tv This Week With Christiane Amanpour ABC December 18, 2011 8:00am-9:00am PST
this week -- a special program on the defining issue of 2012. has uncle sam become too big, too powerful? >> the bill is passed. >> a bailout bonanza, a welfare state. a tax and spend goliath. when america can't afford to fall behind. the rallying cry from the tea party. the mantra of republican candidates everywhere. >> washington doesn't need a new coat of paint. it needs a complete overall. >> at the heart of ronald reagan's famous declaration. >> the government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem. >> today, abc news and the
miller center of the university of virginia, present "the great american debates." facing off here in washington, the intellectual heavyweights of both parties. for the right, paul ryan and abc's own george will and from the left, congressman barney frank and former clinton labor secretary robert reich. good morning. and welcome to this special edition of the program. today, we delve into the fundamental question that's facing american democracy at this pivotal moment. has the federal government become too big? americans have always been weary of washington. but this year, that anger seems to be at fever pitch. with poll after poll showing trust in government is at an all-time low. but is this because it's too bloated or too broken?
and what about this conundrum, people who oppose big government still want to collect their entitlements? today we put those issues to the test. this is a of course debate and the striving theme of the 2012 elections. and abc's john donvan tells us why. >> right now, we have a government so big. and so expensive. >> reporter: you listen to this theme. >> big government. >> big government economic policies. >> reporter: or maybe rant is the word. >> big government, agendas. government. >> reporter: how does this not feel as though we're stuck in a time machine? didn't we hold this debate already? didn't reagan say 30 years -- >> government isn't the solution to our problem, government is the problem. >> reporter: and 15 years ago, didn't clinton basically concede? >> the era of big government is over. >> reporter: didn't
alexander hamilton and thomas jefferson drawing american first partisan battle lines. hamilton had a big plan for a central government. a stretchable constitution. while jefferson wanted to keep power local and limited and no less or no more. well, guess what? hamilton dies in a duel, jefferson becomes president and then he starts enlarging things, like america itself. buying land rights from france. like the national debt which got bigger as a result. and the size of the government, well, they had to keep adding chairs to the president's cabinet from 5 in jefferson's time. the number grew to 7 by 1853. 10 by 1903 and then comes the new deal. >> the only thing we have to fear is -- sflr a broken economy, it was the government to the rescue. financial industry slap with new rules. and the view that it was a good thing to spend in the system. when something's not right.
>> in the hollywood line -- >> should be a law against it. >> reporter: mae west. laws we got. plenty of them and rules and regulations and restrictions and limits and codes and requirements. and agencies and boards and commissions and departments that warn and watch and police, enforce, inspect and approve or disapprove. who wants all of this? if you needed the federal government to force open the schoolhouse door, if you needed those checks that the government handed out after the gulf oil spill. if you hated the fact that airlines could keep you on the runway for hours, until government said they couldn't. if you need the parking space that federal law mandates in front of stores, then, well, it's you who wanted it. or maybe not. not when this agency gets into it, because there's a price to be paid for all of this. and maybe we can't really pay it. >> and so, today, we step away from the din to debate what the american government should do. and what it does well. we're here with a live studio audience in the newseum.
and with me on this stage, on the right, house budget committee chairman, congressman paul ryan of wisconsin and abc's own george will. on the left, congressman barney frank of massachusetts who just announced that this term in washington will be his last and robert reich, bill clinton's labor secretary. now teaching at the university of california, berkeley. we have a lot of ground to cover today. we want to leave time for questions. so we're asking you to keep your answers quite tight. we kick things off with brief opening statements. first, congressman ryan. >> thank you, christiane. is there too much government in our lives? yes. ask most people and they will agree. it's no coincidence that government spending has hit record levels. while people's trust in government has hit record lows. so, the longer answer, why is this, is pretty simple, too much government inevitably leads to
bad government. when government grows too much and extends beyond its limits, it usually does things poorly. our founders put limits on government, because they knew the limits of government. the left usually likes to advance what i like to enact stronger argument. those who agree in the principles of limiting government, somehow support a social darwinism, where people are left to fend for themselves completely. the only alternative to this cruel society is a vision of a society of total security and total outcome, results guaranteed by government. fortunately, this is not the case. those of us who believe in limited government, also believe in effective government. a good and popular government is one that respects its limits.
