tv Washington Journal CSPAN February 21, 2011 7:00am-10:00am EST
line for arab-americans. we want to hear from you. 202-628-0184 is the number for you to call. the africa bureau chief for "the washington post" joins us now from yemen. he has the lead story this morning, "libyan regime under threat." why are you in yemen is not tripoli? -- and not tripoli? caller: good question. libyans have basically denied access to foreign journalists. they have also basically cut down internet access, as well as other forms of communication. it is extremely difficult to get into the country and understand the scope of what is happening
there. what we know this morning, according to news reports, it seems that the second-largest city is under control of protesters. there seems to be an absence of security forces on the streets of the capital. at the same time there seemed to be frank celebrations in the city. but at the same time it is unclear what the future is. i think that we can wait and see what happens. >> some reports say that colonel gaddafi is in venezuela. have you heard that? caller: i have not. he was silent last night in his
son gave the national address. repeating several times that libya is not egypt. it is not certain where he is right now and. host: what about yemen today? caller: the president reiterated that he was willing to have a dialogue with the opposition. claiming that he was doing the best to calm people down. he also blamed for an elements for instigating the unrest. in bahrain you have the opposition still weighing the
demands and proposals by those rulers to have a dialogue, as well as a national warning to recognize what the country's majority face off between the minority. in morocco we saw a large protest yesterday. not necessarily for regime change, but more for political reforms and economic opportunities. host: do you foresee the colonel being overthrown? caller: is hard to tell. of all of the leaders that have been under siege by these pro- reform forces, colonel muammar gaddafi is more than willing to
use force to stay in power. it is not clear where his security forces stand right now. we are not sure if he is -- if they are still loyal to him, or if they have decided to join the protesters. there does seem to be, certainly, a bit of a break within his ranks. we have seen ambassadors resign over the violence. anything can really happen in libya. host: finally, are you hearing or seeing any anti-american sentiment in these protests? caller: it is not the overriding. but, for example, in yemen you
hear people saying -- why are the u.s. not doing more? wireless not supporting us more? at the same time you hear that they were quite happy with the way that the united states handle the egyptian president's departure. they are hoping for that same kind of support from their own pro-democracy movement in yemen. as for right now, the u.s. embassy -- aside from basically demanding that the president curb the violence, we have not seen any outright support from the united states for the pro- ing.cracy movement's unfold i caller: -- host: are you concerned at all for yourself?
caller: yesterday i was caught up in several clashes in which the people were hurling rocks at each other, it felt as though i was in the middle of the gaza strip. but in the past couple of days it has been quite peaceful. today i was out at the university and there was an almost celebratory mood where people were singing. the banners were up. everyone was demanding the president stepped then. over the past day or two it has been very peaceful, relatively, and you hope it will stay that way. host: we really appreciate the update from yemen this morning. well, we want to hear from you. what, if any, should be the role of the united states in these middle east uprising's them for
democrats, 202-737-0002. -- uprisings? for democrats, 202-737-0002. for republicans, 202-737-0001. for independents, 202-628-0205. bp says that it is likely that some of their employees in libya will be evaluated in the coming days. winston-salem, n.c., you are on the washington journal. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my calls. c-span continues to do an incredible job providing us with different views of what is going on in the world. i think that the united states and western powers would be well served to look back in history, particularly at the time when
africa was holding colonial power in various states were being set up as they've lost colonial rule. in almost all situations after that a strong leader, quote unquote, was put in place because of the economic interests. in africa it was the mineral wealth. in the middle east that was the oil wealth. i think that the united states would be well served to sit back and see what develops. along those lines, keep in mind what is happening in gaza. putin hamas in place probably did not make the united states or israel very happy. we have all discussed allowing democracy to unfold, but whoever might be voted in by the people
might not be the best supporter of u.s. economic interests. host: kenny, a democrat, providence, what do you think the role of the u.s. in the middle east uprising should be? caller: you cannot expect the u.s. to get involved in every four of their. you expect them to stand on the sides of the people in terms of fighting for democracy. the united states as a world leader, they need to stand on the side of the people. letting the people know that freedom should be a universal right. host: houston, independent line, good morning.
what do you think? caller: i do not think that the u.s. should be getting involved. the u.s. has done enough in propping up these leaders and these different middle eastern countries, which is extremely wrong. what is happening in wisconsin is the same thing happening in the middle east. our democracy is now working properly for us right now. we need to work on our own issues before we go around trying to take other people's issues. host: from "the washington times" this morning -- host: within this story is this
is an effort by the obama administration and the cia. that they are behind these uprisings. i am very happy and have confidence in the days event and what he is doing. i know that this whole episode is an effort to free middle eastern dictatorship. we are very happy here. dinky. -- thank you. host: where are you from, originally? caller: arabia. host: rachel is a democrat from beaufort, south carolina. good morning. caller: good morning. how are you? host: i am all right. caller: we went into iraq and
killed 4000 and lost 4000 of our people. with my children were there. we killed over 100,000 people in that country. now, here we go again. you have got people sleeping outdoors. you have not even clean up new orleans. but let's go and do some more killing. the united states lies in their hands are dripping in blood. i pray that we change and leave people alone. post of february 17, hillary clinton was on the hill testifying -- host: february 17, hillary clinton was on the hill testifying. here's one thing that she said about the u.s. role in the middle east.
host: the next call comes from wisconsin. cindy, you are on the air. caller: i do not believe that the middle east is that all related to what is going on in wisconsin. also, i have no idea what the u.s. role should be. i would hope that we would strive to form some peace there so that this does not get more volatile. host: thank you. joe, go ahead with your comment. caller: once again, i appreciate what miss rachel said. and some of those things were a little out of line. look at what has been going on since 1918.
yet we have been involved but just about every government over there. we have propped them up, put them in, taken them out. we are having problems here that are exactly the same thing that the protesters are complaining about their. i think that we need to be isolationist, like roosevelt. let these other countries handle their own stuff. the cia and these government agencies, they are coming up with all of these cuts. we are cutting everything here. the money that we are dumping into the un, the money we are dumping into the state department to go to these other countries could best be served at home.
we need to keep our children home. we do not need more of our children dying. we need to get our own house in order. host: selena, what should the role of the u.s. be in these uprisings? caller: america, all over the world and in terms of economics , they sometimes come into question. the approval seems to depend upon. we should be trying for as much democracy as possible.
host: where are you from, originally? caller: trinidad. host: west city, ariz., joe. should the u.s. have a role in the least uprisings? caller: i think that they should not. i think that the united states should get out of military activity everywhere. the military talks about people having more rights. one of the problems with people is that the members of the house in saudi arabia seemed to get the choice positions. keep in mind, this is the holy land of the muslims. as far as the overall picture, i believe the united states should be spending less money on military purposes.
we are spending trillions on various war effort all over the world. we should be spending nothing, reducing the amount of the economy that is spent on the military, putting it on peaceful purposes like military clinics all over the world. even in our own country, where small towns need health care clinics. host: this is a twitter message from cindy. host: from "the new york times" this morning --
just tell the government's not to use force against their people and let the people be freed. i think that people all over the world are very similar and they want the same thing. we at the united states have been too long oppressing other people. i think we should be cutting way back on our descent. as a matter of fact, and i am sorry to say this, i think we need a revolution in this country as well. i think we have become a corporate state. host: the un ambassador, susan wright, was on television yesterday talking about the situation in libya. >> we have condemned that
violence. our view is that in libya, as throughout the region, peaceful protests need to be respected. the need to exercise those universal rights. including treatment -- including freedom of expression and assembly. in addition, we are seeing across the region is a yearning for change and a hunger for political and economic reform. we support that. host: pat, fort worth, texas. what do you think the role of the u.s. should be in the least uprisings? caller: we need to stay home and mind our business as we have not taking care of our problems here the way that the congress has slacked everything but the military. that is one of our big problems right now.
they know they are not going to win to begin with. i think that they need to mind their own business. if they want democracy, let them have democracy. the people over there the control the money and control everything, the people want some freedom. host: this is a column from "the new york times" this morning.
independent line. caller: i think that the u.s. should prepare itself for $8 gallons of gas. host: are you willing to pay higher prices for gasoline? caller: think about this -- in egypt there is a war and then in somalia there is a pirate ship. the price of gas will go up. they want to put their warships out that way, which is pretty scary. host: raleigh, north carolina. caller: but wanted to say a couple of things.
mainly, we should stay away from that area. our presence has generally increase the threat level in the u.s.. it is the center of religious fanaticism and you are not going to win that. we also need to decrease the military complex. we also need to stop depending on foreign oil and turned towards alternative fuels. it will keep increasing the problems of the u.s. and its people. host: this is from "the new york times."
