tv Sen. Sherrod Brown on Pensions CSPAN April 14, 2018 3:31am-4:32am EDT
festivals. and the american history tv weekly newsletter gives you the upcoming programming exploring our nation's past. visit c-span.org/connect and sign up today. now the ohio senator talks about the need for bipartisan congressional action to guarantee the future solvency of pension plans. this event is one hour. >> so we have invited senator brown here today to speak about the pending pension crisis in the united states. right now the pension plans have roughly 1b.5 million workers nationwide are facing short falls and at risk of insolvency. it poses a risk to the pension benefit guarantee corporations which ensures the pensions of 40 million americans. senator brown has been focussed on this issue and worked with colleagues to help address this
crisis within the spending bill that congress approved earlier this year. that bill established the joint select committee on solvency of multiemployer pension plans. that's a 16-member panel made up of eight senators and eight house members divided equally between both parties. they are tasked with finding a solution by november 30th. and they held the first of five meetings last month. today senator brown will be discussing this issue and the committee he's co-leading with u.s. senator oren hatch of utah. he'll talk about what's at stake if congress did nothing. he's represented ohio in the u.s. senate focusing much of his focus on american manufacturing and fair trade. he's the ranking member of the banking committee and was the first in 40 years to serve on
the agriculture committee. he was a u.s. representative for the 13th district of ohio. he's also served as a member of his state legislature and secretary of state in ohio. please join me in welcoming senator sherrod brown. >> i can tell who the journalists are because they never stand up for me. i appreciate that. thank you. for should you. i appreciate that. andrea, thank you for the introduction and your good work. had a wonderful conversation about her first years in journalism when she started -- can i say that -- working for the prague czech republic post. thank you for the work you do for the press club. thank you to jamie. i knew him from his days at
miami university. he grow up in ohio west of akron. went to copley schools. his mother still lives in summit county. thank you for the work you do as journalists. it's always an honor to talk in front of journalists. you're so important to our democracy. you're importance is even greater these days than any time in recent american history. your job, of course, is to ask tough questions, to challenge powerful interests, to expose wrong doing. that comes with risks, as you know as journalists. two often we see reporters vilified and attacked. even physically threatened all for doing your jobs. that used to happen too often in foreign countries. unfortunately and amazingly, it's happening too often now in our own country. of course, i have a soft spot for journalists because i'm married to one. she inspires me in her writing,
in her teaching. she teaches at kent state. she writes for creator syndicate. she wrote for sabrina's paper and used to work in the same bureau 20 plus years ago. i want to thank the wait staff here. proud members of local 25. thank you for the work you do. we have a lot of work to do in this country to ensure that all workers that all workers have seats at the table and voices in the workplace. i would like to tell a brief story about -- to show why unions matter so much to me and why i think they're so important to the country, and i was in a labor federation meeting in cincinnati not too many years ago. there was a table like this and it was a much bigger group, maybe 300 people. there was one table where there were all middle-aged women sitting. someone said they're custodians and signed their first union contract earlier that day. 1200 member bargaining unit.
