The Future of Today’s Generation in American Politics

The Future of Today’s Generation in American Politics


(dawning tone) – Thank you everybody for coming, I’m Ethan Rarick, I’m the director of the
Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, part of the Institute
of Governmental Studies here on campus. The Matsui Center, as many of you know, is a living legacy to Robert T. Matsui who served in Congress for 25 years representing the Sacramento area and built a reputation in Congress and throughout California
and across the nation for substantive policy achievement and for bipartisan consensus building. And the Matsui Center seeks
to involve Cal undergraduates in public service, interest them in public issues through a variety of programs
offering internships, offering public events, and bringing distinguished
public servants to campus. This is one example of that, this is actually our
10th Matsui Lectureship. The Matsui Lectureship brings former members of Congress
to campus for residencies ranging from a couple
of days up to a week, during which they can speak with students, speak to classes, participate generally in the intellectual life of the campus, and most importantly for today’s event, deliver the Matsui lecture. This event continues the tradition of bringing extraordinary
public servants to campus by bringing Senator Alan Simpson. In just a moment you’re gonna hear more
about Senator Simpson, so I’m gonna leave most
of the introduction to Congresswoman Matsui. But I do wanna correct
one error in the program that some eagle-eyed folks have spotted: We cut off 10 years of the
senator’s distinguished service, which is a terrible crime
against the nation, Senator- (speaking from off mic) I apologize.
(laughter) I apologize. We would’ve extended it
10 years if we could have. But the senator served
until 1997, not 1987, as it says in the program. So my apologies. But before we begin, we are delighted that today
we were able to be joined by Congresswoman Doris Matsui, who has now served 12 years in the House, building a reputation for leadership and policy achievements. She serves as a senior member of the House Energy
and Commerce Committee, and serves on the subcommittees for health, communications,
and technology, environment and digital commerce
and consumer protection. She is committed to
strengthening flood protection, and lord knows after this past winter we all know how important that is, to ensuring quality,
affordable health care for all, and to promoting a clean-energy economy. She’s been a leader in
Congress on promoting policies that address the effects
of a changing climate, serving as the co-chair of the Sustainable Energy
and Environment Coalition. Thanks in large part to her efforts the Sacramento region
has been transforming into a clean-tech capital with over 200 companies in the region. She’s also a leader on
technology and telecom policy, and serves as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional High Tech Caucus, and she’s an ardent
supporter of STEM education, especially for women and girls. She was elected by her peers to serve as a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional
Caucus for Women’s Issues, and she co-chaired the
Democratic Women’s Working Group. Somehow, in addition to doing all of that she manages to be a stalwart
supporter of the Matsui Center, offering us advice and guidance, connections to the many supporters that she and her husband
have had through the years, and whenever possible,
coming to these events. We’re fortunate that this week the House is out of session
so she could be here. I don’t know if that’s good for you, maybe it is, you’re back
in sunny California, so that’s perhaps a good thing. But we are delighted
that she could be here to make a few introductory remarks and introduce the senator. Then he and I will come back up and he and I will be in conversation, and after a bit we will be able, also, to take your questions. So, Congresswoman Matsui. (applause) – Hi everyone, it’s a delight
for me to be back on campus. It’s been a while, and coming down University Boulevard, it just really brought
back many many memories. It was a wonderful time, I met my late husband here, so that really does bring
up wonderful memories that I cherish forever. This is a special event for me, not only because this is a Matsui lecture, but also because Alan and Ann Simpson have been my friends for many many years. Senator Simpson was someone
that came into the Senate at the same time my husband
went into the House, and I have to tell you that those days were much different than today. The House and Senate, for
the most part, got along, and we made friends across the House, and we also had friends across the aisle, and Alan and Ann Simpson are Republicans and I’m a Democrat and so was Bob. But we, in those days,
got together an awful lot. We came from the same class,
we came the same year, I was a spouse at the time, so Ann and I got to know each other very very well. And also the senator and
Bob and all of us together formed a relationship and a friendship that lasts ’til today. And it’s very very special, and we were remarking upon
that just a little while ago that we wish that others could understand that when you do have friendships, you understand each other, you get to know each
other on a personal level, and when you do that, you can understand where
the person’s coming from, and the policymaking is,
I won’t say it’s easy, but the fact of the matter is you can start at a place where you’re not gonna be
calling each other ugly names. So I’m just delighted to be here, and it is something here
with the Matsui lectures and the Matsui Center to promote a public life, public service, and certainly Senator
Simpson has exemplified that. He was an effective legislator for the people of Wyoming for decades before he even came to Congress. And he really does embody the principles of principled, balanced leadership. And as scrappy as he is at times, and I was just thinking that
he said on his microphone, I thought, “Oh please don’t swear, Alan,” because he really can do that, and he’s from Wyoming, you understand. But he’s a scrappy person
who is so delightful. We’ve been on trips with them, and both of them are such fun. He served in the US Senate as a member of the Republican leadership with integrity, and was well-liked by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And throughout his life, Senator Simpson has continued to be a trusted voice and advisor on issues ranging from foreign
policy to fiscal reform. One of the famous things he did was President Obama appointed
Senator Simpson to co-chair the National Commission on
Fiscal Responsibility and Reform along with Erskine Bowles, so the Simpson-Bowles, right? The Simpson-Bowles- – [Simpson] because of the acronym. (laughter) – Got it. (laughs) See what I mean? (laughing) But he did provide valuable,
common-sense insight about how our government can work more efficiently and effectively, and I think we really need him today. I really wish you were back here today because I think someone
like you and Erskine is really necessary for us to see beyond some of the acrimony. We’re honored to have him here, he’s a very special person. He tells is like it is,
but with humor many times. And sometimes you’re listening
to him and you think, “I can’t believe what he said, “but I’m still laughing
and agreeing with him.” So it’s a special honor for me to be here to be a part of this and
to hear the discussion, because he is someone who
absolutely exemplifies the best in citizenship. He never stops. He and Ann have always
contributed wherever they are, and wherever they in a sense that, whether they’re in Berkeley or in Wyoming, they travel around, Alan Simpson and Ann Simpson are the best representatives
of what is best in our country. So thank you very much, Alan
and Ann, for being here. (applause) – Alright, well I wanna echo
Congresswoman Matsui’s thanks for your being here all week long. I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say he can swear. I’ve been with him all week,
and I haven’t heard that once. (laughter) I can’t imagine. He always pulls his punches. Thank you for being here,
