Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 27, 2013 12:00pm-2:01pm EST

12:00 pm
me and a pretty good deal. host: jerry, thank you for the call. guest: the airlines would love to have you know the cost of an airline ticket has dropped over the last decade compared to inflation, but the fares, measured directly, do not count the extra fees, and i am not familiar with anyone totaling the fares plus the fees and how they stack up. the airlines contend they provide an affordable service, especially when you think that one-third of their cost is fuel and fuel prices have risen dramatically over the last few years. as to low-cost carriers -- you are right. some folks say southwest is now the biggest domestic airline, flying more flights will -- than anyone else in the united states. should they be considered the upstart or the low-cost carrier?
12:01 pm
the justice department has suggested that southwest and jetblue, when they locate near major hubs, they drive down prices, and it may be a language problem. they want someone to offer competition. whether low-cost carrier is the best phrase, we do not know. delta says let us compete, and we can drive down prices. host: this is from jan -- talk about how they overbook and cancel at the flight -- drop of a hat. guest: plans are 80% full on average. airlines routinely sell more tickets than there are seats on the airplane because they know people will not show up. they are trying to keep him as full as they can, arguing that
12:02 pm
makes the system most efficient, and keeps, essentially, prices as efficient, or as low as possible. in terms of cancellation, it is frustrating because the planes are full and it is difficult to find your next flight if the flight is canceled. the department of transportation keeps track of those statistics. the airlines have been doing better in the last year or two in not canceling flights, but they happen occasionally. host: i will share one personal experience in trying to catch a flight to the northeast. after a five and a half hour delay, the flight was canceled because of mechanical problems. what rights do passengers have under those circumstances? guest: the rights very by airline -- vary by airline. on a long delay like that, they would at least try to book you on another flight.
12:03 pm
it tends to be when there is a mechanical problem that the airline would have to, perhaps, put you in a hotel or provide other compensation. wayne is a weather delay, they say -- when it is a weather delay, their control is much less, and they would try to rebook you on another flight. host: marge. michigan. caller: good morning. i just wanted, how does the commercial -- wondered, how does the commercial cargo they carry fit into their net profit? i heard for many years that the passenger tickets that they charge for do not really cover their expenses. commercial freight does. i will listen off air. guest: you are right that the airlines do carry a bunch of cargo along with the luggage.
12:04 pm
i am not familiar at my fingertips with how much cargo revenues provide airlines to their bottom line, but i am sure they would not be doing it if it were not lucrative. if they would say it is cargo you do not notice, and if that keeps down the plane prices, folks should not mind. host: related to security checkpoints, one of our viewers says until they stop strip searching the citizens -- i travel only for business. it is too much hassle, not fund. guest: you hear a lot of complaints about the transportation security administration in running the checkpoints, screening people before they get on flights. the overall number of complaints seems to be less now than in recent years. there is a new head of that
12:05 pm
agency, a man named john pistol, who came from a 26-year career in the fbi, and many in the industry think he brought greater professionalism to tsa, but yes, frustrations remained. they get more than 300 complaints per month about courtesy at the checkpoints. they say they do review complaints. they are professional. a try to treat people with respect, but there are many people, particularly on the east coast, that perhaps turn to the train between washington and new york because by the time you get to security, wait for your flight, it might be easier to take a train. host: we'll be talking to frank n. wilner to discuss rail transportation and infrastructure. this is something we read in the
12:06 pm
first half-hour, but in case you is that, from "the washington times" -- a bill to make the tsa give up all of the loose change. passengers have left as much as half of a million dollars over the last two years. under existing law, tsa is allowed to keep all of the loose change (plastic bins at their scanning machines. a congressman wants to change that, turning the money over to nonprofit agencies to provide travel assistance to military troops and their families. guest: i covered the congressman in one of my previous jobs. he has tried to get this money turned back to the government somehow. tsa says it is not that they are just pocketing the spare change,
12:07 pm
but that they use it in their budget, and it basically reduces the need for greater government taxation ortiz to flow into their government -- taxation fees to flow into the government. commerce and miller is interested in shifting -- congressman miller is interested in shifting that money to something other than tsa, and his bill for veterans has cleared committee, but i do not believe it has cleared the house. host: you are correct. it has not cleared the house. peter. the lucky. we welcome your calls. we welcome your calls. peter, good morning. caller: good morning. i work for a fortune 50 company.
12:08 pm
we sell to many corporations and governments across the world, and services specifically to the airline industry, one thing we take into account is their ability to purchase those services, and airlines are operating at very slim gross profit margins. what you see is if you take the total sales, the cost of sales divided by total sales, you will see their gross profit margins are maybe less than 1%, where most businesses have double digits, 30% gross profit margin. as someone advise internationally three or four times a year -- that flies internationally three or four times a year, i do not like the fees myself, but the airlines, trying to make their prices
12:09 pm
transparent, they are still not as healthy as you would think. host: thank you for the call from brooklyn, new york. guest: the airlines would let you know their profit margins are pretty small. in recent years they have made a few pennies per customer. they now are having a slightly better year and making them i believe it -- making, i believe it is a little over one dollar a year. yes, they will tell you their budgets, their profitability is very narrow and that is why their experiment with these different fees, figuring out how
12:10 pm
to charge people, and make offers that are more desirable to their customers. host: this is from "the wall street journal" -- as baggage fees soar, thrifty fires get creative, and to begin with spirit airwaves, calling it -- airwaves, calling it stingy spirit. one point from the story is some travelers are dressing in layers to avoid baggage fees. guest: i guess that seems extreme. i know a lot of people do try to carry on bags to avoid checked luggage fees. at spirit, they parcel out their fees, where'd you buy your ticket, would you print your boarding pass, how much luggage are you bringing. for the thrifty customer, maybe they can thread the needle and keep their fair low. another aspect of spirit and allegiance if they serve cities that are not served as thoroughly as the other major carriers.
12:11 pm
you can find from cedar rapids, five from cedar rapids, iowa. host: almost 10% of the profits come from seat assignments, selecting them in advance. you pay $15 to select in advance, otherwise it is done by the airline. guest: when you sit in the middle seat of five on a long flight, you know that might be uncomfortable, so people are willing to pay for more legroom or for an exit row where there is more leg room.
12:12 pm
even the legacy airlines are increasingly charges -- charging for assignments, spirit is leading the pack in parceling out each piece of the trip. host: bart jansen covers aviation for "usa today." ohio. good morning. caller: i think we are being charged a per bag fee is because they are using more space for commercial flights. you use to pay one baggage fee, and you can carry three bags in the cargo, and now we are not allowed to carry more than one bag without paying an additional fee for each bag. how is that fair? guest: you certainly would not want to pay more for your luggage thinking that the cargo customer is getting some advantage in the hold. i believe those baggage fees were created to make up the gap, or for what they have not been able to raise in the affairs themselves.
12:13 pm
-- the fares themselves. that is what is advertised. you can fly across the country for $199, and if you do not know you pay $50 each way, it would be $250. they want greater transparency on the fees so you know what you are looking at. how much will it cost to fly to los angeles? i have not heard as much about the idea that cargo is shouldering aside the luggage of paying passengers, but that is an interesting question.
