Great American Debate: Part II

Rep. Paul Ryan, George Will, Rep. Barney Frank, and Robert Reich.
11:55 | 12/18/11

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Transcript for Great American Debate: Part II
There is nobody in -- country who got rich. On his own. Nobody. There are you quantity clear you'll love your goods to market all of runs the rest just -- for. You hire workers don't -- that's paid to educate know what you built up. Three and it turned into something terrific for a great idea god bless and keep an a big hunk of it. What part of the underlying social contract. It's huge hey -- confidant and pay forward for the next. Welcome back and that is the essence of what -- -- debate in this segment as our special edition continues he would have been nice to you at the museum that of course was. Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren defending the -- of government the resolution on the table today there is too much government in my life. A hot topic on the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill let me ask -- in 2007. The nation's top 1% took home more often tax paid then. The total -- some 40%. And now a new report shows that at least one in fifteen Americans -- been living in extreme poverty. So the gap between rich and -- is why. Shouldn't the government do something to address that its. The poverty rates are as high as they've ever event that's a good argument for the fact that current economic policies aren't working. Rather than trying to bring people the -- down on the bottom we should be -- -- -- bringing people from the bottom up for the top. Income mobility economic growth and so we have to keep an eye on what is necessary to grow the economy. -- can have more broadly shared prosperity by giving people income mobility let people rise up and that means. Take the barriers away from -- -- the rising society. Don't have a society where we say this is enough we're gonna kaput we're gonna -- to equalize the difference is because what ends up happening if you look at that new CBO study that's about income. Inequality the best thing you -- have to reduce income inequalities have more recessions mean that's basically what their conclusion is a so you're going to have different outcomes of different people's lives the focus. Of our government ought to be respect people's rights so that they can make the most of their lies in the difference in our philosophies is not equalized in the outcome of people's lives. But giving equal opportunities -- would make the most of. -- -- to have quit if as decades now. Evidence shows at least in the last decade that this upward mobility in this country and stole. Was Mitch Daniels -- ones that upward mobility from the Balkans the crux of the American promise. Can government should government do what the congressman is saying and now upward mobility which stole. Big government in evidently exacerbates the problem of inequality big government and evidently is a servant of the strong can -- -- examples. The tax code has been changed for -- 500. Times in the last decade every one of those times. But the service of a group strong enough -- -- enough for the wealthy enough to hire a Washington lawyer to represent them to game the tax cut. The welfare state exists to transfer wealth basically from the working young and retired elderly working young and middle age to retire don't. The elderly are according to the CBO study. The net worth. Of the famine of household on average household headed by someone 65 years old or older is 47. Times larger. -- out of the net worth of a household of someone 35 or younger that's a record and has doubled in the last five years. Got big government is responsive to big muscular interest groups but I. What I. I but let's just be clear about the facts I mean right now. The top 1%. Is claiming in terms of their pay a larger share of total income. Then has been at any time since before the great depression and -- their their liberators and other tax rates are lower than they've been in thirty years. -- you look at that period having George -- -- That you know the big. Rich people a big corporations have undue influence and yes I agree with the a but the answer is not to shrink government and not even now have government attempts to invest in education and job training and all of the waste which we traditionally have generated upward mobility the answer is to get money out of politics to make sure. That those who are at the top reaches that is both individuals and corporations don't have the untoward influence they now have. One final point in the first three decades after the Second World War. We had in this country much more. Of an equal distribution of the fruits of economic growth. And yet what happened it turned out that in those days the economy grew faster than it's grown since. There was under president Dwight. A marginal tax rate on the top of -- -- 1%. And I'm not advocating we go back to 91% I'm just saying that we're conservatives to say. That we cannot tax the wealthy when all of the nation's wealth and income virtually speaking. Is that the top -- in investing in people and education and training and everything else that it's absurd MySpace was maniac in the field of strong -- No one his argument against government investing in education that's not -- but going to -- you guys are now going on public to join not. But. I'm not attacking the elderly -- -- -- Five years ago and I turned 65 I got my Medicare card I showed it to my doctor said that's wonderful George now we'll send your bills to your children. I find that for -- transfer of wealth and welfare state is. Well let me talk about education first place. -- -- -- simply wrong when you say you all attacked that they put is that all the tax increases help the wealthy. I voted Paul voted against a tax increase under Bill Clinton which raised the -- on the top. People a deal that went above -- 150000. I