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tv   Sen. Michael Bennet The Land of Flickering Lights  CSPAN  September 29, 2019 10:50am-12:01pm EDT

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thank you all for being here. >> booktv continues now on c-span2, television for serious readers. [applause] >> all right. welcome everybody to today's commonwealth club meeting. my name scott shafer, , senior editor for politics and government at kqed. i'm pleased to be a moderator. joining us today is u.s. senator and democratic presidential candidate michael bennett senator bennet as represented colorado in the u.s. senate since 2009. 2009. before that he served as superintendent of public schools in denver where he worked to improve accessibility and quality of education in urban
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schools. he's also the author of a new book, a good what i might add, that's called "the land of flickering lights." we will talk about the book. it unfolds the baxter, some of the hyper partisan conflicts in congress today, calling washington out on its dysfunction. senator bennet said he he's rug for president to restore integrity into the government. were excited to have her with us. please welcome senator michael bennet. >> thank you. [applause] well, we will talk about the book and obviously want to talk about congress and the campaign, but you were born in 1964 in new delhi, india,. >> that's true. >> how did speed is as a second look at the very helpful origin story when you're running for senate in the state of colorado. >> but it worked. you were appointed. tells the circumstances. >> i was there because my parents were there, for
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convenience. [laughing] >> that make sense. >> they were working for embassy. there's a guy named chester bowles to some of you may remember our ambassador to india and they were there in service of jfk's view that the united states had an important role to play in trying to make a difference in countries like india. so that's why we were there. >> how long were you there? >> i was there for 18 months and came back. >> didn't have a big impact. have you been back? >> i have been back. it's nice to be there now because when i get introduced as the only send in history of america to be born in holy family hospital in new delhi, and that gives you a big round of applause in india. [laughing] >> we were chatting before we came out that your mom was born in poland. >> my dad was born in poland also. they fled. >> how did those family story to think affect the way you look at
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why you look at the world? >> usually. my mom and her parents were polish jews, survived the holocaust. they did delete poland because my grandfather did want to leave his family behind. in the end everybody was killed except the three of them and and and. they lived in warsaw for a couple of years after the work and then went to stockholm, sweden, for your and went to mexico city of all places and then they got to new york where my mom registered herself in school, and she was only one and family who could speak in english and he started the business again. but in the second grade that asked us to line up in order of whose family had been in the country the longest and use them have been in the country the shortest or to time, and i was the answer to both questions. my dads family could trace its with all the way back to the mayflower and my moms family was by far the one that was closest in time. i think that's made huge impact on me. my grandparents were the most
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committed american citizens that i've ever known. there was a great, great sadness that they felt about what it happened to them, but their sheer joy of being americans something i can't express. they were just so grateful to be part of this democracy and part of this pluralist society that we live in, and i would say they gave back as much as they got but it was the way america is supposed to work. >> i'm curious just because of your moms side of the family history, , what you make up trump's comments, i think it was this week, might it and lastly, you things happen so quickly, if the democrats who -- juice about democratic are disloyal to israel. >> he knows what he's doing. he knows that that's a centuries old trope about whether or not jews are loyal to the country in which they live and i think it's
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particularly horrific when it comes to our country because our country really is supposed to be come sort and my grandparents believe this about our country, supposed to be a place where we embrace realism. the sectarian strife, much of it religious, and this was very much in the minds of the founders when they were writing the constitution, the sectarian strife that other nations have contended with for centuries isn't supposed to happen here and you're not supposed to call it people's loyalties here. we're all americans. he knows exactly what he's doing. doing. it's amazing thing for a guy who apparently has never read a book, including the one that he wrote -- [laughing] he does at this pretty natural sense, the reactionary autocrats playbook. this is the kind of thing that you would hear somebody in the right-wing government in poland
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say, you know, , the place where your father and my mother came from. in the last thing we need to do is import that brand of politics here. very unusual for an american president to acquire power by dividing the american people in the way that donald trump did but that's exactly how he did it and that's the playbook, that's how he's trying to hold onto power no. >> does it surprise you, it's a price of me sometimes, that he is made so little effort to reach out to anybody that didn't vote for him. it's really just about -- he rarely goes to states he didn't win. it seems like would be relatively easy to maybe just make those overtures. >> now you know what it's like to live in a place like turkey, if erdogan is your president. who believes that he owes nothing to anybody who didn't vote for him. and all he owes his allegiance to other people who voted for him, and donald trump sees it exactly the same way. by the way, my view is that if
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i'm fortunate enough to be elected president, my expectation is ongoing to spend as much time at places where i will never win more than 30% of the vote than in the places where i have 170% of the vote because it's a critical way for a president to begin to try to stitch this country back together again. it's the opposite way trump has thought about. >> it sounds like you did a bit of that when you ran moratti got appointed senator, you went to the parts of colorado that were not the deep blue parts to listen. what did you find out? you didn't run for office. you with that accidental senator as the republicans called you. you were appointed by the governor when ken salazar was appointed interior secretary. >> the accidental senator is what they called me to hurt my feelings, but i had been an urban school supported for almost five years though i had no feelings left. [laughing] they had been beaten out of me a long, long time ago. they didn't know that but it was
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an accurate statement. it was very accidental, and i have spent my whole ten years in rural parts of colorado and read parts of colorado part of because i'm on the agricultural it is my responsibility as a senator that represents the state that is at the republican, a third democratic and a third independent to represent everybody whether the voter for me or not, , whether they agreed with me or not. i feel obligated as result of that to go to places where we have disagreements like on the affordable care act while we're passing that i was in the reddest parts of colorado having townhall after townhall saying this is why i'm voting for. not saying you should agree with me or not saying i hope you'll agree with me but it's been fascinating. it's funny because in some of those places where people think i'm going to be a bolshevik or socialist when i shall, at least that's they're saying to themselves, at the end of the
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duties the oven safe what are you reading? i'd like to know what you're reading. sometimes the meetings are better come when i go to boulder, f i have discipline rachel maddow that week that is very tough conversation to have. sometimes even tougher and then the router parts where the think i'm a socialist. >> as you said you were superintendent of in denver when you were some surprisingly appointed. there was some figured the governor who would appoint someone who would win an election. >> imagine that. >> education, schools teach civics and history and all these things and you end up in the u.s. senate. how surprised were you by what you found there? >> i was shocked. i was a close read of the newspaper, another part of my origin story that's not great for politics, i grew up in washington, d.c. my father had worked on capitol hill for years and in various democratic administrations of one kind or another.
