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New Members of Congress Arrive in Washington; Interview With Russell Simmons; Interview With Bjorn Lomborg
Aired November 15, 2010 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Kathleen Parker.
ELIOT SPITZER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And I'm Eliot Spitzer. Welcome to the program. Another great show tonight. We've got Bjorn Lomborg, who is a controversial global warming skeptic who thinks that everybody who's telling us what to do to solve the problem is getting it dead wrong.
PARKER: And we've got Russell Simmons, who's an entrepreneur in the hip-hop world and he's also a big fan of Barack Obama's still. He may be the last man standing who still believes in "hope and change."
SPITZER: Oh, come on, there are a lot of us out there. We all believe in it. We're going to come roaring back. His numbers up already, like we predicted last week. I predicted, you didn't.
Anyway, but you know what? For our "Opening Argument" tonight, Kathleen, 100 new members of Congress descending on Washington and we are going to give them a little bit of advice about what to expect, because you know what, folks, governing is not campaigning. And those who are out on the campaign trail say we are the not going to raise your taxes, we're not going to cut any spending, and we're going to balance the budget at the same time -- welcome to the real world. They're going to have to make the tough choices we've been talking about on the show.
And the other thing that they're going to have to do is realize that until they say no to their best friend, they're not making those hard choices.
PARKER: Quite a stern lecture, Eliot, I have a new nuggets of advice, too, but mine are a little bit more fun and down to earth. First of all, when you settle in, rent, don't buy.
SPITZER: What? You're saying they're not going to be there very long?
PARKER: Well, you just never know.
SPITZER: If they're Republicans, I hope you are right.
(LAUGHTER) PARKER: Be nice to reporters, I know it's become fashionable to always refer to the lame-stream media, but sometimes they can be helpful.
Always assume there is a mike around. I've learned this the hard way. And please, most important, drink at home, you're less likely to get in trouble.
SPITZER: That makes it harder for us. We want them drinking in public, then we get better stories, right? Isn't that how it works?
PARKER: One glass of wine in public, that's it, sorry.
SPITZER: Not even scotch, just one.
PARKER: Just one.
SPITZER: You are tough. Man, you've been in the business and know Washington all too well. But you know, it is going to be an education for the folks: they all come in, they've just won big elections, they're all excited. They will wake up, January 5 when they take the oath, I think, and suddenly realize, these are not going to be easy decisions for them to make.
PARKER: No, they're not. And one thing I left off the list, that's probably more important than anything. Go home on weekends as much as you can, get out of the bubble, so you can stay grounded and focused on what the people want you to do.
SPITZER: And come on the show.
PARKER: And come on the show.
SPITZER: All right, if we invent them. And to talk more about next Congress and the issues they're confronting, let's get into "The Arena."
Joining us now, Democratic representative from New York, Anthony Weiner.
Thanks you for being with us, Congressman. And before I even throw a question at you, congratulations, I don't think we've spoken since you got married this summer with none other than former president Bill Clinton officiating.
REP ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Thank you.
PARKER: Congressman. Congressman, this is Kathleen Parker. Congratulations. I need to say that, too.
WEINER: Thank you, I appreciate it. Also, you might want to congratulate me, I did get re-elected on the 2nd.
PARKER: Oh, that too.
SPITZER: Anthony, given the way your district is drawn, we knew that was going to happen.
WEINER: Well, actually, you know, my district has been a pretty good bellwether for the country. It's only a 55 percent Obama district and this was a pretty choppy political year all around, but the people in Brooklyn and Queens have given me this honor and I plan to work hard to make them proud of it.
PARKER: Congressman, let's turn to last week's Debt Commission, the draft was released to reduce the deficit of course it was greeted with mixed reviews. But, before we get into the specifics you were critical of the president for even appointing the panel, why not go about this in a bipartisan fashion?
WEINER: We're the governing party. We're coming here to most reflect our values. Our values are you don't privatize Social Security, you don't turn Medicare into voucher system, you don't cut V.A. health care. This is what we believe in. I don't believe in this idea of coming and saying let's just do a little bit across board that hurts everyone. I came to fight for middle-class people of my district and so I think this commission, you know, the three of us probably could have looked at the makeup of the commission and said a year ago what they would have come up with.
We know that anything Alan Simpson is the chairman, he's never a big fan of Social Security, we kind of saw where this was going. And I think to some degree it is the opposite of leadership to appoint the commissions and just say all right, I'll see what they come up with.
