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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  January 5, 2015 8:00pm-10:01pm EST

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>> the 114 congress gets in tomorrow. republicans will control both chambers. watch the house live on c-span and the senate live on c-span two. follow c-span's capitol hill coverage on television, radio and online at stop coming up tonight on a preview of the new congress. white house members talk about the relationship between congress and the white house. then, then glickman -- dan glickman discusses the prospects for bipartisanship in the 114th congress. then, bob cusack on the
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legislative agenda. the most diverse congress industry poised to take power and a wave of new lawmakers is arriving on capitol hill. republicans called it the ranks. and that spirit, the hill should look at the quirks of the voting members and the new congress. there is a record number of female lawmakers, alongside 430 men following the departure of michael grimm. you taught -- senator tim scott is part of the largest black republican lass in congress since the reconstruction era. there will be 46 black lawmakers and the new congress. hispanic lawmakers will have 33
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in the house and 30 senators. that is peter sullivan reporting on that. the 114 congress gavels in tomorrow at 9:00. next, we hear from former white house officials and the obama bush, and clinton administrations. >> this would not happen without pat griffin. he has been a background of being an assistant director and assistant to be president under clinton. he organized this and he came up with the idea several months ago and i said, yes, go with it. he has been the academic director of the public affairs here, a lobbyist for many years since 1998 and he is the assistant director for policy
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and programs of the center. that is part of his role here but he also has had experience on the hill. he was one of the only elected the only elected staff person and assistant to the leader and special policy adviser to tom daschle. he has had private sector experience also. the point is, he knows the private sector, the white house, the hill and will lend his wisdom to this and leave the -- lead the discussion of our panelists and will introduce them at this point. >> thank you. it is an honor to be here as part of the senate for congressional studies in american university. i so appreciate the mission and the desire to implement in terms of reaching out to the washington community. also a particular honor to join the distinguished panel of friends and colleagues.
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the purpose of this panel is to discuss the strategic options available to the president and congressional leaders as they begin the 114th congress in the past two years of the obama administration. this is a relatively unique panel and that, among other things, we have held the director for the president of the united states. it is the nature of the job to share a common set of experiences, both in terms of what it requires working within the white house and also what it requires working with capitol hill. at the same time, there is many aspects of the jobs that are as unique as one can imagine due to the variety of circumstances associated with having different bosses, facing different world realities, and sometimes just the actual time you serve for the tenure of your boss.
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for example these two and to some extent myself we served in the first two years of the president's tenure. chuck and dan worked in the past two years of the second term of their respective tenure. the energies of the newly elected resident is obviously distinctly different from the one in lame duck. however, the demands of the country and the world are often blind to that reality requiring the president and congressional leaders to have a strategic plan for engagement and government nonetheless. we will be asking our panelists specific questions regarding the strategic advice they might offer to the president and congressional leaders and light of the current political realities in domestic and international policy concerns. some of us on the panel have also advise congressional
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leaders in addition to serving as directors in the white house. party notwithstanding, sometimes the advice you give is the function of the parties serve. let me introduce my colleagues. phil, second. these guys made me make you first. [laughter] phil is currently operating as a consultant on nonprofit world getting strategic advice and -- giving strategic advice and helping to develop taxable action plans. none hand in d.c. he served before serving director of legislative affairs a senior adviser to president obama and the first two years of his term working on any number of issues from fiscal crisis to health care, and those particular he wears that is a proud accomplishment. he has been chief of staff to henry waxman, committee staff
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director covering over 25 years in the house and as also, we share the opportunity to work as an adviser to senator daschle in mid-2000. my next colleague is no calio -- nick calio. currently the president of the trade association known as airlines for america, the largest trade association of airlines, american airlines in the country. formally known as ata. now under whole new vision and direction under his leadership. he also has and the executive vice president for global affairs and citibank. he has served as director of legislative affairs for george h.w. bush as well as george w. bush. the latter in the first two years of his tenure and also when he was laying down on the
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job. dan myers, the gentleman on the end, currently the president of one of the most prominent successful lobbying firms in washington. dan, head of legislative affairs has spent many years on capitol hill working in the senate for senator boschwitz and members of the congress and i had a chance to meet him mostly under good circumstances. check brain -- chuck brain to my immediate right, current president of capitol hill strategy worked for a number of members in the house. a long tenure on the ways and means committee, which by the good fortune of his chairman and
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reality was in the middle of a lot of issues on the front burner of congress. chuck was the director in the last two years of the clinton administration. you see what we have here is a panel of folks not only with a similar set of experiences but also different times and each administration and i think that is helpful in shaping the perspective of what does a strategic advice change much in the last two years of a lame-duck residency versus the first two years and what does not change? the format for today is pretty simple. what i would like to do is ask each of our panelists one question to get started. maybe two. i would ask each of them to respond and turn it to the group to ask any question they would like of any panelists. let me begin. to the panel.
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there has been much speculation about what president and congressional leaders, republican and democrat strategy will be over the next two years. each institutional player is trying to figure out what strategy is in their own best interest. my experience is each of the entities is first and foremost about survival. as they figure out survival, how do they determine what that felt interest is? does this suggest two years of confrontation? are republicans seriously thinking they need to demonstrate they can govern?
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does harry reid give a damn in -- if the republicans look productive? i would ask not just what advice you might give on strategy, but let's take it back one step. what does the president or the speaker or leader in the senate have to consider? what elements do they take into account in deciding what the strategy is? it is a very opaque process. we sometimes get additional up to us and we will be confrontational. what were the considerations that preceded that? what are the risks of that team of u.s. advisers are talking to the president or the leader or speaker about in deciding this is the strategy we must pursue? chuck? >> you pose the question, how do
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they define their self interest? what is a very good question. i really think, and i am not differing the answer, i do not think any of them today can define their self interest for next year. what i mean, when they come back in a january, they will look at it in a slightly different light than they do here in december. you cannot underestimate what next year will look like getting past this session and whatever fights occur over the final wrapup. it will look different in
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december. >> what will they be looking at that would suggest conditions will be different? >> they will be looking at the last two years of president obama's term. they will be looking at the next elections, which will be impending, and looking at and assessing all of their own self interests. individually. people will be posting questions about president obama's legacy. having been there at the end of the clinton a administration -- what we were looking at and you remember this quite well, at this point, we were being impeached by the house of
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representatives. compare that to an executive action on immigration and saying the current opponents of what he has done on immigration to say this has destroyed our ability to work together on anything well, to find the president has worthy of being removed from office or crimes and misdemeanors, yet we found a way over the next two years and they found a way to work with us. they will get over it. i think it is an overstatement to say the president will be focusing on his legacy. what they and the white house will be focusing on will be trying to do the things they started out to accomplish. in other words, they will know
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they have got 700 days and then 699 and then 98 to do what they think is right to accomplish them anyway they can accomplish them. one isn't working with congress? taking an executive action? what regulatory things they have to do and then moving that direction. >> in that regard, the strategy will be driven by them and being effective and moving policy that has been somewhat underlying ly important to the president. >> absolutely. and who they can work with on the hill. it is defined by who on the hill is willing and able to work with them. >> thank you. it -- nick.
