also, social security and ssi are supposed to be exempt. banks take that money to pay overdraft fees, so that is a drain on older and low-income consumers. the fdic study looked at a cross-section of large and small banks. if you look at banking across the board, it is low to moderate income consumers who had a bank account and do not have enough money to make ends meet, and the banks are not helping them avoid
fees. >> we have problems. thank you. i think the idea of letting someone know they could opt into overdraft coverage -- we need to make sure that these fees will might be excessive and also that there are alternatives such as lines of credit or linked accounts, which citi does, but not everyone does. and consumer awareness of what is available to them rather than just a do you or do you not want to have a fee charged. >> i wanted to ask you about the type of conversation your financial institution went through because i picture a board meeting in which someone comes forward and says "our competitors are charging these fees for overdrafts, and to be
competitive, we want to make sure we do not give up the source of revenue" and somehow, citibank came to the conclusion not to do that. can you walk us through the thinking that transpired? >> i'm not sure if you were here earlier -- >> i missed it. i apologize. >> we have just never done it. it has not been part of the sort of fabric of the company in this space. people are very unhappy about fees in general, and i think you have to try to draw better transparency. i'm responsible for business practices within the consumer businesses, and a lot of it is centered around all sorts of revenue opportunities, and we spent a great deal of time in those discussions trying to weigh all of the risks and rewards that come from that,
such as the damage to reputation, the substantial revenue opportunity, where we are in the competitive space. and there is vigorous debate and discussion, and i think it is a good and useful process that we do to try to come up with what the really right answer is, but it is through those kinds of things that we come up with the decisions that we do come up with about what makes the most sense, and what we would like to believe is that at the end, we have got to be entirely transparent to our customers. we have got to make sure that they understand exactly what is going on, that they have informed choices, and that they can make those choices in a reasonable time so that they are not tracked, and that that is basically a bad rock in how we look at these things. >> thank you. >> if i may add, i think citi's testimony raises an important point -- addresses an important point that was raised earlier today. there was concern that this
reform effort would poorly affect other consumers. the point was raised that if you would regulate overdraft fees, it would mean the end of free checking, which lots of consumers like. first of all, citi finds a way to not charge overdraft fees from debit cards but still offer free checking, and free checking predated these aggressive abusive overdrafts programs -- overdraft programs. >> that is a good point. you provoke me to say as someone who tried for many years to get some reform of the credit-card industry and this year, thanks to senator merkel and other members of the committee, we were able to get it out of the committee by a one-vote margin, and it passed the senate overwhelmingly, but one of the things we negotiated in the process was a delay before implementing the provisions of that bill in order to provide, at the request of the industry,
for them to be able to adjust to the changes. what they have done in the interim time is not just adjust to the changes but charge outrageous fees, and interest has just been skyrocketing in this window. they try to get as much out of this window as they can, completely defying the very request been made, which was basically to allow for an adjustment period, which i thought was a reasonable request. i am angry that they seem to have taken advantage of this request, and they have been arguing that this is what happens because we have changed the rules and they are only doing it because the past the credit-card bill, and, frankly, that is baloney, that argument, and frankly, the argument now, for them to do away with free checking, citi is a living example of what you can do. so i hope that those who are
involved, the lending institutions, are not going to try these tricks again further evidence and why you need a consumer safety committee. but i thank all of you. you are very gracious. we thank you particularly. you have come down, and we know it is not easy for anyone to stand up and talk about something, and i think we all agree that we all bear responsibility at the outset to conduct our affairs and the knowledgeable about where we are in these matters, so to stand up and talk about a situation about $2.17, for a guy who has been in business for many years, obviously, it is an uncomfortable moment, but we appreciate your doing it. these are not just numbers and statistics, so we are really grateful to you. the committee will leave the record open for additional questions that members may have, but again, if it pleases all of
you here, the committee stands adjourned. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> the final space shuttle mission of the year ended this morning as space shuttle atlantis landed successfully at kennedy space center. during their 11-day mission, the crew the lives of -- delivered several years' worth of spare parts to the space station to keep up supply after the space shuttles are retired next year. the crew also returned one of their colleagues, who has been living on the space station for nearly three months. >> knows near touchdown -- nose near touchdown.
wrapping up a 4,490,138-mile flight to the international space station. >> up next on c-span, democratic and republican strategy advisers to evaluate the obama presidency. after that, students make history in the british house of commons, assembling a youth parliament to debate the voting age and universities -- university fees. >> saturday, a look back at the cuban missile crisis with former kennedy adviser ted sorensen and call casein. also, have world threat's been over hard in the post-cold war world? -- have world threats been over
hyped? and the founder of facebook on how social networking is changing the political process. this holiday weekend on c-span. >> now, a group of political strategists on the obama presidency. three republicans and three democrats participate in this event hosted by the bipartisan policy center. from tulane university in new orleans, it is just over an hour and 10 minutes. >> one of the things in one of the books i wrote was it you are going to attack someone, never meet them because they always turn out to be so nice. i think that is one of the great things about this conference.
people are going face-to-face, meeting each other, and you would be surprised what that means. i just wanted to make one comment about the last panel, which i thought was superb. i think sometimes in politics -- and i have been as guilty as anybody else and readily admit it -- is we too often used a machete and we forget about the scalpel. one of my favorite politicians ever was the governor of louisiana, and he was running for reelection, and a ford dealer in a town of about 3500 people was running against him, and the argument was that he was corrupt, and he had been in power for too long, and he had forgotten his roots, etc., etc. and the opponent was an honest guy, but he was a ford dealer
from a small town. he said he wanted to say about his opponent that he was a really honest guy, a deacon of the church, in the rotary club, and if he had to buy a ford, he said he wanted them to know that he would buy it from him because he was the kind of guy that would give you a good deal and something happens to your car, you take it in, he would fix it for you, give you a loner, let you use it, and that is just the kind of guy fred is. he said if he had about two, he would have to go somewhere else because he was not big enough to handle the deal -- if he had to buy two, he would have to go somewhere else because fred was not big enough to handle the deal. in that i think is a lesson that sometimes the scalpel can be very effective. i want to introduce the moderator of this next panel and let him go through it. i say this in all sincerity -- if you ask people to name the
three best political journalists of the last 20 years, i am not going to be stupid enough to say who is number one, but i am going to say that there is no list that ronald would not be on. not just in terms of reporting, but in terms of analysis. he is one of these people that people pay attention to for a justifiable reason. he generally has something to say, and more often than not, it is remarkably profound. i did everything i could to get him in my tooling class or to get him back at some point, but he is down here in new orleans, and leading this panel is remarkable. he is a truly remarkable guy who has a remarkable insights, and i am going to let him introduce this panel. notice who these people are. i just want to emphasize that these people have worked not
just in campaigns, by our very influential throughout washington. having said that, i am going to have to excuse myself, so i can get ready for the next social event, which as we all know, is part of this sort of work. i appreciate ron taking over. [applause] >> thank you, and thank you for those very kind words. although i would say for a reporter, it seems i and what i did not get the memo that the journalist is the only one on the panel wearing a tie. but you folks have a tree here because you have some of the best minds in american politics here -- you folks have a treat. i will note that the biaos are all in the program. i was introduced larry gisolano,
john anzalone, the specializes in electing democrats in difficult places, stand greenberg, who i have known for as long as i have been covering politics, a democratic pollster whose clients have included bill clinton, al gore, tony blair, and nelson mandela -- pretty good list. on his side, bill mcinturff, and republican pollster, who i have known for just about as long as i have been covering politics. this list includes it seems just about every republican official, but i'm told 19 senators, seven governors, 40 house ministers, and -- for the house matters -- 40 house members, and we know he worked for john mccain, and mark mckinnon, a media consultant
whose clients include john mccain and george w. bush. and finally, alex cost a lot, who has been a consultant to seven republican presidential campaigns -- alex catalano. he has gone to toe with politicians of all stripes on cnn and can tell us what anderson cooper is really like. we want to talk about the first year of this very eventful and even to malta was obama presidency -- even tumultuous obama presidency. taking the poison out a partner -- partisanship and the extent to which he has and has not been able to reverse the trends toward greater ideological and partisan corporation to let me start with the broadest question. if we were going to do a ledger here, we are about one year after the elections at this
point. you might look at the obama presidency and say he has maintained an approval rating at 50% or above amid very hard economic times. he has averted, it appears, a full-scale collapse of the economy that some people feared. he is continuing to pass legislation, the healthcare bill, the first president in 100 years to get something approaching a universal bill to the floor, and he has held democrats together in congress to a greater extent than clinton did, and polling shows he has approved america's image in the world. on the other side, we would say unemployment has now passed 10%. the republican base is clearly energized after being somewhat dispirited at the end of the bush presidency. independents are expressing increasing anxiety about the scale, cost, and scope of the agenda, and some of those concerns seem to have been validated in the way they voted on tuesday in new jersey and
virginia, and while america's image in the world has improved, some of the problems that we faced -- whether iran or afghanistan -- seem to be as intractable as ever. you add all that up and what ever else you wanted to go in, is the elevator going up or down at this point? is this a presidency that is gaining strength or is losing momentum? stan, if you do not mind, i will start with you. which direction it heading right now for president obama? >> i do not think the metaphor is right. and by the way, thank you to the organizers for doing this. the last time i did this, my wife is a member of congress -- my wife, as a member of congress, was a bipartisan retreat in gettysburg, and my partner was bob barr. he left that retreat and filed his petition to impeach bill clinton. then my wife got attacked for going to this boondoggle, so bipartisanship is not in my
blood. [laughter] but on the question of whether the elevator is going up or down, if you look at bill clinton, that elevator went up one -- up and down many times, so i think it is more like a roller coaster. president obama has not had the kinds of swings in either approval or his personal favorability that bill clinton did, but for us, passing the economic plan, our approval was going down into that process. once he passed his budget, which was a tax increase in deficit reduction, his approval went up significantly and was sustained over many months. as he proceeded then to launch a number of initiatives, but then, trooper-gate, and failures in health care -- i think it is really hard.
