tv Washington Journal CSPAN October 15, 2010 7:00am-10:00am EDT
>> i think they saw two very different people and two very different visions. we'll have to wait and see how they like it. the poles have shown no daylight between the two. jo you also give a snap shot off the economic situation in nevada. >> sure. for nevada has had the foreclosure rate in the nation. also the highest unemployment%.
they are still talking enough issues. >> you are clearly concern abouted government spending? >> i'm voting democrat. i'd love to go back home to the republican party because their values are more akin to mine but look where this country is going to. host: a republican call on the air. >> i caught the end of the remarks on the closing. she touched every base and ought to make a commercial out of that and keep running it.
>> you are on. caller: i did watch the debate last night. i thought she did an excellent job. i hope she wins there and not only there. i hope all republicans win so this country can get back to a common sense agenda for america. >> what does that look like to you >> promilitary, prosecond amendment rights, andie apportion, anti-affirmative action, prou.s. flag,
in this country. we are building iraq, afghanistan and schools for them. we cannot take occur of their own problem and people are being overtaxed. >> thank you for your call. this is reggie, an independent. everyone wants your attention. how did they do last night? caller: senator read came off more solid. it will take us 20 months to sleg slate out. i think they have the right policies in place after last night's debate. i wanted to give harry reid another chance.
host: to the phones. caller: i'm from mississippi in the south. we don't take too kindly to harry reid in mississippi. every year, mississippi ranks dead last in the public school system. we are generally ignorant down here. host: to the democrat line. caller: as a retired person and cancer patient. doesn't sharon think the sick and retired people discern better than she has to offer
she knows what she believes she will stick to those things. host: how have you known her? caller: a personal friend. our husbands work together, our children went to school together. my husband is on medicare. host: what can you tell people about her views that would help her be understood better? caller: she is honest and would like to see people have choices
sheed like us to stick to the constitution. she's a very strong christian. i know that is something that guyeds her. host: what is it like in your home right now with the ads on television? caller: they are very disturbing. i tend to turn them off. i don't like to hear lies said about a good friend. host: thank you for calling in. one of the people who will be going to the polls november 2. caller: caller: good morning. i'm concerned about the fact that people are not looking at the actual effects. we are looking into
personalities of people. any attempt at changing is better than what we have. we've had all of this conservative republican trickle dwoun. they have not created the jobs they have been given the privilege to do. every problem we have, obama is trying to do something about. i don't see why personalities are more important. healthcare number one, we are the only country in the world
host: next from massachusetts on the republican line. caller: thank you for taking my call. i've been a republican for 35-40 years. i don't embrace ms. angel conceivably in the future it's one thing to win primaries where the by pole ar nature has a way of dispensing. >> you have to win the general election. republican party has always been
a party of honor and distinction. we have never sent anybody to washington who wasn't prepared on day one to make a difference. this tea party organization, which offends me tremendously, goes above and beyond irving else. we are going to wind up being the most tiny party because instead of standing for the thing that's are right. we are letting people who have no sense ability whatsoever talk about sound bites but they have no substance, no delivery. the tax cut issue. you can't have your cake and eat it too. you can't you are against deficit financing and then hand these people the debt for us to
have our children and grandchildren pay. it is disturbing when the only thing i hear republicans talking about is sound bites. i don't like that. i want some sensibility. we have gotten into the habit of sort of disagreeing with ronald reagan he was dedicated and prepared. you can't take amateurs and lit them rise. there are only 100 senators. 5 # 5 people that represent the total house. host: thank you for your call
this morning from massachusetts, a republican concerned about the tea party candidates. host: next, a phone call from ohio. caller: i wish this question would have been asked during the debate. it shows her disdain for women when she made the comments about not providing healthcare coverage for maternity patients or providing them leave after they deliver. how can you profess to be prolife when you are against those two issues.
next on illegal immigration and social security. >> i'm glad to give voters the opportunity to give social security to illegal aliens. he gave it to them after they were citizens and before. he voted to give them benefits of our social security. >> everything she has said there is false. not true. i never voted for tax breaks or security benefits that is not the law. she knows it and should stop saying it. that's why she moved over to other issues that have nothing to do with the questions you asked. >> it has everything to do with social security. we haven't secured the borders.
talk about sxree hencive immigration law. what he is talking about is what didn't work in 1986. he had it wrong when he gave amnesty. we need to first secure the borders. >> the incumbant and challenger. mr. reid is seeking his fifth term and fighting the closest battle of his career. sharon angel is 61 years old. susan page writes there was little humor during the hour, reid called angel extreme. later on pith the most powerful voices of the senate against one of the tea party supporters in a battle too close to call. host: back to the phone.
caller: i be listening to a lot of these news stations a lot of them failed to tell the truth. the recession didn't start in 2003. about 2008 it trickled out. those are the one that's want to deny everyone else their share of it. i've worked all my life. i paid into unemployment disability. if i get disabled and lose my job, i feel like i should be able to receive the benefits i worked for and pay it into the system those people denying me,
they have everything anyway. the people that are on welfare, food stomps. i believe in helping people. there is no one on god's dpreen earth that has everything. host: thank you from alabama. caller: we'll introduce you to steven law started up in the wake of citizens united. they are spending a lot of money we'll learn about who they are and their strategy joining us later on. alice known to awful you. former head of the white house
budget office. now a member of the national fiscal commission back to telephone calls. debbie from lake land on the republican line. caller: good morning. i watched the debate from beginning to end. i watched sharon angel and harry reid. i took the time to see if i could get to know her. i was very disappointed. i saw the debate as harry reid being on point with the facts. i thought sharon angel lacked uch date, she back pedalled.
she is calling it personalizing social security. in the points where she spoke about healthcare, mamograms. she skated around when she spoke about it. she said it is a choice. she should be added. she did give harry a low blow and come after him. that much i give him credit for. however, all of her answers seemed some what uncomfortable. i'm disappointed to say i will
it is totally scarey. these people, these cooks like sharon angel and sarah palin and her mini me. they are all just saying this is grassroots. you have your choices and you are on your own. if you really pay attention to these insane cooks -- god forbid they get no some kind of control. they will have us all walking and talking the same, dressing the same, praying the same, we will not have any choices. the only people that will have any choices are the upper 2%.
american, people, please understand what they are all about. they want only to control. they do not want to give us any choice of anything. host: you've made the point. i'll stop you. we'll listen to more of the debate. this is on education. >> what i know of the department of education is that it is an agency that makes one-size fits all policies that fit no one. we send our money to washington, d.c. to be skimed off by 6,000 bureaucrats
>> we have been able to do something with pel grants to keep kids in college. this is all inish yited through the department of education. we need to protect the department of education. host: blooum business week has a cover story about this. why business doesn't trust the tea party. a piece in the brand new business week just out. you can find it on line as well. nashville, tennessee. this is joan on the business line. caller: hi, susan.
somehow the democrats don't have the courage to take advantage of it. it's frustrating to watch them with these openings. i don't know if it's coming from the top or president obama. you comprimise and try to work across the aisles. you comprimise so much that eventually you begin to be comprimised. their base is so frustrated there are a number of major pieces about the mortgage foreclosure situation that seems
find many of these articles. kun rapids, minnesota. you are on the line. caller: i'm calling in. i'm an independent that leans right. i want to let the american people know. i think that the democrats are being held responsibly too much for some of the things that president oba president bush and dik cheney and all those people did. people were given the chance to call in and fight against all these jobs overseas. it got passed. as far as other stuff including
the mortgage thing. this was too much lack up on wall street. as far as i see it, that was between democrats and republicans that did that. my fear is that the sharon angel situation is going to be too much because they want to repeal income tax, social security, medicare. they want to close down the schools. host: next call is from tallahassee. caller: i don't understand sharon angel and the tea party as a whole. they are worried about the
deficit an debt but want to let the bush tax cuts remain in place. i wish someone would explain how we are going to pay down the deficit if those tax cuts happen. i don't understand. i wish they would really come up with answers other than just talking points. host: and a comment on angel. host: that wasn't the only debate last night. also in washington state, c-span carried that debate as well. we are well on our way to provide you 100 debates. all are logged on our website if you'd like to get a glimps at any of the contests. thank you for being with us on
>> roy herring served about 20 years in the tennessee general assembly. eight in his district and 12 as a senator. teefen is a farmer part of the ag business in tennessee. he has no office holding experience. host: this is the race that has been named in the dirty dozen. caller: there's a lost excitement and energy. there's a lot back and forth between the two. they have raised quite a few questions about the past and disclosures. >> i'm roy herring.
i approve this message. >> fincher refuses to debate or answer questions. hiding from the truth. no wonder he's running away. >> the issues have been one surrounding mit cal vor 0sity and the matter of our own president obama and his agenda, healthcare and his agenda. finker has taken the position as a farmer, he is not a life long farm. >> faith, family and freedom are
our values. what my opponents are saying about me isn't true but this is. their attacks only help obama and pelosi. i'm steven fincher and i approve this message. my roots run deep in tennessee, not politics. >> this is a very conservative area in western tennessee. on the fundamental issues, they are not far apart.