is one that fulfills its goals and functions well. but look at where we are today, look at our economy, our debt, crony capitalism. where government is picking winners and losers. where you have big government and big business exchanging favors with one another, while the small business person is left struggling to survive. the last few years have shown us, that a truly effective government is impossible without limits. a government that focuses on equalizing the results of our lives, is one that does damage to the american commitment of equal opportunity. if we reclaim our founding timeless principles, we'll have a government that we have faith in, that we are proud of and the question surrounding the size and the proper size of government, will take care of itself. >> congressman ryan, thank you very much. and congressman frank, your opening minute. >> yes, we have too much to government and yes, too little government. there is this mistaken view that
says, you know, we have a fight between the people's money and the government's money. it's all the people's money. the question is, as people, intelligently, we have two sets of needs, we have needs that we best pursue individually with money for ourselves and families. then, there are things that we have to do together. in all of my years of government, i have never seen a tax cut put out a fire, i have never seen a tax cut build a bridge or clean up toxic atmospheres. the point is, there are some things where we are inevitably together. we are interlock in the economy. we're all subject to the same environment and we all have the same public safety needs. on the other hand, my conservative friends who claim that they are for small government are the ones tell us that an adult shouldn't be able to gamble on the internet.
we have antonin scalia, in a snit, because you don't have sexual relations of what he approves. so, my conservative friends have it backwards. i want there to be regulations so you just don't have the kind of manipulation in the financial area that leads to crises. i want to be able to clean up the environment. not matter how rich you are, you can't get your own air to breathe. on the other hand as i said, there are overreaches by the conservatives. by the way, they include militarily. i think we have a wonderful military, filled of enabled young people. very well equipped. they can stop bad things from happening. they're not really good at making good things happen in foreign society. my conservative friends want us to rebuilding other societies where we're not really good at it. so the answer is, yes, we should have more government where we need in an interactive way to protect
ourselves against abuses. but there should be more personal choices. so that's the current situation. so my answer is, yes, i want more government involved in economic regulation and environmental cleanup and public safety. i want less government telling what personal choices i can make as an individual. >> you heard both sides open up with their premise. let me ask you, robert, about the distrust and the fear of government, it's at record highs right now, a recent poll says about 64% of americans including 40% democrats feel that a big government is the biggest threat to the future of this country as compared to only 26% thinking that big business is the biggest threat to the future of this country. isn't that your problem? >> it's not my problem, personally. christiane, i think that this country has never, in our history, embraced the idea of big government, we don't like to think that we want big government. the idea of big government as a
framing device, in terms of debates such as this, inevitably sets it up, kind of in favor of the side that doesn't want big government. as my debating partner just said, the issue is really not so much how big the government is, it's what foft does. who the government is for. lot of us are worried that government is doing the wrong things. it's not only invading personal space. look at what alabama and arizona have done, in regards to allowing police to stop anybody who looks latino on the suspicion that they may not be here legally. in this country. we want a government that does protect the right things. you mentioned distrust. well, people distrust government. but how many people trust wall street these days? how many trust big corporations? how many trust the economic policies? a poll just done on friday, said that 77% of americans think that
the economy is unfair, the dice are loaded, essentially the game is rigged in favor of the rich. >> you talked about what the government should be doing, so let me ask you, one of the big issues that we have been debating all year is election. this election is jobs, the jobs crisis, there are something like nearly 23 million people who are either unemployed, underemployed or out of the workforce, of course during the great depression the government did create big programs to get people back to work, why shouldn't they do right now. >> first of all, it didn't work during the depression. the cardinal aim of the new deal was to put the country back to work. unemployment never came below 14%. we have had a remarkably clear test under the obama administration. they said, pass the stimulus and by 2011, the economy would be growing at 4% and unemployment
would be 7.1% and falling. i don't fault the president for having his economic projections wrong. this is a complicated society. one of your liberal friends once said, the purpose of economic projections is to make astrology to look respectable. i don't fault for the president for this. i fault the president for thinking that the society is transparent. i don't fault the president for making a slew of horrible investments. in green energy and all of the rest. solyndra and other companies. i don't fault him for that. because no expected the political class to be disposing money in the most respective way. >> can i respond to that, one of the most successful things that we have done recently is to keep the american automobile industry alive. there was fight on whether or not we should inject into the american automobile industry, and as a result of
that, injection of funding, we have a thriving american automobile industry today that otherwise would be in collapse. ford motor company not looking for any of that money, ardently argued for money to go to chrysler and general motors which are now thriving. the american automobile industry is stronger now because of judicious intervention of federal funding. as to the stimulus, yes, they overargued. but the fact is, quite clear, things are better than they would have been. now, i understand, it's not a good political slogan to say, things would have been worse without me. you don't win on that. but it is clear, and i say that less politely in other forums, but it is clear that the economic intervention that we did earlier in 2009, reduced the damage. the president underestimated the difficulty we had in the economy. but when you talk about interventions, the intervention
into the american automobile industry has been very successful and promoted employment, and promoted and kept alive an american automobile industry that would have been badly crippled. if we hadn't done that. >> congressman ryan, you voted for the auto bailout. >> right, to prevent t.a.r.p. from going to the auto companies. because we already put $25 million aside in an energy bill. we created a moral hazard now. if you're really big and you drive your company into a ditch, don't worry about it, because the federal government might bail you out the next time. the other point is, it's impossible to disprove. it would have been much better if we didn't do all of these things. i would say, when we have deep recessions in these country, usually we come out of it quickly. this recession, we're not recovering very well. look at how high our unemployment is.