president obama, this morning the protesters have spread into africa. something that no one mentions is that people are out there on the streets. with just one president, one man dies and his son takes over. the people are out of the streets. the united states should be advocating for the freedom of all people around the world. that is the idea that your country was built on and we take it seriously. we need that as well in our country. host: where are you from, originally? caller: gabon. let me say, the reason i am here
is people in my country wanted to kill me. i cannot even go to my own country. the minute that foreign correspondents talk about it, they revoke your credentials. i just spoke to my mother. tons of people are on the street. only loggers are -- bloggers are on the streets right now. host: dean, london, ky. caller: we need to look at this as an example of exactly what can happen in this country. listen to the people. in actuality only 1% or 2% of the people in egypt dictated. minority rule headed towards the
muslim-type-evil dictatorship that will steamrolled through the middle east. like it has been said, there will be a domino effect. now, obama says that egyptians are expected to listen to him. look at what has happened to him. we do not want the medical plan that he is put before us. we do not want to kill babies in this country. we do not support homosexual things that obama promotes. keep your eyes peeled down pennsylvania avenue. host: rome, georgia. caller: i think that america should stay out of it.
host: binghamton, new york. michele, independent line. caller: good morning. i do not think that we should support dictators. i do not think that we should send any weapons to any other countries. yes, we need to give them humanitarian aid. we, the people, the united states, and the people in other countries. host: bad budgeting, the lead editorial in "the washington post."
host: in new haven, connecticut. what should the role of the u.s. be in the middle east uprising? caller: it should be minimal. the people there are often not supportive half of our movements there. we should keep our activity minimal. i think that we should use the state department, rather than the military. and really, our president is
pretty much the leader of the free world. to quote a famous egyptian who, unfortunately for him, never became an israelite. let my people go. host: linda, republican line. you are on the air. caller: i was in israel and jordan in november. i found the jordan to be a very interesting country. i was in the self and i went to an incredible archaeological site. i found the most interesting cabdriver. it is amazing what you can learn from someone who works with people that is a working person. he was the nicest person. i felt completely safe. i could ask him anything and he
would tell me. it was interesting. there were more roadblocks that i had seen in israel just in the short trip we had taken. host: that is a lot of set up. caller: mainly, i said what is up with the road blocks? he said -- terrorists, we do not want them. i said -- what do you mean? who are the terrorists? he said -- essentially, the palestinians. they look at the came the same way we look at most politicians. -- the king the same way that we look at most politicians. they are a necessary evil. they want tourism. they want people to come and see that it is a beautiful country. host: the next call comes from
here in the suburbs, chantilly, virginia. caller: we are being lied to by our own government. a lot of people are dying over there. this is a message for america. find the truth. why is our own government in egypt getting out of it? we have given over $70 billion to help dictator. why give him money? why? host: miami, like, independent line. you are on the air.
caller: the first thing that we should do that would be cost- effective is translate a copy of our bill of rights into arabic and fax it over there. it is a recipe for success. and i think we should do anything that anyone over there asks us to do. everyone from over there is from over here and for over a year from over there. we are the world. 30,000 people killed on our highways every year. get real. host: from morocco, the interior minister says --
host: sterling, virginia, republican line. caller: ibm republican who thinks the most rewarding things i have done our breed and grow my own food. -- i am a republican who thinks that the most rewarding things i into grow my r4eaead own food. you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. so far president obama is doing a good job. you do not want to encourage the people, because then they might be getting killed. on this issue of the budget, i do not think that anything is going to happen until we deal
richard, independent. what do you think of the middle east role in these uprisings? caller: i think that our policy agenda is kind of weak in the middle east. i am not agreeing with that the obama responses, but i think that he could step up a little more. host: philadelphia, pennsylvania. caller: they have minds of their own in their own problems to take care of. -- a.m. to their own problems to take care of. -- and ththeir own problems to take care of. where are the democrats? where are the big party democrats to help us?
host: from the senate to hollywood, they are a whisper away from naming christopher dodd as its new chief lobbyist. they are wrapping up the hiring of the former democratic senator as its chairman according to people with knowledge on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity. barring a last-minute snag, confirmation could come early this week. a spokesman for the association had no comment. a representative could not be reached on sunday. our next call is on the democratic line. greenbelt, north carolina. what is the u.s. role in the middle east, if any? caller: is -- is about what is going on in wisconsin.
they just said it on the news right now, they are packing it up without the democrats. i hope that this does not shock you too much, but what he is trying to do up there is taking in eight-day baby and hitting the baby in pinhead with a hammer as hard as you can. this is ridiculous to me. i have to stop. okay? host: again, we are talking this morning about the u.s. role in middle east uprisings. and we have a few more minutes left before we turn to the heating assistance program and the republicans proposed budget cuts in that. we will also be looking at the tax increases included in the
president's 2012 budget. finally, james thurber is going to join us this morning to talk about the president. here on president's day, the presidency, and congress and how past presidents have navigated economic crisis. those segments are coming up this morning. we have got one more article to show you and then we will take a break. this is from the style section of "the washington post."
from "the washington post's" and their review on the special of president clinton plus special this evening. one more call. oklahoma? caller: i know the to do not want us to get off on the subject of wisconsin, but there are parallels in the middle east. people there feel that their rights have been oppressed. just like in the middle east. we see, especially the unions in this country, they are being sabotaged. that is how people feel in egypt, tunisia, and libya. i feel that we should be encouraging to them, but focus more on what is happening here. thank you. host: in about 45 minutes we are one to talk to pete of the national taxpayers union.
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president obama and the first lady. today at 6:00 p.m. eastern, on c-span. >> you know that i ask you to come here this evening so that we could hear about the negotiations going on in europe. >> you could look at this as a historical curiosity or as a forerunner of today's managed news. >> find something that you did not know about the men that served as president of the united states in the c-span radio library. all three of them, online. >> "washington journal" continues. host: george coling is the executive director of the national fuel fund network in he is here to talk about life he --
liheap. what is it? guest: a federal program that receives the funds every year, making funds available to the states. host: where does that money go? guest: it helps people that need assistance to pay their home energy bills. host: every year, how much is appropriated for that program? guest: $5.1 billion annually. host: and it has been steady at that level? guest: since 2009. host: who qualifies? guest: one has to look what -- applied at a local agency and the level in the law is 150% of the poverty level.
for a family of four, that is about $33,000. host: you are talking about the united way bellow local government? -- the united way? local government? guest: there are multiple agencies, sometimes state or social service offices. host: is it also used for cooling in the summer? caller: -- guest: yes. the program in particular in 2008 and 2009 was able to institute a number of cooling programs in the summer that were not around before higher levels of funding came through. host: what have republicans
proposed in their current year budget? guest: cutting off the money that goes to the states, which is divided into two strings, if you will. one of them is specified in federal law. 600 million of the current $5.1 billion is the emergency contingency fund that is available through the discretion of the white house, the administration. those moneys were committed in january. the republican bill would essentially cut those. host: what about the fiscal 2012 budget?
of guest: it would cut the program from $5.1 billion total, because of those funding streams, to 2.5 $7 billion. host: here is what president obama had to say about it at a press conference. host: on the home heating assistance program, we doubled the program when i first came into office in part because there was a huge energy spike. if it had stayed at the same level, folks would have been in real trouble. energy prices have gone down, but the cost of the program has stayed the same. what we have said is -- let's go back to a more sustainable level. if it turns out that, once again, you see a huge energy spike, it can be revisited. but let's not just assume that because it is at a $5 billion
level that we will sustain its there regardless of what is happening on the energy front. host: george coling, executive director of the national fuel fund network, but is your response? guest: there are factors that he did not mention. electricity prices, particularly fuel oil prices and protein -- propane gas that are common in the northeast and other parts of the country, those prices have gone up. secondly -- actually, there are three points. second, poverty continues to be consistent. because of unemployment. he did not address that.
finally, even at $5.1 billion, only 25% of those eligible under the guideline receive the benefits anyways. the need is clearly there for more than a cutback proposal. host: the numbers are on the screen in case you want to call in and talk with our guest, george coling. for republicans, 202-737-0001. for democrats, 202-737-0002. for independents, 202-628-0205. if you have been a recipient, we would certainly appreciate hearing your perspective as well. what is the national fuel funds and network? guest: an association of programs that are non-profit government and utility industry base programs that raises money
through charitable donations. recipients of the fuel fund similarly received fundamental assistance from federal programs, for the most part. host: so, additives to the fuel funds? guest: fuel funds supplement the program. our members, which are provider groups, see that despite how hard they worked, they raise only -- i should not say only -- $160 billion per year, -- $150 million per year, which is far short of what we are advocating. host: who are your members? guest: the crisis assistance
ministry in north carolina. large utility companies like dominion. the final haven fuel host: first call for george coling come from buffalo. jim on the republican line. good morning. caller: i have a quick question. in buffalo, we are the home of the buffalo bills. it is getting frustrating that the people who are here, and it is cold, i understand the need to cut the budget. can you tell me why they can justify spending millions of dollars to upgrade their stadium but they have to cut heat from people who cannot afford it? guest: i cannot speak to the financing of public facilities.
the need that you apparently agree with me to have a warm home in the winter, certainly, is something that we see as a priority, as to our members and clients. host: michael tweets in -- do people get it directly, i think, is where he is going. guest: it is mainly a program where the federal money is credited to the delivery of the fuel. it does not come into a check into people's hands. in some cases, it can lead to an agency ball, government agency bulk buying fuel in the summer, than inuld be tcheaper the winter. host: miami, florida.