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so i think it's a to say i actually knew more about what our government work than your average person does come just because of that. and i was shocked at the level of dysfunction of the level of pathology at the number of sociopaths that occupy our national legislature. i really was. .. the inequality we have rather than liberating people from it. we made a lot of changes in denver, some good, some not as effective but every single day whether we were agreeing or disagreeing, people were actually trying to do what they could do. including the kids themselves.
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i got to washington and people just waste each other's time. >> is a bipartisan criticism. >> it is a bipartisan criticism. particularly in the book haul off on the so-called freedom carcass and the tea party who served into congress in 2010 and 2014 and ever since has immobilized ourselves exercise in government. these guys have acted like pirates who believe they have a monopoly on wisdom and we have to rescue our government back from these people. no matter who you are or whether republican or democrat if you believe in the exercise and self-government we have to overcome these people. they are immune to compromise. they need to be beaten they need to be closed over and it's going to be really hard work for us to do it it's not just to be one presidential election. it's gotten a lot harder because of fox news. >> the book makes it clear i think that trump is not the
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cause of all these things. he described five different episodes you focus on, for which are negative, one of which more positive. trying to work on immigration solution but you describe in dc as a place that's hyper- partisan that people can't work across the aisle anymore. is that message that you are talking about on the campaign trail, are you listening? is that what democrats want to hear we need to have more cooperation? >> not all democrats want to hear that. i really believe strongly that we can't accept mitch mcconnell and the freedom carcass diminished view of our institutions and what the purpose of self-government is. we could accept it and there are democrats in the race for president who do accept it but i think where it will lead us as a one-way ratchet down into complete dysfunction." the cities in the book on this
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subject. it's not like we haven't seen this movie before. when we go back to what he was writing at the end of the roman empire it's the same stuff these guys went to and it describes it as the parties losing such faith in their own capabilities that they had nothing left but to destroy each other. that's kind of essentially where we are. i think the reason why this is so important, limited in terms come on the campaign trail people say to me all the time, michael, we need to act urgently on climate change. i agree with that. we have to act urgently. we should ask ourselves, how it is we have a climate denier in the white house and we should ask ourselves what we are going to do to make sure that never happens again. it's important to ask ourselves that because the climate denier beat us but i'm going to put to one side but in addition to acting urgently, we also have
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to create a durable solution. you can't accept the way politics works in washington and create a durable solution on climate because you can't climate two years at a time. you can accept the politics where you put in a set of policies during four years of the obama administration and the other guys come in and rip it out and four years later or two years later you put it back in and they rip it out. i don't think that's any way to regulate the banking system or support education but we certainly can't deal with climate that way and that's why as a definitional matter you cannot accept the current political alignment in america and we are going to have to build a coalition of americans outside of washington to overcome a broken washington. that's what we have to do. that sounds really hard, and it is really hard but there are no shortcuts in democracy. this is why the debate about getting rid of the filibuster, not in particular interest to
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me because the real question is, can you win states like colorado, iowa, arizona because if you can't, you're not going to be able to make the kinds of changes we need to be able to make. >> the democrats are putting forth a lot of ideas on climate change and the one that's gotten the most attention for better or worse is the green new deal or as nancy pelosi calls it the green new dream. not so much anymore she's buried the hatchet with aoc a little bit. scientists will say that the longer you wait the tougher the solutions will be if you deal with this. where you come down? what should congress be doing that's acceptable that's doable? >> first of all, i believe we should not ever compromise with the science. ever. that's why i actually support the findings of the green new deal that say we've got to get to net zero carbon by 2050 and there are a bunch of other things in the findings i agree
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with. but i think another approach to the policy is going to be more likely to be successful for the reasons that i said earlier, if you come out to colorado and have a conversation with people and say, my climate plan, by the way, we have to act urgently. in my plan is that we will retrofit every building in america the next 10 years and give everybody a paid vacation and we are going to give everybody a paid job in bernie sanders healthcare plan pretty soon people are going to say that doesn't sound like the climate plan to me that sounds like something else. and by the way, one of the things that drives me nuts about that is, the one thing they left off the list was a high quality public school for every kid in america. why are they always left behind? why are they always left behind? they are invisible to us. the kids in these urban school districts. they are invisible to the progressive in this country. so what i believe is that the tragedy of the last election is that we lost the election to a climate denier. it should be disqualifying for
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the white house if you deny the climate change in real. it should be disqualifying on moral terms but it should be disqualifying on political terms. because the majority of americans believe the climate change is real in the majority of americans believe we need to do something to fix it. the argument we lost trump which is is just disgrace we should never lost it was on economics. if we deal with climate change is going to be an economic catastrophe for america when the reverse is true of course. if we don't deal with climate, it will be an economic catastrophe for america. that's an argument we cannot lose again. >> and the failure of democrats. people resonate with it. >> there's this agonizing description of the book about the keystone pipeline votes. this is the thing where i voted in a way that would not
