Transcript for Roundtable II: The Week in Politics
let me say this, hypothetically speaking, i really do hope that we have a woman president in my lifetime. And -- whether it's next time or the next time after that, it really depends on women stepping up and subjecting themselves to the political process. Then the country, our country, has to take that leap of faith. Not the first time, and not the last hint from hillary clinton. Big week in politics leaving and coming up. To the round table, and republican mike kelly of pennsylvania, democrat joaquin castro from texas, and amity, director of the george w. Bush institute. And rebecca jarvis. Welcome. I want that start with immigration. We had a tale of two worlds in washington week. A lot of progress in the senate on immigration. Appears that they're set up for a vote tomorrow that could lead to an overwhelming majority. But things are bogged down in the house. Congressman castro, if the senate is able to pass the immigration bill with the 70 votes that some democrats are saying is possible, does that mean you could get it through the house? It's a precondition. Has to be strong momentum in the senate to have a chance in the house. Nothing really original is going to originate in the house of representatives. So that's really a precondition. If it does that, I think it has a good chance. I think we can pass it in 2013. But many of your colleagues seem to think, the 70 votes doesn't make a difference, the house is going to do what it's going to do. If you look at history, we don't do big things well, break it apart, do smaller pieces. Have a heavy debate about. Not a conversation, a heavy debate. This is a serious issue. We talk about a sovereign nation and the ability to protect our borders. That's number one. From 1986 up to now, we have to look at it carefully. We saw the affordable care act, any time you rush anything through, this is up to 1100 pages, not everybody has read it and gotten through it. Border security is a huge issue in northwest pennsylvania. And the millions being put into it? The border is more secure now than it is ever been. For example, in 2004, 10,000 border patrol agents along the border. New there are 21,000. The amendment would take that to 40,000 border patrol agents. The number of crossings is at net zero. The migration with mexico. So if there's any time to do it, it's now. The cbo looked at this and put out a report with a little something in it for everyone. The congressional budget office looked at it and found deficit reduction, net savings, $175 billion, and help growth, 3.3% more gdp growth over the next decade. But for opponents, there was something in it, a minor down tick in average wages, and also a minor uptick in the near-term in the unemployment rate. How does that play out? Unbalance the growth is more important, the uptick is minor. And about these reports, they do dynamic analysis that shows how much growth we're going to get. I think generally, with immigration, we get bogged down in the law part and forget whether we have new border guards or not, probably this will be good for the economy. If we settle on immigration and scrutinize it, at the george bush center we have a book about immigrants and growth, a whole book showing almost all the time they help. Even with jobs. You have been going back to coolidge. The republicans have struggled with this debate. Yes, the republican party can be sour. That's one of the sour parts of calvin coolidge. He didn't always appreciate immigrants. But he did appreciate once they were here, the whole process of americanization, or the coming part of america, whatever words we use now, whether we came over on the mayflower or in steerage just a few years ago, we're all in the same boat here. What I emphasize in that book and in this conversation, immigrants make the economy stronger. That's the number one -- it's there. It's true. There's no question. I think every mainstream economist agrees that as an economic matter, it is a positive for this country. It was built on immigration. The issue of pressing down on wages has been studied and a minor effect, if at all. So the opposition is more of a social and political issue. And it shouldn't, and I don't believe it is, really, an economic issue. And one of the things, you talk about breaking it up, there's a big debate on the farm bill in congress as well. A coalition of conservative republicans and liberal democrats bringing the bill down. A lot of people looked at that and said it means speaker boehner is going to have a hd time getting anything through the congress. He said he's not going to do it. Do you believe him, take him at his word that he's not going to do it unless a majority of the republicans support the legislation? I do. From my experience, I've been there one term and part of a second, I've never met anybody more open to the debate than speaker boehner. He has really been a champion of having an open floor. He lets everybody talk. The ag bill is something we should have beene to get done. In the past we were able to get done. Heavy debate and amendment process, I was disappointed, it wasn't strong enough to the right for some of my colleagues, and wasn't strong enough to the left for some other folks. I don't understand that. But it was to put something forward to give certainty to where we're going. It's the uncertainty that's driving the problems in the country. Do you think it passes if he brings it to the floor with majority republicans? If he uses the rule that says you have to have a support of the majority of the majority, a majority of republicans, that means that 25% of the body can control 100% of the agenda and the legislation. It will not pass if he uses that rule. I want to move on to the economy. Big week, fed chairman ben bernanke gave his outlook for the next year or so on the economy. Here's part of what he said. Generally speaking, financial conditions are improving. The main head wind to growth this year is, as you know, is the federal fiscal policy. Given that very heavy headwind, the fact that the economy is moving ahead at a moderate pace is indicative that the underlying factors are improving. Rebecca, the fed chairman emphasized mostly good news. But, boy, wall street didn't like it one bit. You saw a 500 point drop in two days. This is the irony. Wall street has become dependent on the federal reserve and the economic stimulus. Pumping $85 billion into the markets, the overall economy for more than four years on a month-to-month basis. And those trillions of dollars, and some are calling those a hotel california. Because you can check out, but you can't necessarily leave. You could never leave. And steve, you know, the wall street journal and the new york times rarely agree on things, but they both used the word addiction to describe the reaction to the quantitative easing, the funds that the fed has been putting out. Even when the fed chairman said it's not all going away, you see the negative reaction. There's two points. What bernanke did, I believe saved the economy. Call it by funny names. Call it crack cocaine and all this, but the economy was collapsing in 2008. He took important steps. And I think they were critical to the economic recovery. I believe this was a positive program that we needed. Wall street is worried that when you take the training wheels off the bicycle, it's not clear the bicycle keeps going. They are worried about the future of the economy. We have 7.5 or 6% unemployment. We have slow growth, and most importantly, we still have a congress that's doing nothing. Passed fewer laws than even president truman's do nothing congress. As important as the issues are, the american people say the economy is the most