everything i've done is helping crime victims and health debate. everything has been accomplished. >> i said i'm not going to reach across the aisle. folks, i'm not going to work with obama and pelosi. i'm going to work with you guys and work with conservatives. pelosi doesn't discern that. >> it will be the degree to which people don't like the president. he will be standing out as
perhaps the aid to steven fincher. both talk about spending. in that sense, it's not a huge gap in the differences in their positions. herring has obama on his side. fincher has a more conservative constituency and message he is trying to sell. for better or worse settles with a lieutenant of folks in tennessee. >> c-span's local content vehicles are headed across the country. for more information on what the local content vehicles are up
to, visit our website at c-span.org/lcv. washington journal continues. >> you've been hearing a lot about american cross roads. first on the screen is president of this group. formed this year is citizens united. headline in u.s.a. today. campaign spending by groups gone wild. they are suggesting that the tally right now at 220 million is roughly twice the $111 million similar groups spent previously. what does this mean to the public? >> there's a lot of people concerned about the direction of the country very much in line
with when we saw in the direction of president bush spending almost equal amounts this has been going on since the legislation passed. just now, republican groups are figuring out how to do it. >> for you, speech activity means contributions. jo it means to facilitate our message explain the concept.
unbelievable. >> american cross roads is an orange formed purely for a political purposes. cross roads gps is primarily involved in issue advocacy. there will be more of that we'll see next year. we do some of that under cross roads gps. >> what are the disclosures for those groups now. those expenditures every single
month. you can go to their website and see everything american cross roads does. 501 c 4 legislation. we disclose everything to the internal revenue service. jo the revenue service could take action on it. that's been the law that prodemocrat groups used primarily and on the independent organizations as well. that's the distinction for these two groups. host: notifying who is getting to the groups heavily involved. the congressman will have you respond, please. >> this is a matter of
republicans beating you at the game when it comes to money? >> no, it does knots. some of these groups, american cross roads are spending a lot of money hear the rule these chose to operate under. we are talking massive amounts of secret money. everybody should tell the voters who is spending these monies. that is the issue. >> there is a lot of out reach going on he knows organized
labor can discuss. it's true they do make some decision closures in the labor department. the level of disclosure that organized labor does is by no means the organization it's really a red herring. if you go outside of the be beltway, most americans will talk before the fact that we have a $13 million debt. frankly, a lot we hear from fresh the facts there are outside groups like us holding
the president. prolonging our recession. to spend a lot of time talking about the campaign finance law completely misses the boat. host: $65 million you have pledged to spend. $9.6%. that's true. that's our goal. when we started out, we hoped to raise of 0. that's more than 18 million. even when cross roads gps or cross roads expresses something about a candidate, awful that is
host: mr. law was the manager of mitch mcconnell's first reelection in 1990. he was executive director of the republican senatorial committee for the 1998 and 2000 cycles, served in the george w. bush administration as deputy secretary of the labor department, and before coming to american crossroads he was the chief legal officer and general concert of -- general counsel of the u.s. chamber of commerce. there is a column about the chamber and suggested after the election that there is an opportunity for the chamber and the white house to make up. do you see that? guest: i think it is awfully important for the chamber and the white house to do it. there are the leading voice of
business in the country, and they represent local chambers of commerce all across the country, local small businesses that will be the engine of the economic recovery that we desperately need. i think it hurts the white house, i think it has hurt and will continue to hurt the white house to be viewed in a feud with the small business voices that are really the representation of future growth across this country. the concern that the chamber had is that the white house took it -- took a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward the business community toward what they wanted to do on health care. frankly, the congress took a take-it-or-leave-it attitude with the entire country. they were not interested in changes to health care, and that engendered very bad feelings. again, i think the white house, strangely, has made some significant tactical mistakes,
in trying to demonize groups that have a tremendous amount of respect and affection in this country, such as the u.s. chamber of commerce, which if you take public opinion polls, has a higher approval number than the president does right now. they are trying to create a good relationship and look toward building the jobs that so many people are concerned about, striking 9% unemployment in this country. host: how many senate races are you involved in? guest: about nine or 10, shifting every day depending on the circumstances. host: party in the headlines frequently? guest: there all along the lines of competitive states like missouri, kentucky. pennsylvania we feel reasonably good about, but that is again one of the ones we are watching very carefully. washington state, wisconsin, florida -- again, another state we have been active in that is
now looking a little bit better. and west virginia, which has recently emerged on the scene as a significant potential pickup for republicans. a few more that i am leaving out. host: how about colorado? i see a lot of money in reports going to that. guest: certainly colorado. host: what about house races? guest: we announced this week that we will be supporting other groups that the house served. the democratic party committees are poised to outspend republicans by about two-one. it is important to note that because what democrats have done very skillfully over the last couple of years is shaken the money tree in washington. they have worked case treat heart, and their committees have gotten -- they have worked k street hard, and there
committees have got more campaign to retributions and the republican campaign committees have god -- have done more campaign contributions than the republican campaign committees have gotten. host: are you spending money to support the tea party? guest: we are probably the largest outside spending on the republican side in favor of sharron angle, wis probably an essential tea party candidate -- who is probably an essential key party candidate. on the house side as well, some of the races that we're taking a look at also have tea party candidates engaged. host: moving to policy, and it looks like it has already been moved out of the studio, but i showed the front-page cover of the "bloomberg business week." "why business does not trust the tea party." more explanation in the internal headline, which suggests that the tea party small government
slogans may be appealing, but it could throw the country into chaos. guest: i do think that what a lot of tea party candidates bring to the table, which is valuable, is a healthy concern about the size of government, the breadth of government, and the amount of government spending. they bring a healthy reminder that what this country's values were founded on this self- reliance, limited government, and unfortunately the -- washington seems to have forgotten that, and that is much the fault of republicans as it is democrats. more government spending and regulation is always the answer to everything, and they will not -- even if the republicans have
a great day in november -- and i certainly hope they do -- we will not have an unfettered power here in washington. we will still have a veto pen at the other brand of pennsylvania avenue, and the democrats will still have significant power. they will bring an important voice to a debate that needs to be had about the right role of government, and that is a positive thing. host: let's get some viewers in here. white plains, new york, tony, democrats line. caller: good morning, mr. law. isn't american democracy great, where you can swift-vote america and get whatever you want? your obsession with violence -- on the iraqis, money-bomb the u.s. -- where does it end? it appears to be that conservatism is mostly about incomes, not outcomes. i think there really should be
an investigation into alito and his ties with ginsberg and citizens united. guest: there are a lot of issues presented there, and i appreciate the passion. i will go right into the question in a second, but i think one of the things that is significant about this election cycle -- it has been true in 2008 and 2006 -- there has been a tremendous amount of passion and energy on both sides. as a republican, i was more on the receiving end of it in 2006 and 2008, but all of the voter turnout and people getting involved, and all of what we are seeing on our side, i think are very salutary for democracy. it is a sign that our democracy is alive and well. with respect to specifically our organization, i cannot comment on a different supreme court justices. i do not know them well enough. we take the law very seriously. we comply with it.
we comply with it and it is a very important part of what we are about. even with advertising, we try to run very clever and memorable ads. everything we do is documented and we want to tell the truth about where candidates stand and hold them accountable. host: on compliance, some democrats have been suggesting the possibility of foreign donors. what are the rules? guest: you cannot use foreign money to influence a federal election. the president, for reasons that defy comprehension, decided to invest the authority of the president of the united states in making a charge that his since now been knocked down by "the new york times," "the los angeles times," the associated press, and cbs news. i think it was a very embarrassing moment for the
president. his staff seems to think it is a big winner for them to do it, but he is wrong. he is wrong certainly about us, and he is wrong about the u.s. chamber of commerce. it is important that he decided to spend political capital making a false attack against a political opponent. host: so if a foreign corporation or other foreign entity offers you money, you can accept it, you just cannot supply it to campaigns? it can be part of your organization, but you cannot spend it on -- guest: a purely political organization like american crossroads cannot. we would just say no. their trade associations that are international in scope in the modern economy, and you have to be national in scope. the chamber of commerce is relatively small compared to the rest of the organization, and not only is it -- not only is
there no evidence, but i'm confident that the chamber of commerce does not use anything for its international program other than what is there for its initial program. host: this is colleen, republican line, from virginia. guest: i would love to know how the obama administration and president obama specifically can criticize the democratic -- excuse me -- criticize republican groups for the amount of fund raising when his entire campaign was financed by democratic groups and foreign entity spirit is so hypocritical to me. guest: there were allegations of foreign money going directly into the obama campaign. not a huge amount, but there were some it ended up going nowhere. i do not know if there was anything to that or not. to us, the big issue of selective outrage, and maybe the harsher word is a "hypocrisy." the fact you have republican
groups doing exactly the same thing, taking a page out of the democrats playbook 24 hours ago, and the democrats are concerned about that, and i understand why. they are not the beneficiaries of it the way they were in 2006 and 2008. host: the next caller is from iowa. sika yes, good morning, mr. law. caller: yes, good morning, mr. law. they wanted to put a content all in that would help the contents of buy america only. we have not heard anything about that. it seems that the labor unions
and clinton have nixed that, and that is not a good deal because that would be able to load small-business a lot of money and small business could then employ people. guest: well, i guess my feeling about all that is i would hope that we would not just the satisfied with 10%. my desire and the desire i think of most americans is that we would be so competitive, have such great products and services, that it ought to be 100%. but i do not think you get there by at opposing an arbitrary government limit. the larger think people are concerned about, we have spent a lot of time talking about politics and where money comes from and that sort of thing, and obviously those are not insignificant issues, but the most people awake at night are where we are going as a country.
