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tv   Newsmakers Neil Bradley US Chamber of Commerce  CSPAN  December 9, 2018 6:00pm-6:33pm EST

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this is going in the wrong .irection the population could not get the attention of policymakers so they elected trump. >> watch book tv this weekend on c-span 2. host: our guest is neil bradley, he is the executive vice president and chief policy officer of the u.s. chamber of commerce and in an earlier part of his career, he spent 20 years on capital hill including 11 years with the house republican leadership. thank you for being our guest today. it's a busy week in your part of the world with stock markets that have been giving people lots of heart aches and new job numbers this morning that suggest that unemployment is holding steady at near decades low rest, 3.7%, but the jobs picture seems to be slowing.
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lots to talk to you about this week. let me introduce the two reporters who will be asking questions first time on newsmakers. kate davidson and jeff stein, thanks for being here. we're going to start with you, kate, and follow up on the job numbers. kate: i would just love to know what you think about the report that we saw this morning, what it says about the broader health of the economy and where we are in the business cycle. mr. bradley: well, we're obviously ninth year of the recovery, long duration. a lot is being made of the numbers coming in slightly below expectations, still 155,000, strong growth, low unemployment, i think what we're beginning to see is the tightness of the labor market having an impact here, frankly, as we begin looking out to the duration of being able to sustain this level of economic growth, one of the things that we're most concerned about is actually having the workers that we need to fuel continued growth.
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good strong numbers, but worry signs ahead about our ability to continue to grow. kate: the markets, some volatility recently. investors are starting to get a little anxious about possible signs of recession, not too far off, maybe on the horizon, how concerned are you, are your members about economic growth slowing down next year possibly? mr. bradley: i think we're more concerned about policy missteps that could lead us into a recession. so one of the things driving the stock market this week or two of the things driving the stock market this week are tariffs and
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what is going on on the trade front and the threat of a global trade war which would absolutely push us into a recession and making sure that the fed gets the normalization of interest rates right. so a lot of attention being paid to both of those things. that's driving a little bit more of what you're seeing in terms of the swings in the stock market than the underlying fundamentals. the underlying fundamentals we need to be concerned about as well. we need to make sure we don't make policy missteps in the mean tight. jeff: there was a report that found that global carbon emissions at a record high. a report earlier that climate change will cost u.s. 10% of gdp by the end of the century which is bigger than any recession we have seen. i'm curious what the chamber's position is on climate change and what it's doing right now to combat that issue. mr. bradley: the climate is changing. humans are contributing to climate change. we have to have policies that address the changing climate. that includes looking at both carbon emissions, but it also includes looking at resiliency for a changing climate. this will require innovation and technology and require kind of a broad-based commitment to dealing with the consequences of climate change. there is no one silver bullet to addressing this problem and it's one that frankly policymakers on the left and the right along with the business community have to come together and lead on.
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one of the things that we're most excited about amongst our membership, they're leading on their own. the number of companies every week that come out and say they're taking steps to reduce their own carbon footprint. they're taking steps to improve energy efficiency as well as other environmental metrics. business is kind of leading the way. jeff: 13 companies over the last few years have left their membership in the chamber reportedly due to the position on climate change, costco, ebay, necessarily and starbucks, have you changed your position, are you worried about that at all? mr. bradley: we engage with a lot of different companies. lots of companies join and leave for a lot of different reasons. there is a misunderstanding of
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the position on climate. our position is what i just told you in terms of climate change being real and happening and humans contributing to it. also that the solution is not simple. it's not something that sits on a postcard. it's one that's going to require a lot of different elements and work. we are membership driven organization and, frankly, our positions and the position i just articulated that's being driven by our members. jeff: you would oppose to a carbon tax or policy? mr. bradley: i didn't say that. we have to evaluate it on its merits. we've not come out for or against a carbon tax. a lot of it would depend on how it works, how it's written and if that's something that congress is interested in pursuing next year, we would be happy to sit down and look through the particulars and discussion them with our members. jeff: the league of conservation voters has an annual scorecard on the climate policy and votes of each member. several of them have very low scores. does that trouble you at all? they've gotten big contributions from chamber of commerce? mr. bradley: i vice president looked at their score card. i don't know what they measure. obviously in terms of the candidates that we support as the chamber, we look at a broad range of issues.