12:14 pm
host: from jan -- i have noticed on the smaller planes they check your carry-on bag at the door. there is no bin room for each person to have a bag. typically, they do not charge you for that. guest: that is correct. there is not as much overhead space, or if it is limited, they call that a gate check. you might be able to slide the bag under the seat. typically, the gate checks do not cost the same or as much because it is considered more of a carry-on, and you have the inconvenience of them having to take it away and retrieved it as you're getting off the plane. host: gene in pennsylvania. caller: good morning. i think you addressed this issue, but i did not hear it, but i am concerned that i pay for my baggage before i get on the airplane. then, there are those people taking baggage on the airplane that do not fit in the compartment, and they are being
12:15 pm
taken from the baggage handlers down to the cargo, and they are not paying for their baggage like i am. i am wondering why that is. guest: you are right. that does not seem fair. it basically boils down to the measurement from the bag. if the bag looks small enough to be carry-on, you would think the airline would say it looks like a carry-on bag, but as the roll- on get bigger and bigger, sometimes they won't out -- bulk out depending on much you cram into them. sometimes you get to the plane, and the bins are full, and you are right, they put them into the same hold as the checked baggage. you would think that they would be checking you as you are checking in to see if the bag is really a carry-on size because they should be to their advantage to catch the bag at the check-in point.
12:16 pm
the question would be why they are not being stricter at the check-in. i carry a checked in -- check -- i carry a bag, and there is no question it would fit, but those that do not, there is a question about why they are not being checked at the check-in. host: sarasota, florida. good morning. caller: good morning.
12:17 pm
my concerns about -- are about the upgrade of the navigation system, which is decades old. there was a hearing saying they were running three years behind schedule and $4 billion over budget. they expended about $9 billion trying to upgrade to gps navigation. on questions from the congressman, they mentioned it would be another $20 billion. that was eight months ago. do you have any upgrade on one converting over to gps navigation is? guest: a bit. it is behind schedule and over budget. the faa and airlines would like to be moving faster. the system is called nexgen, next-generation, and it is both shifting from ground-based radar, that keeps track of where airplanes are as they fly between cities to satellite- based navigation. it is much more precise, like you can check on your smartphone now. they hope to bring the technology onto planes. they are ball parking $20
12:18 pm
billion. they are only projecting right now to spend $1 billion a year, so this will still take decades, perhaps. the question in the congressional debate over spending with sequestration, with the budget cutting we have seen over the last year, it at faa -- at faa, you can either cut the development of a new program like that, or personnel. as we saw last april, there were furloughs of air traffic controllers, but if you do that, it leads to flight delays, people get upset, and they ended those furloughs. the concern is as there are continued budget fights, the $8 billion or so they hope to spend on nexgen could get frittered
12:19 pm
away. the problem with something as complicated as nexgen is the lanes have to have new equipment on them so that they can -- planes have to have new equipment so that they can navigate by gps rather than radar. they have to have data communication systems to talk to the towers in the cities where they are going to land. they also have to develop new flight paths. right now, they tend to land in a stare step pattern. under nexgen, they will glide in smoother with a shorter horse, and that will save fuel, and -- shorter course, and that will save fuel. that is the incentive. some of this is in place, as in seattle. if you do not adopt the equipment and changing the fight plans, the sort of stuff the faa has to do for its $1 billion a
12:20 pm
year, maybe the airlines would not buy the equipment for the airplanes to upgrade, as they would need to do to cooperate. as it slows down, the slowdown could snowball. this is something the faa is behind. the airlines want to do this to save fuel, which is one-third of their costs, so the question is if congress races as highly as the industry does -- rates this as highly as the industry does. host: the use of cell phones on an airplane -- received -- we saw a statement from commerce and lamar sanders, -- congressman lamar sanders. how likely is that. guest: i am marshals -- air marshals are armed, and they fly on some fractions of flight basically there to prevent hijackings, terrorism, so they are not supposed to step in for
12:21 pm
flights on planes, drunkenness, but occasionally they have stepped in when there is a scuffle with a flight attendant. in terms of cell phone calls, for two decades now, the federal communications commission has banned the use of cell phones for calls aboard planes because they do not want the phones trying to connect with towers all across the country and overwhelming each tower as they fly over head, dropping the call, and confusing ground systems. so, what is new is the fcc just announced they are going to consider lifting the ban because there is new technology that,
12:22 pm
basically, if you put a cell phone tower, a communications tower on each plane, which is how they do wi-fi -- you can search the internet on certain flights, if you pay an extra fee, the cell phone could connect with them tower, not connecting with a ground station, which is presumably the end of the fcc concern, and it does not interfere with the communication from the cockpit, so there should not be a technical reason to prevent it. the fcc will hold a meeting on december 12 to talk about lifting the ban. if they move forward, there would be a public comment period, and then they would take months longer to discuss it among themselves and perhaps lift the ban.
12:23 pm
i'm sorry. host: no. that is all right. guest: if they lift the ban, it is up to the airlines to decide whether they want calls on planes. business travelers have been against this because of the noise, the distraction, listening to somebody for an entire flight. the hindrances to that are that it would cost a fee -- wi-fi fees right now might be nine dollars an hour just for internet access. phone calls might be one dollar a minute. there are places in europe, the middle east, that already allow calls. the range from one dollar a minute, to as much as $12 a minute. the question is would the fee discourage usage? the airlines could just prevent it, so it is not clear how many
12:24 pm
airlines would allow it, or if they would just make you turn it off if it is an overnight flight that sort of thing. it is early in the debate, it but the discussion -- but the disc -- it is early in the debate, but the discussion has begin -- begun. host: the other issue, if you are at an airport, you buy a cup of coffee, you are going through the terminal, and you want to board the plane, you cannot take the beverage. abc news and others are reporting that in europe it is possible to take the liquid through the planes and security checkpoints. how likely is that here in the u.s.?
12:25 pm
what technology is there to determine the coffee is not a threat to the passengers or the airplane? guest: we had that story, too, and europe is beginning to dip its toe in the water on whether to allow liquids through the checkpoints. the problem up to this point has been -- there was a liquid bomb scare in 2006. that is why there has been a prohibition since then to basically limit -- you have to put containers up to 3.4 ounces in a clear plastic bag, send them through the scanner separately in carry-on luggage. in checked baggage, you can have your large bottles of shampoo or whatever. there has been this limit for several years now. the problem has been next meeting machines have not been able to detect which liquids are explosive verses which is just your soft drink. so, the machines have become better now, and better to the
12:26 pm
point where they are detecting explosives, and not giving a -- giving off so many false alarms. the machines have become better. europe is beginning to test machines where if you put a jar, your soda bottle, or your shampoo, it says explosive, not explosive, in a second or two, very quickly, but one bottle at a time. other machines can also do this, and perhaps if they get an alarm, you take a closer look at the specific container. these machines are not giving up so many false alarms, so europe, starting in january will allow you to carry duty-free liquids. if you buy a bottle of liquor, that has been a problem up to now.
