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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 27, 2013 8:00am-9:01am EDT

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want to thank staff on both sides of the aisle for their work in this hearing process and thank you for being here and look forward to working with you. thank you. .pulling ..
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>> letter from a birmingham jail. watch these programs and more all weekend long on booktv. for a complete schedule, visit >> up next, james antle, editor of "the daily caller" news foundation, presents his thoughts on the dangers of a large federal government. it's about 50 minutes. >> you know, a lot of the questions that i get about this book or why i wrote this book have to do with the subtitle. the book is called devouring freedom, the subtitle is can big government ever be stopped? the first question i get is, well, can it? at the risk of discouraging you all from buying the book, i'm going to let you in on the answer. the answer is, yes. but it is possible that it can be stopped. but first of all, there are a lot of other questions that have to be addressed. and in my book, one of the things i do -- it's essentially
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a story about what are the prospects of limited government. and when i started writing the book, we did not know who was going to be the next president, but we did know it was going to be a relevant issue regardless of who won the election. i don't think -- i'm a massachusetts native myself. i don't think that there was any real danger that government was going to get drastically smaller if mitt romney had been elected president. i know that that's a shocking thing for many people to, you know, grapple with, but i think that it's clearly the record is the case that that was unlikely. but certainly there is no probability that it was going to get at all mauler if president obama was -- smaller if president obama was reelected as he was. and after the president's re-election, i think a lot of conservatives and libertarians were demoralized, particularly people who thought that romney was going to win in some kind of a landslide were worried that obama's re-election meant that the country had changed in some
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fundamental, irreversible way. they began to doubt after the 2010 elections had looked pretty good for groups like the tea party and for conservative republicans, they began to doubt that big government actually could be stoppedment so that -- stopped. so that's one of the reasons why i think having this discussion is important. i think that there is no reason for people to give up all hope. i think when you look at the trajectory of american politics in the last few election cycles, it's been very volatile. and we've seen a lot of change in a very short period of time. you're a young audience for the most part, but i think you're all old enough to remember the permanent republican majority that was going to happen after 2004, remember that? [laughter] that was going to be ushered in in part to the american people's opposition to gay marriage. do you remember that? how did either of those things work out? by 2006 we were hearing a
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completely different story. the democrats retook both houses of congress, by 2008 barack obama was elected, national journal called him the most liberal senator. and then two years later there was this tea party, quote-unquote, revolution that happened, and republicans retook the house, gained some seats in the senate, picked up some governorships, and everybody said, oh, see, democrats, now they're out. it's going to be a permanent setback for the democrats. it was so permanent that it lasted about two years. will[laughter] so my point is politics can change quickly. even though we live in a 50/50 country, they say, and the electorate is closely divided, there are still millions of people who went from voting for barack obama to supporting candidates who are going to make john painer speaker of the house -- john boehner speaker of
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the house in a very short period of time. americans go by who they trust, by who they like, they go by possessor faulty, go by who taper see as having had a successful track record. and when they see something that isn't working in their view, they want to change. and so just as i think the keynesian liberalism of the obama administration is due to the failures real and perceived of the bush administration, i think it is a real opportunity for conservatives and libertarians to capitalize on what will be the real failures of the obama administration. but there are, i hi, a lot of other issues simply before you can even get to the question of whether you can use politics to stop the growth of government or to curtail the growth of government in some way. we have many people who question whether big government is even a problem. does big government exist as something other than a slogan? you know, there is this view, i
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call it a sort of liberal form of american exceptionalism, where there are people who argue that having annual deficits that are almost as big as the federal budget when bill clinton was president is not really a problem. there are people who argue that having the publicly-held debt be a majority of our economy is not really a problem. there are people who argue that the gross federal debt consuming our entire economy being as big, bigger than our entire economy isn't a problem. and then you have the unfunded liabilities of our major entitlement programs like social security and medicare which are larger by some measures than the world economy. but that's not a problem. and there are usually two arguments that people make to this effect, and i try to address them in "devouring freedom." one is trust us, we're the government, we'll know what to do before the crisis comes. and the other is, well, there's a sucker born every minute.