they signed a contract with a downtown cincinnati business building owners. so there was one seat at the table. i sat down and started talking to them. they were to excited because they signed the contract. this was a bargaining unit. signed the contract that day. i said what does it mean to have a union. the woman sitting next to me said i'm 51. this is the first time in my life i'll ever have a paid one week vacation. they're represented here, the unions, the machinists, they're far beyond that one-week vacation for that and personal leave days and paternity leave in some cases and all the things that unions fight for. it's important to remember a huge number of people in this country don't get days off for a sick child or their own illness. have to go to work sick and what that means. and it's why i know so many people in this room who are not
journalists, and i'm proud to be joined by president robertson and my friend mike walden. and also my friend dave dilly from -- mike is from northeast ohio. dave is from east central ohio. and the work that he has done with the mine workers is so important. teamster vice president john murphy is here as well. thanks to norm skinner and phil smith. other mine workers in this audience, i'm so appreciative of the work you've done. if to some of us these guys look familiar, the teamsters and mine workers, it's because they spent the last couple of years traveling back and forth from ohio or wherever some of them live to washington fighting for their retirement that they earned. if you cover congress on a regular basis, you've seen dozens of the black and yellow teamster shirts that mike has
on. at times it seems like a week doesn't go by without seeing the trademark camo trademarks of the shirts around the capital. thank you for wearing that today. i appreciate that. many of you as journalists have helped to tell the mine workers and teamsters and other trade unionists part of this fight to tell their stories. good journalism and good politics are often about telling just simply the stories about people who have no other voice. these folks have come to washington by the bus load demanding their government live up to our promises and that their government work for them. we're not talking about wealthy people with a lot of money to throw around. most of the trade unionists and the retired people who have come to washington couldn't afford plane tickets back and forth. they car pool and ride all night in buses. some ride on a bus and after they've walked the halls all day, turn around and go back on
a with us and arrive in ohio in the early morning hours. they stood for hours in the d.c. summer heat and waited in line for the bitter cold just to get through security in some of the buildings. they represent a million and a half workers and retired people. they come from everywhere in our country. they're all at risk of losing their retirement if congress doesn't act. earned over a lifetime of work. that's so important to remember. their advocacy has brought us to where we are today. we would not be here if they had not been walking the halls of congress reminding congress of the work we should be doing for them and for their fellow men and women in the labor movement. during the budget negotiations at the beginning of the year, i brought together a group of senators. we made it clear to leaders in congress in a we had to have a solution for workers and their families. if we couldn't pass something immediately which we wanted to do, the so-called butch lewis act, if we couldn't get that
done, we just couldn't get the bipartisan support at that point for that bill. we pressed for a bipartisan committee to negotiate something that could pass both houses of congress. that's why in february congress created what was called the joint select committee on the solvency of multiemployer pension plans as part of the bipartisan budget deal. i'm co-chairing that committee along with my friend senator hatch of utah. we have a very good working relationship. we really do. i know that will surprise some of you. but it will benefit the work of this committee, because we've been working together on a variety of issues when we can agree over the years and we've begun to meet regularly as with my office and his staff. we're required, 6 member -- 126 members -- 16 members, four democrats and four republicans from each house. we're required to report a solution out by law by the end
of the year. we've been given extraordinary powers in the committee. it's unlike any other committee i've ever been part of in the congress. as i said, we need five votes from each party to pass it. it will then go directly to the senate floor. no amendments. it goes to the senate and house floor for an up or down vote assuming we get the votes on the committee, i think you can make the assumption we'll pass it in the house and senate. we'll hold a series of public hearings. we expect at least one of the hearings to be outside washington because not everyone can take time off work or time away from caring for a loved one and get on a bus to washington. this will give people a chance in at least one public hearing outside of washington to make their voices heard. before you roll your eyes and think this is just another congressional super committee,
let me tell you why i'm on the mix mystic it will work. we held our first formal hearing last month. if you were covering it, you saw how serious members were on both sides of the aisle. both parties, both houses about working to solve the crisis. republicans along with folks leading this effort in the house. support goes beyond just the committee members. our first formal meeting was last month. my staff and i have been meeting with other offices wefor nearly year. senators from wisconsin, different political ideologies, both want to be very helpful on this bill. joe from indiana. marcy from ohio. democrat who just set the record for the longest serving woman in