in washington, d.c., things are going well. in the economy -- our economy is fairly prosperous, thanks in part to the fact that the government continues to grow. but if you go to the midwest and other places across the country, people are really hurting. we have 15 million americans unemployed. the debt has reached $13 trillion, and a lot of people are wondering -- those are the kinds of issues that we are concerned about that we talked about, and frankly the president would do well if he started talking about those things because we have got to start finding solutions. hopefully after november there will be a consensus to get our country back on the right track. host: and bob has been made in recent weeks of the enthusiasm gap -- a lot has been made in recent weeks of the enthusiasm gap between both parties. this is from "the philadelphia inquirer." the joint center for political and economic studies. local black voters are
strategically located to affect 20 house races, he said. another quote from page gardner, "at analyst who tracks the mel boehner -- -- female voters -- pointing out that in the last midterm 15 tightly contested house races were decided by 2000 votes. guest: one of our -- it is complex, there is a lot of machinery that goes to reach them even if you are not a ground roots organization. we are not that yet. that is something we would like to become. but to me, turning your vote out is one of the great patriotic things you can possibly do, so early on we made an investment
up front that we were going to spend at least $10 million, probably a little bit more than that now, on a program called the movers program. it is designed to find the folks to care about the issues that we talk about and encourage them to vote. i assume the democrats are doing that, i know that we are doing that in pennsylvania and ohio. good for them, good for them. more people turn out and vote, the more people will get energized and focused on the issues. that is good for democracy. obviously it is more of our voters get out and vote, that makes our candidates win, but in the and that's what they should be about. host: the first lady, as she makes her to work with michael bennett and supporting his candidacy -- which are handicapping of the electorate, how valuable is having the first lady and the president on the road right now? guest: i think it can be. in a non-presidential year, that
is really the critical issue. voter turnout tends to decline in non-presidential years, so being able to activate and mobilize your base is an important thing. people who like him a lot, that is an important thing. the first lady is very well liked, more than her husband right now, and it is good for her to be out there. they are needing to do as much as they can to get their vote stimulated. host: next to maryland, bonnie, republican mike. caller: my comment is that when the shoe is on the other foot, the democrats are raising big bucks they brag about, but now that the republicans are doing it, they are squealing like little pigs. from day one, obama has acted like the campaign manager for the democrats. is this not a double standard? he spends more time on the road campaigning than he actually does in the white house. hello? we are paying for him to go and
campaign. why does this money not come out of the campaign fund to pay for him to do this? that is my question. guest: whenever a president does political activity, a certain amount of that has to be paid for by the democratic national committee or other political sources. it is not completely underwritten by the government, but you're exactly right, this president has been very politically active. he has been one of the most political presidents we have seen in a long time. this white house staff spends more time on politics than anything we have seen in quite some time. so there are eight very political white house. their decision -- i do believe they play by the same rules in returning to the allocation of spending this past presidents have, but you're exactly right, he is very focused on politics. you are also right that when the shoe was on the other foot, they were happy to have for under $50
million spent on them to get elected. now they do not like it -- they were happy to have $450 million spent on them to get elected. host: we'll show you a cent -- a campaign ad for senator bennett. michael bennett pushed the school board into a risky deal with wall street bankers. the result, millions lost. denver taxpayers paid $150 million in interest feeds. -- michael bennet to work for us, not for wall street. >> big oil, insurance companies, and almost every special interest think colorado is for sale. they're spending millions to elect ken buck. why? it is simple. because they know i will stop politics as usual and -- the
special interests think they can get their way, but colorado is not for sale and neither am i.. i'm michael bennet and i approve this message because i'm nobody's senator but yours. host: tracking from october 14 suggests that $3.3 million has been spent by independent outside groups, in that campaign against senator bennet is that all of your money, $3.3 million? guest: no, we have been active there, the senate committees have been active there. host: talk about the themes that we have heard in the campaign. guest: very interesting what plays off in the band -- in the -- the adnnett ad that we just play it originated
with a "new york times" expos e. we are the group that comes into the fray to talk about that issue. it is not sthat michael bennett made a mistake and put the school board into a risky deal. the key issue is that he took money from the wall street firm that processed that transaction and ended up working out very poorly for denver taxpayers per that is the kind of thing that i think has gotten voters very upset about. the ad that you played for michael bennet, he says i'm not about politics as usual, i am not for sale -- people make mistakes, and everybody understand that. there were a lot of mistakes made in the financial crisis that we experienced in 2008, but is that kind of behavior that suggests that michael bennett is not a departure from the culture of washington. in fact, over time he has become
part of it. host: we are talking with steven , the president and ceo of american crossroads. our next caller. caller: you all talk on the education level of white working class people who call themselves republicans. how about the international companies oversee that -- overseas that you're sending jobs abroad? you have got to have somebody making the product over there. the working class republicans out there, just keep boating republican, and your jobs will go over there. the schools will be run down,
and you will not have nothing. you do not have nothing now. that is all i have got to separatsaid. guest: i appreciate that. we do not take foreign money. we do not take foreign money. we do not take foreign money. one of the great things about my job is i sign all of the thank you notes thato donors tht give us money. our donor supported this was quite large contributions and we are grateful for that. we get a lot contributions -- in fact, more people give us a very small contributions -- $10, $20, $50 -- and some of these folks do not have a lot of money. unemployed bus driver, homemakers. i got a letter from somebody the other day who has been disabled for years. the unfortunate thing is they see george soros, all this talk
about money in politics, and they think what can i do? this guy said i do not have a lot of money, and disabled, but i will send you $10 because i am concerned about the direction of the company. that is one of the rewarding things i get to do in my job, and there are a lot of people that are concerned about the direction of the country, just like you are in ways that you expressed yourself very passionately. i think that is good for democracy, and i think the amount of robust activity we're seeing shows that people really care about the country, and they're willing to put themselves on the line to affected. host: your message seems to be resonating, because i've got lots of tweets on the disclosure of your donors. "i am very concerned about american crossroads of the u.s. chamber of commerce helping big business to purchase our government.
when will you disclose your donors?" and this twitter -- "who are the three largest donors in crossroads? what percentage of total to each of them donate?" guest: if you were to go to the federal election commission -- we are not public yet. but we could a. you can go to the federal election commission website and find all of our donors from our large ones to our small ones, and below a certain level is not itemized under the federal election law. that is all out there for people to see. similar sorts of donors to the other organizations, but that is disclosed to the irs. the irs knows who we get money from, and if they see a problem, they can raise it, but that is not publicly disclosed. american crossroads discloses all of our contributions. we are not purchasing anybody. all of our money goes to
television stations that charge very high rates, as they are entitled to come for us to get our message out on the air about what we think is important. most of the issues that we're talking about, virtually all the issues that we talk about our issues that matter to everyday voters. they matter to everyday people, which is where our jobs are coming from, how we are going to pay our national debt, what is the huge government health care bill going to mean to me and my family. host: next up is brian on the republican line. seek out the morning line. -- caller: good morning. you keep talking about the chamber of commerce and nafta. when i talked to the chamber of commerce, i ask them what do we speaking about how you expect this country to compete between
$1.50 an hour and $3.50 an hour in the auto industry. all i get are blank stairs because obviously we cannot compete. right now guys in michigan are looking to put up a plant on workers getting hired under gm and chrysler under the new tier system, being paid $13, $14 an hour. hardly anything to brag about in this economy. they would be hard to -- they would be hard pressed to save any money making $13, $14 an hour with limited benefits. we are born to put out the best batteries in the world. there is no doubt we are going to put out the best batters in the world. but there will be nothing to stop, once these factories -- they will take that model and take it to either mexico or china or elsewhere. we cannot compete at $1.50 and
$3.50 an hour, so until we get manufacturing at a decent wage, we will not have a middle class. if we do not have a middle class, it is just futile. we gave up the automobile industry as the sacrificial lamb to the world, and we are searching for it. guest: thank you, sir. those are concerns that a lot of people have in this country, and they are very real concerns. we have 15 million people in this country who do not have a job. we have now an unemployment rate that has been above 9% for over nine months. that is the european style unemployment rate, and that is unacceptable. i believe that this country, with its people and its universities and its no-how and its technology, can't compete with anybody. we compete -- week -- can compete with anybody. the most important thing we need is a climate that will be in
favor of expanding business and will have an open and welcoming avant -- attitude based on lower regulation and lower taxes. right now in washington we have an administration and a congress that is viscerally cost of up to ostile toscerally high styl business. we are not improving that, and we need to desperately. hopefully, if we have some balance to the environment here in washington, some balance to the current agenda that is being pursued, we will be able to make some progress in that area. host: last call is from dallas, georgia. democrats line. caller: good morning. i have a comment, and this has been on my mind for a long time.
it is amazing to me how the republicans are able to persuade the poor, uneducated people to vote republican and to even vote against their own interests. that is what they are doing, in my opinion. thank you. guest: i like to think that people can make good decisions for themselves, regardless of their educational or economic status. the second thing is, when we communicate on behalf of american crossroads, one of the things that we do is document every single thing that we say in each of our ads. a lot of it is corroborated from news sources and other places. certainly there are people that do not agree with it, sometimes they do. there are also able to criticize. there is a lot of discussion about what the facts are. i actually think that the more you have people communicating, the better informed people are.