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we work on any given week or team at the chamber is working on 300 different issues. we care about a lot of different things. we try to evaluate candidates and members support across a wide range of issues. kate: if we can go back to trade for just a minute. you mention that as one of the bigger concerned when you look to next year. business investment is something we saw ramp up at the beginning of the year in part because of the tax cut which of course the chamber supported in broader tax changes. to what extent do you think the trade disputes are weighing on that perhaps offsetting some of the boosts that we would have seen from the tax cut? how do you evaluate that, what sort of impact is that having from how you see it? mr. bradley: no question that tariffs which are taxes are offsetting some of the benefits that we got from both the tax
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reform bill and also from deregulation in terms of broad basis. tariffs work differently in the sense that a lot of the tariffs are localized in terms of their impacts. so industries that are using steel or aluminum inputs are bearing the costs of the initially tariffs. exporters who had retaliations against their exports are bearing the brunt of that. the longer this goes on, the more it seeps into the broader economy, the broader business community and affects overall growth. no question it's an offset so far it has the potential to get worse. that's why we're really encouraging the administration now that we have a new deal for example, it's time to pull the tariffs off canada and mexico off the steel and aluminum, we have a 90-day window in negotiations with china, we need
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to address the real problems that do exist in terms of china's anti-competitive practices. we need to get those resolved in a satisfactory way, get the tariffs lifted and it would be a win-win for the economy. jeff: the growth we have seen from steel producers could be set back in the tariffs come off, is that a concern? mr. bradley: that the growth -- jeff: that we've seen in the steel industry. mr. bradley: no question, some people can benefit from tariffs, but the economic literature of the past experience is that the overhaul costs of tariffs of the economy outweigh any localized benefit that you get. when it comes to steel in particular, also aluminum, there is an overcapacity issue with china. it's actually a component of the larger problems with china
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anti-competitive behavior. we ought to be looking to address that oversupply problem, that overcapacity in china rather than applying tariffs particularly against our allies. kate: so we heard obviously last weekend about this new china trade deal that you mentioned, but then the white house messaging was really confusing to investors and the president's tweets, what do you think about the way that that's being handled, what is the message that you're trying to deliver to the white house about how to address this going forward? mr. bradley: there is no question that this white house handles things in terms of international relations differently than the predecessors of both parties. that does lead to some confusion. our bottom line takeaway is there an opportunity here. both china and our administration agree there is an opportunity and there is a window. what we're encouraging, both the chinese and our own government is this is serious. there are serious problems, but there are solutions to those problems. let's take advantage of the opening that's been created and let's come to a resolution. if we can come to a resolution, that's going to be good for american business, our economy and the global economy as well. kate: you think they can reach
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a real agreement in the timetable they have laid out? mr. bradley: i think we ought to have every expectation that they do. kate: on the nafta 2.0, if you will, what role will the chamber play in advancing that through a congress that is now divided, what is that going to look like? mr. bradley: we're supportive and we would like to see congress ratify the agreement, put it into effect. on balance, that's how you have to judge these things, it's a good agreement that deserves to be approved. there are some steps that the administration can take to help us get on the pathway of securing the votes. i think the first step is actually removing the tariffs on steel and aluminum with respect to canada and mexico. if you don't do, that there is little prospect of getting the necessary votes in congress. once we do that, we start counting noses and figuring out what we need to do to get this across the finish line.