look at how few jobs have been created -- >> do you think the automobile intervention was successful or not. >> i think we should have done a bankruptcy, because what we're doing now by saying, bon holders, you might lose your money. >> as a matter of fact -- we're letting companies fail all the time. there's no such moral hazard. >> can i break out of form and agree with paul ryan on one very important issue. and that is, i think the wall street bailout, if we had to do it again, certainly, that bailout would have had strings attached. those wall street banks would have been required to help homeowners. would have been required to put caps on executives' salaries. limited in terms of lobbying to prevent wall street regul regulati regulation. would you have voted for that, paul ryan? >> with those strings? no, i would have put different strings.
stick to the financial sector. >> a brief sentence, we did vote for the bill. the bill you described is the one we voted for. the bush administration decided it was so important to get the buy-in from the financial industry, they ignored significant pieces. >> and we have a question from our audience on financial services. >> good morning. my question really has to do with, what has been put in place since those days to prevent this happening again for consumers and investors to take some comfort from what we have learned in the past few years? >> i will be glad to respond. because we have, in fact, we have accused of being too big to fail to overdoing it. too stingy to bail. the economists, the economists did a simulation that said, if there's another crisis, we won't be able to bail people out. the federal government gave money to aig. we abolished that.
in the bill. that no longer exists. we also said that if a company fails, in the first place, it is, if you can't pay its debt, it's abolished. sarah palin was half-right, which for her was a good average. we had death panels in the legislation that we passed. they were for large financial companies. it's abolished. the federal government can step in and pay some of the debts. but it's mandated to recover those debts that are paid and they can pick and choose. not from the taxpayers but from other corporations. >> surely, if you're too big to fail, you're too big to exist. then the country is held hostage to you. >> george, so no bank should be no big to fail? >> below whatever threshold -- >> what is that threshold, george? would you break up every bank in
america? >> no, i would break up the big ones. >> and to what size? because here's the problem, people say that, canada has five banks, they're well regulated. it doesn't cause a problem. no one has told me to what size. the answer is, what we have said is this, if you fail that's okay. that's your money as long as it's not the taxpayers' money. if you fail, you're out of business. we may pay some of the debt. but it comes from other financial institutions. >> this is a terrific example of where so-called liberals and conservatives are not on polarized opposites. i think we should cap the size of big banks. banks are bigger today than before the wall street bailout. i think we should use the antitrust laws to make sure they don't get too big. and bankruptsy laws as well. we are in the habit, all of us, on being exactly opposite sides.
but when you actually look underneath the surface, there's much more in common. >> congressman ryan. >> here's our problem with this approach. we're amplifying too big to fail. we're saying that if the government deems you risky, you're going to the bun thone t gets bailed out. >> that's not true. >> we're saying, to the big banks, you're going to get the capital that's cheaper. the small banks are going to be left on the outside looking in. we're stacking the deck in favor of the big banks instead of the smaller banks. >> that's totally inaccurate. >> you just said a couple of things. the government gets to pick and choose. they can decide how to run these big companies. if things go down, we'll bail them out. i read the bill three times. >> here's what the bill said, you said to break them up but no one has told me what size. you do have an international competitive aspect.