you have candidates saying i am this kind of person, and they have a record that is contrary to that. i think it's good for the voters to know all the facts. i am sure we do not always get it right, but that is our desire. regardless of what their education or economic status is, they can make good decisions for the allies. guest: we found an interview that ed gillespie gave in 2007, and he said that he was very concerned about all the outside groups weakening the party structure. guest: i think that is a concern, a concern that has less to do with where money flows and the federal election laws. there are a lot of people who express that very concerned with the mccain-find old law passed in 2001. but people said that if you -- eingold lawfine g
passed in 2001. the republican and democratic parties are institutions that have been part of the lifeblood of this country. if you hand that in, that money and that activity will go elsewhere. that in fact has happened. it has been happening for years on the democratic side with the union get out the vote activity. it is happening on the republican side. if the parties were less restrained, less regulated, you would see more activity by them and perhaps less activity by us. host: thank you for being here this one. guest: thank you. host: all eyes are on boston this morning, the financial world, because ben bernanke is giving a speech that is still under way. a story at ap has already been
written about this. "the central bank is ready to make steps for the purchase of treasury bonds." we will listen to just a little bit about that right now. you can watch it in its entirety on c-span2. >> the overall price of food and energy prices has been highly volatile. so far this year the overall inflation rate has been about the same as the core inflation rate. the significant moderation in price increases has been widespread across many categories as is evident from various measures that exclude the most extreme price movements in each period. the so-called sham mean price index -- trim mean a price index has risen. the median cpi has increased by only 5% over the same period.
the decline in underlying inflation reflects how cost pressures have been restrained in production resources. notably the on a plumber rate remains close to last fall's peak and is -- notably the unemployment rate remains close to last fall's peak. in gauging the magnitude of prevailing resources slack and the associated effect on price wage increases -- the continuing high level of permanent job loss may be assigned as structural impediments such as barriers to worker mobility or mismatches between the skills that workers have and those that employers require, are hindering unemployed individuals from finding new jobs. the recent behavior of unemployment and job vacancies, somewhat more vacancies are being reported that would
usually be the case, given the number of people looking for work, also suggested of some increase in the level of structural unemployment. on the other hand, we see little evidence that the reallocation of workers across industries and regions is particularly pronounced relative to other periods of recession, suggesting that the pace of structural change in the economy is greater than normal. previous post-world war ii recessions have not resulted in higher structural unemployment, which many economists attribute to the growth of flexibility of the u.s. labor market. overall my assessment is that the bulk of the increase in unemployment since the recession began is attributable to the sharp contraction in economic activity that occurred in the wake of a financial crisis and the continuing shortfall of aggregate demand, rather than structural factors. the public's expectations for inflation also importantly
influenced inflation dynamic spirit indicators of long-term inflation indicators -- the median projection for the annual average inflation rate for personal consumption expenditures over the next 10 years has remained close to 2%. surveys of households likewise showed that longer-term inflation expectations have been relatively stable. in the thai financial markets, measures of inflation compensation at lolonger horizons have moved down on net this year but remained within historical ranges. with the long run inflation expectations stable and with substantial resources lack continuing to restrain cost pressures, it seems likely inflation trends will remain subdued for some time. host: that is fed chairman ben bernanke in his annual state of
the economy had lied speech that is happening right now in boston. that is the his aunt -- his state of the economy headline speech that is happening right now in boston. we will be talking about the fundamental soundness of the economy with our next guest, alice rivlin, a member of the national fiscal commission, it expected to report back to the president on remedies for the fiscal situation in november. during 1994 to 1996 she served as president clinton's budget director. thank you for being here. what is your sense of the state of the u.s. economy right now ? guest: the economy is proceeding, but very slowly.
there have been ups and downs in the public sector, which have not made easier as people get laid off. but the economy is growing, but it is not -- i am not surprised that it would roorback. we had a terribly deep -- and that it would roar back. it will take a long slog to get back to any kind of an economy that we would really like to live in. host: earlier i showed our viewers the number of stories and editorials about the foreclosure "crisis," for want of a better word. the financial times editorial page raises the fight that if this gets deeper, it could spread and other economic downturn. what is your sense of how important this foreclosure documentation situation is? guest: i think it is important but i do not think we know yet.
it's scary because it apparently very big banks that we had confidence in processed mortgages so rapidly and in such a robotic way that they were not doing it right. they were not looking at the documents carefully, reading them and signing them. so we do not know exactly how long it is going to take to straighten this out, but if it holds up, housing sales, which it is likely to, then paul krugman is right and it will certainly slow things down. i do not think that we will necessarily have a so-called double dip, but it is one more negative force in an economy that has been subjected to a lot of negative forces. host: much of the debate in this year postelection is over how concerning the federal debt is. -- in this year's election is how concerning the federal debt is. what is your level of concern
about the federal debt right now? guest: buy level of concern is high -- i do not know if you would call at it read it or orange going in to read. it is a long-running concern that i have had for a long time because people who really look at projections, even three years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, could see that the federal budget was on an unsustainable track because we made too many promises. we have programs particularly in the medical care programs, medicare and medicaid, that will grow not because of new legislation but because there are more older people. we are all living longer. i am an example of that. medical care is getting more expensive. so we have upward pressure on the federal budget that we created, both parties years
ago, that is widening the gap between the spending and revenues. when you widen the gap, between spending and revenues, you are widening the difference between spent -- that is not a new story. it accumulated over a long time. but what has happened in the last several years is the financial crash, which we expansively got under control. the recession, which was very deep, caused by the financial crash. recessions are always very bad for debt because revenues fall off and spending goes up. spending has gone up quite a lot in this recession because the government was trying to make the economy less bad.
and so what we have is the existing long run problem, but we are starting from a high level of debt. so that's why i am spending a lot of time with this national commission that the president has appointed, mostly members of congress. i am also co-chairing another commission with my friend pete domenici, the senator from new mexico. he is a republican, i am a democrat, and we have a bipartisan group working on exactly the same problem. how do we control the debt over the next several years? host: our phones have lighted up and people want to get to you. two big areas of specificity. first of all, timing. this report is due out in december, and the delay of consideration of the tax cut issue means that the timing will
be enjoined, so both will becoming a head at the same time, which solidifies your report, i would think. let me start with tax cuts specifically. is there consensus on recommendations regarding the bush-era tax cuts? guest: there is no consensus on the panel about anything at the ball because we decided we would not negotiate until after the election. furthermore, the immediate extension or non-extension of the tax cuts was not really part of our charge. that is a very immediate problem, and the congress has got to decide it. this commission is focused on the longer-run problem. how do we get tback to balance s the economy recovers and rein in our debt over the next several decades? that is a big enough problem without worrying about the immediate. host: except the fact that the decision made on this could lessen or worsen the problem.