12:27 pm
you can now transfer, go back through a check oink, and keep it with you. if there is a question of -- checkpoint and keep it with you. if there is a question, it can be tested. tsa has been watching this, working collaboratively with the europeans, and top officials say they would like to allow
12:28 pm
liquids. it is a hassle for them to have people told them out of their bags. they say half of the stops are for a bottle of water that you have to toss in the can before you go through the checkpoint. they are monitoring this experiment in europe, trying to get to allowing liquid and carry-on bags entirely. tsa is watching closely and could follow if these steps prove successful. host: bart jansen who covers transportation and aviation issues for "usa today," thank you for sharing your expertise. guest: thank you for having me. >> president obama will spare a pair of turkeys, live on c-span. the president and ceo of the cleveland clinic. he talks about the ongoing debate over health care. here is a preview. >> what do you think? >> i think we have to understand what is going on in health care across the country. health care has become so expensive and united states. it is now consuming 18% of our
12:29 pm
gdp. is starting to eat into education and other social programs that we want to have and need to have. we are more expensive than any other country in the world and we have to harness that inflation rate. we have to bring the cost down so that we can remain competitive. we have been at this a long time. it is a process that started several years ago. we have closed one hospital that was two miles from hospitals. frankly, we have consolidated services. we consolidated services for obstetrics, for rehabilitation, for cardiac surgery, for
12:30 pm
pediatrics. and for trauma. for example, trauma, when we consolidated the services, we saw a 20% improvement in mortality rates. this is been a long process for we are trying to reform this. what is going on right now is a lots of things are coming to a concentratedhave on taking out costs over the past couple years, for example things like purchasing. we took $280 million on purchasing. we have done things like that eliminated a redundancy. and andput blocks eliminated some 12,000 tests that would've been redundant. programtion of our q&a featuring toby cosgrove. watch that interview in its entirety today.
12:31 pm
looking at some of our primetime programming, tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span we will show you president lyndon johnson's speech to the nation following the assassination of john kennedy in 1963. a discussion on the use of genetics and forensics in the criminal justice system and on c-span 3, clinton intelligence and policymaking during the bosnian war. c-span. we bring public affairs from washington directly to you, putting you in the room at congressional hearings and offering complete gavel to gavel service ofl as a private industry. c-span, created by the cable tv industry and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. now you can watch us in hd.
12:32 pm
>> it is one of the busiest holiday travel seasons of the year. we learn more in washington journal. host: the scene from union station, as we continue our focus on transportation this day before thanksgiving. frank n. wilner is a contributing editor for "railway age magazine," and the author of the book "amtrak -- past, present, future." amtrak was created to deal with america's rail transportation infrastructure. how has it been doing? guest: it was created to deal with a railroad crisis at the time. passenger railroading was divided by privately owned freight railroads from the 1800's until amtrak's creation, but after world war ii, america began spending excessively,
12:33 pm
almost, on highways and aviation, and passengers started moving from trains to their cars, which are quite convenient, two airplanes. also, because of the building of highways, a lot of great started to move from the railroads to the highways, and america's railroads suffered financially. they started going bankrupt, and one of the solutions was to take from the freight railroads the obligation to operate passenger trains because they were losing almost $1 billion a year at the time. that translates to almost $10 billion in losses today. they were unresolved of the responsibility to operate passenger trains and amtrak was created as a federally-owned entity, and sadly, it has struggled since.
12:34 pm
part of the problem, steve, is that congress does not look at transportation as a single entity. it looks at it in a stove pipe fashion in that aviation, amtrak, highways, are dealt with separate bills in separate budgets. the traveler does not say i am exclusively a railroad traveler. a traveler on any day might use highways, aviation, railroads, and what would certainly help america's transportation situation today would be to fund all of the modes to a multimodal, single transportation budget, which is not being done. what we are doing today is lobbyists from each of the modes are coming to capitol hill and fighting for their share of the pie. because amtrak is relatively poor, does not have a political
12:35 pm
action committee, it does not fare as well as the other modes do on the hill. host: i want to come back to that in a moment, but let's look at amtrak by the numbers. on any given day it operates 300 passenger trains daily. it has more than 21,000 miles of roots. it connects more than 500 destinations in 46 states, washington, d.c., and three canadian provinces. a top speed is 150 miles an hour. service began on may 1, 1971. the first trade was from philadelphia in new york. looking at total ridership -- guest: america wants you to ride amtrak. they are setting records every year for ridership, but there just are not enough coaches, enough track slots for the
12:36 pm
trains required, and there certainly is not sufficient funding to keep amtrak where the public would like it to be. what is really interesting is in conservative his tricks in america, some of the most can -- districts in america, some of the most conservative districts where the opinion of president obama is very low, or obamacare is deplored, in public opinion polls, the same voters are saying i support subsidies for amtrak. those numbers are striking and rather high in terms of support for subsidies, yet on the hill there is a continuing drumbeat to cease providing subsidies for amtrak. a significant amount of executive time -- joe boardman, for example, the ceo, has to
12:37 pm
spend it on capitol hill for his budget, rather than trying to operate his railroad. when you divert those resources on an annual basis, and add additional hearings where conservative congressmen enjoyed beating amtrak over the head and having a jolly rotten time, it is difficult to operate the railroad. it is the perils of pauline, or sisyphus trying to push the rock up the hill and it keeps rolling down on him. host: let meask -- let me ask about excel at, made to compete. how is it doing? guest: it is doing very well. in only portions of the northeast corridor is it able to achieve speeds of near 150 miles an hour.
12:38 pm
the vision for amtrak, and this is probably worth talking about, the vision is to have 220 mile an hour trains between washington and boston within the next 25-to-30 five years, at an incredible cost of $117 billion. it is a wonderful vision. is it going to be funded? amtrak has a difficulty obtaining $1 billion, so the idea of a -- of obtaining a $117 billion, and shaving travel time between boston and new york, it is going to be a difficult challenge, steve. a bigger question, and i was discussing this with a friend at dinner, cliff, who used to be joe boardman's deputy minister, administer -- administrator, and we were talking about how
12:39 pm
important it is to shave time off of a train trip between boston and new york. when you get to new york, you stand in a 10-minute cab line anyway. if you have the amenities, more comfortable seats, the ability to walk around the train, electronic devices, is the businessman, the businesswoman perfectly comfortable on a trip of today's links with better infrastructure, more modern tracks, amtrak in better repair? do they really need to shave that 35, 40 minutes, off of the trip? host: our discussion is with
12:40 pm
frank n. wilner, who writes for "railway age." we can take your calls or you can send us an e-mail or share a tweet. today is one of the busiest travel days for amtrak. a few years ago, amtrak said record ridership. let's look at the numbers.
12:41 pm
frank n. wilner? guest: it is strained with capacity. it needs money. congress will have to make the decisions. we have gone from -- 441 years, executives from amtrak going to capitol hill, begging, and from some presidents we have had vocal anti-amtrak statements, with ronald reagan, and george bush seeking to zero it out, but interestingly, we had positive statements from bill clinton, but when he submitted his budget, he tried to zero it out. it is a popular target. we do not do that with highways or aviation. as long as we treat transportation funding and all forms of transportation receives subsidies -- amtrak is just more visible -- as long as we
12:42 pm
continue in a stove pipe fashion were amtrak is more visible on the hill, it will continue to struggle for its annual budget and we are not going to make progress. the american people say overwhelmingly they want the subsidies for amtrak, yet we have a handful of politicians that are driving the anti-amtrak drumbeat. we need more congressmen stepping up to the plate, saying look, it is time to listen to constituents. let's provide the money. let's treat transportation as transportation, and not single- mode funding, and let's look at developing a multimodal transportation fund, where you would have primarily user charges. the highway trust fund is primarily supported by fuel taxes that we pay at the pump. well, today, we're spending $3.22 -- in the vicinity -- for
12:43 pm
a gallon of gasoline. if we added a one-penny height to the gasoline -- hike to the gasoline tax, it would bring in $1 billion annually, which is about what amtrak requires from the hill, so small increases in the gasoline tax, and increases in aviation tax. the polar paying 20 -- people are paying $25 for baggage fees. what if we added one dollar or two dollars? we could fund all of our transportation modes to user charges. they would not be taxes, per se. they would be taxes on the users, not the general public, and we could have a more modern, more competitive multimodal transportation system as a result. host: our guest is frank n.