we’re happy to have you. – It’s been a great week. – And we’re gonna work you again tomorrow, so as you said earlier, “They’re workin’ me like a pack horse.” – I did say that. – I think something that
the Congresswoman said in her introduction is a good place to begin, because she talked about
the degree to which members of Congress and other
people in public service used to get along, in a lot of ways better than they do now, across party lines. And I’ve noticed throughout the week as you and I have been talking, you’ve been speaking with students, you are famously candid, you’re a person of strong beliefs, you are a Republican, but you talk about your
relationships with Democrats, people you disagreed with,
your ability to work with them. Secretary Reich comes to
mind, now on our faculty, your great friend. When I asked you the other day, “Who’s one of the best
legislators you’ve ever seen?” you mentioned Ted Kennedy. So talk about how you managed
to cling to your own beliefs, or stick to your own beliefs, and yet at the same time
reach across the aisle to people you disagreed with and work with them and get things done. – Well first let me thank this lovely gal. Bob and Doris came, and I think we went to a White House dinner
together or something, and then we worked together on things, I remember the Reparations
Bill particularly, he was the driver in the House, he and Norm Mineta, and then they handed the
ball over to us in the Senate and I was one of the drivers over there on the Reparations Bill because Heart Mountain, Wyoming, was right next to my town. It was one of the 10 camps
of the relocation centers. There were 10 in America where over 140,000
Japanese-Americans were taken. 11,000 of ’em or 14,000
went to Heart Mountain, and that’s where I met Norm Mineta. He was behind wire, and
I was living in Cody, another interesting story, but Bob and Doris, we all met, we talked to each other. The electronic curse had not arrived yet (laughter) where you’re walkin’ down the street and, (mumble) (laughter) And trip over people and all
the rest of it goes with that. But you arrived at friendship. That’s what has gone, and a large part of that
is caused by fundraising, and a large part of that now, even worse, is the Citizen’s United case. That’s a disaster. The First Amendment was the only amendment put
on the books for a person. And the reason they put it on the books is because they never let the media within 100 yards of the building when they were crafting
this amazing document, and they said, “What are we gonna do now? “We’ve irritated them pretty bad. “Well, we’ll give the First Amendment “to take care of a guy
crankin’ out seditious letters “here in a basement from Philadelphia.” Goes for the person. And then comes the Supreme Court and calls corporate personhood. This is absolutely absurd, so now I’m workin’ with another (mumbles) it’s called the 28th Amendment, and it’s movin’ around,
Democrats and Republicans, and what it essentially does is it doesn’t touch the First Amendment, but it gives the states the full authority to do what you want with campaign finance reform instead of a $5 million cat or a $10 million cat, just layin’ it out and
nobody knows who’s doin’ it. So that was a big cause. But it’s like Ted Kennedy. I didn’t care what he did, I have not been the
judge of men and women, no one gave me that title, but all I knew is when we worked together, and we did on a lot of things,
especially immigration, when he shook my hand and said, “I’m with ya,” or “I’m not,” he never broke his word with me. And that’s all I care about. It had nothing to do with anything. But nowadays, oh… (laughter) On our commission people knew that we were crazy
because we hit everybody. 67-page report in English using words like “going
broke” and “shared sacrifice.” “Shared sacrifice” is the
laugher of the century. There’s never been any
since World War II, period. So they finally, looking
at these squirrels, say, “Well who voted for it? “Dick Durban of Illino- “Dick Durban of Illinois? “That commie guy from
Illinois, for God’s sake. “Tom Coburn voted- “Tom Coburn, that Neanderthal
Republican from Oklahoma?” That’s your country right now. You just nail a guy and say, “This is so-and-so and he’s a Democrat,” or he’s a fake, or he’s a progressive, or he’s a neo-whatever. Watch out for anybody using
“neo” in front of anything, cuz nobody knows what the hell it means. (laughter) And “paradigm” is 20 cents. (loud laughter) And there’s no humor. If you use humor you’re an idiot. And the fun of having humor, there’s guys in this room
who have plenty of it, colleagues and people I enjoy, this is my old ROTC buddy
from Cal right here, and we served in the
armored infantry in Germany and in the 2nd Armored Division,
Hell on Wheels, Charlie Ray there he is, lurking here. (laughter) But we had friendship and we had integrity and we had trust. The coin of the realm is trust. Now you don’t even have
trust in your own party. You guys got cuttin’ your bicycle tire who were right there in your caucus, tryin’ to throw you out or
whatever you’re tryin’ to do. And I’ve always said if you have integrity nothing else matters, and if you don’t have integrity nothing else matters. And that’s it. – I’m curious how you
think we lost that era of trust and friendship in Congress and in public leadership. You mentioned constant
fundraising as one source of that. Is there also just an issue of the fact that members of Congress
used to move to Washington, their children went to
school in Washington. Now they just don’t
get to know each other. The lack of friendship, does
that lead to lack of function? – Oh yes, without question. I came into the Senate with a class of 20. That was the largest class in the history of the US
Senate as far as I know. 20 new people, 11 Republicans
and nine Democrats, it was people like Bill
Bradley, Nancy Kassebaum, David Pryor, Bill Cohen, just a wonderful group of people and we used to get together
on weekends and have picnics. And we used to meet once a month. The Democrats would pick the speaker. Carl Levin picked the head
of the United Auto Worker’s, I picked somebody, Nancy would, and Baker and Byrd, the two leaders, who were both wonderful leaders, they came in one day and they said, “What are you doing in here?” (laughter) And we said, “Meeting.” (loud laughter) They said, “About what?” “Well principally, how the
hell to answer the mail.” (laughter) “And how to deal with jerk
mail from real jerks.” And that kind of thing. And it dissembled because we all got busy and as Doris knows your life is chaos, and you have to have an amiable companion and you have to have the
softening agents of life, of music and art and books and theater, because if all you want is
politics, it’s barbaric. And so we had. We functioned together, we
went to plays in Washington, the National Theater, it was friendship, and even
if you wanted to do it, your staff would prevent you now. Your staff would say, “I’m sorry, you don’t have time “to have this cozy little dinner “because there’s six people coming in “and they all maxed out
in your last campaign.” You say, “I don’t give a-” “Well you do, because
you like their money.” “And why are they giving to me?” “For access.” They’re not giving to me for charity. And the poor guy who wants
to put in five bucks, he just throws it away, says, “This is no good. “Somebody loaned or gave
him two million bucks.” So your staff, don’t
forget the power of staff. It’s awesome and it’s
overwhelming and it’s not good, because they have come out
of a partisan campaign, and they don’t like the other people, they don’t like Democrats
because they’re evil, they don’t like Republicans, and they’re hardened. And then suddenly they have a job which really requires
coordination and cooperation. And they say, “To hell with that guy. “What kind of an amendment is that? “We’ll take that one, use it ourselves.” There’s too many staff, and it’s not a good thing. But they’re not responsible to
compromise and consideration. They’re politicians,
and they want to hurt, they want to win, and you win at any cost, and after you’ve won you