secondly, what we have said is this, we'll be regulating them. the regulators are empowered to make them divest if they think in a particular case they're too big. finally, if all of that fails, they have to have more capital, more capital for the big banks than the small ones. if they fail, they're put out of business. they're not too big to fail. we then will pick and choose to see what debts we may pay, but the bank is done. the shareholders are wiped out. everybody is fired. there's no moral hazard. there is no more institution. >> you just made our case. on that note, in the next segment -- >> there's no institution for who's too big to fail. >> to deal with all of this is the big businesses not the small business. >> because they're put out of business. >> congressmen, we're going to leave banks for the moment and go to people in our next segment. the rich and the poor. the government, freedom and fairness. when "the great american
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there you go. go national. go like a pro. there you go. i joined the navy when i was nineteen. i spent four years in the military and i served a tour in iraq. all the skills that i learned in the military are very transferable into the corporate and real world. chase hired me to be a personal banker. the 100,000 jobs mission has definitely helped me get my foot in the door. chase is giving opportunities to vets who don't think that there's any opportunity out there. chase and these other companies are getting a great deal when they hire veterans. chase is proud to help 100,000 veterans find jobs at home. there's nobody in this country who got rich on his own. nobody. you build a factory out there, good for you. but i want to be clear, you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. you hired workers the rest of paid to educate.
look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea. god bless. keep a big hunk of it. part of the contract is, you take a hunk of that and save it for the next kid. >> welcome back. and that is the essence of what we're going to debate in this segment, that of course, was massachusetts senate candidate elizabeth warren, defending the role of government. resolution on the table, there's too much government in my life. the hot topic on the campaign trail and on capitol hill. let me ask you, in 2007, the nation's top 1% took home more than taxpayers than the total bottom 40%. and now, new reports show that at least 1 in 5 americans are living in extreme poverty. so the gap between rich and poor is widening.
shouldn't the government do something to address that? >> so poverty rates are as high as they ever have been. that's a good argument that the current economic policies aren't working. rather than trying to bring the people at the top to bottom, we should focus on bringing the bottom to the top. we need to people give income mobility. b let people rise up. that means, take the barriers away from allowing people to rise in society, don't have a society where we say this is enough. we're going to cap it and we're going to try to equalize the differences. because what ends up happening, that new cbo study about income inequality. the best thing to reduce inequality is to have more recessions. that's basically what their conclusion is. the focus on our government ought to be, to respect people's rights, so that they can make the most of their lives. the differences in our mros s. ,
it's not equalizing people's lives but giving them the same opportunity. >> george, decades now of evidence shows at least in the last decade this upward mobility in this country has stalled, mitch daniels said upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the american promise. should they allow upward mobility? >> big government inevitably xabs rate, the problem of inequality. it's the servant of the strong. the tax code has been changed 4500 times in the last decade. every one of those times, at the service of a group strong enough and attentative enough to hire a washington lawyer to represent them to gain the tax code. the welfare state exists to transfer wealth from the working young and retired elderly. the working young and middle age to the retired elderly. the elderly are, according to
the cbo study, the net worth of a family of a household on average, household headed by someone 65 years old or older is 40 times larger than the net worth of a household of someone 35 or lower. that is a record and that has doubled in the last five years. big government is responsive to big muscular interest groups. >> go ahead. >> well, i -- let's just be clear about the facts, right now, the top 1% is claiming in terms of their pay, a larger share of total income. than has been at any time since before the great depression. and their tax rates are lower than they have been in 30 years. you look at that period. george, you said that rich people, or big corporations have undue influence. yes, i agree with you. but the answer is not to shrink government.