12:44 pm
wilner and ryan joins us from cincinnati, ohio. caller: good morning. happy thanksgiving. host: thank you. guest: i am in cincinnati. i have worked on a lot of trains and rails and i know a lot of the history on railways, and i am not sure that at any time during the western expansion under the monroe doctrine did we ever collect taxes to build these private venture trains. anytime i watch an old black- and-white spy movie, there is always a train, and it is clear the definition of fascism is when government incurs business with private business, or to raise funds for private business, or forces rules to use this private business. guest: certainly, the initial transcontinental railroads were
12:45 pm
funded through land grants. america has substantial land that was not used, unpopulated through the central united states. if you look at early maps from the mid-1800's, it is called the great american desert. nobody lived out there. railroads were given parcels of land in exchange for their raising funds through bond sales, and the idea was to sell that land after the railroad had been constructed. that is precisely what they did. they received land grants in exchange for building of the railroad, and in subsequent years, the railroads actually paid those land-grant back. so, railroads have a history of being privately owned, but trying to make comparisons from the 1800's in the 21st century is not very efficient, i do not
12:46 pm
think. host: this is from a viewer who says the new york to tampa trains are not that nice -- they are old, rickety, and slow. guest: the very well may be. if amtrak had greater subsidies from congress, the equipment, certainly, could be renewed, but they are operating and have been operating on a shoestring, and it is difficult to add equipment. i know they are purchasing new coaches over the past few months, and more and more coaches will be going into service. it is something we have to deal with, we have been dealing with, and we saw that with airlines over a number of years. look at the airlines that went bankrupt. host: kathleen. saint augustine, florida. good morning. caller: good morning. i would like to see amtrak sold into private hands.
12:47 pm
almost anything the government runs operates at a loss and expects the taxpayers to subsidize it because many of those employees are union- protected and they do not have any incentive to do above and beyond kind of things. i think private industry encourages that because of competition. i think that if amtrak was sold and became a private entity, a private business venture, i should say, it would probably be profitable within three-2-5 years. guest: many refer to amtrak as an island of socialism in a sea of capitalism, but there is no public transportation anywhere in the world turning a profit, and to suggest the entire route system could be privatized and
12:48 pm
turn a profit is not feasible. study after study has been done. now, could we take a segment of amtrak, or have the northeast corridor, and operate trains profitably? perhaps that could be done, but that we would have to give up the rest of the amtrak route structure that is not making money. we buy into the whole package. when trent lott and kay bailey hutchison, two republican senators were in the senate, they both made very clear that if if any portion of amtrak's route system were cut off, and the money was just put into the northeast corridor, where we would privatize just certain portions of amtrak, that would be the end of amtrak because senate-support for system-wide subsidies would end at that point. it has been tried all over the world.
12:49 pm
we cannot operate passenger trains without a subsidy. we also give subsidies to highways. we give subsidies to aviation. it is just not possible to privatize everything in our society unless we want to get some things up. americans say we do not want to give up our trains. we do not want to give up our highways that are also subsidized. host: our guest has written six books on rail economics, labor relations, and his most recent is on amtrak. is the former director for the public transportation unions public relations. he is a graduate of virginia tech. mike. pennsylvania. good morning. caller: how are you doing? guest: good morning. caller: my thunder got stolen. i wanted to have you explained to the people that there is no
12:50 pm
passenger rail service anywhere in the world that makes a profit and they are all subsidized by the government, almost like a utility. guest: that is the point that i just made. caller: right. host: there is this from scott amtrak and acela are overpriced for the northeast corridor travel. pat and new jersey transit are the way to go. guest: path and new jersey transit do not operate between new york and washington. more importantly, it is intermediate stops where amtrak is also dependent on by passengers -- depended on by passenger. njt is a commuter railroad serving a much smaller community. host: this from ken -- amtrak subsidies equal another wasted
12:51 pm
work spending. guest: there is no passenger rail in the world able to pay for itself. host: let me share the comments of congressman john mica, who has been critical of amtrak, including its reported loss in excess of $70 million in part of the -- in part because the rail service provided free wine and cheese on long-distance trips. here's what he had to say at a recent hearing. [video clip] >> as you know, amtrak's losses continue to mount, not only for food and beverage services, but the federal government has had to underwrite the total operations of amtrak last year in excess of $1.3 billion. now, during the last 12 years, and track lost nearly $1 billion
12:52 pm
in food service. i think i have that little slide up there. we are at $999 million in losses in one dozen years. unfortunately, those losses continue to mount. last year, amtrak reportedly lost $72 million on food and beverage services. amtrak claims that some significant improvements -- and they have testified before congress -- have been made over prior years. if you look at amtrak's financial statements, it would appear that amtrak has reduced their losses, as they claim, by $33.2 million since 2006, but in reality, and, again, if you look at this report and also dig into
12:53 pm
their books -- sometimes it is difficult to you that -- you can see the reduction in losses that they have claimed to congress and the american public is, in fact, the result of an accounting gimmick. host: the comments of republican horseman john mica. frank n. wilner, the author of "amtrak, past, present, future." your comments. guest: john mica has called amtrak communist railroad. he has a fun time beating amtrak over the head. at the same time, he has not been critical of not having to take general tax dollars, not provided by fuel taxes, to bailout the highway trust fund.
12:54 pm
for whatever reason, he enjoys picking on amtrak, the price of a ham sandwich, of a glass of wine, but he does not enjoy the same comments for highways and aviation. it is what it is, and john mica seems to enjoy being an annoying hemorrhoid to amtrak. [laughter] host: i am sorry. i have never quite had it put that way. we will go to reaction from congressman jerry conley,, credit of virginia, at that same hearing. [video clip] >> significant work remains. however, they have achieved cost-saving, and i deserve to have them at their five-year plan before we start second- guessing. negative headlines highlighting food and beverage losses from
12:55 pm
their long-distance service -- nevertheless, business is booming. in fiscal year 2013, amtrak received a record 31.6 million riders, are presenting their 10th annual ridership record out of the last 11 years. they boasted 4.8 million passengers on long-distance routes. posted home, my constituents -- closer to home, my constituents contribute it with 11.4 passengers traveling between washington and boston the easy this year. this amounts to ticket revenues of two point $1 billion this year, another record for amtrak. really, america's support and reliance on passenger rail is alive and well in the 21st
12:56 pm
century, and it would be regrettable if we try to retard that progress. host: congressman gerry connolly, democrat from virginia. the numbers that i want to put on the screen -- some other numbers i want to put on the screen for this year -- -- this week -- shad, oakland, new york. caller: -- brooklyn, new york. caller: good morning. first time caller. i made a time -- i am a big-time rail supporter. i returned from europe. i took a passenger train from barcelona to madrid that got there in two and half hours. it is lights out compared to the united states. segueing back to amtrak, one problem in the northeast corridor, the acela, while
12:57 pm
significantly higher priced to the passenger really its time travel is not significantly better than the usual northeast direct service. i think between new york and boston, only a half an hour shorter. i am wondering if the issue is ownership of the road beds, owned by the private railways or communal lines? guest: northeast corridor, amtrak owns as custody and control the entire corridor. even though it is not the majority user. the majority user of the northeast corridor or are commuter railroads like new jersey transit, metro-north, mbta, marc, but amtrak does own and control the entire northeast corridor from washington, d.c.,
12:58 pm
to boston. about 456 miles. elsewhere in the united states, amtrak has to operate as a guest over freight railroad owned track. host: the next caller is roberta calling us from san diego. calling in for frank n. wilner. caller: good morning. i just wanted to make a couple of points here. i have traveled amtrak different times over the past few years. i have gone from san diego to chicago, returned home. the electricity went out and we had to have no food. they could not use the food that was there because of the time the electricity being out. i paid for a sleeper car. i am a handicapped person. not only do i have to purchase the food off of the train, i have to pay for it, whether i eat it or not. on the trip we went out and we
12:59 pm
got mcdonald's and all kinds of fast food. then when we got home, i was not only approached by amtrak to say, gee, we charged you an arm and a late for this trip, so we would like to subsidize you. i had to call and explain and go through all kinds of things as far as i am concerned should have been on record. i have also been on the amtrak when it went from seattle to san diego. before i had cut off its sacramento and got back on. when i got back on, the train had two breakdowns between seattle and sacramento and then i get to san diego and we hit a worker, a farmworker. we were like nine hours late getting in. once again, i had to go and beg for amtrak to do something. guest: that is certainly unfortunate. there are trips from hell.