all the things you say are true, all the positives and all the negatives. the intensity, and i'm not even sure 2010 is the right point in which we are going to see this played out. you could have a 1982 election in which democrats made gains, but when the story really played out, it was 1984, which was a landslide and realigning, which i still think it's possible -- is possible in this area through 2012. i think it is too early to tell. >> from a polling perspective, you have to look at the two obamas, which is personal ratings and how people feel about his job performance. i do this with a democratic pollster, and we had a sequence. we did a series of 12 or 14 attributes in march that were repeated a few weeks ago, two weeks ago, and what peter did was interesting -- he took those attributes and split them
between personal ratings about him personally, and things that had to do with his job. his personal ratings, he averaged a 61% four or five ratings appeared in the job rankings, he averaged 41%. although those ratings have slipped, he had really declined on the job ratings. my sense is this is a country that, as i said in january, given our problems, had a long road for the president. they wanted to be successful. they like him personally, but i think there are really growing concerns and doubts, and i think those are exacerbated siddeley by economic tension. number two, there is a really good question that i wish i wrote, but cnn did instead. the economy is not better a year from now, who do you blame?
in march, but 24 points, they blamed bush. today, the number was tied. the history by ronald reagan is by june or july, you have inherited the economy. the other thing i would caution my party about -- i think we are going to be turning into -- and that is tomorrows conversation. we will be having a very good 2010, but just like 1982 and 1984, a really good 2010 does not mean much for 2012. but my other quick note is i think there's about a one in four chance that he will have a quarter like presidency, and i believe there's a one in four chance he will have a transformational presidency. we have had republican governors who have taken over in tough times and have done very difficult things, and they had a really lousy numbers -- they had
really lousy numbers, and then people got four years later and said that they did a lot of big things, and their numbers go up really sharply. that is the one in four chance we could be seeing with obama. it could be a positive, consequential presidency, as well as i think we could be looking at jimmy carter, which is an ineffectual presidency combined with very long track policies, and i think that is a one in four chance. >> i feel i am on stage with some six of nature because it is nice to be with pollsters who can see beyond a moment and look forward to where the trajectory of things might be going. i think right now, the president is very consistent with of the analysis, and what the president said -- with the president is benefiting from his the people who say that he is in a very
tough set of circumstances, took over at tough times, and he is doing a commendable job of calling them like he sees them. he makes reasoned choices. he thinks hard about things, and he tries to do the right things. he is not correct. ideology-bound. partisanship-down. he has a bunch of fastballs coming his way, and he is doing his best to call the balls and strikes accurately. at the moment, i think that is sufficient for people. i do think there will come a moment where people begin to change their criteria and start asking what this is all yielding. i think voters at this moment are somewhat patient, in part because i think they are looking across the landscape, and they do not see a lot of alternatives. they are not ready to cast their lot with the leadership of congress in either party or some alternative leader out there, and this is the guy they have
got, and they are relatively satisfied by that. i think they also find a level of personal insurance in his style. he seems like he is on top of things. he is genuinely clear and smart, and at a time when there is a high level of anxiety, there is a personal style that is sitting there needs, and i think what is going to happen there is we will have to see the moment where people start saying, "enough of that. now, i demand results." if things have been able to turn around at that moment, that is what i think is on the horizon. >> thank you for having us here today. i think the elevator is going down, but they do tend to go back up eventually, and i think it is going down because barack obama is doing so many things that you cannot really see the story on any particular one of them.
all you see is the common denominator, and that has been spending and debt, and that has been scherinscaring people. i think he has debranded the democratic party as the party of economic responsibility. that means they're going to lose a bunch of seats in the 2010 election. i think there will be a whole lot of seats taken. i think it is going to be a big break pedal election. a lot of cars teetering on the cliff going fast. i think we are going to see a lot of that. the good news for obama is i think he is going to be defeated for reelection on 2010, where he is not on the ballot. so you'll have two years after
that -- he will have two years after that to move to, i think, and more deficit-reduction stance. people do want him to succeed. [inaudible] nobody wants to reject him and go back with, so he is going to get a single one. all he has given republicans is an opportunity. >> there will going to be addressing this tomorrow, but you represent candidates often at the front line. >> a couple of things that i think we have to put in perspective. first of all, the republican brandin is at a new low. we are talking about obama, his job rating a little bit above 50%. interestingly enough, it is right where ronald reagan's was at this time, except the unemployment rate is 25% higher.
the foreclosure rate is literally almost -- not quite doubled. the consumer index is worse. so things tend to be relative, but when you take a look at a couple of key factors, why i think that the elevator is going up, he is kind of breaking the rules. he kind of runs up the steps. he does not wait for the elevator. think about it -- voters tend to reward presidents who do big and bold things. ronald reagan. bill clinton. and i think they will reward obama. it just takes some time. it just takes some patientce. those were perceptions were they were not getting anything done -- carter, bush -- they were penalized. but to get back to it is all about the competition. regardless of where obama is right now, only 20% of americans are self-aideed as republicans -- self-ided as republicans.
the other thing is when you ask if people think obama is trying to work with republicans, about 60% say yes, but when you ask if republicans are trying to work with obama, it is almost 60% no. you see another indicator going into the 2010 elections, that the generic ballot -- that very simple question, open court are you more likely to vote for a democrat or republican?" -- is still a net positive for democrats. literally not quite by double digits, but high single digits at this point in time, and again, the comparison to the bad political branding for republicans, who people tossed about getting things done, and the generic ballot -- who people trust about getting things done, and its generic ballot -- it is way too premature in this point in time.
