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tv   Newsmakers  CSPAN  May 9, 2010 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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next five to ten years if we saw three or four mergers happen. host: we would like to tahnhank you for being on "washington journal". politico is reporting that kagan will be obama's nominee to take the opening seat -- the open sea on the supreme court. you can find out more on our web site. we recommend that you go to our c-span video library for events we have covered it regarding kagan. we note she is the first woman to hold the office of the u.s. solicitor general. president clinton nominated her to the d.c. circuit court of appeals in 1999, but no hearing was scheduled, so her nomination was killed. she served as superette -- supervising editor of "harvard
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law review." stay tuned to c-span and check our information on our web site. taking a look at who will be on the program to more. we will have a roundtable discussion regarding offshore drilling tomorrow. and dennis -- the ocean conservancy will talk about the glass-steagall act. . .
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010]
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>> the mid term elections are just six months away and could change the power of balance in washington. >> joining us on "newsmakers," senator dick dur bin, the majority whip, our two majority whip, our two reporters, the first question. go ahead. >> thanks, senator. financial reg lay tri reform on the senate floor. democrats and republicans are voting together on amendments. how do you see this bill playing out and what are some of the flashpoints left to sort through and do you anticipate a bipartisan vote on final passage?
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>> the lead-in told the story. three consecutive days with the republicans voting to filibuster the bill, to stop it from coming for conversation on the floor of the senate. meanwhile, to the left of that stage was the committee hearings of carl 11, permanent subcommittee on investigation, with the folks from goldman sachs making a spectacle which was witnessed by the world. and republican senators started to come after the leadership and saying we're on the wrong side of this issue and history. now we're seeing more and more amendments, which we thought would be partisan amendments, we're finding some republicans who want to join us. my guess is, in the end we'll have a substantial number of republicans joining us for passing wall street reform. i think they realize that's where the public sentiment is and politically they made a mistake. >> do you expect this debate to be concluded within a week or so? >> that's a hard dwe. and i know we're -- question.
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i know we'll be broadcast on sunday. my guess is we won't return to the bill on tuesday. then we have to work pretty hard because we only have three or four days in this coming week. but i hope we stick with it. there's a lot of amendments as we get together for the show there are over 140 amendments pending on the floor of the senate. that's not unusual. in the end members have to decide their most important amendment. but we have 53 members who have filed. and if each wants one, you can see that's going to take some time. >> you're a member of president obama's deficit commission. you were quoted in the newspaper saying it wulled take a miracle to come out in some sort of result that would win a vote on the floor. the commission has met once publicly and then some members gathered yesterday privately. what are its chances now that you've had a chance to talk to members? >> the second half of that quote was, it would take a
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miracle and i believe in miracles. and i hope we can do it. but it's really difficult. 18 members, substantial members of democrats and republicans elected and a number of outside folks who are coming back, like alan simpson, who knows these issues, a number of people from private industry. so it's a good gathering of people with real talent. but as you look at it, you can see the complexity growing and the challenge. what is the art of the possible? what can we come up with that would bring 14 of the 18 together? and if everything is truly on the table, it will mean that some will have to swallow hard. those who are hard and fast against any conversation of new revenue may have to give a little. those who are hard and fast against any cuts in discretionary domestic spending may have to give a little. but i think we owe to it the country. and i sense a growing sentiment across the united states, even
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among those who would traditionally be on my side of political issues that the deficit is a concern, and it's something that we need to address even as we try to work our way out of this recession. >> does that mean that politically that you, to get 14 of the 18 to agree, that you of the 18 to agree, that you would have to sort of put everything on the table in any sort of agreement that you come up with? >> absolutely. >> cut tax increases, and other sns sns >> if we're honest about it. and all of which explosive politically issues, it's the discretionary spending on defense items, and on nondefense items. it's tax expenditures, which i keep reminding people as we give out deductions and credits, we are literally taking money out of the treasury the same as if we appropriated money for from the treasury for an earmark or treasury or highway. so put it on the table and talk
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about what's reasonable. can we come to a common position on it? i'm not sure. but i think that they're two good leaders to start us down that path. >> the greek debt crisis has really brought the idea of nations in debt to the forefront. there's a big yo-yo in the stock market on thursday. are you sensing more and more anxiety among your colleagues about this? i mean, and then, secondly, why didn't democrats decide to take this on? you have a large majority. you have all leevers of government right now. why not try to take this heavy lift even though it's an election year? >> the second question first. we know that if this is going to work politically, we really have to hold hands and jump together. if one party came out with its solution, it would be fairly predictable and not likely to pass. but if both parties come out with a solution, it can pass.
