tv Washington Journal Rep. G.K. Butterfield CSPAN June 27, 2019 3:01am-3:30am EDT
>> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, we get your reaction to the first democratic presidential debates. join the conversations all morning long with phone calls, facebook comments and tweets, live at 7:00 eastern this morning. join the discussion. >> at the table now g.k. , butterfield, democrat of north carolina, member of the energy and commerce committee representing the first district in north carolina. good morning to you. we asked you to come on to talk about the poverty line in the u.s. because we have been , reading about changes by the trump administration and we wanted your reaction. can you explain, what is the first poverty line and what does it mean? guest: the census bureau defines what is poverty in our country. and it generally bases it on a family of four, the poverty line
in 2019 is $25,750. for a single individual, $12,490. so the census bureau sets the poverty lines. many governmental programs are based on the poverty line. free and reduced lunches for children at school for example. children's health insurance, so many of our federal programs are based on the poverty line and if you fall below the poverty line, you are entitled to these programs, and if you do not, you are not entitled. we are getting reports that president trump is determined to redefine the poverty line and he has put it out for comment and june 21 is the magic date that comments need to be submitted to the government regarding this proposal. after june 21, the president has the authority to redefine poverty. that is alarming, for low income families in this country, for many of our seniors who live
below the poverty level, to know many programs that they depend on, may very well be eliminated in their life. host: what is your understanding of what the president's proposal would do, redefine the dollar amount and what else would happen? guest: the poverty line is based on the consumer price index, cpi. president trump has a new concept called chain cpi, a redefinition of the consumer price index, cost of goods, and other factors. for example, if a family of four is entitled to a federal program, for example, snap program, we call it food stamps, or if they have their children in head start or are receiving some kind of low income heating assistance, a family of four, if $25,750 is the threshold.
formulahe chain cpi comes into effect, a family who makes that amount may not be able to qualify anymore for assistance. so it really makes a difference. the president wants to cut $390 billion over the next 10 years out of governmental benefits to low-income families. that is absolutely terrible. i want people to think about that. people who live below the poverty line will be forced further into poverty. host: phone numbers on the bottom of the screen and we will take calls from republicans, democrats, independents. our guest is g.k. butterfield, democrat, north carolina. your calls in a couple of minutes. we will do this until 9:00 eastern time. the official poverty rate in the u.s. is 12.3% now. that means 39.7 million people
in poverty and between 2016-2017 the poverty rate for adults 18 to 64 declined and the rate for those under 18 stay the same. this is from the census and npr, two different figures. how important is this issue for your district specifically? guest: i have a low income district compared to other districts across the country. we are in the bottom 10. the census bureau also defines counties in the u.s. as persistent poverty counties, some 400 counties in the united states with persistent poverty rates, which means that 20% or more of the population has lived in poverty for the last 30 years. excuse me, the population that the poverty rate for the county has exceeded 20%, let me get that right. the poverty rate for the county has exceeded 20% for the last 30
years, that is a persistent poverty county and some 400 of those across the country and 12 in north carolina and six in my congressional district. host: a roll call story, multiple experts say it is likely the administration would use the chain consumer price index which would update the poverty line using a slower -growing inflation measure. the president of the american action forum, a former cbo director, saying many economists say the current measure overestimates the actual rate of inflation and the issue is it does it make sense to switch to something that is a more accurate measure of inflation, he says change that has been anticipated since the george w. bush administration proposed it in the white house budget. he said that one reason it is being considered now is that the 2017 tax law change the method for calculating the growth of tax deductions and other things chained to cpi and he says they did it on the tax side of the budget, it makes sense to think about it on the spending side.
guest: it is incorrect to say that inflation is manufactured, not real, inflation is real and anyone who goes to the supermarket and makes purchases knows that everything communitiesties and are being increased, from haircuts to bananas to coffee to meats, everything we consume as families in america, cost is going up. and to use the inflation rate as the basis for determining the poverty line is the best way to do it, and to create some type of chain cpi where you selectively decide what is calculated in order to make the formula is disingenuous to say the least. what president trump is trying to do is get poor people off of the social programs that we have in this country. poor people deserve to have a safety net.