>> i want to come back to the conflict point, but alex said there is no story line here, and that is being lost in the obama presidency. that we are not getting a coherent narrative to the country. >> there was another point he made that i wanted to touch on, which was at president obama is getting a great deal of latitude from voters which i do not think anyone else would have received for obvious and historical reasons. i was a big john mccain supported and voted for him, although i did like obama after the general election because i did not want to be part of the campaign that was attacking him, i am kind of a radical centrists who finds on the right side of the line. but i am not a republican obama feder hater -- obama hater, but i think about hillary clinton and john mccain, and i think they just would not have the
latitude that obama has had, and i think he has dealt with big problems that would have been difficult for anybody. but we have such a short memory, and i remember clearly during the worst part of the economic collapse or i was thinking about how do i get a bomb shelter, where do i get spam, where do i buy guns. it was really dark, and we have really short memories, and like i said, thinks of what my former boss president george bush did, and tough decisions president obama did, stock market is up a couple hundred points today. sure, that has not translated into jobs yet, but we are a functioning society, which 10 months ago, that was a little questionable. i think the elevator is sort of stuck in the middle, but he is going to get the benefit of the doubt for a while, but not much longer. he is going to have to start owning it and stop talking about what he inherited an man up to own what he has got -- and may end up to own what he has got. -- and man up to what he has
got. conventional wisdom is so often wrong, and this game is unpredictable and fascinating. i remember 1992 or 1991 when george h. w. bush had approval ratings of 90 out of the gulf war, and that is at a time when lloyd bentsen and the big guns in the democratic party decided not to run because george h. w. bush was so popular, and that created an opening for this southern governor named bill clinton. the people who tell me that obama is automatic for reelect, i remind them how quickly this landscape can change. >> one thing that unfolded perhaps not the way he wanted is the level of conflict we continue to see in washington and also in the public reaction. he was introduced to the country in 2004 in his initial speech as someone who would transcend ideological boundaries, cultural boundaries, racial boundaries, and yet, here we are -- health care bill this weekend, one
republican voted for. no house republicans voted for the stimulus bill. only three in the senate. the latest weekly average in the gallup poll, there is a 68 percentage -- 68-point gap between his approval rating for democrats and republicans. i think we still have a polarized partisan debate in washington. how come? why has that not changed more? is it obama? is it republicans? is it forces bigger than both of them? mark, i'll start with you even though you just it is because you are someone who has worked on both sides of this. when you look at this now, why hasn't the chasm narrowed more than it has? >> i think it is an extension of the discussion we were having in the earlier panel. there were so many mechanisms in place -- redistricting, cable television -- everything is driving the political debate and the culture to the extremes, and
there is no reward any more for being in the middle. all the incentive and reward is for being the loudest, being the most partisan, and so we have got to find a way within the system -- of course, we are going to have our differences, but i think we have to find ways to penalize the political class for behavior that is unacceptable or politics that are unacceptable, and unfortunately, the only way that is really done is in the marketplace of voting. so we have to figure out how to translate that into voting behavior. >> [inaudible] partisan analysis, but i challenge my republican friends -- and i think they share it, but i just do not know whether we can have that kind of frank discussion. what is driving this is the politics of the republican party more than anything. 60% of democrats are self-
described moderates and conservatives. 40% of livdemocrats are liberal. predominants in the party are indeed people who are running for senator. when you go toward mainstream opinion and attitudes, it is polarized mainly on the republican side. we did a study we released a few weeks ago about the self- identified republicans, who votes to republican -- to vote straight republican. they are overwhelmingly conservative republicans, but conservative republicans are twice the number as moderate republicans. they view the president as an immense threat to the country. very intense in their views, and part of what is driving this is that kind of process on the republican side. if you look at the specifics -- two things. one, look a civil society. i was looking at the response to
the health care bill. i was looking at the restaurant association. they had supported some provision in the thing, and there was a sentence that said their intent upon president clinton's health-care plan, but there were no -- they were taking new positions. the plan was supported by wal- mart. not the chamber of commerce, but may, and all the sectors that civil society is bipartisan, and what is happening is politics becomes separated from society, which is actually -- same thing on energy. cap and trade is a market- oriented concept. center-right parties, center- left parties go there. utilities and businesses want to go to the market solution on those issues. the health care bill is an individual mandate that is a republican idea for years. republicans have been for those ideas that are being addressed in policy. i want to argue that republicans
have become more homogeneous, more southern, that the internal politics has made it harder to have a bipartisan policy, even as the groups outside, and even as the policy becomes more moderate. >> alex. >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> there is certainly a cranky dark core in the republican party. [laughter] however, in this nation, unlike others, [inaudible] you do not tell people what to do. you are free to live your own life, and that is an idea that a lot of republicans feel passionately about. [inaudible] so, yes, that is something republicans are passionate about, but we have just seen candidates [inaudible]
because there is a great hunk of the center concerned that a lot of people understand the government is taking their money and resources and telling them they are planning schemes to run their lives, when they would rather come up with their own plan and dreams and hopes and have money to invest in those. so i think there are things worth fighting for, and i do not think an effort for bipartisanship necessarily requires you to reject your base and compromise your beliefs. i think obama got to lucky. he won the house and senate, and he has one-party rule, and to keep his party together, he has applied not to republicans -- he has to play not to republicans. he has to keep his party together, has moved farther to the left. he has put by partisanship out
of reach to some degree just because there is nothing more dangerous in politics than [inaudible] >> you have done a lot, particularly in the health-care field, and i think, as someone who has been there for a long time, it is remarkable to see the ama supporting. they have opposed everyone sensed -- since [inaudible] also on the energy side were you have the utility supporting cap and trade as well as individual businesses, that is not translating into any support. i chose a couple weeks ago to have a former congressman and around here -- they could not deliver a single republican to support health care. what does explain the
disconnect between elements in the business community that are willing to support the direction this is going, and the fact that it is uniform -- a virtual uniform opposition even among republicans in congress? >> 60 votes in the senate. again, let's just talk as pollsters and give some -- no, here is what is important. when you ask people with the stimulus is a good or bad idea, it was $787 billion. there were lots of republican ideas that were actually pretty good policy, i thought, that would spend the money quicker, do more to create jobs, that were ignored, and in march, they bought general motors and chrysler. so back to back, a lot of people said another trillion dollars, and for a lot of americans, they looked and said, "what? the american government owns
general motors and chrysler?" so what ruptured? what -- is this concern that there is way too much big spending, and to be fair, it is not the president's fault, but when you say to people about the stimulus, they combined the $787 billion, the billions of the big banks, the clunker program -- there is this huge massive spending. and the president, we have 14% of our economy, which is the% of our -- which is the% of our debt this year to the overall gross domestic product. in 10 years, the budget says it will be at world war ii levels. 70% of our economy will be the present percent -- percent of our debt in gross domestic product. the fact that we bought those companies is a big deal, so
guess what happened? a lot of swing voters, a lot of people say we're spending way much money, and this is too much government, and what happens in off-year elections? it is what alex said. the republican party has lots of troubles. the mid-year election is to put on the brakes. when we send the signal, that was too far. a lot of private of folks said there was going to be a bill, and we are better off negotiating in good faith and trying to get our legislative solution because there is going to be a bill. what is going to happen is there is still this possibility, which is the ama is there because they thought they were going to get a permanent fix for a 10-year deal on medicare reimbursement rates for doctors and that has not got a fixed yet. it's it does not get fixed before a final vote, i do not know what it will be. hospitals are there because we're told hospitals will have 96% coverage. if the bill gets diluted, they
cannot afford it. >> go back to that -- why do you think that industry support did not translate into any republican support? >> we lost 54 seats in two years. at 177 votes, this poor gentleman in owens, we could lose that see. candidly, i'm sorry, at 177 seats, there are not a helluva lot of seats that you can lose. look around the country. we're going to lose three or four of those seats because we lost everything. there's a certain freedom of having had nothing left. >> does anyone know anything about the republican health care bill? deafening silence. the reality is if i were a republican consultant, i would be concerned because they are becoming the party of new ideas
-- no ideas. whether you like him or not, gingrich always had thoughtful ideas. the reality is that republicans have said it is better to kill this and demonized obama then to come up with our partisanship -- better to kill this and demonize obama than come up with bipartisanship. i think that you have got to come to the table with ideas, and i think at the end of the day, people are prophesies in this big loss for democrats, not understanding that we have the possibility of some big wins on health care and tax and trade and financial regulation and maybe some other transportation, and they may not all the perfect, but people will have action -- health care and cap
and trade and financial regulation. i look forward to the campaign when i am able to say the ama , aarp, wal-mart, catholic bishops -- i mean, i could go on and on. and on an island of the republicans with the insurance industry. that is a contest and a debate i am willing to take on, even though right now, it looks pretty dire. >> i'm just saying -- guess what? that might not be the campaign you run because the deals that were put in place to pass what you just described are still a long way away from the final bill. and the other thing i am saying is that in the short term, in 2010 -- and look, you know, my former wife -- in divorce, so i can go for it now. she is gone. i can go on with my bad habits.