would go higher than that. It created great increase in revenue it helped us balance the budget while with military cuts and -- I -- want to go back in fact candidates right wing. That wants to expand the government in the form with the military enormously and also maintenance job creating. Interestingly the only way we create jobs according to my conservative friends in government spending. -- not highways and now with the environmental cleanup but by overseas military bases but the point is it. The yen. Clinton tax increase was not for the wealthy have helped. It is based tax the wealthy and actually moved more in the direction of of equality in the attack though secondly as education. It is this attack on public spending that we have had to defend pell grants. College aid for low income people against lightly efforts to cut them and in particular and when I -- by the committee quotable Ben Bernanke -- Alan Greenspan. Correctly -- Community Colleges as a major way as the transmission belt. But Community Colleges don't want to -- publicly funded and Community Colleges are suffering. From his right wing attack on government revenue so that our ability to -- Community Colleges that -- when they give people the skills they need. Is -- -- goaded by that if blind sided attack on government -- So when it comes to taxes we just -- of the top 1% pay 38% of all federal taxes. But 49% of American households don't pay any taxes at all how a federal taxes or is that -- It is. If you don't think Social Security is attacked in fact the -- if you could detect which of the very significant tax which goes to what to it would. Talking about Medicare and Social Security. There's not only -- heavily paid by going to people but -- progressive. Because if you make a 100000 dollars then everything you earned is tax and you make a million dollars 10% of what to a defect. So yes if you exclude the Social Security payroll tax. From the calculation. Then the low income people don't spectacularly good yes you -- -- your point what the percentage of income. That's tax is taken into account and you take Social Security tax than that that figure isn't true. I -- -- good to move to new against him for the kind of question there about lobbyists. I'm yeah I'm Jerry allows -- of the -- at the university Virginia my question is this. Many Americans believe that Washington is dominated by -- -- groups that represent both the left and the right. And I'm curious whether in your judgment that's the case. And if government is influence but too much in the way of lobbying then how do you reform it. Without jeopardizing -- threatening our values traditions of the right to organize and to speak pretty well let's put that was jeopardized by an obvious and that story. Which has. Have been asking -- on the spare us do sit through I was struck. Something -- -- how -- having big government get money out of politics it's the other way around. If the power and the money going to be here in Washington that's for the influence is going to -- And so what we're doing by having big government concentrated in a few in politicians and bureaucrats appear. That is where the powerful are gonna go to influence well that by reducing the size and scope of government by having government live within its limits. -- reducing that power center and decentralizing and sending it back to the. And Wetzel struck by -- -- -- say when again when people talk about women and guys just keep attempting to military. That was an enormous amount -- we spend -- the military -- Medicare we have building boat and we have building schools and we have building reduced. In all kinds of countries in the rest of the world and somehow it's money that's spent on the military disappeared from your -- you. So I -- -- people really do really do worry about this and as the -- -- it's both parties holiday Islam get full of that money out of government out of elections well first -- -- we have a much. After campaign finance laws I think we may need an amendment. Reverse the supreme court's ridiculous rulings that say that money is speech and corporations are people. I -- how absurd. You know with the average first amendment rights and most people -- being trampled on these days because so much money is letting Washington Paul Ryan going back to your point. Might. Concern is not so much with the size of government it's it's -- government -- for. And if you and I can just simply agree. To get money out of politics. And to reduce government to the size that it works for average working people not for. Corporate welfare. Known for defense contractors enough for Wall Street not for agribusiness. Not for all of the big industries -- now claims so much of the public. The the public we. -- -- You and I may be -- -- problems with the possible so everything should be off automatically -- final legal ground -- I think it -- an audio. Disingenuous here is axiomatic. That if you want reduce the role of money in politics reduce the role politics and allocating money and opportunity in the society. Leave it to the market. Private voluntary transactions between individuals to a change -- -- the market we've tried leaving things to the market look what happened on Wall Street. -- -- of the market and Wall Street exploded. About what happened Massey Energy we left after the market and we have -- -- someone about support comes -- -- -- -- on education and job training what about -- about roads and bridges and everything else we depends on numbers like these from the heart to think that the big problem began in this country in the financial crisis because a lot of wizards in Washington decided they knew. They just knew how many Americans and houses and they were going to do whatever they needed to do. To support banks to subsidize banks to set interest rates it would encourage.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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