tv Tavis Smiley PBS September 6, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight the conversation with the former secretary of labor, robert reich. he talks about the two-party agenda and what they must do it if they win in november. he is out with a new book called "beyond how to arrange -- beyond outrage here " we are glad you joined us. >> there is a saying king had that said there is right thing. by doing the right thing. to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do.
walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> robert reich is now a professor at uc-berkeley his latest book is called "beyond outrage." he joins us from berkeley pier reagan >> thank you for having me. >> on friday of this week we
expect jobs numbers to come out. next wave we are waiting for official poverty numbers to be released. there is a link between poverty and joblessness, but what is your sense of what the nation ought to expect with jobs numbers and poverty numbers on top of each other? >> we are slowly coming out of the recession. recovery is not what it needs to be, and poverty is moving upward. we continue to be the richest country in the world. now there is no reason we should have so many americans jobless or in poverty or both. >> we are hearing so much about poverty or jobs. why so much from either side about poverty? >> this is nothing new. our politicians do not generally
speak about poverty, because the accord do not vote. -- the poor do not vote. it is the wealthy and middle- class who vote. the largest party is the party of non-of voters. 52% of americans, 53% depending on the election. most of them do not vote. tavis: if the new poor are gonna former middle class, why not speak in that language? >> republicans are not really talking about last all. -- about class at all. democrats tend to talk about a
middle class that continues to grow larger and larger so the poor can move into the middle class, and people are caught by not so much safety net so trampolines the allow them to move back into the middle class. we used to have that. we have a middle class that kept growing, and even when you fell out of the middle-class you could get back in it because the economy was doing so well for everyone, not just the rich. tavis: what do those trampolines look like? >> instead of having an unemployment insurance system full of holes, 40% of americans that are unemployed do not even get benefits because they are not qualified. people will have a job training. they would have access to good
jobs. we would know there are specific jobs they are training forme. we would have not just community colleges and training programs but employers actively stating if somebody passes and get through a particular training program there would be a job waiting for them. we would have a minimum wage that is higher so if you got a job you could buy stuff that would help other people get jobs because the only way employers are going to hire more people is if they have more employers who have money. >> fifth you were to put someone on the spot and ask the primary difference between how mr. obama omney approach the
economy, you would say it what? >> one is investment. make sure there are safety nets and trampolines. what the republicans believe is trickle-down economics. make the rich richer. a good cut their taxes. good cut many programs of course depend on -- the poor depend on. i do not believe the republican program has proven itself to work. did we saw george bush have major tax cuts for the rich. we have fewer jobs after those bushwhacks cuts, and the median wage started to drop, ending in the crash of 2008. what we have seen in the clinton administration, of which are was
very proud to be secretary of labor, that when we raise taxes at the top, when you expand infrastructure, when you build the economy from the bottom, you get a sustained recovery is, and you get a larger middle class with an upward mobility. >> "the new york times" did a story about the clinton administration when you were secretary of labor, and they found now 15 years later more women and children are falling into poverty than ever before, primarily because that program did not work so well, and peter was right about stepping down because he disagreed with that approach. your thoughts about about welfare program, since we are hearing so much about welfare once again. >> i was very much against the president's signing the bill. ihought it was the third bill
the republicans sent. i thought he should hold out for a much better bill. the problem is it only provides a limited amount of time, five years when somebody can collect supplemental benefits and welfare, and if the economy is doing fine or if you have a normal pattern of recessions the blast may be a year and i have, that is probably going to be enough for most people, but if you had a very deep depression or near-depression that lasted many years, imposing itself with the greatest burden on the four poor, the five-year limit is going to take a toll on some of the poorest in the country, and
that is exactly what happened. i think it was a bad bill. i think he should not have signed it, but he did, and we saw the results. >> romney and ryan have finally gotten around to strategically asking that question, are you better off now than you were four years ago? the obama administration initially stumbled upon that a answer. i suspect they are going to answer that question, but i guess i am wondering whether a strategy of it could have been worse is what they want to hear, so how are you going to answer the question are you better now than you were four years ago? >> i think you have to ask where people were in 2008. most people are much worse off, but it is not enough. you have to paint a picture of where we are going and how we get there. it is going to be better than today, because too many americans are hurting today.
we have too much poverty. americans are still under water in terms of their homes. one out of every three or four americans owes more on their home than what they are worth your your this is not a time to celebrate. the direction they are going on is positive, but it is not enough, and i hope president obama tells the american people how we are going to get from here to where he wants to go. the only thing we really seek is tax cuts to the rich, cuts in programs that revitalize the middle class and the poor and no promise of more employment. you do not want to cut the budget deficit when we still have high unemployment because that is going to mean less
demand for goods and services. it is the same thing the europeans have done. they have created an austerity trap for themselves, but what the president needs to do is tell the american people how he is going to continue to make things better than they are now. tavis: does that mean we are going to get more aggressively on an austerity track in this country? >> unfortunately, yes, because that is what mitt romney stands for. he has left out important details. how is he going to fill the loopholes? how is he going to give the wealthy and not a tax cut over the next 10 years and also bring down the budget deficit? he does not save. how is he going to restore military cut and cut the rest of the budget without imposing huge
burdens on the middle class and poor? he does not save. give paul ryan has provided detailed budgets, a 62% of the cops are in programs for a lower middle-class -- of the cuts are in programs for the lower middle class and done poor. huge cuts for medicaid and medicare, which is the primary program for seniors. their program does not respect women's reproductive rights. it is anti-gay. it is the kind of exclusionary program this country is not comfortable with. it violates major tenants.