they are not responsible for their condition. and for the government to pile on like this is very unfortunate. justemember, congress gave, at the president's insistence, a tax cut to the wealthiest people in our country, just the year before last when he first came into office. cuts, andion of tax yet you will redefine what is poverty and kick poor people off of very important programs they depend on? host: burt, georgia, republican line. you are on with congressman butterfield. caller: how are you doing? representative butterfield, i would like to ask you a question. you say the poverty level is $25,000, that is relative to where you live. i live in georgia and it is probably different for someone who lives in new york,
california. disingenuous. what they should do is have a sliding scale depending on where you live. my mother, i don't think she ever made $25,000 working in a textile mill in one year, but she had 16 kids. not my problem, the problem of my mother having 16 kids. but what i want to say, do you think socialism will fix this situation or how do you feel about that? guest: the poverty line for a single individual is $12,490, the $25,000 is for a family of four. whether you live in georgia or whether you live in san francisco, you cannot meet your needs as a single individual based on $12,000 per year. i acknowledge the cost-of-living we have to provide for the least in our
communities. that is not socialism. that is the american way, to provide a safety net for people who find themselves in poverty. we need to give a helping hand to poor people. that's the american way. we've done it for generations. it has been done in my community, in your community, and we are stronger because of federal programs we have. you don't want children going to school and not being able to eat. you do not want low income children not having the benefit of childcare and head start. the list goes on and on. we are a country who cares about these in our community. host: you said when the comment period is done, the president can make the decision. is it a unilateral thing he can do or does congress get involved? guest: it appears he can do it by executive order. june 21, after comments are in, i am told that the president
feels he has the ability, the legal authority to redefine what is poverty. host: do you and fellow democrats plan to push back legislatively? guest: i don't know. we will have to see what legislative authority we have over this issue. i would hope the congress would step in in some way and express itself. if we cannot do it legislatively, at least we can express it should not be done. host: how are you preparing your constituents, the one in your district most affected, what are you saying to them? guest: my job is not only to come to washington, d.c. and listen and debate and cast votes but to go home and educate. every chance i get, i will go to the 14 counties in north carolina i represent and talk about the whole concept of chain ed cpi. it does not resonate with a lot of people but when you explain the $12,000 poverty line for a
single individual might be reduced to $10,000, which means that if you earn $12,000 a year, you will not be able to qualify for anything. that means the cost-of-living adjustment on your social security for example, will be less. tos a challenge, and we have educate the american people so they can see what is at stake. host: ricky, michigan, democratic caller. caller: i realize what you said about the poverty line but, you know something, even the republicans are taking away our schools. i work at a school and i see the kids, how many kids get fed with government subsidies. but, so that means that they are going to take away the kids' food, too?
the programs will be give kids food to take home and have lunch during the summertime? guest: free and reduced lunches will be on the chopping block for some families. keep in mind, it will not apply to everyone. but if the child is from a family that is right there at the poverty line and the president redefines what is poverty and lowers that number, a child who is right at the poverty number right now may not be in poverty when the new definition comes into effect. this whole thing goes back to the budget. we spent $4.6 trillion every year in funding our government but we only take in about $3.5 trillion, so we are running $1 trillion deficit. when president obama left, the deficit was $.5 trillion and now the deficit is at $1 trillion. so what president trump is trying to do is to find some way to reduce the deficit and the
to tryay has been found, to balance the budget on the backs of poor people while at , the same time presiding over a tax-cut of $1.5 trillion for the rich and superrich. it is absolutely unacceptable, and we will fight the chained cpi concept if it moves forward. host: republican line, illinois, good morning, you are on with the congressman. caller: good morning. this is quick. about donald trump trying to change the poverty line. as a young man who has come from the ghetto, the slums of detroit, michigan where there is nothing left, we have been waiting for this for years. moneymocrats have raised youstole and stole, and never helped out the poor, the poor are still there because you are fighting for the poor, where are the results? you said you have 12 districts
in your state that are poor, poverty stricken, what have you done in your term in congress to speak up for these people? you have not improved anything and that is why donald trump is changing the poverty line, that would be great because that would force people to get off their behind and find jobs, get out and work because as a democrat you will sit there forever, as long as the government feed you, you will take it, free money. guest: my friend, most of the people at the poverty line and below the poverty line work every day. that's what we need to understand. these are not people who are sitting home watching television all day long. poor people work in this country. they work in hotels and restaurants and they clean the streets and engage in construction trade. they work every day. it has been the democratic party down through the years that has fought for low-income families,
starting with franklin roosevelt in the 1930's with social security, lyndon johnson in the with medicare and medicaid. 1960's the democratic party is the party that has fought for low income people. we brought in these programs that are lifting people out of poverty. the republican party has to for -- has stood for special interests and businesses in our country and trying to grow wealth and create wealth for rich people. we are the party of working people, my friend. host: g.k. butterfield is a cosponsor a $15 minimum wage, the legislation in the house. what is the status of the legislation? guest: it is working its way to and i believe $15 per hour is not enough but it is a level i am willing to vote for. anyone who works in this country should make at least $15 per hour. some states have already gone to $15 per hour.