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jeff: senator chuck grassley to strip the president, take the authority out of the executive discretion? mr. bradley: the authority to impose tariffs does reside with congress. we think that tariffs ought to save a few extraordinary circumstances be implemented by congress and the congress ought to have some fairly strict guidelines for how they approach tariffs which really are taxes. as to whether that can be added to the usmca, i expect there is some procedural difficulties that they may have there -- jeff: a panel over -- mr. bradley: no, we have a deal. it's a good deal. we need to get it approve. we need to take the steps to getting it approved and that starts with removing the tariffs. kate: how do you work with the democrats in the house, what are you expecting they can actually get done and changes to the tax
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law which, there are a lot of talk about that, how do you persuade democrats to go along with that? him mr. bradley: step back for a second. i actually think there is a lot we can work with democrats on. there are a lot of areas of agreement. infrastructure is a key opportunity. immigration, bringing both sides together and dealing with a sensible immigration policy. i mention one of the big dangers to sustained economic growth is workforce. there is a lot of really interesting ideas on both sides of the aisle about how we pull more people into the workforce, how we give them the skills that we need. that's something we ought to be pursuing on a bipartisan basis. there is a real opportunity there. there are areas of disagreement of course. i expect the tax bill will be a continuing area of disagreement, we're going to oppose attempts
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to roll back the reforms that were made that really helped america become competitive again internationally and improved our domestic business climate. but if they have discussions about, want to have discussions about tweaks in different areas, we'll certainly have discussions. the broad package that has been enacted has been good for the economy and needs to be sustained. kate: to follow up on that, would you specifically address how you're preparing for the large number of freshman members, in particular the large number of democrats in the progressive caucus and what their agendas might be that are different from yours? mr. bradley: we are getting to know a lot of the freshman members, looking at their record. clearly there are some progressive members who have a different view on the economy and the role of government in the economy. jeff: have you reached out to ocasio-cortez? mr. bradley: a lot of members that we anticipate being able to work with and frankly like many
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republicans, not able to work with on every single issue, we're all going to have disagreements, but finding those areas of agreements that i talked with kate for example are places to make progress, we fully expect that to happen. jeff: can i ask a question about the infrastructure package. mr. bradley: of course. jeff: additional investment from private companies and state and local governments to reach a price tag, $1 trillion infrastructure package. how high have you thought of looking at that? how important is it in federal dollars rather than saying we will leverage other money for this package? mr. bradley: so we unveiled a plan, an infrastructure plan last year that actually does both. we believe we need increased investment, how to pay for it, roads, bridges, transit programs for example is a modest update in the fuel user fee, the gas tax. the last time it was adjusted was 1993. obviously we have had a lot of inflation since then. we have efficiency, driving on fewer gallons of gasoline. an update will have a real
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robust investment of federal dollars into that infrastructure. there are a lot of other needs, for example, airports, water, wastewater systems that need to be improved. a lot can be done with substantial private investment. the rest of the world is moving in that direction. public private partnerships for example. we need to doing more of that year. it's a combination of that will give us what we need. jeff: the gas tax, macron's gas tax giving you any pause of that strategy? mr. bradley: i'm interested in
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the states, a number of states lou their legislatures have increased the gas tax. california as you probably saw most recently, there was an effort to repeal their gas tax increase and it failed. i think american voters understand that you have to pay pore the infrastructure that we all want to have. if they're confident that the money is actually going to infrastructure, that is something we would insist on an increase of the federal gas tax, they're supportive of a reasonable adjustment. they know they're not paying the same thing in 1993 for the things they paid for today. failing to adjust for inflation, it's pretty common sense. kate: can we talk about the federal reserve, you mentioned at the beginning, the fed has
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been obviously normalizing interest rates and they're expected to raise rates later on this month. the president as you may have seen on twitter and in public interviews has really been hammering fed chairman jay powell who he nominated in saying that the fed is raising rates too quickly and that is constraining some of the growth, bigger growth, better growth that we would have otherwise seen. what do you think? do you agree? is the fed raising rates too quickly or does it make sense to moving back towards this more normal environment, is it having an effect on economic growth? mr. bradley: no question we need to be normalizing rates over time. to sustain growth in response to a recession, we need to let the federal reserve do their job, free of political considerations. that's what an independent fed -- we've actually benefited for a long time from an
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independent fed, giving the fed some independence, room to actually respond to actual market conditions and data removed from politics is probably the best thing that we can do in terms of encouraging growth. kate: also, i wanted to ask about the deficit. there have been some reports that the president has been growing apparently increasingly concerned about the debt and wants to address it next year. the treasury is on track to more than double borrowing, deficits hit $1 trillion next year. we have seen that one of the drivers is this drop-off in revenue this year because of lower tax revenue. how do we fix that? how much of a priority is that for the chamber and if the
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president and democrats are not willing to touch entitlements like social secured and medicare and you don't think that they should roll back any of the reforms from the tax bill, that's pretty hard math. does the chamber take a position on that? mr. bradley: we do think that the deficit is a problem, long term debt say problem. one of the reasons we support the tax bill is that our fundamental belief that you're not going to just cut your way out of our deficit problems, you have to grow your way out of it in an competent, in a nation where you have sub 3% growth for a decade, the idea that in that environment that you could go in and change entitlement programs, change the safety net and somehow that would be politically plausible, kind of struck us as a bit naive. we thought one of the first things you have to do if you want to address the long term deficit, you got to get the economy growing again. you get the economy growing, you get the benefits of a growing economy but also provide the breathing room for elected officials to tackle some of these long term structural problems.