1:00 pm
i don't represent amtrak but if i did, i would certainly say that amtrak is very sorry. it doesn't happen that that does not happen that frequently. when it does, it is obviously a disaster for the traveler. --t: chapter one, you and asked this question, who shot the passenger train? guest: it was shot by technology really. the invention of the repeller driven aircraft and then jet- driven aircraft and subsidies to those other modes. you travel anywhere in europe you can almost set your watch that it will leave on time, arrive on time? what are they doing? guest: for the most part you can
1:01 pm
set it by amtrak northeast corridor or service. this store clay they have spent more money on passenger trains but do not have the extensive road network we have in this country. a wonderful story that goes back about 20 years but apropos today. the association of railroads we had a delegation from france that came in to talk about market freight railroad. we were told they had flights every single hour from reagan national 20 hey are. they were dumbfounded because they do not have that sort of aviation availability.
1:02 pm
our needs, our mobility needs, mobility demands are different than they are in your rep. the bottom line, how much do you want to spend on the rail network? the chinese are spending far more than we have chosen to do in this country? on congressmen getting a lot of attention on our twitter page. we encourage you to check it out. this comment. guest: absolutely. kathy joining us from california. thank you for waiting. >> i live in the central valley. angeleso go to the los to visit my family.
1:03 pm
in bakersfield we had to get off and ride a bus. trace --be nice to take the train over the mountains in union station. toit would certainly be nice add a lot of routes, but it all comes down to the availability. the availability of funds. worst happened in september 11, -- the number 2011. i know with talking from amtrak officials they take various layers say -- very seriously.
1:04 pm
caller: if the budget of the pentagon was scrutinized the way the amtrak budget is grew nice we would not have problem with excess money. we would have a rail system equivalent to the rest of the world. i live in the northeast corridor or. i grew up here. it is a cultural issue with united states of america. even in new jersey people want to stay in their cars. people because of the costs are switching over to amtrak and so forth and so on. what i would like to know is how we work and so on. when you look at the subsidies
1:05 pm
that we are giving to the we are actually spending so much more inefficiently because our roads are not as good as mo's places as well. >> thank you for the call. when did anyone ever see a greyhound snowplow on the highway? trucking companies do not supply snowplows. police protection is provided through general taxation. amtrak has its own police force. they have to maintain its own track. i have to remove the snow. it does not have a sit in -- hidden subsidy, it is all out front for everyone to see. a lot of people look and say airlines are privately owned. i can use my car.
1:06 pm
i am paying high fuel taxes to use my car. they are not paying the full cost. amtrak is the convenient target. host: are you able to comment on hyperloop transportation? what is that? guest: art of new technology. older people may remember going to department stores and the cashiers would send the sales slip along with their money through a pneumatic tube that would go to a counting room where the change would be made and the tuba would come back again. hyperloop is a pneumatic tube, the equivalent of a passenger coach in a pneumatic pressurized tube and sending it along. there has been technology -- technological development of hyperloop. it is not too different in terms of speed than magnetic levitation. some people say this is the stuff of star wars. you know, steve, you can't stop
1:07 pm
technology. and technology has given us things we never dreamed of 10 or 15 years ago. cell phones, the use of twitter. we can't really predict what technology is going to give us tomorrow. but it is something to keep our eye on today. so when we talk about spending $117 billion, for example, over the next 25 years, to create 220 mile an hour trains on the northeast corridor or, one thing we have to wonder about is how will technology change over the period. will people will -- be traveling differently? one aspect to consider is videoconferencing. could it be in 15 years, 20
1:08 pm
years, that business people no longer travel but take care of business through videoconferencing? if you look at most 20 year olds today, teenagers, in 20 years they are going to be our commercial leaders in this country. they trust what they see on the screen. their nose is in their smart phone all day long. will they be more comfortable not traveling and having face- to-face meetings but doing all of their business over electronic means without travel? which would mean that perhaps it is only those vacationing or going on leisure travel that will use airplanes and trains. we need to do a lot of research into where we are going transportation-wise in this country and the future. host: if you are joining us on c-span radio, which is heard nationwide, xm 120, we are talking rail transportation, frank wilner is our guest. we are focusing on transportation issues. a quick comment from dean who sent in this tweet --
1:09 pm
guest: without a doubt, studies show trains are environmentally preferable to automobiles and also in some regard to aircraft. host: another reviewers saying, yeah, i can go for the vacuum tube train. staten island, new york. good morning. are you with us? guest: hello. i just wanted to ask you a question. the transportation system in this country is always competing with each other. the airlines want you to take the planes, amtrak wants you to take the train. why can't one of the airlines or all of the airlines step up and work together with amtrak to try to get people to use both? areas like the other caller said did you can take the train only so
1:10 pm
far and then you have to take the bus. it seems like we are going in circles. people want to get from a to b and they are always fighting either a private entity or government subsidized program, and you can't get there. guest: understood. one thing you can do more efficiently is aviation, rail travel, buses together into a single multi--mobile station. that is being done more and washington, d.c. those who have flown into baltimore-washington airport know the difficulty of moving from the airport over to the train station to take amtrak. wouldn't it be nice if in more cities we had amtrak or a commuter train going directly
1:11 pm
into the airport and bringing all of these modes together under a single roof? again, it costs money, but it is certainly something to achieve in the future. host: this one tweet and then recap some of the numbers. from stephen hall who says amtrak is an indefensible part of -- indispensable part of americana. how much does the government subsidize amtrak and how much do you think it needs in the future? guest: it is in the vicinity of a billion dollars a year. and it hasn't changed much the past 10 or 15 years. that is important because if you look at it in inflation-adjusted terms, amtrak's buying power has gone down over the years with the subsidy remaining fairly stable. host: "amtrak -- past, present, and future was quote and our guest is frank neil wilner. thanks for being here. guest: steve, one thing we have not talked about his amtrak has numerous lines of business and they do compete to operate commuter trains around the country, and there is a bidding periodically for operation of the commuter trains.