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people will keep buying the treasury bonds, interest rates will never return to where they were before the financial crisis, the economy are at some point -- will at some point regain some semblance of normal growth. and everything's going to be fine. and there's nothing to worry aboutment so i think that is something that i think has to be addressed before you can really talk about doing anything politically about the size of the federal government. secondly, i think there is a sort of divide among the american people. many americans are divided even within themselves over what kind of role they want the federal government to perform. there are numerous polls which i cite in the book that show that majorities of americans don't trust the federal government, trust it less than they trust labor unions, big business. other major forces in american life. more americans even when you look at the exit polls in the 2012 elections, more americans
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said they preferred a smaller government that offered fewer services to a bigger government that offers more services. and those numbers become even more pronounced if you mention the fact that government services are paid for by taxes, and you might have to pay more taxes if you get more government services. but at the same time, even many of the same americans who would answer in a limited government way when asked that question by pollsters do not, in fact, want the federal government to stop doing a lot of the things that it currently does. or they don't see it as having an immediate or near-term cost to them. and so i think there are tw two examples of this that, to me, i think really encapsulate this well, and i'm going to focus on people who are more conservative rather than more moderate for these examples. "the new york times" did a story on the tea party, and they quoted a woman named jodi white, and she said that she was conflicted with these entitlements and things like
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that. she said, you know, i guess i want my social security and smaller government too. which is, you know, there are people who ought to be more familiar with the workings of the federal budget than random people quoted in news stories who nevertheless take this similar viewpoint. dick morris, the political consultant who has moved from the democrats to the republicans, who is really famous for his predictions of the romney presidency, that very, you know, energetic, spirited race between hillary clinton and condoleezza rice that was going to happen. [laughter] he has written a column where he says republicans should beat president obama on the issue of government spending. just don't talk about medicare, and don't talk about social security. but you can talk about government spending. many republicans would then add to that don't talk about
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national defense, the pentagon budget should also be off limits. the problem with that thinng is you have now exempted the three largest parts of the federal budget from your critique of federal spending. so so these are sort of the divisions and the conflicts and the contradictions that i think any serious proponent of limited government has to contend with. i think there's been a sort of this view that's been propounded that limited government is impossible. anarchists even make this argument, and i would argue -- i would counter to you that limited government is possible but difficult. the fact that there has been limited government in the united states government was a fairly limited government for 150 years even after the progressive era, even after the civil war where there was some government growth, and there were some impediments to government growth that were institutional that were kind of knocked out of our american political system, we still had a fairly limited federal government. now, i think the anarchists
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might have a little stronger government -- agent when it comes to sustainability, especially in a mass democracy or welfare state. but for the purposes of this discussion, we're going to postsit that a somewhat limited government is possible because we've seep it happen before. so -- seen it happen before. so i argue in the book that when republicans have been serious about cutting federal spend, they have had some success in doing so. and i also argue that there are things we can learn from their attempts because some attempts worked better than others. in each of those cases, though, i would argue to you that they were successful in preventing the united states from becoming a full blown european-style social democracy. but learn some spending cut -- but there were some spending cuts that were more longer term and prevailed for a long time, and there were other cuts to government spending that were really restored, the spending was restored right after these republicans left office and in
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some cases before. and that, to a large extent, happened under the reagan administration or after the reagan administration and after the first couple of years of the gingrich congress in the mid '90s. the most successful conservative congress in history actually, in my argument, is, was the do-nothing congress after after world war ii where robert taft was the leader of a very successful long-term movement to control federal spending. they didn't repeal the new deal, but where they decided to strike, they struck decisively. they abolished programs. they didn't trim them. they eliminated price controls and the militarization of the u.s. economy. today didn't sort of tinker around its edges. they cut military spending. they, they also prevented the enactment of something that would have been way to the left of obamacare, a british national health service style of national health care that was being
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supported by the truman administration. they didn't have a lot of public opinion on their side. they didn't have a friendly president. they had a very hostile president in harry truman who was a firm believer in the new deal consensus. but nevertheless, they were successful. one reason, however, why their work has not been replicated very often is that politically they were the least successful. ronald reagan was reelected, the republicans held the senate during the reagan years until the 986 elections -- 1986 elections. after the gingrich elections, republicans controlled house until the 2006 elections, so they had the house for 12 years and the senate for most of that time period. the do-nothing congress was voted out in the very next election. [laughter] but in terms of actually saving this country from a a much bigger government and making it possible for us to even have the debates we were having with reagan and gingrich, i don't think you could argue with their
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success. i don't talk much in the book about calvin coolidge. one reason is simply marketing. there are at least three books that i know of on coolidge right now. [laughter] the second reason, coolidge governed during a period when government was still the political norm in the united states which i don't think the applicable to today. 's certainly scaling back some advances of the state during the progress bive era, but he succeeded a president that also wanted to return to normalcy in the person of warren g. harding. and what he was doing really was the political norm up to that point. we didn't have the advanced federal welfare state that we developed after the new deal. so i simply didn't think the example of coolidge, while there are many things we could learn from him, were as relevant to the contemporary political debate as some of the later examples. i think, though, it is a mistake if we exclusively blame