PARKER: Well, there were some Democrats on that commission, I mean, Dick Durbin and Max Baucus and Kent Conrad, they're hardly pushovers.
WEINER: I'm not saying anyone on that commission is a good, bad, or a pushover. I'm saying that that's not the way I believe that you should lead. We come from different parts of the country, representing different constituencies, believing different things. We come here to Washington to wage these battles. Look, I don't believe in compromising for the sake of compromising.
For example, the new Republican Congress is coming in with a blueprint, privatizing Social Security. My constituents aren't saying, hey, Weiner, go there and privatize Social Security or at least compromise on it. They're saying fight for a program that's help the middle-class and help prevent seniors from slipping into poverty. So, I frankly think the commission, as a concept, was the wrong one.
SPITZER: Let me ask you the, in this case, the $64 trillion question -- how do we then bring our fiscal balance back to where it needs to be? And I hear you about Social Security. OK. But, we're going to have to push you the same way we push everybody else. There is an $11 trillion chasm in our government situation, our government balance of payments over the next decade. How do we begin to close it? Where, whether Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, which are the three big programs, or defense -- are you beginning to say we have to cut something fundamentally? WEINER: Well listen, you know, part of what I think is preposterous about the timing of the commission is we're doing it at the time when we're just starting to implement a health care reform bill that's going to save a lot of money. We have to realize 25 percent of our entire economy, every single thing that we consume, less than about 20 percent of our entire economy is health care and health care alone, that's driving up prices enormously.
As I've suggested throughout the health care debate, the less expensive way to deal with health care is gradually expand Medicare and phase out private insurance model which is putting hundreds of billions of dollars each year into the pockets of insurance companies.
But the way you do this is first of all you start rewarding politicians for thinking a little bit in advance. Right now we just had an election where, I hate to say this, but the people that won the election are people that said they voted no every single time. If that's the lesson, how do you incentivize anyone to think about a program that might inure to our benefit in five or 10 years?
SPITZER: Anthony, I agree with you on your critique, I've been saying, as many others have been, the Republican Party was the party of no, is the party of no on steroids in this past election. Put that aside for the moment, because I still want to push you about what you will do to close the deficit chasm, because we're not going to be moving to single payer, we're not going to be expanding Medicare, even though I was with you in virtually everything you were saying during the health care debate. So, given the political realities of moment, where would you, if you need to put the budget together, make those tough decisions?
WEINER: Well, wait, you just said that you believe in what I said would work, but it's not politically realistic. You asked me two different questions? If you want to ask me...
SPITZER: It's not possible.
WEINER: No, if you want -- that's not true it's not possible. It's completely possible to expand Medicare to cover people 55 next year, that's very possible. It's very possible in the farm subsidies, I mentioned. It's very possible to end the subsidies of the United States -- International Association of Peace that I just mentioned. These things are all possible.
One of the things that I believe we need to understand around here is it doesn't come from a silver bullet, from bipartisan commission who's bills paid by lobbyists. It comes from members of Congress coming here and saying, you know what, I didn't just come here to deconstruct, I came here to offer ideas. Throughout the health care debate, I offered an opportunity to restructure health care that would have saved the country tens of billions. Now, you don't like the answer because you think it's not politically feasible. I believe I'm going to keep fighting for things that I think are right.
SPITZER: Anthony, I agree with you about the farm subsidies and the International Association of Peace, I forget the precise name of it, and also expanding Medicare would have been a good idea, but as we look forward, given the reality of the House, it really isn't going to happen. I'm with you substantively. So, I'm saying to you, if you needed to put together a budget right now, if you were sitting in the Oval Office and need to put together a budget that would pass, where would you compromise to get these cuts?
WEINER: Well, hold on a second. First of all, I mean, it's pretty clear, that you're talking about reality starting in January with the new Republican Congress. Their policies that they advocate dramatically increase the deficit. We know that, it increases the deficit because they have an unfunded tax cut that they want to give to millionaires and billionaires. But, we have to understand that part of what I'm going to be doing in the opposition, is if they say we want to drive up deficit by doing those things, to say no and offer different idea. But I certainly don't believe the president should offer a politically palatable budget to Republicans just because they won. He should still fight for the things we believe in.
SPITZER: Anthony, look, look, I agree with you in all that, but you're still not really answering the question. Where will you then close the deficit? If you want to say you'll increase taxes on the wealthy. That's great. If you want to say...