1:12 pm
we have other organizations that compete with amtrak, so that is another line of business, and then there are corridor trains. states have stepped up to the plate and chosen to subsidize intra-state or sometimes multistate trains and amtrak actually operates of those trains under contract to the states. amtrak reaches about 500 communities in the united states. it operates trains on 20-some odd routes, long-distance routes in the united states. but let's put it in contrast. during the 1920s, the heyday of railroad passenger transportation, about 1.2 billion passengers rode trains
1:13 pm
every single year. today it is around 31 million. we had about 20,000 trains operating every day during the 1920s. today the number of those trains is under 100. it just reflects the growth of highways in the united states and aviation. host: thank you for making those added points. again, "amtrak -- past, present, and future." think you for being with us. >> we are live now at the white house. the north order code where president obama is expected to pardon a pair of turkeys today named popcorn and caramel. tradition thatl started in the truman
1:14 pm
presidency. looking at the anticipated holiday spending from the consumer federation of america. >> we conducted 1000 phone interviews for the survey between november 10--- seven-10, a little over two weeks ago, and we had approximately 65, 35 split of landline and cell phone lines on the survey.
1:15 pm
in considering the survey results, it is important to note that we asked respondents if they will spend more, the same or less of this year. therefore, the absolute level of responses is much less important than how it compares to previous years. invariably, more respondents tell us they will reduce spending rather than increase spending, often by a wide margin. spending willmean be greece. basically the best laid plans often go astray. but two that we have conducted the survey, actual holiday spending has increased. death of2009 in the the great recession. therefore, what matters in interpreting the results is how the proportions increase or decrease spending change through time. except for 2008 at the depth of the recession, the most frequent
1:16 pm
response in any year is the spending will stay about the same as the previous year. typically half of respondents say they plan no change in spending. this results held true this year with 48% picking that response. of the remainder, 13% say they would increase spending, a slight rise from last year's 12%. 34% -- 32% said they would reduce spending, substantially down from last year's 38%. on balance, two thousand 13 bristled slightly stronger than last year, and the strongest we have seen since way back 2006. differently, our holiday spending survey has shown five years of improvement in a row following the abysmal readings of 2008. last year in terms of forecast, we said based on the survey results, we predicted spending and five percent.
1:17 pm
the actual result was 3.6%. therefore i will take the opportunity to repeat that. last year we predicted a of theg increase of 3.4% actual result was 3.6, right inside the range. our latest survey suggests this year spending increase will be slightly better or similar to last years. therefore, based on the survey, we will use the same prediction we did last year that holiday spending this year will increase by 3.5%-four percent over last year's results. able toeek, we were draw some conclusions about the holiday spending plans of various demographic subgroups. these results suggest how various groups intend to change their spending over their own spending the previous year. they do not necessarily tell us which groups will contribute the most in spending. portionhat the overall
1:18 pm
across all respondents of those planning to increase spending was 13%. men at 15% were more likely to increase spending and women at 12%. that is slightly low were gender generosity cap them we have found last year. by age, respondents between 18- 34, roughly the millennial's are much more likely to increase spending than any other age group. only 27% of respondents to the survey will report increase spending. that is of course double the overall finding of 13%. we know this group has faced difficulty in entering the labor market but also in the age range were kids tend to show up in the household. that does not mean they will do the most spending, just means that their spending will increase more than the rest of the group. africaning race,
1:19 pm
americans at 20%. hispanics about 17% were more likely to increase increase spending plans. upper income households marginally less likely to report an increase in spending plans this year, a reversal of last year's results. however, the higher income group was least likely to report japan -- plan decrease had only 25% versus 32% for the overall respondent. lower household incomes have a much smaller buffer to fund discretionary spending than upper income households. i will turn it over tuesday to tell us more about our findings. brobeck am a director of the consumer federation of america. our survey container and -- contains good news and bad news. continuedbeen a
1:20 pm
decrease in the percentage that say they will spend more and a decrease in those that say they will spend less. the changes from 2011 are substantial. they will% who say spend less. certainly one reason for the fine --is improved family finances. most significantly, the percentage who said their financial situation had worsened the climb from 37% in 2011 to 29% this year. -- declined. our survey also suggests that the government shutdown and related budget controversies have tended to depressed spending. over half indicated that recent controversies over federal government lending and borrowing had affect their holiday spending plans with nearly 1/5 saying very much.
1:21 pm
the bad news is we have more evidence of the uneven affect of the economic recovery. low and moderate income americans, those with household incomes under $50,000, and that is about half of all american households were much more likely than upper income americans. over $100,000 less than 20% to save the financial condition had worsened. in fact, twice as many said the condition -- twice as many upper income said the condition was worse, and only half as many said condition was better. one reason for the difference -- be that lower income for worried about lower income debt payments. more than half with household incomes under $50,000 but less than one quarter with incomes
1:22 pm
over 100,000 dollars expressed this concern. it comes as no surprise that lower income americans were more would be say they reducing holiday spending. in fact, nearly 2/5 of those with income under the $8,000 said they would spend less than last year and nearly one quarter said they would spend much less than last year. lex finally, the advice -- >> finally, decide what you can afford to spend and stay within the budget. comparison cop -- off. avoid running up credit card debt at all's bowl -- at all possible, but if you do, pay the debts off as quickly as you can. year byeparing for next making regular, preferably oromatic deposits to savings christmas club account credit union or bank. now we are prepared to take your questions. question from peter
1:23 pm
barnes of fox news. how did concerns about the budget battles in washington thomas 51% who said they had changed their holiday plans show up in the topline survey numbers, and would the percent who said they would spend more on that the 13% higher -- spent higher were it not for the d.c. budget controversy? did they create uncertainty for people? we are not entirely certain of the precise relationship between the budget battles on the one hand and the people's views of the economy and their own financial situation on the other. the responses to the question about the budget battles suggest that this created or increased the sense of economic insecurity economicmericans,
1:24 pm
insecurity tends to depress consumer spending. those who said the concerns about the budget battle that affect spending were less likely to say they would increase spending. there was a slight affect their. that was a predictable effect. the other thing is the improvement from last year to this year was less than the year before. theeconomy improving, but responses to this survey were slightly better than last year. affect has been contributed to by the budget debate over the last couple of months. >> thank you very much.
1:25 pm
>> backslide to the north portico of the white house. president obama expected to pardon two turkeys today. blustery day at the white house. the president should be out shortly. the president and the first family later this afternoon will participate in a service project in the nation's capital. live coverage of the event as soon as it starts. in the meantime, we spent the morning looking at transportation issues and travel heading into the holiday weekend, including a look at the u.s. auto industry. host: washington journal
1:26 pm
continues on this wednesday and we turn our attention to the auto industry. managing editor of the autos. thank you for being with us. talking about the news of the day, transportation along the east coast especially. 40 million people hitting the roads. gas prices relatively stable. moment it is fourth for gas prices to remain low to moderate for the remainder of the year. the decline in gas prices caused a different in buying from years past. americans still choosing medium to larger sized vehicles. there is a healthy sale for compact, more fuel-efficient vehicles but those sales seems to have hit a slow down. families choose things like suvs.