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president obama for the size and cost and scope of the federal government. president obama came to office during a period of economic crisis. where there was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of desire on the part of the american people to have their problems, economic and financial, addressed by government. we had just had a financial meltdown, the great recession. and to paraphrase white house chief of staff, you never let a crisis go to waste. and they didn't let a crisis go to waste. and it would be unusual to expect anything else. and certainly, the growth of government in the first two years of the obama administration was worse by an order of magnitude than anything we'd seen in recent years. but i would argue to you where we really got off course fuss cally was -- fiscally was before there was president obama and before there was even george w. bush. the republicans who controlled
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congress lost they their committ to fiscal discipline by 1998. they were, they felt that they had lost the government shutdown battle and then eventually the internal disputes among congressional republicans in favor of reining in government spending particularly dealing with entitlements, the more big government republicans, the go along to get along republicans, won that debate within the party. then you were followed by george w. bush who believed that a big political liability for the gop was the fact a they attempted budget cuts in the first two years of the gingrich congress. he talked about compassionate conservativism. he was going to be a different kind of republican. unfortunately, he really wasn't a different kind of republican, because if you look at the experience of the nixon administration, the first bush administration, the ford administration, growing government has kind of been the
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norm, it has been the trend. but george w. bush, i think, took it to another level because he was a guns and butter, spending increase president. and i thk he really undercut the gop's credibility on any of these issues, including from some of the more promising young republicans who were coming of age at the time president bush was in office. but the fact that the republican party is branded as a small government party, however inaptly, moment that the failures of big government under the bush administration tarred rhetoric of limited government, tarred the ideas of limited government and paved the way for even bigger government. the iraq war, the medicare prescription drug benefit, no child left behind, these were very, very costly federal interventions, and it's very difficult, i think, to argue that republicans were upholding
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some kind of small government ideals during that time period. most of all, i think you see with the fact that the republicans did not really attempt to address a lot of the issues that president obama ultimately came to office arguing that he was going to address. you know, there was the perception that the gop had failed on foreign policy, a perception that i agree with. there was also the fact that the republicans did not do anything about the health care issue, did not do anything to promote a have been win free market -- a genuine free market in health care which i talk about in my book. and as a result of that, it made it inevitable that when it came time to deal with the health care issue, it would be dealt with on democratic terms. republicans, however, our rarely they had launched full frontal assaults on the size and scope of the federal government, have on occasion tried indirect
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routes to limiting the federal government. during the reagan years, we had sort of supply-side revolution where the idea would be that we would cut marginal tax rates which were then very onerous, the top rate was over 70 president. there 70%. it was definitely the time for some cutting, and the hope was that the economic growth that tax cuts and deregulation would unleash would allow a sort of covert assault on federal spending. the reagan administration with the help of a bipartisan conservative majority in the house and republican senate had a great deal of success in cutting nondefense domestic discretionary spending. they did can relatively little, however, about into entitlementd they increased defense spending. so we saw larger deficits, somewhat larger government although some of the discretionary spending cuts and
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the economic growth did slightly cut the government's share of the private economy. and we saw when -- even while reagan was in office, when it came time to deal with the deficit, that, too, was something we ended up doing on democratic terms with tax increases that began to wipe out much of the reagan tax cuts before reagan even left office. and then sharply curtailing the reagan tax cuts when bush 41 was in office raising the top marginal income tax rate. so that approach did not really shrink the federal government. the next approach that was used was the theory of starve the beast. which many some ways con -- in some ways contradicts the supply side argument because of the laugher curve, but we were in a slightly different place. we began to argue that tax cuts will reduce revenues, but that will mean the federal government has less money to spend and, therefore, it will spend less. i think that argument is half
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right in that if you give the federal government more money, it will find a way to spend it. but the history of the 2000s, i think, conclusively showed that it actually made growth of government seem like it was cost free even toe deficit spending -- even though deficit spending is really taxation deferred rather than taxation denied. it does make the current generation of voters feel like they're getting something for nothing. even at the tail end of the reagan administration, we had it at one point where the government was -- [inaudible] david fromm back when he was much more libertarian than he is today -- [laughter] described it as post-great government society at pre-great government prices. the final thing is divided government which has been very successful in curtailing the growth of government with. it certainly was in the '90s
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when you had divided goth between clinton and congressional republicans. and aide arguing we're -- i'd arguing we're starting to see some degree of success with that now with the republican house and the democrats controlling the senate and the wows. but to actually address the long-term drivers of the debt to keep the federal government from continuing to grow, there are going to need to be some systematic reforms to entitlements, and under the current political conditions, it's very difficult to see how those things could be accomplished through divided government today. there was a period in the '90s where it looked like there might be an opportunity for that because we had a centrist democratic president, but today i think there are very different views of what role of government actually still -- stimulates the economy. we've moved to the economics of the clinton administration to returning to the post-new deal
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liberal consensus view that deficit spending and increased government spending are stimulative of the economy. so in that kind of climate, i find it very difficult to see how divided government will produce the much-hoped-for grand bargain that will end up taming the entitlements problem and dealing with our impending debt problems. so where does that sort of leave us? i argue in the book that a new generation of republican leaders, people like rand paul, mike lee who are much more serious about these issues and have shown that they can be creative in ways of speaking out about these issues and being committed to principle on these issues. i think regardless of what you thought about the merits of rand paul's filibuster on the drones, what you thought of the drone issue, i think it's striking that his filibuster produced by some measure a 50-point swing in public opinion on that issue.