rebecca. caller: my comment is a question. i have some advice also to our politicians. it is common sense. you are giving $3 billion to israel, who does not need the money, but you are cutting off heating fuel to people in this country who cannot afford to heat their homes. it is ridiculous that you keep on giving money away to people would not need it. but i guess these lobby groups can give you more votes even though people do not have heat. host: saratoga, new york. jane on the independent line. we are talking about the republicans, 202-737-0001 -- liheap program. caller: you are giving assistance to so-called low income people, however, what is
taken into consideration to qualify, some of these people already received hundreds of dollars in food stamp assistance, take care assistance, housing assistance. when you add up all of the help that all these people already received, there are other people who need this heat assistance. guest: the assistance guidelines are federal guidelines, and that translates down to an interview that the recipient has with a case worker to make a determination on whether or not funds are available. i mentioned to peter, the fuel funds, some of them have specific guidelines to address the level just above the federal
level of 33,000. just to make a hypothetical example, if someone with a family income of $70,000 is laid off, one of the parents is laid off, that leaves $30,000, i think the caller would agree, that is not much different from the $33,000, and that family could want to apply for help. host: why does hhs run this program? guest: historically, congress told them. the relationship between energy and security and not as robust health is pretty clear,
specifically in kits, children under 5, when researchers have compared households to dead energy assistance. compared to homes that do not, they have more missed school, more hospital visits. host: according to hhs, liheap is based on total household income. income must be at 150% below the poverty level. florida. laurie, hi. caller: good morning, c-span. in florida, when liheap came out in florida, i wonder why we do not have a list of these people? why don't these people have
solar panels to help their heating bill? we need to reduce everyone's heating bill. most of the country is solar- ready. we can do it to keep their water parhot. caller: that is a good idea. there are some pilot programs around the country. one that i know of, surprisingly, is in rural minnesota, essentially trying to mitigate home heating costs of the solar energy. it would be a question of more coordination among the federal government's and utilities. i think professionals in the energy assistance field of whom are involved in organizing and delivering programs, certainly, would like to see green energy
support, people in real need of warm or cool homes. host: notagain tweetsin -- -- tweets in-- caller: in terms of states, new york and california. money goes to every state, according to a formula devised almost 30 years ago. host: yvonne, louisville, ky. good morning. caller: that is a good idea. we need some type of alternative energy. --ave used the program. liheap program. it is not that easy. you have to prove your income and you have to have valid proof
or you will be denied. i have used it. my son is disabled, my husband passed away. i think it is a very beneficial program. host: which office did you get help through in the liberal? do you remember? caller: community action agency. in my area, there are different locations. host: thank you. any comments for her? a community action agency like that would probably have a downtown headquarters. the city. it would only be a short distance to apply. host: do liheap funds get used every year? guest: when money is passed on to states, sometimes -- i do not
have a good analogy on hand -- but a state will not use their money during the current fiscal year. in most cases, it holds over and then it has to be returned. host: new york. ginger, republican line. caller: good morning. longtime watcher. this is my first time calling in. i am getting liheap assistant. i thought perhaps i can give you some insight into the program. first of all, i am surviving on a less than $800 a month income. i am extremely grateful for this assistance. i tell the people that i interact with, every time that i do, how grateful i am. i want them to know that. the other thing, here in new york state, we are tens of
billions dollars in the hole. as a result of that, the city i live in is receiving no assistance from the county or state. that means last year my property taxes were up 21%, next year, 71%. for the next following two years, another 25%. all of this has to come out of the $800 i received. also, there are pages where you have to be able to document your actual financial situation. i am driving a 12-year-old car. i rarely ever buy clothes. aside from that, i have food assistance -- thank god for
that, too. as for someone who has owned their own business, i never expected to find myself in this situation. when i had to ask for assistance, when i had to sit before the state official, i broke down in tears. so this gives you some insight into the kinds of people, such as myself, who are receiving this assistance. host: thank you, and ginger. -- thank you, ginger. guest: that was an eloquent comment by someone in need in the country, speaks to the proposed cuts in the republican bill that passed on saturday, the president's proposal, far more cogently than i could.
host: mr. coling, what will be your job, now that the current year budget has passed the house of representatives, needs to go to the senate? march 4 is coming. what is your job the next couple of weeks? guest: to try to convince the senate and house process to come with a restoration that the republican bill would cut. at the same time, it would get their attention, based on cases like we just heard, the attention of senators and congress people, to include this in the bill. host: if there is a government shutdown, it is liheap -- is
liheap affected? guest: good question. state now have the money in their treasuries. i think there would be no significant checks not being mailed or something like that. states can request money on a quarterly basis from the federal government. some of them have not for the third and fourth quarter, and sometimes there is not an office to request from -- sometimes it is a technical answer. in states that do not receive the money, i would not think that the agencies and clients do not get the money. a double negative. host: louisiana.
you are on with james -- george coling. caller: i am a recipient of liheap. similar to the one in previous, i worked all my life as a nurse. i was involved in an accident that prevents me from working, because of my leg. i never thought i would be in this position to depend on these programs. i just wanted to say i am very grateful for them. i get less than $700 a month. without these federal programs, i could not survive. i think they should get up there and fight for it. there are people who truly need this help. there is a lot of waste in a lot of these programs, and that is where we should be targeted in
the waste going on, and truly help people. host: thank you. guest: again, an eloquent statement from mississippi. i hope senators and representatives are listening to that kind of voice. host: how efficient, in your view, is the administration of the liheap program? guest: there is only 10% used for administrative cost. it is quite sufficient. 90% is actual cash. standard oft an other administrative programs? guest: most are less. host: nancy in new jersey. go ahead. caller: i am sympathetic on those who are dependent on
liheap, but i worked with public programs for a while and i saw these programs abuse quite a bit. there are people who need it, but there were healthy, young people coming in to get liheap to help pay their heating bills. host: mr. coling, any comment? guest: the challenge of disbursing money to the public is out there. there are various criteria reviewed every year by the federal government and there is currently a task force of the states and fed's and tribes that are revising the guideline to revise question but this to try to tighten them up. host: on television are a lot of commercials featuring joe kennedy and his fuel assistance program that connects to sicko
and venezuela. he mentions both. it is that connection -- citgo and venezuela. he mentions both. is that a connection that you make with liheap. guest: that person may or may not have applied for liheap. just like in another area, someone may receive their liheap benefit but they also still need help, and then they go through a local utility through money raised by charitable donations or other activities. host: fayetteville, north carolina. bill on the republican line. caller: i will make it clear. i am poor. i can afford my heating but i keep it at 65. my friend down the street
perceives as public heating assistance. he keeps his around 78 degrees. is there a stipulation where they can only keep it that a servant to a picture -- certain temperature? guest: no, there is not. host: toledo. patrick. good morning. caller: good morning, gentlemen. i do not know where to start. it seems our government is lost from reality. i was watching how these big oil and gas companies are drilling on our public lands, getting our energy sources, and then they are not paying for their leases. it is where we can subsidize these big oil and gas companies when they do not need it, turning record profits every quarter. these big companies are screwing the american people because they are not paying the leases on the
land that is ours. yet, the republicans are trying to take away -- especially with the record whether we have had in the northeast -- i guess i do not have a question more than a statement. these big oil companies seem to be running the show. they are subsidized, they turn record profits, that somebody who is struggling, the republicans do not want to help. host: mr. coling, any comment? guest: he is speaking about a national energy policy which people speak about all the time. i want to focus my time here on providing assistance to many millions who need it. i should comment just on the figures in the current budget,
9.8 million households are certification. the president's budget would cut that back to 5.7. that assumes a level would say the same. that is 3.2 million households that we need this kind of assistance. host: has this winter been especially bad, expensive? guest: gas prices -- to acknowledge the president's point -- have been relatively level from previous years. it is dependent on your fuel prices. i'm believe they are up 7.3% this winter from last winter. so the purchasing power of a liheap benefit has decreased for those that use fuel oil or propane. host: peoria, illinois.
family. go ahead. caller: it is my understanding that when you are living below poverty level, sources of assistance are not included in this. for instance, if you earn $800 a month and you have a food assistance card in illinois, that is not included when they figure your property level. why not? this is certainly in come. host: mr. coling? guest: the intake had a local agency -- the intake employee at a local agency would have that information. i am not certain on exactly how much other assistance is
included. liheap does not have a means tastest. it does not look at assets. host: steve e-mails in -- border town, pennsylvania. bill on the republican line. caller: thank you for c-span. i will try to be brief. i have two questions. the first is easy to answer. in 2005, 2006, how much was liheap receiving? how much were they receiving prior to that? for instance, in 2005? my other question is, don't you
think in trying to extend this -- the cooling and that type of thing -- you are compromising the fact that it is a good program? as was previously stated, a lot of people use this. i keep my home with coal. i have to carry the buckets in. my house is at 65 degrees and i am not cold. host: why did you pick 2005 as a target here? caller: i do not know. five, six years back. guest: i am pretty confident in 2005 it was $2.1 billion. the program served 15%. 5.1 this year. it went up 25% of those
households that are eligible, according to federal guidelines. so it is still an underserved community. cooling is a very real need. there are dramatic examples, like the summer of 1995, where 70 people died in chicago from the heat wave. more people died from that kind of situation than a mile from people being called in their homes. of course, ill-health is the wider, less-easily measured factor. host: next phone call. pittsburg. caller: i am a senior citizen, a 60-years old -- 60 years old.