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i think that the more people feel more secure in their own retirement and their retirement savings, the more they would be willing to talk about changes in medicare and social security for example. jeff: does the chamber support potential cuts to social security and medicare in the long run? mr. bradley: we think they ought to be reformed. a lot of this is about the growth in spending. both of those are growing substantially each year because of the retirement of the baby boomers. in some ways we can talk about how we protect benefits for retirees but reform to get more value out of what we're sending. there are some interesting initiatives going on. the department of health and human services are on that front and address issues with social security. no one says the current social security system ought to be the one we have forever. make it more generous for lower income seniors, less generous
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for higher income seniors. that's a fair tradeoff that would protect the system longer. jeff: president obama was talking about long term cuts to social security and medicare. you don't really hear that from any of the top 2020 presidential contenders, who knows who will win that race, but is there a shift there that you worry about and that you see as sort of making the kind of reforms you were talking about -- mr. bradley: there is a shift in both parties. less emphasis in both parties on debt and deficit. we have challenges in terms of getting the economy back growing again as we begin to do that, i think you'll see the chamber urging both parties to return to address these core structural issues in our long term financial stability. jeff: one other question, the minimum wage has not been raised in a decade. it peaked in terms of value in the 1960's, nonpartisan suggest
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it would help people if you raise the minimum wage. would it be opposed in the next congress? mr. bradley: states have been increasing the minimum wage either through their legislatures or -- but if a state has a higher minimum wage or a locality has a higher minimum wage, that trumps the federal minimum wage. we're saying here in the district of columbia right now, they're far in excess of the federal minimum wage, they have adjusted on their own. i don't think anyone is going to suggest that the right wage is the wage that was set however long ago the federal one was. if we're having a discussion about changing the federal minimum wage, we have to talk about what that does to important groups of workers who are just entering the workforce or who are getting the skills they need. in particular we should be concerned about people getting
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their first job, particularly those who are coming out of high school without a college degree, be concerned about summer youth employment and what that might do in that regard. we have to talk about the right level. unfortunately, we're having a political discussion, $15 is a political number, right. it's not a number that someone looked at, what the labor market demands -- jeff: voters in arkansas approved a giant minimum wage increase, not a state that went for trump by a huge margin. do you worry about that even in conservative states, the voters are on the side of increase of minimum wage? mr. bradley: they're looking at their states and making good determinations. if congress is going to take this up, they'll be making similar considerations about geographic discrepancies, right, $15 in new york is a lot different than $15 in my home state of oklahoma. so weighing those type of considerations allowing states to be incubators here --
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jeff: the $10 minimum wage? mr. bradley: we're not going to negotiate the right dollar figure here. the one thing we shouldn't do is pick political numbers. that's why i'm concerned about the $15 is politically driven rather than economically driven. we should look at what it would do for employment opportunities for some individuals and the benefit it provides to other individuals and have a nonpolitical economic labor discussion about that. if that's a discussion congress is interested in happening, we'll be happy to be at the table and discuss it. host: one final quick question. kate: over the next couple weeks, we have a short term spending bill that was just passed that will get us right before christmas, are you stuck here for christmas if the government is funded, will there be a shutdown and what will come out of the lame duck before?