so let me quote myself, a cnn where the health care bill is one of those rare things will both parties believe it will be to their benefit. >> i think a political success on health care may be a liability for 2010. it will be so big, so new, and it will not have had time to work. >> let me come back to that. you have a lot of friends in the white house. their analysis of why we continue to see the level of polarization both in congress and, for that matter, in public opinion polling, why it is so difficult to get republican votes in congress, so difficult to maintain any kind of positive rating among republican partisans -- >> republicans are not going to believe in new spending. we do not believe in that stock
-- stuff. >> i think that at a very fundamental level, what is being said about these heartfelt beliefs of republicans -- i think that to a great degree, there are differences in ideas. one senator said that a lot of this is just republicans not wanting to let this die when -- let this guy win. how do you change that? you are not going to change that, but you can do some things to try to create an atmosphere of bipartisanship. the speculation that there was sort of a partisan strategy in congress behind house health care was going to be passed -- it could not be farther from the truth. early discussions were it was almost unthinkable that it would go through with only democratic votes. it was how do you craft a compromise that is going to
bring anybody -- everybody in? there was and there continues to be an assiduous process of trying to have all the players at the table, not to repeat the clinton mistake of shutting people out, and that continues to this day. at the congressional level, senator baucus in the finance committee, to discredit on the point about partisanship -- to his credit on the point of bipartisanship, was nearly obsessed with trying to court republicans. you basically have to do your best to try to find ways to meet in the middle, and you have got to do your best to try to find a meeting of the minds, but at the end of the day, it does take two to tango, and it is simply an exercise in trying to score political points and not let obama get a victory, for him, it was more important to cover people and bring down health- care costs.
>> let me ask you about some of the structure questions. the reality is when the president have an approval rating of 15% among partisans of one party, it is not easy to ask the senator to stand with that party. that was true as those experienced under security when they hoped to bring red state democrats, and yet, bush was so unpopular with rank-and-file democrats. you have to think twice now that obama is at 14% with republicans, and if he is inclined to work with them, you know that will produce a lot of grief. so i'm asking which is the chicken and which is the egg? the president's approval rating in the opposing party is declining faster with each presidency. does that make it impossible to get support from the other party of big things, or is it a lack
of support from members of the other party that drives down approval rating? >> again, i would say to stan, who had an interesting and well written report about the conservative base out of step with america. why don't we look at the core primary voters? they are not exactly in a heartbeat -- the heartbeat of the middle of america. political parties have core beliefs. they are allowed to have core beliefs. that is what divides the party. for large time, middle america said both parties are the same, and they are really not. the men and women who serve in the house and senate are pretty strong ideologues, an ideologically -- and ideology is not a bad thing. but at 40 votes in the senate, 177 in the house, those people that have survived the last two
cycles are not -- are the people who feel most strongly about the spending, the size of the government, and stocks -- stuff that we're not going to vote for these bills. senators know -- senator snowe is a good example. what has allowed her to be elected in a difficult state since 1978? herb ellis was she would vote for the bill, but she cannot vote for public option. .
>> is it possible for a president to have a robust approval rating? something close to 50? or is this something of the past? >> does this work? i have been told by the microphone does not want you to listen to me. >> we did that earlier. >> it is possible for this president, right now, to be popular with republicans. it takes no more to be popular among independent voters. the obama who talked about budgeting during the campaign, he supported that. if that came back, he would score points.
if obama said today, my girls go to the best school in washington. every american should be able to take their schools -- their children to the best schools. he would find republican support. >> let me ask you about that. no matter how much a president is reaching out, there is a transmission belt on the media, with the certain shows on fox news, rush limbaugh. they would not be stopping -- they would not be talking about the agenda, they would talk about parts that are against this. they would find something new in his education agenda. with the transition belt in the base of each party, every president will have 20% of the other side. >> you have to remember.
the major problem is that the republican party has 20% self id. you could almost put them all on a cruise ship. this is so small right now that this is almost unrealistic for his numbers to go up. and the other thing -- >> they did win an election all across america. >> >> you have potential. >> interestingly enough, the independent voters, right now, in november, people like to say, obama was here, and now he is bad. guess what. when you have the idea go from 40 to 20, where do they go? the independent voters are republican-dominated. we have to remember --
>> i have a final question. >> i think i have a problem -- for the same reasons that are being talked about. the independent voters are what matter here. if you look at the last elections, the democrats are in double digits among the independence. 60% of the democrats are moderates or conservatives. the people that we have elected to come out of the affluent suburbs, the rural areas, this is a diverse party. we are not going to hold on to that majority unless we are appealing to that. obama has a strong political incentive, because he speaks to independent voters, and the moderate conservative majority. that changes the dynamic on the democratic side.
>> first, two quick things. the washington post has 20%, so those numbers exist. when 92% of americans boat, there will be signs that they are not voting. that is australia. what will happen in 2010, 103 people will vote. you will look at what has been happening, what has been happening is that the generic vote is not in the single digits. this is very close. the people who chose to vote or radically different in new jersey and virginia. the intensity of the people who want to hit the brakes right now -- this is very strong.
that is what happens in the off- years. we have tremendous problems for 2012. that is a different conversation. it is fair to say that if you look at what the president is proposing in spending and the projected deficits, purchasing general motors and health care, and reasserting the public auction -- option, he cannot say, i agree with that agenda. i think the president deserves credit -- deserves credit for not releasing the photos from iraq, and the commitment to afghanistan. he has done this with charter schools and others. a smarter republican party would get up and they would say, these are the the initiatives. >> we have people with microphones --
>> if you look, historically, quite often the great leaders are defined by people who were willing to make tough and unpopular decisions. they have been trying to win popularity contests and they are not well-judged by history. it is certainly possible that obama can get a share of support among independent voters and republicans. but he will have to step on the toes of the core constituency. we are all watching that decision very closely. i like the way that this is headed. i think that he will gain a measure of respect and support from republicans. >> do you think it'll be possible for the house republicans? >> he is going up against the labor unions. >> we will go to the first question. >> i am and orthopedic surgeon. i went to lobby congress.
louisiana has three congressman who work in this position. when we went to meet with them, they said, in april, we will not be part of that discussion. do not bother talking to us about health care. i was disappointed that we were led to believe that there was going to be a partisan discussion about health care. but they said, we have been taken out of the discussion in the house. we will not have anything with what is going to happen. i do not think that this is all on the republican side. they have to be walking across the street. >> this is a good story. when the press was asking the president about health care, one reporter said, he will be bipartisan. you have not met with the republican leader on health care since the month of may.
