tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg November 14, 2021 2:00pm-2:30pm EST
david: this is my kitchen table and also my filing system. over much of the past three decades, i've been an investor. the highest calling of mankind, i've often thought, was private equity. [laughter] and then i started interviewing. i watched your interviews, so i know how to do some interviewing. [laughter] i've learned from doing my interviews how leaders make it to the top. >> i asked him how much he wanted. he said $250,000. i said fine. i did not negotiate with him and i did no due diligence. david: i have something i would like to sell. [laughter] and how they stay there. you don't feel inadequate now being only the second wealthiest
man in the world, is that right? [laughter] one of the most powerful people in washington today is senator joe manchin, who is the democratic senator from a republican leaning state, west virginia. he holds the key to how legislation will get through the senate. i had a chance to meet with him recently and talk to him at the economic club of washington about a variety of important issues facing the senate and the country. thank you for coming. anything new lately? sen. manchin: not much. [laughter] david: it has been reported in the press you were spending the weekend in delaware. anything you can tell us? sen. manchin: i had a nice visit. president biden and i have known each other for quite a while. but knowing each other in the political arena and knowing each other as a person is a different setting. since he has been president, we got to know each other as who we are and hopefully he knows who i am and i basically said to the president my philosophy of
politics is this -- when i got involved in 1982, i always thought government should be my partner, not my provider. david: as a result of the session you had with the president, do you think you came away with understanding of where the country is going on all these bills? sen. manchin: i have said this and i think all of you remember, i thought long and hard about taking a strategic pause. my reason for saying that was a lot of the things in this reconciliation bill, a lot of the things, we had covered in the american rescue plan. at $1.9 trillion. and if you look at the american rescue plan bill we did, it covers a lot of the things we are talking about clear up through 2022 and into 2023. i did not see the urgency that someone is going to be left without any type of cover coming out of the covid pandemic. and the whole reason about what we did in 2020 to the extent we
did what we did was trying to prevent the country from going into a health crisis or a financial crisis and we did that. now, i said, the unknown was this. we did not know if covid was coming back, the variant of the covid, we were see -- we did not know what it was going to do and we are still seeing valleys and spikes. we did not know if inflation is transitory or not. we are finding out it might not be transitory. the biggest thing i had concerns about, which you don't hear people talk about much, was the geopolitical fallout and how we left afghanistan. my little coal town i come from, it is just human nature that if there was a bully and you saw somebody smack that bully and make that bully back down and everybody else is ready to take their shot too. david: to finish on the session in delaware -- [laughter] sen. manchin: he's not going to let this one go, is he? david: did you leave thinking we
are making progress and you said to the president, here is my bottom line and if you can deliver this, you have my vote? sen. manchin: no one should negotiate with the president especially or anyone else personally if you are negotiating in good faith. i have always tried to put myself in the shoes of the other person and i want the other person to understand who i am. if they can put themselves into who i am and i into them -- reverse roles and look at it. when i left, it was a very positive meeting. we know there are a lot of things we can do to make a more perfect union. david: when you go to a president's house like that, i guess you can ask for anything you want to eat because they want to make you happy. sen. manchin: the thing was we had a good time -- i kidded him. he was always supposed to be the poor senator. but he had an eye for real estate. [laughter] so i told him, you did not do too bad for a poor senator.
let me tell you one thing he did. we talked about that. he built a home and he did a heck of a job. he designed the whole thing. it is a very nice home in a very nice setting. he has some neighbors and one neighbor is not of his political persuasion, and if he is four inches over with a car, sometimes he hears about it. david: even when he is president? sen. manchin: more so when he is president. david: when you are negotiating with him or meeting with him, are you representing senator sinema or does she represent herself? sen. manchin: one thing you learn about being in the senate, you can take care of yourself if you're lucky. david: she has her own views and you have your views. sen. manchin: i respect her very much and she is a friend of mine. but, you know, we -- i think we bonded and i have been adamant. i have been there long enough to vote in 2013 against getting rid of the filibuster. at that time, senator harry reid did.
