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tv   Newsmakers  CSPAN  January 11, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm EST

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>> on the controversial story behind "the birth of a nation." here on c-span, newsmakers is next with chris van hollen of maryland. then a discussion on how the public views efforts to combat isis. and it :00, our conversation with digg layer -- dick lehr. >> >> thanks so much for being with
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us on c-span. >> it's great to be with you. >> kristina peterson of the "wall street journal" and rebecca shabad. congressman, i want to begin with the scenes we're seeing in paris today as the unity march continues. well over a million people expected to pay their respects to those who were killed in the acts of terror last week, and i mention that because congress is about to debate the future funding of the department of homeland security. do the events in paris change the dynamics in that debate? >> well, steve, first, let me say, all of our hearts go out to the people of france, and as president obama has said, we're going to be working very closely with them to continue to track down the terror cells that may have been responsible for those attacks. we had good cooperation with the french. look, it would be a bad idea for anybody to play politics with the department of homeland security appropriations bills. it would be bad any time. it's especially i think a bad signal now to do that, and so i really hope our republican colleagues will not tie down that department of homeland security bill with other kinds of amendments.
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unfortunately, by all accounts, it looks like that is what they're planning to do this week. >> so specifically, what are you expecting. >> well, my understanding is that they're going to be having amendments that would essentially deny funding for the department of homeland security, unless the president works back his recent executive order that prioritizes the deportment of felons over families, and i understand they're also going to be offering them and essentially undoes the provisions with respect to dreamers, young people who are brought here through no fault of their own. so if they try and load it up with those kind of amendments and say that they're not going to fund the department of homeland security unless those things are a part of it, that
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will obviously create a big problem. now, i doubt the senate will adopt those positions and then our republican colleagues will have to decide whether they want to shut down the whole department of homeland security until they get those provisions, and i certainly hope they back off on where they're headed right now. >> one other follow-up, what is your biggest concern and what is the republican end game with all of this, at least house republicans? >> that's a very good question. we saw on opening day a larger-than-expected number of tea party republicans vote against speaker boehner, so we know that there is certainly a big group in their caucus, a lot bigger than those 24, who are very responsive to sort of cheap
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party sentiment when it comes to immigration reform. so i don't know how it's going to play out. i can only tell you how i hope it will play out, which is that house republicans don't try to hold up department of homeland security funding, that helps protect our country and address the kind of issues that are being faced in france right now. i hope they will not do that. and i hope they won't play politics in that way. let's see how it unfolds. i hope more sober heads will prevail in the end. >> and let's turn you to our two reporters who cover congress, kristina peterson of the "wall street journal".
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>> congressman, the vote for house speaker boehner's third term, what does that suggest could play out for you later in the budget process? what do those internal divisions suggest are coming down the road? >> well, it suggests that the thinking that has been, you know, in some quarters, that somehow, speaker boehner was going to have, you know, more flexibility in this congress to reach toward the center and put together compromises for the good of the country. that may not be the case, unless he's really willing to stand up and stare those groups down. what we were just talking about with respect to homeland security amendments suggests these not willing to stare down those parts of the caucus, that he's willing to allow these amendments to go forward in a way that could end up jeopardizing the entire homeland security bill when, in fact, what should be doing is what speaker boehner said they were going to do almost a year ago, which is move forward on their immigration reform legislation. i mean, that is the appropriate response to addressing this issue, if you have differences
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with the president. and when you're talking about the budget, it's really a good question, and i don't know how this will play out. i expect the house republicans to come up with a budget very much like their old budget, which provides for, you know, cuts and tax rates for the very wealthy, and on opening day, as you know, they tried to change the house rules to make it easier to provide tax cuts for the wealthy as part of their trickle-down economic strategy, which crashed and burned in 2008. so that appears to be the direction they're headed once again when it comes to their budget. >> if they do tack to the right on budget issues, you would have the same phenomena of it being hard to pass a bill like that in the senate, right? is there a chance they wouldn't be able to get a budget through both chambers? i know you only need a simple majority in the senate, but could that be tough with so many republicans up for re-election and what would that forfeit if they can't? >> you're raising a question that is on all of our minds, which is now that republicans are in the majority in the senate, the burden is on them to govern, and they've had this house republican budget put forward by paul ryan, which as i
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said, provides tax cuts for folks at the very top of the income ladder for millionaires, but dramatic cuts in investment and things like science and research and infrastructure, and by the way, dramatically hurts many of the programs like medicare and medicaid from our perspective. how will that play in the republican senate? and if the republicans in the senate back off of that, what are republicans saying to their constituents, because when they were in the majority in the house, they said this is what we've got to do. we've got to pass this budget. if they're in a position to govern now, and are they going to back off and say, we were just kidding and not pursue that? it will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out. i should say, house democrats will have the alternative budget and the president's budget will be arriving in the next couple of months, and so this is going to be a really important debate for the country on economic policy and economic strategy going forward. >> rebecca shabad from the hill newspaper and the hill.com. >> congressman, if the republicans are able to strike a budget resolution, top republicans have talked about using the reconciliation process to either repeal or roll back parts of obama care.