not even attempt to have the government invest in education. the answer is to get money out of politics, to make sure that those who are at the top reaches, that is both individuals and corporations don't have the untoward influence they now have. one final point, in the first three decades after the second world war, we had in this country, much more of an equal distribution of the fruit of economic growth. yet what happened? it turned out in those days the economy grew faster than it has since. under president dwight d. eisenhower, a moderate tax cut on the top of 91%. i'm not advocating that we go back to 91%. i'm just saying, for conservatives to say that we cannot tax the wealthy, when all of the nation's wealth and income, virtually speaking, is at the top. to invest people and education
and training and everything else we need to invest. it's absurd. >> bob, you're in field of strong men. no one is arguing against government investing in education. >> you guys are. >> no, we're not. >> i'll make a point. i'm not attacking the elderly. i am elderly. i have five years ago, when i turned 65, i got my medicare card. i said to my doctor, i got it. he said, that's wonderful, george, we'll send your bills to your children. >> let me talk about education. george, you're wrong when all of the tax increases help the wealthy. i voted for and paul voted against a tax increase under bill clinton that raised a rate on the people above, it created great increase in
revenue and it helped us balance the budget. it's the right wing that wants to expand the government in form of the military enormously and also claims it's job creating. the only way we create jobs, not with highways and not with environmental cleanup but by overseas military bases. but the point is, the clinton tax increase wasn't for the wealthy. it helped, it raised taxes on the wealthy. it actually moved more in the direction of equality in the tax code. secondly, as to education, it is this attack on public spending that we have had to defend pell grants against right-wing efforts to cut them. in particular, when i talk about income inequality. both ben bernanke and alan greenspan, hailed community colleges as a major transition belt. they're largely public funded. community colleges are suffering from this right-wing attack on government revenues.
so that our ability to give community colleges the funds that gives people the skills they need. >> when it comes to taxes the top 1% pay 38% of all federal taxes. but 49% american households don't pay any taxes at all, federal taxes at all, is that fair? >> if you don't think social security is a tax, in fact the social security tax which is a very significant tax, is not only a tax heavily paid by lower income people. it's regressive. if you make $100,000, everything you earn is taxed. yes, if you exclude the social security payroll tax from the calculation, then the more income people don't pay tax -- but if the percentage of income that's taxed is taken into account and you take social security tax then that figure isn't true. >> i want to go to the audience,
we have a question there about lobbyists. >> i'm the director of the miller center at the university of virginia. my question is this, many americans believe that washington is dominated by lobbying groups that represent both the left and the right, i'm curious, whether in your judgment that's the case? if the government is influenced too much in lobbying, how do you reform it? without jeopardizing our traditions to speak freely. >> let me ask you, first congressman and then i'll ask you u, secretary. >> how does big government get money out of politics? it's the other way around. if the power and the money are going to be here in washington that's where the influence is going to go. so what we're doing by having big government concentrated in a few, that's where the powerful
are going to go to influence it, by reducing the size and scope of government. by having government living within its limits. you're reducing that power central and sending it back to the people where it belongs. >> i'm struck by -- when people talk about limits, you guys keep exempting the military. there's an enormous amount on the military. we spend more on the military then on medicare. we're building bridges in all kind of countries in the rest of the world. and somehow it's money spent on the military disappears from your world view. >> secretary reich, people really do worry about it, it's both parties, how does one get all of that money out of government, out of elections? >> first of all, we have a much stricter campaign finance laws. i think we may need an amendment to reverse the supreme court ridiculous rulings. that money is speech and corporations are people. how absurd. the average first amendment rights of most people are being trampled on. paul ryan, going back to your
point, my concern is not so much with the size of government, it's what government is for. and if you and i can just simply agree to get money out of politics, and reduce government to the size that it works for average working people not for corporate welfare, not for defense contracts, not for agribusiness, that claim so much of the public, then you and i can make some progress. >> we passed mccain/feingold. >> the supreme court threw it out. >> if you want to reduce the role of money in politics, reduce the role of politics in allocating money and opportunity in this society, leave it to the market, private voluntary transactions between individual
>> george, you say leave it to the markets. we tried leaving it to the market. watch what happens on wall street? listen to massey energy. we had mine cave-ins. what about the poor in this country. >> what about the education? what about job training, roads and bridges? you're going to leave that to market. >> many people think that the problem in the financial crisis, they knew how many americans ought to own houses. they were going to do whatever they needed to do to support banks. >> all right. we're going to go to a break. we'll continue this. and up next -- when does uncle sam become big brother, when political decisions challenge individual liberties as "the great american debates" continues. "the great american debates" continues. there are over twelve thousand diseases in the world. some take years to diagnose and treat. how can doctors find insights in a body of medical knowledge
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welcome back to "the great american debates." the resolution on the table, there is too much government in my life. right now, we're going to talk about where government should be in terms of individual liberties and privacy. we have a question to my right. >> i'm a preschoolteacher and in a university town, where dangerous driving is an issue. i read the headlines while leaving town, that the red light camera surveillance issue wasn't approved. my question is, when does safety trump personal -- people feel it's an invasion of privacy to be video taped. we use it in many places to catch criminals. >> george? >> well, i'm worried, actually, by the mad proliferation of cameras following us through our lives. it does seem to me, when you say when does x trump personal
liberty? almost never. >> when it's a matter of saving lives? >> i don't want to make safety parallel with, equal to liberty. >> i would welcome, george -- there's a complication driving a car. it implicates others. i would assume that you, george, you're going sign on with me and paul on stopping this terrible regulation on the internet. in which we tell adults they can't gamble. here is where the right wing is for big government. they want to regulate personal choices. birth control. they want to regulate the use of birth control. as i said gambling. who can get married. i have never understood, why heterosexuals who want to marry that, if i would marry a man, they would lose interest in their wives.