WEINER: You know what? Eliot, what you and I are missing in our conversation here is I keep proposing things, you say, "Oh, you can't do that, that's not realistic." These are the things I believe in and I'm going to fight for.
SPITZER: They're not, some of them were too small to be material. Expanding Medicare was part of the health care debate and I was with you on it, but that is not relevant to today's budget conversation.
WEINER: Why? Why?
SPITZER: That you would agree is a reality.
SPITZER: Because there's simply no votes for it and there is no way...
WEINER: Well, OK. Yes, there's no doubt about it, Democrats lost the election. That doesn't mean I will start being a Republican.
SPITZER: All right, that's fair enough, OK, but -- all right, so then you know, is that the extent, however of your capacity to find the major cuts in these programs? Or propose...
WEINER: No, no, here's what I believe. I believe that this is a choice. And my -- defining thing in this choice, in every one that's going to come up whether it's the Deficit Commission or anything that the Republicans propose is, is this program helping the middle-class and those struggling to make it. That's who I'm working for. So, if someone says, hey, it's a great idea, let's eliminate the mortgage interest deduction, and that's the single tax cut that most middle- class people get, they don't get a lot of the other fancy ones. I am going to fight to make sure that doesn't happen. OK, so you can say oh, that's not realistic to say that one is -- well, that's what I'm going to be here fighting for and the loyal opposition. And hopefully the president realizes he's still the president, we should still articulate things that are good for the middle-class, we should be trying to save those programs that help the middle-class. But, if the Defense Department says there are things they don't want, if there are tax cuts that we can't afford for millionaires and billionaires, I'm going to listen. But one thing I won't do is buy into the idea that just because a bunch of Republicans got elect that I have to start acting like one.
SPITZER: I'm with you on that.
PARKER: All right, Congressman, one last question. I want to circle back to something you said earlier when you were talking to Eliot. You were critical of the president's leadership on issues that you care about. Has he been effective?
WEINER: Look, I think the president has managed to pass under his leadership some remarkable historic things that needed to get done for a very long time that we've been ignoring health care, ignoring the financial reforms that Eliot is an expert on. We've been ignoring our education system. Now we're starting to do things to structurally build the underpinnings of our economy. The things that he has been weaker on, is explaining in a clear, visceral way, to the American people, why they're important what he is trying to do. That's been a critique I have had for him -- now, you can say what's your choice, would you rather have someone that good at doing things or good at explaining things. As the president himself pointed out yesterday, you need a little of both.
PARKER: Thank you, Congressman for being with us.
SPITZER: We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: But you're sort of the anti-Al Gore.
BJORN LOMBORG, COPENHAGEN CONSENSUS CTR: Not so much anti as post-Al Gore. You know, Al gore was good in getting our attention to global warming and global warming is real, but he did so by scaring the pants off of us and that's not a good way to go down if you're actually going to make good decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: Our "Person of Interest," today, is Bjorn Lomborg, a controversial author with a global reputation as a skeptic on climate change. A business professor and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Lomborg argues that the consequences of climate change are vastly exaggerated and that money spent on climate change policy would be much more effective if it were used to fight global problems like malaria eradication or water sanitation. Lomborg's views are explored in a new documentary "Cool It," which is in theaters now. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RETTER, PROFESSOR: Science has been hijacked by alarmists and the public are given to believe that they are to blame.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started washing our clothes with stones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm completely off the electronics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Energy efficient light bulbs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recycle more. Drive hybrids.
LOMBORG: These are great things, by all means, let's do them, but let's not kid ourselves and believe that this is what is going to fix the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: Welcome Bjorn. Thank you for joining us. But you're the anti-Al Gore?
LOMBORG: Not so much anti as post Al Gore. You know, Al gore was good in getting our attention to global warning. And Global warming is real, but he did so by scaring the pants off of us and that's not a good way to go down if you are going to make good decisions.
PARKER: But, when you say it's real, is it manmade?
LOMBORG: It is manmade and it is a problem we need to tackle. But look, we aren't tackling it very well. We haven't been tackling it for 20 years and to a very large extent because we're so panicked that we can't think straight about this and we're proposing grand carbon cuts which sound good, but honestly don't do anything.