i am here with my thermostat on 55 degrees. i use thermal underwear during the day. a person from new york took my thunder by saying, you have a lot of young people and other people who get all of these programs, section 8 food stamps. someone like me does not qualify. i worked all my life. now that i could use some heating assistance -- no, i do not qualify because i am a few dollars over what they require. i think these programs need to be focused to help seniors and people who need help. even when the company came out to talk to me -- because i am all electric. as you said, it has gone up. i was told they could not help me even in the case of an emergency. they told me, they cannot help
you because the record shows you pay your bills on time, but this is what i have to do. these people can have their thermostat at whatever i want. i have to have mined at 55, 60. the only time i turned it up is if i have company. guest: it is a difficult issue. i would encourage you to give the utility one more try. there may be a terrible program that she would be eligible for -- charitable program that she would be eligible for. philadelphia has a funding for people who are about the federal income liheap level. host: george coling is the executive director of the national fuel funds network. are there other programs that assist with energy, besides liheap, that people can apply
for? guest: there are cherry-based -- cherry-based programs available through your -- charity-based programs available through your utility. host: federal programs? guest: liheap is the main program. host: coming up, and george thurber -- james thurber. we will be talking about president's coming here on president's day, members in congress, but next, pete sepp, to talk about proposed tax increases in the president's 2012 budget. here is a news update from c- span radio. >> sky news reports that british prime minister david
cameron is in egypt on an unannounced visit. he plans to meet with all opposition parties, except the muslim brotherhood. meanwhile, mike mullen is also in the gulf region for meetings with leaders in saudi arabia, qatar, and added arab emirates, and kuwait. his spokesperson says that he will make clear his desire to see that peaceful protest be allowed to continue without threats or violence. there was more violence today in northern afghanistan. an attack happened outside a government office where people were waiting in line for government id cards. authorities say a suicide bomber killed at least 30 people. violence has been on the rise in the north, where there are known hideout for militant factions. those are some of the latest headlines. >> we provide coverage of
politics, public affairs, nonfiction books, and american history. it is all available to you on television, on-line, and on social media networking sites. find our content any time on our c-span network video library. it is washington, your way. the c-span networks. now available in more than 100 million homes, created by cables, provided as a public service. host: pete sepp of the national taxpayers union, what kind of overt tax increases has president obama proposed in his 2012 fiscal budget? guest: there are older tax increases that he calls for bonn costs, some $800 billion, by allowing the tax relief loss from 2008 to expire 4 upper brackets.
another over a tax increase, a 20% tax rate on capital gains and dividends. the interesting speculation about this is what is going to happen when that surtax associated with health care reform bill takes effect in a couple of years? that is 3.8%. the white house is saying we are never going to let the rate on investment go above 20, but it will be 23.8% when that happens. host: you have also talked about when you call him in taxes. guest: the biggest one is on energy, actually, a series of tax increases on american energy producers. they are calling the oil and gas preferences. 40% of the $44 billion the administration wants to raise in this area comes from appealing the section 119 domestic manufacturers deduction. that is a deduction available to all kinds of industries for
creating jobs in the u.s. the administration calls it a preference. what they are doing is punishing oil and gas companies. when you look at that, when you look at the so-called dual capacity changes that helps them right off foreign taxes, again punishing oil companies, not allowing the right off, we have the possibility of a gas tax. ministrations as we are going to move $500 billion worth of spending on roads into a mandatory program to try to cut down on the pork barrel spending. that is the good side. the bad side is they agree with the president commission's recommendation that spending be funded through some kind of increase in the gas tax. he will not find that in the administration's budget, but they are saying, we let the group and the commission came up with.
so there will be a fight over the gas tax, i think, very soon. host: pete sepp is the president of the national taxpayers union. we are talking about the president's 2012 budget proposal. republicans, 202-737-0001. democrats, 202-737-0002. independents, 202-628-0205. we will begin taking your calls and a couple of minutes. you can also e-mail us or send us a tweet. jake tapper of abc news went through a lot of the 2012 budget, and here are some of the things he pulled out. total of over 10 years, but to request, $989 billion from individuals making less than $250,000. $636 million from businesses.
new taxes for individuals making more than $250,000. the expiration of the tax cuts, $338 billion. the elimination of the itemized deductions. capital gains tax hike, $118 billion. some key new taxes for businesses. reinstating the superfund taxes, $17 billion. exile attacks on gulf of mexico oil and gas, 5.3 million -- billion dollars. repeal of manufacturing tax deduction for oil and gas companies, $13 billion. when we talk about a capital gains tax hike, how is that written into the 2012 budget? guest: the current rate is 15%.
the current administration will say, we're going to raise that for upper income -- we are going to raise that for upper income 20.viduals 20to it is interesting. in the previous segment, you were talking about aid for energy costs. this is going to raise energy costs. host: what is the national taxpayers union? guest: we are a nonprofit, non partisan group working for lower taxes across the board. we believe that there are bipartisan opportunities for spending restraint and reduction. that is why we teamed up late last year with a group to identify about $600 billion worth of spending reductions.
it is called, fittingly, common ground. although there is a lot of highly charged rhetoric going on right now -- we disagree with many portions of the president's budget -- there are things we can do across the spectrum to get things under control. host: do you support any tax increases given our deficit? guest: we think the congress needs to code -- concentrate on spending reductions first. that has been completely put by the wayside. that has continued and accelerated under obama. congress needs to be serious. we were encouraged to see that earmarked for the extra jet engine got a limited of last week, but then again, when congress had the opportunity to boost the amount of spending reductions for the fiscal year,
90 republicans said, no, we are not going to go along with that. host: chicago, carl. democrat. you are on. caller: my comment is this. i disagree with this guy this morning. i think america has been brainwashed quite a bit over the last 30 years. all of this about too much spending. when bush was put into the white house, in his budget, conservatives wanted to cut all these programs. we were in a panic. after bush came in, huge tax cuts. we have been going downhill ever since. it happened on ron reagan also.
he ended up having to raise taxes. they said you are going to also have tax increases for revenue. host: pete sepp? guest: spending under bush did go up dramatically. if you count 2009, the year that the stimulus took effect, it would be a greater increase, but of course, bush was not responsible for that policy. by and large, increases in revenue have often occurred even as rates are being reduced. that is because of the economic growth of fact, when the budget was balanced in the 1990's. that occurred after capital gains rates were cut. if you look at the revenue that the obama administration hopes to raise from corporate taxes, a
100% increase in just two years. the last time that occurred with one the bush administration was cutting tax rates in 2003 through 2005. again, cutting rates does not necessarily lead to reduced revenues. it can lead to increased revenues, if you have rate cuts that are targeted toward economic growth. it does not always happen because many times they are poorly designed. host: this tweet comes in -- guest: well, i think fair taxation is not punishment but unfair taxation, which is what is being proposed in the budget, certainly is. oil and gas companies are being singled out for special tax hikes. we think that when an administration, republican or
democratic, goes too far in determining which industries can make too much profit and had it taken away from them and which one gets along, that is dangerous. it is also unpredictable and unstable for the business climate. host: north carolina, jim. go ahead. all right, we are going to move ahead to port tobacco, maryland. kirk, good morning. caller: my comment is, i do not believe the national debt will ever be paid. it is just too difficult to do. we may achieve a balanced budget, but the spending cuts must come first and then be followed by tax increases. it is too easy to spend money.