host: what would be more appropriate, higher than $15? guest: we need to index it towards inflation and we need to do the math and calculations and see where the minimum wage would have been if the $7.25 was tied to inflation. it would be more than $15 per hour. host: are you hearing from the business community in your district that the minimum wage will hurt them? guest: it is not an immediate increase, it is phased in over five years and most businesses i know have business plans and they have plans for things like this. businesses know that they have to pay a minimum of $15 an hour in five years. they can plan accordingly. and if the business can't afford to pay $15 per hour, maybe they need to look at themselves and find what the problem is in their business. host: independent line, florida. good morning. caller: i just want to say that
all of this stuff is linked together. i listen to you while all the time and constantly hear republicans calling in to complain about everything the democrats are doing, and then i hear democrats calling in to complain about everything the republicans are doing. one thing i noticed about history, about america. america has had appetite for cheap labor since its inception, since it was first called america. from africans, to chinese, the indians, the cubans, anybody who comes to this country. now it's the mexicans. when these people come here, they come here for money. so now you talk about the minimum wage and it's down, and everybody is under poverty, but that is the whole thing for america, cheap labor. and nobody is talking about
doing anything to these employers. we have laws that say, if you employ somebody who is not legal, you lose your business license. who has lost their business license? who went to jail and has been fined? nobody. but we constantly hear about, these people keep coming, why? for jobs. where are they working? hotels, construction, at warehouses, in agriculture. now, how do i know these people are working there, but the people who are supposed to know and enforce the law do not know they are working there? congresspeople start putting these people in jail, fining the people, doing what the laws say, we don't need more laws, enforce the laws on the books, you know what i am saying? constantly, all the time you keep pointing the finger at the 'allr side, and both of y
-- guest: when you talk about pointing the finger at the other side, that is the form of government we have, two political parties and where constantly solving issues so do not hold that against us. that is the way our country was founded. the way the legislative branch does, we have two political parties republican and democrat, , i have great friends on the republican side and i tell you we engage in intelligent debate most of the time. once in a while, it goes off the rails, but we have intelligent debate and at the end of the day we take a vote. democrats are the majority in the house and republicans in the and that forces the two parties to try to find common ground. we work every day to find common ground with our friends in the senate. sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. but you talk about holding businesses accountable, we hold them accountable.
can we do a better job? i'm first to acknowledge we can, but we need to demand that businesses are accountable, pay their taxes, treat their employees with respect and dignity, provide minimum wage, the benefits they deserve. health care should be a fringe benefit for every worker in america. thank you for the comments. i understand your frustration , but please know that anytime you see a spirited debate in the congress of the united states, that is the way it is supposed to be. we must debate the issues. where we fall short is when we are unable to find common ground, and hopefully after the 2020 election, and the american people speak loudly and we reject donald trump and the republican policies, hopefully our friends in the republican party who are in the center will be able to work with us more in getting many of these issues resolved. we have great issues in our country and we can solve them if we have bipartisanship.