PARKER: Well, as I understand it, and correct me if I am wrong, as I understand it, you are saying you made a dollar analysis in our language, and if you are to get the best results from your, from spending limited resources, you would do better to, for example provide drinking water for people in sub-Sahara Africa, right? But, that doesn't change the fact that global warming exists. So, I am not sure, I mean, you might go in say, OK, let's say as an example -- I am going to put plumbing in your house, and I'm going to give you water you have until 6:00 p.m. to enjoy it that's when the earthquake comes or the tsunami or whatever. So, how does that work?
LOMBORG: Well, there is two parts to this. First of all, remember, 3/4 of the world's population live in dire poverty, they have much more important things to deal with and so we should help them with those issues. That doesn't mean, as you say, we shouldn't fix global warming, but we should fix it smartly. Right now we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to do virtually no good. The only policy on books is the E.U. 20/20 policy. If we actually go through with that, which I think the E.U. will do, we'll spend $250 billion every year for the rest of this century and you know what the impact is? We'll reduce temperatures by the end of the end of the century by 0.1 degree Fahrenheit. So, we're essentially spending $20 trillion and we won't be able to tell the difference in 100 years.
SPITZER: Can we agree, well, it seems to me we have a large area of consensus here, but vast area of disagreement about what we should do. The consensus, it is manmade, temperatures are rising, the water levels are going to rise, CO2, carbon dioxide is pouring into the atmosphere at a rate unheard of, historically, and is causing this and the only question which we are debating right now is what to do?
SPITZER: Now, here is the question: At three feet -- two to three feet, you would still have significant global consequences for Bangladesh, for instance.
LOMBORG: Yes, but there are two points we need to remember. One is to say we can adapt to many of these things and certainly the real question to Bangladesh is do we want to make them rich now and actually be able to deal with this or do we want to reduce sea level rise by a little bit in 100 years.
SPITZER: Well, let me ask this question -- take, as a given, if we can save 50 kids tomorrow by spending $1 or spend that dollar and have no consequences on global warming, I think everybody would say, spend the dollar, save the 50 kids. I think that to a certain extent that's a false choice because we are not making the choice between HIV research or food for starving kids, versus global warming. These are separate areas of spending that we are talking about. So, were not really in the tradeoff context, right?
LOMBORG: I would disagree with you. If you ask, for instance, the global fund for malaria, T.B., and for HIV, they actually tell us, that they have seen declining levels of investment because of global warming. You know, if this is what we are focused on, there is many other things we don't focus quite as much on. But if you'll just allow me -- the real point here is not to say that we shouldn't deal with global warming, but it is to say, we are not right now. So when people are saying, no, no, let's make these grand promises for 2100, we don't actually do them and there is a very simple reason why. Because it's very costly to cut carbon emissions right now, that's why we should make it cheaper.
PARKER: Let me ask you something, in your book, upon which your documentary is based, you use examples of -- well, you have several examples of things that make you feel good, but things that actually do good. OK, so in the case of polar bears, that's the iconic image of what we most fear will happen we'll lose polar bears, I think there are more now than there have ever been, but we'll leave that to Sarah Palin. OK, under the feel good, which is, you have, written up here, Kyoto, you would say .06 polar bears and if you do good, you would save 49 polar bears. How does that work?
LOMBORG: Well, and that's just for one area. Let's just take it for the whole -- North Pole. Basically, if we all did the Kyoto Protocol, which is much, much more than we've ever managed to actually do, we would save about one polar bear a year. Now that's nice for a couple hundred billion dollars, but let's just remember, we shoot 300 to 500 polar bears every year. So, I'm simply pointing out, why don't we talk about stop shooting 300 polar bears first.
SPITZER: Bjorn, don't you feel -- and it is, when I read your stuff and I watched the movie and yes, you make a powerful cross benefit analysis, but it reminded me very much, I hope you will be the flattered by this, but reminded me of you're playing the role of Ben Bernanke, who in the midst of the subprime crisis, back in '07, said, and let me quote, he said, he said, "The troubles in the market for risky mortgages thus far don't appear to be spreading to the overall economy."
He was saying don't worry, it's a small, little problem we have time to deal with it. And of course then it metastasized in a way that brought destruction to the whole world economy. Isn't the possibility that this is the same situation sufficient to say we should in fact do something really dramatic?
LOMBORG: All right, let me just take -- I'm not go into that quote. I'm just going to take a little look at the global warming argument. Right now, Al Gore and everyone else have had 20 years to prove their policy and they have done nothing. I am simply saying if you actually care about this issue why on earth should we not try to find a different and much smarter way rather than going down the failed road.