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now, i'm not arguing to you that if rand paul or paul ryan got up and talked about medicare premium support or block granting medicaid for 13 hours that all of a sudden those things would happen. [laughter] but i think it's an example of how thinking creatively about these issues really opened political opportunities that even opinion leaders don't really see. even more important, though, than principled leadership -- because i think there's a limit to the number of principled rather than self-interested politicians you're ever going to find -- it is important to have groups like freedomworks and young americans for liberty and club for growth and all these maligned tea party activist groups and the heritage -- americans for tax reform. so many other groups that are making it a bad career move for republicans to be for big government. as big of a debacle as christine o'donnell being nominated was, if in the long-term republicans don't think the best career move for them even if blue states is
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to be the person behind cap and trade, the person who was willing to contemplate, perhaps, not repealing obamacare, if people no longer feel that that is the way to get ahead politically, we will see less big government can republicanism over time. milton friedman, to paragrade him, argued that the most important thing in politics isn't trying to elect the right people, it's changing the political incentives so that the wrong people will do the right things. and i think that that is really the vital work that a lot of organizations do. i think many of these organizations need to think more in terms of how next to reach the persuadable middle and to address and to get them to understand that this is not obstructionism for obstructionism's sake, that opposition to big government is not simply trying to frustrate president obama's domestic agenda because conservatives just want to or are ip
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corrigible or contrarian, but that we actually have an opportunity to maybe fight big government in a way that people understand, that there are reasons that will benefit them in terms of the personal liberty, their personal freedom and their prosperity, their checkbook at the end of the day. i think one sort of telling republican leader who i talk about in my book is paul ryan. i think paul ryan, chairman of the house budget committee, really demonstrates the disconnect between aspirations of the gop and the actual track record of the gop. i give ryan a lot of credit for being almost alone in talking about the need for spite element reform when you know that the political reaction is going to be pictures of you loving grandma off the -- of you shoving grandma off the cliff in a wheelchair. and be i think when you hook at
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the long term of the final destination of things like the road map and the path to prosperity will take you even though i might have some quibbles about specific decisions he makes on how to get there, i do feel much of what he's proposing will represent the right side of the possible in terms of limiting the federal government. however, when you look at many of the votes ryan cast over the course of his career, he was very supportive of increasing government under republican presidents and republican congresses. ped care part d he was -- medicare part d, he was instrumental if getting that passed. he was instrumental in passing the wall street bailout, in passing the automakers' bailout. i have some theories as to why that might be the case. paul ryan was elected to congress in 1998. that was the year that the conservative back benchers in the house conclusively lost their fight with the republican establishment over whether we were going to cut spending. if you look back at people who had clawed their way from the
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back benches to being in leadership, it was people like newt gingrich who are now that establishment that was cracking down on the conservatives who continued to want to cut spending. my view is that ryan believed taking a traditional path to power, impressing people with his intellect can and his interest in the fiscal policy, but at the same time voting in line with what the party leadership wanted and rising in a traditional way with, i think that he believed that that was the way they was going to be able to best influence the party and best influence the country. the danger to that is if you never have anything like the ryan plan enacted but you do have medicare part d, and that is always with you. that is the danger of that. but i hi when you look at the trajectory of somebody like paul ryan, i think that's going to say a lot about where the republican party as a whole ends up. and i think the direction of the republican party is really crucial to this debate, because in contemporary political terms
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i don't see any movement towards a more restrained federal government from democrats. even on the civil liberties issues where liberal democrats have at times tended to be more respectful of perm freedoms than some -- of personal freedoms than some conservative republicans, it's clearly not the issue that animates them or really drives them. there was only one democrat who participated in the paul drone filibuster, only a handful of democrats instrumental in getting rid of the defense authorization act. democrats, a minority of democrats in both houses on the patriot act, on fisa, on a number of these issues. so i think the direction of the republican party is very important. so i talk about the main obstacle. there are nuke rouse obstacles to limiting government that are institutional, that are deep in
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public opinion that have to do with the media, and i talk about all of those in my book. but i hi the most important thing is do we have two big government parties, as we currently do, or do we have a small government or relatively limited government party to contest the party of big government? and that's an area where i think things may change. i hi when paul ryan decided -- i think when paul ryan decided, was elected to congress, there budget a lot of people as -- there wasn't a lot of people as back benchers. but since then we've seen mike pence join the republican leadership and eventually becoming governor of indiana. we've seen -- who's the -- jeb hensarling from texas voted against the leadership on a number of issues and ultimately joined the leadership. of we saw jim demint from south carolina become a very important kingmaker in the senate having a lot of influence on the composition of the republican conference while voting against the party