host: supreme court, an issue close to your life and work in north carolina. a couple of decision days left in the supreme court and we are waiting for a decision on a gerrymandering case that involves your home state of north carolina. why don't you explain what the case is about, and the impact on your state and district? guest: the gerrymandering case we are waiting on now is very profound. not only affecting north carolina but most states in the country. every 10 years, we have to conduct a census in this country. and after it is complete, each state legislature is responsible for redistricting and redefining the political boundaries. the reason is that, under the constitution, every district has to be about the same size. so every 10 years, in my state of north carolina, 13 states seats were allocated in 2010 and
in 2011, the legislature drew some political boundaries. our legislature at the time and still is a republican legislature and they drew the boundaries in a manipulative and strategic way to advantage the republicans. it is what we call political advantage, they drew these lines to advantage their position. years ago, we didn't have computer technology drawing political maps. but now we have that technology, and whoever is responsible for drawing the maps can employ computer technology and developed districts that favor their party. the technology is such that now we can determine almost with certainty how a voter is likely to vote, and with that data, maps can be generated. and so in north carolina, even though democrats and republicans are just about equally situated in terms of voter registration,
when the maps were prepared there were 10 republican leaning districts and three democratic districts. during the debate, the chairman of the committee, a republican, made a profound statement, he said he felt republican congressmen were better than democratic congressmen, so he drew the maps in such a way to favor republicans. the only reason he did not draw 11 republican districts is instead of 10 is because he could not find a way to do that. that is political gerrymandering. we challenged that, and we won at the trial level. several judges ruled unanimously that it violated the constitution, and we are waiting any minute now, for the u.s. supreme court to make a pronouncement as to whether or not political gerrymandering can be recognized under the law. hopefully we get a decision in the next few hours, the u.s. supreme court definitively saying what is and isn't political gerrymandering.
what does this mean to your seat? guest: if the court rules that what happened in north carolina was a political gerrymander, the state legislature will have to immediately draw the boundaries again. if they fail to do that, the court has the authority, and i am confident will use the authority to drraw the maps. not only are we affected in north carolina, there is a maryland case also pending, cases in ohio, pennsylvania and michigan waiting on this decision. i know five states will be impacted immediately by this ruling. host: jimmy from santa cruz, california, democratic caller. thank you for waiting. caller: mr. butterfinger, why talking about inequality, well, it would not be that way if we go back to the common law.
why did we get back from the common law? now we are in this roman law, i am sure he was part of it. it goes back and forth. it goes nowhere, all about divide and conquer. why is that? look at him, he's like, he knows what i'm talking about. guest: inequality exists in the united states of america. yes, we are the most powerful and superior country on the planet but we still have inequality, racial inequality, gender inequality in our country. and if we are going to be a perfect country, if we want to strive for perfection, we have to find ways of eliminating the istiges of inequality, so hope you are not saying that inequality does not exist because anyone who has any
age to understand what is happening in this country knows there is inequality. we do not need to be governed by common law. we need statutory law in the country. i am a former judge and lawyer. we could not thrive as a democracy based on common law alone. thank you for your question. host: you voted yes last night on the house bill to provide $4.5 billion to border humanitarian aid. why is this money so important? guest: we have thousands and thousands of refugees coming into our country. we have always been a country able to welcome refugees coming in. these people are coming for a better way of life, many of them fleeing violence and bad conduct in their country. they are fleeing their country's looking for better opportunities, trying to protect their lives, the lives of their families. they are coming to the southern border.
and these are human beings. they are not being treated appropriately. what we did last night was to appropriate $4.5 billion, the eye wish it could have been more. the senate will vote on what they think the level will be, but this is humanitarian aid, not money to build a wall at the border. it is about taking care of children and families who have come across the border. to keep families together and provide a safe and sanitary place to live. >> washington journal mugs are available at c-span's new online store. check out the washington journal mugs and all the c-span products. ♪ >> former special counsel robert houser at the intelligence and judiciary committees on wednesday, july 17 to testify in open session on his report into russian 6nterference in the 201
election. watch on c-span3, www.c-span.org for the free c-span radio app. >> the office of special counsel recently recommended president trump fire white house counselor kellyanne conway for hatch act violations. the hatch act is a federal law limiting certain political activities by executive branch employees. at this house oversight committee hearing, members considered a subpoena for ms. conway, who refused to testify. after approving the subpoena, the hearing continued with questions directed at henry kerner, who heads the office of special counsel. at henry kerner, who heads the office of special counsel.