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>> in terms of the elements that go into to find the strategy are reaching a conclusion, one would hope you would start with what you what to do and what you want to accomplish. you have to have that kind of vision and center and build out from there. then you have the elements that factor into that which is, can you get it done. if you are going to get it done what is your best way to get it , done. looking at what the speaker in mitch mcconnell what to do, not all of them are probably there in terms of trying to get things done. if you are the president, you have to look at the opposition in congress and your own party where there is plenty of opposition with some of the things he wants to do and also on a personality driven basis there are concerns and lingering aftereffects of a couple of elections.
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i thought there was a confluence of interest here in terms of the president. i think he does want to look at his legacy, being effective in getting things done. the republicans have to get things done to show they can govern. people always talk about elections mattering. they do. what the election told you this time is the whole are fed up with the congress not getting anything done and the congress and the white house not ever working together. we are all older here. we have come from slightly different times than some of the current people. congress, as an institution, has changed considerably. there was a time when democrats and republicans came together. take the constitutional tension , which is ever present regardless of party, and that is something you have to get over
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, but requires a certain amount of outrage and knowing you cannot get everything you want and working what could be common goals and that takes a lot of conversation. you have to factor in all of the elements. then you have to make a decision i think, what you want to look like in the sense of even if it is hard, can you press the restart button? if i was giving advice to republicans, it would be not ignore necessarily the elements of the party that like to bargain on the basis of getting what they want and then not voting on the bill. i was told that is the first thing you don't do in a negotiation. if i give you this, are you with me? that is pretty 101 and i think they have to start doing that. there is some notion on the republican side that some of the more older members have been chastened and ready to move forward.
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the last couple of days, maybe not so much so we will see. if i were giving advice to the president it would be, press the restart button. it takes more than a phone call to make friends with people. you have to start somewhere, start it now. you might find there are people you can work with but it will , take time and they have to get up close and personal to you to make the change with they are willing to make the leap and work on things and has to be trust and credibility there. i think it is awfully basic. this is all politics as a people game. you have to understand what you want and what other people want and try to come to some understanding of what it takes to get them where you can meet them so that both sides can be either mutually dissatisfied or mutually satisfied and then have something you can look at and say, we got this done and it is a good thing. >> i want to reiterate a couple
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of things that chuck just said in a slightly different way. i break down your question of the first part into three categories. first is substance. what is your substantive goal? second, political self interest broadly for your party. the third is political and self-interest very narrowed. there are people in the center right now on the republican side that may be looking at their interest as the republican party broadly because they want to carve out space for themselves. in my time in government, i would always be willing to trade good substance -- when you work
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in the obama administration they , always keep your mike off. that is a really good start. let me recap. the three categories i have is substantive importance. , political interest broadly for a party, and political self interest for any political person in the process. there are a lot of individual people. in my time in government, i would always be willing to trade good substance for bad politics. as an example in 1996, democrats were the minority. republicans running for house became concerned in the summer they would not have a lot of accomplishments to show for this going into reelection and all of a sudden a space opened up to get agreements on a couple of issues. the two issues i were working on
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was pesticides and safe drinking water. pesticides had been blocked for 15 years. going to the question about how you make the decisions ahead of time, all of a sudden you could feel that space opened up that we might be able to get through to have a pesticides agreement even though it had been blocked for 15 years. the political circumstances had changed. within three weeks we not only , reached an agreement and energy in the subcommittee and then committee, what got the bill passed on the house floor a week later. the week after that, the senate passed it unanimously. the week after that, we were in the white house where president clinton signing the bill. that was bad politics on the democratic side because we were giving the republicans an accomplishment. the same thing with safe drinking water. sometimes you want to make the
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trade if it is important to you. political self interest is always harder to evaluate from a party perspective. in washington, and this is a good example of this, can you -- you follow the so much closer. i have the advantage of a split personality. i spent some of my time in washington and some of my time in new mexico. i am amazed at the thing that dominates here do not get on the radar screen in new mexico. when people are trying to evaluate their broad political interest of the party, it is easy to miss copulate. political self-interest is easy. anyone who wants to run for president in 2016 has to carve out space and identity and fill a vacuum we saw that last year i -- fill a vacuum. their interests may be different
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than their party's leadership. we saw that last year and two years ago when the republican leadership was trying to reach agreements and some of the senators like senator cruz did not see it as substantive interest or political self interest to be there. that is playing out today in the house and tomorrow or the next few days in the senate on the on the spending bill where everyone has to strike the calculation. it is more difficult than when i first came to congress. telecommunications has changed everything it is much more . it is much more difficult now and it was when i was in the white house in 2009 because everything is accelerating. i think twitter was still not much of a factor. when we did the pesticides law in 1996, it would be infinitely
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harder to do today because parts of it would become fodder for cable tv, talk radio, internet and it complicates the entire process and that also affects the calculation. i think at the end of the day , most people would rather be consolatory and find common ground and reach an agreement despite everything you hear about washington, but sometimes the space is just not there to do it. that is the bottom line. the space there to get an agreement. if it is not because of the , eternal dynamics and the other party's caucus, you have the best confrontation policy. >> is it fair to say the operating premise is there our -- are instincts on both sides to make stuff happen rather than
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not. an assessment of the conditions and circumstances that were permitted. >> generally, yes. there are exceptions to people who elevate the personal self-interest over everything else. if they are doing that, we need to realize that is what we are billing with full stop the second thing is -- that is what we are dealing with. the second thing is sometimes people do not correctly identify self-interest. sometimes people just make that decisions. you have to evaluate the person you are dealing with to see if they will be able to correctly see what the self-interest is. nick said something before that i think is right, a lot of blocking and tackling. the reason it is so hard is to do this part of the strategy right, you need to know your opponents interests better than your opponent knows it and be able to figure out better than your opponent how to get your self interest in a way that does
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not harm your self interest. >> easiest thing in washington always is to get a bad deal. anyone can reach a deal. the hardest thing is to get everything important to you. and one that actually works. that is what is hard and that is why people get upset about gridlock. a lot of the factors do not exist. >> thank you. >> thank you, pat. thank you for putting this together, particularly want to thank pat who is not only a friend in the invitation to come here but and i first met pat republicans had won the majority in 1994. he was assistant to the president of legislative affairs
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and that was the speaker's chief of staff and no one in the republican majority had ever been in the majority for 40 years. pat was a seasoned hand. we actually, despite the political differences and a very tumultuous first year government shutdown and things like that, matt and i developed we develop personal relationships with trust and were able to have serious conversations when things were seriously off the rails with respect to our respect of bosses and parties. anyway, i appreciate it for the role he has played then and now. my approach is framed in terms of 100 14th congress with the prospect for getting anything
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done and the respective strategies and what goes into developing the strategies to make that happen. getting a lot of conversation about -- critically from the president's point of view, i will start with the point you just made between pat and phil that there is usually an interesting getting things done. i can tell you the president has an agenda he would love to get done in the next two years, so does john boehner in mitch mcconnell. the problem we had when we got elected in 1995, the group of republicans had an idea what they wanted to get done and very willing to work with the president to get it done. the challenge we had when we were elected in 1995 -- they were willing to work with the president to get it done. so, that is where the tension lies is, sure we want to work together. we all went to get together. the problem is, a lot of times that means i am willing to cooperate as long as you are willing to come into what i
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define as the corners of the clock operation. that is where the challenge lies to some degree. for the leaders in congress, what they have to take into consideration is the fact that they get their job for the samefor the same reason someone gets hired to coach a baseball team. the members of the democratic caucus in the house, the republican caucus are bringing in john boehner, mitch mcconnell, harry reid, to give them the best chance to succeed. that begs the question what do they mean by success. usually that is interpreted by
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power. you can have the greatest impact on public policy. defining the success that way for the leaders, one of the biggest components of developing strategy is what type of consensus they can build in their own conference. that can be pretty challenging. to go back to a case study of more than a year ago, john boehner adopted a strategy to shut down the government not because he thought that was the right thing to do or because that would be successful. he did that to manage his caucus. he had a group of members, relatively younger members who had never been through this experience before and were
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convinced they could win the showdown at the white house. we went through the same thing and 95. -- in 95. boehner made the calculation he could fight, but at some point the minority in his caucus was going to insist they have the opportunity to win that war. he made the calculation to let them do it. the analogy he made back then as he had a group of members who were determined they wouldn't get burned if they touched the stove. it was intentional on his part. it was a disaster.
