tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN May 12, 2015 11:00am-1:01pm EDT
this predatory practice and behavior began in 1993 and has continued. the chinese presently control over 15% of the market and capture even a larger market share if our producers are put a further competitive price and labor disadvantage. without temporary h2b guest seasonal workers, the processors would shut down, eliminating the primary market for our fishermen and our farmers to sell their catch. as a result, foreign seafood would gain a stronger foot hold in the u.s. market and our fishermen and farmers who produce and harvest crawfish, oysters and catfish would be devastated and a key segment of the louisiana economy crippled. once we lose the processors, we would not be able to depend on them coming back in future years. therefore the losses because of the processors scale back and do not have the ability to operate during the season will have irreparable and bad repercussions now in the future. the short-term consequence of an immediate expulsion of this vital segment of the workforce would cause a production crisis and a wide variety of seafood processing, field and nursery
crops, sugar processing, forestry, livestock, restaurant industry and others. this would leave the united states and the state of louisiana no alternative but to import many food products for food countries, from countries with surplus foreign labor. this is unacceptable. we must do everything in our power to grow and support america's jobs and economy. we're asking for your help. we must streamline and expedite the h2b process. we need a working system without overburdensome rules, unrealistic timetables and outright road blocks. neglecting the labor needs of agriculture will raise the cost and the production in a way that harms farmers, fishers and industries throughout america. i appreciate your time and encourage you to work with us to
find workable solutions. ways that we can facilitate rather than making it so difficult to where our processors and our industries cannot operate. where we're at currently, we have a large crawfish harvest. and we don't have enough peelers to process it. and that puts us in a severe economic state, and i'm sure mr. randall will address that, as well. thank you. >> thank you very much, dr. strain. we'll now go to john connolly. welcome. >> thank you, chairman vitter, for inviting the national fisheries institute to present our views today. our comments will involve a brief introduction. the economics of the american seafood industry and the seafood safety system and the results. the nation's most comprehensive trade association, our members
include harvesters like those on deadliest catch, importers who enable us to enjoy seafood around the globe. to processors that put fish in a form consumers recognize, to retailers and restaurants. we do represent all geographic regions, and we are particularly proud to have had the late louisiana seafood leader of motivated seafood as our chairman. on h2b visas, essential to seafood processors. senator mikulski captured many of the senators concerns in a letter last week. quote, the lack of available temporary foreign workers has caused chaos among businesses in maryland that depend on the h2b program. more than 40% of maryland's seafood processors have been unable to get the workers they need for the 2015 crab season. i think dr. strain pretty much said it all. and i think that's reflective of the rest of the seafood
community in the u.s. on economics, seafood is the most globally traded food commodities. that benefits our fishing communities as we send high-quality and bountiful american seafood to northern asia and throughout europe. also benefits the more than 525,000 americans that process, distribute and sell imported seafood. those jobs found in nearly every state, an important reminder that trade benefits the u.s. not just when we export. seafood trade also benefit farm states in two ways. 18% of all soy goes into fish farms, many of those fish farms in asia. # and to the countries with which american farmers increasingly seek to send our ag products, are countries that export seafood to america. we cannot expect to open asian markets to u.s. pork beef poultry if we shut off access to our seafood markets. seafood safety. a strong supporter in word and deed. worked closely with academia to best implement.
nfi works with the alliance for a stronger fda to urge congress to for the agency to meet statutory obligations. as dr. sullivan fully described, i will not duplicate that discussion. i will close, though, speaking to results. results afterall, what matters. the centers for disease control analyzed illnesses from all foods. over the five-year period ending in 2010, cdc found that 141 of 122,000 that is 0.001156 or 0.12% illnesses caused by imported seafood. most of us love baseball. great day to be out for the nats game. but we recall going to the games with our dads. hoping to clutch that mitt and catch that foul ball. unfortunately, we often came home crest fallen because we rarely ever did.
the chance of catching the foul ball. 0.001156 or 0.12%. as an example of effectiveness of fda and while this is the hearing focus not only the fda captures program, i did want to acknowledge the leadership of senator shaheen and ayotte and others on this committee working in a bipartisan manner to eliminate a program that usda's own risk experts said will not improve public health. both domestic and imported has reduced illnesses to less than two per year. a safe product. it is because of the stringent requirements, a system required for both domestic and imported seafood. a system that requires problems to be fixed thousands of miles away from america not caught at the border. that congress exempted companies from some of the key provisions. nfi agrees with congress' determination. thank you. >> thank you very much. and now we'll hear from mr. frank randall. frank, welcome. >> thank you, chairman vitter. there we go, again.
thank you. and for the members not here. ranking member shaheen, senator carden. thank you for inviting me to testify about the guest worker program. the program is a vital part of the survival, is -- this program is a vital -- is vital. this program is vital for the survival of seafood processing, especially in louisiana and maryland. the program, this program -- excuse me, just let me go. >> sure. >> it's vital. i will submit my statements for the record. in addition to a number of exhibits that will provide a use
of reference for the committee. i'll now provide oral comments. i'm here to express my concerns for the future of my business and other small businesses that struggle daily. to succeed. i started at randalls in 1971, very small, one man, one truck. after four decades they're grown in size and scope, transitioning to the next generation. the future is in my sons that work my business allowing me to pull back. hurdles over the last four years were detailed by the commissioner. floods, hurricanes, oil spills, lack of product, imports from china. but the single most pressing issue has been the lack of labor. 1970s when i started my business i was lucky enough to have the refugees from vietnam come in. brought in roughly 40 to help us get through that time. over the course of the years,
came to the 1990s, that started to wayne a little bit. we discovered the h2b program and started to bring in the guest workers from mexico. started with 40, dwindled to 30, now we're at 25. i'm here to talk about the h2b guest worker program. the legal, legal temporary workers. to support farming, fishing, restaurants, wholesale and retail operations. the attached decorations i've submitted from dr. strain filed in our suit of 2011 against the department of labor gives an overview of the importance of the h2b program to the louisiana economy. h2b application process has been a growing and expensive challenge since took over the initial wage certification from the state in 2008, the process has become increasingly more time consuming and costly.
initially, i did the paperwork myself. but now had to turn it over to someone else qualified to -- more qualified to run through the governmental hoops. many people are using legal or international, international immigrant immigration attorneys. immigration attorneys. the stack of paperwork represents, was submitted on the application for the first cap. for the second, it'd be twice that stack. we missed both caps. our plant was scheduled to open february, 2015, we're still waiting to see if we can salvage part of it. last year we were processing 6,000 to 8,000 pounds of seafood daily. right now we're shuttered. often we hear the remark, if you pay more money, you'll get the labor you need. we feel that isn't the case. it's more about the job than the money in our seafood industry. after missing the cap, both caps, we tried something
different. seven prison trustees after one day. one trustee said i'd rather go back to jail than peel crawfish. the warden picked him up, brought him back, we didn't see him again. the remaining trustees continued to shrink until after a two-week effort they were all gone. now union activity starts to increase and create problems for us. and, recently the nlrb has surfaced in getting involved. we have referenced this in documents that we brought as exhibits. we need urgently we need fixes to save the program for small businesses. congress has to take action now. lost opportunity to fix the problems last year have already done severe harm in louisiana. some louisiana small business will not recover, others may be forced to cross the border. as in the past, we need immediate congressional action to block the new dhs and dol
proposals of last wednesday. the workforce coalition submitted a statement we attached as an exhibit. in addition, we need to resume the returning worker exemption from the annual cap. we also have to return the authority of determining prevailing wages to the states. additionally, we feel we need a seat at the table with dol. just like the national guest workers alliance. the office of advocacy needs to be more aggressive in confronting dhs and dol as policy changes are being discussed. and, you know, part of what came up today as we listen to the testimony is what we have been hearing is that somehow what's happening was caused by industry. we just don't see it that way. we're small people, but we do
know no matter where it was caused or somehow, when something like this happens, if there's an error or whatever, people that make the error still have their jobs. but in our case, we're small. we don't survive. there's some got to give and take that's got to take place here. and that's really why i'm here. somebody had to come up and tell you about what's going on back home. the little guys that are having problems. some big guys have the same problem. hershey expressed these problems in 2007 on to 2011 when they decided to open up the monterey mexico. and most of the growth already funneled into that plant for their american chocolate is now the america's chocolate. we have one right here. we have one in louisiana, largest employer. uses h2b. missed the cap. and he's struggling. he's trying to make his orders for this year.