stay there at any cost. We see it, Erskine and I have seen it, all of us have seen it, and we would go up to
people after we did our work and they had a little
badge that said Congress, and they’d say, “Save us from ourselves. “Cuz they ain’t about to make a tough call “because if they do, their
base will tear them to bits.” So if you’re a Democrat and you say, “I think we oughta be talkin’
about entitlement reform “and social security reform,” they’d say, “Al, we have a primary
opponent for you, bonehead.” (laughter) And if you’re a Republican
and you start talkin’ about anything has to do with social issues and tryin’ to get a balance
on something, they’d say, “We have a primary opponent
wired and ready for you.” So that is part of the sourness of it all, and it’s tough to watch. – But you had the ability
to kind of overcome that. You’ve talked about your friendship with Secretary Reich starting despite the fact
that your staffs told you not to get together, right? Talk about that a little bit, because I think that’s
an illustrative story. – Well, I met Bob Reich at one of those interminable
black-tie dinners in Washington. You’re supposed to look alive,
but actually you’re dead. (laughter) You’re sitting there
and the evening goes on and the tragedy is that
the emcee is drinking and the guest is drinking
and they’re telling stories. “Remember that night in Chicago. “Wasn’t that fun?” And you say “How to get out of this?” So there was a break, and Reich walked up and I looked down (loud laughter) and he said, “I’m Bob Reich.” Bob Reich, quick-witted guy, wonderful, and then he just got out of the way and he pulled over a chair and jumped on the chair. And then he got right up and I said, “Well this is amazing. “What are you up to?” “Secretary of Labor.” I said, “I’ll be damned.” (laughter) So we talked and started
tellin’ some limericks and some jokes that were pretty bad. He told his staff, he said, “I’m gonna go over to
Simpson’s office at noon “and have a sandwich with him.” And they said, “No no no no. “Simpson is a nut. “Simpson is a Republican nut. “He’s from a right-to-work state “and you’re the secretary
of labor for God’s sake. “They don’t even know what
union people are out there.” On and on, and he said, “I don’t give a damn about
that, I’m gonna do that.” So then the next couple of months I said, “I’m going over to Bob Reich’s” “Oh God, Bob Reich is a commie. “You don’t wanna go to Bob
Reich, he’s a socialist. “He isn’t even a Democrat.” Well, that’s part of the staff
issue that I’m talking about. One day I was told I had, Moynihan was a great man, Senator Moynihan of New York, he had a view that everyone’s
entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own facts. Isn’t that a sick idea? (loud laughter) He told me, it was something, and my staff said, “Y’know, this bill you’re workin’ on, “Moynihan doesn’t agree
with this amendment here, “and I wouldn’t even bring
it up because he’ll kill it.” They were in the majority then. So I saw Moynihan at
roll-call vote, I said, “Pat, what’s this opposition? “You and I have talked about this.” He said, “What are you talkin’ about?” I said, “Your staff told my staff-” He says, “That’s crap.” There again, the staff doin’ the work, all of ’em want to be king, y’know, you don’t want to forget that part. And so you had to work through that terrible, abysmal staff control because they know you’re
workin’ on 800 issues and they’re only workin’
on three or four or five. And they’re the driver. So it makes it tough. I didn’t answer your question, but I got a lot off my chest on that. (laughter) It felt good. – One of the things
that I was struck with, to move from staff to the
actual office holders, I was looking at the roster of the Senate when you first went to the Senate, in 1979 when you first
arrived in the Senate, I was struck by how
divergent the parties were. There were still lots
of liberal Republicans, Jacob Javits, Mac Mathias,
you mentioned Bill Cohen, Lowell Weicker was in the Senate. There were lots of conservative Democrats, particularly in the South,
but elsewhere as well. Now the parties have sorted
out into ideological camps where the most conservative Democrat is more liberal than the
most liberal Republican and vice-versa. I’m curious, how much do you
think the old style of parties, the old style of caucus that you had where you had divergent
views within your own party. How much did that actually
help the system to work by encouraging compromise within the party and then between the two parties? – Well, when I came to the Senate I’m looking at iconic
figures, at least to me, who loved to study. My dad had been a US senator and governor. So that led me into it, but I get there and here’s
Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut, and he was a classy, classy guy. Jack Javits of New York,
Russel Long of Louisiana, Mark Hatfield of Oregon, these were dramatic figures and so you were kind of awed by them. And then we had in our party, and then I became the assistant leader which meant that I was kind of in charge of gatherin’ up the votes, well, I just knew that
there were five guys who weren’t often gonna be with us, whether we were in the
majority or the minority and I could name ’em: Stafford, who was a great
guy, from Vermont I think. There was Lowell Weicker,
ornery, rascal, good guy. Terribly ornery. And there was, as you named… Stafford, well Chafee was always
there in one way or another, you don’t need to go into the names, but we knew we had to get
through all of those guys, and sometimes we couldn’t. And it started when, I remember Mark Hatfield would not vote for the defense budget. This was a serious issue. Means you’re a commie. And don’t forget how the
defense budget works, ladies and gentlemen. The Republicans, you see, are
the defenders of the Earth. So they would add five billion over, and finally Nancy Pelosi
figured that out, she said, “Add five billion here, and send it back “so that we don’t become the evil people “who hate protecting our country.” And this budget is so bloated in defense you can’t even imagine. And Erskine and I picked it apart. Woodward picked it apart a few weeks ago and got hammered flat. 150 billion in excess. You haven’t seen anything. You get an issue like that,
so Mark wouldn’t vote for it, and I’ll name the names. Santorum of Pennsylvania got up and said, “I think you should be
driven out of the party.” How’s this for brains? I mean, you really gotta
use your head for this, and he ran for president of
the United States, Santorum. He’s the one that said on
the floor of the Senate that gays and lesbians did animals. How’s that for a sweetheart
in your own party? Well, enough of that, but you have to get down to
the bottom of these things. And so Mark got up and he said, “Wait a minute young man. “I was in the US navy
for four years or eight. “Steaming to Japan and I was
the first group of Americans “to arrive at Hiroshima, “and I vowed right then that I
would never vote for anything “that had to do with war or defense. “And that’s how I earned my activities. “You may not like that.” Boy I tell ya, there wasn’t
a sound in that room. So, y’know, once you got to know people and their pain and their
feelings and their sensitivities it was easy to work with them. Nowadays you wouldn’t have any idea what was in the heart and mind or the background of somebody just because he or she is a damn Democrat or a damn Republican, and it’s very sad. And it’s not gonna change,
at least in my time, because of the overwhelming
electronic influence added to that insensitivity. So hang on tight, there will be a tipping
point at some point. – What will bring that tipping point? How do we
– The economy. – try to get to the point of fixing that? – When you have people in Congress and 90% of them don’t know the difference between a balance sheet and
a profit-and-loss statement, you got problems in River City. And they don’t know what that is because they’ve been
workin’ in their lives and they’re hard-workin’
people and they don’t have time and they’ve always thought of politics and you don’t have time to learn. So when Erskine and I finished our work, and I’ll get the answer, I haven’t heard Ann clear her throat yet, and when that comes.