i'm not aware of what my attractive role would be. so, in fact, it's the case there's also the case as it is in the military, but a major reason for the expansion in american government, taxation, et cetera, is an overly extended -- expanded american military. that's supposed to accomplish social issues far beyond defense. but, let's talk about individual liberty. gambling, marijuana, personal sex practices, what people can read, which is the case, the social issues component of the right wing that has been the one fostering big government. >> this is another issue where so-called liberals and conservatives don't feel all that much differently. for example, when we talk about surveillance, most people don't want cameras everywhere. most people want to be able to count on their individual freedoms.
most people don't like the the authorization act that any american could be deemed an enemy combatant and lose all of his or her rights with regards to indefinite suspension. that's not the america we know. >> what about what some people see as a paradox? >> big brother-ism. >> big brother-ism. the right wants to keep the left out of the boardroom but in the bedroom. >> the opponents of big brother-ism, they're taking all of these laws to take control. there's a different debate of believe are the there's a different debate of what we believe are the origins of life and things like that. i notice barney, you have a big thing with the defense department. that's the primary function of the federal government. you may not like what they do. this time last week, i was in
afghanistan, they're out there fighting for our liberties and our security. depriving safe havens for terrorists who can come and attack again. you might not like that. >> no, they go far beyond that. >> it's a primary function of the founding government. >> you're talking about the construction of society, i'm in favor of the military stopping bad things from happening. by shooting bad guys with drones and elsewhere. but they are far beyond that in the construction of societies and in trying to build so. we're still in iraq. >> with we can debate the policy. >> we're out of iraq. afghanistan is going to be winding down. >> no, we're in iraq, building iraq. >> this is something that only government can do. national defense is a primary function of the government. >> let's go to the audience quickly. let's go to the audience quickly. >> good morning. this is a great debate. i'm an evangelical christian minister from virginia. i'm president of an organization, called the general partnership
for the common good. i'm interested in finding common ground. i think it's great discussion. my question is this, there's a great paradox, one is this, to two pieces of economic information came out this week, one, that we're a nation of have and have nots. 48% of now poverty or working poor. that's the first point. the second point is that we don't believe that as americans. the percentage according to gallup that actually know that this paradox exists, this great income inequality has fallen, so my question is, isn't this a great american delusion? and an inconvenient truth that we deny at our peril? >> inequality falls when we have less economic growth. that's the paradox. the point we're trying to say as conservatives, what do we do to set the conditions for economic growth so we have upward mobility, so people can rise through society. we have a dynamic society in the american economy where people move all around in income groups.
people who are at the top don't always stay there. the people at the bottom don't stay there. the question is, what are we doing to make it easy as possible to rise through the ranks? >> economic growth is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. we now read day care for working mothers is being cut by this assault on taxation. community colleges are being cut, pell grants are being cut. i'm talking about those measures which allowed people in not great circumstances moving forward. there needs to be sufficient spending for community colleges. pell grants on lower income people. and working mother to have day care, it's precisely those things enable those people who are not fully participate in this growth to participate that are the victims of this. >> beyond this, christiane,
you started to ask about civil liberties and civil rights. one of the great and proudest thing this federal government has ever done has to do with, the voting rights act, making sure there's upward mobility for people with, not only based on race and religion, based upon disabilities, based upon sexual preferences. if we did not have those laws, this country would not have been as strong as it is now. and we wouldn't have the upward mobility. >> can i get answer on marijuana, george? personal liberty? if someone wants to smoke marijuana an adult, why do you want to make him go to jail? >> gambling on the internet. i'm a supporter of the barney frank bill. with regard to marijuana, i need to know more whether it's a gateway to other drugs. >> george that's a cop-out.