small business. he's up against -- i'm not saying -- this is good chocolate, needs to stay home. i'd be happy to answer any questions you may have. >> thanks very much, frank. let's start with you since you offer such a great world perspective. i know you touched on it in your testimony. walk through the specific concrete impact to your business that the various recent department of labor changes and rulings have had. number one. number two, if you have any reaction so far. it may be too new, maybe you don't, but if you have any reaction so far of the new department of labor guidance moving forward on wage surveys. >> let me start, it's more of the same. as i see from dol. we've reviewed this stuff. it's stuff that don't work.
program rules, 75% guarantee. got to turn them back, got to pay them. that doesn't work in louisiana. as far as the parity, if i pay one person this, other person has to be paid the same. in the seafood, we pay for productivity. we might bring them in at entry level, but give the incentives through piece work. they accelerate, get better, might enter at a nominal rate. but a lot of people get up to these larger rates $12 to $15 an hour. peeling craw fish. that's attainable. >> just to take those two examples. as far as you know, is any of that mandated by statutory law? or is it just a creation of the department of labor. >> a creation. y'all write the laws, they interpret the laws and we try to say that's not what you meant. you saw me up here in '06, it was easy to predict to see where we were going. that was when i first came to
discuss this. the pain is in reality. and the pain to me, i feel it because i'm in it and i can't get out of it. we got through the process, missed the first cap. i've been at this for half a year trying to make a deadline. i can always start four months before i need them. four months, and i've been at it for six months. and i'm still not in the last step, which would gain me access in six weeks to bring them in. the real lifting at the border to determine whether these people really need to come in. you know, we've demonstrated we don't have the workforce here. >> frank, if i can interrupt, if i can just through the record ask miss wu. we talked about two specific requirements that you mentioned are flat out unworkable in the real world from your perspective. so if you could submit for the record any statutory basis that
requires the department of labor to do that. because from what i see, there is none. thank you. go ahead, frank. >> a lot of this stuff in the coalition paper. what comes to mind is open up a job order that starts four months out, and you have to take it 20 days to where these people are coming inside of the country. and leave it open. normally, you know, we've demonstrated there are no people that want this job. but, you know, these are just some of the few. and what i've offered to dol is, the nga is apparently -- has their ear. let's let small business somehow be in the process so that we don't see the results of a mandate, but we have a team effort to try to move forward. when they impose these things, we feel the pain. a lot of people go out of business. >> right.
>> let me ask, both you and dr. strain if you have any specific reaction yet to their new guidance about allowing private, including state surveys. is it workable? is it not? is it reasonable? is it too narrow? do you have any reaction yet? >> the reaction i have is that we've been using the prevailing wage rate surveys. >> mr. chairman, we've been using the state prevailing wage rate surveys for many years. and when you look at the final rule, it says they will be used in limited exceptions. and so now we have several different methodologies to determine a wage rate. simply, let us continue to use the wage rate rule. if you look at the seafood industry and the crawfish industry, the state prevailing wage rate as determined by the lsu ag center and my office, $8.66. that's a floor. but they're also paid on piecemeal. and you have some -- you have workers that make $12, $15, $18
an hour. depending on production, this sets a minimum wage. let's not, if you look at what is in the interim rule there, it's complicated. we need to simplify this. >> okay. and dr. strain, i also wanted to touch on my imported seafood safety. we worked on it together, it would give states more power to increase seafood inspections for foreign imports. >> yes. >> in conjunction with the federal government. we've talked about this before, essentially empowering you to reinforce the effort of the federal government to put more cops on the beat. we do this in many other areas where the primary regulation is at the federal level. but related state entities can help enforce that. what is your view on that? and how it could improve seafood safety?
>> mr. chairman. the american public, when they go to the market, 100% of the proteins for beef and pork, and 99% for poultry, there's a special, a specialty thing for poultry if you have a very small amount, less than 10% chickens, you can sell them, it's very tiny. but all of those proteins are inspected. they are monitored from the farm all the way through slaughter, they expect that slaughter and tested and back traced. the american public believes their seafood they consume is inspected and safe at that same level. if you look at the cdc report and i'm going to quote the press release march 14 2012, it says we currently import about 85% of our seafood, 65% of our produce. and we currently import -- reviewed outbreaks from the food
born disease outbreak surveillance system from 2005 to 2010. 248 illnesses were linked to imported food from 15 countries. of those outbreaks, 17 half occurred in '09 and '10. overall fish, 17 outbreaks were the most common source of implicated. foodborne disease outbreaks, followed by spices. nearly 45% of imported foods causing outbreaks came from asia. the american public assumes we are doing this testing. we know we're not. less than 3% of the imported seafood. 85% of the seafood consumes in the united states is imported and less than 3% is being tested. furthermore, when you look at that particular issue, if you look in a container of seafood there could be in the case of crawfish, there could be up to 20 different lots.
20 different lots, different origins coming together. so when you think that it's all a blended product and you take one sample and it is consistent with everything in the container, it is not. and when you look at the particular issues that we're talking about, we're talking about antibiotics that are banned from the united states such as clonefenacol. chemicals such as malachite green that are banned from the united states. so when you look at that, it is imperative we all be on the same level playing field. and when you start talking about why we need to test this seafood and you say, well, how are we going to stop port shopping, well, it's very simple. is that we need to make sure we have eyes on at the processing level in those foreign countries and i think some of that will take into effect in the future under the food safety modernization act. but that is somewhere in the future. and that container will be accompanied by a certificate stating it has been tested. and if that container comes in and you retest that container and it is not what it says, then it can either return directly
and be certified to go back to the country of origin or be destroyed on site. now, our department, i'm responsible, i oversee the department of animal health and food safety. we have a food inspection program. we also work hand in hand with the usda, animal plant health inspection service, to where we do joint meat inspection, we do state plants and we can work jointly on federal plants where those products can cross state lines. but i am not permitted to test imported seafood. now, i can look at the containers to make sure that -- and i as the commissioner of the office of metrology, weights, measures and standards, that if there's a pound of seafood in there there's supposed to be a pound. but we're not allowed to take samples and test it for contaminants. so just like we are having a working relationship and we have a cooperative endeavor agreement
with the federal government to do the other protein inspection, let us have the same arrangements where my inspectors who are out at those plants looking at other things and we do label inspections for the federal government as well give us the authority under a cooperative endeavor agreement to be further armed. we have testing labs in louisiana. we do half of the seafood tests. it would be addition, correct? >> that's correct. and what we do our standards, our procedures are in alignment with the federal procedures. they test and i believe it's up to 15% to 20% of all the products going to the eu. we should meet at least those standards. >> well, thank you all very much. we're going to wrap up. but in doing so, let me also ask
through the record if dr. solomon could supplement his testimony with a response to this question. we talked about the use of chemicals on imported seafood that is banned in the united states. why shouldn't that practice be presumptive grounds to not allow that seafood into the country? if dr. solomon could respond for the record. thank you all very much. i think this was very informative and productive, particularly focusing on department of labor activity and regulations and the safety regime for seafood imports. thanks very much and our hearing is adjourned.