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in 1983, a brand new member, they said welcome to washington. social security is about to go bankrupt. so we came together and came up with an approach. it worked and worked for 25 years plus. so we know this basic model is a good one. here's the dilemma when we look at greece. we know that the debt of a nation can bring it down financially and greece sadly is proving that point, with an impact around the world. but we also know from history that if you don't move quickly and decisively to try to turn a recession, you can fall right back into that pit again. we had high unemployment which is starting to come down ever so slowly. so slowly. and if we decide to hit the brakes in terms of government stimulating the economy, we can see the unemployment numbers go up again and the deficit get even worse. so we're trying to find that sweet spot between those two concerns, long-term deficit, anti re sessionry policy.
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it's not an easy place to locate but i think we can do it. >> and on the related topic, president obama has promised for the most part to extend a lot of the bush or 2 bush tax cuts aimed at middle income people. for how long are you going to extend them? and lu do that before the election or after? >> not clear. we still negotiating that, we have the package and that really says that some of the credits, deductions currently in the law that stimulate economic activity need to be extended another year. people are waiting for a signal that they should invest in certain things or continue to invest in certain things. we have that packaged together with a lot of other concerns. will we help the states pay for some of their medicaid expense sns what will we do about teachers being laid off across america? there's just a vast -- and the whole question of reimbursement under medicare for doctors. it is a huge package and it includes a lot of conversations about how far you can go with taxes and what you can afford to do and what you can pay for.
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>> looking ahead to the election cycle that we're entering this mid-term cycle, what do you think the big questions are that democrats need to answer for voters? and how do you get the party right with folks who may have supported you just a couple years ago, were very enthusiastic about president obama's election but are now struggling for a home, looking for a home? >> well, i survived 94. i was a member of the house and had an opponent who by washington standards wasn't a serious challenge but i only won by 6 points. so i know what the atmosphere is like even if i'm not on the ballot this year. we're forewarned. we've seen it coming for a long time. time. six months from now will be an election and we have a lot of time to do things in congress and address the concerns of the american people and there are many, and they start with the economy.
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the first thing people are concerned about is jobs. what are you doing to create more employment to put people back to work? and we have to give them an answer of what we have done and what we planned to do looking to the future. the next thing you want to do is have assurance that we're not going to fall in this recession again. i think that's why this wall street reform bill has become so popular and one that we pushed so hard. people breeve if we do this people breeve if we do this right it will lessen the likelihood that we will run through another recession with more jobs and savings lost. so we have got to build the confidence of the american people that we recognize the challenge, responded to it, and that the alternative, republican control of congress, will plunge us back into bush economics that created the recession. it's a stark choice. and i think our base is going to stand up and say are we going to give up everything we won in the last election, or stand up for the people who keep moving us in that direction. so i think we have a chance to activate our base in the next
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months. >> what is the plan for the next six month sns >> there are a variety of plans. we have two bills. the smaller bill which we considered early on and it's one that includes, for example, the forgiveness of fikea contributions by employers who hire the unemployed. there are increases in efforts under the small business act to provide loans and credit to small business. there's an effort from the administration that we want to work with to take some of the tarp funds, move them to a different account but provide them for a basis for credit for small businesses. i think more and more i've come to believe and most people have that small business is really the engine that's going to pull the engine that's going to pull us out of this. i'm for infrastructure projects, they are a value for the economy long term. but creating a better climate for small businesses to survive i think is the best way to come out of this recession. so we have a number of programs to do just that. first, on credit, tax first, on credit, tax incentives for hiring the
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unemployed, small business loans so that they can turn to those as well. it has a variety of different approaches to it. it isn't going to be any huge new deal type of government spending. the stimulus was a major investment. i think it helped. and without it we would be in terrible shape. but this has to be a much more targeted approach. >> health care took months to debate and pass. financial regulation is taking a while. how do you all what you just said in six months plus climate reform? >> we may have 14 weeks left, 13 only before the election. of actual time in washington. that's a very limited amount of time and we've not said a word about the budget or the appropriations project which is a must before it's all finished. what harry reid and nancy pelosi are trying to do is to move us to the point where decisions are made. i will say that the other side
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of the aisle views it differently. the more they can slow us down, the more they can slow us down, the less we will accomplish. and that appears to be their goal. >> a lot of us who have followed the senate for a while see thing that is used to take two days taking a week. thing that is used to be done very routinely would get stalled. unemployment extension, for example. so do a lot of us, it seems like it's broken in a lot of ways. but after the election, even a good result, you will likely lose a few seats. lose a few seats. you could lose a lot of seats. and if you do, you're likely to see many more conservative republicans of a jim demint type. and then, on your side, one of your incumbents, blaven lincoln is being challenged from the left. so you see a senate that's becoming more and more polarized when, in order to
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function, it needs to come together. can you address what the institution is facing, and is there a way to put humty dumty back together again? >> that's a pretty rosy scenario that you paint. i'll tell you that i believe short of changes and rules and procedure, that we are bound to go through this phase for some period of time even beyond the election. the republicans believe that the most successful strategy they can pursue is to make sure we do little or nothing. a few weeks ago we spent ab entire week in the senate debating the extension of unemployment benefits for four weeks. one week to four weeks. and you think to yourself, this isn't going to work out well. the following week we spent an entire week debating the nominations of five people, who were all through by the senate without much contra verse yifplt we have 97, as we tape this program, 97 nominees on the calendar who have been passed out of committee
