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tv   Jennifer Bachner and Benjamin Ginsberg Discuss What Washington Gets Wrong  CSPAN  February 12, 2017 9:00am-10:27am EST

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.. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. welcome to the cato institute. my name is john samples. and vice president and publisher here at the cato in the two and i have looked forward to some
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time to her book form today on what washington is wrong, the unelected officials who run thet government and their misconceptions about the american people. many reasons of course it's hard to imagine right now as we are about three weeks after the election that brought president-elect trump to the brink of office, a book that might be more timely for this moment in america and indeed the turnout today for a book form suggest there widespread interest in the content of this also i am delighted to have today as speakers, one of the authors, ginsburg and cattle who have all worked in a political science senior and jennifer bachner, a new frontier. indeed, donald trump raises the question that has been on the
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american agenda for some time, which is a deep satisfaction with much of the country out that it's about way -- the beltway. i remember this all sitting around thinking after having lived in washington where some 25 years now, the life out there may really be different and this is from a person who works at the cato institute as ainstituta professional is better. we are and this time the larger picture that goes along side donald trump's victory. the larger conception is that we have obtained a position in the constitutional order that is rather different than the one we started with in 1787. that is a much stronger b presidency, much stronger
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executive range and much stronger judiciary than was originally intended.wh what is weaker is the classic representative institution, congress and also one could say this state play a weaker role than one would washi washington council and ourot authors today decided that other people haven't done this so much. the authors decided to see whatt with the washington elite thought about the rest of america. as you can see from thewashingtn subtitle, it turns out that the washington elite have misconceptions about the american people and maybe even some libertarians have misconceptions about the american people. maybe we will return to that issue. let me begin today by saying a- brief bit of administration, we will hear from our authors and professor cattle and in a roundabout one or so we will
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have -- begin to take your questions and answers on these issues. i will begin by introducing our authors and then we'll hear from them. benjamin ginsberg is the david bernstein professor of political science and chair of the hopkins center for governmental studies here in washington. his research interests include american politics, jewish history, higher education policy and societal impact of war and violence. he's the author, co-author or editor of 24 books, including of course what washington -- "what washington gets wrong" and the worth of work. worth of war. ben was referred to, you may have seen this in a "washington post" story recently as a libertarian. i don't know what is going to want to say about that today if anything. the worth of war is not the title of the libertarian book.
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his co-author, jennifer bachner is director of the government analytics and certificate in government analytics at johns hopkins also along with their current book, editor of analytics policy and governance, and which was along with ben has edited and kathy hill will appear with el university press press soon. she also wrote the report predicted policing, preventing d crime with data and analytics. very timely undertaking as these discussions go forward. as an expert on governmentngton" analytics and political behavior, she's been quoted or cited in the "washington post," "wall street journal," government executive ben on federal news radio, she received a phd in government from harvard university. the floor is yours. >> thank you, john kerry jen and i are delighted to be here today. we are very grateful to john for
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organizing this. also for agreeing to serve as while i have the floor, and the cato institute. this is a misnamed institute. cato was a rabble-rouser. he was the donald trump. he was against free trade and the attack is by no means skip yet made the cut, head of the aristocratic faction, perhaps this could be a romney and roche as well. i really think cato needs to rethink the name of the two. now that i've got not out of my system. let me turn to the topic at hand. for many years, i've been annoyed at the various surveys
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undertaken that seem designed to show that ordinary americans don't know anything about enjoys government. the one i enjoyed most was one of those old jay leno jaywalking and counters where people asked asked -- were asked to name a supreme court justice. a large number said judge judy. first of all, this is kind of anonymous mistake, right? because judge judy and justice ginsburg, no relation, are both small jewish women who went toho the same high school in brooklyn. they are both graduates of james madison high school. so why shouldn't people get them confused? at any rate, one day jen and ido were chatting and one or the other of us said how come no one surveys the government to seetht
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what it takes about the people? no one has ever done this. why not survey governmentt officials to find out if they know anything about the american people. so that is what we did. in general we will discuss thehe details of the survey. but basically, we were able to get responses from about 850 government officials and members of we call the policy community. i think tankers, contract areasd who are involved in the regulatory rulemaking process here in washington. so we asked them what they thought about american spirit i don't have to tell this audience, though i often tell myself that everything you learned about american government is a little wrong. most of what you think of that law is not written by congress
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and signed by the president. constitution got this a little bit wrong. most of what we think of as theh federal law is written by federal agencies. to a very substantial extent, these agencies operate without much guidance or direction from congress and the president. the 114th congress, the outgoing congress and not dead and 100 -- limited by numbers right. 208 teen pieces of legislation, many of which were auditory during that same period, federae agencies wrote 150,000 pages of rules and regulations. many of which were very important and substantially rewrote federal law.