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consistent with the environmental community's view with whom i have a very strong relationship. we moved to colorado because my wife was the regional director of earth justice. she was the rocky mount region. they do a great job and i had to crawl into bed every night so i need to be right on these issues. but what disturbed me about it. >> and you voted for the keystone pipeline. >> it was fun because we been through it and what disturbed me is it galvanized our base but didn't bring anybody else to the table. somebody else once said to me, what would michael have said pee dee who gets to pick the symbols? the movement or the politicians? i think that's a very legitimate question. my answer is probably a little bit of both. then the question from this friend of mine in colorado who was very disappointed in me on this but had agreed keystone
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was a symbol not more than a symbol. what would michael have said about lunch counters in the civil rights movement? this is all in the book. to which i said exactly that's my point because the civil rights the lunch counters brought the north into the civil rights movement it expanded the movement and built it in a way that could overcome people who thought they would never be able, they would never give up on segregation in this country. we need the same sort of relentlessness and approach on climate change. we've got to be building a coalition of people to change politics in washington dc so that we have an urgent and durable solution. i think i believe we can easily do that.i think the coalition is waiting for us in america to do it but you can't just expect it to be there and you can't make proposals that actually divide people when you are trying to unite people. i want to end by just to be very clear about it he cannot compromise on the science and we cannot compromise on the science. that is not the same thing as saying we shouldn't be opening to figure out how to build a durable coalition of people
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that can sustain a political outcome in this country. that's actually an honorable thing to do. i think. not a dishonorable thing to do. >> as you see in the book, you talking about segregation, civil rights, some of the big civil rights bills passed in the mid 60s could never have happened without republicans. >> what has happened to the party? not just on civil rights, which is a little more understandable but on science. >> is a perfect example. there's a chapter in the book called the corruption of inaction which is about it's really about citizens united but the way i describe the effect on our country is by using climate change. i don't want to overstate it but the republicans actually had a fairly honorable environmental tradition.
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nobody knows of teddy roosevelt honorable tradition but imagine this, richard nixon signed into law the clean air act and the clean water act and stood up the epa. ronald reagan closed the hole in the ozone layer, he was a skin cancer survivor, see using a cap and trade system basically. two george bushes went to the united nations and said we have to do something on climate. george bush the dad went to detroit michigan and said, people had think were not getting anything done on climate, forget about the white house effect.and were going to get something done on climate. my friend john mccain who was part of the gang of eight without immigration, he ran on climate change. what happened? what happened was in 2010 the supreme court decided citizens united. that led to the coke brothers and other billing errors fossil fuel people from having a completely outside role in their politics which they first set out just in that year they set out to require every member of congress is republican to sign a climate pledge that said they were going to say that climate change was real and
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humans were going to contribute to it. they went out and signed the pledge. ever since then we been living in a world where if a republican in washington looks like they're going to do something on climate the cokes have to rattle the coins in their pockets because it is chump change for them and say, really? because we can put ãbbecause of the supreme court we can put $30 million in your next primary and you'll be dead before the season starts. that has created this profound corruption of inaction in this country. the supreme court in their opinion which are used to describe as like reading a seventh graders american government paper then i decided that was insulting to americans the seventh graders. i don't say that anymore but the ignorance of that opinion where they were so focused on this idea of corruption of
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action you give me $5000, i go right to bill for you. were you give me $5000 and i write a bill that has the appearance of being written for you the court said both of those we have a right to worry about and we can limit contributions. that's why you can only give me $5000.then they said with independent expenditures by definition they are independent so we don't have to worry about it. that's why the coke brothers can give $1 billion in money to put their name on it and affect all american elections. 95 percent of the american people say there is too much money in our democracy and the billionaires control too much of it. this is one of the huge reasons why we are in the mess we are in. it's not the only reason. it was a confluence of the rise of the tea party in reaction to the election of barack obama.
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it was the coke brothers simultaneously being unleashed by the white house and unbelievably corrosive effect the particularly corrosive effect in that era of the partisan gerrymandering that happened in the house of representatives. those things pull us together in a structural toxic stew that we are still living with. so my friend joe biden said if we just get rid of ãtrash the question of trump being a symptom not the cause. if we just get rid of trump it will all of a sudden go back to normal, ignores the structural issues that exist in the democracy a layout in my book and many of the changes over the last 10 years and ignores the fact that the place is now populated by a bunch of tea party people and not by the kind of republicans who were available to pass the civil rights bill. >> we should all care about
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this. this isn't a good thing for democrats. as you pointed out, to get ãb or both of us pointed out different ways, to get real legislation on big issues that will endure over time in a pluralistic society like ours, you need more then one functioning political party. you need at least two and i would argue it would be a bad thing if we had more than that. to be able to coalesce support so that it can last longer than election. >> coming into the 2020 primary you are pretty tough on joe biden. i think it was in the first debate. were you really were critical of him and the role he played and the deal he accepted and negotiated around the budget and cementing the bush tax cuts. then in the book you reiterate that. >> in fairness to joe, i wrote the book long before i saw him on the debate stage. this was something i thought of not as a tactic but. >> the book is called the land of flickering lights.