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leadership and soon he -- maybe even today he was inaugurated, i'm not sure, very soon he is going to be taking over as president of the heritage foundation, one of the more important conservative think tanks in washington and in the country as a whole. and then in 2008 we saw the ultimate congressional back bencher in the form of ron paul, the person of ron paul, show that you can have a lasting impact on the debate and a lasting impact on the party. where there's now even an entire wing of the party that is unnuanced by ron paul and issues like federal reserve and a less interventionist foreign policy and civil liberties issues that simply weren't even getting a hearing in the bush era gop. so i think that is really where the action is going to be going forward. but the final thing i would say in terms of opportunities for limiting the federal government is if you really look at when conservatives and libber tapes have been successful -- libertarians have been successful in the past, it has
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really always been in response to liberal misgovernment. to people always like big government when it's free, but soon we're going to see the middle class begin to pay some of it costs. and that is really the circumstances under which the social revolutions of the 1960s and the 1970s gave way to however limited the conservative reforms of the 1980s and 1990s to a point where you had even democratic presidents talking about the era of big government being over, deficit reduction being the best thing for the economy and actually talking a little bit about entitlement reform. unfortunately, nothing really happened. so that transformation may be seen through obamacare. obamacare will do one of two things. obamacare will be the policy that drives us into a permanent tate of big government that -- state of big government that no political activism will be able to reverse or contain, or it will be the issue where big government so conspicuously fails for millions of americans
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that it forces people in another direction. neither response is inevitable. obamacare, there's a lot of pressure among even republicans to sort of say that obamacare is a settled issue after the was reelected, after the supreme court had its decision thanks in part to a republican-appointed justice. but there are going to be a lot of problems in the implementation of obamacare. we're already seeing that the implementation of obamacare is problematic. we've even repealed portions of obamacare already, the 1099 requirements, the medical devices tax with democratic support, with bipartisan support. keeping obamacare repeal a live issue, i think, is vital. obamacare's problems are going to be addressed, in my view, in one of two ways. it is going to inexorably lead to a movement towards a single-payer health care system
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in this country as people blame the problems of obamacare on the remaining private sector elements of health care and medical service, or it will provide the opening for republicans to actually talk about creating something more like a free market in the provision of health care in this country. i think it is vitally important that conservatives and libertarians not give up that fight, because giving up that fight, i think, is really giving up on every other front. you can't simply surrender on that issue and expect any other issue to remain in play, remain politically viable. so that, in my view, the next big fight. and on in many respects we're going to have to fight republican leaders on these issues. and talk to republican leaders about why they will not be republican leaders much longer if they do not side with conservatives and libertarians
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op these particular issues. we have seen things like this happen before. there was an expansion of medicare late in the reagan administration called the medicare catastrophic care act. and, essentially, what happened is it was such a disaster in its implementation that congress very quickly repealed it. now, there are some political differents in that that that waa bipartisan piece of legislation, so both parties had a little bit of of stake in it, and both parties, therefore -- neither party was hurt by its repeal. but it is very difficult, i think, for an unpopular program to survive with just the support of one party. once it has the support of just one party, i think it always remains a possibility to do things to reform it, to repeal it piecemeal, and if political conditions allow, to revoke it entirely. but we can't be too naive about
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the gop either. that's why out will be a constant fight. in a very small period of time, and this is one thing i use as an illustration of the growth of government. we didn't have a trillion dollar federal budget until 1987, so for the first 200 years of this country, we did not have federal government spending trillions a year. it wasn't until 2002, 2003 that we had a $2 trillion federal budget. then it was roughly five or so years after that that we had our first $3 trillion federal budget. that's a lot of goth growth in a -- government growth in a very short period of time. every single one of those milestones, those trillion dollar milestones, was hit under republican presidents. so, yes, i think that big goth is not just -- big government is not just a testimony accurate or republican issue, but i do think that conservatives and libertarians will be at the vanguard of stopping big
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government if it's ever to be stopped. and with that, i'd be happy to take any questions. [applause] >> [inaudible] c-span has an associate with a microphone. and when you ask your question, please, let him get to you so you can speak into the microphone. we want all the questions to be on c-span tv. >> insert marco rubio joke here. [laughter] >> thank you so much. my name is tyler o'neill. i'm with the dpaf, a youth unemployment advocacy foundation, and i'd like to actually discuss calvin coolidge. and hear more of the reasons why you didn't include him. but -- because the way i see it, everybody focuses on reagan. >> yeah. >> but calvin coolidge was the