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virtually unanimously with no dispute, no contrary versey, sitting on the calendar because the republicans see them as bargaining chips with the democrats and administration. ok, we'll give you a secretary in commerce to deal with oceans because there was that spill in the gulf. that's get that one out of the way. but let's hold 96 other ones. the same thing with bills on the floor. the floor. so far we've had 96 filibusters in this congress. that's uncommon. it's becoming a recurring trend. your question is a good one. what happens if the senate and the house move toward more republican membersship? well, it means moreedelay. even less to be done. and that's troubling, because i think there's thing that is definitely need to be done. it will become a compelling issue in the next presidential election. >> do you envision some rules changing? >> i thought we had accomplished that in the beginning of the year with a
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bipartisan rules change, for example, to eliminate secret holds. this is an old anackism from the old days of the senate when senators used to be very quietly put their numb on a nominee and say, he ain't moving and i don't have to tell you that it's my thurm. we tried to change that. we passed this big reform bill on earmarks and travel and gifts, and secret holds. and it turns out that even though many of those changes have been implemented when it comes to secret holds the other side has said we're not going to abide by senate bill one. so changes the bills takes at least 60 votes. but we hope public sentiment will move some of our colleagues to join us on these changes. >> you say that the notion of bipartisanship and how to fix humpty dumply will bb likely to be an issue in the next presidential election, the full
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notion of leadership. your old friend, president obama, is there anything he could be doing now or is there anything that democrats could be doing differently to see more of the kind of collaboration we're seeing with financial regulatory reform and maybe less of the -- i mean, i suppose you could wait for republicans to change their strategy. but is there a way to take the initiative here and try to bring people together on at least some of these simpler issues, some of these nominations? >> we've tried. we need to continue to try so that the american people believe we're showing good faith. financial regulatory reform, wall street reform. chris dodd met with his republican counterpart, and they couldn't reach an agreement. he then said, ok, i'll meet with bob corker. he seems to be more open. they spent a month together. they couldn't reach an agreement.
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dodd said let's take the bill to the committee and debate these things out. let's see if we can reach an agreement by the debate and amendment process. the republicans filed 401 amendments. they refused to call any of they refused to call any of them to be considered. 20 minutes after the banking committee got together, they took a final vote, sent the financial regulatory bill to the floor. now, after a week of the republicans filibustering the bill, trying to stop i, the filibuster was broken and we're seeing some cooperation. i've just described a four -month process that should have taken a week. so now we're seeing some element of cooperation. but if we're going to do that on every important issue facing on every important issue facing us, we're not going to get much done. we have to continue to show good faith and try, and if the american people feel we've been fair, then they may hold the republicans accountable. >> as you indicated, we're talking on this thuzz. there's a piece in roll call on
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thursday. obama, mcconnell, perfect strangers, talking about the fact that president obama and the minority leader in the senate have not met outside of public meetings that they've had with other leadership. i was just wondering if president obama needs to do more to reach out to republicans leaders. and also, as majority whip, how often do you meet with your counterpart? >> john kyle and i have a conversation every day, almost every day, about what's going on on the floor or issues that on on the floor or issues that we face in judiciary committee or some other place. i mean, it's frequent. in terms of our conversation. a lot of work is done through staff. but we have direct communication. we aren't freezing one another out, that's for sure. and i would say, in defense of the president, he really has the president, he really has spent more time entertaining republican senators during health care debate, most of us on the democratic side felt we were being jilted by our president. i won't name names, but there were some republican senators who had a regular invitation to
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lunch down at the white house. it didn't help. we didn't get any votes in the final analysis but it wasn't for lack of trying. so i think the president needs to continue to reach out. we need to continue to reach out. but it's really frustrating. how many times do i have to ask this young lady to go to the prom and she says no. and eventually say, i'm going to stay home or find another date. so we've got to find a way to do this that's more successful. >> we have about five more minutes. >> here's a question you might not like and i'm sure you'll duck. duck. but senator mccaskle had a joke at a recorrect washington dinner. everybody knows that senator reid has a very difficult reelection battle. what fewer people know is that you and chuck schumer are long-time friends, hout mates when you're in washington and you're both members of the leadership. there's a lot of buzz among politicos around here that
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you're sort of eyeing, already eyeing the leadership and that there's maybe a little tension. there's maybe a little tension. can you address that? >> harry reid is the majority leader and he will be the majority leader after the election. and i have told him and i have kept my word that i will not approach any member of the senate caucus to approach this matter at all. matter at all. it doesn't help the caucus or harry reid to have this speculation going on. >> do you think chuck shumer approached this with him? >> i have no idea. but that's my position. >> tell us more about the mid-term land scape. it's a confusing landscape. >> it is. >> there are so many different types of candidates and there doesn't seem to be -- i mean, liberals seem to be doing well in some places, moderates in others. how do you recksile the frustration that people have with government right now? and the general disregard they
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hold both parties in. going back to what we were talking about a little earlier. how do democrats break through that as candidates and begin reconnecting with people on issues like, for instance, the deficit. how do you talk to people about that, address things that maybe they're looking to the tea party because they're not hearing what they want to hear from democrats? or republicans, for that matter. >> i respect the tea party s that came and had a little demonstration in front of my office, entirely peaceful. it was a cold saturday morning and they were kind of confronting me on the health confronting me on the health care vote, and we didn't tell them i would attend, but at the last minute i just showed up and spoke to them for about 45 minutes. and i said at the outset, respect you very much. you're doing what american citizens are entitled to do, expressing your point of view.