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the country kind of moved on. you talk to most of the members who were advocating for it. they realize it was unsuccessful and politically they dodged a bullet because of the other issues that came thereafter. the consensus and the ability for the leaders to lead and develop a consensus can sometimes take a strange twist. leaders rely on their own instincts. they look at polling data. they are talking to members. they are talking to constituents. they are listening to people in grocery stores. they are listening to their gut. i strongly believe a big part of it is they want to do the right thing. they absolutely want to do the right thing, so it's kind of a marriage of can i do the right thing? can i bring people along i am
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supposed to be leading? if you don't bring them along you are going to elect someone else to lead. we can go deeper but i am going to stop there. >> is it too cynical to think a framework for the strategy has already been defined by the president or congressional leaders, that confrontation will get me more of what i want in 2016 and cooperation -- then cooperation? -- than cooperation. senator mcconnell had an idea of that, and it didn't seem to haunt him much. is that just being cynical, or are people really struggling? >> nick mentioned it earlier. i think republicans feel a political imperative to try to govern.
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that would suggest cooperation. the best case study was in 1996. what happened was there had been a government shutdown. that was the end of 95. the republican numbers were awful, and there was a very conscious decision that we need to get some stuff done. fortunately, the president was running for reelection. he felt a similar need. if you look between the end of april when the government got funded to the august recess, the farm bill, clean drinking water, there is a telecommunications bill.
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there must've have been eight major pieces of legislation. there was a sense that both sides in the white house and republicans needed to get conscience. i think republicans have the same perspective. the leadership does now. it's not quite as acute as it was, but i think they feel that. they proved they're willing to go the confrontation route. that has become a political negative. they are going to try to overcome that. that is why i agree i don't think the executive order is the showstopper they would like to complain. part of that is managing their side. nobody is good to shut down the
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government over this thing. -- going to shut down the government over this thing. in the long run i think they will decide it is a pass. >> i will ask one more question and then we will turn it to the audience. triangulation is a term that got a lot of attention during the clinton presidency. it meant the president will work without the leaders on the hill. a lot of that triangulation emerge. what advice would you give to republican leaders regarding triangulation as you attempt to make legislative successes? do you think it is wise for the president to triangulate with congress at the risk of upsetting his democratic colleagues in the senate and working directly with republican leaders?
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under this scenario hypothetical legislation could take only 60 votes to get it out of the senate, and if the president is under agreement to become law. you recommend, working with read to work -- reid to work together to overcome a presidential veto. the question is would you advise the president and/or congressional leaders to pursue a triangulation strategy, which was not easy? >>nick, do you have any thoughts on that? >> some. i think it's a difficult question to answer in the current context. there is some disaffection for the president already in his party. it's a different time, and the interests are different.
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whether the president could do that and meet the republicans to the point where he would be upsetting members of the party will only bear out over time or not. i don't see a particular issue were that might. -- where that might. i think triangulation is a little bit of a creature of what is going on at that particular time. i would be interested to hear what my colleagues say about that. it is what do you want to get done, and who is against getting that done question mark will the senate democrats be against worshipers of the energy bill? -- who is against getting that done? will the senate democrats be against the energy bill? >> one that is commonly thrown out there is trade, which divides the democratic caucus.
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>> i was going to presume to speak for the entire panel. it all depends. it depends on how important the issue is to you. when in the term is it? that is a good example. we likely to see that relatively soon. trade is an issue that is divisive in the democratic party. it's almost to the point where it's not really divisive at all. almost the unanimous opinion against it. a minority position in the party in favor of trade positions, but the president may go ahead and
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push for fast-track authority. >> you will admit it is a departure. he and senator reid have been linked at the hip in terms of major issues. >> they have been, but the trade negotiations in the real world haven't gotten to the point where it's been necessary to come to congress for legislative action on trade agreements. it may be at the point where it may be right to do that. >> dan? >> the answer in my mind, i guess there is a distinction with triangulation. i guess the president is throwing his party overboard to work with republicans -- that rarely works. i would suggest to some degree
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it is not that complicated a question. if you have a divided government and want to get something done, you have got to work with the other party. i draw the contrast to that. i was still's immediate predecessor. president bush left and president obama came in. i can remember being interviewed between the election and inauguration by somebody asking how his job would be different from mine. for me it was fairly straightforward. we didn't get anything done if it didn't get past by the democratic congress. he was going to have a majority party of the same party. my comment at the time was it is going to be quite a bit different because he is going to rely on democrats, that he will be criticized. -- yet he will be criticized. you go back to what i was
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talking about. these folks get elected to try to move the country in the direction consistent with their philosophy and values. there was an opportunity. to have a republican majority in the house and senate, they will follow that model rather than some other model. that's the only way to get it done. they have to cut deals with republicans in congress. >> can you imagine senator reid saying, we don't need to let the republicans look like they can govern at all. we don't need to put up legislative wins. why don't we play hardball?
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>> that could be the right approach for senator reid. president obama might want to get some things done his last two years, whether it is legacy or just to believe he got elected to do something and he is trying to get something done. if his priority comes insuring a democrat sees him in the white house, that is different. >> you may recall in 95 democrats were completely aligned in opposing what republicans were doing. there was synchronicity in everything we did. after we won the narrative war on who caused the shutdown and why it was bad, i remember many hours of deliberation where we talked about reaching out about making deals and knowing full well senator daschle was going
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to be very upset. he argued that we successfully damaged them for overreaching. why can't we just continue that? the president argued it was in his self interest to make deals. there is a calculus that goes on. >> there was a calculus at the same time. bob dole was running for president. there was a sense, as you recall, president clinton vetoed the welfare reform bill twice. there was a sense, coming from former democrats who said, if you pass that by itself, you will sign welfare reform, which will split the party, but you need to do that politically. congressional republicans decided, that's what they need to do to show they could govern.