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the department of labor issued new rules and regulations under the authority of the act. i don't see anyone around here who was present when the act was not good. sometimes i feel that i was. but you know, the one with taft-hartley! it? 1936. here we are century later the department of labor issuing rules and regulations pursuant to the act. are these rules and regulations truly went to the act? well, no one knows. no one involved in the drafting of villages ration is still with us. and moreover, the federal courts agency interpretations of the law as you know. there are many principles. my son is an administrative lawyer and he tells me not to talk about these things but i
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know enough to know that there are several print bowls of deference and particularly the chevron standard or the courts generally deferred to the agency interpretations of the law. the department of labor is nominally based upon some out ancient standard. multiply this by many agencies, and you have a government that is centered in the executive agency rather than the congresso or the white house. the president plays a role in rulemaking and since president reagan since the creation of all room in i read, this is a room in which everyone knows what it is. information and regulatory assessment, which is in the omb
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and was created by the paperwork reduction i -- well, what do yo. want? you know so many examples of this in washington. anyway, was charged with reviewing regulatory agenda d.c. to what extent the agenda was consistent with the president's agenda. but then under clinton, the mission was expanded so that ali iraq issued directives telling telling them that the pressure to talk to him after that. they complained bitterly about when b the actions that the incoming
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direct or met with the outgoing director. i'm tempted to name these people. like that time a talker. i said to her, how did the meeting go? she said i thought that he was going to condemn everythingg questi that. actually he said we would gain of changing the name of these direct days because our party suggests regulatory directives. what would you think about that? at any rate, the president does have some impact on the regulatory agenda. but this is similar to the impact that tocqueville described when he talked about the roman emperor. he said the emperor has vast power, but its reach is limited. the emperor can only intervene and a small number of areas so
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that for the most part the other agencies of government are in charge of everything else. and so the president issues a small number of regulatory props. i want to get the wording right. and indeed, under obama was charged with overseeing andh talkback process in which the agencies were asked to go back through those rules andise those regulation and excise those that no longer seem correct. this didn't get very far. one might have predicted that. at any rate, the president had some power here. it's like the roman emperors. its enormous but limited in reach. now of course congress has oversight powers and congress
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also have something called the congressional review act so that any set of rules and regulationy for all rules and regulations have to be submitted to the government accountability office, submitted to gao. in the gao deems a particular set of rules and regulations as major in terms of their impact on the economy, congress has 60 days to examine the rule and pass the motion of disapproval. well, this hasn't worked out to well either. because such motions are subject to presidential veto. congress says he may have heard has been quite divided in recent years. in fact, many days i don't think it's a good emotion of approval for the idea that the marigold is a pretty flower.
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so era has only come into action one time that i know of. this is with regard to remember the ergonomics rules that were adopted just before bush came in. the ergonomics rules are presented to congress. congress disallowed them. that's the one and only time erh has actually worked. otherwise it's been a deadtors. letter. congress to hold hearings. congress does threaten administrators. it does intervene, the political scientist called the spiral bygl management. if someone rings the bell loudly enough, congress will look into it.. but again, most of the time the agencies do their thing without much intervening periods with
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hundreds of thousands of pages of rules and regulations. so in many respects we don't have congressional government. we don't have presidential government. we have government or the executive branch.look, and we so we guided this book. we found a number of interesting things, which jen will present to you. sort of an overview, we found that members of washington policy community were not representative of the americanms public. that should come as no surprise. neither is congress. members of the washington policy community were better educated, wealthier than the publicbut sic at-large. okay. but since they are and elect it, perhaps this makes more difference than is the case with
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congress. we asked our respondents andiont questions about their understanding of the american public. it turned out none of them named judge judy is a member of the supreme court, but it turned out they were not quite on target in their understanding of american incomes, braves, going down the list. they had an odd picture of americans. m most important to us, they didn't have much regard for the abilities of ordinary americans to govern themselves. they didn't have much regard for the intelligence of ordinary americans, significance of their views and they didn't feel for the most part that the government should pay too much attention to what ordinary folks
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thought. in fact, they didn't think the government should pay much attention to what members of congress thought. they didn't feel the government should pay too much attention to the president. who did the members of our samples think new anything? well, they talk to one another. they thought people like themselves knew what was best. maybe they do know what is bestn when i go to the physician, i don't pretend to know anything about anything. i hope they know more than i do. sometimes am dubious and i hope they know more than i do. t when i need an attorney, i hope they know more than i do. bu but these individuals have a relationship to me, which is important. they have a fiduciary risk in stability to try to understand what i want, what they need and to work with me to achieve those goals.
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if an attorney doesn't do that, they are ignoring their s fiduciary responsibility nation higher than across the street and get another one. same with your physician. in the case of our policymakers, they don't seem to feel they have a fiduciary risk on noth stability and there's nothingry much we can do about it. so this leaves us thinking about what could possibly be done. we do have some suggestions and i think we will come back to those after jenn presents the numbers. >> hi, everyone. it's been indicated we want to understand what the government thinks of the people. in fact, those are original title of the book. so we went ahead and conducted a survey of where we created a survey of about 90 questions and we sent it to about 2400
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officials and received about 850 was unfazed. they obtained their contact information from publicly available directories and received a lot of responses from people who are sort of at the next level of policy making. they had titles like legislative aide, program analysts and policy analysts. the civil servant in our survey, we were able to compare their demographics including age, gender, income and education to those published by opm. we know at least with respect to the service is fairly representative. so a number of interesting findings emerged from our survey and give you a nice overview of. so we asked a lot of officials in our survey about the circumstances of averageout thel americans. we were interested in whether they know about the racial composition of america, despite the different age groups and indicators like the homeownership rate and the educational attainment ofag average americans.