congressional history. we have the support from groups as diverse as the chamber of commerce and the aarp. large corporations and small businesses are standing shoulder to shoulder with unions. all pushing for a solution. because this crisis demands it, it threatens small businesses, workers, republicans and democrats and independents and people that don't both tore vote. the larger of the plans is the central states teamsters. there are 50,000 participants in that plan in my state of ohio. there are 32,000 of them in missouri. 25,000 in texas. 20,000 in florida. 16,000 in tennessee. 13,000 in georgia. 10,000 in iowa. it's broad and deep. and members of congress, my hope is and i believe, members of congress will understand that and be involved as a result. that's just one plan. that's just the central states plan. there are more than 100 plans on
the brink of failure with at least -- with members in every single state in the country putting the economic vitality of our economy in risk. there's not a law enforcement whose constituents are not affected in some way. this crisis threatens thousands of workers. that's what most of the talk has been about. it also threatens businesses in the states of the majority and minority leaders in both chambers. it's why we're able to secure the creation of this committee. the idea that was unorthodox to make congress get serious about this, because the people we serve demanded it of our leaders. the way democracy is supposed to work. it's why we'll be successful. because people like dave and mike and others and fellow workers and retirees from across the country will show they continue to come here and demand we do something. they'll continue getting on the buses and standing in the d.c. summer heat to hold their government accountable. a local teamsters retiree and
local 377 told me we did our part and now it's time for members of congress to cross party lines and do theirs. i believe we will. the question is how did we get here? how is this situation the way it is? well, multiemployer pension plans are retirement plans that cover workers and their families in specific industries. they're jointly run by employers and by labor unions. these types of plans, companies join together to pool the resources and lower costs. many are small family run businesses that simply can't afford to offer retirement security standing by themselves for the workers but they want to do it but they can't afford to set up a pension plan on their own. often it's in construction and trades where workers change employers frequently and need a portable pension solution. by joining with other businesses, companies thought they were guaranteeing their workers a secure commitment which they've done over the
years because experienced trustees were supposed to manage the investment. many of you sat around the bargaining table at some point. what workers at the bargaining table, what washington doesn't always understand in one of my jobs is to teach my fellow senators and house members this, is that workers sit at the bargaining table over the last 20, 30, 40 years, they give up money they'd like today for their families but they give it up so they'll have retirement security in the future in the pension. too many of my colleagues don't understand that. now these pensioners who have -- who gave up that money 30 years ago, whether they're mine workers or teamsters or other workers, they are at risk of not seeing that money because many of these plans are running out of funds. we know that. it's not just retirees who will feel the pain. small businesses are at risk of collapsing if they end up on the hook for pension liability that they can't afford to pay. current workers are paying into
and counting on the pensions too. they've already made real sacrifices as their older brothers and sisters have at the bargaining table. each plan is different. there are many factors that played a role in getting them to this place. these are the same industries that have been infected by decades of bad trade deals and outsourcing of jobs and shifts in the american economy. there's no question the economic collapse of a decade ago brought on by wall street greed, devastated the plans and the people and the businesses who depend on them. even the coal miner's pension, an industry that's been badly hurt over the past few decades, was nearly 90% funded before the financial crisis. so it surely is not their fault. if these plans fail, they take thousands of businesses and jobs with them. and the government insurance plan, the pension benefit guarantee corporation, is supposed to step in under federal law. here's the problem.
that insurance program is already on the brink of failure. it's $67 billion in the red. it has 2 billion in assets. so the moment the first pension plan fails, the pension benefit guarantee corporation also fails. it will be up to congress then to step up to allow the entire multiemployer pension system to fail. eviscerating the retirement of 10 million american workers and retirees, forcing american businesses to lay off workers and close their doors. as dysfunctional as washington is, i don't see congress allowing that type of devastation without stepping in. do we do it now or wait until that happens? the question is if we wait for that to happen, think what happens to our country. one way or another, we'll do something, and that's the purpose of this committee to do it sooner rather than later. the problem gets worse and more and more expensive the longer we
wait. to folks in ohio, where mike and dave are from, it sounds cut and dry. it is. congress must act before the end of the year. congress already tried skirting this responsibility once. and it didn't work. three years ago in the dead of night without a single public hearing or even a bill introduced, a new policy was slipped in the omnibus bill. it was signed in law. it allowed multiemployer pension plans to apply to cut the worker's benefits that workers and retirees earned in an attempt to stay solvent. the first was central states teamsters. they proposed cutting benefits up to 70%. you think you're going to get a certain amount of money and you hear it's cut 70%. these are plans, again, retirees paid into for decades. benefits they gave up pay for and counted on, budgeted for, benefits they earned. ask yourself if you get a letter
in the mail today informing you your monthly paycheck was about to be cut by 70%, what do you do? maybe you can get a new job. some of you are young enough. those folks already worked wearing out their folks have sp working, working out their bodies, truck drivers, manufacturers, kocoal miners. luckily that plan was rejected. why, because even threatening to slash the plan up 70%, forcing them likely into government assistance, even after that they said there was still a 50/50 chance the plan would fail, just a coin flip. forcing workers and retirees to carry this burden doesn't work, that's why congress must act. one of the retirees did get a letter in the mail saying his