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which option do you think is more viable for the republicans? >> well, and this is a debate going on, of course, within the republican party right now. in the house just last week, we saw republicans vote to roll back a particular provision of the affordable care act which, according to the non-partisan congressional budget office, would add $56 billion to the deficit. i don't know what republicans are going to do. i really hope they'll end up where the american people are, which is, for goodness sakes, let's not get rid of the affordable care act. it is working more, and more and more americans are being insured. everyone has seen all the recent numbers and we all know at the end of the day, that effort won't go anywhere because the president will veto it. if they have constructive ideas to fix specific provisions in a way that's not harmful, then we've always said we would consider them. but yeah, republicans are going to have this big internal debate about where to go on the affordable care act and again,
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that's one of the big questions on our minds. i just hope that we don't have like the 55th vote to repeal the affordable care act. they've always said they wanted to repeal and replace, that they've come up with an alternative. to this day, we've never seen any alternative. >> another issue tied to the budget process is sequestration, and in october, the sequestration budget caps are set to return unless those caps are raised or they do something else to it. congressman tom price, the new chairman of the house budget committee, he has proposed possibly eliminating the firewall between the defense and non-defense sides, to shift funding from the non-defense side to the pentagon. what do you think about that proposal? do you think that that's more likely? do you think the caps will be raised? what do you think will happen? >> well, i think that particular proposal is a non-starter. it's a non-starter with democrats in the house and with the white house. i think anybody who's looking at
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our budget recognizes that after the very deep cuts to both defense and non-defense, they're going to have to be some changes going forward, and that means that as we -- if we're going to be restoring some investment in the department of defense, we should also look at places like the national institutes of health, which does medical research on diseases that impact every american family, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, they have been seeing a reduction in funds in real terms, and those investments provide real returns for the american people, both in terms of better health, but also for our economy. so we need to look at this as a whole, defense spending, but also the non-defense spending, investments and things like education. so that will be part of a conversation going forward. but i don't think we're going to have it just one way or the other when it comes to dealing with those caps.