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and the type of policy they had been deliberating for a long time. >> do you want to say anything? >> i will be quick. i am not a fan of the term. i think it gives the wrong impression of the process. i think from the president's standpoint, the number he should care about is 60. i am operating from a substance standpoint. i will leave political calculations to everyone else. the number that matters are 30, four and 146. if the president focuses on that he has a disproportionate influence on the process. those are the numbers he needs to sustain a veto. if he doesn't like what they are doing substantively, he has the
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ability, assuming he continues to have good relations with democratic senators and councilmembers to have a disproportionate influence on the process, which is why it is good to be president. we can talk about this more later, but it is an issue that is complicated, and sometimes the interest of house republicans and senate republicans are the same. in the first two years we had a bill funding the war effort and military issues, where my recollection is all but three senate republicans voted for the bill. we got 90 plus votes in the senate. only five house republicans voted for the bill when it came to the house. it's not a monolithic entity we are dealing with, which is why it operates on so many different levels.
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>> that is why you use the term institutional self-interest. the senate passed an immigration bill with a substantial amount of republicans. the question is what is in harry reid self-interest. you come out of alignment with the president. >> dan was referring to this earlier. don't underestimate the role it plays in these decisions. when we came in in 2008, the entire economy was collapsing. the housing market, unemployment was going through the roof. the first time dan and i started talking to each other was in the context of tarp. the first thing president obama had to do was to go to congress and say we need a second tarp which was unpopular.
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support among republicans had limited. it didn't make sense. -- had plummeted. going to the house and senate democratic leadership, those were substantive conversations. they were not political. this is what we need to do to rescue the economy. that is what drives the process. we knew full well we were making decisions than. they were going to be a terrible political price. we didn't have the option not to do it. >> just one thing. whether you call it triangulation or not i think what is going to be interesting over the next two years particularly over 12 months, is watching the president and republican leadership. i think to get things done some of the things they want to get done, you are going to have to ignore members of your own party sometimes, and you're going to have to find votes on the other side of the aisle, which at one
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point was fairly common. with bush 41 we had to really reach out. the only thing that could beat one -- done was to leverage or find common ground. i don't think either side if you leave it all to your own party you are going to end up in a good place to get things done. >> stand? -- stan? >> -- [inaudible] i know there is gridlock. i am going to ask this question. i go back to my days as counsel
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when tipper o'neill was speaker, and he had southern democrats northeastern liberals. he was doing with john boehner did, which was how do i get these guys and women to a point of consensus with limited schools i have. why is this any different? >> i think we are probably going to say the same thing. but i think it's harder for boehner. i think the coalition speaker o'neill had to manage was broader. i think the point phil brought up about influence of the media
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makes it harder for boehner. even if there is largely agreement, if he has got 20 members screaming it the sellout, they can get on cable tv. they can get the outside groups revved up. people are raising money off it. a lot of these folks can raise money by attacking the leadership, more than by opposing the other party. that adds a level. it's a very real complication. >> i was going to say it is different because there is a different type of member. it is still early on and the key point, which is the media. it is so different and put those at risk. in many cases there is not a lot
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of considered judgment about questions you might ask or how you might probe the issue. in terms of membership going back to bowl weevils and blue dogs and yellow dogs and all that i think they were different in that they came to congress with a different mindset. in 2010 when the republicans took over, some of us were tasked with going to talk to incoming members. in one conversation i was having with three incoming freshmen talking about how you got things done and having a lot of confrontation, but at the end of the day you sometimes had a compromise. the country, diverse interests. -- big country diverse interests. the one member looks at me and says, you are part of the problem.
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you don't do anything. what will the attitude be towards a republican congress that didn't get anything done? he looked at me and said, this job doesn't define us. there are certain members you cannot break through to. they don't care. i wouldn't want that management problem. i would be held if i were the head of legislative affairs for republican congress -- i would be hung if i were the head of legislative affairs for republican congress. >> i want to follow-up with something nick said earlier were you alluded to the importance of personal relationships. i remember back in the day when 41 first came in, you were
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telling me about phone calls from republican senators that you had to field and had to push back on that. you were the keeper of the relationship, which made a big difference when it came to tax reform at that time. these days, what we hear is that this white house, this president does not have those relationships and is not interested in making those, and those counseling the president urging him, and trying to make something happen. why isn't it? >> i am going to give you an answer to that question, which flies in the face of the supposition of the question, and so it will be hard to believe. i say this with no disrespect to
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reporting that is done on congress or the presidency. most everything i read is inaccurate. it just is. and i feel bad for the reporters. i do not talk about my time in the obama white house. i am only here because i'm doing this a favor for pat. i do not talk about what i said to the president. but that is the reality, and because i will not talk to reporters about it, people who will sometimes will give a distorted view of what happened. when we came in, the president was sincere about trying to bring the country together and working with democrats and republicans. part of my job, because that was his charge, was to figure out that space i talked about before -- can we find places where we can work together? this is going to be a very long-winded answer, so i will shorten it, but i will give you
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a context to answer your question more fully. as the president was coming in one of the first assignments i had was to outline for him and other on staff what we have coming up, and i put this in the compulsory category. november 2008. probably the first thing he did was ask for an unpopular think about $350 billion for tarp. economists were saying we needed $350 billion for stimulus. a month later it would be for $200 billion. we were going to need $600 billion for stimulus. there is over a $1 trillion on of us spending bill that we were going to have to do in the first months of 2009. on top of that we were going to have to do the budget for the following year, which was going to be $1 trillion-plus, plus a supplemental. that was two of their big numbers, that the president had
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to do. none of this would be political popular, but it would have to be done. his approach was we had to do that. i want to reach out to republicans as well as democrats. so as we did tarp, and nick and i worked together on this committee as he was leaving the white house and i was coming in, lets see how many republican votes we can get. when we get stimulus, we brought in large number of house republicans. we worked with senate republicans. we only had 59 votes in the senate, so we could not do whatever we wanted to do, to see if there were changes we could make. one of the things i learned very early on that told me things had changed, we had house republicans who came in and said if you give me these provisions, i think i can support the bill. so we put those provisions in the stimulus, and they opposed
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the bill. the president of the same thing on health care, where we had extensive meetings with house and senate republicans. one of the unsung heroes -- there are lots of people who describe themselves as architects of the health care bill -- a person with me spent day in and day out on the hill and she spent as much on the house as on the senate side. i'm breaking my rule now, with conversations, but all the things he could do for outreach. i put together a memo for him of social events, policy events. he narrowly agreed all of them but asked to add some. from january to may, we invited -- now, some people did not come -- we invited every house democrat and republican to the white house for social events. every tuesday evening we had 30 or so of those folks just to get
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to know everybody as little bit. we had a candlelight dinner for we had a candlelight dinner for chairman and leadership in almost 200 people in march of 2009, so they could get to the know each other that's -- so they could get to know each other a little bit. we put together lunches with a chair and a ranking member in the president's own dining room. i used to keep metrics. by march, more than 80% of senate republicans had been to the white house for policy or social event with the president. every house republican and democrat had been there or had been invited. some things were beyond our control. we had our first state dinner.