1:27 pm
a big demand for pickups. talking about the auto industry and the bailout five years since it was put into place. i want to put on the screen the numbers. this was put under way by the bush and obama administration. these numbers are the federal government investment and amount still owed. the federal government providing $50 billion. financial arm of general motors given $17 billion and still owes a vast majority of that. look at chrysler given a $11 billion. owing only 3 billion. chrysler financial given $1.5 billion and has been paid off. >> the majority of the money
1:28 pm
still outstanding and false general motors, which took the largest section of the total bailout, $80 million. treasury said earlier this week that it was looking to divest its final stake in general motors by sometime early next year. when it does so, it does not give back the money -- should lose about $10 billion of the investment and put in general motors. from the beginning, both the obama and bush administration, there was a sense that this would not be a moneymaking operation. the goal was to save general motors and not necessarily maximize treasury's return. it is not then surprising that the losses of that nature. the other money that you mentioned there, the biggest remaining -- gmac, which is now called ally financial, there are still a tangled path getting them fully back on their feet. there is a back and forth between treasury and ally on how it will be able to recoup some of the investment.
1:29 pm
better still somewhat of a-- the gm side, though, is the one that is the most firm -- the largest remains to be done. host: saturn, no longer produced. did gm need federal dollars and could have survived without washington intervention? guest: no, gm had to have some kind of rescue back in 2008. chasing the executives around capitol hill this period five years ago going from committee to committee trying to get some kind of rescued together. without intervention from someplace, gm and chrysler would have collapsed. and there is an open question how much the auto industry could have been brought down with us, suppliers and even perhaps automakers. today, gm is back toward profitability.
1:30 pm
it is supposed to have record profits. the detroit three as a whole will make more than $12 billion in profit this year. it is clear that without a government intervention of some kind, that at least chrysler and probably gm would not exist today. host: what about fort? didn't get federal dollars? guest: ford took advantage of low-cost loans through the energy department and took advantage of some of the federal reserve lending that was made available during the worst of the crisis, that was handed out did. street and other banks. not nearly to the same degree gm and chrysler did. it never went through bankruptcy. add to a large degree, it was able to come back faster and it is though -- it is still more profitable than gm and chrysler. host: our guest is justin hyde as we look at the auto industry and the bailout five years later. the president traveling to a ford plant in missouri this year in september and here's what he had to say. [video clip] >> five years ago plans like
1:31 pm
this one were closing their doors. i said the american auto industry, the heartbeat of american manufacturing -- [applause] the heartbeat of american manufacturing. the auto industry was flatlining. >> good afternoon, everybody and happy thanksgiving. the office of president, the most powerful position in the awesomengs with it many and powerful responsibilities. this is not one of them -- [laughter] pardon ishouse turkey a great tradition, and i know sasha.oves it, as does generally thanksgiving is a bad day to be a turkey, especially at a house with two dogs, so i salute our two guests of honor for their bravery. they came from and a soda to be with us. they, like my chief of staff,
1:32 pm
our vikings fans. i am not sure they know that -- sure theyi am not know my bears are heading to minnesota sunday, but in the spirit of thanksgiving, i will give them a break. we are excited to have students from badger high school here. where are you guys? there they are. right there. finally, let me say thank you to john burkle, chairman of the national turkey federation. give him a big round of applause. [applause] turkeys on john's farm competed for the chance to make it to the white house and stay off the thanksgiving table. i would really the hunger games -- [laughter] after weeks of vocal practice and prepping for the cameras, the two tributes went head to head together for gobbler. most as top the competition was stiff, but
1:33 pm
we can officially declare that popcorn is the winner, proving funnyven a turkey with a name can find a place in politics. caramel sticking around and busy raising money for his next campaign. [laughter] on a more serious note, later today, we will bring a couple of less fortunate turkeys to a great organization that works to help out our neighbors in d.c. that need it most. i want to thank the glendale turkey farm ford donating to address birds for the fifth year in a row. this is a reminder that this is the season not only to be thankful for the incredible blessings that we have, but to andmber the neediest generously serve those that are not as fortunate. this is a quintessential american holiday.
1:34 pm
during this time we give thanks to our friends, family, show compassion to those in need, and neighbors to help strangers they have never met. we get angst for the blessings of freedom and opportunity that previous generations worked so hard to secure four, and we give thanks for the service and sacrifice of the main -- brave men and women in uniform who serve around the world. for those of you were watching, you keep us safe, make us proud, and remind us of our own obligations to build upon the work of predecessors and leave something better for our own kids. on the half of the obama family, i want to wish everyone a very happy thanksgiving. tomorrow we will count ourselves lucky that there is more to be thankful for that we can ever say and more to be hopeful for than we can ever imagine. now, with the power vested in me i want to grant popcorn a full come on --
1:35 pm
[laughter] a full reprieve. i wish you well. [laughter] congratulations. [applause] happy thanksgiving, everybody. see you popcorn. [applause]
1:36 pm
1:37 pm
>> so it is popcorn that it the presidential pardon. the president and family will participate in the service project and the washington area. later today, more from our q&a series. toby cost growth from the cleveland clinic will talk about the ongoing debate over health care. here is a preview. -- toby cosgrove. >> i think what we have to understand it is -- is what is going on in health care across the country. we have ourselves in a situation where we knew we would have to
1:38 pm
change health care. inhas become so expensive the united states that it is now consuming 18% of gdp. likeng to eat into things social programs that we want to have and need to have, and we are more expensive than any other country in the world. we have to harness that inflation rate. we have been at this a long time and have beginning -- have been driving this. we have all consolidated services and hospitals. thatve closed one hospital was two miles from 1000 bed hospitals and frankly, we have consolidated services, we
1:39 pm
consolidated service for abstract tricks, rehabilitation, andiac surgery, pediatrics for trauma. , whenor example in trauma we consolidated, we saw a 20% improvement in mortality rates. this has been a long process where we have been trying to reform this. what is going on right now is a lot of things are coming to a we have concentrated on taking out cost over the past couple of years in things like purchasing. we took $180 million.
1:40 pm
ove on c-span2 tonight. we have been bringing you coverage of jfk's assassination. five days after, president lyndon johnson addressed members of the house and senate. here is a look. have i would not to be gladly standing here today. timereatest leader of our by then struck down foulest deed of our time. fit's gerald kennedy lives on in the immortal words .nd work that he left behind
1:41 pm
he lives on in the mind and memories of mankind. he lives on in the heart of his countrymen. expressedre sadder to our sense of loss. no words are strong enough to express determination to continue the forward thrust of america that he began. [applause] >> president lyndon b. johnson on november 27, 1963, 5 days --er jfk was assassinated john f. kennedy was assassinated. we will bring you that entire speech tonight at 8:00 eastern. the 60s -- the 60s were
1:42 pm
different. [laughter] there were a lot of things happening involving race, structure in society. i was suddenly out of the seminary and in new england. rules.ere no things were falling apart. structure, it is very difficult to navigate. i was extremely fortunate to be at holy cross. i was extremely fortunate to ive a residual him of the way was raised in the structure that had given me. i was also extremely fortunate because i had been in schools.ntly white so the transition to a school a veryry few black's in
1:43 pm
difficult set of circumstances academically and otherwise, i had a jumpstart. i was ahead of the game, so i had something. it allowed me to do well, even though it was very difficult. >> here from two supreme court justices. clarence -- terrence thomas elena kagan. also, deborah solomon on the of norman rockwell. also, american history tv, the 100 80th anniversary of the gettysburg address. james mcpherson will the memory soldiersdication of national cemetery at gettysburg at 4:00 and 10:00. >> harvard university's kennedy school of government hosted a discussion in september about rick tied and oral history of the effects of digital
1:44 pm
technology on journalism. press, politics and public policy. here is more about this from one of the researchers, a former editor in chief of time magazine. this is in hour, 20 minutes. lex thank you, alex. river tight. the i will do my best. first of all, i do want to thank people. those sleek, alec jones. making this the best possible destination for journalists re-ing sanctuary, inspiration and great company. authorseaking for my co- when i say that. it is just a great place. can also for the same people who you think. nancy palmer and others. forly, the whole staff
1:45 pm
making it feel like a home away from home. all three of us are glad to be back home. to explain brick tied -- to ever so briefly how it came to be. looking for a nest on the ground and trying to avoid the work that would be involved 15having to write a 1500 -- page white paper. that seems like far too much to us. we said we are not going to do this. ran the efforto at the new york times called it journalist.edge an old reporter, editor and recently escaped publishing
1:46 pm
executive. , we sat around and argue because we did not agree a lot but we didn't agree on the disruption of the journalism business. our questions were simple. how did it happen? how did we blow it? what could we have done differently? we argued for a while and finally propose to our masters that we would do an oral history. i think they thought we were all crazy. we had googled the topic and articlesre were 77,000 that were written on the subject. we used that to say we do not need to write 70,001st articles. to target the key decision-makers in the original idea was 10 key moments, 10 key
1:47 pm
people and will be in and out of here in a heartbeat. we met a lot of skip elizabeth -- skepticism, but we found the godfather in nico milly. he showed us a great idea, which frankly we stole from vanity fair. but we improved on it greatly. in terms of adding video. we got his endorsement, and he stewed us to a graduate student called alex remington. alex was very intense. washington at "the post." he led us in turn to josh benton, who has artie been cited but the guy who made the fantasy becomes reality and did a great job. watching it over wisely was tom patterson. wife gavetantly, his
1:48 pm
us the video camera that we used to interview these all. we thought harvard was a fabulously wealthy institution. $30 billion does not go to video cameras. we got carried away. we did 63 interviews. 44,000 word essay. the whole thing in its entirety totals 400 44,000 word, which is 418,053 in gone with the wind. from boston, this is over 2 less fdhours. thanthe fdhours. 587,000 in war and peace. so it is doable.