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man who said, hey, we're going the cut government. that's going to be my number one priority. and he did it. he cut really popular programs like aid to military veterans, and e even look -- he even looked at the use of pencils in the federal government. so do you think we need more leadership like him, or, do youu know, was it just accidental that you kept him out? >> in terms of cutting government spending, there is no question that calvin coolidge was more successful than ronald ray began. no -- ronald reagan. no question on that point. one of the reasons i didn't emphasize coolidge as much, though, was coolidge was not operating in the same kind of political environment that anybody who's trying to cut goth spending would be operating in today, and reagan was. and that there were things in re began's record that were successes that we could look for and there were things in re began's record that were failures that we could learn
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from. calvin coolidge was really the last president that was consistently what the republican party claims to be. but we're not in that political environment anymore, and that's why i didn't discuss coolidge. i do discuss coolidge somewhat, but that's why he was not a major focal point of my book. >> thank you very much. one of the things i'm interested in is hearing about the tate reforms -- state reforms and how we can take those lessons from cutting government spending, putting in consumption taxes, school choice, those sorts of of things, looking at that from a federal level where the politics might be a little bit different. >> uh-huh. i think there are some differences between state and federal government. obviously, state governments
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have to at some point do something to balance their books. they can't print money, there's no state-level federal reserve. the sort of debt crisis faced by a lot of state governments has to do with pension obligations of government workers, not the benefits that you and me -- that, that, that -- may someday get. [laughter] so i think that makes it a little easier to pursue some conservative reforms at the state level. but, yes, i think the track record of republican governors is going to be very important to whether there are any attractive political personalities who have actually any credibility on these issues. i think that there is nothing that is better for a political party than to have been seen as governing successfully. and if we can show that conservatives can govern successfully, i think that that will make the 2016 and beyond much more competitive than they otherwise would be. i think the jury is out on some
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of these governors. i mean, scott walker we werely was major figure against certainly was a major figure against obamacare. but he was fairly quick to cave into the hospitals and say that he would take the obamacare medicaid expansion. but at the same time, there are lawmakers in the republican party that opposed him on that, some leaders in the state legislature said that's not going to happen under my watch. so i think there's a lot to be seen in terms of the 2w5u8 track records of a lot of these political figures. >> elliot geyser with the heritage foundation. i wanted to see what your response or thought would be about the infamous 47% comment. i think governor romney made that statement because it played well with a lot of the people that he was speaking to at that point. which shows that a lot of people within the republican party believe that as long as there's this infamous figure of 47% or
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nearly half of the population that isn't fronting the major costs of government, that there's no way to effectively reduce the size and scope of government and that there's sort of this doom's day scenario for limited government as, you know, the number of people who actually pay for it gets smaller and smaller and smaller, and democracy's wolves vote on what to have for dinner with the sheep. so was romney wrong, or was he right, and what is your response or thought about how conservatives overcome this idea? >> i talk about this, actually, at length in "devouring freedom." i think romney was partially wrong and partially right. i think the 47% metric for who is dependent on government is very deeply flawed. it's the percentage of people who were not at, you know, in the last couple of years paying federal income tax. well, one of the reasons that people are not paying federal income tax is the poor state of the economy. but another reason is republican
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tax cuts. you know, ronald reagan went he signed his 1986 of tax reform boasted that we were dropping millions of middle, working and low income americans from the tax rolls entirely. the bush, the gingrich congress imposed a, imposed is a bad word for tax cutting, enacted a child tax credit which wiped out a lot of middle income families' income tax liabilities at least for the period of time while they were rearing children. president bush expanded that tax credit, made it larger dropping still more people off the income tax rolls, cutting the bottom tax rate to 10%. so i think it is a very, not only is it morally suspect to say that the mission of a party of limited government should be to subject subsistence levels of income to taxation rather than having these people support their own families and their own communities. i think that's morally
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problematic. and politically saying we're going to cut taxes for hedge fund managers but even else has to pay some my mum share of tax -- minimum share of tax, is politically obtuse. i mean, rush limbaugh years ago did a skit op his show -- on his show called tax the poor x. he later said, well, i was demonstrating absurdity by being absurd. we now have members of the republican party who think that's a great idea. [laughter] if you talk about it enough, that becomes part of your brand. so in that respect, i think, he was very wrong. however, there is a serious problem with the fact that there are many people who are net beneficiaries of big government, and that's always going to be the case when you have a deficit-financed welfare state. and that is a problem. and ronnie, i think, was very inartful about how to talk about that and how to deal with that, but it is definitely the makers versus takers, i think, is a
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pejorative way of framing it, and i think it should be avoided. but i think there is a grain of truth to the idea that people who perceive their livelihoods to be coming from government are not going to be receptive, as receptive to limited government arguments. why would you vote for a party that is languaging to cut taxes that -- pledging to cut taxes that you don't pay and also cut benefits that you do get? it is a real problem for supporters of limited government. >> hey. luca -- [inaudible] with "the american spectator." i'm going to be perfectly honest with you, i'm pretty pessimistic that we are going to be able to turn this ship around before it hits the rocks. and i honestly think that given the debt levels and given the lack of economic growth that there's going to be a sovereign debt crisis before we prevent it. so with that rosy picture in mind -- >> right. >> -- what do you have to offer for that scenario? because i think this is a valiant effort to try to say,