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we invited the republican leadership. they decided not to come. we had our second state dinner they decided not to come. you cannot force people to come. all you can do is invite them. i thought dan made the point before when he talked about house speaker boehner was dealing with his caucus last year, and there were people intent on touching the hot stove. it does not make any difference and you ask people and the president, breakfast, lunch and dinner, having them over for a little wine party, if that is what the mindset is that we were going to force this hand among your caucus, there's nothing you can do with the leadership that can change that. my fundamental disagreement is the president did those things. he continues to do them. could he do more? anybody could continue to do more. by the time i went to the white house, i had been involved in government and politics for over
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25 years. i never saw anybody better than that and all i know in my job, i need somebody who was terrific added who was willing to do it and he was. >> jim? >> thank you, pat. philip, i can appreciate that social context that you just remarked having worked in the bush white house when queen elizabeth came, and senator reid did not come to the state dinner. he did not have a white tie. that is what we were told. i can appreciate those overtures and how important they are in building relationships. i would like to go to something that nick had mentioned about trust and credibility, that in listening to all of you, you
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represent here the experience of working with white houses and congresses, not only the leadership, but the staff, and how you have had to build that trust and credibility among each other. i am wondering if you can all comment -- and all presidents have had difficult backdrops to do their jobs, and the congress has -- if you can comment on the level of trust and credibility amongst the president and congress and staff, against the backdrop of executive action executive authority that has been utilized by the president that seems to be more than what we have seen in the past, but mayby you can -- maybe you can dispute that, and maybe that is not the case, but that is what is appears to be, and how does that affect the trust and credibility amongst our executive branch? >> well, i am not involved in any of those executive actions.
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but my advice to this president would be if you have reached out and tried to get things done and the response has been not forthcoming -- i will not use certain quotes, which i think are obvious -- and you have got opinions from the justice department and your own counsel, that you are well within your authority to do it, i would urge, give him the thumbs up. to get back to pat's prioritization and the original purpose of this panel, you have got to lay out your priorities and not only put the list together, put some sort of value on them, structure them from 1 to 10, and also put the
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resources necessary and the consequences of doing them. and if there are some things that are exceedingly important to you and the likelihood of getting them done through regular order or going through the hill are just not there, and, just go ahead and do it because you are not going to go ahead and get it any other way and not burn any bridges that are not already burned, so just go for it, mr. president. that would be my advice. >> i guess my response in the combined last two questions, i have served on a number of
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panels a couple of times with -- sheila burke used to be bob dole's chief of staff. she would quote gerald ford who was not the most qualified to comment on theiws, and he said the key to it all is four c 's -- communication, cooperation, compromise, and conciliation. and i mention that because i think -- and maybe partly to paul's question -- what has changed over time and made it more difficult is people -- and i have made this point earlier -- people defining what they consider to be cooperation on their own terms. so, again, using the example because it is what i lived through when the republicans won in 1994, we were more than willing to cooperate with the
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clinton white house if they were willing to capitulate. but that is the problem here. we all define -- absolutely want to cooperate -- but going back to the time -- phil said before you have to understand what your political opponents need, but you need to hear them out on what they think they need rather than you asserting if we do this and this and this you should be fine. there are some of that goes on too often on both sides of the aisle, that, ok, i have gone halfway to meet them, and that does not get it. that goes to the other c, the can medication, where you are actually hearing each other out. i think it can become much more difficult to do those things for the reasons we talked about, particularly when you have got
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all these external forces looking over everybody's shoulder, and i do not want to be repetitive, but raising money off of it and going to the cable networks makes it harder to find that common ground rather than to define cooperation on your own terms. >> so just going off of what several comments about individuals and individual personalities, and in terms of some of the priorities, it seems the one priority is for lack of a better word screw the other guy.
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in terms of defining priorities, it seems like a basic understanding that someone has to make the first move as far as working for cooperation and real cooperation, not cooperation defined as, hey, join me in this area. but it is making that first move is sort of already become defined as a capitulation in terms of working with obama is a capitulation. how do you see it and how would you advise, think about strategies to encourage a more positive discourse and so that democrats and republicans can feel proud of working together? so if there is a bipartisan bill, that becomes a point of a
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political score for both parties. >> i want to follow up the point that dan was just making as part of that, which is if dan and i are negotiating with each other, it is not in my interest to have him capitulate on a negotiation, because i do not want to do just one piece of this with dan. i want to have him be in a position where we can negotiate on 10 bills over the next two years, and if he capitulates, and i get total victory, it is going to be very hard for him to negotiate the next time, because he will lose the support of his caucus. you have raised a fundamental issue which is if is not issue specific, not tax specific, but for own political reasons we cannot work with the president i do not have an answer for that because it is very hard. immigration of the last two
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years is an example of it. so the president was advised just take a very low profile on immigration, let it work out in a bipartisan way in the senate do not politicize the issue. so bite your tongue while it is going on because a good result could happen. as a matter of fact, a good result did happen. there was a bill that got 70 votes in the senate on immigration that was bipartisan and comprehensive. a lot of people in the public interest community liked it as well. then the president was told do not exploit that issue in the house, let it work its will so the house could vote on that bill or a similar bill. then we get to the end of the process and for other reasons that issue cannot be voted on in the house. then that takes us to the previous question about executive action. the president has been very restrained in the first six
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years on both vetoes, because he has never done a real veto. the two vetoes he did were on technical issues. he has issued much fewer executive orders than previous presidents had. i do not know this because i was not there at the time and i did not talking about the issue, but my guess is he looked at the issue and said i did everything the way both republicans and democrats advised me to do. i did not politicize immigration. i stayed out of it. they produced a bipartisan comprehensive bill, but it cannot happen in the house. then i assume he went to his counsel and said, what is within our legal authority to act? under the hypothetical you are posing, if you have a group of people who will not negotiate
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with you, and that space you talked about earlier does not exist and you have to await until the space does exist. >> i have a question about [indiscernible] would you gentlemen recognize [indiscernible] why, and the second is, the president -- and you emphasized the leverage that comes from veto threats and exercising a veto. and can you talk about the advice you have given the president in the last few years how to use the veto threat effectively to move things forward as opposed to just blocking? >> i would tackle the latter one. i am not sure i wanted to talk to senator mcconnell about the nuclear option just because -- copout, that is right. it is such an institutional
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issue. i am guessing there is not a person -- i do not want to speak for anybody else -- i think many of us have experienced if the senate rules were different, wouldn't it be better, but then at times you are on the other side of that. it is such an institutional issue, and that is a legislative audit made up of people who have been there for so long, i would defer to them to sort that out. i do not offer an opinion. on the second point, one of the reasons president obama has not exercised many vetoes is the democrats were in control of one body. so most of the time. so there has been a filter. senator reid was not going to let anything get through, even if the house passed it.
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the house complained about all the bills that got stacked up in the senate. that is going to change. so if i'm advising the president, republican or democrat, you have to use it once in a while and it is tremendously effective. in the old days, abortion politics played a big role, when nick was with president bush 41 and i was working for the house republican whip, and the same principle applied when president clinton came in, sometimes the legislative process produced a bill that was inconsistent with the president's view on abortion policy. if you cannot uphold the veto, then we win, sort of thing. that is what would happen, that sort of understanding.
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i remember one of the vetoes on a difficult issue that we got 146 votes when nick was president bush's 41. then the legislative process works itself out. we went through the same thing when i was there after the democrats won a majority after the 2006 election. a big issue in that election was the iraq war, and many of those new members, democratic members, got elected running against the war, and the legislative agenda of that year for the new democratic majority was to restrict the war funding. and the president thought that was wrong, so we just employed a veto strategy and said you can add anything you want any dell we can veto -- to any bill, we can veto it. over time, republicans played a political price for that. he felt that was the right thing to do and why he stuck to it. you do not want overuse if you can.