where is your bipartisanship? you are not at the table. >> this is not on the level. if you take the senate finance committee, part of the support from the president over health care was the decision to let the financial community lead with the bipartisan republicans at the table, the bill that emerged had no public auction, with no tax increases, this was no employer mandate. the only vote was olympia snowe. this is not on the level. i do not blame the republicans. they are -- in this context, they want for him to fail. they are doing a terrible job of showing the. >> as he was negotiating all of this, and as he was doing this, we were publicly suggesting that there would be a primary
challenge against him if he went too far. the other democratic senator from iowa took the occasion to tell the capital newspapers that maybe we should start voting over whether the chairmen are keeping their gavel. this was a message not to go too far with the deal. there is a mechanism that is here, and i saw the liberal groups announced that they have raised $3 million against any democrat who is against the health care bill. are these the individual leaders, or is there a force to prevent the kinds of things that they seem to do? >> the committee did pass the bill. the president -- they strongly support him, to make a
bipartisan deal. >> with a democratic majority, in the house and senate, he does not have to reach across the aisle. he does not have to present legislation that is acceptable to mainstream republicans. if we want bipartisanship, the best thing to do is take away those democratic majorities in november, -- >> necessity being the mother of invention. >> you spoke about something earlier that is very true. any time a republican tries to be bipartisan, he is crushed the next day by rush limbaugh and bill o'reilly, and sean hannity. they start to rally candidates to run against him. that is a structural impediment to bipartisanship. certainly, one candidate is being hammered for his support of the stimulus plan. >> this is the struggle that the democratic party went
through 10 years ago. this is a debate with the people with the biggest microphones happen to represent a particular faction. that is why i see this as a missionary job to go out there sometimes, to reflect a different sort of progressive republican sentiment on a number of issues, to suggest that there is a room for alternative voices. people with big microphones tend to reflect this. but i think that this is healthy for the party and we did see significant evidence, on last
tuesday, that there were people with both things. they were supporting the republican principles, but they also ran on centrist issues am not talking about social issues. >> the democrats did go through this 10 years ago. what we decided was that it was ok to have someone from louisiana who was pro-life, and he could vote the way that he wanted to to be a democrat. >> there is an advertisement attacking democrats who voted against -- >> you can be a republican but still be liberal? >> on the economic policies, down the line, he is a populist and a democrat. we built a majority with people like travis shoulders from mississippi. as well as others and you have showed on tuesday that you are not willing to do that. when you have a moderate republican, you will blow her
up. you see, no need to apply. right now, if you have moderate republicans, you are never going to get to a majority by eating your young. >> i have to say something. >> go ahead. >> the democrats did that to get the majority. but what will happen in the abortion belt, what happened is they tolerated these democrats because they needed them. >> they voted -- >> they voted against the health care bill without retribution. >> look where the money is coming from. i do not believe that a pro- life, a pro-life democrat with these numbers -- that they will survive very long with this majority. >> the reality is that nancy
pelosi, they said, take care of yourself to get reelected. >> the opposite of a democrat in the united states, the difference is a conservative, not a republican. you cannot be -- a republican if you are not against big spending. >> keep thinking that. >> here is what i would say. what i would say is, look at virginia. bob macdonald reached over, not by moderating his principles, but by saying that his principles were not only good for saying, no. he says he wants to grow the economy, but he just wants us
to do it, not washington. there is a positive, republican agenda out there. we will see more of that in 2010. >> when i first opted to propose the question, this was slightly more off-base. i want to bring up the idea. i came down here from boston, where republican was a dirty word. not because of the belief system but the reputation. my question is how much opinion is placed in the word, republican or democrat. and how much is in the ideology. how much will this affect things over the last year? how much has that changed? >> it is an interesting attachment to the word republican, as there is to the word liberal. both of them have baggage right
now. by a majority of two to one, people consider themselves republicans over liberal. the job will be to reattach conservative to the sound of democrat. >> there is a certain simplicity to the belief and he is so persuasive by almost all for this. there is a social dimension like john was talking about. this encompasses things like abortion and gun, and those kinds of values. there are the economic beliefs and the foreign policy things. what makes this complicated as, those things did not have to be connected with an ideological framework. you are not without your core
beliefs, if you have -- if you are a hawk on foreign policy, and you are an economic liberal. the problems that you run into is when you have the sense of ideological purity, that keeps people from getting ahead. they get ahead if they do not fall in line on every single issue. you have trouble with elections, and you have trouble getting things done. you basically have the most balanced group of your party, who can actually make it through the process. >> i want to squeeze in one question from the audience, and had one question of my own. >> you said that two-thirds of
americans say that they are conservative, only 20% identified as republicans? do you feel that you are doing something wrong by identifying republican with conservative? how can you change that to keep people from feeling isolated. in the last election, i felt isolated, being socially liberal and economically conservative. >> 44% -- they are identified this way. the assumption is that conservatives and republicans are together. this is true. we have two-thirds of the party, and they are reaching
outside. these are described as moderate or conservative democrats. the transformation of the democrats went through and they addressed the kind of issues that you spoke about. this was starting under bill clinton. they were fiscally conservative, wanting to balance the budget and dealing with the big issues, like crime and other things, the national security issues. >> all of those things happen with republican majorities. >> this is part of the democratic party. until the last few months, democrats were trusted on the spending deficits by a lot. given the history of bill clinton -- >> can you tell me what has happened? >> let me ask the final question. >> we will start with alex and larry and we will go that way. it is possible that in the next few months, we will pass the biggest addition to the social safety net since social security
with the health care bill, and we will do this entirely on the party-line basis. we have medicare and social security. there will be substantial republican votes for both of them. this can happen with one party, virtually alone, with a major expansion of the safety net. if health-care reform is passing in something like the form that the details -- they may be out now and then. do you believe that the republican candidates in 2012 will be running on revealing the health care reform, and if they do, what is the implication for the democrats? do you think that they will? >> this is a good question. i think that they will run on repealing much of this, reforming the rest. those things that you mentioned, medicare and social security have current, unfunded obligations of 100 trillion dollars. -- $100 trillion.
this makes the $10 trillion that we have right now look like small potatoes. we are modeling the future after that. this is built into the stock price right now. people have seen health care and spending stories and they will not see any effect, immediately, on the health care before the next election. this is not enough to change the political equation. the those democrats will get by extending health care to people who do not have it, those are democratic votes right now. they will lose votes from people who will see the costs go up in the next few years. they will want to reform this, we will start over and do a more thoughtful, incremental approach that will really control the cost.
>> at one level, i agree with this. i do not think that this is the end of health care, and we will never have a health care policy debate again in this country. people are going to look at what has happened and how this comes out, when this comes of congress and god willing, this is signed. there will be things that will need to be changed over time. we have reform medicare and social security. there will be improvements down the road. do i think that anybody is going to come out in an aggressive manner, and campaign to repeal this? no. what he has said earlier, by 2010 he will not see this kind of thing taking hold, or the specific changes that are there because it takes to long to get this going.
by 2012 we will see positive changes. there are these -- these unfunded obligations with social security and medicare. we not hear anyone saying that we need to repeal this. nobody says we should go back to the good old days, when people were denied coverage for ended -- pre-existing conditions. can we get back to the days we had a cap on the coverage that we got? there are things that will radically change for the better in everyone's health care, and people are going to be very reluctant to turn back to the days --, the good old days. >> you probably polled more on health care than everybody. in 2012, will they be repealing this if this goes into law? >> i do not accept that premise. will happen, i am not certain that this will pass.
if it does, they may have critical elements with what we have seen. i think the president will lose a lot of seats, and he will say, what do i have to fix before i get reelected. and he will do two things. they will fix health care in 2011. there will be an entitlement commission. they will try to fix the long- term spending. he cannot run for reelection without fixing those issues. we do not get to 2012. we have congressional action. the democrats will want to read just with what they have done on those issues. >> in 2010, the candidates will run on trenching, or on doing what was done? >> overall, what we see is that, there could be a huge international debt. afghanistan could go horribly. i want to say as i always do, some strange thing could happen
beyond the pale gray that will affect the election. but if this does not, they look -- they will lose a lot of seats. the president will say that they have to fix this. >> history is that on this. >> the last, largest social program that was implemented by republicans, medicare part b -- d for seniors. that was not implemented after -- until after the next election. there was opposition, and this was not implemented with a favorable rating. hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to demonize the health care bill. there will be a bomb on us.