check would be cut 70%. like so many others he was a veteran. so many of the the pensioners i've talked to served in our service, some in korea, vietnam. butch drove a truck for seven years. when he got the letter in the mail he joined with his friend mike and started to fight by the fight was cut short for butch far too soon. he passed away on new your's eve, 2014. if his wife was here she'd tell you the doctors contributed his stroke through the stress of this fight he was making for himself, his family and the fellow men and women ft his widow and mike carry on the fight with others along side them. rita said to me earlier this year, it's like we are invisible. people i meet all over feel this
way. they don't work like the value of work in this country is what it used to be. they feel like washington ignores them and all too often they're right. that's another reason we need to do this to prove them wrong. the average retiree, get this, the average retiree in one of these plans is owed about 1,$000 a month. for others it's less. the average person in the top one%, percent, we're talking millionaires in the average top bracket. the average worker in the bill will get what amounts to $5,000 a month in backs benefits. if rita were here today she'd remind us workers and retirees who paid into these plans are tax payers too. the chamber of commerce lobbying heavily for a solution, not
precisely what it is yet. notes that the multi-employer pension system lobbied in 2015. businesses thrived while so many other companies failed, costing money to the pnension system, obviously. those small businesses can't publicly say what keeps them up at might. the fear of the multi-pension plan will fail their businesses fail. they can't tell their customers, workers or creditors that they're pension plan could be failing without losing their ability to get loans and risking the businesses they've worked for many years they've built. but you can, you can tell their stories. this issue cuts to the heart of who we are as a country. people of both political parties talk about the dream, if you
work hard you can earn your way to a better life. these more than worked hard. they've worked as coal miners, teamsters, driving trucks, working many manufacturer, working in construction, they go to the mines day after day, 20 sometimes 30 or 40 years. that i have earned security retirement. mike told me i haven't asked for anything from this country but i don't want to see this country take away something we've earned. that sums it up. how can we look at children and tell them, if you work hard and get a good job you'll be able to make it in this country. this is being forced on retirees mt. more than dream. that's what our job is all about in the pensions committee. i think that's why all 16 of us take this job seriously. at a time when there's not that much cooperation across the aisle this is something we ought to be able to solve together. that's my pledge to work harder
than that i can on this. we should be able to inform that hard work does pay off. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you senator brown. is the butch lewis act you're starting point this year? and why do you think it didn't pass? and what changes need to be made to get bias from both sides? >> well, the answer is, well, i'll start with this. we started with butch lewis because we scored it, we've looked, we had some of the best act rares in the country, see, analyze it, they believe it works. they believe it works with minimal amount of tax dollars. they -- nobody -- they think that we -- in the house we had republican cosponsors in the
senate we did not. i think senators were concerned about -- at that point moving on anything on this. but we will start -- because there is no other proposal on the table at this point, the democrats and the senate and republicans democrats together in the house put out the butch lewis act, that it's the only bill on the table now, i think we will start with that. i don't know what changes will be made. my mission is to pass a bill to save these pension systems and do it without cuts. to do it in a fiscally sound way, to do it with a minimal number of tax dollars and do it in a way that stabilizes the pension system. >> yesterday, "the washington post" wrote that the teamsters are going to push for butch lewis. what do you see as the cbo scoring for butch lieu wiz?
>> we're in the process of a new scoring now. the first score were a lot of factors that weren't considered. we are certain that passing something similar, butch lewis will be much much cheaper, much cheaper to tax payers to the tune of tens of billion dollars, less expensive than if we don't move on anything and these pensions began to fall apart. if they do, then they go to the pngs benefit cooperation, it will cost tax payers tens and tens of billions of dollars. this is clearly less expensive. that's why the chamber of commerce supports the idea like butch lewis. that's why all these people came and told me they like the idea of this bill, that's why the teamsters and southwest and carpenters support it. >> do you have an estimate and
summation f estimation for this scoring? >> i do not. >> would you support alternatives from butch lewis? >> i'm open to. we've asked the other 15 members of the committee, asked colleagues in the senate and the house, putting this on the table. we want to fwin tbegin the deba. your first question, did we start with butch le wis, the answer's yes. it's a plan that i know works and the fairest. i'm also open to colleagues that have other ideas. i think we put that out there and we'll see alternative and minor and major changes and we get to a place where the goal of doing this without cuts, getting this done at the end of the year, doing it in a way that work for workers and these small businesses that are part of multi-pension plans. all that's part of it. >> do you believe that your committee will be able to report