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the reason it's called that is every time we have one of these shutdowns in the middle of the night and go to the floor and said, this place has become the land of flickering lights where the standard of success is keeping the government open for another hour or two or a month or two in the time that i've been in the senate for the last decade 40% of the days that i've been there we been on continuing resolutions which are temporary budget such as extended the dead hand of the past into the future. the thing about the deal joe cut with mcconnell it was the fiscal cliff it was a moment in time when the bush tax cuts were all expiring and when the dreaded sequester was going to go into effect, which across-the-board cuts that had been written in such a way that nobody in their right mind would ever vote for such a thing so it was meant to force good behavior. in the end what was the deal was cut was classic washington dc deal 2:00 a.m. nobody had
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read it.we all voted on it. i was one of eight senators to voted against it. it extended virtually all the bush tax cuts forever. we had run two campaigns against the bush tax cuts and they were temporary. this extended and forever taking away the democrat central economic argument going into the 2016 election and the other part of the deal was if congress doesn't come to an agreement, which of course we wouldn't in the next 90 days, the sequester would go into effect, which it did and still is. so it was a homerun for the freedom caucus and mitch mcconnell and a real defeat for democrats. >> by the way, barack obama had just been reelected. the alternative here was this was not a government shutdown. the alternative was for president obama to say, look, if you don't do a deal, we will let these things expire.
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that's $4 trillion of taxes that we could have been designed in obama tax cut around that would have reduce childhood poverty by 40%. i have a proposal to do that. could've given the middle class in this country a real tax cut instead of the tip they are given just to make it palatable to support tax cuts for the wealthiest people in america. that would've made a big difference. biden as you know is the front runner although there's a lot of questions on how strong that support is but what is what you just described? what does that say about his ability to be president of the united states. in his message that you need to work across the aisle and he knows how to do that. >> i believe, want to be clear, i believe you need to work across the aisle. i believe i need to represent all the folks i mentioned before republicans in the state of colorado, many of whom are not voting for me. i also believe we need to root out this freedom caucus and this particular group of people. >> how do you do that? >> we have to beat them and
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take a message to america to close over them and it's hard to do that in a era when people are watching fox news all day but we can't have that be an excuse. we got to show up and say and read parts of the country here's why i'm repealing donald trump's tax plan. here's why it got a plan for universal healthcare that makes it. this is what we have to do on climate. that's why i spent the last two years with farmers and ranchers all over colorado on the issue of climate because i'm trying to build a broader correlation. so with him what i'm more worried about is the idea that if you just get rid of trump it goes back to normal when the normal before that was a broken government that was not working well on behalf of certainly the children i used to work for in the denver public schools and their families. there is no shortage of work for us to do in this country. we are in the fourth or fifth now the fifth decade of an economy that has left 9/10
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americans with no wage increase were all the benefit of the economic growth is gone to the wealthiest people in the country. we got the greatest income inequality that we've had since 1928. we got an education system that's reinforcing the income inequality because the best predictor of the quality of your education is the income of your parents. there is not a shortage of stuff for us to do, which is why we have to beat these guys. >> he talked a lot about income inequality in your book and others on the campaign trail are doing that as well. some like elizabeth warren and bernie sanders, your colleagues in the senate, are calling on a big tax increase on the wealthy. you are running more as a moderate democrat. do you think that kind of a tax increase is necessary? >> i think elizabeth's proposal is unconstitutional. i don't think it would pass. >> how so? >> because it's for the reasons we had to pass an income tax through the constitution. if you want to have a wealth tax have to also pass it through the constitution.
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there are things we should certainly do. we should repeal the trump tax cut take the top rate up to what it was before he did that. instead of doing what donald trump is proposing, which is reducing the capital gains rate we should take that up to the same taxing rate that ordinary income is taxed at.that actually in our tax code is the biggest differentiator between wealthy people and everybody else in the economy and we should close the loophole. i believe we should be taxing intergenerational transfers of wealth in this country. there is massive buildup of wealth that's being passed from generation to generation tax-free it's preposterous. we are living in a second gilded age. i really believe that. i think that's where we are right now. just as the progressive movement rose in the face of that gilded age made the kind of constitutional amendments necessary to do, change the tax code, busted the trust. we have a whole bunch of work just like that that we have to
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do if we are going to unleash the productivity of the american people. there was no guarantee that we were going to have 1/20 century that where we have broad growth of the middle class. and it didn't happen by accident. it happened because the american people stood up and took action and that's what we are going to have to do as well. >> some obvious questions. it democrats to control the senate would you favor eliminating alabaster? >> i would say first of all, what we should be focused on is taking getting the majority. it's not going to be easy to do. we are talking about states like iowa and colorado and arizona in maine. we forget that part. i can assure you mitch mcconnell doesn't forget that part. until we do that, i'm not sure why we are having a debate about whether to change the filibuster because there's only one person in america who has the ability to change the filibuster right now, you know who that is?