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in many cases are officials didn't do as well or at least not as well as we hope they would've done. for example, we found 80% of respondents thought the th homeownership rate was lower than reality. we think the fact that officials have these misconceptions aboutt circumstances of american is pretty problematic. at least from a policymaking perspective. little policies would align with the circumstances of america. we also last officials about the policy preferences of americans and we found that again there were some misconceptions. so here we see a lot of the officials in our survey think the average american holds a very different policy opinion than they do. as all talk about more in a moment, this turns out not to be the case. you can see here for example
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about 72% of officials think the average american holds a different opinion with respect to policies that aid the poor and 67% think the average american holds a different opinion with respect to policies related to the environment. igad, as i'll talk about soon, i'll show you in fact there's a lot of our common ground between government officials in the average american than they thin. there is. we also ask officials about whether average americans know anything about policy areas. whether they know a great deal about these issues are whether they know very little about the issues. as you can see here, officials clearly think americans don't know much about policies. that is true even for policies. you would think affect their daily lives like social security like and childcare. for example, you can see here about a 72% of government
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officials think the public knows little or nothing about programs aimed at helping the poor andin more than 60% think the public likewise notes almost nothing about childcare. across all of these issues come to you see a various percentage of official think that average americans know anything about these issues.ces so when you take these pieces disdai together, we find officials have quite a fair amount of disdain for the average american and we think that one way this manifests itself is in theirse sense of what we call false fals uniqueness. false uniqueness means that officials perceive themselves to be far more different than the american people than they are in reality. the grass that you can see here shows the extent to which government officials overestimate policy differences with the average american. the red bars show you the number
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of policy issues where there is actual disagreement and the blue bars show you the number ofnt policy issues where there is perceive disagreement. you can see of course the higher a blue bars are clustered on the right-hand side of the screen. we can see, for example, 22% of officials think that they disagree with the average american on policy issues. when in reality, 3% disagree on i've issues. overall, we see a 76% of officials think that they disagree the average american and former policy issues and the numbers only 12%. the key take away of course is a lot of common ground. farmer agreement between officials of average americans and officials perceive there tor be. they perceive themselves as quite different than the average american, but demographicallyc but also in attitude and
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opinions. perhaps to the false uniqueness, we find officials strongly believe they should do with it has been crafting policies rather than follow the will of the people. of course they should be concerning from a government response to ms. perspective. so here on this table we see the percentage of officials for each policy area that think the government should although public opinion, give equal consideration to public opinion and what it thinks is best to simply do what it thinks is best.sp with respect to policies that aid the poor, for example, 12% of officials think they should all a public opinion and in other areas like social security and welfare, the numbers are 18% and 13%. clearly the officials than ours are very imprisoned the government at-large see themselves as clear testesseus rather than delegates.
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interestingly, we did find variation among the officials we surveyed. i noted at the beginning, we surveyed congressional staffers, civil servants and members of the policy community.quite diffr you can see the groups turn out quite differently when you asked them about how much they interact with the public and the extent to which they receive feedback from the public. clearly that congressional staffers at the most interaction with the public interest you the most feedback on the public. this is of course to the electoral incentive of numbers. this speaks to the need for there to be more interaction between double serving andnd policy community. in our book, we talk about a number of possible solutions we think would help bridge this divide. first we think government officials should spend some time outside of d.c. rubbing shoulders with those who they actually govern. for example, there are civil servants who abandon their
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positions for many years and perhaps it would be worthwhile to send a rotation outside of d.c. in the education department you could spend some time in a state level education or school perhaps. we also thank government agencies should be spread out across the country. we think they should be done in a meaningful way. we are not talking about small outposts here. we think the real policymaking centers of d.c. should be decentralized.d. a great example of this is the patented trademark office. they've set up offices aroundcos the country and this is so patent examiners in particular can work closely with the inventors. we also thank there should be some changes in the curricula public administration program. currently, these programs offer courses and what you might've taken interpublic policy programs in the management
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course is for the leadershipcalt course is, courses and political thought, budgeting, but where are the courses that talk about how government officials communicate with the public and receive feed.and make sense of the feedback they receive from the public. i personally think of course analytics is key to making sense of a lot of the comments and feedback that is received by these agencies. finally, we talk about how perhaps civic education in america is to be overhauled. civic education student in high school. so perhaps plus time should be spent on how the processes work in institutions work in erie and more time on how they work in practice. those are sort of the key empirical findings from our work. we think obviously these findings raise some serious concerns, that there are a lot of feasible ways of reaching the
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gap between bureaucracy in public. not >> not your turn you. i'm going to add to it then has said i hate the floor. it's just not right. one area that i think is eliminated by our finding is the area of enforcement. enforcement is a big topic in washington. staff being murdered in which he educated men in a gene is a mode of enforcement. my mother used to manage i hated that. but you now, most regulatory enforcement in the united states is quite harsh. .. acts -- many regulations are based upon or
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depend upon enforcement methods that lack mens rea requirements or have very low mens rea requirement and have a strict liability rule which we would never stand for in ordinary criminal statute. i learned about this cases from cato publications but we have facing or in some cases actually imprisoned for violating rules with which they have no intent to violate and rules that most americans would employed. one of my favorite is the case of nola regulations under the green mammals protection act.and the regulations prohibit harassment of marine animals. so one core captain of one of
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these whale watching boats apparently whistled at a humpback whale, hoping to attract attention for the tourists. now, whistling at a humpback whale is a federal offense, punishable by severalmonths in prison . then if things got worse, because apparently the recording of these events was corrupted by salt water. so this seemed to be a sarbanes-oxley violation. so the result was that agents of nola armed with assault rifles rated the headquarters of the whale watching company and the home of the owner of the whale watching company . i don't know why they needed the assault rifles, as some of you know noaa likes it assault rifles.this is still an ongoing case.
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so why do we have such harsh enforcement? i think it's precisely because the people writing these rules and regulations are out of touch with ordinary folks. they don't see ordinary folks as being very sentiment. they see them as needing, not a nudge or a shop. that's punishment, the other is i want to pick up on something that jen noted, we are in the beginnings of civic training. now, aristotle said that trading is needed so that every citizen knows what it is to be both a ruler and a member of the ruled. rulers need to be trained and ordinary folks because they have to understand the craft of rule, they haveto be able to see what it's about . and in our schools, we teach
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kids to be ruled. we teach them that the citizens should vote and pay taxes, and not much beyond that. they might learn more from watching, they would have learned a lot from watching the election but they might learn more from watching some of these tv series about craft rulers.before i turn the floor, iwant to turn over the floor of the don for one second . i said earlier that maybe these folks know more than we do. maybe they do. but the history of bureaucratic governance doesn't leave me with very much confidence that we are well off under. the problem with bureaucracy that's in charge is that bureaucracies tend to micromanage. they micromanage because the bureaucracy has a sense of omission.