guest: it will. it will change what is known as the baseline, the point at which you start. and i expect that most of the tax cuts will be extended. that is everybody's read on that. the only argument is over the very high and, the top 3% of people. i think the president is right about that. people making very high incomes do not need an extension of the tax cuts. but that is the question. how high is high? my guess is that that may be up for negotiation. it might be a question of how high is high, and if we do not extend them for millionaires, that would be all right with me. but people will worry about people in the 250,000 range not
been really wealthy, although they are making a lot more than most people. host: the topic of security, i would like to get to that and then get to calls. you have been talking about social security reform, for quite a while. can you recommend -- can you talk to people out what you would recommend be done to social security? guest: social security is not a big part of the deficit level problem. people are living longer and more people are drawing benefits. the social security system itself needs to be fixed. we need to put it on a firm foundation so that people who will be retiring over the next several decades known that it is there for them, and they will get it when they retire. but it is not a big piece of the budget deficit. if we were to fix social
security -- and we should, and i think we should now because now is the easiest time to do it -- then it would make some contribution to the long run deficit reduction, but not for a long time because you would not do anything, no matter what your position was, that would affect people who are already retired or about to retire. so, phasing in some kind of a benefit cut, whether it would be raising the retirement age or something else, would not make much difference for 15 years or so, maybe more. host: and that is important? guest: i do not have a strong position on this, but the liberal blogosphere has gone crazy because they are saying i am for raising the retirement age. all i'm saying is that one of the options, it is important to do something, important to put
social security on a firm foundation, and it has to include long-run pledges to either cut benefits by raising your retirement age, or in some other way, and increases in revenue. host: let's get to call for you. send us a message at twitter.com/cspanwj. seek out i could go on and on listening to this young lady talk. she is so knowledgeable and so right. president obama -- come on. we have to take responsibility, just like the young lady said. this situation has occurred and
we are far beyond the last two years. yes, we made some contributions to it, however, because of the state of our economy. but with the world, with our forces and all, but what bothers me -- i am from virginia, but in delaware.nnell this young woman wants to complain about our democracy and time and off of the tea party. this young lady has not even held a job. host: norma, and going to stop you because we spent a lot of time talking about the elections and i think we are going to move on. guest: this is a long run problem that has been accumulating for a long time. we do have projected debt, which is more than we can possibly borrow, and i think republicans and democrats and sensible people like norma have got to
sit down together and say how do we solve this over the next few years. it is not going to be easy. host: next is murder be, george, democrats line. -- next is myrtle beach, george, democrats line. caller: the guest was part of the clinton administration. how do you design naphtha and redo welfare at the same time? as far as social security, raising the age is not an option. we cannot work that long. are they supposed to work that long? they cannot do it. host: thank you, george. first of all, you are now 20 years hindsight of nafta. guest: 20 years' hindsight of nafta, i think nafta was the
right thing to do because we need more trade but we also need more fair trade. at the moment, our big problem is the chinese, not the canadians or the mexicans. but we need fair trade so that our goods get in at a reasonable price, into their markets. host: the social security age? guest: the social security age is very contentious, and i have a lot of sympathy with george's point of view. people are living longer, but you're absolutely right that people who have had the physical jobs cannot work much longer. they cannot work many times even into their 60's. so we need to do something about that the transition people at the right moment into other jobs. but we cannot have a social
security system that is paying benefits for a much longer period than it was designed to without doing something -- either raising the taxes or reducing the benefits, possibly for upper-income people. or raising the age gradually with a lot of notice over time. host: this is in the washington post this morning. "house will hold social security supplement vote, pelosi says." host: do you have a reaction? guest: my reaction is that the social security system was set
up to allow benefits to rise when prices were rising. they are not rising at the moment. statistics show that housing and other things are getting less expensive. so i would not add to the social security benefits at the moment when prices are not rising. host: lewisville, mississippi, david, a republican line for dr. rivlin. caller: yes, i am very concerned about social security. i have thousands and thousands of people asking me, how come president obama will not give us a raise on social security? well, when social security was invented, it was invented that no matter what war or what took place, no money would be taken
from the social security fund. well, all these poor people in nursing homes and retirement and disabled people, president obama got all the money he needs, but he takes from us, all the poor people, to pay for the war and stuff. if he would leave our money alone where it belongs, there would be plenty of social security money for everybody. host: thank you, david. guest: president obama has not tampered with the social security money at all. what is at issue right now is, should there be a cost of living increase for social security recipients when the cost of living is not going up? now, we need to look at the way benefits are structured over the long run, and it may be that raising the minimum benefit would be a good thing to do. but sending out a check for $250
to everybody on social security -- that includes me -- is not a very sensible way to use the money, i do not think. i think we need to focus on restructuring social security so is there for everybody for the long run. but people who are now on social security are not at risk at all. they are going to get their benefits no matter what happens, but they may not get the extra increase for the cost of living increase that is not happening. host: a tweeted -- "how about means testing benefits, raising/eliminating the cap? guest: that is something that people are certainly talking about. the cap on social security taxes refers to the fact that you pay social security payroll tax when you are working, but only up to
the first $106,000 of your wages. now, people above that do not pay on the extra that they are over $106,000. so one proposal would be to raise that cap. it goes up a little every year, but once it raises a little faster -- one could also reduce benefits for people who do not need them as much. that is not terribly many people. an awful lot of people depend very heavily on social security, so to say let us get high income people may be a good idea, but it does not raise a lot of money. host: there are 59 million social security beneficiaries, including those who get disability benefits. the average monthly check is now $1,071, and the current retirement age is 66. next call for dr. alice rivlin, as we talk about the state of
the economy and the u.s. deficit and debt. this is an adult, virginia. good morning, -- this is annandale, virginia. good morning, hal calle. caller: by definition, i think most of these entitlements are issues which really are just called for easy carrots for politicians, both republicans and democrats alike, and i think we really need to tackle this problem potentially by forming hands-off policies on these entitlement packages, like social security and health care. so promising the world to the
people -- i think it would be better to keep these as separate entities which we can take care of overtime with consistent policy. that would be my comments. guest: i agree with that. i think we have to put the entitlements on a firm basis so they are therefore the people who need them and are not excessively expensive. we spent a good deal of time on this program talking about social security, but the really important one is medicare. medicare is rising very rapidly because there are more older people, older people consume more medical care, and the cost of medical care for everybody is going up very fast. we have got to control that cost by using our medical care system more efficiently. there is a lot of waste in the health-care system, and part of the health care reform last
spring was designed to put in place new ways of paying for health care, or paying the providers so that they have some incentive to be efficient. right now they do not. host: next call is from worthington, minnesota, and good morning to paul on the republican line. caller: the markets are the economy. i am a blue-collar republican who is prejudiced against the -- but the country works on trickle down. my boss would give me a promotion if i worked hard. if they did not, i went to work for someone else. but i do not have any money in the market. in the fall of 2008, the markets started to make a drastic downturn immediately after the presidential debate.
the spread the wealth war against wall street was under way. now the republicans may possibly take back the house. face it, america. we are a free enterprise based country. the markets are the economy. guest: thank you. i agree that we are a free enterprise based economy. we need to foster a business and entrepreneurship, and, yes, markets are important. i do not agree that what drives the markets is a fear of democrats. i think one of the big plunges in the markets in 2008 was because our big banks and big financial institutions took enormous risk and did very destructive things. and we are still picking up the pieces from that debacle -- in the housing industry, in
foreclosures. it is going to take a while to get this economy back. host: next phone call is from richmond, virginia, from the independent line. are you there? caller: yes, hello. all the stimulus money that they paid out, they said a lot of it has been paid back. what did they do with the money when they give it back? .
so they put money into the financial institutions, the big banks, investment banks and all that and they have gradually, most of them, got back on their feet and paid the money back. so it goes back to the treasury and the deficit isn't as big as it otherwise would be. host: next, pigeon ford, tennessee. what a great name for your town. don on the republican line. go ahead, please. caller: i'd like to honor dr. rivlin for her service and knowledge in taking all kinds of questions. i'd like to suggest to the 18-member commission that they
abolish the national railroad administration and merge it into social security. i don't know if you notice or not, but you don't see major railroads in america today. two east of mississippi, two west of mississippi. in times gone by there was 382. we abolished one and merged it into the department of transportation. so 53 district offices throughout america, there's a big headquarters building in chicago. that building could be emptied and made into our medical administration for the medical program. i thank you so very much and i take your comments on air. host: i'd like to ask you about the process on the commission. did you solicit ways to save money? guest: yes. i will take it back to the commission. the railroad retirement program is kind of a legacy of another era when there were, as you point out, more railroads, more people working for railroads.
it's a little bit like the automobile industry which had more employees. now they're retired. and the railroad employees are still drawing railroad retirement. it could be merged into something else. eventually it will phase out. host: how did the commission use the public's suggestions and any of them actually make their way to the end of the process? guest: well, remember the process isn't over. in fact, it's barely begun in terms of serious negotiation. many of the public suggestions -- there were sort of two sorts. some were like the caller's. ideas for saving money. and some of those, i think, will work their way in. some of them were, don't touch this, don't touch that, don't raise taxes, don't cut
benefits. we had -- we heard a lot of that. and a lot of people raising serious problems. they depend on various government programs and they don't want them cut. so the real problem for the commission is to sort out those various things and try to make a balanced judgment. we are going to have to cut the rate of growth of future spending. there's no question about that. and i think we're going to need more revenue, more taxes, but we could have a much more efficient spending system and we could have a much more efficient tax system. and i hope that some action will come out of the commission and out of the congress over the next few years that will do that. host: there's been a bit of
chatter on twitter, which i'm getting as we're talking here, about your description about not -- there not been any inflation because of the social security cola. here's that one example. that's what they do on c-span, they bring on people telling you there's no inflation. they tell you these lies long enough and you believe it. another person suggested that the kinds of things that are used to calculate inflation are the things that are not affecting their daily lives such as increase in cost of medications and gas prices, etc., like that. can you comment on inflation? guest: yes, i can comment on inflation. it's difficult. depending where you live and what your circumstances are and if you happen to be buying a lot of medical care, for instance, it may look as those prices are going up. on the average, and that's what the bureau of labor statistics has to calculate, on the average prices are not going up in the sense they take what an
average family spends and they go out and go into stores and they actually price things. and they go and shop for parts. it's quite an elaborate process. when they do that and put all the numbers together and weight them by the amount of spending, what they find is, yes, your examples are right. medical care is going up. gasoline has been going up. but on the whole average budget of an average family, prices are not going up. host: fort lauderdale, democrat for alice rivlin. caller: i have a great idea. my wife is a senior manager for i.r.s. she says there's so many loopholes for the wealthy that congress has created so they can get away without paying taxes. if we can get rid of those we can save a lot of money and
also throw the lobbyists out of washington. and get rid of the pork barreling. thank you. host: tax code simplification. guest: i thoroughly agree on the tax code. it is full of loopholes and special provisions. many of them benefit upper income people disproportionately, most of them. but all of them complicate our lives when we file taxes. and it could be simpler and it could be fairer if we just put everything together and say, you pay tax on your whole income, you don't get to deduct this and deduct that and have a special provision for this or that. you may tax on your whole income. then we could raise as much money with much lower rates. and that would be a good thing to do. who would be hurt by this? disproportionately upper income people because they do benefit
more from these special exclusions, but they'd also get lower rates. so that would be helpful to everybody. host: we have 10 more minutes for dr. rivlin. a listener is -- she sent several tweets. what's the commission's purview with regard to defense spending? guest: it's on the table. it is one of the things that the commission has talked about quite a lot. we've talked about some evidence of overspending or inefficient spending, especially in defense contracts. and when you think of defense, there is two things. one is, can we do defense more efficiently, and i think we can. and the other is more basic. do we need to be playing such a big role in the world and
having the capability to do all of the things that the american military can do? we have a bigger military establishment than the other countries in the world combined. maybe we don't need that much of a medical -- of a military establishment. that's one of the questions. i'm not saying what the commission will do because we don't know yet, but we're certainly talking about it. host: molly is washington us us in los gatos, california. go ahead. caller: the president and the last is pushing this keynesian policy that is failing. i was in the banks when the banks started failing and after 2006 when the democrats started forcing all these loans, i was in the banks when acorn told the bankers, you will make
these loans. and i saw the bankers have to lawyer in the world and having the capability to do all of the things that the american military can do? we have a bigger military establishment than the other countries in the world combined. maybe we don't need that much of a medical -- of a military establishment. that's one of the questions. i'm not saying what the commission will do because we don't know yet, but we're certainly talking about it. host: molly is washington us us in los gatos, california. go ahead. caller: the president and the last is pushing this keynesian policy that is failing. i was in the banks when the banks started failing and after 2006 when the democrats star le
describing the water. this cannot -- this is a failure. england now is saying they need more private sector in their he he's a very caring person who wants to lead the country in the right direction. you may not agree with everything that he's doing, but he is a very well-motivated and very intelligent person. back to the banking crisis. a lot of things were done wrong. i wouldn't defend acorn for a minute. but bankers who should have known better, small ones and big ones, took enormous risks with other people's money and pushed out loans to people that couldn't necessarily pay and didn't care about it much as long as they were making money. so i don't think that blame -- there's a lot of blame to go around here, but it's now the problem of how do we get back to normal? host: orlando. good morning to gretchen, independent line. caller: yes. very quickly. i'd like to talk about the greed of the right wing. they keep talking about the debt being put to our children.