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>> back to kristina peterson of the wall street journal. >> congressman, after you had that budget conversation, has it affected the recent economic improvements we've been seeing, does it make it easier for the republicans to argue that the economy can with stand some reduction in spending and could potentially benefit from that? >> well, i think what we've seen is that the actions that the president and the congress took in response to the economic crisis have, over time, improved. we've seen a record number of consecutive months of private sector job growth, and so i think the real focus of conversation right now should be, what are we going to do about the continuing stagnant wages, right? jobs are coming back. the economy is growing. the stock market is way up. but real wages for most americans have remained stuck, which is why on the opening day of congress, i proposed a piece of legislation that says that,
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you know, corporations shouldn't be able to deduct ceo bonuses and performance pay over a million dollars unless they're also giving their employees a raise, right? i mean, why should they get a deduction for their big bonuses if they're not also giving a fair shake to their employees? unfortunately, my republican colleagues voted against that, but those are the kinds of things i think we should focus on. what can we do to make sure that more americans are benefitting from what seems to be now a greater and greater economic growth. >> congressman, you know the president friday in knoxville, tennessee, proposing a new plan that would provide free education for those who wanted to attend community colleges, to get them on the path to a college degree. is there any appetite in congress to support this plan that would be funded 75% by the federal government and 25% by the states? >> well, i certainly hope so, because we know one of the things that can lead to higher
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paychecks over a lifetime is getting the education, the skills, and the training that people need. and so i hope we will do that, because the costs of community college are a barrier to many people getting that training, getting those skills. tomorrow, i'm going to be delivering a speech at the center for american progress on exactly the subject we're talking about right now. how do we deal in a comprehensive and integrative fashion with the issue of middle class and minimum wage squeeze, it's a problem that's gone over the last couple of decades. we really need an economic strategy to deal with that, and just another round of tax rate cuts for millionaires is not going to do it. we saw how that failed when it was tried last. >> how do you pay for it? >> how do you pay for, i'm
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sorry, for what? >> the free community college education. >> you pay for it as we have other items in the president's budget, which is eliminating some of the special interest tax breaks that have gotten into the code because people have very high-priced lobbyists who get special deals. you know, when you get a special tax break, what it means is you pay less and everybody else pays more. so, for example, one of the other things we offered on opening day was to say, let's address the coming shortfall in the national transportation trust fund, right. this may, it's going to start going insolvent. so we proposed that we end these corporate inversions, these maneuvers by some corporations where they simply change their address to overseas, to avoid paying their taxes here in the united states, which means more people here in the united states have to pay taxes. and we would use those funds to invest in modernizing our national infrastructure, our roads and bridges. those are the kind of things you
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can do also to invest in this community college plan. >> congressman, you know the republicans are kind of debating whether or not to replace doug elmendorf, the director of the c.b.o. you talked about that earlier and described it as trickle-down economics. what do you think will ultimately happen with elmendorf and what do you think is the argument for replacing him as far as the republicans go? >> well, the congressional budget office, in order to maintain its credibility and stature has to be a non-partisan organization. doug elmendorf i think has steered that non-partisan course very well. and it's not just my opinion. it's the opinion of lots of republicans, both economics and republican economists around the country. it appears republicans in congress want to replace him, which is their right, i just hope they bring in somebody of doug's stature with that
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non-partisan approach. the fact that on opening day, they changed the rules of the house to try to make it easier to enact these tax cuts for the very wealthy, and implement what has been in the past a failed trickle down strategy on the economy. the fact that they did that gives me great concern, because in the process going forward, in order to try to disguise the deficit impact for another round of tax cuts for the very wealthy, which by the way, only resulted in the people doing well, doing even better, leaving everybody stuck with the flat wages, the deficit has come way up. >> on the bills that have focused on improving the middle class's economic status, you know, that's a lot of what we
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heard from democrats over the last two years, and house democrats now have their smallest minority in the house in decades. why is this still a good strategy to stick with? >> oh, listen, i think that the american people have this issue on their minds front and center. and i think it's really important that we communicate a very specific strategy, right. words are not enough. you need to back up the words about empowering the middle class and dealing with middle class squeeze with an agenda. now, democrats have put forward a number of proposals already dealing with relieving student loan debt so students can get started in life without a huge debt hanging over their heads. we've proposed a number of things like equal pay for equal work, so women are getting a fair shake. i think that's a good foundation, but as i indicated tomorrow, i'm going to be giving a speech where i'm going to lay out i think some pretty
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significant proposals for discussion, which i hope, you know, democrats and republicans together will debate, that are aimed at getting exactly at what we're talking about here. and by the way, that bill i mentioned earlier that provides an incentive for corporations to give their employees wages if the ceos are getting big bonuses, is that kind of legislation. it says taxpayers shouldn't be providing this deduction, the corporate ceos for bonuses and performance pay if their employees aren't getting a fair shake in terms of higher wages. so those are the kind of things we should be focused on and i enjoyed hearing speaker boehner on opening day say that we need to deal with flat wages. what i didn't enjoy was after hearing him say that, he voted against a measure that would have been able to address that issue. >> on c-span's newsmaker program, representative chris von hollen.