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i remember my old friend, colleague harold used to say this to me, then, they all have their missions. and when a bureaucracy clings to its mission, we remember the admirals, the bureaucracy clings to its mission because the mission of the agency is something that is central to the power of those who run the agency. if you admit for one second that the mission is out of filter, that threatens the power of all those who are in charge. the bureaucracies, whatever they are tend to cling to missions and cling to hierarchal management. and it's never successful. , we were talking about this in the green room, the germans have a term called mission oriented leadership which means that the upper levels set a goal and it's up
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to those working at the bottom to figure out how to do it. it tends to work a lot better than that. that government agencies tend to be comfortable with. jen and i both attended a talk by a woman who wrote a book titled the new trail of tears. it was about the bureau of indian affairs and their management of resignation. naomi schaefer, riley, you should have her come, it's a fascinating story because what she shows is that the bureau of indian affairs queens took control of the reservation even though the indian reservations are desperately poor. even though levels of alcoholism, abuse, you name it are out of control on the
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reservation but the bureau will not change its policies. it clings to control and to me, this was taking any bureaucracy to its limits. i said afterwards, this is my libertarian streak, this is what they want to do to all of us. now you can have the floor. >> i'll have to refer to you about cato. the staff only follows the cato the younger. as you know, he killed himself by disemboweling himself when he was about to be captured by senior and it is true that a lot of these colleagues with the president-elect, we're not ready, not too many of them do that yet. thank you. when i saw this look, this
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was published in the times, post, what does it matter? i honestly thought the perfect commentator for the book form would be our commentator don kendall. don is professor and forwarding in the school of public policy at university of maryland and a nonresident senior fellow at the partnership for public service. the vocal alliance in the brookings institution. he's the author and editor of many books also, he's been autographed including the politics of the demonstrator process and the next government of the united states, while institutions fail us and how to fix them. if you want to study wicked problems. that's a place to start. he's twice won the brownsville book award by the academy of public administration . and in 2008 we won the
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american political science association galveston award for a lifetime of exemplary scholarship in political science and public administration. he's exactly the right guy. he also won a phd in political science from yale and he directed colonists for government magazine which is read by many people at a state and local level. so welcome to cato don, and we look forward to your comments . >> thank you john. thank you for that introduction and thanks especially for having read what is really a terrific and fascinating book. as they both played out at the beginning, what is absolutely fascinating about this book is you would think we would know more about the people that are in charge of so much power in washington but we had asurvey , not one that we've done very much at all, and they have tremendous insights on this. they have insights that could not have come at a better time than now because if there's anything we've established it's that things are not good.
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when we look at government. we need to do a lot better and in particular we need to restore the connections between all of us in the country and the people that are in charge of trying to govern. so in terms of understanding what's going on, this couldn't come at a better time. and there's so much in this book i could easily go on for an hour and a half and let me try to make these five points in particular that i want to try to explore a little bit. the first is the basic questions of whether or not washington is out of touch with the rest of society. and it comes as no surprise to find that one of the big results that come out of this analysis is that the survey shows that the people who work in washington both think that other citizens don't get them and it's very clear that citizens don't get the people in washington who make that power. what this really is about is a portrait of tunnel vision.
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you want to understand what's really going on in the core of the book and the core of what's going on in the middle of the trump transition right now is the sense that too much of washington not only has too much power but also so much of the power is exercised in tiny little tunnels that are often not connected to each other or to citizens in general . the book does a great job of illustrating and demonstrating that. the problem here though is that as true as that probably is, it's unlikely that the people that are surveyed in this book are any more out of sync then are the rest of us in the society as a whole. that what we see is a portrait not only of government on the inside of our society on top of that. this is a much bigger problem and much of what it is, as i think the book suggests in many places is that the disconnect between citizens and those who work inside washington is a reflection of
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the disconnected citizens themselves. how much of this is really true and how much of this is new? the fact is most of these frictions are a reflection of what we see throughout the rest of society. so is washington out of touch? probably, prop not much more than what's been strategize with washington itself. second question. there's a question about contempt by washington of citizens. one of the things that's fascinating, not encouraging but fascinating about this survey they've done is the fact that they found that washington insiders have low opinion of the trustworthiness ofcongress and the president and citizens for the most part two .
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again, this isn't much different from the way that citizens look at the rest of governments, some of the recent surveys. people with trust in government, 19 percent. trust in the presidency, a little bit higher, 36 percent. trust in congress, nine percent. having trust in congress. congress in fact is less popular than either headlights or column colostomy's. it is hard to go anywhere with people with lower opinions of any institution than that that americans have toward congress. so if there is contempt among the members of the washington community toward the governing establishment, it's not a lot different than the contempt that a lot of americans in general have. the situation is not good and we know we need to do better, and restoring these connections. and here's where things get to be much more insightful but awhole lot more complicated . how much does this really matter. what difference does it really make it citizens feel
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out of touch with washington. they feel out of touch with the people making decisions. but insiders in the washington community feel out of touch with citizens. they feel this pain for the institutions they serve. clearly, not good. but what difference does it make and mark there are a couple of ways to break this apart. the first is that we really need to understand how hard washington is away from citizens and woven underneath all that is a subtle but important change has come into the way in which we govern ourselves over the last generation. largely it's a part of trying to shrink the size of government and try to make government less powerful, we pushed government out. we contracted government out.