a bipartisan solution? by november given that it's election year. >> we will likely not -- we will not necessarily put out the report prior to the election. i went to employpelosi and shum ryan and mcconnell and said, we don't seem to put everything in agreement, we don't seem to be able to get an agreement across party lines in both houses to do this now. we want to set up a mechanism to do it. the mechanism we came up with is four republicans issue four democrats from each house do the special committee, have cochairs, one republican, one democrat. give us until december. so the pressures of the election maybe get us to the table faster, maybe they don't, but give us till december, the end of the year. we'll put these bills and get
five in each party. the whole idea was this has to be bipartisan, this has to be done cooperatively. it simply wouldn't work if there had be poison bill amendments on something that's complicated. the committee does it we get five of each, five republicans, five democrats. we put it directly on the floor for a vote. i think if we can do it in a committee we can do it on the floor. the president has not yet been particularly interested or involved. we assume he will be and if he do this right the president will sign the bill, i have no doubt about that. >> thank you. you just mentioned nancy pelosi and chuck schumer. i have a question. just a few days ago nancy sent a note to congress urging them not to -- with republicans. our senate democrats receiving
similar counsel. >> i didn't even know about that, no. i work -- senator name roy blunt from missouri, roy and i knew each other many years ago when we were both secretary of state. he in missouri and i in ohio. he one time said to somebody, i'm not sure 30 years and we agreed a total of five times. he said all five of those are federal law. i know i don't get anything done without a republican cosponsor. i'm now working with shelly who represents west virginia and the senate. her state and my state has the highest per capita death rate from opioid overdose. we have a pill we'bill we're wo together. we know the federal government spends a lot of money on addictions, on addiction treatment. we know the federal dollar, government spends a lot money on worker training. we also know that competenters
often can't find workers to pass drug test and we know people that go through addiction training can't find jobs. we are putting our bill in a way that combines opioid treatment with job training so when people get through addiction, addiction treatment they will have training, they can get another workplace to avoid the downward spiral. i always work that way, if you want to get something done around here you do that. i would be shocked if schumer will ever tell us to not work with republicans. that's what i do. senator portman and i -- if i work with senator portman on this deal tariffs, on preserving the clean-up of lake eerie. one issue after another after another. >> thank you. so, much of the conversation here is about employees and pensioners, obviously understandably. what if any protection need to be made on behalf of employers.
>> well, this protection, the reason employers have come to us in supportive of butch lewis in some cases, in others just supportive of the whole effort. and the reason the chaim per of commerce is involved they know the busine the businesses that have multi-employer pensiones are in trouble if we can't fix that. secondly they know the companies that are not in that situation, if we don't fix this they know the damage that can with done overall to the pension corporation and they know the damage it does to the community. if there's a world community, there are a whole lot of mine workers in that community and their pensions are cut by 50%, that has a big impact on the local diner, hardware store, on the tax duplicate to pay for school teachers, local government funds to pay for school teachers.
business recognizes that as long as we do this in a way that there's not a huge expenditure, public dollars and that's our pledge, then it's good for the committ economy and those businesses. >> what would this plan mean for tax payers? >> this plan will mean -- again, i don't know what the plan's going to be -- our doing this right and we're going to do this right. our doing this right will save tax payers a lot of money. pause as i said in my speech, if we don't do this and these plans end up in the pb gc, people like mike, dave and so many others see their pensions cut, then their pensions end up going where they see so many pensions cut. congress, i assume would step in to at least prop up some of those pension dollars and that
would be much more expensive to the pb gc and tax payers that fund the pb gc. that will be a way to fund tax payers dollars and do there with the butch lewis program in a way that's more fiscally responsible. >> do you think that the rates set by the tax reform act of 2017 are too low? >> the rates set by -- >> 2017. >> the cooperate, yeah. i find interesting today, and paul ryan announced his retirement as you know, he came to the congress as many do talking about -- we had in front of us committee today, director
mu mu the director brag about -- 80% of this tax cut over time goes to the richest 1% of people in this country. that's that $5,000 month tax break i mentioned contrasted with what mike and dave would get on their pension. so, this tax bill, it did not investment in the future, it should have funded a transportation, an infrastructure bill. instead it was a give away to the largest company and the richest people in the country. i'd add one other thing right now, in my state has been so bl bludgeon by this. we've seen companies shut down in barber, dover or man fiesfie
where i've grown up, we've seen so many businesses shut down. we open up another one because of the tax rates making it likely companies will shut down in dover, bluefield, doverman. first time i met president trump was in a meeting with other republicans, the tax bill, we met in the cabinet room. i told him two bills i had. the purpose was to talk about the tax reform. i said i have two bills, one is a patriot company act. if it pays wages and does the right thing in paying benefits, healthcare and retirement, that company should get a lower tax rate. the other was the other family tax relieve acts, the individuals making 20, 30, $40,000 a year and working hard.