learned about the history of ft. laud lauderdale, florida. >> this was really cultural tourism. when they set up their villages along the amiami trail really early ones, the buses would stop. because he was a tourist attraction. so when they came to the tourist attractions they were getting food, a weekly allotment of food, and they were also getting sometimes like coppengers the weekly rental of sewing machines and they also sometimes get fabric. it behooved the tourist attraction people to supply them with fabric so they were sitting there sewing and making things for craft market. this is a little boy's shirt belted shirt, from the 1920s. this was an experimental time for patch work. and you can see that on the bottom, this is not a design, let's say, that made it down
today. this is a little experimental design. the designs were bigger in the 20s. and sometimes they were used any longer than during that particular decade. >> you know the thing about devil's triangle and bermuda triangle, there's all kinds of things that happened. it was a regular navigation training mission. they would take off from the base and then flight 19, they would go east out towards bahamas, just north of bimini, they would drop bombs on that, and then they would continue on another 70 miles or so. and then they were supposed to take a turn north and go 100 some miles and make a turn back west towards ft. lauderdale. they never came back. later at night after they were sure they were out of fuel, they sent out big rescue planes looking for them. one of them disappeared that had 13 aboard. the next day they started a five-day search with hundreds and hundreds of planes and ships
and never found anything. >> watch all of our events from ft. lauderdale saturday at 5:30 p.m. eastern on c-span 2's book tv and sunday at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span 3. #. remarkable partnerships iconic women. their stories in first ladies, the book. >> she did save the portrait of washington, which was one of the things that endeerared her to the entire nation. >> whoever could find out where frances was staying, what she was doing, who she was seeing, that was going to help sell papers. >> she takes over a radio station and starts running it. hour do you do that? and she did it. >> she exerted enormous influence because she would move a mountain to make sure that her husband was protected. "first ladies" now a book published by public affairs looking inside the personal life of every first lady in american
history. based on original interviews from c-span's original series. learn about their lives ambitions, families and unique partnerships with their presidential spouses. first ladies presidential historians on the lives of 45 iconic american women. filled with lively stories of fascinating women who survived the scrutiny of the white house, sometimes at a great personal cost, often changing history. c span's first ladies is an illuminating entertaining and inspiring read. now available as a hard cover or an ebook through your favorite bookstore or online book seller. and a live picture from gorgetown university in washington, d.c. where president obama will be taking part on a round table discussion here on poverty in the u.s. the president will be joined by robert putnam and arthur brooks. it's moderated by "washington post" ej dion.
once again, live picture from georgetown university where we are expecting president obama to arrive here shortly to take part in a round table discussion on poverty in the united states. it's part of a three-day catholic evangelical leadership summit that is hosted by the university. should get under way in just a moment live here on c-span 3. very quickly, some programming information to tell you about. the house returns at noon eastern for general speeches and legislative work will get under way at 4:00 eastern this afternoon. five bills are on the agenda today in the house, including one dealing with blocking new definitions of u.s. waters subjected to federal regulation. also four bills dealing with police benefits. any recorded votes will take place at 6:30 eastern to give
lawmakers a little more time to come back to the capitol as their workweek begins. see the house live on the companion network c shall have pan. house gaveling in half an hour. the senate is in session today. members are busy at work giving general speeches. also debating international trade. the senate's top republican today pleaded with lawmakers to move ahead on a trade bill that has a strong backing of president obama and faces fierce opposition on several rebellious democrats. see the senate live on c-span 2. >> well, good morning. it's our privilege to welcome you here to georgetown for this important and timely event. and i wish to thank you all for joining us whether here in gaston or via web cast, as well as so many distinguished guests here today including his
imminence, colonel theodore mcharrick. we're honored you could join us here today. we gather as part of the catholic evangelical summit on overcoming poverty. cohosted by georgetown's initiative on catholic social thought and public life and the national association of evangelicals. i wish to thank the nae and its president reverend leif anderson for their partnership in leadership and dialogue. as well as our own john karr who leads the initiative on catholic social thought. this summit welcomes religious and national leader who is are engaged in key questions related to the moral, human and economic costs of poverty. our topic could not be more urgent. we have the second highest percentage of children living in poverty among all developed nations. only five children, one in five children in our nation lives below the poverty line, and here in the district one in four.
all told more than 45 million people in the united states are living in poverty. the human cost, the moral cost of this issue is pervasive and demands our most serious attention. we all have a stake. the holy father pope francis has captured our shared responsibility in these words. the measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need. those who have nothing apart from their poverty. this is a call for us. a call toward the founding principles of the american idea. and towards a renewed commitment to the common good. i'm deeply grateful to everyone for joining with us today. in this room we have a diverse group of admitted leaders for catholic evangelical and civic life who serve and stand with those living in poverty here in our city and across the nation.
we have the great privilege of welcoming an extraordinary panel to our stage. robert putnam one o f our nation's leading social scientists from whom we heard last evening on the moral political and policy dimensions of overcoming poverty in the u.s. his latest book, our kids the american dream in crisis, examines the growing class gap impacting america's young people. arthur c. brooks, president of the american enterprise institute. a opinion writer for the "new york times" and author of the upcoming new book "the conservative heart: how to build a fairer, happier and more prosperous america." e.j. deon. a "washington post" political columnist, senior fellow at the brookings institute and a member of our faculty.
and we're deeply honored by the presence today of the president of the united states barack obama, who joins us to offer his perspective and experience, to not only offer his thoughts, but to engage in dialogue. president obama has been a lifelong advocate for the poor from his time as a community organizer in the south side of chicago where he worked with residents, churches local government, to set up job training programs for the unemployed and after school programs for children, to his work now as p t where h he is working to help communities impacted by our nation's economic crisis. especially those mired in deep and chronic poverty. through his my brother's keeper initiative initiative, he seeks to close the gaps by boys and young men of color and ensure all young people have the context for becoming their very best selves, for reaching their full potential.
my brother's keeper working with communities, businesses and foundations to connect young people to mentoring, support networks and the skills training necessary to secure gainful employment or atent college. in his state of the union address just a few months ago he asked will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well or have rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort? he called on our nation to quote, recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled america forward. this common purpose is the unifying principle of our gathering here today. and it is now my honor welcome to the stage the president of the united states, barack obama.
[ cheers and applause ] [ cheers and applause ] it's a real honor to be here today with my two presidents. president obama and president dejoya and my friend david brooks hurled the most vicious insult ever at me once when he said that i was the only person he ever met whose eyes lit up at the words panel discussion. and i have to confess that my eyes did light up when i was asked to do this particular panel discussion, and not just for the the obvious reason to my left, and again, it's a real
honor to be with you, mr. president. poverty is a subject we talk about mainly when tragic events such as those we witnessed recently in baltimore grab our attention, and then we push it aside, we bury it. we say it's not politically shrewd to talk about it. i salute georgetown my friend john karr and all the other extraordinary people who are gathered here for the poverty summit from all religious traditions all over the country, our friend jim wallace once said that if you cut everything jesus said about the poor out of the gospel, you have a book full of holes. and these are evangelicals catholics and other who is understand what the scripture said. just two quick organizing points on our discussion. the first is that when it's time to go please keep your seat, so the president can be escorted out. the other is that bob and arthur and i all agree that we should direct a somewhat more attention
to president obama than to the other members of the panel. i just say that -- i say that in advance so you know this was our call and not some exercise in executive power. this was our -- this was our decision to do this. [ applause ] and in any event, we hope this will be a back-and-forth kind of discussion. bob and arthur feel free to interrupt the president if you feel like it. my first question, mr. president, is the obvious one. a friend of mine said yesterday when do presidents do panels? and what came to mind is the late admiral who am i? why am i here? and i would like to ask you why you decided -- this is a very unusual venue for a president to put himself in. i like to ask you where do you hope this discussion will lead beyond today, and i was struck
with something you said in your speech last week. you said politicians talk about poverty and inequality and then gut policies that help alleviate poverty and reverse inequality. why are you doing this? and how do you want us to come out of here? >> well, first of all i want to thank president dejoya, the georgetown community all the groups, nonprofits faith based groups and others hosting this today and i want to thank this traffic panel. i think we're at a moment in part because of what happened in ferguson and other places but in part because of a growing awareness in our society. where it may be possible not only to refocus attention on the issue of poverty but also maybe to bridge the gaps that have exist ed
existed and there are a lot of folks here who i have worked with. they disagree with me on some issues. but they have great sincerity when it comes to wanting to deal with helping the least of these. and so this is a wonderful occasion for us to join together. part of the reason i thought this venue would be useful and i wanted to have a dialogue with bob and arthur is that we have been stuck i think for a long time in a debate that creates a couple of straw men. the stereotype is that those on the left that want to pour more money into social programs and don't care anything about culture or parenting or family
structures, and that's one stereotype. and then you have coldhearted free market capitalist types who are -- you know think everybody is moochers, and that's -- and i think the truth is more complicated. and i think there are those on the conservative spectrum who deeply care about the least of these. deeply care about this poor. exhibit that through their churches, through community groups, through philanthropic efforts, but are suspicious of what government can do. and then there are those on the left who i think are in the trenches every day and see how important parenting is and how important family structures are and the connective tissue that holds communities together and recognize that contributes to poverty, when those structures
fray but also believe that government and resources can make a difference in creating an environment in which young people can succeed despite great odds. and it seems to me that if coming out of this conversation, we can have a both end conversation rather than either/or conversation, then we'll be making some progress. and the last point i guess i want to make is i also want to emphasize, we can do something about these issues. i think it's a mistake for us to subject somehow every effort we make has failed and we are powerless to poverty. that's just not true. first of all, just in absolute terms. the poverty rate when you take
into account tax and transfer programs has been reduced 40% since 1967. now, that does not lessen our concern about communities where poverty remains crime. it does suggest, though that we have been able to lessen poverty when we decide we want to do something about it. in every low-income community around the country, there are programs that work to provide ladders of opportunity to young people. we just haven't figured out how to scale them up. so one of the things i'm always concerned about is cynicism. my chief of staff, we take walks around the saut lawn usually when the weather is good. and a lot of it is policy talk. sometimes it's just talk about values.