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it turns out there are a series of things that have come out of it. the first is when you look at the size of the massive federal government, most of the massive federal government in fact our friends and neighbors through the rest of the country. 85 percent of the people who work for the federal government work outside the beltway. one of the arguments is pushing the power out to citizens but much of the people who work for government are already there. figuring out how to try to connect the decision better is a big question but much of government already is out there. the second thing is that we tried to shrink the size of government by contracting more of it out, by shrinking government, by doing away with bureaucrats and we have normal no more bureaucrats we had now been at the end of the administration because as we've expanded our functions, we pushed more of the responsibilities out to the private sector so if you look for example at the people who manage the medicare and medicaid programs, they are responsible, that agency, the
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centers for medicaid and medicare services are responsible for 25 percent of the entire federal budget. how much of the federal workforce to the account for? the percent is 0.2 percent. so when you're talking about trying to connect washington and policymakers with citizens , we've in many cases shrunken what it is that we have managing these programs so much that connecting policymakers in washington policymakers to citizens is a tiny part of the problem because there's so much of the rest of the private sector dance between citizens and the government that's in charge of serving it. i remember there's a straight line, this is from a couple of elections ago that there is a woman who had the size thing, keep government hands off my medicare. they said doesn't she get that medicare is a federal program? the answer is clearly she did not but on the other hand most of the people who are on medicare and on medicaid never see a government employee.
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in many ways, governments hands already are off their medicare because most of the responsibility for managing the program and for delivering the services is through this very complicated, interwoven system that connects washington policymakers through the private sector to all of its citizens. the challenge here is that if we want to try to connect government more with citizens, we've already deliberately disconnected policymakers and especially washington insiders through this process that connects with all of us. so we feel disconnected from government, we feel that government is this huge monstrous thing that's interwoven itself through our lives, 85 percent of the government is already outside washington and much of what it is washington does happens through this complicated system where the peoples who sit in washington are a long way away from all its citizens deliberately.
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because they tried to keep the role of government small. so that complicates this issue of civic distance, this issue that they framed in this book as a fascinating concept. the civic distance between us in government, in some ways the connection for us as citizens with our government has become more complicated and more intricate because we did it on purpose. we thought it was a good idea to shrink the size of government and created this difficulty of connecting ourselves to what government does. so the first point is is washington out of touch? yes, but no more than the rest of us. the second is you people in washington often have contempt for the broader institutions? no more than the rest of us do either. is washington disconnected from citizens? yes, but we've done it on purpose. the fourth point is how much does this really matter in terms of the ways in which government operates?this gets down to a fundamental debate that jana talked about
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which is what the job of the washington insider to do? is it somehow to apply their bust best judgment to exercise the oversight of the law to reflect the will of the people? and the answer to that in some ways largely depends on whether you depend on the degree to which they exercise the will of the people. much more fundamentally, many of us would be nervous about creating on the one hand the kind of large and expensive federal bureaucracy with the regulatory power that bends to strive and saying that what we want them to do is to exercise and reflect the will of the people without the strength of the rule of law. this is a really important challenge and something we've been fighting with her a long time but the fact is that i'm not sure sure that we necessarily want people who
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have been granted such broad power to be acting on their own with what it is that they think we ascitizens want . as opposed to a system that holds them accountable under a rule of law. for better or worse, it is true that we've got federal administrators out there doing all kinds of things, some in which the abstract we find it kind of crazy but there are ways of fixing that through congressional oversight, through changing the law, through changing regulations and a bunch of other things which we have in our power to do it should we decide we want to. if we as policymakers elect a representative so i for one am a little on the nervous i'd about playing towards arguments that this matters because we have lots of people who have lots of power and they don't necessarily reflect us because we want them to exercise their judgment about what they think we want. that makes me nervous about the exercise of power and the system that is based on the rule of law. doesn't really matter whether
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or not a bureaucrat who's in charge of food safety knows what the unemployment rate is? most of us don't either. does it really matter to somebody who's running the air traffic control system about what is that the overall balance in society is through economic growth might be? probably not in terms of the way in which they manage the air traffic control system. does it matter that somebody working for general motors to note what a lot breaks designing a better radio system for our cars. at a certain point, what we count on is delegating power to people who been buried our boundaries and build more than the rest of us. 90 percent of all the seafood that we consume in this country is brought in from abroad which most of us don't know. there are people who know that. most of us don't know how to recognize substandard seafood, unsafe seafood by
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looking at it. we count on experts to do that. what we want our people who know how to do that well. that's exercise the power and discretion under the rule of law which the foundations in the way of government ought to work and the way in which fortunately brings me to my fifth point, which is this basic question about government performance problems. it is pretty clear that most of us don't like a lot of what it is that is government!. a lot of times we would raise headlights as a bigger risk but in fact it's the reverse.the problem is this, that a series of propositions that were in the process of testing and in a tough, rigorous way in real time as we are debating where the trump administration is going to take us. a lot of government performs
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pretty well, actually. and we get ourselves in a lot of trouble by saying that but for the most part, you think about how often we trust ourselves getting onto airplanes and even though we don't like handing in tsa lines, the fact is that it works reasonably well. that the air traffic controllers control our planes once we get on our phenomenal. one of the things i'm struck by is you can turn on channel 9 and listen to air traffic control. you want to hear something beyond the realm of your imagination, listen to what air traffic controllers do telling flights to land in o'hare in the middle of a foggy, rainy, cloudy, snowy day. we all have our problems with the government but when i'm sitting there, track under a piece of aluminum flying at 400 miles per hour, i look out the window and i can't see anything i think to myself now would be one day for big government. we count on government doing that well.
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the air raid and social security is not measurable. because the quality of what we do is so good. in the last year, there is an organization named forrester which does research that individuals have in their connections with organizations and the organization in the country with the second-best improvement in the connection between themselves and the customers and the people who issue passports. the country outperformed every private sector organization but one and here's where it is where we get back to some of the underlying connections that jen and ben have raised. the reason why they did that is they stop and ask themselves what is it the people we work with, are citizens and customers need from us. so they developed twitter feeds, they developed online systems, they developed regional listening sessions, the whole section of things that are designed to help
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people deal with this on the mental process called passports. in a way that is useful that people appreciated that our number two in the country in terms of improvement. i hope you know the answer to discrete trivia question, you no longer take passport photos with glasses on them for a variety of security reasons. now people have to go through it process they don't have to go through before and people connected with citizens and that's what it is that we want. more fundamentally, if we are interested in trying to fix these things in government that don't work well, one of the things i did out of curiosity was i went to the 32 programs that are on the government accountability office is high risk list, these are some of the programs rated as the highest level of risk, fraud, abuse and mismanagement. this is bad, one of the reasons in one of the cost of it is waste of government money.waste of our money.