however, if the tax cuts to the rich be extended, it will add $4 trillion to our debt and the debt will go to my children and grandchildren. i worry about the economic future of my grandchildren. with conservatives stop out sourcing of jobs, they're against a fair minimum wage. they're against education. they would sabotage our young people's economic future. i guess conservatives want us to be slaves in china where american companies pay their workers 40 cents an hour. wake up, people. host: gretchen is obviously a frustrated person about policy. let me start with outsourcing because earlier we talked about nafta. your study about the way that the global economy suggests about what tools the u.s. government has about the outsourcing of jobs, what levers can it push effectively? guest: effectively. that's a really hard question because if you're running a
company and you can make something -- you can buy something more cheaply than you can make it yourself here or you can buy something more cheaply than you could make it in some other part of the country, outsourcing is certainly something we do. and we don't want to say that companies can't buy from the cheaper storeses. what we have to do is make sure our exporters are able to get into other people's markets so that they can sell and that other countries treat us fairly, don't manipulate their currencies or close us out of their markets. host: the dollar policy, how much does that affect our trade? guest: i don't even know exactly what collar policy means. host: big story in "the financial times" about the weak
u.s. dollar. guest: yes, the dollar has been weakening some. that's basically good for exports. and it's not good for imports or outsourcing. if the dollar declines against other occurrencies, -- currencies, that has some benefits. but we don't control that directly very easily. back in the clinton administration we would always say, we had a strong dollar policy. we didn't. we had a strong dollar rhetoric. we kept saying we had a strong dollar policy. i don't think that was a sensible thing to do, but it's hard to control currency values. they are set in markets. host: pontiac, illinois, this is ron on the republican line. you're on the air, ron. go ahead. caller: yes. good morning, secretary rivlin.
i have is a $1.25 trillion spending cut proposal for you. host: ok. we're ready, ron. caller: we at present have federal employees making on average paying benefits $125,000 a year. civilian sector or private sector is on average $61,000 a year, pay and benefits. if we were to institute a 50% pay and benefit cut for all civilians, federal employees, that would save us $125 billion a year, given there's two million civilian federal employees. over 10 years that would be $1.25 trillion. i'd like to see you take that to your commission and get your reaction to the proposal. guest: i think the basic idea has some merit that we should
look at federal civilian pay and whether it's increasing at a rate that's disproportionate to the civilian side. -- to the nongovernment side. but when you look in detail at what a federal employee does, they are much higher education level and skill level and, for example, i think you don't want the technicians at nasa or the people who do air traffic control or other people that are really very skilled and have to be to do what they do, you don't want to cut their pay in half. i don't want to be up there when the air traffic controllers are making half as much and looking for other jobs
and i don't think you do either. it's more complicated than just cut pay in half. host: and last caller is from shannondale, pennsylvania. this last call is christine, democrats' line. caller: i am not in favor of taking people's wages down. what i'd like to see is the cap eliminated from social security . from what i've heard, if that cap is taken off and the wealthy pay, the same percentage as the rest of us, we would be able to abay -- allow people down to the age of 55. even if we could get people down to 60 to retire that would open up a ton of jobs. if the wealthy paid their share. that's what we need, the wealthy needs to pay the same percentage, $5,000 a week in pay. that would be $250,000 approximately. that's -- that's crazy. host: thank you.
caller: they can pay. host: thank you, christine. guest: i think there is much merit in saying that wealthy people can pay more in tax, whether you're talking about social security or income tax. though i wouldn't like to see us go back to the income tax rates of -- right after world war ii when the top rate was 92% because that discourages work. but with respect to the social security cap, i think we can raise it, but taking it -- just eliminating it means an awful lot of people, people who aren't really wealthy, the people who make a little bit more than the cap, which is now $106,000, would have a big increase in their tax. and they'd also get more benefits because the calculation of social security depends on what you payed in. so it -- what you paid in.
so it isn't all a net gain unless you want to restrict their benefits. and then have older, wealthier people saying, wait a minute, social security isn't for me. i'm paying in much more than i'm getting back in benefits and maybe i shouldn't support this program. and i think that's dangerous. so we have to take some kind of middle ground. raise the cap faster than it otherwise would, but i wouldn't take it off completely. host: dr. rivlin received her b.a. from bremark college and then her ph.d. from harvard university. in the outset are you talked about yourself as an example of how people are working longer. do you mind sharing your age with our audience? host: not at all. my next birthday, which is in march, i will be 80 and i'm working very full time. host: and are you still teaching? guest: i am still teaching. i work in georgetown university
at the public policy institute. host: your secret is what? guest: i don't know. i think i've been very lucky to be able to continue what i like doing for a very long time, and not everybody is that lucky. but exercise, good eating, don't smoke, all those things are good. host: thank you for being here today. appreciate it. guest: thank you. host: we have one more segment to go on "washington journal" this friday morning. we'll look at ones a effect of health insurance. it's got the nickname minimeds, they are companies that offer their employees a lesser insurance option to keep their cost down and to keep the company's cost down and we are going to learn more about how they work with our final guest of the morning. we'll be right back.
>> saturdays, landmark supreme court cases on c-span radio. >> this case presents a case whether people in position of their malfaculty as a threshold of fact have the liberty to choose that cross that threshold in a humane and dignified manner. >> dr. harold glucksberg assisted suicide which challenged the state's bans against it. listen to the case saturday at 6:00 p.m. channel 132 and online at c-spanradio.org. >> all this weekend live coverage from the texas book
festival on book tv with eugene robinson on the splintering of black america, i think grid bettencourt with her captivity in the colombian jungle. plus, authors on the obama presidency and throughout the weekend, panels on medical mysteries, capital punishment and infinite fugitives. get the entire schedule at booktv.org. >> "washington journal" continues. host: and let me introduce you to sabrina corlette. she is the research professor at georgetown's health policy institute. and we're going to be talking about a type of insurance called mini meds which we'll learn about here. i am not going to try to describe them. they came to our attention because this headline. "mcdonald's and 29 other firms get health care coverage waivers." the coverage waivers were applied to these programs that are nicknamed mini meds.
so i'll start by having you explain what they are. guest: well, to be honest, they are not very well-defined. there are many flavors of mini meds out there. the neic, the national association of insurance commissioners, have defined them as a form of supplemental insurance so they are not supposed to be -- intended to be comprehensive medical insurance that many people are familiar with, that they are sort of an add-on to comprehensive policy. however, i think as the cost of health care has gone up and many employers have been struggling to provide affordable insurance to their employees, there's been, i think, a move towards having these mini meds plans be the primary source of coverage for many employees. and the same is true for people who purchase insurance on their own. it's a very expensive product, and so they see these as more
affordable alternatives. however, they tend to have very limited benefits. therefore, the name mini med. and also a very small cap or low cap on the benefits that are covered. so it could be as low as even as $1,000 or $2,000 a year which means if you've had a couple of doctor visits or a hospitalization you can blow through that pretty quickly and find yourself on the hook for a big portion of those costs. host: we're going to call them limited benefit programs because that makes more sense than the name mini meds. for example, mcdonald's have 10,500 u.s. locations, many of them franchise, and they provide these benefits and they can pay $14 a week and their plan would cap their annual benefits at $2,000 or $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000. so that's an example.