And so I am saying, let's invest dramatically more in research and development into green energy. Because, fundamentally as long as solar panels cost 10 times as much fossil fuels, a few rich, well meaning westerners will put them up on their rooftops. If we can make solar panels cheaper than fossil fuels, we would have solved global warming.
SPITZER: Totally agree. Totally agree.
LOMBORG: And so we -- but the trick because we focus so much on cutting carbon emissions, we actually spend less, not more on investment in research and development.
SPITZER: It seems to me that given the cataclysmic risk we should do both.
LOMBORG: But, we haven't done one of them, namely cutting carbon emissions, because it's very costly. And I'll say every time you spend a dollar on cutting carbon emissions, which is fairly costly, it means you can spend less on research and development or to put it differently, if you can find $100 billion, I would rather not see us saying spend $50 billion really smartly and let's spend $50 billion pretty poorly. Let's spend all of the $100 billion on research and development because ultimately you will only get China to say yes to cutting carbon emissions if solar panels and all the other green technologies are cheaper.
SPITZER: Kyoto was going nowhere, cap and trade, given the politics of the mid-term elections, seems to be going nowhere, so a new direction is critically important. If you could pick one research area, what would it be?
LOMBORG: Ah, this is exactly what I don't want, because politicians love to pick, you know, favorite project.
SPITZER: But, wait, wait, wait a minute.
LOMBORG: Not you. Wait a minute. You are not being fair. I'm not saying the politician, if you -- let's play your game with you. If you had $1 to spend, not to do cost benefit, where would you put it?
LOMBORG: Fortunately, I don't have just $1.
SPITZER: You have two.
LOMBORG: Well, we have, you know, at least a couple billion dollars and because researchers are cheap, you should spread it across all these different areas because most of the areas are the not going to work out, but because the there are lots of different opportunities, some of them will and those are the ones that are going to be powering the 21st century, so we should be careful not to pick winners, but exactly fund all of these areas.
SPITZER: Now you're saying what I was saying before on the other side which is because the cataclysmic risk is so great, do it all.
LOMBORG: I would argue there is a difference here because it's a fundamental -- we don't know which of the technologies will work out, which is why we need to fund a vast array of them.
PARKER: You know what, I want to ask you the less technical question, what's your next project?
LOMBORG: What's going to be my next project, honestly? This is a discussion we haven't gotten right for 20 years. I think I'm probably going to be staying here for awhile before we actually get this right.
PARKER: All right, thank you so much, Bjorn, this is a very interesting conversation, we appreciate you joining us.
LOMBORG: Thank you.
SPITZER: We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSELL SIMMONS, HIP-HOP MOGUL: George Bush did everything he promised and more, right? And more, you know, for the conservatives and for the support system that he built up and I think it was President Obama's mission to do everything he promised and more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: Hip-hop, fashion mogul, financier, animal rights activist, avid Obama supporter, reality TV star, and author of the upcoming book "Super Rich," we can only be talking about Russell Simmons.
SIMMONS: Thank you.
SPITZER: Thank you for coming in today, so...
SIMMONS: Quite a long introduction.
PARKER: Yes it is. You have done it all.
SPITZER: And all deserved. So, congratulations in all of that.
SIMMONS: Oh, thank you.
SPITZER: And since we mentioned President Obama in the introduction, and this past couple weeks has not been his best stretch, the mid-terms, the trip to Asia, you're still a supporter (INAUDIBLE). What would you tell them to do?
SIMMONS: I think his communications department has let him down a bit and I think people are a little impatient, which is our reality. I mean, we have to remember when the president took office we were losing 800,000 jobs a month and we are not losing any jobs now.
SPITZER: Did he fail to sort of explain where we were going? Because there are two schools of thought, those who say it was messaging and those who say, look, the public just didn't like the substance. You're saying it was messaging?
SIMMONS: Well, you know, there are a lot of people, moderate and conservative who voted for him and they were afraid. And they see a little bit of green light, you know, and maybe they believe that, it was just George Bush not the whole Republican Party and maybe they believe now that they're not as afraid. But the truth is, President Obama spoke about a lot of issues that mattered to me and to some of my, the people that I care about and I think that we have to continue to push those messages. He had, gay rights, I am a big gay rights, and animal activist, he got support from that community. Lots of the environmental rights community, cared a lot. And I think that those people, those messages, are important and to get this core back he has to speak directly to his core.