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>> congressman, over the next two years, many are going to be focused on the 2016 presidential election. how do you think that race will affect the republicans' approach to the budget process? do you think it'll play a little more moderately, or do you think they'll take the extreme? >> well, again, these are the kind of things all of us are watching. as you know in republican primaries, a lot of the political energy is on the tea party writing. and so the question is whether or not a lot of their candidates will head in that direction. so, for example, on immigration in the last presidential election, mitt romney ran way to the right, right. he was talking about self deportation and he did not have any plan to deal with immigration reform in a comprehensive way. i don't know what will happen on
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that issue or on the budget issues as we go into the next presidential round. i think we're already seeing on the republican side a great mix of views, and then the question is, how does that mix of views play out in the primary? >> and as we talked about earlier, a change in the leadership of the committee you served on as the ranking democrat with paul ryan now over weighs and means, and your relationship with congressman price, what's going to change in terms of the committee, its agenda, and your own personal relationship with the chairman? >> well, i had a very good working relationship with paul ryan, and i hope to forge that kind of relationship with tom price. that obviously does not mean we're going to agree on all these budget issues, but i hope it means that the budget committee will continue to conduct itself in a professional way, meaning that we had sharp debates but civil debates. with respect to the substance of
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the budget, you know, i expect it to be very similar to the old republican budget, which, again, provides those tax breaks for folks at the very top. which, by the way, if you do it in a deficit-neutral manner, the way they claim they want to do, according to the non-partisan tax policy center, would actually increase the tax burden on middle class families. and while they're doing that, they're cutting our investments in things like education and infrastructure components as well as science and research to 40% below the lowest levels or percent of the economy that we've seen since the eisenhower administration. so you take the lowest level of investment as a percent of the economy since the eisenhower administration, cut it 40% below that. that is a recipe for american economic decline. we've helped our economy by investing in our education, by
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investing in our infrastructure, and by investing in innovation and scientific research. it would be a huge mistake to have a budget that once again tries trickle down by cutting tax rates for folks at the top, while also cutting investments that help power our economy and help people climb that ladder of opportunity. >> congressman, perhaps not on the budget resolution, but is there any other area that you think you and congressman price might agree? any policy change we might see coming from the two of you? >> well, what i hope we can do is tackle this issue of the looming shortfall in the transportation trust fund. as i indicated, as soon as may, the month of may, there's less revenue coming into that trust fund and it is necessary just to keep the investments at current levels, and we are already seeing the impact of infrastructure and disrepair throughout our country, our roads, our bridges, our transit ways. we should also be updating our broad band and modernizing and extending that.
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but when it comes to our infrastructure trust fund, we're going to have to come together and have a funding mechanism. now, if our republican colleagues are going to reject our proposal as they did in opening day, which would close down some of these corporate loop holes that encourage companies to move overseas, right. they didn't want to close down the corporate inversion loop hole, which would have raised money to fix the trust fund for at least two years, they don't want to do that, i hope tom and i can come together on a mechanism to fund the trust fund and make sure we have an opportunity to modernize our infrastructure before we become one giant pothole. >> so is the goal here to try to do a long-term extension, something along the lines of five years, and is there talk of a way to pay for this? i know there's been some chatter about the gas tax this week, but
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speaker boehner did say that he was opposed to that. >> well, that's exactly right. we need to put our transportation funding on a long-term basis, because when you're going, you know, just month-to-month, what it means is that people who are planning projects around the country, whether it's roads or bridges or rail or transit, whatever it may be, they don't have the confidence of making those long term plans. so we need a four-year plan. the president's budget and the budget that house democrats proposed last year did that, as i said, by closing down a whole number of these tax breaks to actually encourage american companies to move jobs and investment overseas. we wanted to end those perverse incentives and use the savings at home. if tom price and the republicans don't want to take that approach, i hope they'll put something else on the table. we should have a bipartisan
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discussion about the issue of a gas tax increase. it hasn't been increased since the early 1990s. but republicans need to be willing to participate in that conversation in a bipartisan way, and not play politics with it. but again, our preferred approach we put on the table. closing corporate tax breaks that lead companies to go overseas. let's come together with a plan, for goodness sakes. >> another debate you'll have this year is over the debt ceiling and raising it. congressman price brought up a few weeks ago, suggested the idea of revising the boehner rule, which would result in every increase in the ceiling, would be matched with a decrease in discretionary funding. i'm assuming you wouldn't be for that. do you think that this could possibly lead to a show-down between republicans in congress and president obama?