it's been around for a long time. that's the slippery slope argument. the fact is someone is doing something that's in fact not wrong, then stop the something else. do not lock him up for smoking marijuana. >> what you're calling it a cop-out, i'm calling it a quest for information. >> how long is it going to last? we have been doing this for decades. . >> it often does not go in their direction. >> i have been studying this for a long time. you're on medicare. how much longer are we going to have to wait for you to make up your mind? >> i want to get back to the issue of social mobility. bass i think it's -- >> good. let's get off of marijuana. >> it's a great embarrassment to the conservatives that they tell me who i can have sex with -- >> come on. >> paul, this is big government. who can i have sex with? what can i read? what can i smoke? conservatives intrude on
personal liberties there. >> all right, christiane. >> taking that into account, the basic function of the government, this government has in the past, enabled upward mobility. this is something that governments know what to do. education, health care. >> the basics. >> don't you think that's where it should be involved? >> there are three points i should make here. the math doesn't add up. all of these tax increases they're talking about, letting the bush tax expires, it will pay for 8% of the president's planned deficit spending. we're going to run about $9.5 trillion of deficits over the next ten years if the president has his way. let's stop subsidizing the wealthy. the third point is, let's get out of this class division rhetoric. it's dangerous. we should not be speaking to people as if they're stuck in some class. the government is here to cope
with their lives. we should appealing for their mobility. >> i have never heard a poor people complain about -- coming up -- the teams get one last shot to make the sell. so, stay with us. make the sell. so, stay with us. ♪ [ male announcer ] you'd be shocked how much data you use in a month. e-mail, status updates, finding your way, uploading photos,
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they met with the branch manager and they said, "look, we've got this little hot dog cart, and it's on a really good corner. let's see if we can buy the property." and the branch manager said, "all right, i will take a chance with the two of you." and we've been loyal to bank of america for the last 71 years. it's been a spirited and civil debate. now the teams get one last chance to make their case. we have time for brief closing statements. starting with george will. >> i want to thank barney and robert for arguing that government today is too small, too frugal and too modest. i think big government harms prosperity, it harms prosperity by allocating resources not in terms of efficiency but in terms of political power that directs the allocation. i think big government harms freedom. because it's an enormous tree in which the shade of which
the smaller institutions of civil society cannot prosper. and most of all, big government today harms equality. it harms equality because, by concentrating power in washington in big government, it makes itself susceptible to believe the rent-seeking by big muscular interest groups. the only people who can come to washington and bend the government to private purposes, get the government out of our lives more and more. you'll find that freedom and the market allocations of wealth and opportunity prevails. jefferson understood, jefferson understood that you can have a government with minimal attention to the absolute essentials that we talked about, we want government to build roads and we want the government to defend the shores, we want the government to deliver the mails, after it does the essentials, understand what ronald reagan did. less government, under reagan, respect for government. something we all want.
respect for government rose as government's role declined. >> thank you, george will. robert reich? >> thank you. the indefensible of the market is working beautifully. i think if i can summarize what my debating partner and i have been saying is that, the issue isn't how large government should be but who the government should be. so many americans today are worried that the game is rigged that the dice are loaded in favor of the big corporations. indeed what george, what you have said and paul ryan, yes, there is too much crony capitalism, there is too much big corporation and the rich and wall street. but, you seem to believe if you got rid of government, then somehow, individuals would not be imperilled by those same forces. they would be.
big government is a canard. i spent half of my life in government. do i look like big government to you? let's get serious about what we're talking about. and let's make sure that we understand we're living in a society where people care about jobs, they care about wages, they can't get ahead because so much wealth and income are at the top and taxes are not being paid at the top to finance education and health care and infrastructure. that everyone depends on the get ahead. upward mobility is being slowed. because of that inequality and that inability of us to actually have the effect, we the people, not we the corporations, not we wall street, not we the rich want to have. >> robert reich, thank you very much. and we will be right back. and we will be right back. officer at twenty-three. issiod i was an avionics... tactical telecommunications...
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and that's our program this week. our thanks to the miller center at the university of virginia for partnering with us on "the great american debates." thank you to the newseum for hosting us. send your comments on twitter, facebook and yahoo! or at abcnews.com/thisweek and thank you to our distinguished panel. congressman paul ryan, congressman barney frank. robert reich and george will. you can also find more information about this debate on our website as well. be sure to watch "world news" with david muir tonight for all of the latest headlines. for all of us here, thank you for watching and we will see you