PARKER: Well, you know, when he was campaigning, he spoke all the time in terms of unity, a unified nation, and then when we got to Washington of course he found out that governing was harder than campaigning. Do you still think he has that message in him?
SIMMONS: I think the idea of unity is a tough one when you have these pearls and their interests, there's so many lobbyists, and there's so much, you know -- there is -- politicians have so much struggle, you must know that, sticking to a message, if the message is not funded properly. You know? And it's tough being a politician. I mean, I would never want to do that. It's a tough job.
SPITZER: Take one issue you mentioned, gay rights, which you have been an advocate. The gay community is, the president is saying, where have you been on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," in other words. And so, this is one example...
SIMMONS: That is a communications issue, because think about it, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," he says he wants it to stick. Well, yet the Congress and the Senate, at one time they could have worked on making it stick, but since he lost that, it was for him to make a statement then, he could have made that statement then. And he could have also made it clear that he had this bigger vision than to take advantage of the opportunity he had on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and I think he could have pushed it and I think, all of the things, progressive ideas that he spoke about publicly, he should have went to -- George Bush did everything he promised and more. Right? And more. You know, for the conservatives and the support system that he built up. And I think it was President Obama's mission to do everything he promised and more.
PARKER: Well, we promised an awful lot ,though. I mean, I think one of the problems is promising too much up front. And also, don't you think his deification by, among others, the media, put him in a hot spot? It was pretty hard to follow through with everything everyone expected.
SIMMONS: Well, the media, you can't have much faith in them, you have to work around them or be creative...
PARKER: Watch it now.
SIMMONS: You know, the media, look, the choices for the news. I mean, they don't put human suffering -- they don't mention -- you could be talking about a missing girl for three months and never the 15,000 Africans that died for lack of clean water, yesterday. Or you won't talk about the 200,000 innocent Iraqis who were killed, you know. And you only talk about the 4,000 American soldiers who were killed in the invasion.
The media makes choices. The 10 billion suffering farm animals, they never in the top of the media, any ratings I guess. So this reality that we live in, what should be or could be news when it comes to creating better lives for all of Americans and others, that's not in the media. You know, the media does not have people's best interest in heart.
I live across from Ground Zero. That Islamophobia that spread from the media from that place. The idea that you talk so much about this guy burning a book. You've got 30 people, created an international catastrophe.
PARKER: Yes, in Gainesville, Florida.
SIMMONS: One guy burning a book. He's got no congregation. He becomes an international example of American hate. And that's the media. So I don't have much faith in them.
PARKER: No, I agree with you. There is no reason to give attention to these sort of fringe people that suddenly, dominate the conversation and distract us from things that do matter. But there is such a thing as empathy fatigue. You know, I think there comes a time when people can only suffer vicariously for so long.
Let's talk about your TV show. You have a new reality show.
SIMMONS: Politics of economics in this country.
PARKER: It's called "Running Russell Simmons." And it's a little different than most reality TV shows.
SIMMONS: I hope so.
PARKER: Tell us about it.
SIMMONS: Well, you know, there are so many issues we talked about earlier, like gay rights and animal rights. And the violence in our communities, a big issue kind of overlooked that I try to bring to forefront as part of -- and it's a fun show. I live on 7th Avenue. And when I'm on your show or any show these days, it's always the social, political or philanthropic ideas that I have that I'm talking about. But I have a new fashion company. And I have financial services company that set to really make a big difference in the word. I mean --
PARKER: I hear we have a clip. So let's take a look real quick and then we'll come back to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really need help. We are helping an orphanage of (INAUDIBLE) children. It's in South Africa in Togo.
SIMMONS: How much money are you trying to raise?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's $20,000.
SIMMONS: Is that all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
SIMMONS: You know what? I want to incorporate you into my Fourth of July party. I'm going to throw in some Simmons jewelry pieces, some Hello Kitty pieces and you can auction them off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we doing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIMMONS: Our first episode is kind of interesting. This lady comes to us, and she he works for Shine on Sierra Leone, which is a charity I've helped for a long time. And they were worried about the women of Sierra Leone and the support system that they don't have regarding child birth and child mortality. And so she comes to me and she has this idea that she wants to raise money. I said do angels for Africa. We have 200 Victoria Secret models come to my house. We have 100 men, and they give us $400,000. That was one -- that was a big story. That happens every episode. Something like that.
PARKER: That's making charity fun.
SIMMONS: Yes. Well, my life is fun.