and one of our favorite sayings is our job is toe guard against sincynicism cynicism, particularly in this town. and i think it's important for us to guard against cynicism and not buy the idea that the poor will always be with us and there's nothing we can do because there's a lot we can do. the question is, do we have the political will, the communal will to do something about it. >> thank you mr. president. i feel as a journalist, maybe i'm the one representative of cynicism up here. so i'll try to do my job. i want to go through the panel and come back to you, mr. president. i want to invite bob, and i'm going to encourage us to reach for solutions. before we get there i think it's important to say in your book, bob, it's above all a moral call on the country to think about all the kids on the country who have been left out as our kids in some deep way.
you make a point that the the better off and the poor, now so far apart that the fortunate don't even see the lives of the unlucky and the left behind. you write before i began this research i was like that. and following on what the president said you insist the decline in mobility, the blocking of the american dream for so many is a purple problem. and i may have questions later on that. but i would like for you to lay out the red and blue components. but also how do we breakthrough a politics in which food stamp recipients are cast as privileged or the poor demonized. but i would like you to lay out sort of a moral call of your book. >> thanks, e.j. and thanks to the president and to arthur for joining me in this conversation. i think in this domain there's
good news and bad news and it's important to begin with the bad news because we have to understand where we are. the president is absolute right that the par on poverty made a real difference. it made more of a difference for people on my age than for poverty among kids. and with respect to kids, i completely agree with the president that we know about things that would work and things that would make a difference in the lives of poor kids. but what the book that you referred to, our kids, what it presents is a lot of evidence of growing gaps between rich kids and poor kids, that over the last 30 or 40 years things have gotten better and better for kids coming from well off home, and worse and worse for kids coming from less well off homes. and i don't mean bill gates and some homeless person. college educate homes, their kids are doing better and better, and their kids rrnt. and it's not just that there's a class gap. the class gap on our watch. i don't just mean on the
president's watch, but on my generation's watch, that gap is growing. you can see it in measures of family stability. you can see it in measures of the investments that parents are able to make in their kids, the investments of money and the the can see it in the quality of schools kids go to and see it in the character of the social and community support that kids -- rich kids and poor kids are getting from their communities. churches are important source of social support for kids outside their own family but church attendance is down much more rapidly among kids coming from impofrished backgrounds. so i think what all of that evidence suggests is that we do face, i think a serious crisis in which increasingly the most important decision that anybody makes is choosing their parents. and if you -- like my grandchildren, did it smartly,
the best decision was to choose college educated parents and great parents. but out there there are kids just as talented and hard working and who you know, happen to choose parents who weren't well educated or high income and those kids fate is being determined by things they had no control over. that's fundamentally unfair and also by the way bad for our economy because when we have this large number of kids growing up in poverty it's not like that's going to make things better for my grandchildren it's going to make things worse. this is in principle a solution that we ought to find solutions to and historically, this is the kind of problem americans have phased before and solved and this is the basis for my optimism. there have been previous periods in american history where we've had a great gap between children and we have ignored in which i'm thinking of the guilded age at the end of the 19th century and
both have written about that period in which there was a great gap between rich and poor and we were ignoring lots of kids and lots of immigrant kids and america seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket and a philosophy that said it's better if everybody is selfish. not unlike the ideology of -- referred to but that period was quickly -- not quickly but overcome by a real awakening of the conscious of america, across party lines with the important contribution of religious leaders and religious people to the fact that these are all our kids and now is not the time to rehearse all of the lessons of that earlier period but i think it does actually give me grounds for hope. this is a kind of problem we could solve as long as we all recognize that it's in everybody's interest to raise up these poor kids and not to leave
them in the dust. thank you very much. >> by the way, let the record show the president was not looking at arthur when he referred to cold hearted capitalists but it is great to have somebody -- >> when the president said that, i was going through my head please don't look at me please don't look at me. but you notice when bob said this about the social darwinism he pointed at me. i'm more outnumbered than my thanksgiving table in seattle. >> you have to look into your heart, arthur. in fact, that's kind of what i want to ask you to do here. i mean your views on the subjects of equity changed and that's one of the reasons you wanted to join us today back in 2010 you talked about makers and takers in society but in february of 2014 you wrote an important article the open
hearted -- open handed tour and said we have to declare peace on the safety net. that's a really important thing to say. as the president suggested, the safety net we have is actually cut poverty substantially so a twin question, could you talk about how and why your own views have changed if i fairly characterized that and in the spirit we're celebrating here of trans idealogical nonpartisanship -- there's a mouthful for you -- if that spirit where can democrats confer with republicans on issues like expanding the child tax credit. where can we find not just verbal common ground but actual common ground to get things done? >> thank you, it's an honor tb here and with all of you. this is such an important exercise in bringing catholics
and eevangelicals together. one of the main things i do is to talk publicly about issues and start a conversation with my colleagues in a way that i hope can stimulate the conversation and spread it around the country. at the american enterprise institute where we have a longstanding history of work on the nature of american capitalism and focusing deeply on poverty, it sends a signal to a lot of people that are deeply involved in the free enterprise movement. my colleague is here and came to aei because poverty is the most important thing to him. indeed the reason i came into the free enterprise movement many years ago, poverty is the thing i care about the most. in point of fact, 2 billion people around the world have been lifted up out of poverty because of ideas revolving around free enterprise and free trade and the globalization of
ideas of sharing through property rights and rule of law and all of the things that the president is talking about and policy debates right now. that's why i'm in this particular movement but we've gotten into a partisan moment where we substitute a moral consensus on how we serve the least of our brothers and sisters and pretend that moral consensus is impossible and we blow up policy differences until they become a whole new war. that's got to stop. it's completely unnecessary. [ applause ] >> we can stop that absolutely with a couple of key principles. how are we on the center right talking about poverty in the most effective way? number one is with a conceptual matter. we have a grave tendency on left and right to talk about poor people as the other. remember in matthew 25, these are our brothers and sisters,
jim wallace and i have a road show and everybody wants to send us something and it never works out because it turns out we both have a commitment to the teachings of the savior when it comes to treating the least of these our brothers and sisters. when you talk about people as your brothers and sisters you don't talk about them as liabilities to manage. they are not liabilities to manage. they are assets to develop because every one of us is an asset to develop. that's a completely different approach to pofverty aleaf yags that's what we can do to stimulate that conversation on the political right just as it can be on the political left. one concept that rides along with that is to point out and this is what i do to many friends on capitol hill i remind them that just because people are on public assistance doesn't mean they want to be on public assistance. that's the difference between people who factually are making a living and who are accepting
public assistance. that's an important matter to remember about the motivations of people and humanizing them and then the question is how can we come together how can we come together. i have indeed written a piece on the safety net and say that as a political conservative. why? because ronald reagan said that. because freed rick said that, this is not a rat cal position. the social safety net is one of the greatest achievements of free enterprise that we can help take care of people who are poor that we never met. it's never happened before. we should be proud of that. but then when i talk to conservative policy makers and say how should you distinguish yourself from the traditional positions in a marketplace of ideas from progressives you should also talk about the fact that the safety net should be limited to people truly indij ent as opposed to being spread
around in a way that met tasty sized and the third part is that help should always come with a dig fiing power of work. then we can have with these three ideas then we can have an interesting morale consensus and policy competition of ideas and maybe make progress. thank you. >> in fact, i'm hoping people will challenge each other about what that actually means in terms of policy. i want to invite the president to do that and tempted mr. president to ask you to go in a couple of directions at once. one is i'm again hoping that you can enlist arthur as your lobbyist on this. one kind of question i want to ask is if john boehner and mitch mcconnell were watching this and suddenly had a conversion and a lot of religious people in the audience -- >> not watching this.