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mitch mcconnell. he hears every single democrat, he says, change the rule, change the rule, change the rule, i guarantee you he's waiting to sustain majority in the senate and to have a majority in the house at which point he will change the rule and the fight we will have on our hands is privatizing social security with 51 votes, taking away women's rights to choose, you pick it and so rather than make the most vulnerable americans even more vulnerable to mitch mcconnell, my view is what we should be doing is going out and winning elections in this country. [applause] their record is so terrible. look at mcconnell. he can't put a background check vote on the floor? it's not because he's putting the election protection legislation on the floor. that's not going anywhere. and i don't think there's anybody in america who is alive
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who has put more debt on the ballot sheet of the country than mitch mcconnell. i believe that would be a really interesting message to carry into kentucky in an election against mitch mcconnell. did you really need to send somebody who's the biggest deficit buster ever got to washington dc. the people really care about that? >> we will see. >> politicians don't care about it. the people who really care about it they don't know they care about yet are the next generation of americans who are being completely stolen from by us. it's a disgrace. there's this argument that goes around washington deficits don't matter. it's a weird time to make it when we got republican president and republican senate and republican house pursuing a set of policies that are so fiscally hypocritical that we never seen anything like it before. you can have an academic
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argument about whether they matter or not. the reality is, we are piling debt on our children and we are therefore constraining choices they will make. at the same time, piling debt on them we are investing in them far less than our parents and grandparents invested in us. they cut domestic cutting, expanding america by 35 percent. our kids should be enraged at what we are doing to them. you want to know why kids have to spend 25 years of their life paying that college debt? because we have refused to make hard choices. to support them in the way that our parents and grandparents did for us. the easiest thing for politicians to do is say, just borrow the money and that's what we are doing nationally as well. >> and wanted to ask you about the process for running for president. you ã >> i may not be as good at it as somebody else. >> i want to ask you about that because seth moulton dropped out today, jay hensley the governor of washington dropped
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out, your friend john hick and the bird jumped out. i'm just wondering, you are right now they say on the bubble to be on the debate stage you have to get a certain number of donations. in a certain number of youth to show up two or three percent in the polls. you are not there on either one i think. is it viable for you to run for president if not on the debate? >> i think it is. i was just at the dnc and took the opportunity to say how undemocratic i thought the rules were. the reality is, it's true. i said if we want to narrow exclude people we might as well just call ourselves republicans. because that's what they spend their time doing. at this time in the race when bill clinton was running he was at one percent in the polls. john kerry was at like four percent in the polls. barack obama was yet to be 30 points behind hillary clinton.
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he didn't have that distinction until the november before the iowa caucus. these decisions are all made in the last month in iowa and new hampshire. it's not ideal but i'm probably not to be on the next debate stage but i am going to stay in there because i think if history is any guide at all, the leading candidates in this field will not be the people that are winning those early races. unless the dnc interferes in a way that takes the choice away from people that need to make the choice. i think that would be a bad mistake. the country has no idea what the national democratic party stands for. that is something we have to litigate through this process and that's why we should invite it rather than be philather tha being fearful about it. >> wouldn't you be pleased if somebody like ã >> and the last person in the world who should be giving advice to anybody about that including john hick and looper. but i will say this, it's
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critical who is at 1600 pennsylvania avenue and it's critical who's in your senate. it's not just for me about democrats it's about what is the standard that we want to hold our elected officials to? one of the conclusions if you can make it to the five chapters of despair, the left 70 pages of the book are basically the love letter to our democracy through a bunch of women's poetry and. >> you got a lot of ãwomen. there's a lot of frederick douglass in there. his july 5 speech gave it on the fifth because the 4th of july was slave trading day. in the argument i basically finally make in the book is that the founders did two incredible things. they led an armed instruction against the colonial power that was successful but had never happened before human history
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they wrote the constitution ratified by the people who would live under that constitution, that had never happened before. they perpetuated human slavery. we will be with that for all the days of our lives but when you look at somebody like frederick douglass born a slave in this country comes north and meets with the abolitionist movement and the abolitionists are saying at the time, the constitution was a proslavery document. douglas says, no can you have it exactly wrong. the constitution was an antislavery document. we are just not living up to the words of the constitution. the same thing martin luther king said the day before was assassinated in memphis which was, i'm just here to make sure that america keeps the promise that you wrote down on the page. when i think about that history, i think of frederick douglass every much as being a founder as much as the guys who wrote the constitution. because of his contribution
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just like the people who fought for my daughters to have the right to vote, which were precluded. that's what i believe is about all of us. if you asked me what it is you are responsible for, how to think about your role as a citizen is in the democratic republicans the role of a founder. our expectations of the elected officials in washington have to be similarly that high. our expectations today are very low we got a bunch people there that are bettering their own neck political nest. >> one of the compromises the founders made was they collected the ãbis that a waste of time? >> i think it certainly is outlived its usefulness. i think we will all be dead by the time that's addressed.