it's a middle ground if the company feels it can't afford or for whatever reason doesn't want to offer the full sweep. so why the waivers? this isn't until 2014 until the national health care -- guest: well, the waivers are annual. the waiver granted to mcdonald's and others, the companies will have to reapply for that next year. but the -- as folks may know, the patient protection and affordable care act, which is the health reform law which was passed in march, puts restrictions on the amount of annual limits that plans can place on people's benefits. so starting next year, the annual limit amount cannot be less than $750,000 a year. that's for a standard insurance policy. but the mini meds are or those limited benefit plans, their whole design is based on having
extremely low benefit limits. a company buy very low premiums. so the law recognized that instead if the restriction on annual limits would result in a significant decrease in access to services or a significant increase in premiums, then the administration could provide a waiver. and that's what they've done in this case, and there's been about 100 companies that have applied for a waiver covering a million people. guest: annually they might a-- host: annually they might apply for those until 2014? guest: the hope would be over time these plans would start to come into compliance and look more like real insurance. host: more than a million americans are participating in these limited benefits. if you have experience with those we'd like to hear about it. the idea is that the health and human services department granted these companies waivers
this year so they didn't have to be in complete compliance because the other alternative was dropping health insurance possibly completely for the employees. so that's the policy issue here to put on the table for you as the nation begins to learn how to implement the health care legislation. before we get to calls, it was interesting looking at the approved waivers. there are a number of insurance companies on the list. for example, a waiver was given to cigna, to allied, to aetna, to b.c.s. insurance and there might be others i can't see quickly here. why would insurance be looking for waivers? guest: well, aetna included, have both traditional insurance product lines but they also have product lines in which they market these limited benefit plans. host: it's not for their workers? guest: it's not for comprehensive insurance line. it would be for their limited benefit product line.
host: it is allowing them to give it to companies. "anthem gets hikes up to 47%, increases driven by reform may refuel debate." here is matthew's story for the paper. "the state's largest insurance insurer, one approval to raise health insurance premiums by as much as 47% to poile cisto individuals. -- policies for individuals."
host: can you help us understand what's happening? guest: well, i think most of the increases in premiums are being driven by essentially two things. one, the increased cost of medical care as well as increased utilization of services by enrollees. the estimates that i have seen is that the patient protections that went into effect september 23 like the coverage for young adults up to age 26, coverage of preventive services, the pre-existing condition protection for children would only add to the premium about 1% to 2%. i think what's going on in the individual market is a couple of things. one, again, there's increwsed utilization. the other thing is the recession is causing many, many families to be much more price sensitive when it comes to insurance. and if you are a healthy person, you may decide because
of you're tightening your belt on other fronts that you will forgo buying insurance this year because you're having trouble buying other things. however, sicker individuals and sicker families, people who know they need health care services, are more likely to hang on to that insurance and pay for it. if you get healthy people out of the risk pool but retain sicker people in the risk pool it causes price to go up for everybody. i think that's what mostly is going on. it's not this set of consumer protections that were in the a.c.a. host: our guest has a law degree from the university of texas at austin and has spent her career in health policy and regulation. she was tom harkin staff member on the senate health committee serving as health legislative assistant to the senator. private practice attorney, advising clients on health care laws and hipaa, medicare and medicaid regulations and was the director of health policy program at the national partnership for women and
families before coming to georgetown's health policy institute where she is a research professor. what does a research professor do? guest: well, we do policy research and anational is i on a range of issues from medicare, medicaid, chip, substance abuse policy. my focus is on private insurance. host: are you teaching? guest: i am not but a number of my colleagues do. host: first call from ohio. that is john on the democrats' line. good morning, john. caller: yeah, good morning. i'd just like to know where your government lets insurance companies kick people off with pre-existing injuries? guest: well, right now the health plans are allowed to deny people policies in many states because they have a pre-existing condition. that is something that the affordable care act, which was passed in march, will change. in fact in september the law went into effect for children
under the age of 19. health plans will no longer be able to deny children insurance if they have a pre-existing condition. but for adults that policy won't go into effect until 2014, january 1 of 2014. host: dallas, texas, this is joseph, republican line. good morning. caller: yes. about the mini -- host: the mini plan. caller: i have a friend and she's on the -- i forget what medicine plan she's on but the way they give her her medication is not like -- it's helping her. it's not like the insurance companies are -- or the hospitals are out to help the patient because it's more of like, how can we make our money off of these patients?
and i go down to the high school and i see we have two different sections for people who can come in, and i see all of these fancy new cars coming into one side and then on the other side you have just regular folk coming in, just everyday people. and they have to sit in there for like almost 13 hours before they can even see a doctor. host: joseph, thank you. he referred to his friend having one of the limited benefit programs. maybe you can help us understand how it would work. because they have so much low caps of how much they'll pay out in a year. if someone goes into a emergency room, how would someone with a mini medic plan get treated? guest: the mini med plans or the limited benefit plans, for somebody who's relatively healthy, who may only need to see a doctor once or twice a year who maybe has one prescription drug they need to
take, these plans can work. i think the problem is you don't know at any given point in time if you might have an unexpected illness or be diagnosed with something you didn't anticipate. and for those individuals who have to have a hospitalization or a number of tests, they can very, very quickly run through the benefit and be on the hook for the cost. very low annual caps.
i think one very important thing for state insurance commissioners to do is people know what they're getting into. host: on the other hand we hear so much younger americans have no insurance. this could be another case if you are in a lower risk pool. guest: sure. the new reform law is allow young adults under age 30 buy catastrophic plans that may have a high deductible but if something really terrible did happen that you would be covered. so that is another option for young adults. host: next call, west palm, this is paula, democrats' line. caller: hi. good morning. my first question is about the workers in the public sector. i know that they all have health care. everybody who works in the government or public sector is
covered. do they get a deduction out of their paycheck like private sector workers for their health care? do they pay anything into that? guest: if you're talking about the federal employees health benefits program the answer is yes. federal employees do pay a monthly premium or sometimes it's a twice monthly premium. they pay a percentage. i think the percentage that state government employees pay would vary state to state depending on the generosity of their insurance coverage and of the state government. so that could vary. at the typically, yes, they'd pay a percentage. they'd have the other cost sharing folks in the nongovernment sector would have like a deductible or co-payments when they visit a doctor or go to the hospital. host: one other source, if you're curious about these mini med programs, knowing that 29 feds have currently got waivers for them. kaiser health news has a pro
and con on their website and they have someone from the national retail federation arguing why the waivers are a good thing and someone from the access project arguing against it. so you can hear a pro and con from a policy perspective. for sabrina corlette, our next call is boulder city, nevada. this is al on the independent line. and, al, you are on the air. go ahead. caller: good morning. i guess i have a comment. it opened my eyes when mcdonald's enter understood a conversation about possibly about 29,000 and change employees they'd lose their benefits. and i think it was another company responded with a request for a waiver. and then i think, like you said, the number is about to 20-something, 29. it's interesting how in this country how large blocks of power and influence versus the
independent person, like i am, a business person with no representation other than my independence and how i have to depend on my elected official to regulate and come up with something that's fair for me. so that's my comment about fairness. the other thing, at 66 years old, i've seen social security have a tremendous opportunity for my future when i started contributing back in the 1960's. and then all of a sudden i see in the united states congress raid what was in there. it's sad but there will be enough people to pay for it later on. that's just a comment. getting back to insurance now, which is important to most of us, is that would i see different from maybe 50, 60 years ago when we needed states to regulate where we lived, the insurance we bought, we went to our doctors, now, everything is
so global. i think we all should have the opportunity to have insurance companies be except tif so we can get the -- competitive so we can get the rates lower. 24-year-old insurance, hartford insurance, if that area has that insurance company and had to be competitive with north dakota where property values are very much less, i would think that a company in south dakota -- north dakota would have less of an overhead, can be more competitive than hartford, connecticut, and maybe the consumer can get better protection and maybe better choices. i don't think states have to protect us in the year 2010 like they had to protect us in 1949. host: al, we understand your question. thank you. guest: you know, i think the
challenge and i think one of the unfortunate aspects of our current health care system is that the health insurance industry largely, the way they compete against each other is to by trying to cherry pick the healthiest of us and deny access to those who have any kind of health condition. and this is how the marketplace works right now. if you get the most healthy people then you win. the new health reform law tries to change that and turn that on its head. so plans are no longer going to be able to allow to deny access to people who have pre-existing condition or charge them more because they have a health condition. and the goal is to push them, rather than competing based on the risk of their population but instead compete on their price and the value of the product that they deliver. and if they can deliver health care to people more efficiently, with higher quality and at a cheaper price, then everybody wins. but right now there's no incentive for them to do that.
their only incentive is to try to cherry pick the healthiest of us and reject the sickest. and that's just not a fair system for any of us, because even if you're healthy today you may not be healthy tomorrow. host: i'm sure all of the c-span watchers have heard about the federal judge, in is the second on health care law allowing mandates. this is janet's piece in "the wall street journal." florida federal judge cleerled the way thursday for a major change to the obama administration health care overhaul a mandate requiring most insurance to carry -- most americans to carry health insurance is unconstitutional. he said the plaintiff, 20 states led by florida's attorney general, had the most -- had most definitely stated a plausible claim in calling the new health care law's mandate unconstitutional. now, an earlier federal judge, who made an office decision, that sets the stage for a supreme court review, is that correct? guest: right, right.