if we'd use those at book ends on the tax bill, we have a bill that work better for economic growth. we have more production in this company, instead we passed a bill that sings with upper class. >> so, this plan doesn't address the pensions of all americans, it's a segment, a small segment of the population. the question here is, is it fair to increase the burden on all tax payers to help a small segment? >> i see that, i understand we're not remaking the entire pension system. where i don't agree is this is not asking tax payers to do more, this will mean tax payers will only do less. we know if the pension benefit guarantee corporation collapses, first if these individual pensions are dumped in causing
the collapse of the being pg pgbc -- we're sighing we want to do this in a way that saving tax payers money and live up to the pledge they thought they had when they signed the contracts 20 and 30 years ago. >> do you believe there should be conversation about providing assistance to people whose retirements are in 4401 quicks when -- when markets crash? >> that's -- we should have those discussions, we also should have discussions about a whole host of economic issues.
i look at this administration right now, on the day that secretary perez and vice president biden flew out to columbus, ohio and announced a rule i had been working on with them for a good while, to require those people making 30, 40, $50,000 a year, who management determine could be called supervisors that the companies can make those workers making 30, $40,000, if their supervisors can declare their management they can work those workers 50, 60 hours, not pay them overtime. secretary perez changed that rule through department of labor, updated that rule so that 150,000 people in my state would have gotten a raise. it's things like that that we should be doing. it's people working 30, 40 a
year should get paid for those other hours. those are the kind of things we should be talking about. >> thank you. we are talking about providing assistance in the form of loans to pension fund in the current proposal, right? can we expect those pension funds to repay the loans? >> absolutely. >> they're predicted in solvency. >> the whole way they were set up were through a government agency, it could be treasury, a separate agency. butch lewis sets up a separate kind of -- i believe in treasury separate account. it's going to be a separate account but separate kind of office. because when government loans this money, when government borrows this money, over 30 years the interest rate will be low enough, any historic investment means there's a huge delta in that amount, the amount
the economy will grow and that money will produce. we would absolutely pay it back. i would not want to be part of this if it was going to be something we had no intention of paying back. it wouldn't work. >> all right. what do you think the ramifications would be for pension plans in the future? if the government steps in do you think other pension plans going forward should or would expect the same? >> i don't think any other -- this is a unique situation and these plans are different. government has -- pbgc, i live in cleveland six miles from a steel plant where a lot of workers took a hit on their pension because they went to the pbgc and nobody gets on their pbgc what their promise was. i'm hoping with a better economy and management now, and if -- i'm concerned when i listen to the director today of the pbgc
talk being his deregulation agenda and what that means for a future implosion of our economy because of bad wall street management. that's a whole another issue. if we manage this right i don't see these plans -- this one they're not coming in again and again like that. >> okay. i have a question here about the coal mining industry. so, recently congress considered legislation to show off healthcare who's company when bankrupt and -- the healthcare was passed by congress kicked the pin down the road on the congress issue. if committee doesn't reach a fix for wide range of pension problems doesn't congress have the obligation to at least take care of the mining workers? isn't coal mining a special case? >> coal mining was a special case two years ago that's why
senator mention and donnelly and kc and others and i advocating. that's why we finally convinced a reluctant republican leadership in the house and senate to do what they should have done. i don't think -- i mean that was unique to coal that -- what's happened -- the coal industry has happened, maybe note quite as dramatically but other industries too. i want to fix coal, i want to fix it for coal miners but i want to fix it for other workers. i don't think we start separating -- part of the movement is they support each other. i was talking to a group of electricians about a ballot movement in ohio. some remember there was a statewide vote on collect bargaining, and the beauty of