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hey, look, maybe we can avoid this. but given the real possibilities in the next ten or fewer years, we will be facing down a real reckoning. what then? what do you say? >> well, my first piece of advice is you should never go work for a suicide prevention hotline. [laughter] i think these are important arguments to have even if the debt crisis and the fiscal crisis hits, because even if the crisis hits, there's no guarantee that things will be better as a result of the crisis. yes -- >> [inaudible] >> i am not a proponent of the view of the worst the better, i think when you look at actual histories of governments that have collapsed and have had serious problem, there's ample precedent for things much worse taking over in their place. so i think making limited government arguments and anti-statist arguments remain essential even if the crisis hits. i mean, obviously, i think
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they're most politically attractive as a form of avoiding a crisis, particular i when you're looking at the fact that the window for reforming entitlements is rapidly closing. but i think it's still going to be a relevant debate we'll have even if, you know, cyprus is looking to take money out of our bank accounts or something, you know? >> jeremy -- [inaudible] with congressman dane's office. i'm curious, if you could unilaterally be dictator for a day and pass one law, what would you do? >> ah, but see, that's definitely a major flaw in republican thinking is they assume if we're just going to be dictator for one day and we'll limit government by doing that but, in fact, we're dictators for life and government gets much bigger. [laughter] but, you know, i guess to get to the spirit of your question i think if we could reverse the,
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or somewhat change the relationship between the federal government and the states, i think that that is really the most lasting thing that could serve to limit government, at least particularly at the federal level. i think the founding fathers' vision of competing multiple jurisdictions as a way of preventing the consolidation of power is valid and is valid in this century as well. i think one of the worse things that's happened in terms of size of federal government is this development where all the states go hat in hand to washington asking for federal money rather than jealously safeguarding their own constitutional and legal progress -- prerogatives. >> hi, spence beer -- [inaudible] with the daily caller. you referenced the mythical permanent majority of the republican party. of course, that disappeared. >> right. >> now we see division within the republican party, tea party segments kind of rising.
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do you think that is a permanent influence on the modern republican party now, and if so, given that is a grassroots movement is there anything in your book where you address individuals working at local levels and what they can do to further the cause? >> well, to answer your last question first, i think that the most important thing that local individuals could do is be successful in local government and successful in your local political activism and campaigns. i think establishing a track record of credible, effective government and proving that limited government is not simply about dismantling things for no reason but for actually maintaining acceptable levels of prosperity and freedom, i think that is the most important thing that can be done. in terms of sort of the federal government, i think that a big hinge that we often miss -- a big thing that we often miss --
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actually, i'm bsing you now. of i don't remember the first part of your question. can you repeat it? [laughter] >> it was do you think that the tea party --? >> oh, yes, that's right. >> -- will stick around as the major influence. >> i don't think there are any permanent defeats or victories in politics. i think how enduring the tea party will be will be how effective it is in terms of influencing the republican party and how politically effective a tea party-influenced republican party is in winning elections. i think that's a big part of it. but what i do discuss in my book is that i think that if there is no return to a somewhat more limited government, the republican party isn't going of to have much to say to the american voters. i think we've reached a point where it's even getting to be in the gop's political self-interest to advocate some retrenchment. because if there's a permanent bidding war over p spending, democrats are going to outbid them every time. and what you'll see, and i think
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you see this in some other western democracies, major center-right parties and what you see in new york city when rudy giuliani was elected, republicans will win elections only when democratic corruption and government so bad that somebody needs to come in and temporarily clean up the possess. and then once that crisis is past, a center-left or even left of that majority will reassert its prominence. >> one more question. >> going off of the entitlement rhetoric, do you believe that it's possible to change the discussion from when you said earlier i want the government to be smaller -- >> right. >> -- but i still want my entitlements that i paid into. >> right. >> do you believe there's the ability to change that basic rhetoric into the truth of you
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paid into it, but it's not yours because it's already been spent somewhere else, and, you know, that's -- >> i think -- >> it's not an investment. >> right. i think the perception that entitlements are earned in some way and that the money belongs to you is a difficult thing to combat. but what i would say is it's not really a choice between whether we're going to rein entitlement spending in some way or whether we're not. it's a question of where we're going to do it gradually and intelligently or whether we're going to wait until we actually have problems paying out the benefits, and we have to do things in a sort of drastic, sequestration-style way to deal with these problems. and i think most americans would rather or contemplate some kind of structure reforms even if they find them difficult to understand than all the ious in the trust fund someday coming due. >> okay. thank you. >> thanks very much. [applause] >> is there a nonfiction author