and then, in 2017, when mitch mcconnell did it for the supreme court and i have been steadfast on that. then to find out i have another person who feels as strong as i do was welcome. david: is all the attention you are getting pleasurable or a pain in the something? sen. manchin: this position, i would not wish it on anybody. people keep talking about power. i look at in this room and all the power in this room. all of us have been around long enough watching life and watching how people navigate life. i've seen people with an awful lot of power that abused it. i said, why would they do that? i've seen people who sought power and destroyed themselves trying to gain it. i've seen people taking a moment of time. a moment of time is this. we better bring our country together. it is the united states of america, not divided states of america. we better start working on that. [applause]
david: you are the key vote in so many things going on in the senate. and senator sinema as well. is that fun? sen. manchin: there is nothing fun about it. i always said this. i kept thinking -- because i was there in 2009 when they were doing the affordable care act. i kept thinking, if i was senator at that time and it came down to a swing vote, i think i could have made a difference there. i understood how it was delivered in the states. i understood people that could go without it and people who need it, but also people who could abuse it and take advantage of it. i thought there is a better way to do it. lo and behold, 10 years later, i found myself in a position in every vote. 50-50 senate. who would have thought it would come down to this? david: is it your view we should keep the current senate filibuster rule, even for the voting rights bill you authored? sen. manchin: i watched the democrats use it against trump in a lot of things. we were able to stop things that
did not make sense to us. how can we, two years ago, three years ago, 39 democratic senators led by our leader basically sign letters, please, mitch mcconnell, don't do away with the filibuster. all of a sudden it becomes, please get rid of it. that will help us more. it makes no sense to me. david: the voting rights bill, you have authored an amended version you thought would get through the senate. it does not seem like it is getting through unless you change the filibuster rules. what do you think is going to happen? sen. manchin: i did not author. i had input because i saw the for the people act and i knew it was aspirational. everything you can imagine was in the bill. we are trying to protect the voting rights act of 1965, which got shot down in the shelby decision in 2013. we have not even fixed that. we have not even fixed that because basically it went from nine states to 13 states and they threw it out. and i said, really, all 50
states should be held responsible and accountable. and in my mind, when i was secretary of state, we used to have a secretary of state association meetings. we were always competing who could get the greatest turnout. now i am realizing people are looking at the vantage -- the advantage they would get if people don't vote or certain people don't vote. that is beyond my comprehension. but it is the reality of what we are dealing with. it has got to be corrected. i cannot believe that my republican friends do not see it that way. you know what? they keep saying how many republicans you got? i'm working and talking to every republican and i said, what have you done? who is the last person you talked to on the republican side? i need a little bit of help. david: are you worried about the debt limit not being passed in december? sen. manchin: it is crazy for us to use that as a political weapon. ♪
david: the debt limit. we have extended it until december. are you worried about the debt limit not being passed in december? sen. manchin: it is crazy for us to use that as a political weapon. it is insane. i think the thing we should do is come to an agreement, call a truce and what i would say -- the thing that bothers me more, i don't see our leadership working together. i don't see people talking, having dinner or coffee or even having a conversation on the floor. you will see a few of us going back and forth. you are more troubled than i thought if you are just watching c-span and seeing us go back and forth. the bottom line is no one is working and talking. if you are not going to communicate, the easy way to do it, get rid of the filibuster. all of this is easy.