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so it's kind of a waste of time. i go back to my original point, let's win elections and let's put people in these offices that feel the need to be responsive to the american people rather than to the needs of special interest of the >> we are here in california where 25 years ago now there was a ballot measure prop 187 was really the beginning of the end of the republican party in california. it demonized immigrants, especially immigrants who are here illegally. we've moved past that in california to the point where people are strongly supportive dreamers and the path to citizenship. throughout the country is still very much an open question in terms of how it's framed how would you like to see whoever the democratic nominee is frame this issue of immigration
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especially when you include border security, levels of immigration who should be in the country all those things. >> first of all, there certainly is racism in this country there certainly is presidents in the country for all the reasons i was saying about slavery i don't happen to think that there was a huge latent anti-immigrant view in the country. i think mostly people in the country thought that before trumped the immigrants in the country were working hard and making a contribution to the united states. he rolled down the exploiter at trump tower and said the mexicans are rapists and they're not sending their best. every you watch that said that's insane. somebody making that argument can't possibly be, by the way, when i say everyone i mean every single republican in the united states senate much less the american people. after that you got a bunch of people on fox news spent 24 hours a day running stories
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about immigrants committing crimes in this country and that's all that was on the news on fox news for years and years. today are everlasting shame. >> what's the winning message? >> everlasting shame that the republican committee spent millions of dollars in anti-ãb the 2013 immigration bill that i helped wrote with john mccain and six other senators that had a pathway to citizenship the 11 million people here undocumented that had the most progressive dream act that have ever been passed. but had dealt with her agricultural workers. i wrote the provisions with diane feinstein and orrin hatch and marco rubio. it had 46 freaking billion dollars of border security. it was not trump's ineffective medieval lobby was 21st century border security that would allow us to literally see every single inch of the border we
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double the number of border security agents we had internal border security because 40% of the people that are here that are undocumented are people that overstayed their visas and we have no capacity as a country to know whether they've stayed or have it stated. every single democrat in the senate voted for that. a bunch of republicans voted for it too and the only reason it's not the law of the land is because of the tyranny of the freedom caucus because in the house they enforce this thing called the pastorate rule named after guy who's actually in prison to insist that unless a majority of the majority voted for it, that they were going to allow a boat to go forward. another way to say that is 40 people had the politics of this guy steve king of iowa and these are the republicans were able to stop america from doing what we wanted to do on immigration. that's where the public will is is right where i described it. what we've got is a politics it's been created by the freedom caucus and by fox that we have to know overcome.
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in trump this is all for him about holding office by demonizing the weakest people in our society. that's a well-known tactic by people who occupy the political territory that donald trump occupy. >> ãbthere were some who voted for trump or didn't bother to vote who heard the message from the democratic party and the nominee hillary clinton and thought it was so much about immigrants and people who were not the white working-class voters they thought there was nothing in it for them. how does the party without abandoning one or the other. >> don't think we have to abandon any of it. i think we should be the party for opportunity. we should be the party that if you're willing to work hard we will create an economy get to share in the benefit of that economy and your family gets to
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share in the benefit of that as well. we will support an education system that actually drives economic opportunity rather than reinforcing the inequality we have. but we got to be focused on it. have a proposal with sheriff brown called the american family act that would triple the child tax credit in america and reduce childhood poverty by 40%. it would be a great middle-class tax cut for people and it costs only three percent of what medicare for all costs. i'd rather not spend the next 10 years losing a battle to take 180 million people's insurance away taxing the middle class by $33 trillion which is bernie's plan. by the way, those aren't republican talking points those are bernie's talking points. he's honest about his plan, which others are not. i'd rather take three percent of that and reduce childhood poverty by four percent and see if we can't give an american generation coming after us a fighting chance to succeed. if we are standing for that kind of stuff is a party we
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will win. we've got to stay focused on the economy, it's important. >> here's an audience question. i work for your father at the state department, what do ã >> sorry. [laughter] just kidding. >> she said he was a good guy. >> he was, he passed away this year and i miss him a lot. the thing that i learned about learned from him more than anything else was that public service was a noble calling. we all have a responsibility to this democracy. that's what he believed. that's what animated everything he did. >> another question here, what's wrong with today's political climate that prevents you from being an obvious front writer to being our next president? >> we are living in a transition moment in the economy and i wrestled, rustled the book and i wrestle since i wrote the book with the effect of social media on our democracy. it is an obvious to me that social media couldn't have been real positive that it couldn't
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be used to democratize our country and empower people in this country. so far from a political point of view that's not what it's done. it's been a corrosive disaster for the democracy and it's created a celebrity that i think is deeply unhelpful to making policy situations for the next generation of americans and i've got to figure out a way for my own purposes and his candidacy to contend with that and deal with that as a country we have to figure this out and put out a book called the book dividing america ã >> how do you have time to write all these books? >> this one is a collection of the russian propaganda that was delivered all over the social media platforms that facebook claim was ãwasn't even there.