the other thing is, this national debt. it will probably be paid with inflation. the dollars will be rendered almost meaningless by inflation, which is the cruelest tax of all. guest: quite possible. very astute observation. if you look at the long-term cost projection for medicare, social security, medicaid, by 2080, they will have got to the point where the national debt will equal 700% of our annual economic output. that is really just a theory because, at some point, probably at the 200% mark, our economy would collapse anyway. that shows the danger of uncontrolled entitlement spending. that is another example of a controlled spending. look at where they
administration projected our outlays in 2019, when barack obama first took office, he said they would be 5.1 trillion dollars. his latest budget, what is the projection for 2019? roughly the same amount. even though we have seen two years of supposedly moving to the center, more spending reduction proposals, we are going to end up at the same level of outlays. host: pete sepp, the first in the caller said is that he does not believe our debt will ever be paid. do you believe with him? -- the you believe him? guest: i think it will be difficult to reach zero. i think we can reduce it as a percentage of our economic output. as recent as the clinton -- as recent as the clinton administration, it was closer to 40%. we need to have a growing
economy backed up by spending restraint and more stable revenue growth as a result. if we do those things, we will minimize the share of the national debt as part of our economy. host: when we talk about the national debt, we are talking about what is owed to you and me. guest: not just that, but what is owed to public programs. host: but that includes future debt. promise. guest: yes. that is issued to securities as well as debts owed to our trust funds, whatever those are in washington terminology. but there are also long term unfunded liabilities not reflected in that $14 trillion, anywhere from $60 trillion to $100 trillion, depending on who you look at. host: next phone call comes from
amsterdam, new york. joe, a democrat. caller: i have been hearing a lot about shared sacrifice. i have a couple of examples of how the top 2% are not sharing in the sacrifice. another example for c-span, in particular. i noticed last week you followed the week youcpac convention -- you covered the cpac convention, you have this right wing guy on today. i wonder when we are court to get some advocates for progressive politics on your show? host: have we covered caylee coast in the past? guest: occasionally -- caller: occasionally. host: occasionally? caller: the percentage of right wing people on your show is
substantially higher. guest: certainly, we are prepared to look at any kind of spending reduction, across the board, including military spending, that would be shared a sacrifice. i urge you to look at the report we repeat -- completed. $600 billion of spending reductions from corporate welfare to the deepwater drilling program to the advanced combat fighting vehicle, which is terribly over budget, just an awful system to perform the way it is supposed to. spare parts purchases for the military. those need to be reformed. on and on. so yes, there are opportunities here. this is not an left and right thing. it is right and wrong. host: where have you found common ground in your approach? guest: reductions in defense,
spending by corporations need to be pushed back. the overseas aid. the market promotion program is another example. companies like mcdonald's get to promote their products overseas using tax dollars. agricultural subsidies also need to be reduced. that is an area where the top 2% of the individuals ought to be able to take the hit. farm subsidies, despite income limits, dew still go to many income individuals. host: long beach island, new jersey. allen, good morning. caller: good morning. in the last segment, there were two rather lengthy calls from people collecting heat assistance, and yet, they seemed
to have their priorities out of balance. their priorities seemed to be to pay for cable television and long-distance telephone calls, rather than heat. how can they be watching on cable and making long distance calls when they are receiving welfare assistance? host: we will let them comment stand. tacoma, washington. sean on the independent line. are you with us? please go ahead. caller: what was wrong with the economy in the 1950's? there was nothing wrong with wood stoves. what happens when your taxes get too high and we have to go back to this? host: i think we got your point. pete sepp? guest: it is important to look
at the progression of tax burdens over time. although they have been cut in some years, they have been increased, for example, the guns and butter expansion in the 1960's. that went on unabated for about 35 years until the late 1990's. host: if you look back at the 1950's, early 1960's, the top tax rates were 75%, 90%. at what point did they come down? once they did, what change, if anything? guest: those top rates were levied on a much smaller share of income than you have these days. two different tax systems, but the rates came down after john f. kennedy proposed deep reductions across the board, saying a rising tide would lift all boats. those taxes were not enacted
until after his death, but they touched off a dramatic economic expansion that did not start to slow down until the late johnson era and early-nixon era. host: should -- should social security, medicare, medicaid be looked at and reformed, in your view? guest: absolutely. as to a previous caller, the wealthiest making the sacrifice, we need to means test the spirit it sounds sacrilege, but it needs to be done, if we want to save investments in these programs. it is for to have to happen, along with raising the retirement age, raising colas, and figuring out a better way to index the wage formula. host: council, alabama. you are on with pete sepp of the national taxpayers union. caller: thank you for taking my
call. it was a long time coming. mr. sepp, could you please explain the tax rate under the clinton years, compared to the tax rates of the upper-middle- class, and can you explain how we are making more today, but bringing in less revenue, and at the same time, be expected to bring down the deficit? is that possible? guest: the rights under the rates in the-- went up.aera from 1997 onward, there were tax reductions that helped to cut the effective rate both on capital gains, and for middle and upper middle income families. that is when you had a child
tax credit introduced that helped to offset the rise in liabilities for families. as the rate in capital gains was coming down with a top rate of 18% -- before then, it was taxed as ordinary income as high as 39.6% for short-term gains. once you did that, there was an explosion in capital gains realization that really brought in double-digit increases of federal revenue from investments. that helped to put the budget in balance, along with the welfare reform that president clinton signed, and some modest spending restraint in the 1997 balance budget act. that was a product of divided government. it is important to realize, sometimes gridlock can help taxpayers, rather than hurt them. host: connecticut liberal mom
tweets in -- host: --guest: well, we did not support president bush in that way. we were critical. i would in but the caller to take a look at our website and examine many of the releases we put out during the bush years when spending was growing heavily out of control. we certainly did not support the t.a.r.p. bailout for the financial industry, nor the first stimulus in response to a slowing economy, which occurred under bush. we feel there are areas where we can work with the president on spending reduction, including defense. we feel the president's support for whistle blower protection, that is a great idea. we need to be moving forward with that as quickly as we possibly can.
we also need to consider constitutional spending restraints, such as a balanced budget amendment. that was something that republicans and democrats worked together to pass in the house in 1995, only to fall short one vote in the senate. host: we have been looking at the constitutional amendment for a balanced budget. but there is always have a loophole. guest: that is a problem. the need to design an amendment that has enough flexibility that will attract support for passage but has enough strictures in it, so that in relatively good economic times, the government will be balanced and the deficit will be a less recurring phenomenon. it is unfortunate that under republicans and democrats our budget has only been balanced six times in the last 60 years. even a keynesian economists would say that that is no good,
not enough. host: does reform of the tax system, tax code, does that play a role, in your view? guest: absolutely. not the kind of fake loophole closers we are looking at in this budget, on energy, but reforming the system at its base, which means not only broadening the base of tax income, but lowering the rates at the same time. there is promise for bipartisanship. there is a senator from oregon proposing the bipartisan tax simplification and fairness act. he will do it again. it would establish rates of 15, 25%, 35% on the personal side, 25% on the corporate side. that would be down from where we are now. that would be a promising start and a good dialogue to be had between members of congress and even treasury secretary geithner, who seems to be
saying, we need to start looking at tax reform. not necessarily to raise revenue. i am sure the budget proposal would need to be modified accordingly, because that is of the administration's, but if we could question that out and simplify, we could make a lot of progress. host: another tweet -- guest: the $345 billion tax gap is largely the product of individuals under reporting income or overtaking reductions. what happens is we tend to focus solely on the corporate side of the tax system, not realizing it is just as indecipherable for individuals.
we look at ge, which filed a tax return of 24,000 pages, certainly the longest in history, but individuals in middle-class situations may end up filing their 1040 long form and end up with 40 pages. that is becoming so indecipherable that even tax preparers are having a hard time keeping up. host: next phone call. you are on with pete sepp. caller: i agree that it is not just the upper class and rich that gets loopholes. it is also the port. if you are ever around people who get the earned income credit, they do not use this money to supplement their income to live on. they take trips, they buy big screen tvs, and they are planning on what they're going to do with the money a year in
advance. we are awarding people for bad behavior. young people go out and have kids out of wedlock. we are awarding them and encouraging this behavior. we are punishing people who make good decisions in their lives, make something of their lives, and are hard workers. guest: this is actually something that began under ronald reagan, the concept of refundable tax credits. the idea that you could get more back than your actual tax liability. we total of the refundable portion of tax credits being proposed in the current budget and it adds up to about $115 billion over 10 years. that is not a foregone revenue, that is actual spending. the refundable portion of the tax credit is score that way for official purposes. host: next phone call comes from jacksonville, florida. bruce. independent line.