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>> well, i really thought we'd gotten over using the debt ceiling as a political weapon because it has such devastating economic consequences. the consequences of a government shutdown are very disruptive and bad for the economy. but the consequence of the united states defaulting the debt obligations would be catastrophic. and you know, mitch mcconnell, when he was elected republican leader, said that republicans aren't going to do that again. so i hope tom price will at least in this instance listen to what senator mcconnell has to say. that would create a huge amount of disruption in the economy. >> and let me ask you a question, in maryland political circles that you could potentially be a candidate for governor in four years. my question is, what is your long term goal?
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do you want to stay in congress? would you like to seek elective office in maryland as governor? what's in your future? >> well, steve, i'm enjoying my responsibilities right now as the senior democrat, the ranking democrat on the budget committee, and that is my focus. i've been spending many months actually preparing this plan, this strategy that i'm going to be talking about tomorrow at the center for american progress. and i hope that that will become at least something for our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to debate going forward, because i think the fundamental challenge that we've got in this country is to grow our economy, make sure we sharpen our competitive edge, but do it in a way where we have more broadly shared prosperity, and i think, you know, congress needs to act on that, and i hope to continue to be part of that discussion and maybe take it to another level. >> so can you get more done in congress or in the governor's office?
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>> well, you can certainly -- you can get things done in congress if you have a willingness on all sides to work together, which continues to be my goal. but obviously, the governorship in maryland is a -- it's a great position. it's a very strong governorship. it has strong executive powers under the maryland constitution. so i've been -- you know, i've been flattered by the approaches i've gotten with respect to running for governor in maryland, but i do want to give this current governor who just got elected, let's give him a chance. let's see what he comes up with, and i think all of us need to be at least for now, making sure >> right here.
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that maryland moves forward, those of us in maryland, and in congress, we need to be working to make sure the government moves forward. by the way, we've got a lot of international global economic challenges. we've got to make sure that more americans are benefitting from economic growth going forward. that is the economic challenge of the day. >> congressman chris van hollen from maryland's eighth congressional district and the ranking democrat on the house budget committee. congressman, thank you for being with us. >> thank you. it's great for being with all of you. >> rebecca shabad, i want to follow up on the last comment he made, republicans can't be scary moving ahead. how does the gop govern? >> you know, it's a question that we're all looking at right now. obviously, the republicans in the house, we saw it with the vote for speaker and with the omnibus debate in the late house
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session. it's hard to determine how the republicans will agree on the same terms, especially in the senate. mitch mcconnell has said that congress can't default, there won't be any more shut downs. quiet is, will the house and the senate be able to come to a compromise on all the spending and budget issues and whether they'll be able to satisfy the white house as well. >> to congressman von hollen, what's going to happen? >> i think it'll be suspensive to see if republicans can pass a budget. it was a close call last year and we have 24 senate republicans up for re-election in 2016 so i think there are some hard choices there for them. i thought it was very interesting that congressman von hollen said we will not permit you to increase funding for defense out of -- by taking that money for the non-defense spending, and so democrats are drawing their line in the sand pretty clearly there. >> a

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