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waste of taxpayers money. one out of every $10 in medicaid program is an improper payment. that's not good. we can talk about them and a billionaire or billionaire, that's $60 billion a year. fixing that is a big deal. if you ask yourself what are the things we need to do to solve those fundamental problems that we all expect to work better and the answer is smart people who know how to reach boundaries among programs, make the private sector conglomerate in charge of managing our program. people better performance, information technology and people who hire the right kind of skill sets in financial management and managing contracts and in short, we need people who we in fact higher to whom we give discretion to have the capacity of expertise beyond what any of us can imagine to
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do the things we insist we want done in ways that deliver the kind of services we want the government to deliver for us. this is where that tension between having people who represent the will of the people and discern it and do what is the people want versus the people to whom they can delegate power within strict grounds of accountability. i know that i get on a plane, i want to land safely on the other side. i sure don't know how to do it. i know when i go to the supermarket and buy a piece of salmon that it's farm raised, i know it's probably not from the united states, i want to be able to bite into it safely. i know when i write my checks for medicare and medicaid , watching that program is managed well for the resources and not wasted.i know i need to know people who know how to do it and i don't. in short, a large part of the problem has to do with
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finding people who have the capacity to do what it is that has to be done and the risk of relying too much on hiring people whose job it is to reflect the will of the people that we run the risk of undermining the confidence we need to get government done well. that is why people who work for the passport office manage to figure out how to make themselves the second-best improving agency anywhere, public or private, because they knew better how to connect with us. it's not so much i suspect that we want people who think like us. we want people who connect with us. and that's the core of what it is that we need to know to make government work. the problem at the core of all this is that as clear as i said is that government is not as good as as it should be. we need to do a lot better and there's a sense that people have fallen out of touch. the air traffic control story and others is a sign that in some ways, we know how to do this if we understand what
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the basic issues are and help us to connect. the biggest challenge that we have inmaking that happen , is this is a fundamental question that ben and help highlight for us is the line of sight between us and the citizens and the people that serve us has become increasingly disconnected or broken so we are not connected and part of it is because we've done it to ourselves, because of the distance we created. some of it's because we have people in federal agencies that don't need to serve our needs. some of it is because we have a system that's so complex. some of it is because we frankly, our institutions sit not far from where we are right now don't work very well. but we can make a distinction between the large global, i sure don't like that happening and i'm mad as hell
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and i'm not going to take it anymore and our ability to be able to restore the trust in the way in which we connect with our government and our government connects with us and transaction by transaction, citizen by citizen, program by program and by focusing on that, building the confidence that we are most likely to try to get that problem that jen and then have raised. they've done a great service and framing these issues in this debate and i'm looking forward to having a chance to hear what all of you think right now. thank you so much. [applause] >> we'd like to respond just a little bit. we're not in complete disagreement. i'd like the airplane to land but i think about your might do it. but the question isn't so much that we have competent officials, of course we
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should. contractors, i hate to say this, or more competent than civil servants but in our survey we find there's not much difference between the two in terms of the outlook that don framed the question that we definitely want people who know how to do what they are trying to do. to me, the question is what should they be doing? who should decide what the government's agenda should be? and we try to answer that question as well.we look to see what ordinary americans thought should be the governance priority and we tried to compare that to the priority of actions by federal agencies, try to compare the rulemaking agenda with the public's views and the views of congress. and we found civilian
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distrust and quieting. no, i'm going to screw it up. >> my airplane would not land correctly. >> can i use the clicker?
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>> let's see, we asked the public, we took data that was available respect what the public's agenda was in returns to their priorities and agenda was. we look at the rules that had been passed by the bureaucracy and we found there was not a strong correlation whereas what the correlation between the public rarities and the president priorities for example was much stronger. that makes sense. we there should be a public correlation between what the bureaucracy is doing and what the public thinks the bureaucracy should be doing so we'd like to find ways to make that relationship stronger. >> and subsequent nature. >> what we show there is when americans are asked what
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their policy priorities are, what should the government be doing, there is hardly any relationship between americans views of what the government should do and government agencies regulatory agendas. in fact, government agencies regulatory agendas correlate very closely with what bureaucrats and contractors think the government should do. they don't correlate with what congress is the government should do. they don't correlate much with the president's agenda but in that sense , we have a government that is out of touch in terms of its action and just one other response before i yield the floor, 45 years as a professor, i don't like yielding the floor, i just talk. >> you've been talking for about 45 minutes. >> please. one said correctly that americans don't trust the government any more than the
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government trusted. i would say there's a very important difference here. if we don't trust the government, that's an interesting finding but not that significant. but if the government doesn't have very much regard for us, that's potentially more important because the government takes actions that affect us. i would say there's an ace in the tree here, then i yield the floor.>> if you want to get closer to the microphone, that's fine. >> now we're going to yield the floor. and i have a question and answer, and wait till i call on you and my authors and commentator will respond here. if you want to respond to one of them, otherwise everyone will answer. and wait for the microphone which will come to you because we want everyone online to hear and if you like, please tell us your
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name and affiliation though you may remain anonymous if you like to do so. the gentleman in the back is first. by the way, i may be rude here by pointing at you and saying that person but that's unfortunately the way it has to be. >> quick comment and then a question. i'm robert schroeder, president of international investor but many decades ago i came to washington working for one of the larger banks and i was in the private banking world and i was surprised by the number of mid-level federal agency employers that we would talk to who were retiring as millionaires. one of the key differences and i don't know if your book addresses it but if you want to talk about a difference in their perception of the world policy etc. and the rest of america, it's the job security that they guarantee, the pay packages and benefits that go along with her employment.