caller: good morning. the gentleman that called in earlier about you being bias to the right wing, tell him to watch msnbc. one question that i have -- and it upsets me whenever they talk about social security, medicare, medicaid, when they put them in the same bundle -- i paid social security for the 50 years i worked. i have been paying for medicaid since the 1970's. the whole thing about it is the nonexistent trust fund for social security, medicare, and earlier in your conversation, in nonexistent highway trust fund, which we are paying for now. it all goes into the general fund and gets spent. according to something i heard the other day, the government
oppose the social security trust fund for million dollars. another thing that i heard -- maybe you can enlighten me -- if you sell your house in 2014, there will be a 3% tax on that. guest: i do not think there is a 3% tax plan on home sales. i know some individuals might be affected by the capital gains rate increase when they go to sell, but there is even a large exemption for large residences of capital gains. $4 trillion is the minimal amount that the government owes the so-called social security trust fund. that does not even count the unfunded liabilities that will go on as the boom generation begins to retire. it is an illustration of how little you can impact the overall budget numbers, unless
you discuss an entitlement spending, even with the so- called discretionary spending freeze that the president is proposing over 10 years. the savings will amount to something on the order of $400 billion. but again, as i was pointing out earlier, that is not putting a dent in the long term out the picture, which will still be $5.15 trillion by the end of the decade, exactly where it was when the administration came into office. jacobson tweets in -- the next call for pete sepp comes in from michigan. caller: ideas heard a lady talking about how all the people that do not pay taxes and the poor people who are using bad behavior taking up all the tax
money. let speak about all of rich people that are stealing money and all the people that are ruining the 41 k's on the tax market. second, there would not be any problem if bush had not rate the country and stolen money. if there was a big problem when obama got into office. he had no money. my third question is, the only thing america has to do is go back to work. you raise revenues if everyone in the economy is back to work. there will be no deficit. guest: it is quite true that a growing economy with relatively raised employment will make money. you combine that with spending constraints and tax reform and it is simply done. the arithmetic is relatively
simple, but it is very difficult to realize that we have structural problems in this country with the benefit programs that transcend republican and democratic of ministrations. i am actually more hopeful now that we will abide some bipartisan agreement, especially on the senate side, to start spending -- slowing down expenditures. i think we will see some pretty novel deficit reduction plans. host: here is a tweet. guest: the top 1 percent of earners in the united states
account for a little over one fifth of all of the earnings. but also nearly 40% of the income taxes. they really are pulling about twice their share of the load of other segments of the population and that is not just income tax, but payroll and other crimes. yes, those are a bit more regressive, but even if you look where cbo's analysis of those things fall, the quintile pays a higher rate and the bottom quintile actually pays in-rate. host: next call from virginia. caller: obama's assessment of
oil, like here in virginia, they need to look in to abuse of the fuel assistance program. i paid into a social security for 40 years and now they want to do something about a, cutting back and this and that and the other. but nobody has said anything about cutting the benefits that congress makes. they're talking about these millionaires creating jobs. i think there ought to be a sports tax put on these players, basketball and football players. like some of them signed and 8 to 10 year deal for $10,000,000.10 basketball player paying $5,000 a week to
feed the sharks. guest: sports teams are actually some of the biggest subsidies in the finance world. stadiums are financed 55% by taxpayers. a big question there whether we should keep subsidizing that kind of thing. and we never should have in the first place. members of congress have a generous rate. they get a rate that is generally reserved for emergency workers. host: are those two areas where you end of the ralph nader group agreed? guest: an absolutely. host: if people were interested in seeing where your to two groups converged, was the
website? guest: it is ntu.org and the topic is "common ground. host: here is a tweet. guest: consumer demand is a result of prosperity. you have to have the conditions for a growing economy first. host: albany, n.y., on the independent line. caller: good morning. three quick questions and a comment. first, let's go on the presumption that there is a two- year cycle for elections for politicians. president obama, in order to get through his last stimulus package, gave the world the $950 billion tax break over a two- year time frame.
that will help him gain money for his billion dollar campaign fund but i don't think that will help get the economy going. comment on that. second, i do not feel there is any problem as a 62 year-old man still working, i have no problem paying more taxes if the burden is shared by all segments of the economy, as under clinton. we were very successful in putting ourselves out of a deep recession. thirdly, social security, i believe that social security -- the cap on social security paid by individuals, because it is a shared employer and individual- based tax, but the individual should be raised not only to keep the social security
solvent, but as a general fund to medicaid and medicare. would you comment on those three? host: mr. sepp? guest: the $950 billion suppose of cost includes everyone across the board, not just the upper 1% or 2% of earners. on the question of social security, there are only two ways that you can means test the benefits. you can route -- you can raise the matter of wages subject -- the amount of wages subject to tax or you would change the benefit distribution. you would sit down with left- wing organizations and say, what could we do to reach a compromise? we would prefer to have been if of limitations run of and raising the possible wage cap. it is important to look at where we can reach common ground here
so we can move forward on some kind of foundation for deficit reduction. one easy place to start, the administration's budget has 20 recommendations for reductions and terminations that were also proposed in the bush administration. it is only $1 billion and some change, but we want some kind of, at least a symbolic start toward reduction. why not do that? it would be very easy. host: pete sepp is the executive vice president of the national taxpayers union. how did you get involved in these issues? guest: almost 23 years ago i started out at and to you -- had ntu genser in phones and a gentleman called in and said he was going to commit suicide because of an irs problem. i realized it was a very serious business. host: did you ever hear from the gentleman again?
guest: no. host: rochester, new york. caller: i'm calling to ask you why you are not complaining about a fivefold increase the payroll taxes since 1980 -- in the payroll taxes that were introduced since 1980. during the same time from the payroll tax is one of fivefold and the investor income dropped from 70% to 15% on. abraham lincoln during the war tax individuals up to 70% to pay for the war. during world war i it with 80%. world war ii it was 90%. during the cold war it was the
70%. the discouraged profiteering because it was all taxed. now the tax rate on the wealthiest were dropped on the wealthiest during the war from 70% to 15%. our entire budget deficit is over $900 billion when you combine veterans and the cost of military purchases. guest: you get no argument from me the military spending has gone up excessively and there're plenty of various not only the waste, fraud, abuse, but actual prior to a certain -- prioritization of weapon systems, getting rid of things that are no longer in use. tax rates were certainly higher during world war i end of world war ii, but they apply to a
different set of taxable income. if you look at the fact that tax rates under bill clinton for investors dropped, it was a growing stock market that helped to balance the budget. this can be a bipartisan solution. host: i do not mean to put words in that last callers now, but would you support -- in that last caller posing mouth -- in but last caller's mouth, would you support special taxes or an extra tax to support the cost of a war? guest: i would hope that of those kinds of taxes were considered that first of all, spending reductions would have been made. that is what happened in world war ii and the korean conflict. we cut back on domestic
programs and we went into a lot of debt. but that that was structured where we have every intention of bringing up burden down after the conflict. we never really did that after the vietnam era. we certainly have not done it during the middle eastern conflicts. we also need to look at restoring the faith of the american people that certain temporary increases really are that way. no politician seems to be able to keep that promise and say, this was a two-year tax increase and it will disappear in two years and we will learn to live with less revenue when the conflict is over. that just does not happen. host: last call for pete sepp comes from tennessee. caller: we need to start thinking about the taxpayer, the people that get up every morning and go to work.
last year in tennessee we had 90 girls in one high school pregnant. both the baby and herself will be parasites on this economy for the rest of her life. we need to stop rewarding bad behavior and think about the taxpayer. they're the ones that are finding everything. host: all right, we've got your point. thanks. guest: i think it was thomas jefferson who said that we need to take from the government the burden of borrowing. 20 to start thinking about constitutional budget reforms again. congressman bob good lad has introduced a balanced budget amendment. every republican should be able to sponsor it and most democrats shourd, too.
it is a good bipartisan proposal. we need to work on long-term reforms like that. even the $1 billion that i recently discussed, there has to be an aggressive start. we cannot keep making excuses. host: let's run through some numbers here. what is the current federal budget overall? guest: overall, $3.8 trillion. host: what is the current deficit for that $3.8 trillion guest: somewhere between 1.5 -- $1.5 trillion and $1.6 trillion. host: was the gdp of the country? -- what is the gdp of the country? guest: a little more than $14 trillion right now. host: right now, debt per person in the u.s.? guest: if you were to divide it
out, about $40,000 for every man, woman, and child, not counting all of those entitlements. host: thank you for being with us. coming up next, we visit with james thurber, director of the american university center for congressional and presidential studies. is washington cozy birthday today. we will be looking at -- is washington's birthday today. we will be looking at that. after this news update from c- span radio. >> in the wake of the shootings last month in tucson that left representative gabrielle giffords and severely wounded and sick people dead, the university of arizona announces today the creation of a civility institute. former president bill clinton and george h. w. bush will serve as honorary chairman for the national sued ford civil
discourse. the nonpartisan center says it will focus on research and education and policy about civility in this course. anti-government violence is spreading, a leading oil company bp to announce that it is very likely that some of their employees in libya will be evacuated in the coming days. protesters are clashing with police and demanding the ouster of muammar quaddafi. and in egypt, two naval vessels are expected to start their passage through the waterway early tomorrow. they're expected to pay the fee of $290,000 for the crossing. if it makes the passage, it would mark the first time in three decades the iranian military ships have troubled the canal that links the red sea to
the mediterranean. israel has made it clear that it sees the passage as a provocation. those are some of the latest headlines on c-span radio. >> you are watching c-span, bringing you politics and public affairs. every morning it is "washington journal" our live " -- call-in program continue with policymakers angeles and weeknights, congressional hearings and policy forms. on the weekends, you can see our signature interview programs. on saturdays, "the communicators," and on sundays, "news makers." you can also watch them any time at c-span.org and it is all searchable nrc's penn video library. c-span, washington your way, the public service created by america's cable companies. "washington journal" continues.
host: joining us now on washington's birthday is professor james thurber. he was the director of the american university center -- he is the director of the american university center and presidential studies. with his congressional expertise will be able to tie in president's day. budget showdown inevitable, republican house, democratic senate, democratic president, a possible shutdown of the government, two or three different budgets trucks going on on capitol hill right now. remind you of anything? guest: 1995 and 1996 and bill andton's showdown with republicans.
we shut down government for a few days in november of 1985 and for quite awhile in the beginning of 1996. december to mid 1996 january. that meant that non-essential employees when home. my wife was a lawyer and she was considered a non-essential. nuking rich really got blamed for it -- a new gingrich really got blamed for it and did a lot -- it helped the president come back and win the presidency. host: have we face a situation besides 1985 like we are facing today? guest: in 1974 when we passed the budget control act and we have gone through a series of crises. i worked on that bill in 1974. it was the budget and
impoundment control act. it was a crisis because nixon had impounded money for sewage and water treatment programs and he did it after the house and senate overrode the veto. it was a major crisis. it was unconstitutional and the house and the senate almost unanimously passed a new bill. but the bill had to do with trying to deal with the debt and the deficit. i remember a speech from then senator humphrey was concerned about the deficit, the same speech that could be written today. we pulled it out and established a new system, two budget committees, a budget process. we have not provided by the budget process very much since it was fully implemented in 1976. host: john harwood in the "new york times" today has an article.