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you can hear the anger in my voice because the lack of responsibility and these guys was unbelievably profound. among other things will find an ad they put up there on facebook for nascar jesus which the nascar emblem jesus christ in front of it holding a semi automatic weapon and a can of mountain dew in the other hand. it's a kind of thing that president trump won't even admit happened to us and we got this bipartisan legislation which we are trying to get to the floor the mcconnell will not allow us to put on the floor. my point is, i have to figure out how to contend with it but i think all of us need to figure out how to contend with it. i write in the book that i take it as a duty and responsibility as an elected official in this country to take in the vitriol that comes through my facebook page. and i don't complain about it. i doubt very much that we will solve the next generations
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problems along the lines of the way that conversation is happening. the argument of this book is we are much better when we are face-to-face having a conversation in this democracy. the founders, to go back to them for a second, they had no expectation that we would agree with each other. it was the reverse. their view was that in a free society such as it was because it wasn't free for everybody. and what they called a republic that marred the great virtues of being and one was that you got to have your own opinion. which meant that not but we would agree with each other but that we would profoundly disagree with each other. what they believed as enlightenment thinkers is out of those disagreements we would fashion more durable and more imaginative solutions than any king or tyrant could come up with on their own. that's why our system is designed the way it is. that's what the senate is
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about, that's what the house is about, that's what the independent judiciary is about. that's what it's about. we have completely lost our ability to do that in our national politics. completely lost it. it's not what the cable-television discussion is about, which every night three hours a night asks no sacrifice of everybody in america except for the three hours you spent watching it, but it's an endless partisan loop that just runs over and over and over promising no progress and actually asking for no progress. the social media stuff is a reverberation of that, which means today in washington there are like 11 or 12 million people who watch that stuff and deal with social media, deal with their politics through twitter who are really well represented in washington their equities are deeply represented in dc and the dysfunction of dc. my worry is with the 320 million americans who are just
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trying to raise their family just trying to build a small business just trying to do something right in their community and to have an expectation that people that have the privilege to be in a job like my job are actually doing that job. today they are not.>> what sacrifice would you like to see americans make?what are you asking americans to sacrifice if you're doing that at all out on the campaign trail? >> i think i'm a fiscal stuff we talked about earlier we are at a point in this country we are spending collecting 16 percent of our gdp and revenue and we are spending 22 percent. that's not sustainable. we created this massive deficit and much of it is trump. since 2001 we've had cut taxes by $5 trillion, the right way of saying that is, we borrowed $5 trillion from the chinese for the privilege of cutting taxes for rich people in
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america. we have borrowed $5.6 trillion from the chinese to fight wars in the middle east. i think we need to stop doing that and part of what we have to do is start paying our own way and that's going to require some. >> besides raising the tax rate on the wealthy, what you asking average americans to sacrifice? what would that look like? >> i think we need to invest in education again this country. everybody's got to pay for that. we all have to pay for that. we are running our system of education, 80% or 90% of what we spend if you're in a good district is spent on teacher salaries. the whole system of the way we pay teachers was designed when we had the labor market that discriminated against women and said you got two professional choices, one is to be a teacher and what is to be a nurse. if you will be a nurse, you can come teach julius caesar every
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year for 30 years of your life in the san francisco public schools. i will pay you this ridiculously low wage that no one else in your college class would ever accept for their labor but if you stick with us for 30 years we will give you a pension that will allow you to retire because your spouse has died and that will sound pretty good. that package makes sense 50 years ago it makes no sense today and in order to pay for what our teachers are actually work we all have to pay more to do that. we just have to do it. lexi talked about social media. there seems to be something of a bipartisan consensus might be too strong of a word. support for more regulation of ãbelizabeth warren is calling for for breaking up big tech. everyday gotten too big? >> i think it's very worrisome. i wouldn't say what elizabeth says said because every single one of these companies is
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different but i do believe that the department of justice should open an investigation of all of them an antitrust investigation and there is good reason why. if you look at even before you get by the way to the russians in even before you get to the corrosive role that these platforms are playing extending white nationalists and white supremacy stuff devoured our democracy, which they don't have to do, if they are not the government there's not a first amendment issue here. but if you look at the prophets of publicly traded companies in this country their profits on invested capital throughout our history you see four lines. these are the most profitable, this is the audiovisual portion. [laughter] for history all those lines have gone like that. it makes perfect sense because if all the sudden you start to
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earn a higher profit, somebody else comes and competes that profit down this way capitalism is supposed to work. since 1995 here's what the lines look like. up until 1995 that's what they look like, in a 1995 that's what they look like. this profit is all the big tech companies in the pharmaceutical companies in america and to me that suggests that there is no way to compete down the prophets that they are earning some of the difficult challenge and the other challenge is, antitrust law typically we asked the question about harm to the consumer i think in the world today that's probably not a broad enough definition. we probably need to look at something that's a lot broader than that to consider the effect of scott galloway has said about amazon, company never expected to earn a profit but still with the market cap they have able to buy a grocery
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store chain, whole foods, the eighth largest grocery store chain in the country and everybody else's market cap drops 20% in the grocery industry. and the people in the industry have to make a profit. not much of one, it's like two percent. so i think people are concerned about it from antitrust perspective. i think the bipartisan concern that arises from seeing the damage being done to our public conversation on these social media platforms. >> and their role for government there? >> what i would love to see would be for them to take action themselves but i think if they are unwilling to do it, i think there is a role for government there. >> this morning at the dnc nancy pelosi spoke. >> he can't turn on your tv and watch somebody cut someone else's have off you can turn on any of these log on to any of this stuff and your kids can watch somebody chopping summaries head off. they should be able to do that.
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>> pelosi this morning at the dnc said that trump is not taking the russian effort to undermine the election seriously and that that's a violation of the constitution. he is violating. where do you stand on the whole idea of whether or not he should be impeached? whether there should be an impeachment inquiry. some say there's an election, let's settle it that way, others say congress needs to have an oversight function. >> she probably meant that he is violating his oath of office and verify ãbthink she's right about that. this is one of the list and got a list of 10,000 things where i say to myself, if barack obama had done that, he'd be going. and just in the last week, saying i'm king of israel, barack obama would be gone, i'm buying greenland, barack obama would be gone. seriously. he got in trouble for wearing a tan suit. you're disrespecting america.