host: we don't know how the judge in florida will rule. he simply allowed the case to move forward to the trial stage. guest: if he does end up ruling in the plaintiff's favor, that could set the stage because there will be a conflict in the court. host: maryland, this is a call from judy on our republican line. caller: what a beautiful segue into what i have to say. the young lady said something about 30-year-olds would be able to -- healthy 30-year-olds would be able to buy, you know, insurance that they had not been able to afford before. they're not going to be able to buy it. they're going to be forced to buy it in order to pay for people like me that are 66 and 67. there is a -- there are challenges, as you just said, to the constitutionality of the federal government mandating that we must buy a product. the second thing is, in order to get the insurance companies and organizations like aarp who
have a huge insurance business to agree to these things, there were no controls put on their premiums. premiums are going up all over the country. third thing is, businesses. the incentive for businesses to allow obamacare to go through was if they have a pool of people and they don't want to cover those people any more, let's say a business is paying $15,000 a year per person for their insurance and that person is probably supplementing with another $5,000 to $7,000, obama's bill allows them to pay a penalty and drop their insurance altogether. this is the biggest debacle that will ever be put on the middle class in this country and our health care system. it reduces medicare benefits. it allows insurance companies to have their way with everyone
the way they've been doing for the last 40 years. you know, we are not stupid out here. and i know that when there's a 2,400-page bill and half the congressmen who voted on it voted affirmatively for it didn't read it and didn't know what was in it. this country is in dramatically bad shape. host: from judy. guest: i heard you address three things. so first of all, for the requirement that everybody purchase insurance, including young adults, that's primarily there because you never know when that 26-year-old or 29-year-old is going to come down with a diagnosis of cancer or a car accident that's going to land them in the emergency room. and when that happens, then all of us bear the cost of that uncompensated care. and that's -- it's expensive for those of us who have insurance. it causes our premiums to go
up. and so what congress and the president did in this law was to say that everybody needs to contribute a little bit in order for -- to make this more fair for all of us. the -- in terms of the premiums going up, you know, the experiod of times have said that the consumer protections that went into place this fall in the law, the requirement that employers allow young adults up to the age of 26 to stay on their parent's policy, access to preventive coverage, the elimination of pre-existing condition exclusion force children would really only add to the cost of premiums to about 1% to 2%. you know, premiums have been going up for 20 years at double-digit increases every year. and that's not happening this year just because of the health reform law. it's been happening for many years now. and it's happening because there is increased utilization
of health care services and increased costs. providers are charging more. using more fancy technologies. and we need to get a handle on that. and the law does attempt to do that, but a lot more needs to be done to get a handle on the underlying increases of health care costs. the last point you made was regarding the requirement that employers pay a penalty. to be clear, the law does not require employers to offer coverage to their employees. but if they do not provide coverage to their employees sand any of those employees receive any kind of federal subsidy in these new insurance exchanges, then the employer does have to pay what's called a free rider penalty. and the goal there is to try to prevent employers dumping employees into the exchange. particularly low-income employees who might be available for a premium subsidy.
host: birmingham, you're on the call for sabrina corlette. caller: thank you for being there for the american people. i want to ask you about your presumption dealing with the mini insurance propositions that you talked about. here in the great state of alabama, i don't know if you have ever visited our state, but there is a dysfunction of the insurance industry. there's an unregulating industry that deals with young people that are on the social security disability insurance. now, i heard you leave out -- you never mentioned it, but there's an industry out there called the worker's compensation industry. those people, according to the department of labor, everyone that is under the age of 40 that gets hurt on their job ultimately get turned over to the social security disability
insurance -- they're a ward of the federal government. now, you have your law degree. you have a great platform. why you are not talking about this unregulated industry that is all in 50 states, and i just want to hear you talk about that from your standpoint. host: ok. thanks. guest: sure. so worker's compensation insurance is regulated by state insurance departments. and i guess i would just say to the caller, if you have concerns about that coverage or the worker's comp benefits that you've been provided, i'd recommend that you call the alabama insurance department and talk to them about it because they are responsible for regulating that product in your state. host: it sounded like he was also suggesting that that was a substitute, at least partially, with people with catastrophic illnesses. would that be a supplemental
insurance for people who have accidents on the job? guest: yeah. it's not intended to be comprehensive insurance coverage. it's really intended to, if you get a workplace injury, to compensate for the care associated with that injury. host: so for care and lost wages? guest: i am not sure about that one. host: santa rosa, california, is next. democrats' line calling us about our health care discussion. caller: good morning. i think that a lot of -- i think a lot -- host: i think we lost her. so mona, next, corpus christi, texas. good morning to you. caller: good morning. i'm so glad for c-span. i watch you all the time and find out lots of good things. first of all, i have a question. host: did you lose your train of thought? caller: if we're required to
pay for health care and in florida now they're filing lawsuits that they can't make people do that, my question is then -- how can they make us be required to buy automobile insurance? wouldn't that be like the same thing? guest: it's based on the same principle. if you don't have auto insurance and you hit somebody in an accident, you know, you're leaving that person on the hook for paying the cost of the accident. and it's a similar principle with health insurance. you know, a couple of things going on. the -- first of all, if you ever had an emergency situation and you don't have insurance and you go to the emergency room and rack up huge charges, everybody bears the brunt of that cost because hospitals just pass that on to those of us who do have insurance. the other issue is, you know,
the insurance reforms in the law require health plans to give coverage to people regardless of whether they're sick or not, and the concern is that if that's allowed then people will just wait until they're sick or until they need surgery before buying insurance and won't pay into the system until that happens. and the notion here is that everybody needs to pay in a little bit into the system so that we can spread the risk around and we can all be covered more affordably. host: ellis county, florida. charles, democrats' line. good morning. caller: good morning. the republican lady from maryland covered the basis. it couldn't be any better and i'm a democrat who has never voted for a republican. now, the insurance premiums in florida are going up in excess of 10%. there's an anger in the country that you can't even cover. but this is what i'd like to give you a simple analogy to the whole problem.
the american revolution was caused by the oppression and tyranny of a british government, parliament and english monarchy. it had nothing to do with religion, nothing. but yet the american people today seem to think it did. so, you see, as lock as we have people that lack education and understanding, and so long as health care, medical treatment is not a human right, we're in a hopeless situation. thank you. host: would you like to comment? his comment rather than the question. the viewer tweets if you don't drive you don't have to have auto insurance which makes it different than health care insurance. guest: that is true. i'd say refusing to buy insurance -- and this is a point that i think congress and the president were per sueded
by when they included -- persuaded by when they included the individual mandate in the law, is really putting a burden on the rest of us because we are someday going to get sick. it's better for you to be covered now so that the emergency costs and the huge bills that come when you do land in the hospital or do get that serious condition are not borne by those of us who are being good citizens and paying our premiums. that's what's behind the mandate. you know, the bill includes support to help people pay for the insurance so that if you are up to 400% of poverty, which is is about $88,000 a year for a family of four, you get the court to pay for that insurance product.
host: how long before we know the effects of this first group of mandates that went in, not mandates, but the 26-year-old pre-existing conditions, how long will the industry and the coverage aspects of that be known? guest: well, for many people, the protections are in effect now. if they are in the -- if they're buying insurance on their own and they are buying the product this fall, they'll get those protections right now. host: i'm wondering about the effect on the insurance industry and health care costs? guest: well, like i said, experts that i have seen analysis is that the costs could raise premium cost about 1% to 2%. and some of that is being built into premiums right now. and some of it will be spread out over a few years. but that's what people should expect. but there are also a number of other factors that are driving increases in premiums. it's not just those pro terkses. host: next is a call from belton, missouri.
sherry, independent line. caller: hi, yes -- host: hit the mute button on your tv. we're getting feedback from it. caller: oh, ok. sorry. yes. hi. thank you for c-span. i just want -- i call to say i work for a mini insurance company. i work for blue cross-blue shields for kansas city. 12 years i worked for them. excellent benefits in the 1980's. as time went on and on -- and i had good benefits until maybe the last past -- maybe about four years where i worked for an insurance company and i couldn't afford it. i couldn't afford it at all. i didn't take it or i had the one time that you can come into it and i had to drop it because the deductible was so high. it's just me. $800 for a deductible and just
praying to god i never got sick. but i did get sick and my -- and i had to go to the emergency room. and my hospital bill was like $50,000. and somebody, a charity paid it for me. so i do understand that if health care don't come to some kind of conclusion for people that don't have insurance, the taxpayers are going to be paying for it because somebody paid for me. somebody paid my whole $50,000 bill. a charity. charity which is, what, taxpayers giving money to charity. and that's what's going to happen. and i just hated that the health care is not good, but at least it's something because that's what's happening in our jobs now. host: sherry, going to jump in there. thank you for sharing your story with us. what would you say to her? guest: i think it's a really good example of why we need health care reform and why it's important that we allow it to go forward and allow it to
work. not everyone would have the benefit of the charity that stepped in and paid that $50,000 hospital bill. and, you know, you're extraordinary lucky to have had that happen for you. many people are forced into medical bankruptcy. are in debt for years and years and years to hospitals and doctors and other providers because health care is expensive. if you're not covered, you are -- you are, you know, potentially facing bankruptcy. so i think change is absolutely essential. we have a system that does not work for millions and millions of people today, and, you know, the health care bill is not perfect, and i think there are many ways it can be improved but it's a start and we need to let it work. host: an earlier round of way to control cost was the creation of h.m.o.'s by insurance companies. what is the rear-view mirror view of what h.m.o.'s did too
the current state -- to get us to the current state? guest: well, i think a lot of people may remember there was a lot of debate about managed care and h.m.o.'s in the 1990's and concerns that think were controlling costs by denying people access to health care. host: a familiar debate. guest: right, right. you know, there was such a backlash from that that was plans really stepped away from that cost control approach. and so sort of since the late 1990's it's really been a free for all and costs are going -- you know, in some ways the h.m.o. model put a brake on some of the escalating increases in health care costs. you know, i was not a fan of a lot of the industry practices back then, but they did flow the increase of premiums. since the late 1990's, they sort of walked away from that model because there was such a backlash. and we've seen double-digit