PARKER: Russell Simmons, thank you so much for being with us. And we will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: We're going to take on the Obama health care plan. We're going to make sure that issue stays in front of the American people. We think it's terrible legislation. The American people don't want it. And we're going to insist that this Congress continue to revisit that issue because it's crucial to our prosperity and individual health care choices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: Our "Headliner" tonight is Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group who Barack Obama claims was at the center of questionable Republican campaign spending in 2010. He called out the group at least 19 times in campaign speeches. A highly unusual level of attention from the president.
PARKER: Phillips is a major player in the rise of Tea Party. His organization has invested heavily in the fight against health care reform.
TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: Nice to be here.
PARKER: How do you feel about being identified as a right-wing activist group? Is that accurate?
PHILLIPS: I think free market is the word. But we'll take whatever.
SPITZER: Those are words you guys use anyway. We're trying to be good to you.
PARKER: All right. Well, let me ask you this. Now that the elections are over --
PARKER: -- you recently had a meeting in Virginia with some other conservative leaders to develop a strategy for the next two years.
PARKER: So what did you come up with?
PHILLIPS: We're going to take on the Obama health care plan. We're going to make sure that issue stays in front of the American people. We think it's terrible legislation. The American people don't want it. And we're going to insist that this Congress continue to revisit that issue because it's crucial to our prosperity and individual health care choices.
PARKER: You know, I might be sympathetic to some of your positions, but I want to know where your funding comes from. Why can't you tell me that? Why is that a secret?
PHILLIPS: Let me give you an example of why we ought to keep, protect the privacy of our financial supporters. A few weeks before the election, one of the president's top economic advisers is on a conference call with reporters, and he actually brings up the fact that we're looking at the codes (ph) and there are tax returns and there are corporate tax returns as well. David Koch is our chairman. What an outrageous chilling thing for a senior economic adviser to the president. This was widely reported, by the way, to name an individual American and only because that American was involved with Americans for Prosperity. That is why we ought to protect the privacy. And I am happy to do so. And we will do so because these politicians, too often, will try to have retribution using agencies or their own Congress.
SPITZER: Tim, let me say this, I am for transparency. I think we would all benefit when the big money that's flowing into politics is disclosed. You know where it's coming from. I also agree with you. For somebody to say that somebody is being audited by the IRS and a matter for that reason, even to apply is awful and should never happen.
I want to come to a different issue. You put out a statement today. The organization saying you disagree with fundamental pieces of the debt commission proposals that was issued by Erskine Bowles and former Senator Simpson. The piece you object to is that there's a big tax increase built into that.
SPITZER: About $1 trillion.
SPITZER: You also want to balance the budget. So are how are you going to make up that trillion dollars?
PHILLIPS: Let me start by saying, I think there are some goods in that commission. I think that we have to put defense on the table. I know some of my friends would disagree with that, but we have to. It's discretionary spending. One of the proposals in there was trimming back on overseas bases, $10 billion. Yes, that's serious money.
PHILLIPS: I think that's something we probably we could assort, we would look at. I think that over time, raising the retirement ages. It's a tough one. And it's going to provide some pain. I know. But I think that is an area we have to look at, too. So those are two big --
SPITZER: Look at it with support.
PHILLIPS: Support. I think we have to do it.
PHILLIPS: I think we have to do it. And I think if we don't say that -- when those retirement rates were put in, life expectancy was a lot different, Eliot. And now it's longer. Thank goodness it is.
SPITZER: That's right.
PHILLIPS: We have to do that. We have to expand it. I know it's going to be a big fight. The left is already screaming about it. But that's one. And that's tens of billions of dollars, if not hundreds of billions.
Two areas that were not in the commission report that we have to look at. One are pensions for workers, federal workers, state, local workers. That unfunded liability is killing us. States are looking at devastating returns in the federal government too.
We have to have pensions coming along with private sector. And we have to trim the federal and state local workforces. You know, we've lost over 10 million jobs in this recession in the private sector. Government in total has seen a rise in employees in total. In total, we have to over time trim the government. I know it's difficult. These are good people, by the way.
SPITZER: There are a lot of things you just said there that I think are courageous, and I applaud you for doing it. Being more specific than certainly most of the elected officials who've come on this show.
SPITZER: Raising the retirement age, closing a lot of overseas military bases, I think those are two things in there. But there is also a lot in there about Medicare. They're basically saying lower the reimbursement rates for doctors in return for tort reform. Is that a bargain you support?