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this guy can't bring himself when he standing next to vladimir putin and helsinki to say, i believe my intelligence agencies, not you former head of the kgb. that's our president. the guy is a menace. he is an absolute menace. but i believe that the way he is going to no longer be there is that we are going to beat him. i believe it. that is what we have to do we can't take that for granted. i have no trouble with her being impeachment inquiry in the house. i believe he's can it committed impeachable offenses of what i have a problem with his people who say, just do your duty it doesn't matter whether he benefits from it or not. i think that's a terrible mistake. we have a moral sensibility and i would say, democratic, small d democratic responsibility for
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this person to be a one term president in this country and that's what publishes the end however it is whatever it is we need to do to do that that's what we need to do. >> ãbdoesn't it give the next president down the road ã >> it does. our government is broken right now. we are sending bad presidents every day. there is a story in the book that's one of the saddest stories i know which is about what's happened to the judges over the last 10 years. that is a story of mitch mcconnell being relentlessly strategic about what he's doing. power not ãbour not being strategic. but in the middle of that is something that even i can't chalk up to strategy can only chalk it up to malevolence is what he did with mary garland.
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if that's where we are going to be, maybe there's no time to read. i don't know if there's time to read. >> five minutes. >> i will read you one minute. i will read you one minute. i wasn't planning on reading this but i will. just to show you because there's a tendency to think that we never been here before and a tendency to think that what we do isn't that important. the founders read the cities they knew that once facts and severed the bonds of trust in bodies in laws and traditions once every disk disagreement becomes irreconcilable and we pursue the good of our party with complete disregard for the good of our country, when we treat politics as a tribal war destroying the obligations of elected officials and leaders we lose the ability to to do anything worthy of our rules. we lose the ability to reason and even converse.
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ãb reckless audacity came he considered the courage of a loyal ally. prudent hesitation specious cowardice.moderation was held to be cloak from manliness. once we consider our fellow citizens to be enemies we invite the endless cycle of blame escalation and retaliation that can destroy republican government. this mentality is damaged our ability to do anything of consequence including tackling our debt and dealing with immigration. this is why i say, my fellow citizens, we cannot follow mitch mcconnell down into this one-way ratchet of destroying our institutions because the destruction of those institutions is tantamount to
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destroying this exercise in self-government. >> the book has a fairly dystopian view of government right now. what gives you hope? either you been out there running for president i felt completely in line with our democracy ready. completely in love with the idea of what it means to to the humanity for the united states of america to pursue how perfectly we pursued this exercise in pluralism and this exercise in self-government and to go back to your dab into my
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mom, this is something that generations and generations and generations of dispossessed and powerless people all around the world have counted on and in a moment when china is rising the way china is rising and exporting its surveillance state throughout the planet we have an important role to play as americans we are not going to be able to do that if we are at each other's throats over empty partisan stuff. as lincoln said, in much harder times and we are going through right now, incomparably hard, as he reminded us over and over again, we must be friends we cannot be enemies. that's what it means to be.
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>> here's a look at some authors who have appeared recently on book tvs "after words"'s, our weekly author interview program that includes best-selling nonfiction books and guest interviewers. last week author and political columnist michelle malkin offered her thoughts on big business and u.s. immigration policy.coming up, washington times national security columnist bill gertz will discuss china's efforts to become a global military and economic superpower. in this weekend on "after words" author and journalist paul toft offers his opinions on the practicality of higher education. >> this was 100 years ago we thought 12th grade is probably what you need to deal with the technology of 1920. now we have technology that's
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100 years advanced. we are still debating about whether 1/12 grade education is enough. it's obvious and not enough. now, unlike our predecessors who were able to respond to that basic and economic science. we are fighting the entertaining into questions of identity and snobbery and politics and partisanship. when clearly there's just a sign that our young people need our support and need our help and need more education and credentials and skills in order to survive in the current economy. a century ago we heard those signs and responded in a rational and collective fashion. now we are hearing it and responding in an irrational and selfish fashion. >> "after words" airs saturdays
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at 10:00 p.m. and sundays at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on booktv on c-span2. all previous "after words" are available as podcasts and to watch online at >> david horowitz appeared on eric ãradio program to talk about his audio biography. here's a portion of his interview. >> there's a scene in radical son which i see the two volumes in my autobiography, when i'm in a bookstore and it's after this happened and it's a berkeley bookstore it was called mohs is driving. all these books, i see the people are in the science fiction come into this and that, the whole world, which completely outside my world that marxism was the key to it
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all. my books, they're probably 10,000 books in the bookstore of my books the important ones. when i realized, it was just another story and it was a completely false one as it turned out, i said, the room went black it was like being in a desert completely flat and no landscape. i realized i was nothing. >> what do you mean? you are in a bookstore in the 70s in berkeley and you say you realize ãbi realized that marxism was a false idea false set of ideas.there still people, millions who live off these really bad and stupid ideas. >> you are suggesting ã
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>> the story made me important i had to face my own mortality and nothingness. that was a difficult as a thing you could possibly have to do. it seems like you are suggesting that you are going along for a ride and at some point you woke up and realized, i was going in the wrong
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direction. >> to watch the rest of the program and find other appearances by david horowitz visit our website type his name in the search box at the top of the page. >> next up on booktv's "after words" author and political columnist michelle malkin offers her thoughts on u.s. immigration policy she's interviewed by republican congressman chip roy of texas. "after words" is a weekly interview program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest work. >> great to be with you michelle. i would love to get ready to talk about your book. the first part of your


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