(laughter) She’s sitting right here. There she is. 63 years come June 21st. (applause) Now where was I? Yes, I get diverted with her. When we were doing our work and the, what the hell was it? I was mumbling into the vapors. – Talk about the
Simpson-Bowles commission, not the Bowles-Simpson commission, the Simpson-Bowles commission. – No, don’t call it that. Cuz I wanna get to your answer
through this circuitous- – [Ann] Balance sheets
and profit-and-loss. – And so when we were doing our work we would try to tell people
what they had to know, that there’s a difference
between the deficit and the debt. (laughter) Well, the deficit, when we
came there and did our work was one trillion four, which is one trillion,
four hundred billion. It then began to go down, and it did go down, and it went down for many reasons. I can’t tell them all, probably got to about 500 billion, but the debt is on automatic pilot. The deficit doesn’t have anything to do, the debt is on automatic pilot because of the entitlement
programs and social security. You can start throwing things if you wish, but don’t give me emotions,
fear, guilt, or racism. This is how you pass or kill a bill in the US Senate or Congress: You use a deft blend of
emotion, fear, guilt, or racism. And the only way you win
is to do your homework and work your butt off, and work and prepare
and prepare and prepare so you can beat back
those who are using that because people that use that
are not using their brain, they’re using emotion. And that works. Flash words work. Amnesty. Oh God, amnesty. Cutting social security. “Cut social security for the
poorest people in the world? “The entitlements program?” So a guy could buy this place here and gets a (mumbles) for 200
grand doesn’t even get a bill. Give me a break. Don’t forget how this works. You don’t even have to
check your checkbook and you’re over 65 and
you just shoot the works. Or you can get into the defense budget and you can be a military retiree and they have a program called Tricare. Premium is 560 bucks a year. Eight 12-dollar co-pay costs 51 billion a year for
two and a half million people. You can’t talk about this. You then are called a
commie, you hate veterans, and when we did our work with the plan we didn’t touch SSI, we
didn’t touch food stamps, and you think, “Oh my God, what have they done?” So all you know is the tipping point. The tipping point is when this thing reaches 20 trillion bucks at the end of this decade and the deficit is going
up and will not go down, from now on it’s hang on tight because 10,000 people
a day are turning 65. And when I was in college, weighed 260 had hair and
thought beer was food, there were 16 people
paying into the system, and one taking out. Today there are three people
paying into the system and one taking out, and in 10 years there’ll
be two people paying in and one taking out. What that young man puts
in today, I get next month. There is no lock box. If anybody tells you a lock box take a key and get into their box because they have no brain in there. But you can’t talk like this, you see. “You hate seniors! “Oh, how can you hate seniors?” Well I’ll tell ya, I met with the AARP a
few weeks ago and I said, “Please tell me your
mission in perfect English.” And this guy, who has five
children under 15, he said, “Our mission is to
protect people over 50.” I said, “Is that it?” “That’s it.” I said, “How about the young
people of this country? “How ’bout your five kids? “How ’bout your grandchildren? “Where are you? “Where’s your compassion?” “Well, you see, seniors are all hurting.” I said, “Well, they’re not all “eating out of a garbage can in an alley, “I can tell you that.” That won’t get you anywhere either. So we said what we would do with that. And the tipping point comes
when we hit 20 trillion bucks and the people who have
loaned us the money say, “Hey we got you figured out. “You have a dysfunctional government “and you’re addicted to debt “and we want more money for our money.” And at that point,
inflation will kick in more, not much now, and interest rates will not stay at 2% Interest rates will go where
the hell they’ve always gone. Five, six, hopefully no higher than that. And then we’ll be paying, instead of 240 billion a year in interest, we’ll be paying 700 billion in interest, and it all comes off of discretionary, which is what you love: Education, infrastructure, defense. All those things are gonna be crowded out by the failure to do something
with the Entitlements Program and social security solvency. And so the tipping point then,
after inflation and interest, guess who gets screwed? The little guy that everybody talks about
all day and all night. Get your violin out. “I’m just here for the little guy.” Gimme a break. Because the rich guys always
take care of themselves. They always have in every society, they always will. And I’m a Republican, I
shouldn’t be talking like this. (laughter) But, kinda sad. So that’s the tipping point, and then let me just
speak of social security, because I hope that there
are young people here. This is a great system started
by Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was one of the great civil
libertarians of our time. He said, “We’re gonna do somethin’ “we have to do somethin’ “A ditch digger can’t make it.” So they did the social security system which was to give 43% replacement
rate to what you made. I promise this is less than three minutes. And so they did it and it was great, because mortality was 62
and you retired at 65. Now, you can’t beat that. (laughter) You can’t beat that
anywhere, nowhere at all. So there it is. And today, the age is 80. That’s the age of it. And you can now still retire at 62. So we said, “This is impossible, “and we’d rather go down in flames, “let the AARP tear our underwear off, “we’ll just do it anyway.” So we said, “We’ll give the
lowest 125%, lowest poverty, “give ’em 125% of poverty. “That’ll cost.” We’re gonna change the
wages subject to the tax. Instead of 108,000 you come up to 200. You could go higher. Some suggested taking it off. But we had one marvelous patriot testify that if we took
that off all the way, and he was making three million a year, he would not work as hard. (laughter) And we said, “You sir are
the patriot of the year. (laughter) “You phony son of a-” (laughter) So then we said, “We’re gonna change the bend points,” that’s inside baseball, but it works, “and go to the chain CPI.” And lemme tell ya, the
president, President Obama, was with us on that and he said, “We need to change the
cost of living index “to the chain CPI.” Don’t go into it too deeply, but it’s a more adroit or
current way of inflation as to your benefit. And they tore him to bits,
and us along with him. How could anyone talk about a savagery of changing the CPI, the precious. So then we said, “Well we’ll do another
thing for sure that’ll work, “we’ll change the retirement
age to 68 by the year 2050.” Now don’t forget, it’s gonna be 67. It’s gonna change, it’s gonna go to, in 1927 it’s gonna be 67 years. That’s already on the books,
people don’t know that either, and so they said, “50 years? “This is cruel, how can
you do that to people?” You say, “Well, it’s 2017 now. “We think that with their
brain somehow functioning “that they will figure how
to prepare for 68 at 2050.” Boy, you can get your shorts
ripped off on that one. And the entitlements programs, we said “You’re gonna have to do something there.” These programs cannot exist, they’re unsustainable right now. I’m gonna shut up but I shouldn’t, but just let me tell ya the rest of it. The social security
system, by doing nothing, you’re gonna waddle up
to the window in 2034 and get a cheque for 23% less. Who is telling us this? Some nut Republican or
some goofy Democrat? No, the trustees of the
system are telling us that. And they’re telling us that
the Medicare will “go broke.” They don’t go broke, they
just go down about 13% That’s Medicare trust fund. And that goes out in 2038. The Highway Trust Fund will
go into the tank in 15 years, and the Disability Insurance Fund, which is so overused and gimmicked that you can’t even think about it, is gonna go down the tube in five years. I’m sure there are some
in this room who say, “You sir are an assassin.” But I tell you why I win. I don’t care whether
anybody cares that I win, because at 85 I’ve achieved
life’s ultimate goal: I’ve pissed off everyone in America. (loud laughter) And somebody had to do that. And Erskine and I
decided we would do that. – But most of the
recommendations of the commission have in fact not been implemented. Do you have much hope that
these issues will be addressed in a way that you think will resolve them? – They will because of the
nature of the human beast, because when your congressperson comes to you district or
your Senator and says, “I know this is a problem.” Just telling your constituents like, “I know it’s a problem, “and I know we can get it done, “and I am going to get it done. “But we’re going to do it without
touching precious Medicare “precious Medicaid,
precious social security, “and precious defense.” Now as educated people somebody
should say in the back, “You sir are giving a
terminological inexactitude. “You lyin’ son of a bitch.” (laughter) Now that’s exactly where we are, there’s no way to explain it any further. They’ll fog ya, and they