that -- of that campaign when we defeated the effort to roll back collect bargaining rights but almost 25 points was how unions really stuck together. this was only about public employees, the trade and industrial unions were involved, the service sector was involved. understanding that when the far right, the anti-labor crowd goes after davis bacon, aiming at the trades that others will be involved to happing when they go after the industrial unions, all the union members, all the union movement will be together. that's the whole point of trade movement. if one unit's under threat they're all under threat. in this case i think it would make no sense. i don't think the mine workers will advocate that. they were a special case in healthcare because of the truman problem. this is a pension issue that goes well beyond the mine workers and teamsters to
hundreds of thousands of other workers. they always will stay together in something like this. >> thank you. in the recent pennsylvania '18 special election, connor lamb, whose been sworn in today, mention pensions, his kpo point stayed away from the issue. in 2020 will that create a new group of swing voters? >> i don't know a lot about connor lamb's campaign except what i kind of saw on t.v. but i know he talked a lot about pensions. i think his election, his part of the -- his district looked a lot like the crow you lived in, correct? and workers -- but workers whether they're urban issues suburban, inner city, workers want to know you're on their side. and whether it's overtime pay, whether it's healthcare, whether
it's pensions, workers want to know that. so, i don't -- i won't win an election based on any one issue. i'll win an election based on fighting for workers that i'm going to be on their side at ever issue and i'll make the contrast between what i stand for on healthcare, on pensions, keeping like eerie clean, providing stu providing opportunity to young people, get good healthcare and jobs. and good agenda that was ascending a couple years ago and no longer is. >> thank you. senator rob portman recently suggested he'd seen signs of partisan intrenchment on the committee. have you spoken to him opinion your concern? >> yes, i have. that was in problem's opening statement on the committee yesterday. that was a pretty minor thing. he knows the first thing i did when senators -- with the four
legislative leaders began to announce their members on the committee, first schumer came to me and said, you want to approach aaron, i said yes. and when it was announced i called every one of them on the phone regardless of party or house. the democrats had had a meeting prior to that meeting but republicans do the same thing. i think it was just put on notice don't make this partisan and we're not doing to. >> that's good to know. so, moving on to broadening the conversation beyond pensions a little bit, the hourse of representatives is voting on a balanced budget amendment to u.s. constitution. what is your stance on this and do you think the senate will go for it? what are the chances of becoming law? >> it's sort of interesting, because the majority party blew a hole in the federal budget they've got to go back and say,
please let's do -- so we don't do bad things anymore. >> okay. >> we'll stop ourselves by doing that. >> checks and balances. you recently said trade enforcement is not the same thing as the fried war. do you agree with the president's move to hold china available and do you think this will help our hurt the u.s. in the long run? >> i have one issue -- i recognize i've written a book about trade, i recognize what it is with what china did. i support presidents or oppose presidents regardless of party based on their position on trade. i -- my first year i oppose president of my first party on nafta. i support this deal tariffs with president bush and president trump. i wished he hadn't said this was
a trade war. i want a trade war, it's not a trade war. it's a trade enforcement action. tariffs are temporary and not a tool. if this gets china to the table then it -- i agree with the tariffs. i think it's our best chance to get china to come to the table and renegotiate. start with this, china has -- years ago when i was in the house, someone told me china at 150 million of unemployed workers. whether that number is exaggerated or precise, because china has so many unemployed workers, they need to put their people to work to prevent social unwrest. they subsidize their energy and land. that's a violation of train laws in many cases, that's what they're going to do. we start with half of steel making capacity and the world is in the people of rebecpublic of
china. they want to get their people working. we have to stand up and draw a line and say you're not going to cheat when you make steel and aluminum. you're not going to work your way up the chain and not subsidize workers at the -- of more than workers. >> just now trump made his attempt of exploring t prk p. you applauded trump in 2017 from withdrawing from tpp. what are your thought on rejoining? >> i didn't know his thoughts on that. >> what do you think about him rejoining tpp? >> my two days after he was elected i sent a letter to the administration or i called administration a week lettater sent a letter asking to pull out of tpp. i want to know what he's thinking but i don't know why he would do that.