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expressing your point of view. we disagree completely but i'll defend your right to do it. i will tell you, there's a person in the crowd who has ever voted for me. but that's all right. i respect that they care enough to get involved and learn about the issues on the way. so i don't view the tea party as defections from my voting base or the voting base of most democratic senators. i think they represent a very conservative element within the republican party by and large. i will tell you that when it comes to the votes, though, and what's going to bring them out, people are going to look to the state of the economy. if they feel it's moving in the right direction, that's an important part. they're going to look for honesty. i've had town meetings. i started doing something. tom harken has a proposal, $23 billion. send it back to the states and cut the number of teachers cut the number of teachers being laid off in half. so i say to people, i'm going to give you three votes. play the roll of senator. first is keep your nose out of it. it's a state and local issue.
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second vote, this is an emergency. $23 billion. send it now, pay for it later. send it now, pay for it later. add it to the deficit. third vote, we're going to pay for this. we're going to increase everybody's income tax in america for 1% to pay for the hiring of teachers, police, and firefighters. every time i ask that question, overwhelmingly they vote for a tax increase. it's kind of like, it kind of took my breath away at first. but i guess there's an appreciation that if you're candid and honest with people, they get it. this is serious, the economy's in serious trouble, and we've got to figure out ways to make it better without hurting our overall economy. i think that kind of canned dor and direct approach to voters is going to help democrats. the republicans do see things differently. i don't think people want to return to that kind of leadership. >> are you concerned at all about the current economic situation with what we're situation with what we're seeing in greece and also the oil spill in louisiana? some have said that possibly that could bring us into a double dip recession, and then
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could greece impact snuss are you concerned at all? >> i'm worried about greece because it shows, just last week with the stock market reaction to greece, perhaps portugal, perhaps spain, it shows that we are in a global economy and there's concern about what would happen in europe in general if these three countries or others start having these difficulties. i don't think it's going to bring us down for any long period of time. period of time. we have our own resilience. and it's starting to show coming back our way. as far as the oil spill is concerned, i think it's a valid issue in terms of the actual impact on the states and the businesses in those states. i think it's a valid issue in terms of energy in the future, terms of energy in the future, how much do we want to rely on offshore and deep water drilling, and what kind of precautions and safety do we have. but i don't think that this spill in and of itself is going to interrupt energy supplies like a war in the middle east, for example. and i don't think it's going to have a long-term negative impact on the overall nation
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nalcomme. >> do you think as the bp manages this spill, effectively caps this leak, and if the spill doesn't impact the shor to the degree that people initially expect, do you think that will soften some of the reaction to potential drilling? or do you think we've crossed the point of no return where people are now second-guessing that idea? >> i'm not gging to call this three-mile island. that changed national thinking on nuclear power for a generation. i think this is going to give people pause when they think about offshore drilling. they aren't going to see it the same way any more. they're going to have some hard questions about technology and protection. the notion that we are charging $le $8 cents a barrel to for a spill liability fund is not generating enough money.
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we've got to be more honest about that, and the oil industry should too. >> thank you for being with us. we appreciate it. >> thanks. >> let's talk about what we heard there from senator durbin. first, start with financial regulations. what did you hear from him on this debate? >> it seems like they expect a clean finish to this bill, which has been a remarkable departure for the senate the last year and a half, just bitterly divided over almost everything. and we have big amendments on the floor of the senate passing unanimously, nearly unanimously, many of them have a heavy populous ting. it seems like a lot of senators want to make themselves whole after the tarp vote. i mean, this is sort of that coming full circle. and you heard from


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