can’t do it unless you do it. And the tragedy of it is with a Republican Senate
and a Republican House a Republican president doing a budget, which is the phoniest
baloniest thing I saw, they were all phony baloney. Every president gave you
a phony baloney budget. Didn’t have real figures,
it was romance language, and so you have this situation where we’re not dealing in that budget with two-thirds of the American budget which is health care and the
solvency of social security. Two-thirds is unadressed. They’re talking about Big Bird
and little bird and turd bird whatever they are, all of them. Madness. NPR. These things are stupefying. – [Man In Audience] So this is a tax- – Oh the tax. Oh there, now wait. That’s a good, this man has
asked the best question. Do you think they’re
going to do tax reform? Listen to this guy, this guy may be a plant. (loud laughter) No, listen to this, cuz it’s important. You were gonna get to that. This is an ex-reporter. The tax code. This is the next thing on the agenda. If anybody believes that that will change, the drinks are on me. (laughter) Because here’s what it
is, now don’t miss this, Erskine and I dug into this thing: The tax code has 180-plus things in it called tax expenditures. They are loopholes, gimmicks, trash, and they’re powerfully, powerfully
intimate to many people. Like, are you talking about
home mortgage interest. “Oh god, you don’t mean-” No, we just said, “We don’t
think you need a million bucks “for a second home. “We’ll give everybody 500,000 “and then give a twelve-and-a-half
percent tax credit “which would help the little guy.” “Oh I dunno, that’s terrible to take away. “Real estate, everything will collapse, “there won’t be anything left. “Well a home mortgage, “charitable deduction, “what were you saying there?” And you have to do
something good with that. And then, “Municipal bond interest? “Ooh, that would wipe me out.” “Good, we don’t wanna do that.” But we did think we’d deal with 180 loopholes that are appalling, and guess what? Only 20% of the American
people use 80% of the tax code. Don’t miss this. Only 25% of the American people itemize, which means 75% don’t even
know what’s in the tax code. And then you get to things like
Part B premiums on Medicare where the beneficiary’s paying about 35% and the guys in the kitchen down here are payin’ the other 65. Is that America? Not in my mind. This is gimmickry of the first order, and you won’t change a bit
because I say to people, “Who are you people in the audience “that are benefiting under the tax code?” And every single person
has to have their hand up. If they got a brain and an accountant and the knowledge of
the tax code, which is, “What exemptions, what tax expenditures “will help me the most?” Parking for employees? Employer deduction of
health care for employees? You name it. And you oughta get a list of ’em because you’ll pop your eyes. And you’re never gonna get that out of the hands of the people who get it because the people who have it are the people who controls the works. – So I wanna shift gears a little bit and ask you about some
very contemporary politics. We’ve been talkin’ a while, and one word we have not said is “Trump.” (laughter) So as a Republican, tell me what you think about the new Republican president’s
performance so far, and what you think about the
prospect for his presidency going forward. – When I was in the Army I had an 81-millimeter mortar platoon, and I can’t hear anything. (laughter) But I was, you remember Charlie. – [Ethan] Sometimes this week I know you didn’t hear questions. This time I think you heard my question. I’m not gonna buy that one. – You were a good interpreter. You’ve been a good fellow. Well, obviously I did not vote for Trump. You don’t need to put “obviously” there, I voted for Jeb Bush, but that was a lost cause and I knew that, and Ann voted for me. (laughter) So we feel that we did
a great thing there. But lemme tell ya somethin’ I see people who are so hostile and so frustrated, and
angered, and passionate and frothing at the mouth, about Trump. And I say, well let me give you the words of a person who should
feel much more frustrated, tangled up, torn to bits,
angry, hostile, ferocious, than any of you people in this room. And her name was Hillary
Clinton, and she said, “He is the president. “Let’s keep an open mind
and give him a chance.” So don’t cry all over my
shoes about Trumpy-babe. And how evil and snot son-of-a-bit rotten. But just remember he’s hated by the media because he hates the media. Well one thing you don’t wanna have people hate you is the media. Then the thing you’re gonna read about him it’ll be the worst 100
days since the world began. And he’s done some goofy
things, some erratic things, and he’ll do more. But he is not an ideologue, which makes him an
interesting, dangerous fellow, because at some point he’s going to do
something you really like, because you can’t peg him. He was a Democrat, he contributed
to Clinton’s campaign, he’s all over the map for gays
and lesbians, then he’s not, then he’s pro-abortion, then he’s not, and so just hang on tight. But don’t play the game of 100 days with a guy who can’t possibly
score on any kind of screen, especially the New York Times, and I read the New York Times, I don’t think they’re a commie outfit, a lot of people think that, I don’t. Read The Economist and This Week and don’t stick with your
favorite television program where you can sit there thrilled
to the core and tingling and almost wetting your drawers as your guy is tearing somebody to bits, and you say, “God, isn’t that somethin’ “I love it.” (laughter) And so you need to get
work and turn off your set or even do something else: Turn on the other set for a minute even though you’re quivering
and you can’t quite handle it. I’m being a smart aleck now, there’s a fine line between
good humor and smartass and I’ve crossed it many times. I don’t know what he’s
gonna do, but I tell ya, lemme tell ya one incident of how it happens to work
with a different guy. Ronald Reagan, we were at, I
think Bob went to one of these, it was a stag, it was a nut fry. I won’t go any further than that, but at the harvest of lambs in the spring you have
these marvelous missiles and they are like a Vienna
sausage and they’re delicious. Nobody knows what a
Vienna sausage is anymore, but you deep fat fry
them and put them in soup and the Basques know how to cook ’em, and Reagan never missed it, he loved it. Came in one night with his
brown suit on, and he said, “Guys, sorry to be late. “I just put a 2,000-pound bomb
in Gaddafi’s window in Libya. “Maybe you’ve forgotten that.” We said, “What?” He said, “Yeah, it took
a little extra time, “but they had to get back from there “and France wouldn’t
let ’em fly back or over “so they had to go,” I mean this is dinner, just a bunch of 60 or 80 guys. And you know what happened? We didn’t hear from Gaddafi again until last administration they said, “Better get rid of Gaddafi.” Without thinking, just like when you get
rid of Saddam Hussein, what are you gonna do when they’re gone? And so Gaddafi’s land
of Libya is just chaos, so is Iraq. So was the health care plan because you have seven
years of voting to kill it, and never had the brainpower
to put together a replacement, which has got to be called
Disneyworld in every sense. You had seven years to concoct anything. I mean, just a concept of
replacing, and nothing. So they’re gonna take their lumps, but I think when he laid a little hardware on that airfield in Syria, I like that. I’m a military guy. We were not in the military
to work with mayors and give out candy. We were trained to kill. The sole function of our military training was to kill somebody. And we didn’t have to do
that and that was great, and I wasn’t in combat,
we weren’t in combat, but for God’s sake, I don’t
know where that’s going. They say, “Well what will happen now?” I say, “I don’t know. “But I bet you they knows
there’s a new sheriff in town.” And my experience with Obama, and this is not a partisan thing, this is an observing
thing, he appointed me, all of the ones I served with, Carter, Bush, Reagan, and Clinton, I really enjoyed them all. And I did, great guys, great
humor, got to know them. And all of them, figuratively, could say, “Ready, aim, fire,” and make a decision. With President Obama, it was “Ready, aim, aim, aim, “aim, aim, aim, aim,” and never do what had to be done, at least in the thought
of most people maybe, not Republicans. And I don’t think he
wanted to offend anyone, which is a problem, because if you think
you can get through life without offending people,
that’s a feckless cause. And then I think political
correctness is a disaster. I think political correctness is like wearing duct tape over your mouth, cuz if you really say, “I don’t believe I’ve
ever had an ugly thought, (laughter) “I don’t believe I’ve ever
been biased about anything “or prejudiced, or hopefully not, “never think of such a thing.” Lemme tell ya: That’s a fake. Because if you’re alive, you have. But it’s how you handle
it, that’s how you do it. And I think half the rage in the world is people who are so absorbed that this stuff is like
a fissure in a volcano, and it will come out. It will come out in rage, or
it’ll come out in something, or hostility that you can