david: would you be in favor of eliminating the debt limit? sen. manchin: the president has the right to make that decision and we have the right to override if we think he went too far. it takes all of the politicians out of making the deal. the thing we got caught in a conundrum right now, the republicans say i want you to set the debt limit. it will be at $31 trillion. we are right at $29 trillion now. the one we have right now is $28.4 trillion. that is going to slide into december. basically, the only way we can do it right now is if the republicans would not agree and i don't think we should change the rules by ourselves, which is called the nuclear option. they should be something that is going to hold. the president has that authority. we have the authority to review and override. david: based on your experience, you would expect sometime in december they will figure out how to extend it? sen. manchin: before that. it should not come down to the limit again. if we can't do it and they don't agree on that, the democrats have the responsibility being
the majority party to do it through reconciliation. you have got to set a number. that is our responsibility and i will do it. david: what about the continuing resolution to fund the government? do think that will go to the last minute? sen. manchin: everything goes to the last minute because no one is talking until the last minute. it becomes a crisis. we can still manage through a crisis. it is a shame you have to run the greatest country on earth through a crisis. david: the senate democrats and republicans, do they socialize or talk to each other much? or is it not considered to be appropriate? sen. manchin: it is a shame you see some of that going on that people don't talk to people that much. i make it a point to have dinner with them or meet them somewhere. i always do that and try to and -- i think there should be something to where at least the leaders have to have lunch one day a week should i would think that would be good. you know what we do? we have caucus lunches. johnny isakson would have all the people from georgia come up
into a big barbecue thing. even then, it did not last much longer. david: so you have a republican colleague in the senate, senator capito. how do you get along? sen. manchin: very good friend of mine. we get along good. one night we were voting late and we missed the plane. i said, i'm driving. you want to ride with me? she said count me in. about 10:00, we take off for west virginia. i drive a little bit fast. at night i drive fast. david: within the speeding limit. sen. manchin: i won't say that. [laughter] we were driving and we got picked up for speeding. david: when you get picked up, they know who you are so what do they do? sen. manchin: state policeman comes to the door and he says, governor? i said, i am a senator. he was a trooper when i was
governor. i thought i was in pretty good shape. david: i guess you did not get a ticket. sen. manchin: the funny part was when he said, my god, it's both of you. [laughter] david: are you worried the senate and the house could flip to the republicans in the midterms because that often happens. sen. manchin: we did not have a much of a buffer going in. david: are you worried about this? sen. manchin: i'm the chairman right now of a committee which i enjoy very much. i have been ranking before which is the minority part. lisa murkowski was one of my partners and we worked really well together. but it is much better off when you can control the agenda. you can't do anything about it. i have always said that the best politics is good government. today, that is not what we are practicing. the republicans are missing a golden opportunity not to jump on the infrastructure bill. and be overwhelmingly
bipartisan. i've seen people take credit of good legislation that voted against it. david: i can't believe that happens in washington. [laughter] ♪ david: i noticed you have shoes that are little different. sen. manchin: these are my lobbying shoes. i got to be quick. david: the lobbyists come, you run away. sen. manchin: can i say one thing to this crowd? you are the movers and shakers. we are not going to be able to fix congress from within. i have come to that conclusion. you can fix it. you all sitting here can fix it. the smart business people you are, the investors you are, you've made a horrible investment in all of us who don't give you a return of good
politics. demand more. ask a person, i see you are voting 99% one way. i never see you talking to anybody else. why have you become more partisan? this is not who we are. david: when people come to lobby you, what is the most effective way to convince you? is it telling you this is going to affect west virginia a certain way or does it appeal to your natural instincts? how do people lobby you effectively? sen. manchin: other than putting a gun to your head -- david: who has done that? sen. manchin: no, people come in and i tell people when you come in, do this. tell me what you are lobbying for and why and give me the facts. put your hat on the other person who is against what you are trying to do. that helps me to get to a decision quicker. david: business people, what should they do? sen. manchin: if you walk into a senator's office or congressional office and you're getting hustled for a
fundraiser, you in the wrong office. that is crazy. that kind of stuff has got to stop. that is where you all stop it. a♪ david: is this making your more popular in west virginia or less sen. manchin: it depends on " david: is this making your more popular in west virginia or less popular, all of this attention? sen. manchin: it depends on what corner of town you go to. david: do you go back? sen. manchin: i go back all the time. i love my state. i was born and raised in a mining town. i saw people who worked all the time and shared what they had and took care of each other. took care of people who cannot
take care of themselves. i saw all the good in small town america and what the united states is. i thought, maybe the whole country could be that way. david: west virginia it used to be a solidly democratic state. when john kennedy ran for president, it was a democratic state. now it is a republican state. what changed? west virginia or the country? sen. manchin: i was blessed with having good support from republicans, democrats, independents. i never got the far right or far left. i can understand that. we never ran our country or states or politics from the far left or far right. i gave a speech one day. the first time we came back off covid to bethany college. a beautiful little college in northern west virginia. i walked on the stage. they gave me a speech. i have good people who work with me. what do i say? you have been cloistered in for one year. i had nothing on paper or nothing in my mind i was going to say as i walked to the
podium. i'm thinking i don't know what to say. i walked up and i apologized. i am sorry. i've been radicalized. they looked at me and i don't know how that came out that way. i said your grandparents have been radicalized. our generation was radicalized because we don't understand what is going on. i never had computers. i never had cell phones, any of those growing up. i got my news from cbs, abc, nbc. i remember when john kennedy was running for president and west virginia was a swing state. my parents were all excited. i did not know why they were excited about politics. the young person running and he was a catholic and we were a catholic family. there are not many catholics in west virginia so they were excited. so i got excited. we were watching television and it had to be walter cronkite who said it has been said if john
kennedy becomes president, the pope will run the country. i looked at my mom and i said, he don't know the catholics we know. [laughter] that is all i could come up with because i've never seen anybody tell a catholic or partisan or a jew anything. they're going to make their own minds up. david: have you ever thought life would be easier for you if you shifted to being a republican? somebody said recently people have approached you about doing that. sen. manchin: every day. david: wouldn't life be easier? sen. manchin: it would be much easier. is that the purpose of being involved in public service? david: are you thinking about doing it? sen. manchin: no. what i'm telling you now is who i am. do think by having a d, i, or r is going to change who i am? i don't think the r's would be anymore happy with me than the d's are. i don't know where in the hell i belong.