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part of it is if you use it, you usually get the majority to understand that that is an option for the president. so if you want to send a message to send things down for veto that is fine. if you actually want to get something signed into law, that requires cooperation, and exercising the veto once in a while proves that point. >> you need to make sure you get the votes. bush vetoed 43 bills. we could not do it, so we would veto it, and sometimes changes were made, it was all an inter rative process. one thing you do not want to do is veto legislation and lose the veto.
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we will then listen about the lame duck. >> we will see in the last two years of this presidency and this next congress, the science of politics. having served last two years in the clinton administration, one of the first days on the job, i was pulled aside by the house democratic whip and he said, one thing you have to know is when you use the v-word you have to mean it because we would do anything we can to sustain the president's veto. we never lost a veto. the other thing is you have to know when to do it, but you have to be unpredictable when you do it. there was a person in the white
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house who said, had a crazy aunt or uncle in the attic, ok, we are going to veto this because we can. and they know we can sustain it, so let's just do it. we threatened one veto because there was this rather significant democratic senator to us, and it was a provision that was documented in an appropriations bill, so we told him even before the report was done. you stick that in there, we are going to veto it. he said, really? yeah. it was that night. so it is going to be interesting the next two years from the perspective of vetoes. >> again, going back to how historic everything was, everything was historic. this election was historic
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because republicans captured the senate. it is the mirror image of the reagan administration where he won a decisive victory in 1980 democrats picked up 35 seats in 1982, the president won in a landslide in 1984, and that was a defining moment for the country, and in 1986, democrats picked up eight seats and got the senate back. during his administration, i think the president vetoed 75, 78, 80 bills during his time. what i am sure will happen sometime next year, and people will say it is unprecedented, is president obama will get presented a bill that is bipartisan, but he will have to veto it. people will say, now he is vetoing the work of his own party, but as dan can tell you they faced that situation in 2007 and 2008. there was one issue that came to president bush twice.
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president bush opposed it for substantive reasons, and the bill got vetoed. what happens the next time because of the tunnel vision that exists now, it will be played into a much bigger issue than it otherwise would be. >> [indiscernible] kind of epitomized what is going on with the affordable care act. i am wondering what your strategic advice would be for both parties at this point. should they wait for the supreme court to rule? how worried should democrats be? is there a chance this thing will be pulled out root and branch the way practically every republican in congress campaigned? it seems it is a zero-sum game and somebody will be a 100%
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loser in this game, but what is the way out? >> i just have to comment i do not think republicans feel they are painted into a corner on this. they feel pretty good about where they are. i think the leadership -- i'm not sure you will see repeated attempts to repeal obamacare and i think it has proven that will never happen. you can try to do that or you can try to make changes to it and certain provisions of it which might be a far more constructive way to go. >> i agree with nick in his attitudes towards it. imperfect analogy, but i equate it to the war funding issue at the end of the bush administration where people forget -- all the criticisms of republicans when they voted so many times restrict or repeal obamacare, 2007 we had 40 some votes to restrict war funding in the democratic-controlled house
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after they had won a majority because they had a political imperative based on their victory in 2006 to do that. it did not succeed legislatively. it succeeded politically. i think republicans' perspective is the same with respect to the affordable care act over the last few years. going forward, you will see at least one more effort to repeal. again, i think some of the new members feel that was a big factor in their election. obviously, not going to succeed. now that they have the senate, there may be some effort to use the reconciliation process, but i think they would all understand that under the rules of the senate you cannot repeal entirely the affordable care act under reconciliation that would be subject to further restrictions. i do not know how much they will try to root out through that
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process. at some point, i have thought for some time that if they perceive real problems by their constituents that they would get to the point where nick thinks they would go, which is to look at reforms -- what are the most difficult for folks back home? but they have not got there yet. >> my disclaimer on this is i spent thousands of hours trying to get it passed, and went back to the white house this year for six months to help after the website did not work. so i have a certain point of view. so let me answer by first going there. because of the affordable care act now, more than 10 million
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people have insurance who did not have it, right? we have the lowest rate of increase in health care costs in over 50 years, not solely because of the aca, but it is playing a role. since the law was passed, 10 million jobs have been created in the country. it has not impeded and has helped create some of those jobs. we have more innovation in health care than we have had in decades largely because of the affordable care act. senior citizens have saved over $12 billion, and the cbo says if you repeal the law it will add $1.7 trillion to the deficit. if those are my facts, and notwithstanding the fact that i have a point of view, those are the facts, and nobody can dispute that, i take that and i do not just do a defense of the law, but i argue why it is making difference politically for people, and if reconciliation is used to repeal parts of the law, than what i
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would do is try to have made my case on all these points so that when reconciliation is vetoed, people will understand why it is important. >> what role do you think in the final two years of vice president biden in dealing with congress and how would that role differ from the role he has played in the first six years? >> i'm happy to answer that question, but nick had has a perspective. >> i think he has a significant role to play, from an outsider's position. he is liked and trusted. so if there is an average tried
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-- effort to try to get things done, if there is never to try to -- right now we are in a who struck john stage, where they did not reach out to become all that is meaningless now. it is meaningless in terms that there's a lot of this trust. in terms of trying to establish a framework for getting things done, and the stage were putting the framework up, the vice president could probably play a significant role. >> i will make an observation. in my last two years in the white house, vice president gore and first lady hillary clinton who had in previous times in the white house had been very visible actors, gore in his office in past times, almost all the time, and the first lady
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having an office in the second floor, were never there. hillary running for senate, but even before that, she was not visible, and the vice president -- so roles change over time which i thought was interesting to see. i was surprised to learn that they had been very visible early on in the administration. i do not know what that means for the current vice president. >> i would just add real quickly. if ever you needed evidence that this is a government by the people and of the people, look at the role personalities play. whether you are looking at the role between the speaker and the president or other folks. president biden is well -- vice
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president biden is well-liked. getting ahead of myself. [laughter] i think it could be utilized. you go back to the old corporation, conciliation model. he can play a significant role in my opinion. the first two years especially, when we did things like the stimulus, the vice president had great relationships with senator collins, senator snowe, senator specter. he spent a lot of time on health care. he did lots of things that do not show up in the box score. he understands congress, the legislative process, the president. if there is an opportunity to get things done, i think he can
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play an important role. >> the president values the vice president's value on a whole range of areas. >> bill, this is for you. we measure things like the success of the president of the presidential support scores -- not totally reliable but you have the highest score -- sunday 7% for the first -- 97%, for the first two years. clinton had 86% for the first two years. that was the highest since eisenhower. but you also had some problems along the way with chairs. my question is very intimate to your situation with waxman. mr. waxman had a cap and trade bill and a health care bill that looked like it was not going anywhere in the senate. what were the negotiations like with the chairs on that issue
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and other issues for all of you when they seemed to get ahead of maybe what is possible in getting things done? did you go through the leadership, or did you directly work with the chair, and since you worked with henry for so many years, it must have been an interesting situation. >> when you have the job any of us have, you spend your day in meetings or on the phone, so you are talking to everybody all day. for me -- take a step back -- president obama could not have done anything we did in the first two years and we had a very successive legislative agenda without speaker pelosi and leader reid. we could not have gotten the affordable care act done without the president, but certainly not without the speaker and without leader reid. for me, gary myrick, he was the chief of staff of john lawrence,
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nancy pelosi's chief of staff, i cannot imagine getting anything done without them because i was communicating with them day in and day out. the president's approach to congress -- i mentioned before about reporting -- reporting when it comes to our jobs and the president's relationship with congress, either there is a winner or a loser. so either the president is dictating to congress or congress is the table to the president. that is the frame that is out there. president obama had a different view, which is he wanted to have a collaborative approach, and he understood there is a price for a real communication in doing that, but we would work through issues with them. it is something like climate change, there was enormous interest in the senate. senator boxer, senator kerry, on moving a bill. we had a process moving in the senate. we had a process moving in the
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house, and our goal was to get both climate change and health care done. there was a way to do both. it would not have been the same bill that passed the senate the past the house, but we would have been able to harmonize the differences in conference. what ended up happening was the only path to getting that done was to get health care done in 2009, and it took us until march 2010 to get health care and that closed the space on climate. but congressman waxman, like almost every member of the house and senate i dealt with, i think yelled at me at one time or another being in the white house, and the beauty of our jobs in the white house is that your mornings are spent with people in the white house who think you are co-opted by congress, and your afternoons are spent in congress and they think they are co-opted by the
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white house. they called me up and yelled when he was unhappy. i was at dinner the other night with 35 members and i had to stick to them, -- speak to them, and i looked at the room, and i was thinking everybody here has yelled at me one time or another. [laughter] take these jobs because you're afraid of getting yelled at. but you take the jobs if you want to see if you can get past the yelling and find common space. >> [indiscernible] what is your best memory of working in the white house and of doing something where you brought to congress and the president together? >> sometimes we cannot talk about these things in great detail, but my best memory -- phil has raised the issue of -- a couple times -- i was there at the end and things were going along swimmingly until the world economy was about to collapse.