they understand what the economic and social programs are coming out of the romney-right in campaign. >> since you mention medicaid, let me ask you to explain what this debate is about. most americans are just starting to tune in to the sprint from labor day to election day. you have these upcoming debates. there is going to be a lot of back-and-forth about medicaid. these charges are going back and forth between the camps. give me your view about what this is about. >> there are two programs -- medicare and medicaid, which is for poor people but also for many seniors who have lost their assets and need medicaid.
with medicare, what paul ryan and presumably ryan want to do is to turn medicaid into vouchers. they do not keep up with expenditures in health care costs. with regard to medicaid, they want to turn it over to the states, reduce federal funding so the states do not have any money. the states have rigid budget constraints, and they cannot run deficits, which means medicaid, the program for middle class, elderly people, and everybody that is goingrmpoor,
to shrivel to a small portion of what is today. those programs are going to suffer, and the people who rely on them are going to suffer. under obama's plan the way you save medicaid and medicare is you reduce the amount of payments to providers, hospitals, drug companies, and other providers, and at the same time you help people avoid getting sick with regard to cancer and heart disease and major killers, and you include deficiencies because you do not rely as much on private insurers and who have administrative costs to go into simply the transactions that put money into people's pockets but have nothing to do with medical care. >> the president chose to spend his political capital on the
issue of health care. did he make a mistake by not spending that capital and spending more energy and time on jobs before he got to health care? >> i think they are related. i think the affordable care act will be our major milestone when it comes to coverage people. 40 million people will now have coverage. and we can use it as a vehicle for restraining health-care cost spirit of a lot of unemployment now problems are related to the fact that health care costs are going up now. many families have given up health care altogether, or they cannot afford the incredibly fast increasing health care costs being imposed, so you cannot separate health care from the job situation. i think the president needed to
do health care. i think the bill he got was probably the best he could get. i would rather have a single payer system or a please the public option, but he did as well and who -- or at least a public option, but i think he did as well as he could. >> the allegations he has been too favorable to the zero lead and has not focused enough on main street where the side street, you would respond house herrmann -- respond how? praxair partly agree with that. he did not have enough help for homeowners, and we have a problem in the economy now. one of the central problems people owing more on their homes than their homes are
worth. he did not put constraints on the dais. president bush did not either, but president obama should have said, if you get a bailout, you have to help homeowners. you have to make sure banks do not lobby against wall street reform. you'd agree to give glass- spiegel who reinstated, and finally, what i would have recommended is they also make sure there is no repeat of the too big to fail problem and break up the biggest the yabanko i think part of the charge wall street and the obama administration got a little too close is valid, but wall street does not believe that. much of wall street is now
supporting the romney-ryan plan to get rid of dog-for it all together, -- rid of dod -frank altogether. we are seeing many of the same practices we saw before 2008 on wall street once again. tavis: these continue to be written, drawing a straight line between the economic malaise we are in right now and the issue of the regulation. with hindsight, what say you now about what the clinton administration did with regulations that has caused so much of the mess we are in now? >> the biggest mistake was to go
along with congress and get rid of the glass-steagall aspecct. that was supported by republicans but democrats should have never signed on. good >> with regard to george bush, it has been funny to me, because the democrats to bring out mr. clinton this week, and put him in primetime, and people cannot wait to hear what mr. clinton has to save. republicans did not mention george bush's name one time. what are we to make of the fact that mr. clinton is front and center? mr. bush was the invisible man? >> the clinton economy was the longest stretch of economic growth we have had since the second world war. unemployment did not plummeted.
did 22 million new jobs were created. it was not that bill clinton created the jobs. he presided over an economy, and by raising taxes on the wealthiest members of our society, by maintaining an economic policy built from the ground up, he generated prosperity. republicans want to erase eight years of the bush and administration, because his policies did not work. did tax cuts to the wealthy i not work. good also, the weapons of mass destruction were never found in iraq. good his foreign policy centered on going into iraq and getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction was alive. his administration showed
remarkable indifference to the plight of most americans. what happened in new orleans and katrina is a good example. mitt romney and the republicans would like to pretend the and ministration did not happen. taking a five trillion $10-year surplus bequeaths to it by the clinton administration and turning into a a giant new deficit and saying to wall street, do whatever you want. we are not going to look at you. he makes the case against mitt romney.
that is one of the most important things. and with that kind of cynicism, the special interests to win everything. the only thing we can get our democracy back is if we understand we have got to be active, and it is not just paying taxes and serving on juries and showing up. we have got to be engaged, mobilize, energized. we have got to demand this work for us as ordinary people, as average working americans who need an economy working for us, not just the people on top
superior -- people on top. every time we have had a need for that, people have mobilized. somebody came and said, i want you to do this and this, and he turned and said, i want to do all of those things, but you must make me. what roosevelt said, you must make me, is exactly the same blessing today. no matter how good people are in good peopleommoand less are mobilized and force good things to happen in washington, nothing good will happen. special interests will continue to probe fail. >> the new book is called "beyond outrage." good to have you on this program.
you are welcome back any time. take care of yourself. thank you for watching. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with benjamin barber on the conclusion of the dnc. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do thei try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hungerwalmart committed $2 billion toas we work together,