>> hypothetical. >> it's a religious audience. i believe in miracles. if they said we are so persuaded it's time to do something about the poor, mr. president, tell us a few things that we'll actually pass? when you think about -- we can talk kind of abstractly about the family on this side and what government can do. what do you think would make a difference? that's one kind of question i'm tempted to ask and maybe even put that into the context of the bob's mention of the guilded age. as you know, i was much taken by that speech, learned how to produce announce o swad mee back in 20 -- help me. >> a couple of years ago. >> 2011. and it really did put this
conversation context to reduced to have the problems we had back then. what would you tell congress please help me on this and how do we sort of move out of this gilded age feeling kind of period. >> let me tease out a couple of things both bob and arthur said, maybe some of these will be challenging to a couple. may want to respond. but let me talk about big picture and then we can talk about specifics. first of all, i think we can all stipulate that the best anti-poverty program is a job which confers not just income but structure and dignity and sense of connection to community, which means we have to spend time thinking about the broader economy as a whole. what has happened is that since 1973, over the last 40 years, the share of income going to the
bottom 90% has shrunk from about 65% down to about 53%. it's a big shift, it's a big transfer. and so we can't have a conversation about poverty without talking about what's happening in the middle class and the ladders of opportunity in the middle class. and when i read bob's book the first thing that strikes you when he's growing up in ohio he's in a community where the banker is living in reasonable proximity to the janitor of the school. the janitor's daughter may be going out with the banker's son. there are a set of common institutions. they may attend the same church. they may be members of the same rotary club and may be active at
the same parks and all the things that stitch them together and that is all contributing to social mobility and to a sense of possibility and opportunity for her all kids in that community. now, part of what's happened is that -- this is where arthur and i would probably have some disagreement, we don't dispute that the free market is the greatest producer of wealth in history. it has lifted billions of people out of poverty. we believe in property rights rule of law so forth. but there has always been trends in the market in which concentrations of wealth can lead to some being left behind
and what's happened in our economy is that those who are doing better and better more skilled and more educated, luckier, having greater advantages are withdrawing from sort of the commons. kids start going to private schools and kids start working out at private clubs instead of the public parks. anti-government ideology disinvested from those common goods and things that draw us together. that in part contributes to the fact that there's less opportunity for our kids, all of our kids. now, that's not inevitable, the free market is perfectly combatible with us making investment in good public schools and public universities and investments in public parks and investments in a whole bunch of public infrastructure that
grows our economy and spreads it around. but that's in part what's been under attack for the last 30 years. and so in some ways rather than soften the edges of the market, we've tur bow charged it. and we have not been willing i think to make some of those investments that everybody can play a part in getting opportunity. now, one other thing i've got to say about this is that even back in bob's day, that was also happening is just what's happening to black people and so in some ways part of what's changed is that those biases or those restrictions on who had access to resources that allowed them to climb out of poverty, who had access to the
firefighters job. who had access to the assembly line job, blue collar job that paid well enough to be in the middle class and got you to the suburbs and then the next generation was suddenly office workers? all of those things were foreclosed to a big chunk to the minority population in this country for decades. and that accumulated. and built up and over time people with less and less resources, more and more strengths -- it's hard being poor. people -- people don't like being poor. and it's time consuming and stressful and it is -- it's hard. and so over time families frayed, men who could not get jobs left. mothers who are single are not able to read as much to their kids. all of that was happening 40 years ago to african-americans and now what we're seeing is
that those same trends have accelerated and they are spreading to the broader community. but the pattern that bob you're recording in your stories is no different than william julius wilson was talking about when he talked about the truly disadvantaged. i say this -- and i know that was not an answer to your question. i will be willing to answer but i think it is important for us at the outset to acknowledge if in fact we're going to find common ground then we also have to acknowledge that there are certain investments we're willing to make as a society as a whole in public schools and public universities in today, believe early childhood education and making sure that that economic opportunity is available in communities that are isolated and that somebody can get a job and there's
actually a train that takes folks to where the jobs are. that broadband lines are in rural communities and not just in cities. those things are not going to happen through marketplaces alone. if that's the case, then our government and our budgets have to reflect our willingness to make those investments. if we don't make those investments, then we could agree on the earned income tax credit which arthur believes in. and home visitation for low income parents all of those things will make a difference but the broader trends in our society will make it harder and harder for us to deal with both inequality and poverty. and so i think it's important for us to recognize there is a genuine debate here what portion of our collective wealth and budget are we willing to
invest in those things that allow a poor kid whether in a rural town or in applachia or rural city to access what they need both in terms of mentors and social networks as well as decent books and computers and so forth in order for them to succeed along the terms that arthur discussed. right now they don't have those things and those things have been stripped away. you look at state budgets and city budgets and look at federal budgets and we don't make those same common investments that we used to and it's had an impact. and we shouldn't pretend that somehow we have been making those same investments we haven't been. there's been a very specific idealogical push not to make those investments, that's where the argument comes in. >> if i can follow up which gets to the underlying problem
where we talk biasly sometimes about let's tear down these thee logical red/blue barriers here when push comes to shove they get rejected. how do you change the politics of that? as you said mcmcconnell and john boehner were unlikely to be watching us, that has a political significance not -- >> i didn't -- i was just saying they are busy i think they have votes -- >> i think you are saying something else. how do you tear down those barriers because you lay down a fairly robust agenda there. and forgive me arthur and bob, how do you get from here to there? >> well, part of what happened in our politics and part of what shifted from when bob was young and he was seeing a genuine community, there was still class divisions in your small town there were probably certain
clubs or activities that were still restricted to banker's son as opposed to the janitor's son but it was more integrated. part of what happened is that at least in a very mobile globalized world are able to live together away from folks who were not as wealthy. so they feel less than they commit to making those investments. and in that sense what used to be racial segregation now mirrors itself in class segregation segregation. this great sorting that's taking place. that creates its own politics. there's some communities where i don't say know -- not only do i not know poor people, i don't even know people who have trouble paying bills at the end of the month i just don't know those people. so there's less sense of
investment in those children. so that's farm of what's happened. but part of it has also been -- there's always been a strain in american politics where you've got the middle class and question has been, who are you mad at? if you're struggling. if you're working but don't seem to be getting ahead and over the last 40 years, sadly i think there's been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top or to make -- be mad at folks at the bottom. and i think the effort to suggest that the fourpoor are sponges, leech don't want to work lazy, undeserving got traction. and look it's still being prop