cover it with, “I hate this.” Hatred corrodes the
container it’s carried in. Just don’t forget that one. Hatred corrodes the
container it’s carried in. You ended up havin’ gas
ulcers, B.O. and heartburn, and you’re in the shower
hatin’ this son of a bitch and he’s golfing. Who’s the sick one? (laughter) And so I’m going to quit. God, I had to get that out, but I don’t know where we were. – You mentioned a minute ago both gay and lesbian rights
and the New York Times, which leads into another question, since you published an
op-ed in the New York Times a few weeks ago encouraging President Trump, we’re talking about President Trump, encouraging President Trump
to embrace an openness toward gay rights, and I think by extension,
criticizing your own party for a social conservatism that
you often don’t agree with. Is that a threat to your own party, that there’s a social conservatism that will hurt your party down the road? – I think that’s true if you continue to use the stereotype. It’s like the stereotype of Berkeley. Lemme tell ya, I’ve been here a week, and I’ve met some of
the finest young people that I have ever met. And they’re open, and they want to talk, and they ask great questions. But the stereotype is, “You’re not goin’ to Berkeley! “They’ll cut your tires on your car “and you’re a Republican from Wyoming. “You’re doomed. “And besides that, they’re killing people “and beatin’ people up in the street.” They don’t differentiate a bunch of guys who are anarchists wearin’ black with some college kid
that has an honest bitch. So if you want to stereotype, there are plenty of us in the Senate. There was Nancy Kassebaum, Hank Brown, there were a lot of us
who were pro-choice. And never got beat. But the stereotype is that
they’re all homophobes and they all say, “I love the gay and lesbian community, “it’s just what they do, heheheh” which is another nice
little slice of crap. But anyway. So I did get into it, I had a cousin who was a
war hero, World War II, a medic, Silver Star. He was gay, we didn’t know that, and in those days, he had to marry, because back in the ’40s and ’50s you didn’t dare think of being
out, I can tell you that. So he married, and then he
had his life, good life. My cousin, another cousin, was a lesbian, she taught school in
Downers Grove, Illinois. I’ve always believed a simple thing, that we’re all God’s children. And I wrote to Reverend
Phelps, he’s a marvelous man, he said that the reason we
were losing veterans in Vietnam is because we embraced queers in America. He’s a wonderful man, I
wrote him a letter, I said, “Dear Reverend Phelps, “I know of your good work, “and I just want you to know
that some dizzy son of a bitch “is sending me the stupidest
letters and signing your name. (loud laughter) “I hope that you will help me find him, “and track him down and wipe him out, “and I know you will help. “Yours in God.” (laughter) It’s funny but it’s not funny, but we’re all human beings, and how could I ever know the pain of somebody in that situation? I can’t. But I know one thing: I can sure tell my side of it. And I told him in that letter, I said, “Better check with your vice president.” He did something like a
religious exemption in Indiana, and they chopped him up, had to go into a separate
session to change that. There’s nothing wrong with
religion and religious exceptions but it’s just like the Civil Rights Act: “Why should I not do what
I want to in my own cafe?” The only reason is, the
only reason you did it, is there wasn’t a black guy that ever was allowed in the door. So you go over the top of that stuff, and the religious exemption
is a beautiful way, and of course we’ll toss
it down like they did and they’ll do it again. I dunno where it’s going, but I do know that I can’t
even tell you the sea change on gay and lesbians from the
time I was in high school. When Jimmy March was a
queer, you knew that, just kinda the way he was. And he went home at lunch one
day and blew his head off. And I thought, “That
doesn’t seem right to me.” And that’s what they did in those days, you just made fun of people,
and called ’em queer. Those days are gone forever. It’s a sea change. And young people, they don’t give a damn. It’s the guys with gray in their hair that’ll give you a rag on
gay and lesbian issues. (mumbles maliciously) But the young people,
they are more accepting, they’re more accepting on race, religion, gay and lesbian issues, abortion. Who’s for abortion? You ever seen a sign that says “Have an abortion. “They’re just really, really great.”? No, they are a deeply intimate
and personal decision. And I don’t think men legislators
should even vote on it. (applause) How does a man legislator who drinks scotch watchin’ porn movies is into this game about abortion? Give me a break. I get in a lot of trouble on that one too. (laughter) – I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. Trouble? No. – Don’t forget, this guy
is an ink-stained wretch. – I’m a recovering
ink-stained wretch, Senator. – He’s a journalist, and that’s why I don’t
know what he’s gonna ask, but it’ll be another ringer. What is it now? (laughter) – You told me not to tell you what I was gonna ask you.
– I did, I did. – You insisted that I not tell you. – I never should have, but I did. – Well now, if you think
my questions are tough, in a minute we’re gonna
go to audience questions and then they’ll really stick you- – Did you salt the audience? – No I did not, no I did not. I don’t know what they’re gonna ask you. But lemme ask you one more thing, and then we’ll got to their questions. I wanna ask you one
other political question. We talked a lot about Republicans and how the Republican
party is doing and soforth. But I’m also curious, how does the Democratic
party become more competitive in large parts of the
country where, frankly, it is not competitive right now? Including places like Wyoming,
place across the South. We just saw an election
where Hillary Clinton won the popular presidential vote, but really only because of California. Lost it in the rest of the country. How does the Democratic
party revive itself, say in Wyoming or elsewhere? – Well the Democrat party as I knew it was the party of the working person. The lunch-bucket crowd. And then how do you become the party and stay the party of
the lunch-bucket crowd when you have people trying
to stop every type of form of something that affects business? No more coal mines, no more fracking, watch out when you build a bridge, gotta go through eight years
of crap just to build a bridge because of the regulations. And finally, the working
man ain’t working. And he or she in that Rust Belt, I do think it’s a tragic mistake to try to tear down trade agreements. I just don’t see that at all, but that’s where they’re goin’ and I think that’s a bad scene. But the union members seem to think that’s good to get rid of that,
I guess, trade agreements, but I think they may, but the point is, they
didn’t become the party or stay the party of the working man, they became the party of the greenies, and the people who are
limiting what you could do. Limiting this industry, OSHA, this regulation, control, protecting the Preble mouse in Wyoming, the Preble jumping mouse may
not be around in a few years because it has subspecies that still jump, and maybe they won’t need to have the one, they could have the subspecies. I mean, and here’s
another sick one for ya, Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO
is a great friend of mine. I just talked to him the other day, got a great sense of humor, wonderful guy. I’m from a right-to-work
state, he’s the head of the, and he tried to tell Obama, “Build the Keystone
pipeline for God’s sake.” People come to Wyoming and they say, “God, you’ve got the
greatest state on the union.” Ladies and gentlemen, there’s 30 pipelines across Wyoming. They do. And there’s a little stick
about every mile or two that’s where they can check the line. So if he had approved the pipeline, which they did once, and then Kerry got, and I know John, I
worked with John on many, and then the State Department said “Yes” and then they said “No” and they never did the pipeline, now it will be done, and it means about 3500 jobs
for Rich Trumka’s union. I dunno. So when you have a party
that lost its course with the lunch-bucket society, they got work to do. That’s my thought, sick as it is. – Okay, let’s go to
some audience questions. I wanna say two things about that: Please keep your questions brief. I once heard somebody say that in Berkeley the definition of a question
is a lengthy statement followed by an implied question, am I right? (laughter) Let’s try to keep it to questions, we wanna hear what Senator
Simpson has to say. And the second thing is, we are recording this for a later webcast, so we have two microphones
that are gonna come around as I call on people, please wait for those microphones so that we can record your question as well as the answer. We’ll start with this
gentleman right here. – Just a second, there’s people back there who are related to my wife, and I don’t wanna have any
questions out of Max and- (laughter) and John and Bruce and Debbie. Did you know that Debbie, that
lovely lady in the yellow, was the head of the fundraising department of the University of California? – Thank you for your work.