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the secretary of the treasury and the head of the federal reserve bank were explaining to the president that the world economy was going to collapse if we did not take action quickly. i will zero in on the most to the most significant memory. on a bipartisan basis, i often tell folks in all of that dysfunction, people forget we passed tarp in 15 days, and it was a $700 billion bill. some people think that might have been a mistake. i think everybody who is involved in it, you do not ever get -- you cannot ever prove the negative that without it the world markets would have collapsed, but i think people involved, even though the politics of it has soured, they think it is a worthwhile endeavor. so we were in the middle of this. we started on a thursday with meetings in the white house and up on the hill.
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the following weekend, about halfway through it, i get a call up on the hill saying we are going to have a bipartisan, bicameral meeting tomorrow. those meetings to not happen unless i initiated them because that was my job. so what was going on? what was happening, that was the meeting where mccain had suspended his campaign, it was not doing well, and he called senator obama and said they were having big problems getting an agreement, and we should help. senator obama said he should not have much choice other than saying ok. then, mccain calls the president. when i got the call and explain why, i am aligned to try to get this passed, so now we are going to introduce presidential politics into this. this is a great development.
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he said sarcastically. the meeting itself was a bipartisan meeting which those of us who participated in it afterwards all felt it had been probably one of the most extraordinary meetings we had been in. leaders speak their peace. it was high tension. cuts for paper trying to be helpful to what the president -- democrats were trying to be hopeful to what the president was trying to get done. boehner was trying to be helpful. they agreed to was a huge problem. he had problems in his caucus, again, and speaker pelosi had said if we are going to do this we are going to do it together hold hands. i will produce 50% of my caucus, you produce 50% of your caucus. boehner was turned to live within that constraint.
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he was looking at, if we can do this, can we do this? i do not want to go into a huge detail about this. but, there was a lot of acrimony in the room. at one point the president looked back, and he turned away, i have lost control, which he reasserted, but there was a moment where it was -- all i won't say comical -- but it was pretty interesting. that is the one i will share. >> i have a lot. the first two years were so intense, there was so much going on. i do not know if i can pick one. the one that jumps to my mind right now is getting health care passed was so difficult every step of the way.
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it was grueling. when i left the white house in 2012, i left with the idea of not coming back. we moved to new mexico. we started a new life. when i came back earlier this year, part of my job involves looking at some of the letters the president was getting on the affordable care act, which at that point had been implement it. these were letters from people all around the country talking about how the law had made an enormous difference in their lives, either save their lives all different ways, allowing them to take care of an elderly parent because they were not tied to a job with health insurance anymore. that is not one moment, but when so much time is invested in getting a law passed, our hope for all of us, generally hope the law would make a difference in people's lives. being able to be part of that
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difference in peoples lives was great. every day you are working in the white house is a great day because you just cannott believe you're there, working in the oval office. that never got old. >> i'm not going into an anecdote. i will to say truly it is an honor and privilege to work there. it is fun every day. people would think i was crazy because in 2002 or sometimes in seemed -- or 1992, when we started with a 90% approval rate in february, and it occurred to me that we working really hard to lose the election, it is still fun. fascinating, because you were right in the center of everything. whether it is things coming together like trade promotion authority, which was a huge partisan victory in 1991 the people said cannot happen. the same with the passage of the iraq war resolution that same year, where the leadership of the house was against it and a whole bunch of democrats voted
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for it because we had built this coalition and wanted to do it, to the tax cuts in 2001 and the whole string of bills post 9/11. every day there was a lot of good memories. i think most of us were all of us would not tell a lot of the stories that we would love to tell because they were private and contained inside the white house. the things you hear and getting yelled at, and you just sit there and you just take it and walk away. it is like the alligator crocodile eyes coming down. we will get to that, too. anyway. >> to answer a question like this, you really have to decide if you want to focus on little trivial things, like the fact for two years i never took my keys out of the ignition. why would you? if someone is going to steal your car from the white house grounds, it is going to be on
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tape. they are going to get this guy. [laughter] or something very significant and historic. i was involved in the impeachment, and being over with the president on a trip to ireland. he was in a city square addressing probably 10,000 crazy irishman. and i was behind stage on a call to my office, getting a list of members of congress that he had to talk to on air force one on the way back. i was nearly in tears with the contrast. called democratic members of the house of representatives to see if he could keep his job, and there he was a hero to 10,000 irishman. what do you do with that? the best story, if i have time is during that same period, a
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former member of congress, it was a person i used to work on the hill, both in the same part of the country, we vacationed at the same beach, a typical small beach street, one lane, early on during impeachment, marty is not adverse to getting his face in front of a camera. so he had every sound truck from every tv station in boston on this one little street two houses down from where i was. you could not go by. and i was there two houses up on a phone with members of congress, making sure they were ok because the president had just testify before the grand jury. so i said to myself, if those tv stations knew while they were
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interviewing marty and i was a peer making calls around the country, what would they do with that story? fortunately, they never figured it out. >> thank you. i would like to make a couple quick comments. i was involved in the predicate to impeachment, which was a whole nother thing. >> thank you. >> some high entertainment value. one thing that really struck me in what you guys alluded to was how much technology has changed the game of governing and politics. phil you made a point that tweaking was not the same. some people do not even know what the hell it is now. but it has changed dramatically since 2008. i put it in further context, when i was in the white house, a couple of us would meet up with leon panetta every night and we would look at the three tv's, abc, cbs, and whatever the other
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was and see which stories had risen or the bad stories had gone down, and you could see wolf standing out in the yard there without an umbrella sometimes. that was a good day if the stories were up, and that was all we dealt with. now, the onslaught of information, moving information, all sorts of sinister reasons, has fundamentally changed governing and strategies. just three things that pop out to me, and in phrases. what i hear you guys saying is that your fundamental belief is that people are coming to washington to get something done. you have looked at the underbelly of this system, and i have been under there with you and it is not pretty, but your
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fundamental believe is that getting something done is a compelling objective. if the space is provided to make it happen. two, substance matters. that policy, turn to make good as he does matter. and, three, nick's point, sometimes you have to ignore some members of your own party to make it happen. as a framework for going forward, i hope that prevails. i want to thank you guys very much -- [applause] thank you all. >> thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015]
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the 114th congress gavels in tomorrow at noon. the republicans will control both chambers. he gets the swearing-in of members. trent lott, who served as majority leader for several years joined us on capital hill to talk about the opening day of congress tomorrow. >> the first day of the senate what is it like? >> it is a laboratory. this will be especially enjoyable for republicans because, after eight years, they are taking back the majority admits mcconnell will be the -- and mitch mcconnell will be the
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majority leader. there will be 13 new republicans in the senate. a very diverse group but one with a lot of experience. there will be an event the next day to honor warren hatch. it is not nearly as enthusiastic and somewhat out of control like the house is because the house is younger and you have kids on the floor. but, it still will be, i think a very exciting and enjoyable day. what is your advice to the ones getting sworn in? >> be reserved and be appreciative of the people that escort you. usually, the senior senator will escort you. sometimes, you have people from the outside come and but now the rules are very strict. there are rules against that.