pull gated. i have to say that if you watch fox news on a regular basis it is a con stent nen yustant menu they will folks who make me -- i don't even know where they find them. i don't want to work. i just want a free obama phone or whatever. that becomes an entire narrative that gets worked up and very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress, which is much more typical raising a couple of kids and doing everything right but still can't pay the bills. so if we're going to change how john boehner and mitch mcconnell think, we're going to have to change how our body politics thinks, which means we're going to have to change how the media reports on these issues and how people's impressions of what it -- what it's like to struggle
in this economy looks like and how budgets connect to that. that's a hard process because of -- that requires a much broader conversation than typically we have on the nightly news. >> i've been tempted to welcome arthur to defend his network but instead, i want to sort of maybe invite him to an altar call here. i want to invite you to altar call, the president talked about basic public investments that are actually pretty old fashioned public investments along the lines of president eisenhower -- >> abraham lincoln thought of things like infrastructure investments in basic research and science were important. i suspect arthur you would
agree in theory about those investments and the question would be how much. >> how much, look no good economist, no self-respecting person who understands anything about economics denies there are public goods. there are public goods. we need public goods and markets fail sometimes and there's a role for the state. there are no radical libertarians up here. libertarians who believe that the state should not exist for example, even libertarians don't think that. we shouldn't caricature the view of others because that impunes the motives. i think we're talking about, when are there public goods and when can the government provide them and when are the benefits higher than the cost of the government prying these things? in point of fact, when we don't make cost benefit calculations at the macro level about public goods. the poor pay. this is a fact. if you look at what's happening
in the countries of europe today, this is a -- as george w. bush used to say, this is a true fact. it's more emphasis nothing wrong -- if you have austerity, the poor always pay -- jim wallace always taught me this, the poor always pay when there's austerity. the rich never pay. it's the poor left with the bill. if you join me in believing the safety net is a fundamental moral right and it's a privilege of our society to provide, you must avoid austerity, the only way to do that with smart policy. i'm 100% sure the president agrees with smart policies, i'm not caricaturing this either --
although, can you believe he said obama phone? he's against the obama phone, so let's stipulate to that. that's only because they took away his phone. >> now, since we believe that there should be public goods then we're really talking about the system that provides them official officially. the president talked about the changing structure of the income distribution and unambiguously true. what i would urge us to regret is this notion that it's not a shift but a transfer. i know. it's not a transfer. since the 1970s, it's not that the rich have gotten richer because the poor have gotten poorer. the poor are not having money taken and given to the rich the rich have gotten faster than the poor moved up and we might be concerned because that reflects on opportunity and as opportunity society we should all be really concerned with that.
to the extent we can get away from this notion that the rich are stealing from the poor, then we can look at this and think in a way that's constructive. why? because the rich are neighbors and poor are our neighbors and they are all our kids. getting away from that rhetoric is really important. last point is actually as we come to consensus, remembering that capitalism or socialist or social democracy or any system is just a system. just a system. it's not just a machine. it's like your car. you can do great good or evil with it. it can't go uninhibited and so far drive on its own. the economy will never be able to. capitalism is nothing more than a system and must be predicated on right morals and must be. adam smith taught me that. adam smith, father of modern economics, wrote "the wealth of nations", 17 years before he wrote "the theory of moral sentiments" a more important book, it talked about what it meant for society to earn the
right for free enterprise and economics. it is true then and true today. this is why this conference is so important this conversation with the president of the united states so important from my point of the view. because we're talking about right morality towards our brothers and sisters and built on that we can have ab open discussion to get the capitalism right and then the distribution of resources is only a tertiary question. [ applause ] >> i still want to know how much infrastructure you're willing to vote for -- >> $41 billion. >> it's a start. this is for both the president and bob because in this conversation about poverty there's -- there's kind of consensus on this stage that yes you need to care about family structure it really matters but if you don't worry about the economy you're not sort of thinking about why the battering
ram against the family. this family conversation can make a lot of people feel uneasy because it sounds like either you're not taking politics seriously or you're not taking real economic pressures seriously and i just want to share two things with the president and bob and have you respond. one, as you can imagine, i ask a lot of smart people what they would ask about if they were in my position. one very smart economist said, look, what we know is when we have really tight labor markets, unemployment down below -- down to 4 or even lower kenny johnson years, world with a ii at the end of the clinton years. all sorts of things happen. maybe this person said even though he says yes, family matters let's start with moral lectures and run a really tight economic policy. we could have really good things happen to us. and then the other thing i wanted to share -- and i'm being pointed here mr. president
because i've heard you talk about this but not that often, publicly, which is i've heard you in sessions you do with opinion reporters wrote something back in 2013 about your talk about what needs to happen inside the african american community. i know you remember this taking full measure of the obama presidency thus far, it is hard to reach the conclusion that this white house has one way of addressing the social ills that afflict black people and black youth and another way of addressing everyone else. i would have a hard time imagining the president telling the women there's no longer room for any excuses as though they were in the business of making them. i love you to address the particular question about maybe it is primarily about economics because we can't do much about the other things through government policy and also
answer the critique because i know you hear that a lot. >> i want to -- i want to hear what the president has to say about this but briefly on the earlier conversation about public goods, i agree very much with the president -- we disinvested in collective assets and collective goods that would benefit everybody but are more important for poor people because they can't do it on their own. i want to give one example that is very vivid. this is a case where we've clearly shot ourselves in the foot. all americans and all walks of life thought that part of getting a good education was getting soft skills not just reading and writing and arithmetic and so on and part of that was everybody in the country got free access to extracurricular activities and football and music and so on. about 20 years ago the view
developed which is really deeply evil, that that's just a thrill. we disinvest and said if you want to take part in football here or music you've got to pay for it. of course, what that means is that poor people can't pay for it. it's a big deal, $1600 for two kids in a family, $1600 to play football or play in the band it's not a big deal if your income 1$200,000 but if it's $16,000, who in their right mind is going to pay that. it seems the allegation of the benefits of learning hard skills -- i mean hard grit, we're only on the individual. that isn't true. the whole country was benefitting from the fact we had a broad based set of skills that people had. i'm trying to emphasize this -- how deep runs this an tip
paththy for the notion that these are all our kids and have to invest in all of them. i want to come back if i can to the think we maybe haven't spent enough time here and that is this is a purple problem. there are those of us who on the left can see most clearly, the economic sources of this problem and want to do something about it. but then there are people on the conservative side who can -- who use a different lens and can see most clearly the effects of family disruption among poor families of all races on prospects of kids. in the stories of the kids we gathered across america, i want to return a little bit, not just the ab straukt discussion, very soon, doesn't have anything like the same opportunities as my granddaughter, but part of that is because mary sue's parents behaved in irresponsible ways. we interviewed a kid from duluth who is now on drugs. how did she get open drugs?