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this is what sets them apart more than anything else from the rest of an insecure workplace in america. just to finish with the comment that if there is one other constructive way to perhaps measured these people, we all running to these people at cocktail parties and etc., i call them the invisible man. much for the federal employees who don't have a sense of mission, the only thing they want to do is as little as possible and get by. i run into far more of them than those that are serious about developing. so why don't we look at the results of agencies versus the cost. obviously we are doing more to look at the cost of these rules and regulations but let's really do more to measure the beneficial results. >> let me respond to one portion of what you said, we do talk about this a bit, and we do so in the context of
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the national debate about term limits. we do the president-elect has devised the term limit construction saying that he's going to push for a constitutional amendment for term limits for members of congress. what's the average service for a member of the house? it's eight years. it's the average west doesn't suck strike me as very long at all. and in fact, term limits, members of the house you know nothing more than strengthen the president which i don't think is a good idea. the average length of service for each senior federal circuit is 26 years. so if we are going to talk aboutterm limits , i would look here rather than congress. >> out quickly say that i think the question is interesting because it speaks to the question of expertise which is something don
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brought up. thinking about what is it, is doing the same thing over and over again for 26 years, even if you do it well or is it the 10,000 hours., if you do something for 10,000 hours you're an expert at it or is it challenging yourself to stay on the cutting edge. if your department beneficial, is living in bethesda and working in the department and and doing your job the same way you've done it for decades or is it getting out and see what schools are like around the country? perhaps changing and how you approach policies related to politics.>> let me make three points.the first is to violently agree on three points and disagree on one. in terms of salary differences and this is the subject of enormous debate back and forth but the best research is that fed by the most part are not overpaid. and the research is clear about that. there's disagreements but for the most part that's an established fact and the two points that are important is we need to think about how to connect the work that people do in connection to the job
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every day but the broader performance that comes back and to use that to drive the fundamental changes in the civil service. we are in the middle of a on the mental debate but the two things we know we don't want, one is that we don't want to go to back to the civil service of the 1950s and throw everything out and make everybody completely an employee and pretend it's the private sector and the reason why we created a civil service in the 1980s. but we need a fundamental rethinking of how we promote, maintain and how we motivate people to focus on performance and that's part of the great opportunities that are in front of us right now. >> i agree with you and i think everyone in this room knows that in many agencies, there are a reasonably large number of employees who spend
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time filing job actions against the agency. it's impossible to fire them so they are shuffled from agency to agency. fortunately, not that many of them are in charge of their safety but this is a problem throughout the civil service and i think that the needle has gone too far in the direction of job security. i'm not advocating a return to jacksonian democracy. jackson thought that any random american could be trusted to do governmental work. i'm a little dubious about that. on the other hand, firstly an incoming president can appoint around 4000 people. we had three groups of appointees, that dropped to about 4000. i think it should be more than that. i'm not prepared to say how money but i think the
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incoming administration in order to secure its agenda has to be able to appoint more civil servants, otherwise the agency forgives and it becomes very difficult to change their direction, their mode of action. and the examples are car medical so i don't disagree with you. >> though i do disagree with you about that last point. because if we increase the appointees we would never have leadership twice. the next president is going to be struggling for about 18 months to be able to fill the 4000 positions that he's got quite i'm not sure about that. >> arnold claim here, arnold is a cato adjunct and also runs the asf state law where he flew frequently right about personal matters based
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on his experience as a federal bureaucrat. >> i wanted to bring the subject back to fiduciary responsibility and i always have to have examples in life and i'll just throw out there, the overtime regulation example. i guess i'm not as worried about whether the regulators have that same priority for that on the agenda as the public or what that would even mean but i think to me, a disconnect would be the regulators not really understanding the impact of that . and i think the only way, the only way they understand the impact of regulation is from lobbyists and that certainly raises issues. and i want to quarrel with mister carol on the solution being somehow do it better and get better people, do it better.