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mr. bradley: it would be a nice benefit for the country and frankly for the markets and the business community, hopefully we can make some progress on some other issues as well. we have some tax extenders, some corrections it would be nice to get through to congress. we came out in favor of the criminal justice reform and sentencing bill at the u.s. chamber currently pending in the senate. we would like to see the senate take that up and pass it and the house pass if as well. there are a knew things that we ought to take these two weeks and figure out if we can make some real progress. host: neil bradley, thank you for being our guest. mr. bradley: thank you for having me. host: newsmakers is back with a discussion on the u.s. economy and how policy initiatives might
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affect that. kate davidson, since you covered the fed for the "washington -- for the wall street journal your paper has a big , headline about the fed questioning itself about the timing of the rate increases. earlier this week, you co-authored a piece on the fed chairman and how he is standing up to the political push from the white house. can you tell us about your observations about how the fed has been responding to the president's treats and his pressure on them about rate increases? kate: my colleague, nick, had a story about their policy is really see nothing, do nothing, don't acknowledge, the fed is an institution that prides itself on its independence and staying separate from politics and political interference and so basically chairman jay powell has been completely ignoring the tweets and just doing his job. he has been asked about what the president has said at press conferences and occasionally public appearances he'll get asked about it, he says our job is to, we have the mandates that
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the congress has set for us. we need to keep prices stable and try to achieve maximum employment. that's what we'll focus on doing. and we make our decisions based on economic data and what is best for the economy. he doesn't talk about the president. that is what he has tried to do. at the same time, we saw a earlier in the year when he first came in, he began reaching reallyressively and he takes seriously the job of talking to members of congress. he has met with a lot of people. i think that now he is getting a lot of guff from the white house, perhaps it is to his advantage because nobody in congress has come out and made the complaints. of course, that might be because republicans for a long time were saying the fed needed to raise
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rates when janet yellen was chairman shared it has been awkward for them to now say that fed shouldn't raise rates. but it is helpful to chairman powell that he has those strong relationships. host: we referenced this a big week in the stock market with a lot of heart ache for people who of theestors are gone drivers is said to be china trade policy. as we are taping on this friday, we have learned about the arrest awe.he cfo of what way -- w understandinning to about the administration's approach to the trade negotiations and additional pressure? hard to is really figure out what the administration is thinking on trade. you have larry kudlow saying things that contradict what the president has said a day or two earlier, sometimes the same day. i think it is very clear that the president wants a big win on china. he wants to say they achieved a great trade deal that will raise some of the -- erase some of the
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real problems with chinese anticompetitive behavior. at the same time, it is hard to know what he is going to concede and frankly, at this point we are not even sure if the agreement that they reached in buenos aires is real. it's very hard to define at this point. you, firstoth of questions were on the overall state of the economy. as you do your reporting, what are you learning from people who are professional observers about the state of the u.s. economy? said, theeil fundamentals are good. there are some warning signs in the markets right now. if you look at treasury yields, i will get into it, but there is some reason to maybe be concerned. as you said this morning, the jobs numbers though they were certainly softer than last month, they're still very good. 155,000 jobs added. in june, it will be the longest economic expansion ever appeared
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this is a very solid economy right now. as part of the reason the fed is raising rates. jeff: one thing people at home to keep an eye on, home sales. they have slow down a little bit. they're not grammatical yet. we we see the trend accelerate, i could spell larger problems for consumer markets. when people buy homes, they buy lots of other stuff. if you see a dramatic slowdown in home sales, it might be indicative of something more dangerous for the long-term. you both asked about the lame-duck session and the possibility of a government shutdown. are any of the context you are dealing with concerned that is going to happen? kate: most people feel like a shutdown over christmas is a really bad look. even republicans are not really inclined to go there. money on it, i would cite no, we are not going to have a shutdown. jeff: i agree with that although i'm sure they will keep us busy right up until the last minute.
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host: thank you for being here in these last couple of weeks in 2018. thank you for your questions for mr. bradley. >> senator cory booker speaks in new hampshire. the democrat has discussed being a potential 2020 candidate. and peter osnos, as he talks about working with donald trump, barack obama, clinton, and other politicians. prime minister's questions begins at 9:00. ♪ >> c-span's "washington journal"
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live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. and a morning we will discuss the week ahead in washington with bloomberg senate reporter stephen dennis. directorson center erin jones talks about a potential government shutdown. and writers correspondent david shepherdson discusses federal support for the auto industry. watch c-span's "washington journal" live at 7:00 eastern monday morning. join the discussion. >> new jersey senator cory booker was in new hampshire this weekend talking to democrats at a postelection celebration. before his address, some of the state's top them across a remarks, highlighting to victories in the midterm elections. after his speech, senator booker spent some time greeting supporters. >> just the other day


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