– That right? – [Debbie] Not quite the head of it. (laughter) – [Ethan] We just gave you a promotion, we’ll call you the head of it. – [Alan] And then there’s some buddies from the Bohemian Grove, and you don’t wanna know who
all those wonderful people are. (laughter) – Go ahead sir.
– Go ahead, anything. – [Man In Front] Senator Simpson, the Congress of the
United States, the Senate, and other federal institutions
were made 100, 200 years ago. The world has changed dramatically: Climate, demographics,
political, and so on soforth. Besides personalities and besides parties, is it realistic, without
deep institutional reforms, to get anywhere? – I really had trouble.
– Do we need institutional changes to Congress? In addition to people
getting along better, knowing each other, being friendlier. Are there structural or
institutional changes that we need to, the federal government, to Congress, to the executive branch? – Well, yeah, but it
would be so tough to do because it’s so built-in and ingrained. When I taught at Harvard I had John Kenneth Galbraith
come to my class every year, and he’d get up and say, “Simpson and I don’t see
eye-to-eye on anything “until we stand up,” because he was 6’8″ and I was 6’7″ And a student said, “What’s the difference “between when you first testified in 1936 “and now in 2001?” or whatever it was. He says, “All the difference in the world. “A Congressperson was
known as,” the chairman, “as Mr Cotton, Mr Railroad, “Mr Wheat, Mr Corn, Mr Tobacco.” That was their sole function. Just to be there in Congress, without any media around at all, just sittin’ there with a big
cigar and a bourbon and sayin’ “Got to get the cotton money, “and gonna do the railroad money,” and that was it. And he said, “Nowadays I’m
so proud of the Congress,” didn’t matter what party, “because they do have staff,” but they have too many. The staff have overwhelmed the system. That’s the biggest institutional change. And when I got there, Kennedy came to me and he said, “I have a professional staff. “They’re not Democrats, “they are Democrats, but they’re
not working for the party, “they’re professional staff to
help the Judiciary Committee. “And I’d like ’em to visit with you, “if you want to visit with them “and tell you how I run the committee.” I said, “Great.” I ran a judiciary committee
when I was in the Wyoming house, and so he assigned three people to me. Very interesting people who
went on to interesting things. Steve Bryer, David Boyce,
and Kevin Feinberg. – That’s quite a staff.
– And I tell ya, there’s three guys that can teach you a lot about government. Sure, they’re Democrats, but they sure as hell know the system. And so that was part of my bringing up. But the institution will not change. What has to change is
the ghastly situation of money-raising among
the members of Congress, where, “I will put you
on the committee you like “if you will cough up out
of your campaign money “about 20 grand.” At least Republicans do this, I don’t know what the other side does, but that is sick. Cuz you’re buyin’ your way,
right in your own party. And then if you don’t contribute
when the campaign comes up to the Congressional Campaign
Committee or the Senate then you get a black mark right there, and then when you run they might not give you much money at all. And you don’t wanna run
that risk so you play ball. It’s all about money. If we could get a handle
on the 28th Amendment, I’m tellin’ you, it
could change everything. It would put it up to the states without injuring the First Amendment. But institutional change in Congress. Pick one. The filibuster. That was not a nuclear option, it was a sparrow-belch option. That had nothing to do with nuclear, it had never been done before, and if it had been used, how the hell did Clarence
Thomas ever get through? The vote was 52-48. So when Schumer, this is personal, I worked
with him on many things, he helped me with the immigration bill, on agricultural stuff, when he came to the Senate he said, “Let’s start filibustering
lower court appointments.” Because they were stiffin’
him to get the 60 vote. Schumer now, he was a great legislator, now he’s beholden to the base. And it’s frustrating for him because he’s the guy that brought up filibustering of judges. Nothing happened, he wasn’t there during
the Thomas hearings, but that’s his idea. Well the classic example
there of the old phrase “hoisted on his own petard.” Blown up by your own bomb, he must have been sittin’ there
watchin’ that last procedure with a lump in his
throat like a hockey puck because it’s over, but
it was never before. And now they’re goin’ back
right where they were before. There was nothin’ There was never a filibuster
before to be destroyed. And they destroyed it here. They didn’t have to, because it’s an automatic
butt-kickin’ machine. When you’re in the minority you love it. When you’re in the majority, you hate it. And now bang. This gentleman here. – Let’s have a young man
right here in the middle. Do you wanna
– This gentleman here. – Yeah, this gentleman right here. – [Tanzin] Hi Senator Simpson. My name’s Tanzin and I’m a Tibetan. I just wanted to ask you, since it’s related to America, I wanted to get on to the foreign policy. Tibet has been under
China since at least 1959, and in 2010 a Tunisian street vendor has actually self-immolated, and it has actually sparked the world and got so much attention. But in Tibet, since 2009, 148 Tibetans have self-immolated calling for freedom in Tibet, and the return of His Holiness
the 14th Dalai Lama to Tibet. – Sir can I ask you, the question is sort of-
– Since United States is the moral conscience of the world, in this day and age, is money and national interests the only factors that
will lead us to act on? – The question is
specifically about Tibet, but was also broader than that. Should the United States
base its foreign policy on moral concerns, well should it be based on moral concerns, or should it be based only
on concerns of interest, whether economic or strategic. He was asking specifically with regard to the United States policy towards China and its policy toward Tibet. But I’m gonna broaden the question and ask what should be the basis
of American foreign policy? Is it just to pursue our interests, or is it to pursue moral good? – Well that is a great question. I’m sorry I don’t respond
when you’re speaking because I don’t hear well. But lemme tell you what happened
with the Iraq study group so you understand this
will answer your question. Somebody came and
testified before our group, and don’t forget, five
Democrats and five Republicans agreed on every word of that package. Great people, Lee Hamilton, Chuck Robb, Leon Panetta, Sandra Day O’Connor, me. Great person of course. (laughter) A guy came in, he said, “You people are missing the boat. “Think of Iraq like a man in a coma. “And you wake him up, and
he smiles and says thanks, “and you say ‘We got a great thing for ya, “‘it’s called democracy.’ “And he says, ‘I want
water, I want food.'” Give it up. There’s never been a democracy like ours. It was started by a bunch of slave owners who drank booze at night
and fought all day long and strung this thing together. You’re never gonna find it anywhere, not in a country with 15 different tribes that like to chop each
other’s toenails off in between resting. We don’t even understand it. We don’t have any concept of it. So our foreign policy, if you’re gonna go out
and democratize the world, forget it. It’s impossible, it can’t possibly work, and the turmoil in Britain and France and people rioting and Brexit and Greece can’t pay on its debt. Tibet and China I’ve watched for years. We’ve been to that area of the world, it’s the saddest thing in the world how they treat that country, and yet we don’t wanna, and now Trump is cosying up to China. And he likes it. Why not? He’s sayin, “Hey pal, North
Korea could blow your butt “further off the world than it could us. “So I think you oughta wake
up and smell the coffee.” And he is. He’s hearing that. Because this North Korea, don’t ask me where that’s goin, but this guy, he’s not messin’ around with riggin’ up somethin’
like Cape Canaveral whatever that needs tubes, he’s got solid fuel stuff, he just plants somethin’ on the tip of it and fire that baby. So I think that China now, we’re not talking about them