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or book you'd like to see featured on booktv? send us an e-mail at or tweet us at >> here's a look at some of the latest headlines surrounding the publishing industry this past week. has released its rankings of the most well-read cities in the united states, and alexandria, virginia, tops the list for the second year in a row. the company adds up amazon's total sales of books, magazines, newspapers and digital sales in u.s. cities. al alexandria was followed by knoxville, tennessee, and miami. tuesday, april 23rd, was world book night. last year it was the first year the u.s. took part. volunteers chose one book from a list of 32 titles and were given 20 copies to distribute free to the public. if you're interested in being a volunteer next year or for more
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information, visit the american library association has announced the finalists for the 2013ndrew carnegie medals for fiction and nonfiction. the finalists include the mansion of happiness: a history of life and death by jill la port. short nights of the shadow catcher by timothy egan and spillover, animal infections and the next human pandemic by david -- [inaudible] winners will be announced in chicago on june 30th, and you can watch short nights of the shadow catcher and spillover on our web site at stay up-to-date on breaking news about authors, books and publishing by liking us on facebook at, or follow us on twitter @booktv. you can also visit your -- our web site,, and click on news about books. >> this weekend on c-span before
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tonight's white house correspondents' dinner, we'll show selected dinners from the past three administrations starting saturday at 3 p.m. eastern. and then our live coverage of year's dinner starting with the red carpet arrivals at 6:15. and sunday thursday's dedication of the george w. bush presidential library and museum. >> franklin roosevelt once described the dedication of a library as an act of faith. i dedicate this library with unshakable faith in the future of our country. it's the honor of a lifetime to lead a country as brave and as noble as the united states. whatever challenges come before us, i will always believe our nation's best days lie ahead. god bless. [applause] >> sunday morning at 10:30. on c-span2's booktv this weekend, twice awarded the bronze star, donovan campbell on leading a la troop of marines in
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iraq. and on c-span2, reconsidering the insanity trial of mary todd lincoln, part of american history tv, sunday at 4. >> we're here with photographer jim wallace, author of "courage of the moment: the civil rights struggle, 1961-1964." mr. wallace, why did you select these certain photos in your book? >> these photographs were all taken when i was in chapel hill as a student working for the student newspaper, "the daily tarheel." and the civil rights movement at that time was working towards getting a public accommodations law that eventually came apart in 1964. the student newspaper supported the marchers. of we had some black students in chapel hill at that time and felt that if they couldn't eat in the same restaurants with all the rest of us, that budget
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right. and -- that wasn't right. and so all of these photographs were taken initially for either the student newspaper or for -- i served as a stringer for some of the local wire service is the and what not. today in publishing the book one of the purposes was to let some of today's generation that still live in chapel hill and are descendants from the people many these photographs know and you said what their parent -- know and understand what their parents and grandparents did so that they can enjoy the same freedoms that in some manner they take for granted often today; to be able to go into a lunch counter or wherever. >> so 1961 to 1964, and i'm guessing you can speak to the part of these, and you can recall the moment? we're looking at this one right here, a group of folks in front of a merchants' association.
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>> after having picketed for a firm of months -- for a number of months, they decided that it was time to hold some sit-ins. and rather than pick an individual merchant, this was in the summer, they picked the merchants' association which was like the chamber of commerce. that way hoping to be able to influence more. >> we're looking at another protest here, looks like it's in front of a, an old -- a convenience store, clarence's convenience store. >> actually, it's clarence's bar and grill. >> clarence's bar and grill, excuse me. >> which was one of the segregated establishments on the main street of chapel hill, franklin street. and it was right next to the trailways bus depot which was also still segregated at that time. >> talk about another generation looking at these photos and understanding what was happening
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in chapel hill in '61-'64. did you stay in touch with the folks of the moment? >> um, it there was a long time when i was working here in washington with. i was at the smithsonian for 29 years, and it wasn't until after i retired that we put these photographs together, and together with paul who wrote the text, we did the book. >> one more photo. to the right here is a gentleman wearing a sign, "i'm running for governor of alabama." >> taken on constitution avenue during the march on washington when the crowd that had amassed at the washington monument was walking up to the lincoln memorial to hear dr. king's speech and the speeches by others. >> we're speaking with jim wallace, photographer, and he has put together this book, "courage of the moment: the
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civil rights struggle, 1961-1964." thanks so much. >> thank you. >> she marries at the age of 16 d helps teach her husband to be a better reader and writer. of during the civil war, she sneaks supplies to the unionists in the tennessee mountain, but by the time her husband assumes the presidency, she's in poor health. meet eliza johnson, wife of the 17th president, andrew johnson, as we continue our series on first ladies with your questions and comments by phone, facebook and twitter monday night live at 9 eastern on c-span and c-span3. also on c-span radio and ..


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