important issue and they're doing nothing. Coolidge would say fewer laws is good. I want to mention that. One of the things concerning wall street is that there's not enough growth to power the bicycle, if we're sticking to the bicycle metaphor. It's the absence of fiscal freedom. He alluded to it. So why is he here? Your we listening to him? Chairman bernanke said that the fact that the federal budget deficit has been coming down has been restraining growth and causing the economy to grow more slowly than it would. If they were spending more and more the economy would be better? That was his point. Well -- I'll disagree with him. If this is the situation that we're expecting the federal government led by the fed or by the congress to power the economy when the economy needs to be ready to power itself, so it's an inconvenient moment to take off training wheels or to cut off the iv of the drug to which the economy is addicted. But it's a very -- it's got to happen eventually. One of the points he was making, congressman, it to pick up on the sequester having an impact as well. Do you see any prospect that the congress is going to loosen the sequester? I'm hopeful. congress. It was never supposed to happen, the budget control act of 2011, the super committee was supposed to solve it. Obviously that didn't happen. And it will have a negative impact on the economy. But I would point out, that despite wall street, we have to remember that over the last few years, wall street has done a lot better than the average american. They're doing well. And before you came to congress, you were a car dealer. What are you feeling? I feel frustration. We're talking about the economy. Look at the economy, look at the potential there. Look at the squandered opportunities we have had. We go back to congress did this or didn't do that. If we had an aggressive energy strategy, if we had a way to lift people out of where they are right now. When you see middle income people lost $5,000 a year, why is that? We are so blessed for so long, the only thing missing right now is strong leadership in establishing -- what would an aggressive energy strategy mean? The president is going to make a major announcement this week on climate change and energy. I want to know what that would be. I don't think that the president needs to make a statement on green energy. With the list of priorities of what's going on, if this is initiative, I think there's a lot more things on the plate. To me, it's a pivot away from what's causing the distrust of this government. Any relationship you have, whether it's you and i, you and your wife, any of us in a business relationship, when we lose trust in the person, then we don't have faith in the future. That's where we are right now. I think the president would be better to talk about lifting the lower income people and the middle income people and get to where they should be. Those are the opportunities right now. I think that would be part of it. The president this week, yesterday he put out a youtube video, making a major speech on climate change and energy on tuesday. Here it is. I pledged that america would respond to the growing threat of climate change for the sake of our children and future generations. It's a serious challenge, but it's one uniquely suited to america's strengths. There's no single step that can reverse climate change, but when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can. It appears this is the president's attempt to move around congress. Use executive action to limit greenhouse gases, raise efficiency standards. And have more renewable energy on public lands. Can it be effective? I think the president has an energy policy. He stated it. It's an all of the above policy. What he's going to say on tuesday is a part of it. I think it can have an effect. The supreme court allowed him to regulate greenhouse gases. And he has a bunch of other authorities. And remember, the keystone xl pipeline, I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't part of a packaging effort by the white house. Something for people who care about the environment and -- the keystone pipeline. It feels like there's a panel come -- package coming. And the business world? There's people who would benefit, green energy, and those who would have to increase spending to meet the new standards. But the u.N. Put out a report about the food business in particular, and that the food business, in light of some of the changes in our climate has had to move around and move to new locations and spend money in order to make up for crazy weather patterns. What unites us this morning, is the people are talking about the economy. This is an area that the president is saying is anti-growth. It might hurt coal, provides a lot of electricity. He should have more regulatory power. Regulation, not laws, is often what is dampening growth in the energy sector. What do we care about more? There is an element of tradeoff. A higher gdp and more labor force participation, or do we want us to be about laws? You know, regulating, other sectors, immigration, enforcing the borders. Do we want the growth? That's the uni. Life is about tradeoffs and there's no question there is tradeoff between the environmental issues and the economy. And you have to find a balance. And I think the time has come for the president to find the balance. He's not violating the law, he's going use it. This is the kind of leadership he's asking for. You can move to alternatives and green energies and still be successful and keep things efficient. In san antonio, we closed two al power plants down about 12 years early and moved to natural gas and alternative energy. And we have among the lowest rates in the country. With the president, it would be absolutely crazy to regulate it. But is there anything you in the congress can stop him? I don't know what we can do to stop it. I would say this, the president talks about all of the above but leaves out below. We have tremendous and abundant and affordable way of producing energy in this country. We don't have to rely on anybody to supply us with a barrel of oil. We can do everything we need to do right here. We have tillable soil and potable water. Not that the rest of the world has the things we have. You don't have to rely on others, when you can lower the cost of energy, you can compete in a global economy that allows us not just to be part of it, but to dominate it. I just don't understand why. The president's role should be as a uniter and lead us forward. We can't have the divisiveness. We have a great opportunity with nuclear. So my question is why are we concentrating on other things and not using what's abundant. I'm not sure what you're referring to? Coal? Every one of the fossil rules. We're doing that. No, we're not. We're shutting down coal plants, we're shutting down power -- electric power -- we are -- we are trying to reduce our reliance on coal because of the adverse economic effect. We now have an enormous surplus of natural gas that can take the place on a cost effective and environmentally sound basis. We have had an enormous oil production increase, the fastest in history I think. And reduction in imports. I'm not sure what you want the president to do that we're not doing. All the growth has taken place in the private sector, not the public sector. The president was -- yes, of course I do. But I also know there's a great potential in the public sector. There is an answer to the problems. That is the dynamic economy. It's just idle chatter otherwise. I wish we had time for real talk. Not idle chatter. Rebecca sticking around at abc news.Com/this week. And when we come back, the
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