given the last 30 years and your 1974 reference as well, what is going to happen with the current deficit? guest: i would like to disagree with him a little bit because the confrontation between republicans and clinton really generated compromise later on. the bulls learned, and indeed, he generated a budget surplus for the first -- they both learned and, indeed, he generated a budget surplus for the first time in 40 years. when he left office it look like we were reducing total debt. most of the time what it has produced is agony and angst. but we do have a pretty good rule right now and it is called
pago. if you want to spend more on education, you have to spend it -- you have to take it from somewhere else. if you increase something, you have to decrease something. right now is not paygo with tax cuts. you can decrease taxes and not show where the revenue is coming from. host: who has the upper hand in the budget process right now, if there is such a thing? guest: i been the president always has the upper hand because budgets are incremental. let me explain. each year it is a discussion of the increment or decrement, slight reductions or slight increase. probably 90% of the budget is uncontrolled from year-to-year. 60% our entitlement programs and unpaid debt, interest. you get down to about 10 to 12
-- 10% to 12% that can be controlled. you are talking about a battle over the percentage. right now, the president has the upper hand because he has the veto, the senate democrats and you need 60 votes frequently on things. not all budget bills, but on bills where there is a threatened filibuster. they can use that. at the action of the house, the action of the kati group people, which is very impressive -- of the tea group people is very impressive. host: the numbers are on the screen. lawrence smith, who works for capital alpha partners has and
of bed this morning in the "time" -- in the "washington times." do you think that there will be a government shutdown on march 4, which is the deadline on the expiration date for the current funding for the u.s. government? guest: it is certainly very much like 1995-'96. we have to -- we have a continuing resolution. it is a way to kick the can down the road on the budget. the options are to have another cr limit in a couple of weeks. they feel they have a mandate to make these cuts. the president feels that he has a mandate to protect certain areas that he is unwilling to cut and the democrats feel the same way. it is all calculus.
speaker boehner was there when it was shut down before. he knows the republicans -- the consequences if the republicans are blamed for the shutdown. and the voters shifted significantly away from obama in the last election and they could likely shift back. is it going to shut down? i do not think anybody knows, but it is very close. plan for the founders' what we are facing right now? is this building to our constitution somehow? -- built into our constitution somehow? guest: it is all about how boat founders did this on purpose. blame the founders. and the reason why is we did not
want a king and we did not want the body of the house, in particular, running things. it is very hard. we have separation of powers with bicameral as some. we see what that means. we are fighting each other. and then we have committees and subcommittees that are fighting each other. this is a very hard system on purpose. host: reworking into 19 -- where were you working on capitol hill? host: where you calling from caller? please go ahead. caller: i would like to say that to commemorate the anniversary of the civil war, it seems like they are doing all it
takes to destroy an deface the union label. this seems appropriate after a black man from illinois is elected president. the only way this could possibly make any sense would be if that black man was really an african- american born in kenya. guest: i think there is a civil war every day in the house and senate. we have state's rights. but we fought a civil war over that. what are being expressed for and are their views. and on many issues is regional. it's not just republican or democrat. but there is a fight to cut the federal government and give more power to the states. that is a problem are now because the states are in trouble in terms of their debt and deficit also.
even if republican governors would like to not have cuts from the federal government and medicaid and other areas -- even if the republican governors would like to, they cannot have cuts from the federal government and medicaid and other areas. they are in trouble. host: next call from maryland. caller: i have a question. since we have these wars like the iraq war and the african war that is going on still, how come no one is objecting to the idea of paying for these wars instead of paying it out of the deficit and putting the burden on specific programs here and there? why don't we do the right thing, like america has been doing in the past? and if you have to raise taxes, that is where you have to do.
host: mr. thurber? guest: a couple of points. one is, we have not declared war since world war ii. the constitution is clear that congress has the responsibility and the right to declare war. they have not done that. they have passed budgets. they have passed resolutions. but in terms of the caller's question, we did not tax for this war. we have even taxed for vietnam. we have taxed for all wars. it is a legitimate argument, in my opinion, to say, if we send our warriors over there and many are off-many of them are tragically injured and die, we should at least tax the american people for these efforts. we have been technically borrowing for these wars and the caller is correct. host: when you look at the 2012 budget that president obama has proposed and how he has
maneuvered work navigated through the current budget situations that we face, how is he doing in your view? guest: i think he is pointing, to a certain extent. he just had a commission -- he , to an extent. he just had a commission to look at these problems and is the same story again. he could have embraced it in his union message. he could have embraced it in his budget. he has some side of a cut. but he really does not handle medicare, medicaid, social security. he has not gotten tough on these things that republicans and
democrats: 4. what is he doing? he is -- and that republicans and democrats are calling for. what is he doing? he is gathering information to see if they can do something sick of it can or not. to a certain extent, he is risk averse about going ahead and pushing toward what needs to be done. host: has any president not punted? guest: several have not. some have punted in the wrong direction. i think that george w. bush, when he came in and had tax cuts overestimated -- and had tax cuts, overestimated the problems in the economy and we had a projected surplus that was spent on tax cuts, which we are no scott -- we are now extending again to 2012.
recessions, depressions, wars, they create the need to spend a lot of money. we did that in this recession. it is hard to prove that something did not happen because of the stimulus package, but most economists, even conservative economist, felt that we needed tax cuts that were one-third of the stimulus package and unemployment compensation and medicaid payments as well to create jobs. the question is, were very many jobs created? the picture there is complex. a lot of jobs were kept. were prevented from being laid off in education and state government. that story is quite clear.
but they already had the shovels. there were already employed and they were not laid off. i.t. that is what the stimulus package did. -- i think that is what the stimulus package did. host: has congress over the years lagrone morada risk averse doe? guest: congress as a body has grown more risk averse. but there are people within the body, there are always people that want a balanced budget. but the body itself collectively comes out with a risk averse position, usually. host: and is that something 200 years in the making or 30 years in the making? guest: it depends on the policy you are dealing with. but when 9/11 occurred, we came together.
when pearl harbor or curved, we came together. we have consensus in america and on the hill during world war ii. in other words, if there is a clear threat to the united states, like sputnik going around and kennedy said we are behind in the space race and we have to clear the threat. we have lots of money, lots of interest groups that agreed. now we have a lot of issues where the interest for do not agree, the parties do not agree, and the public does not agree. it is very hard to get things done. host: here is a tweet. guest: i think the place where deliberation occurs -- what is the liberation? the liberation is bring together of facts and knowledge -- and deliberation is bringing
together facts and knowledge. the conflict between the two in committee varies tremendously from committee to committee. for overside, lawmaking, for representation of interest, for educating the members it is useful. but sometimes those committees are highly partisan. others are not. there are committees that are highly controlled. energy and commerce -- highly conflictual. the power goes to bureaucracy and interest groups. there's nothing wrong with bureaucracy and interest groups, but i would encourage congress to defend those comments.
host: next call, go ahead. caller: under bill clinton, during that time, the u.s. and the whole world, for that matter, was going through an industrial revolution. those circumstances are likely to be not repeated. second, i think republicans hold true to an immutable law, which is the most inefficient way to spend your own money, to get someone else suspended for you. guest: i think those are two good points. the first point is one that i would have made if i was giving my 55-minute lecture. that is, the high-tech sector really created a major influx of revenues in the u.s. at that
particular time. there was some what of the bubble, and it popped a mind as we know, the markets went down after that. but it certainly helped bring in revenue. was veryhe president's close to some of those people and had tax policies that helped them and had some subsidies for silicon valley manufacturing and other things. republicans, yes, agree with you that the best person to spend the money is not the government. but individuals in society. however, the way you judge a society is the way the you treat the sick, the poor, the elderly. my mother is trying to live on $1,876 per month and her expenses are $6,000.
the family helps her. not all families can help. we need to worry about that, but we need to have tough means testing. that means people who do not need medicare or security, even though they paid into it, need to get less and widows and others need to get more. host: do you see political will in our system and in the current congress to do such? guest: i think the political will is the right question. the political will, but expressed through the tea group of people end the freshman is that they will just cut, no matter what the consequences are. the political will to make decisions about popular programs like social security, medicare, medicaid and the prescription
drug bill part "d" of medicare that we did not pay for, the political will is not there, in my opinion the people who retire vote at very high rates. they feel that they should have these things. if you look at every time obama said we need to change the curb of spending on health care, people in the a our peoples and elsewhere -- in the aarp polls and elsewhere reacted. 25% shifted from voting for obama to republicans. that is a huge shift. it is to a great extent because they thought they were born to have their benefits cut. -- going to have their benefits cut.