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it is special when you walk down the aisle with your senior senator and taken note on the bible. i was going to use my bible -- give my bible to my grandson. it is a special thing. >> you served as majority leader in the senate. how is the leadership preparing -- the republicans are about to take over. how are they preparing, not only for the opening day, but the 114th congress? >> senator mcconnell has been preparing for about 40 years. i think this has been a goal of his license the 1960's when he worked for john sherman. i think mitch had expired to come to the senate. that is where you really make a
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difference. the majority leader position is very powerful. it is much better being the majority leader, but it is much harder. you govern or leave the senate by the respect for the position and by the power of your persuasion. you do decide what bill will come up, what conditions come up, there are no rules committee like the rules committee and the house. it is much more open, very difficult to control processes. it is easy to block things in the senate. to go from a congress that it not get much done to one that begins to move issues, whether it is trade, taxes, infrastructure, immigration, health, each one of those will be a battle. what has happened, i am sure over the last couple of weeks mitch mcconnell working with john boehner.
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and, are we going to be able to do some things that are low hanging items that will be easy and bipartisan? there are some things you have to do that will be hard. some of them probably veto by the president. one question hanging over the inauguration day is what will president obama do? will he reach out and work with republicans? mitch mcconnell knows the rules. he knows how to tie the senate up. i am hoping that he will know how to get it moving but it will be a challenge. >> was your advice to him to get things moving? what power does he have on the senate floor as the majority leader? >> the most powerful position as the power of recognition. there is respect for the
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position. mitch, as i said, knows the rules. he knows how to tie things up and what you can in cannot do. one thing you have to do right away is, what do we do about the rules? i would say, reverse it. republicans complained loudly. and as they turn around and say we did not mean it, i don't know i think that is not a good move. rules in the senate are important but more important is, how do you work with our conference? mitch is a good listener. he will sit there until the cows come home and listen and listen before he will take a position or state what he thinks should happen. he will have to do that at his own conference. he needs to reach across the aisle. most of the votes will take 60.
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you have some democrats that you could entice on one bill or another. he will be pressed every day. i hope he feels like i did. every day when i commit to office, i came up two flights of stairs and i was excited to be here. i lived the american dream and now he is right up there at the top of leadership in america. >> the 114 congress gavels in tomorrow at. the republicans will control both chambers stop you can see the swearing-in of members and house speaker on c-span2. policies bans capital wil -- follow capital hill coverage at up next, former congressman and agriculture secretary dan glickman discuss the prospects
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for bipartisanship in the 114th congress. then, bob cusack on the legislative agenda. later, reporters discuss the political career of mitch mcconnell. we talk to a number of capitol hill reporters about the opening of the 114 congress. we're also joined by incoming freshman house members. plus, your facebook comments and tweets. washington journal is live tuesday and every morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. up next, a conversation on the prospects of bipartisanship in the new congress which opens
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tuesday. we're from former congressman dan glickman and former utah senator robert bennett. the washington center hosted this event. >> thank you jason for reminding us all about the holiday party karaoke. i am going to bring up our first panelist. senator bennett has not been able to join us yet but will in a little bit. he is on the way. the first person i want to bring up is former agriculture secretary dan glickman. secretary glickman is a senior at the bipartisan center. he cochairs are commission on political reform as well as our nutrition and physical activity initiative and our task force on defense budget and strategy.
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secretary glickman is currently the executive director of the aspen congressional program which is a non-governmental bipartisan governmental program for members of congress. we also have programs out there that help members of congress do their jobs better. i think this is one of the most interesting jobs secretary glickman has had. he was previously chairman of the motion picture association of america, representing hollywood and all of those folks in california. he was also the director of the institute of politics. before these jobs, he had a career in politics. he served as the agriculture secretary during the clinton administration and for 18 years and the house, representing the congressional district in cambridge. let's welcome secretary dan glickman. [applause]
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>> i just want to get some background on our commission a political reform. it was born out of a stormy political presence we are living in. right now, we will introduce senator bennett. [applause] senator bennett is also a senior fellow and bipartisan policy center. he served in the u.s. senate for 18 years, first being elected in 1993. senator bennett was on the banking committee, the joint economic committee, so he has a strong background in national economic issues and was also a member of the appropriations committee and has a great understanding of our budgeting process and spending process which a lot of people do not realize are not the same process.
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besides serving in the senate he was a highly successful entrepreneur. he was the ceo of a publicly listed company. he continues to work in the private sector on entrepreneurial issues. yes a good understanding of the nexus of those two issues. one thing i want to bring up -- two great quotes about senator bennett. he has been praised for two qualities throughout his career -- his intellect and integrity. bill clinton said he is a highly intelligent, old-fashioned conservative. >> i am older than bill clinton. [laughter] >> senator majority leader harry reid said there is no more honorable member of the senate. i think that was well earned
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over his career so we are happy to have him here with us as well. our commission on political reform was born out of a stormy political presence. you have all been watching it over the last few years. polarization is that the highest level since reconstruction. according to a poll we commissioned with usa today, we do not mix with our neighbors. if we are republicans, we do not talk to democrats. more and more, we get our news from sources that is biased or ideologically driven. if you do not see it on c-span you see it on the news networks. that has been on display in congress over the last two congresses, we probably have the
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least prrn era. not just unable to address pressing issues, but unable to do their basic job, struggling to pass budgets, struggling to pass appropriations bills, struggling to pay our national debt. these are basic functions congress should be able to do but struggle with. not surprised when, their approval rating is at an all-time low. i will not mention any of the other professions they rank in these things but they are definitely for the bottom. i think in a lot of citizens, there is a sense of apathy maybe futility, but certainly distrust in the system. what was born at bpc was a forum for people lik


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