manipulating the currency, we’ve given that one up. We’re not talking about loosening trade, we’re giving that up. You don’t kill people you trade with, you want to make money off them. So I just think you’re
gonna find a whole new game with China, and we’ll be on their side which will be a total
irritant for any Tibetan, and sad, and real, and unsolvable, while we’re tryin’ to kiss up to him, which we’re surely doing now. So it’s a disheartening thing, I’ve met the Dalai Lama,
he’s a marvelous man. Tells a good story, too. Very humorous, very lovely, very dear. But I’m maybe not answering
your question at all, what was it? Somethin’ like that? – You answered it, I think. Let’s do one more audience question and then I’m gonna award
myself the last question. – How ’bout this gent right here? That guy right there, he’s- – Alright, we’ll go over here to this- – He nearly fainted. – To this gentleman right here and, – I’ll stick around a minute. – We’re gonna have a little
reception after this, so you’ll be able to talk to the Senator. – Well I’ll need a drink after this. – This’ll be a short one. I got a kick out of the title of your book about a lifetime scrapping with the press, and I’d like you to speculate as to if you were still
politically active, and given the much greater
degree of polarization in the press today, what would your relations
with the press be like now? If you were still politically active? – The title of his book, by the way, in case you don’t know is Right In the Old Gazoo. If you don’t know what gazoo
is, look it up on your phone. But anyway. – I tell ya, the relationship,
I think, would be the same, because I had a rule: When they’re after your
ass answer the phone. So I would get my foot
in it, and I said once, you remember Peter Arnett? Well I said, “Peter Arnett is
a sympathizer of North Korea.” The do-gooders and the
clean-cut people said “You barbaric slob. “How could you possibly
talk about Peter Arnett?” I said, “I just was in the
military for a couple of years “and I wondered how
come he was the only guy “that was able to stay in Baghdad “while CBS left and NBC left and ABC left, “and every other damn, “except him.” And down at the bottom it said, “He’s under the most
difficult circumstances,” ie he is being censored, every
word coming out of his mouth is thanks to Saddam Hussein. So they tore me to bits and so I remember Al
Hunt, he called and said, “Simpson you crazy bat,
what have you said?” I said, “I said he was a sympathizer.” “Oh God, he’s a great American.” I said, “Well not in my mind.” Guess what happened to him? He later then went to another outlet and then he was fired, and he went to Britain and
joined a left-wing paper and guess what, then I got
a call from New York Times, the Washington Post, “What do you have to
say about Peter Arnett? “He fell from grace.” I said, “I heard that. “What did he say?” “He said he was very hurt and disappointed “and sorry that this had occurred
and felt badly about it.” I said, “Just take his name
out and put my name in.” (laughter) “No no, we wanna know how you feel.” I said, “No you don’t. “You see him down now, “but he was the toast of the town for you “while you’re plowin’ the ground with me, “and now you want me to throw
a spade of dirt on his face,” and I said, “Stick it.” And that was interesting. From then on I always had this rule: When they’re after your
ass, answer the phone, and not sit with your staff
and learn how to spin an issue, and say, “I made a stupid mistake.” I said that, but I don’t
believe it’s stupid. I had another rule: Be accessible to them. But you can’t imagine the boredom of sitting with a reporter,
usually brand new, who are asking you questions
about nuclear energy and you know what their
bias is in five minutes. And they’re asking you
all these questions, and I say, “Why don’t you just
say you hate nuclear energy? “and you wonder why I even think of it “which makes me a Neanderthal.” But the point is, there
are great journalists, but the worst part of the situation today, and Ethan and I have talked about it, the media and politics are on
the lowest rung of society. And that’s deadly for democracy. Or any government. They know the politician’s
gonna smoke ’em, have his staff give a bunch of crap, and then the politician knows that the guy’s tryin’ to set him up for a big turkey shot, and so there’s no trust. And you used to be able to
sit with great journalists and talk about your bills and stuff without knowing it would come out that it’s all distorted and twisted. So we really have a problem, domestically, with politicians and journalists being in the lowest rung of society. And Trump is certainly adding to that by “fake news” and “you’re
the fake news guy,” and they hate him and he hates them. – That leads into the last question, that I’m awarding to myself, and then there will be a reception outside so you can talk to the Senator if you haven’t had a chance
to ask your question. So here’s my last question: You spent your life in public service. We’ve been talking about a
lot of negative things today: Members of Congress don’t get along, the press doesn’t work very well, social security might go broke, lots of negative things. But you spent your life
committed to public service. What gives you hope about
the future of the country and the future of our
ability to make public policy and govern ourselves? What’s the positive thing that
you look at going forward? – Well, I think that Annie
can answer that question, but I think you want to get involved. It won’t help you to carry
a sign around much longer unless you like that. So do something. Get involved, get out,
run for the school board, student senate, but I tell you what I
mean is from the heart because Ann and I now are again the precinct committeewoman of District 25-1 in Park County. We did that when we were 26 because suddenly our party
was taken over by some zanies. Some of ’em were Tea
Partiers, some weren’t. Many of them were still
mad that Trump was elected because they wanted Cruz. So we have to gather them together and visit with them about
life in the Far West. (laughter) And then this one woman got up
at the convention, she said, “Don’t forget another thing: “The sole purpose of
marriage is for procreation.” And she held herself
to a stalwart position. I waited, I didn’t come at her then, I waited to the end, then I said, “If any of you believe what
this remarkable person has said, “you’re missin’ a hell of a lot of fun.” (laughter) And she fell on her shriveled
breasts into her cups. But honest to God, so we now, we took ’em out. Should we be spending time
at 85 being in precinct? And the answer is yes. Cuz we can to somethin’ and so can you. You can go to your party headquarters or your Green party or whatever
party you’re in, and say, “How do I get into the
game on the lowest level?” Don’t say you wanna be governor first. (laughter) Give that up. And you go to the lowest
level of society, the amoebas, and get yourself in the game and work your way up the system. And that works. And it’s the only way it’ll work. And the other worse result is
the tipping point will come and social security people
will go to the window, they’ll be so pissed off, they will see that
Medicare isn’t there 100% it’s only there at 83% they will see the highways
are deteriorating, and they’re gonna say “Who did this? “Who was in office when
all these signals went up “and they never responded?” And if they’re still there,
they’ll be taken out. That’s your hope. They’re gonna say, “You lied. “You didn’t do a lick. “And you can read and write, “and you knew where
these systems were going, “and so pal, now that I’m sufferin’ “you’re gonna suffer too.” That’s the worst result. But that will come, that will come when people say, “Were you there?” And they’ll say they weren’t, but you can look ’em up
and find that they were and they knew all these
figures and did nothin’ – Before you all go out and run for committee precinct person, which you should, I hope you’ll join us. If you go you that door
and turn to the right there’ll be some food and refreshments. You can stay, have something to eat, chat with Senator and Mrs Simpson. Please join me in thanking
Congresswoman Matsui and Senator Simpson. (applause) (lively bongo beat)

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