because her dad was addicted to meth and wanted to get high and didn't want to get high alone so her daughter taught molly is her name how to do meth -- i don't even know how you do meth myself. i'd have to check with him. and it's systemically, the fact is we all know that it's -- i'm not making an attack on single moms often doing terrific jobs in the face of lots of obstacles but i am saying it's harder to do that and therefore we need to think all of us, including those of us ---y know the president agrees, even those on the more progressive side how did we get into a state in which two thirds of american kids come from the working class have only a single parent and what can we do to fix that. i'm not sure this is government's role but i do think if we're concerned about poverty, all of us have to think about this purple side of the problem. i mean this family side of the
problem and we shouldn't -- those of us -- now speaking to my side of the choir we shouldn't just assume somebody who talks about family stability is saying the economics don't matter. of course they matter. it's not either/or. >> mr. president -- [ applause ] >> first of all going back to what was said earlier about how we characterize the wealthy and that they take this extra wealth from the poor and middle class, these are broad economic trends. tur bow charged by technology and globalization a winner take all economy that allows those with even slightly better skills to massively expand their reach and remark and make more money and it gets more concentrated
and that reinforces itself. but there are values and decisions that have aided and abetted that process. so for example in the era that bob was talking about, if you had a company in that town, that company had a whole bunch of social restraints on it because the ceo felt it was a member of that community and the sense of obligation about paying a certain wage or contributing to the local high school or what have you was real. and today the average fortune 500 company, some are great corporate citizens and some are great employers but they don't have to be and that's certainly not how they are judged. and that may account for the
fact that where previous ceo of a company might have made 50 times the average wage of the worker, they might now make 1,000 times or 2,000 times. and that's now accepted practice inside the corporate border. that's not because they are bad people. it's just that they have been free from a certain type of social constraints. and those values have changed. and sometimes tax policy has encouraged that and government policy has encouraged that. and there's a whole literature that justifies that as well that's what you need to get the best ceo and they are bringing the most value and then you do tip into a little eye yan rand which arthur, you would be the first to acknowledge because i'm in dinners with some of your buddies and i have conversation with them. if they are not on a panel they'll say you know what, we
created all this stuff. and we made it and we're creating value and we should be able to make decisions where it goes. so there's less commitment to those public goods even though a good economist who has read adam smith's moral sentiments would acknowledge that actually we're under investing or we have to -- that's point number one. point number two on this whole family character values structure issue it's true if i'm giving a commencement in moore house that i will have a conversation with young black men about taking responsibility as fathers that i probably will not have with the women. i make no apologies for that. the reason is because i am a black man who grew up without a
father. i know the cost i paid for it. i also know that i have the capacity to break that cycle and as a consequence i think my daughters are better off. and that is not something that -- [ applause ] >> that is not something -- for me to have that conversation does not negate mu conversation about the need for early childhood education or need for job training or greater investment in infrastructure or jobs in low income communities so look, i'll talk to you're blue in the face about hard nosed economic macro economic policies. but in the meantime i've got a bunch of kids right now who are graduating and i want to give smem some sense that they can have an impact on their
immediate circumstances and the joys of fatherhood and we did something with my brother's keeper which emphasizing a apprenticeships and emphasizing corporate responsibility and gathering resources to get very concrete hooks for kids to be able to advance. and i'm going hard at issues of criminal justice reform and breaking this school to prison pipeline that exists for so many young african-american men. but when i'm sitting there talking to these kids and i've got a boy who says, you know what how did you get over being mad at your dad because i've got a father who beat my mom and now has left. and has left a state and never seen it because trying to avoid $83,000 in child support payments. i want to love my dad but i don't know how to do that. i'm not going to have a
conversation with him about macro economics. i'm going to have a conversation with him about -- about how i tried to understand what it is that my father had gone through. and how issues of that were very specific to him created his difficulties in his relationships and his children so that i might be able to forgive him and might then shall able to come to terms with that. i don't apologize for that conversation. i think -- so this is what -- what i mean when -- or this is where i agree very much with bob, this is not an either/or conversation. it is a both end. the reason we get trapped in the either/or conversation is because all too often, not arthur but those who have argued against a safety net or
argued against government programs have used the rationale that character matters family matters and values matter as a rationale for the disinvestment in public goods that took place over the course of 20 to 30 years. if the most important thing is character and parents then it's okay if we don't have banned and music and school. that's the argument you'll hear. it's okay -- there are i am grabt kids learning in schools that are much worse and we're spending huge amounts in the district and we still get poor outcomes, obviously money is not the issue. so what you hear is a logic that is ugsed as an excuse to under investment in those publicings.
that's why i think a lot of people are resistant to it and are skeptical of their conversation. i guess what i'm saying is that guarding against cynicism what we should say is we are going to argue hard for those public investments. we're going to argue hard for early childhood education. if a young kid, three or four years old is hearing a lot of words that science tells us they are going to be more likely to say to school and if they've got trained and differently paid teachers in that preschool, then they are actually going to get by the time they are in third grade, they'll be reading at great level. those are concrete policies but it requires money, we're going to argue hard for that stuff and if we do those things, the values and character those kids are learning in a loving environment where they can succeed in school and being praised and they can read at
grade level and less likely to drop out enturns out quh they are succeeding a school and they've got resources, less likely to get pregnant as teens and less likely to engage in drugs and less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system, that is a reinforcement of the values in characters we want. that's where we as a society have the capacity to make a real difference. but it will cost us some money. it will cost us some money. it's not free. and you look is a state like california that used to have by far the best public higher education system in the world and there's a direct correlation between proposition 13 and the slow disinvestment in the public university system so it became very very expensive. and kids got priced out of the
market. or they started to take on a whole bunch of debt. that was a public policy choice. based on folks who did not want to pay property taxes, that's true in cities and counties and states all across the country. and that's really a big part of our political argument. so i'm all for values and all for character but i also know that that character and that values that our kids have that allow them to succeed and delay gratification and discipline and hard work, all of those things in part or shaped by what they see. what they see really early on. some of those kids right now because of no fault of those kids and because of history and you know some tough going generationally, some of those kids they are not going to get help. they are not going to get enough help and the question then
becomes, are we committed to helping them instead? >> mr. president, i want to follow up on that and then invite arthur and bob to reply. you point out indulgence in this session, on all kinds of positions. the -- a lot of us i think feel that we made bargains with our friends on the conservative side that i agree with the idea that you've got to care about what happens in the family if you're going to care about social justice and got to care about social justice if you care about the family. yet, when people like you start talking like this, there doesn't seem to be much give back on okay, we agree on those values where's the investment in these kids similarly, when welfare reform was passed back in the '90s there were a lot of people said okay, we're not going to hear about welfare cheats anymore because all of these people will have to work.