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there are processes involved. in markets, there's a process where if the customer is not served and the state department is not served, somebody goes out of business. the state department would never have gone out of business and they not implemented any changesand so to me , the issue of getting a connection between the public, getting a fiduciary responsibility, getting a connection has to do with the process. and having a competitive process, not with constant solutions and just exhorting people to do it better. >> the problem is that in a lot of cases in which the government is involved there is not obvious competition and there are obvious private-sector providers to create them. and once you do, then in some ways this re-creates all the same kind of problems. so i'm not making an argument against that, it's a lot more
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than we need to be doing in trying to create the right kind of incentives but the challenge underlying all of this is that i think most fundamentally is to figure out what we want government to do. which we're spending a lot of time dunking and focusing instead on trying to figure out how to help government do it better which in many ways we don't do very well. so there are two separate kinds of questions. one of the things that's important to note, just as a warning about a simple resort to private-sector competition as an answer to government problems is that you may remember i pointed to the fact that 10 percent of all medicare spending is improper payments and the reason for that is the cause we have in fact already relied on the incentives the private sector generates and the problem in this case is that we have only 5000 people throughout the entire federal government or in charge of making sure that our money is being spent well so it's not an argument
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against relying on these private-sector providers but simply a reminder that relying on private-sector providers doesn't necessarily change the game. >> let me respond in a slightly different way. we were fascinated when we look at our data to discover that there was one group that differed from all the others. they were similar in terms of demographics, educational background and whatnot but they differed in terms of their views and these are the congressional staffers. >> congressional staffers are subject to competition. they're very conscious of how voters view their bosses. they are set to campaign. they all complain, we have to go campaign but that's a good thing because when they go campaign, they rub shoulders ordinary folks. and they develop some sense of what consumers, we call them voters in this instance, actually want. we don't need to replicate
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the private marketplace. politically, we never have. we've always relied on political competition to ensure some semblance of a relationship between what people want and what the government does. we are electing the congress. and the problem when we deal with governance by bureaucracy, we don't have to private-sector competition, we don't have elections and we don't have enough in my view in the way of oversight. >> lady here, i'll just sort of go around the room. all right. , yes, that lady. >> hi, i don't think i'll see my name but i'll say that i work for the federal government for 30 years. and i'm just astounded at what i'm hearing. my question for all of you is
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has anyone of you ever worked at the working federal government? and i asked that question because i think that the payment here is really off-base. it's true that there's a lot of variation. there's bad apples as well as good apples but i think you are drawing way too broad a brush. i think it would have benefited you before writing the book if one of the authors actually had spent time pushing at the federal government in your perspective might have been quite different than what i'm hearing. x. >> so i think that's fair and i think that we certainly don't think that if government officials had any bad intentions or don't like the american public and in fact i've talked to a lot of people who work in government who have talked to us about new initiatives they are taking to build these bridges with the public. again, to be fair, during the past i think it was much more difficult to receive feedback
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from the public and make sense of that feedback. the government received data and they didn't know what to do with a lot of it. the example i'd like to give is the sec's collection of comments with regard to net neutrality. 10 years ago they would receive lots of comments. those comments would sit in a proverbial box. they protected the comments so they fulfill their responsibility but that was it. then they were able to use natural language processing to make sense of what these people had to say about that topic. again, agencies are using new tools to make sense of the information they are receiving and to find out what the public thinks. right now we have internet service so it's easier to survey what the government thinks. or what the people think. >> i'm currently a part-time employee of the department of veterans affairs, working on intergovernmental transformations and having said that, and also glad to say i'm not speaking on behalf of the cia for talking
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about my own views as i expect the career in research but i'm working with them as they are trying to strategize over transforming the bureaucracy to fight better healthcare to veterans and i'm struck by the incredibly hard work that the people inside are doing an incredible rate. and one of the ways they are going about doing that is that even though i don't think they read the book, they're conducting the same tours out there in the hospital where headquarters and people are going out that listen to what the people in the field are saying about what it is that it takes to provide best care but strikes me as a pretty good idea. >> the lady right here. >> wait for the microphone. >> kimberly boulevard, san diego. my question is that the current president is suggesting he's going to put the rule in place that we repeal bad regulations as he puts them and if they want to incorporate new regulations,
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what's the cost of that? is that something that you see as something you can take care of? >> it seems, it seems like a nice idea but it wouldn't work very practically. the obama look back, i'm sure every agency could offer several sacrificialrules and regulations . but whether they would become the equivalent, the equivalent of the proposed regulation, these are complicated. someone would have to score them. and you can't measure their financial impact, i think this would probably be a frivolous exercise. >> i think it's easy but nonproductive that you could take a big 300 page regulation, keep that in place and have two little tiny things who are two
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paragraphs long, keep the big ones and not publish anything you can keep score in a way that in fact is competent but underline one of the things that pointed out earlier is that there's this organization that most people never heard of cold ohio, the office of information and regulatory affairs and one of the presidents most important appointments is going to be figuring out who has that agency and not only to do with total look back, to look at the regulations put in place but by putting in place a strategy to figure out what rules do we want to mark what new rules are we going to create? what are the standards the rules will have to pass to get through? for what this administration has in mind, this is an important job and we've had a lot of debates so far by cabinet secretaries but the first one to get in place, i direct the office of management and one of the
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first things the omb director will have to think about is who's going to head ohio because it gets to the heart of the ability of the administration to get the spirit of what it is the president is doing. >> not just to follow on this point but the president and speaker, the president-elect and speaker ryan have indicated some version of the rhymes act, remember under the congressional review act, congress in principle can disallow rules and regulations . but the rhymes act was an effort to turn that around and prior to a congressional enactment of major rules and regulations, after a statute was passed and the rules written, congress took a second look. now, this is a very complicated matter. the original rhymes act was probably not going to be very effective but the idea of it isn't crazy. congress needs to take ownership of rules and regulations and acted in its name.
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and you know, in 1946 in my view congress passed the box with the administrative procedures act. under the apa, ap agency was given charge of rulemaking. and congress needs to take a look at that rule, if we're going to pass legislation, don't say well, the air should be pretty clean and the administrators should do something about it.congress needs to be forced to take ownership of its product. >> the lady next to the woman . >> hi, janice fulghum, i was a software working on general justice. we have elected officials and judiciary often leave themselves. we have the american public who believes the attorney general they put into place actually to take care of their actions, we have whistleblowers who are tortured and marginalized.
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you think we need more attorney general's who understand what you learned that are working for the people in order to get fairness in the court and with government officials. and whistleblowing? >> i think we need to strengthen the g.i. oh. >> i don't think the department of justice is necessarily the right place to look. i think tio is the agency that has shown an ability to engage in oversight. gao even has secret shoppers, i noticed a gao secret shopper was on the plane next to you.>> so we have run out of time, i'm sorry to say but you can continue to ask your questions or talk to the authors and our commentator as we go to watch.
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as always, the launch will be held on the second level at the george m yeager conference center which is up the spiral staircase at the front of the cato institute. restrooms are on the second floor on your way to lunch area look for the yellow wall and i would like to thank our authors and our commentator today for coming in at a very goodtime, thank you very much . >> here's a look at some books that are being published this week. former federal reserve analyst danielle demartino warns that the federal reserve and congress are leading america into another financial crisis in setup. journalist brian alexander reports on how lancaster ohio went from what forbes magazine calls the if any of the all-american town in 1947 to a city acing many issues today. in glasshouse.


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