-- bump on this. we did not win any of the seats heating up republicans on the medicare part d. and you will not get anything like going after us. >> hawaii except the question. -- i except the question. if you are talking about going back to the health care system, they carry the framework for the 2010 election. this is not going to be the issue. if you lose a lot of seeds, this is because of the economy coming back. this will be the driver of this thing. general motors and chrysler are going out of business. we have unemployment coming
down, with any confidence in the future. they will have to repeal this. >> they will not run on this in the primaries. >> will the nominee sesotho appeal it? >> i do not think so. i have had the unusual history of having worked with bill and i think -- they are both right. it is a problem because i have worked with you, too. >>and the outcome of the discussion that we had earlier, which i think would be released
mark, is that president obama has had to do huge things which has created in siad across the country. there is enormous economic anxiety with all of the programs and the bailout's. those are things that he had to do and maybe a republican would have done the same thing. politically, the smartest thing for the president and his administration to do is to make whatever fixes you need and have a big entitlement spending deficit plan that addresses this anxiety about big government. that is a huge thing. it will not be exacerbated in
>> american icons, three nights of the original documentaries on the three branches of american government. he continues to nine at 8:00 p.m., "the white house" were our visit shows the grand public places as well as those rarely seen spaces. saturday, at 8:00 p.m. eastern, "the capitol." "american icons" tonight at 8:00 p.m.. the dvd set is $24.95.
>> saturday, a look back at the cuban missile crisis with former kennedy advisers. also, have world threat's been over highyped? >facebook under kriz use on how it is changing the process. >> here is a first from london as the british house of commons allows non members of parliament to meet in its chambers. it is a use parliament, comprised of students ages 11-18 debating issues such as university fees and lowering the voting age to 16. [applause]
>> thank you very much for that. thank you david for joining us. thank you, brigitte. this is going to be a great day. make sure that you enjoy it. give it your best. we look forward to your participation. it should be tremendous. to a very small, but important points. members who wish to speak must stand in their place or raise their hand. members should always say their name and their region at the beginning of their marks, otherwise the riders will not know who you are. -- the writers will not a
york. i think, without further ado, we will be able to get under way. the use parliament will consider the first motion of the day, relating to university education as printed on the order paper. i call for a move for the motion. good morning everyone the first debate will be "should university's december scottish young people. " parks and now mr. jon may go chris will second the motion. >> mr. speaker, at the moment,
the fee system benefits the extremely rich or poor. last year, one in three students who wanted to go to university could not because they did not have the required funds to do so. in context, there are one in three doctors that cannot go on to cure and one in three politicians that cannot go on to change the system as it stands today. at the moment, people see tuition fees as unfeasible and politicians are using the economic climate as a get out of jail free card. i am not saying that scrapping tuition fees should raise taxes, however, we in the house of commons to make a change. we were told thait taxes cannoto
we get the money from? i am arguing about changing the priorities in spending. 20 billion pounds are being proposed regarding nuclear missiles. the nuclear deterrent or one of many ways. it is right that everyone be treated equally. why should people miss out on that right? it is time that the u.k. use parliament take a stand on tuition fees, something that most politicians are willing to do. more than 300 people sit in this chamber and i think that a change can be made. i urge people to think of a system where every young person
in this country has a right to free education, one that is not determined by whether you are rich or poor, your respective of where you live, and not an education that leaves you burdened with a huge debt at the start of your career. i moved that university education should be free and frank inquiry should be held in how the system is run at the moment. >>[applause] >> john, thank you for a fantastic and robust start to our proceedings. tonight just asked if she would like to make a speech? >> you've got a loan to buy car
a mortgage for your own house, but go into debt for your future? abolishing tuition fees will do the opposite lower education is free but we have private and public. if university is made free, we will have private and public. your future boss will not be looking out what degree you have, but whether you had a private or public education. so you work hard for your degree, only to be told it is not good enough because it is not private? will that be fair? abolishing tuition fees will not increase accessibility. three universities have the lowest number of students. it is free, but less accessible.
is that fair? there is no such thing as a free lunch. 2.5 billion pounds from tax payers every year to pay for this free lunch. is that fair? only 20% of the adult population have a degree. that is a minority. why should university students be the highest priority of the government's very little money what about people who who do not go to university? why should they have to suffer? you cannot climb a broken ladder. there are many problems young people face that come before the age of 18, that come before university and these problems need to be fixed first before we even start thinking about re- education. right now, we are forced to pay
three times more than what our education is actually worth. paying -- i cannot afford to go to university and, but the government will give me alone. i will go to university and i would agree and then i will be in that but i will work and hopefully pay off that debt. tuition fees should not be abolished. it is unrealistic, unsustainable and not for the best interest of all young people. i put forward that these young people today do not abolish fees, but lower the fees to what they are actually worth. hell, yes. that is fair.
[applause] >> thank you for that excellent speech as well. can i see somebody on the other side of the chamber who wishes to speak. >> yes, the gentleman there. >> i am james greene. i will tell you if you think this -- let me tell you this. if you are from a well off background, you are more likely to go to university. that is unjust. we have to change this system. after you go to university, you are paid a certain amount of wages for a certain amount of
time. we have to get away from the whole idea that if you go to university, you have tens of thousands of pounds in debt. that is outrageous. we are encouraged to not get into debt and yet this is what the government is encouraging. that is wrong. we need to scrap these. [applause] >> thank you, mr. speaker. in america, you can expect to pay $50,000 a year for university education here you could only get 35,000 pounds of debt. the gentleman said that if you abolish this, you could
university these. i am going to university next year. but i do not expect those who do not go to university to pay for my education from their taxes. why should they pay for my education? i should pay for my education. i will be benefiting from it. i should incur the debt. >> the young man here indicated first. university tuition fees have too long burdened students with
debt. it damages the heart of this country. on sunday, the fifth of october, 2008, average debt would be in excess of 20,000 pounds in 2010. that, mr. speaker, is wrong. families with an annual income 75,000 pounds could only get a grant of 3,000 pounds. i have heard many politicians speak about this. we cannot afford this. many of our brightest minds are being barred from an education. our country will face the full force.
with the majority of people in this nation attending higher education, they will be running top businesses in the future. at these will be the center of the world. please, government, keep written great -- keep britain great well into the future. this is not a question of if we can afford it, but if we can afford not to. >> thank you, very much. i was going to appeal for some young women to stand and which has been granted. >> i personally believe it is a great idea to have free university fees. it would be easy for people to go to university without sincere
wishes to get a degree and many people enter university and did not have their heart in it and drop out. that is when they pay for those wasted two years. but if you go to universities with the sincere idea that you get a degree and you work hard, that is when you get your education for free. >> mr. speaker, there are a lot of nice reasons why university education should be free, but we have heard that it will cost as 3.5 billion pounds to go to university for free. politicians and to say that we cannot afford it. forget about the debt when you go to university. this country is at 800 billion pounds of debt to begin with.
that is the biggest scandal in a generation. we cannot afford it. the president of universities u.k. said that u.k. higher education requires further injections. universities need more money and members who are supporting this motion are going to deprive them of that. [applause] >> it is fantastic that everyone is taking part. may i just ask that we hold the applause until the end so that we can save time and get as many contributions as we can. we have been joined by the government chief whip who is chattering away at the back. you're very welcome. there is the government chief whip.