yet, we get the same thing back again. it's as if the work requirement was never put in the welfare bill. how do we change this conversation so that it becomes an actual bargain where the other half of the agenda that you talked about gets recognized and that we do something about it? >> i'll ask arthur for advice because the devil is in the details. if you talk to any of my republican friends they will say, no one they care about the poor -- and i believe them. number two they'll say there are public goods that have to be made and i believe them. but when it comes to actually establishing budgets and making choices, prioritizing, that's when it starts breaking down. and you know, i actually think
that there will come a time when political pressure leads to a shift because more and more families, not just inner city african-american families but more and more middle class working class folks are feeling pinched and squeezed that there will be a greater demand for some poor public goods and will have to find a way to pay for them. but ultimately, they are going to have to be some choices made. when i, for example, make an argument about closing the carried interest loophole that exists, whereby hedge fund
managers are paying 15% on the fees and income that they collect, i've been called hitler for doing this or at least this is like hitler going to positive land, that's a quote when i made that recommendation, the top five hedge fund managers made more than all of the kindergarten teachers in the country. >> when i say that, i'm not saying that because i dislike hedge fund managers or i think they are evil i'm saying that you're paying a lower rate than a lot of folks who are making $300,000 every year. you pretty much have more than you'll ever be able to use in your family will ever be able to
use. there's a fairness issue involved here and by the way if we were able to close that loophole, i could not invest in early childhood education to make a difference. that's where the rubber hits the road. that's arthur where the question of compassion and i'm my brother's keeper comes into play. and if we can't ask from society's lottery winners to just make that modest investment, then really this conversation is for show. if we can't ask -- [ applause ] >> so that's where -- and by the way, i'm not asking to go back to 70% marginal rates which existed back in the golden days that bob is talking about when he was a kid. i'm just saying maybe we can go
up to tax like ordinary income which means they might have to pay a -- a true rate of around 23, 25%, which by historical alal alal standards and post war era would be lower. that's the kinds of issue if we can't bridge that gap i suspect we're not going to make as much progress as we need to although with we can find some areas like income and credit which i give arthur a lot of credit for extolling because it encourages work and can actually help strengthen things. >> arthur, raised capital gains taxes. >> sure fine, those are show issues, corporate jets are show issues and the real issue middle class entitlements 70% of the federal budget, that's where the real money is. the truth of the matter is until we can take that on, if we want
to make progress the left and right want to make progress politically as they put together budgets, they have to make progress on that. if we want to increase taxes on carried interest that's fine for me not that i can speak for everybody, certainly not everybody on the republican side and by the way, mitch mcconnell and john boehner are watching at least indirectly and paying attention to this, 1100% sure because they care about economics and poverty. we have to really be careful not to impune their motives. we can take on issues on their face, i think. it's important moralally to be able to do that. who by the way was you were having dinner with discussing iran and why wasn't i invited? so, if we want to make progress,
let's think let's decide that we have a preference -- let's have a -- let's have a rumble over how much money we're spending for poor people and republicans should say i want to spend money on programs for the poor but i think these are counter productive and ineffective and democrats should say no they are not, they are under funded. i want that conversation. it's productive. but we can't even get to that when politicians on the left and right are conspireing to not touch middle class entitlements we're look at it in terms of the right saying all of the money is gone on this and left saying all we need is a lot more money on top of these things when most people who are looking at it realize, this is an unsustainable path for lots of things, not just programs for the poor. we can't adequately fund our military. you and i have -- we would have a tremendous amount of agreement about the misguided notion of a
sequester. and for lots of reasons because we can't spend money on purpose and that's what we need to do and we're on an automatic path to spend tons of money in entitlements that are leading us to fiscal unsustainability we can't get to these progressive conversations for conservatives and liberals and really disagree and work together panelotentially -- >> if the carried interest is a sure issue, why can't we get it out of the way and move forward? >> it is real money. it's real money. >> we have about three minutes left, i would like bob to speak then i have one last question for the president. we need to rise out of the washington bubble and debates about these things, of course they are important. but actually we're speaking here to an audience of people of faith or speaking largely more
largely to america. i think we ought not to disempower ordinary americans, if they care about these problems, americans can change the politics that two over the next five to ten years make a huge difference. i'm not talking about changing republican democrat, i'm talking about making poverty and the opportunity to escape from poverty a higher issue on both parties agendas -- [ applause ] >> i have some hope that will happen, i understand this may not be true mr. president, i understand there's going to be an election next year -- >> it's a true fact. >> it's a true fact. [ applause ] >> and i think american voters should insist that the highest domestic priority issue is this issue of the opportunity gap, the fact we're talking about this, this is not a third order issue, it's really important and ask candidates what are you
going to do about it? then use your own common sense that the right way to go forward? i think we need as a country not just from the top down and from washington, but from across the grass roots to focus and in con gregations on what we can do to reduce this opportunity gap in america. >> mr. president, i wanted you to reflect on this religious question. one of your first salaries paid for by catholic churches something -- not a lot of catholic bishops notice that, that you were organizing for a group of southside churches you know what faith based groups can do and i'm going to talk about three things at the same time, which is, the role of the religious community simply in calling attention to this problem, the issues of how government can cooperate with these groups and sort of the
role in these ideas for you? where are your own reflections on your own faith that have led you on these? >> well first of all, it's true, my first job was funded through the campaign for human wealth which was the social justice on catholic church -- [ applause ] >> and i think that faith based groups across the country and around the world understand the centrality and the importance of this issue in an intimate way. in part because these faith based organizations are interacting with folks who are struggling and know how good these people are and know their stories. and it's not just thee logical
but it's very concrete. they are embedded in communities and making a difference in all kinds of ways. so i think that what our administration has done is really a continuation of work that had been done previously from the bush administration, clinton administration, we've got our office of faith based -- organizations that are working on an ongoing basis around a whole host of these issues, my brother's keeper is reaching out to churches and synagogues and mosques and other faith becaused groups consistently to try to figure out how do we reach young boys and young men in a serious way. but i -- but the one thing i want to say, e.j., is that when i think about my own christian faith and my obligations it is
important for me to do what i can myself individually mentoring young people or i also think it's important to have a voice in the larger debate. i think it would be powerful for our faith based organizations to speak out on this in a more forcible fashion. these are areas where i agree and there are issues where we
have had agreements and reproductive issues and same-sex marriage. maybe it appears advantageous for me to want to focus on issues of poverty and not these other issues. i want to insist, i will not be part of the election next year. this is more just a broader reflection to somebody who has worked with churches and worked with communities. there's great caring and great concern. what's the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as christians or
catholics. this is often times viewed as a nice to have relative to an issue like abortion. that's not across the board. that's how it's perceived in our political spots. there's more power to be had there. more transformative voice that's available around these issues that can move and touch people. the one thing i know is that here is an area where, again, arthur and i gree. fundamentally people want to do the right thing. i think people would like to see a society where people have an
opportunity. i think that's true up and down the line across the board but they feel as if it's not possible, and there's noise out there and arguments and contention. people with draw and restrict themselves to what can i do many my church and my community and that's important. our faith based groups have the capacity to frame this and nobody has shown that better than pope francis who has been transformative just through the sincerity and insistence he's had tho thiso this is vital to what jesus christ our savior taught. that emphasis is why he's had such incredible appeal including
to young people around the world and i hope that is message that everybody received when we comes to visit here. i can't wait to host him because i think it will help to spark an even broader conversation of the sort we're having today. >> all events are better with a reference to pope francis. thank you so much, mr. president. i really want the thank arthur and bob and thank you bob for writing this book and thank you mr. president for being here and john and so many others for creating this. if i may close by simultaneously quoting amos and dr. king, let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. bless you all. thank you, mr. president.
over in the senate work on trade promotion authority legislation. this would grant the president fast track authority to present unamendable trade agreements for up or down votes. the transpacific partnership and transatlantic trade that are being negotiated between the u.s. and other countries. senators will take a procedural vote on that bill at 2:30 eastern. you see that on c-span2. president obama just wrapped up a panel discussion on poverty at georgetown university. on this morning's washington journal we were joined by robert woodson who discussed ways to relieve inner city poverty. this is about 45 minutes. >> we're joined by bob woodson. he joins us for a discussion about inner city poverty. the role it played in the recent
unrest in baltimore and how best to address that issue. >> it's an national non-profit that i founded 35 years ago in washington, d.c. for the purpose of helping low income communities overcome poverty from the inside out and from the bottom up. we believe that the solutions to poverty can be found among those suffering the problem and so i as a former civil rights activist i realized that a lot of people who suffered and sacrificed they do not benefit from the change. from the very beginning we should make distinction between the needs and desires of low income blacks and upper income blacks. there's always been issues about low income blacks benefits from the movement.
the center for neighborhood enterprise goes into low income communities and we go to the 30% of the households that are raising children that are not dropping out of school, in jail and we try to find out what is going on there. in other words, we build on the solutions that come from and the strengths of people in the community to address their own problems. >> how big is it and where do you get your funding from? is there federal dollars? >> a few federal dollars. most of the money comes from private sources but we also have a contract with the milwaukee school system that enables us to employ leaders in those schools for the purpose of reducing violence. we're about a $5 million organization headquartered in washington, d.c. we have trained and serviced grass roots leaders about 2,500
in 39 states of all racial and ethnic groups. >> if you want to call in special lines this segment. just two lines. urban residents 202-748-8000. all others 202-748-8001. let's get to your reaction to baltimore and if you can talk about the role that poverty played in the mix that became the unrest that we saw in baltimore. >> first of all, the kind of unrest that you heard on the part of low income people there they're frustrated because they don't have jobs. their they're in failing schools. their communities are disarray. it's the same frustration we heard in 1965 in washington, d.c. in an article written by reporter when low income blacks
complaints then, the same that i'm hearing now which means there's something, there's some mistakes we have made that have carried over. the question is why in the face of 50 years, $20 trillion in poverty programs blacks are uning those same institutions in our cities and low income blacks are saying they are not benefitting from the civil rights gains the progress in race. they are not benefitting from blacks running those institutions. obviously, it means there's some unmet needs that fueling that poverty but by focusing on race what baltimore does is pulls the covers off of that. it makes us ask ourselves if race were the problem in the '60s and we now have black elected officials running the