david: is being governor more fun than being a senator? sen. manchin: oh my god yes. [laughter] i was upset because i saw a guy come in one time to talk to my father. i was 35 years old with no kids. i had no intention of getting involved in politics. a guy came in and he started talking about favors. this was a local politician. when he left, i said he made it look like that he was doing you a favor to take your people of his constituency. he is not doing his job. it got to me like a knife, i said i'm going to run. my dad says you don't want to get involved in politics. that is not a good profession. how prolific he was back then. i said that, you are hypocrite. you always said you want good people involved who have good values. they should get involved for the right reason. i think i was raised right. i feel pretty balanced. he looked at me and said, you are right. let's go get him. i ran and i won.
i was one of 100 and the house of delegates. i said if i was in the state senate, i would be one of 34. if i was governor, i would be one of one. i could do something. now i'm back to one of 100. i have come full circle. david: you are up for reelection in 2024. you are going to run again i assume? sen. manchin: i'll be 77 years old. what do you think? david: that is young in the senate. the president is older than that. that is young. you haven't decided yet? sen. manchin: i haven't decided. if i think i can contribute and be productive in this moment of time we are in right now and we can balance some things out. the thing that bothers me more than anything is i don't hear the word this would be good for our country when we are thinking
about fixing a problem until someone tries to justify if you are on the right or left. then saying we're going to do this because it is good for the country. you're going to do that because it is good for the party. [applause] david: in 2024, there is another election. president of the united states, you wouldn't think of running the president? sen. manchin: i would be one of one again. david: you could be like a governor. sen. manchin: i have not thought of that. david: you have not ruled out. sen. manchin: you want to be a campaign manager? david: you wouldn't win if i was campaign manager. sen. manchin: i support joe biden. i think he was the right person at the right time. we just have to balance things out. david: how do you think the biden administration is doing? sen. manchin: they're having a little struggle right now. we have to rethink this whole thing.
i'm thinking i agree with him getting out of afghanistan. david: you were happy with the way it occurred? sen. manchin: nobody could be happy with the way we got out. there is not a good way to get out of these things. there had to be a thing better than what we did. you can look at it from that standpoint. i think he understands foreign policy. some of the things we have talked about, we have different concerns around the world. the united states has to be ready to do what we do. david: if the election was held today, would west virginia vote the same way? west virginia is still not that supportive of -- sen. manchin: i would still vote for joe biden but i would be in the minority. david: in your view, west virginia is likely to stay public in for residential purposes for the foreseeable future? sen. manchin: west virginia was republican up until the depression. we were always a conservative democrat. we were the northern most southern state. we are on the mason-dixon line. we flipped in 2010. we flipped harder than any southern state ever flipped.
david: the most important issue in west virginia is what? sen. manchin: the respect and dignity of who they are as a human being and this society we have and this culture we have understanding us. we are the hardest working people. but i don't have enough workers. i can tell you my state grew in immigration back in the early 1900s. people came here because they wanted to work. we need people who want a quality of life for themselves and their families. i have a lot of elderly people. they talk about social reforms. i said if social security and medicare is not solvent and the trust funds are not solvent, you're taking away a lifeline people have right now. why should i expand all these social services when i can't pay for what we got? david: you enjoy being a senator with all of this pressure on you? is this fun? sen. manchin: there is no fun. they say how are you taking the pressure? i say i have a responsibility to
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