we will have the young lady, there, please. >> i would just like to say that i am very angry for those who are not supporting to abolish tuition fees. 800 billion pounds was caused by rich bankers. excuse me, but i'm speaking. [applause] it doesn't matter what job you've got, whether you make a thousand pounds as a hair dresser or 100,000 pounds as a lawyer, you're stuck with paying a tax. why is it that there are some british young people who cannot afford it because there parents
did not have access. education is the only way. when you are educated, you're going to be in a higher tax rate and you will be making more money and getting people more jobs. i think that education is the only we can do this. >> take the young lady there. >> as was said over there, the way to get out of recession is to get a free education and the country would go into more debt. you would slowly graduate yourself out of that with free education. the way to get out of debt is to get your degree and get yourself out of debt and to get the
country out of debt. you will leave university with a debt and you will earn the money back to pay for that debt. who pays for that debt, where does that come from? it will come from the taxpayer and we may not pay taxes now, but when that 3.5 billion comes back to us we will say that we should not have free tuition fees because it is coming back to get us now. the opportunity is there. you have your loan and you pay that back. that is how it works. you cannot get anything for him live so why should tuition fees be free? >> -- anything in life for free , so why should tuition fees
be free? >> if you are saying that we cannot afford it, then how come impismp's don't claim expenses. the money will come in will be able to abolish him. -- abolish -- the money will come and we will be able to abolish them. the young people watching this debate today will see how out of touch and unrealistic scrapping tuition fees simply is. they stand to gain financially from a degree. education is an investment and it is rational for the students to borrow at this stage in their
lifestyle to finance such an investment. fees encourage students to be more selective and discourage students from taking mcgee mouse degrees. to many young people are pursuing courses that lead to the stupidity. why should young people who have been filled by the education system pay the bills for others to get a better education than them. -- dan them? we should be tackling the real issues. the fact that we have a broken society, the fact that we have a broken political system, the fact that we have a broken economic system and the fact that my fellow member says that we have been national deficit of
over 175 billion pounds? it is time to live within our means and not reduced or scrapped university tuition fees. >> now, as you know, proposal and seconding of the motion -- i appeal to everyone to make points very briefly. >> lowering tuition fees are really important because i went -- i want to become a commercial pilot, but that fee is over 50,000 pounds. there is no way that my parents can afford that.
not because mommy and daddy are in a really good job and they don't want their families to feel bad because they and do not achieve. i am asking, can tuition fees be abolished because i think that young people should achieve, no matter what working class you are. everyone should have a chance at success. >> young man coming here. -- a young man, here. -- young man, here. think of all the money that will be taken in for people doing these courses. this will be an economic benefit to this country.
it is important to do something about it. that is going to be our future. tuition fees abolished will put this country back together again. >> thank you, the young lady, here. >> i believe that university fees should be abolished because if everyone can go to university and get a degree, then why do we deny them that right? everyone has the right to free education. why do we stop that at secondary school. with the debts that we incur from university, they are not going to go away anytime soon just because we get a job.
i think that, in the end, the country should consider the fact that our young people or the future and we need an education good enough to stand for the future. >> one area we can still be proud of it is our universities. without university fees, a degree is a reward that you have to work hard for and should be treasured. from that degree, you will reap the benefits after paying a fairly just price compared to those of america. it is fair that we pay for university fees. nothing is free in life. we should pay university fees and we can pay university fees and that is why university fees should be abolished.
>> >> my dad will not be able to afford to send it to universities. i will go to university, i will pass my degree and i will pay back a loan i was given to be able to do it. university tuition fees to not need to be free for us to be able to get the right to an education. if my dad can't afford to send me, why should he pay a tax to be able to send everyone else. >> the young man in the checkered shirt. >> mr. speaker, the point i'm trying to make is that this generation believes in no more univision -- university fees.
the next generation's legacy depends on whether we have university fees in the future or no. thank you, very much. >> the young lady at the back. >> i am from the southeast region. universities are over 3,000 pounds each year. by that time everyone has paid that your money, we come out with a huge amount of death -- of debt. why must you bust your hump over midnight black coffee sessions. by the time it comes to it, you cannot afford to go to university. your parents cannot afford to
send you. what have you -- what have you done all that hard work in order to have somebody else say that you cannot do it? it is that person's dream to go to university. who is anybody to crush that dream and say that you cannot do it. i propose to lower university fees and attend universities on that rate and they pay a slightly higher tax depending on what they earn. this way, people that could otherwise not attend university and people that did not attend university would not have to pay the tax. you might say that we would end up paying a much higher rate. think of it this way. it is your gift to the next generation. it would allow people to keep on going to university and make our society and much fairer place.
-- our society a much fairer place. thank you. [applause] >> the young lady in the very back row. >> i would like to make -- will run gorman from scotland. i would like to make two points. the young man who said that lowering fees would be a lowering of standards. many universities are among the top four in the united kingdom. we have to make priorities. if you look at some european -- other european countries, they are coming out of recession much quicker than us because they have a higher percentage of university graduates.
>> thank you very much. i want to get someone in from wales. >> mr. speaker, today already we have heard what this house and this country can and cannot afford. this country at the moment is suffering what is called the brain drain, when young, bright minds come out and say i cannot afford higher education, i am going to have to move abroad and take my skills overseas, and possibly, quite probably, not come back to britain. that is what our country cannot afford to happen. we cannot afford to lose our teachers. we cannot afford to lose our doctors.
this will bring our country to its knees if it continues. it is already happening. let's stop it by allowing our young, bright minds to be educated here. thank you very much, mr. speaker. [applause] >> surely the current system is doing a disservice to all young people, those that buy their education -- that value their education. they come to that stage where they can no longer go any further because they cannot afford it. young people spend so much of their lives working toward education, and there is -- have to stop where they cannot go any further. young people know that at the end of it, they can get the university and get their degree in better themselves. >> just before i call the windup speaker, and there'll be lots of other opportunities in the
course of the day to contribute, i just want to put on record again my appreciation of my colleagues from the house of commons here. i see john alston, the deputy speaker of the house, labor member 'attash in goal, -- natasha engle, they are all interested in listening to and perhaps learning from you. >> the points raised for really passionate and they were very good points race. 15th thousand, 30,000, one in three. we have heard passionate arguments for why -- the
economic crisis we find ourselves in, in a deep recession, do we really need to add another 3.5 billion extra to the taxpayers, where do we listen to the morality and our consciousness? why three quarters of a million of young people will not continue education because they cannot afford the cost of going to university. it is time not to just consider [unintelligible] universities do not worry me, said one student. she describes it as the curse of her generation, and how she will be unfairly shackled with
debt. we have campaigned on abolishing universities. these postcards that were sent to our mp's, these were sent from young people all over england. now is the time to be heard, and the time to hear answers. not only have we agreed that the cost of universities must go down, but there must be options may available. the views of young people not yet at university must be heard. for those who do end up going to university, that these become a part of their everyday life. whether they need jobs, whether they can afford food, transport, or shelter, you could be the one
out of 30,000 in debt, and i could be the one in three who might not even be able to afford university, and that thinking is the only way forward for me to get a good job, a good salary, a good future. imagine if in 10 years' time, 15,000 or more are denied, 30,000 or more are in debt, and one in three or more are deprived. imagine if in teen years time, things did not change. whatever you vote for, but for that change come and vote for it now, because now is the time. thank you. [applause] >> thank you for windup the debate in such fantastic style. i have been interested in politics since my late teens,
but i could not have spoken with the eloquence or with the police that members of the youth parliament have shown this morning -- or with the policise that members of the use parliament have shown this morning. the numbers are ballooning all the time of colleagues who have taken an interest in what you are doing. we are going to have lunch at 12 of 45. i am going to have to ask that the next two debates last only 20 minutes each. what that means is that we need contributions to be as short and sharp as possible. the youth parliament will now consider the second motion of the day relating to youth crime as printed on the order paper. i call mr. alex knight to move a motion.