1:49 pm
martin and his very distinguished panel were all really grateful not only for the interviews but for coming here tonight to help us explain it. i want to give you little color from the road with some awards. david bradley of the atlantic media, huge, sweeping views of the potomac. it is what -- is supposed to look like in the movie. it is the first and last thing he shows you. we were going to interview eric schmidt. all kinds of great electronic equipment. impossible to find out how to get electricity come out of the wall outlet. [laughter] we had to have a technician come and he said, it happens all the time. [laughter] i think it is one of the largest users of electricity in the world and they cannot lug something into the wall and it to work or it they do not know
1:50 pm
anything. there is a vegan restaurant down the street where a reclusive guy made us meet him for breakfast. the most disruptive workspace award goes to andrew sullivan's apartment in greenwich village. two ancient dogs suffering from copd in the interview. if you listen, you can hear -- [gasps] [laughter] arianne huffington was the only interviewee that refused to be video recorded. he won the got away was rupert murdoch who agreed in principle but things kept coming up. he had a very busy year. with that, i will turn it over to my colleague, martin, to get
1:51 pm
to the meat of the matter. [applause] >> [indiscernible] the newspaper association of america. she is the ceo and publisher of washington post interactive. she placed two very important roles in this history. and of course, arthur sulzberger, jr., publisher of "the new york times." i want to start with a question about the state of journalism. if you are a doctor and the
1:52 pm
state of american journalism was her patient, how would you assess the diagnosis? >> if you look at the data, you would be concerned. the number of journalists has gone down by about 30% in the last seven or eight years. newspaper revenue is down by about 55%. you see a distance between the agile landscape. if you froze things right now, you would say, the patient needs a lot of work and there is a continued progress on that work. if you look forward there are some very exciting things on the horizon. one of the things i am most excited about journalism is that your lists are essentially networks on their own.
1:53 pm
if you see some of the work that "the new york times" has done from a digital standpoint, you see what can be done. consumers want high-quality content and i think there is a big role for journalism in the future. if you froze a right now, that i would think you would have to say there has been a rough. of time and people need to focus on where the future models are going. >> i promise you, i would not have my lobbyist hat on. i would say that we are definitely in transformation. we are 80% print revenue. the print circulation has -- since 2006. the revenue is diversified. the audiences have never been
1:54 pm
larger. fully 70% of u.s. adults in any given week read a newspaper online, in print, or on mobile. audiences not a problem. it is the revenue that continues to be a real challenge. but the stuff that i read, estimates say it is leveling out. >> i was thinking about using dentistry instead of doctors. is that ok? i think we are losing our first teeth and growing our new teeth. it is painful. it is tough to lose teeth. we are seeing that happen. we know that what is coming is going to be bigger to the point of reach, bigger to the point of impact. we are now able to reach impact over on the world.
1:55 pm
when we started this business, that was impossible to imagine. >> following onto to that, one of the folks that we interviewed, as part of this, we didn't know at the time, although if you actually read between the lines, particularly in the part that excerpt it at the end in the essay, he just sold "the washington post" to jeff bezos for $250 million. a few years ago you paid 350 million dollars for "the huffington post." it goes to show the relative values out there. do you think bezos got a better deal than you? [laughter]
1:56 pm
>> i think when we bought it, many people western what the value was overall and how much we had paid for it. as we talk to investors, they think that "the huffington post" is worth a tremendous amount more than what we paid. the reason is that arianna realized something distinctive about how information gets transferred and how people wanted it. when you look at the fact we have gone from zero to 100 million video views, it is a migration of what we have bought to being one of the best brands in the world. i experience in newspapers and news started right outside this room.
1:57 pm
i owned one in boston and we bought something all the square deal. it was a free newspaper that we stand out right up the street at cambridge. the day i change my viewpoint on where news and news points were going, i went down to m.i.t. and saw mosaic. i saw the information coming up on the screen and getting electronically transferred. i walked back down and said to my partner, i don't know what the internet thing is, but i am doing it. i have never seen information be able to transfer that easily. arianna was able to do that in a disruptive way. i see john henry from "the boston globe" in the front row. i think the future is bright because that dna will be plugged in and transferred.
1:58 pm
i don't know how many subscribers "the new york times" has now, but i think i got a great deal on "the object and post." i think jeff got a great deal depending on what he does with it. >> i want to stay on "the washington post" for a minute. you ran the digital division at the "post" and that it was integrated back into the parent. in retrospect, do you think it was a inevitable that the graham family would sell to someone like bezos or was or something that could've been done at some stage that would change that future? >> i don't think it was inevitable. i am probably not answering -- it is too hard to say.
1:59 pm
i think it is quite wise to sell to him. they have been friends for quite a time and have similar values. think understanding the technology and having to understand an audience, which is something that newspapers didn't have to traditionally do but now really have to do it, is quite wise. bezos understands the subscription model and putting it into a private place. they will not have the pressure of being part of a public company. i don't know that it was inevitable. i admire the grahams for doing it. it took a lot of courage, in my view. >> arthur, the idea of a paper has changed dramatically over the last century. we have lots of creators and the dominant distribution channels are company like google, facebook, and twitter.
2:00 pm
we have sometimes chatted about the nature of an authoritative source in a highly fragmented world. if there is any one news organization in the united states that still probably has that as part of its dna, it is "the new york times." what about where there are tens of thousands of highly publicized publications on every imaginable topic? >> i think the nature of authority has not changed. quite frankly, i think it is about accuracy and calling out your own mistakes when you make and having experienced people on the ground who don't parachute into a story but come in


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on