i would support going into -- i would support a trands pacific partnership trade agreement if it had for three or four major components. one that it didn't play off one industry against another, second if workers actually had a place at the table in these negotiations. third, that we had -- we had real by america provisions allowed in these trade agreements and fourth there be a strong labor chapter. a strong labor chapter means collective bargaining rights will be enforced, particularly in a company where they've used violence to one suppressed worker organizing. the labor chapter would have to include provisions. there's a lot of things i've gone to the administration party over the years to get them to adopt. i want more trade for american
workers and more companies. >> all right. you have opposed nafta and craft that while the agricultural community was for them. would you -- >> i've called a couple days ago and went through some of the things we kind of want to see in nafta. the things we've talked about, stronger investor state dispute settlement, if we fix investor state, if we fix currency and the labor chapter or some of the environmental issues in nafta i'd very well support it. my goal is to work with them and get to a place where i can support it. i'm working with a number of labor unions on talk with light hisser, he's been open and i think he's the best trump
nominee in terms of the work he's doing. i'm optimistic we can bet to nafta 2.0. >> thank you. discussing trump nominees. what do you think of president trump's selection of ronnie jackson as the new va head? and what do you think needs to be done at the va? >> we were all -- everybody in the veteran -- i'm in the veteran committee. every senator i've talked to about this was surprised with his appointment. i know he has leadership training in the military, i give a lot of credit for that. he's an admiral, i don't know opinion hi leadership skills to run, you know one of the largest entities in the united states of america, the veterans administration which has hundreds of thousands employees. i don't know about his skills, i want to know that more. primary i want a commitment from him that he will not privatize the va. the workers lose wages and
benefits, the people who are being served get served -- see the service diminish, and a few people make a lot of money from it. whether it's privatization of prisons or medicare or social security or four profit charter schools, which are far too common in my state, privatization efforts always undermined congress and hurt the general public and those who the agency is supposed to serve. i want a commitment from him at our veterans hearings he will oppose any privatization efforts. the problem at the white house, the coke brothers want to privatize the va. aircraft veteran's organization i've talked to oppose this privatetation. i'm not sure why the president wants to continue with this. i'm hopeful that dr. jackson doesn't push for that.
he needs to commit to all of us that he will not support and will in fact oppose privatization. >> thank you. speaking of the white house, a business insider story recently named you one of the top ten democrats to watch for 2020. do you plan to run for president? >> i have no interest. >> all right. >> there was a senator from vermont years ago that had a lot of colleagues that were looking in the mirror and seeing a president, as many of my colleagues do. he said the only cure for the presidential virus in the u.s. senate is em balming fluid. i'm not ready yet. >> you're not. vice president also a no? >> no. >> all right. if you could design any solution to the multi-employer pension crisis without worrying about it getting the votes it need to pass. what would that be? >> butch lewis is -- i mean i
didn't -- five years ago i wasn't a pension expert. we all learn these thing. the more i studied this and the more information it become, the model of butch lewis, doing a fixing our pension system doing it that way made all the sense in the world. i would model it very closely to that. >> i have one final thing with you but before we get to that, i'd like to highlight a couple of upcoming events here at the club. we have on april 17th, this comi coming tuesday at 8:30, we have california governor jerry brown coming in. and we have a lawn chon on may 14th with secretary of commerce, wilbur ross. may 17th, linda mcman is coming in. please join us for these lunch chons. everybody thank you so much for being here. senator brown, the press club
would like to present you with a mug. please use this in good health. >> is it made in china? >> i'm going to say it's made in america? >> i think it is. >> i hope it is. >> unlike my suit which was made in my town. we should ha you should get one that's made in america. >> we should. we should. and with that, we are adjourned.
sunday night on "after words" journalists with their book, "russian roulette." the inside story on putin's war in america. >> the start of the book is the 2013 miss universe pageant in moscow. how did you pick that as a starting point? >> if you were looking for the moment that the trump/russia story come together it's really there. you're looking at donald trump in moscow, he's there to reside over the universe pageant. what is his real agenda? it's for a business deal, to build a trump tower in moscow. and secondary, a part of that is to meet vladimir putin. >> we talked a moment ago about how to build a tower.
you needed to have putin's permission. but, to do anything in moscow really, trump had to hook up with an osomeone friendly to pu. he started tweeting out immediately in 2013, will putin be my bff when i bring the -- to moscow. >> watch "after words." . next weekend, live coverage on book t.v. on the 22nd annual festival times of l.a. books. starting saturday at 1:00 p.m. eastern. the challenge of a latino immigrant in the trump era. historic his or h
historic ortiz. and a -- on sunday our live coverage continues at 1:30 p.m., eastern with journalist david corn. black lives matter cofounder patrice color with her book, "one they call you terrorist." watch our weekend long coverage of the 22nd an la times festival of books. live on c-span2 t.v. now border security and immigration enforcemen