>> the topic is you crime and how to tackle it. as more and more young people appeared to be drawn into youth crime, what can be done to tackle the hot spots where it occurs? should those young people found guilty be sent to prison or forced to undertake community service? i am here to propose to you that prison is the most suitable method of not only rehabilitate offenders but providing them with skills for like that beneficial not only to them but to the population as a whole. firstly, prison can be a place where it offenders develop their education both academically and practically. there is the ability to take many different types of courses offered through the prison system, given offenders the chance to enter society with higher level of employability, greater self-esteem, and an understanding of how their behavior has harmed those around
them. second, anchored management and rehabilitation schemes exist within prisons that can give offenders the tools with which to handle themselves in the real world. thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, i stress that when we have done this in the correct and proper manner, only then can the chances of the offenders being rehabilitated increased dramatically, giving them a chance to step forward, not backward. an example of someone who has gone to the prison system and become successful is legal. he is not a successful entrepreneur who experienced the system in the 1980's. a clear example that we should not write someone off as unable to provide a positive contribution to society just because they are an ex offender. i believe that everyone here wishes to seek provisions for young people to prevent them
from offending in the first place, tackling issues at the grass-roots level to prevent them from escalating into problems that affect the wider society. the message i am here to spread is that when crime has occurred, the way of making sure that you not really been is to put them through the prison system, removing them from their communities while insuring they are provided with greater life skills and training, so that when they do leave prison, they are less likely to agree offend. -- less likely to reoffend. to finish, in the words of the home office, youth crime harms communities and damages the lives of some of our most vulnerable people. so how should we as a society deal with those young people who are harming our communities?
i propose the prison system. >> before i begin, i would like to thank the speaker for his complement's toward those who have spoken already. community, service -- one should someone young or old who has damaged the community -- [applause] paid for what they did by working to improve it? it is important that role will young people who have made a mistake are not isolated from society, but instead received the help they need as well as the punishment they deserve.
i refer to a case in wales of a young person who committed a violent crime. there were sentenced to community service. there were successfully rehabilitated and became a youth worker. [laughter] i shall obey the convention of not mentioning people who are not in the chamber. prisons make criminals better at what they do, commit crimes. prison is great at educating criminals. young criminals, like all young people, have impressionable, flexible minds, and are great at improving their skills. surely it is better -- the vast
majority of young offenders are not dangerous. shoplifting is not a danger to society, militant -- merely to the balance sheet of the local corner shop. why lock these people up, when they know the prison is not say? why put minor offenders in the same place as those who have carried knives, used knives, and killed with knives? as well as being unsafe, locking up young offenders is very [unintelligible] according to the government's own figures, the average cost is 33,000 pounds a year, enough to pay 11 students' tuition fees. for under 15-year-old, the average cost is 192,000 pounds. enough to pay for 64 students
to go to university for free. why lock up someone in the same cell as someone who stole a bmw at knife point? it is clear that imprisonment should be the last resort for young criminals, not the first joint -- first choice destination for young offenders. [applause] >> thanks for that very eloquent and witty speech. i want to welcome the 150 parents and use workers to join us today. you are he initially welcomed, and thank you for coming.
-- you are hugely welcome, and thank you for coming. [applause] >> with community service, in some cases, people serving community service have ended up coming to use parliament meetings. i do not go to meetings as a punishment. we go there to have a cup of tea and a few biscuits. it is not a punishment for people to be sent to meetings. it is ridiculous. they should be punished in a way that is actually a punishment. >> i am a little bit confused
why we are here. surely we want to be here promoting a good image of young people. we are here to promote the young people as good citizens. that is the way that i think we should be treated. >> the young man over there. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i was not actually planning when i stood up to speak about prison versus community service, but i think have to take issue with one thing that was said. is everyone aware that 75% of people under the age of 18 go to prison commit another crime within two years of their release? actually, i should say, are convicted of another crime within two years of their release.
the actual figure is likely to be far higher. prison has no place in a criminal justice system for under 18-year-old. this is bigger also where that courses within prisons are often enormously oversubscribed. people have spent years in prison before they ever get access to a course that might help them on their release. i think that young people have to face a different problem. young people do not respect society because society does not respect them. >> thank you very much. we need lots of really short contributions now. >> [unintelligible]
i think they should do community service. >> thank you very much indeed for that contribution. >> how can we deny anybody a second chance? these young people are exploited because of their backgrounds and circumstances. they are not criminals, they are just trouble people that need help and need assistance that can be rehabilitated back into the community and become a law abiding citizens that we are. i feel the prison is such a harsh option. we need something that is going to integrate young people into the community as a punishment, not community service.
is that going to prevent you from committing a crime? nope. " we need -- prison and committee service does not offer what they need. >> first small, [unintelligible] politicians actually go to the crimes but, look at what happened -- rather than an police standing there and looked intimidating, why not go in there and do some work and
look at what contributes to youth crime, and only then can we find solutions. >> i believe that community service in prison are not the best options for young people who commit crimes. they must learn how to respect their community better. another option is to build better places for young people to vote to keep them out of trouble, like improving the use centers -- improving the youth centers. >> the young lady in the purple outfit. >> what i would like to say,
where are you have high amounts of poverty -- where our youth have high amounts of poverty, and they there are no facilities for young people. there is absolutely nothing to do. i believe that poverty and crime are quite link. war should be done for young people to be able to do things in the community -- more should be done for young people to be able to do things in the committee. i believe that people should not really just be told as punishment to do community service. >> i would like to take someone from the east midlands. >> i hate don't think we should be discussing -- i don't think we should be discussing prison our committee service. the question should be why
people are doing this in the first place, why they are robbing people on the streets. >> what i wanted to say is, young people are the future, but why are we focusing on what happens after these crimes have been committed? 70% -- today is a day all of us young people have come together to do something good. why are we focusing on preventing it? what are we coming up with solutions to stop it from happening, rather than focus on
what is happening afterwards? >> as a media represented, i want to come back on one of the comments that were made. i think is very important that we need to focus on the prevention of crime, but were it youth crime does happen, it is this shifted to an issue of morality. we need to support these young people, and by giving them the proper rehabilitation and support, by making them feel supported unwelcoming them back into society through methods such as the commendable work done by the youth service. we need to reenter great young people back into society and break the cycle that can emerge from the young offenders. >> the question we are asking
today, the general consensus is the room -- in the room is how to prevent it from happening. there should be a system in place for prosecuting parents and offenders. [unintelligible] of the 1017 year-old who took part in restored to justice, 38 have griffin did. -- have a real offendeoffended. [unintelligible] not only does restorative justice help young offenders move on with their lives, it
also gives something that to those who suffered at the head of these crimes. those who commit crimes should be behind bars, but those who commit nine violent crimes should be giving back something -- those who commit non violent crimes should be giving something back to society. [applause] >> i would like to congratulate everybody who spoke in this debate. they were strong, impressive speeches. i am sorry if you wanted to speak and could not. this is something that happens every day in the house of commons. xpeople who want to ask the questions or make a speech cannot, because there is not time for everybody. i will try to make sure that those who did not get to speak in the first debate get a chance as we move on.
we still have lawrence roberts and in the chamber. thank you for your support on this important day. the youth parliament will now consider the third motion of the day, and the last of the morning session, relating to free transport, as printed on the order paper. >> the statement is, free transport for over 60, but not for young people. should the over '60s have the right for free transport when young people with limited resources continue to struggle with fares? the young people are always asking for more and more from society. should we be given special allowances just because we are young? look at all of us here. we are a few hundred at of the
thousands of young people in the u.k. we are a minority. there are thousands of young people in the u.k. that do nothing to further society, and so deserve nothing in return. i question the statement that young people struggle to access concessionary affairs. what must company in the u.k. does not charge young people less than adults? think about the economic climate we are living in. take a moment and consider where this money would come from. the government is making dramatic cuts to different services. how can we justify taking money away from the health services or the force is just so we can get around for free? the government pay subsidies to the bus companies. the government gets its money from the taxpayers. free is an idealistic concept.
we will be paying for the buses when we hit 18. when we are struggling to pay off student loans and make mortgages, do we also want to do with higher taxes? this is the x box generation. physical exercise -- money should be put into encouraging young people to what our cycle wherever they go instead of jumping on a bus. -- to walk or cycle. surely we would just be making life easier for those who already use the bus. 25% of boys and 33% of girls between two and 19 years of age are overweight or obese. free transport will encourage even more young people to use buses for shorter, walkable journeys. childhood obesity takes nine years of your lifetime.