the political will is not there. people need to understand that 65% of this budget, it is and how immigrants and payment of interest, much of it to foreigners. china, japan, and the united kingdom. we need to make decisions on where lots of money is being spent, and that is the entitlement programs. host: new jersey on the independent line. thanks for holding. caller: i am not really a hard person who follows was going on, but when clinton was president there was a huge surplus. i'm sorry, i'm a bit nervous. host: you are ok. just keep going.
caller: when bush came into office, everything just went straight down work. there was spending on unnecessary wars, although republicans were for it. and they leave us with this debt and deficit. all of a sudden they seem to not know that they are the ones who caused was going on right now. also, when president obama was passing the bill that he just did, he tried to talk to them and get their input on it. everything the democrats tried to do, all they were saying was, no, no. host: we got the point. guest: there were two points. the first point made, when bush came into office, as i mentioned before, there were significant tax cuts. those have been extended until
to what -- till 2012. there will be debate on changing those at the next election in 2012. also, 9/11 occurred. we had an attack on the u.s. and major expenditures were made in terms of homeland security and expansion of the intelligence community. the department of homeland security was created. a significant amount of money was spent that way as welton as revenues went down because of tax cuts. clinton injected a surplus of $3.1 trillion and that got spent immediately. i think it is easier if you are an opposition party to have a clear strategy and message, which was, no, no, to the president even the republicans
like some of what he was doing. i think the president could have done a better job of having a clear and simple communications strategy about health care, about stimulus package, about financial reform. he explains it like a professor and it was brilliant, but it was lost against the opposition. now, the opposition today, as you have pointed out, is pushing for cuts, cuts, cuts. they're pushing for mandates out of this election and that is what they're doing in the house of representatives. i think the senate is going to stop them. even the republicans in the senate are not going along with these cuts. host: professor thurber, if you look back at the last 20, 30 years and republicans in congress and democrats in
congress, they have been pretty adept at switching, or adjusting their positions, haven't they? especially when it comes to financial matters. guest: yes, well, let's put it in context. about 80% of the time we have had divided party government. when that occurs, there is more oversight, but there are also tough positions taken by the incumbent party against the standing president. some of the stance that republicans and democrats have taken are really the stand that each party had earlier. indeed, if you look at the health care bill, it is about the extent of cost controls as well as access and quality finance. on the cost controls i, many of that came from republicans and they denied it. in fact, even a couple of years before the bill passed, i had new talking rich -- newt
gingrich and hillary clinton on a cease-fire and they agreed with 90% of the issues. but in the end, newt gingrich, looking toward the presidency, rejected the entire bill. there are subtle changes. it depends on the democrats. the blue dog democrats have always wanted to do something to balance the budget and now they have not gone along with the cuts in the house of representatives. they felt it was too much. host: columbus, ohio, bob, you are on the line. caller: thanks for taking my
call. here in columbus, we are going to the same problems that wisconsin is going through, with republican assault on working people. i cannot believe how on informed a lot of people are -- how un informed a lot of people are. making a decent wage and providing for your families is a problem. daud to feel that the real crux of the problem and why so many millions of people across this nation are so misinformed and they go to the polls and voting were the only information they have are outright lies and misinformation because we do not have the fairness doctrine in place? i think it is unprecedented in our nation's history where we have things like fox news, rush
limbaugh, and talking heads like this who got right deceive the american people -- who outright to deceive the american people. believe them. -- and people believe them. guest: i had a campaign to study campaign for years. we looked at negative campaigns, the fairness of them, distortions the purpose of the grant was to try to improve campaigns in america. i failed. we got four publications, books, and lots of articles, but i think i failed in terms of trying to get campaign managers and candidates to try to clean up their act. it seems to be getting worse, worse in the sense that there are distortions in the
campaigns and with the citizens united verses fec, we can now have unlimited amounts of money and we do not even know where it comes from. there are no limits on it. the fairness doctrine would be great. it would be great if we could have free television for the candidates in the local areas, but also one national network where each candidate has the right to debate with each other. we do not have that and i think is a problem. the distortion of a position now is corrected by the conflict, by the campaign, by the opposition. sometimes is very difficult when there is a negative ads run
against an individual pushing back. aboutre going to talk civic education, we need to do a better job of educating our children and our citizens about how the process works and also, about how to challenge candidates at town meetings. i think our electorate is getting more and more alienated. not only against congress, but also with state legislatures and unwilling to learn about the details of policy. that is a major problem. host: professor thurber, you are currently working on your eighth book? guest: yes. host: what is it about and when does it come out? guest: it is called "obama in office." is about his first two years and what he has accomplished and what he has not accomplished.
he promised to change the way washington works, meaning changing interest groups and lobbyists. i evaluate that also. he has not done very well on that. he has tried. he has passed some major legislation, but in my opinion, and pretty critical about him on his communications strategy. i think he has learned a hard way and then change it slightly. and i think the lame duck time for in, which i of value it, changed his strategy on the hill in which he came to the middle, although nobody is in the middle anymore in washington. he came to the middle and work things out on the start treaty, the extension of the tax cuts, which people disagreed with, but he was very productive. this guy's very productive in policy, but i think he felt that the policy would sell its self
-- cell itself once it was passed. he did not think he was -- that he needed to continue to sell it. you have to tell stories. regan told stories. clinton told stories. a little story about a child being prevented from getting insurance because of a pre- existing condition goes a long way compared to a long explanation about cost and quality and access and finance in this bill. i think he has listened to that and has included in his speeches since then. his statements are about dot investing innovation and infrastructure. i think that is what leadership is in this system. now we have some confrontation over the budget. it is going to be pretty brutal
and hard to communicate issues on either side about what we should do about it. host: you said in that answer that nobody is in the middle anymore in washington. what does this mean? guest: in political science we study who is a moderate and who is not. we have a database of 1.3 million observations, how people vote. and we distribute people to the left, the ride, and the middle. when i first worked on capitol hill in 1973, one-third of the senate and house were moderates by this measure of how they vote. now, 5% is. an endangered species in washington is not the polar bear. it is the moderate. if the president goes to the middle to reach out and work with people, nobody is there. it is a merkel he got the votes -- is a miracle he got the
votes of the senate. at the joke is in washington that he went searching for a moderate in the senate and went to maine and found one. it is a real problem. because you know, in the polls, in the polls of voters in america, most people are in the middle. host: art, in idaho falls, you are on. caller: i have about three questions for you. host: you have got to turn down the volume. just listen to your phone and start talking. caller: if we were able to stop of opec in china from -- and china from ripping us off,
reducing debt we would be able to meet you think we would need any of these cuts? also, i would like to send my daughter to private school and i do not make a lot of money. if i want to send my daughter to a private school, ouattara pay for the people to send their children to public schools? -- why should i pay for other people to send their to open to public schools? my wife and i both work and many people are getting better health insurance than us and getting a free ride. guest: you have good questions. with respect to opec and china, they are two separate situations. they have to be more intent -- we ought to be more independent in terms of our sources of oils
in order to be independent of opec. independent with our military, but also what we are paying them. owns about 21% of our foreign debt, a truck -- japan about 20%. we need to deal with living within our budget here in order to reduce that. also, we need to deal with the balance of trade problems and also about the export of jobs to china by other manufacturers. that is not a federal policy, but the policy of many of our corporations. that is a hard thing to do because corporations go where employment is the lowest amount that they have to pay. private schools versus public schools, this nation was built, broglie the last 150 years
especially, on public schools. your local public school gets about 7% from the federal government. the rest comes from local taxes on property, income-tax than other sources. in idaho -- it varies tremendously from state to state. i am from oregon. almost 50% of the public school money for many years came from cutting timber. that is gone now. it has changed. if you have the resources to send your child to private school, that is great. but it is limited to people who have that in come. why? because we feel that in order to have a democracy we need to have universal education. and people, even though they are sending their children to private school, need to contribute to that body to pay for the public schools. medicaid is means tested. it is administered by each
state. idaho has a different system and guidelines that oregon, california, washington and elsewhere. people who are cheating under medicaid or people who have it that you do not think should have it, there is an administration within the idaho that would deal with that. thank you for your questions. host: this week comes in -- -- tweet comes in -- guest: that is a great question. it is gridlock because of partisan gridlock. i think we have too many wedge issues. no, let me explain. these issues where neither party really resolve them, like immigration. and they are using them to elect a few new people in the next
election. and indeed, some of the confrontation over the budget right now are the cuts, in my opinion, in the house of representatives and are in the form of wedge issues. many members know they will never have the cuts. they will never come about, but they can go home and say, boy really cut this. it is not my fault and you need to re-elect me. our system is very inefficient and we saw that with respect to health care. as we mentioned before, we have separation of powers and bicameral and some -- bicameralism and all of these interest groups. we have first amendment rights. they can express themselves. that slows things down unless there is consensus about what the problem is and what the solutions are.
i think it is not time to move to canada. i think is a pretty good democracy and can it adjust? host: james thurber is the president and director of the american university center for presidential studies. thank you for being on the "washington journal." tomorrow on the "washington journal" neil irwin will be here, an economics reporter, to talk about economic issues. gilbert will also be here. he is the geo-political -- bill births will also be here. he is a geo-political writer. he is a geo-political writer. and finally, rebecca mckeow