PHILLIPS: Well, the problem is they keep lowering the rate, or lowering the return for doctors. You're going to see more and more doctors opt out, which you're already seeing. One thing I hear around the country right now, I travel an awful lot at rallies and events. I talk to folks. And they tell me, gosh, for Medicaid, Medicare it's tough to find a doctor who will even take me now because they're pushing the rates down so far. There's only so much blood out of the turnip that you can get.
PARKER: When you say talking about candidates that you would support, you talk about full throttle conservative across the board. What does that mean?
PHILLIPS: Well, speaking of free market, the Americans for Prosperity focuses on free market issues. It means someone will hold the line on taxes or simplify the tax code. It means someone who genuinely is going to cut spending. You know, the Republican contract or whatever the term was -- frankly it wasn't as ambitious as it should have been.
SPITZER: The pledge.
PHILLIPS: The pledge. It was not as ambitious on spending as we would like to have seen a 1.3 trillion budget deficit. You're talking about $100 billion. That's not enough. But genuine meaningful tax cuts.
I tell you a guy I really respect during the campaign. Did you see the last Florida Senate debate one week before the election. I'm driving somewhere in the middle of nowhere on the (INAUDIBLE) bus tour. I'm dialing in on the radio. I hear it. C-SPAN is running a repeat of it. Marco Rubio a week before the election says we've got to make real cuts here. We've got to genuinely bring in social security. He said that in Florida. That's the kind of political courage we're going to have in our next presidential candidate.
SPITZER: Given that unemployment is at 9.6, and really much higher --
PHILLIPS: Much higher.
SPITZER: -- I think everybody agrees if you measure the right way.
SPITZER: What would you do? You can't just say cut taxes right now because cutting taxes hasn't created jobs in the last 10 years. And the Bush tax cuts have been in place --
PHILLIPS: That's just not true. You look at '01, '03, the economy was smoking pretty well, Eliot, and --
SPITZER: Well, they maybe smoking something else. But it was not -- look, the longer term -- PHILLIPS: Unemployment was pretty low then.
SPITZER: You know, but that was a temporary bubble situation. What we've got right now is the aftermath of excess leverage, deregulation and rates that were really historically very low. Cutting them another two, three points isn't going to get investment when you've got trillions of dollars sitting there not being invested.
PHILLIPS: Here's the first thing we need to do. As it's been well reported, businesses have what? $1.5 trillion.
SPITZER: A lot of money. However you count it.
PHILLIPS: And the number one thing I hear from big businesses and small is, until we have a stable legislative regulatory environment, we're not investing that money.
SPITZER: We've agreed on a whole lot more than I thought we would. I disagree with you on this. There's a demand crisis. I know businesses talk about lack of certainty. That's not why people aren't investing. I can tell you that dealing with thousands of different business folks. That is not the problem. We have a demand crisis. We've got to somehow stoke demand. And I know you don't like Keynesian economics and --
PHILLIPS: A trillion bucks of stimulus, Eliot, did not stoke demand.
SPITZER: Well, we did. It created about three million jobs.
PHILLIPS: Oh, it did not.
SPITZER: But certainly --
PHILLIPS: That's impossible to prove. You are throwing numbers out there. Come on.
SPITZER: Tim, you and I both know, you can never prove like you do in chemistry exam that this is the case but every economist --
PHILLIPS: So it's saved or created is the operative word you are using?
Saved. How do you know what job got saved, Eliot?
SPITZER: Unemployment would be so much higher.
PHILLIPS: That's laughable.
SPITZER: But let's get to something. We'll disagree on that. You disagree conceptually that there is such a thing as global warming we have to worry about?
PHILLIPS: I think the science is far from settled. And for any one including Al Gore to say otherwise is arrogance. There are enough scientists out there and doctors out there saying hey, wait a minute, let's look at thing more closely. I'm not a scientist, I don't pretend to be. But when I look and read, for the left to say, oh, the debate is settled. Aren't they the ones always wanting tolerance? Aren't they the ones who always want an open debate and dissent?
SPITZER: Oh, we're tolerant.
PHILLIPS: Boy, they're quick to whack it.
SPITZER: I just think you're wrong. That's all.
PARKER: All right. Tim Phillips, thank you so much for a fascinating discussion.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN AVLON, THE DAILY BEAST: The movie that needs a sequel badly is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." And I think Bill Clinton would just --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is right.
PARKER: Ferris Bueller as an adult.
AVLON: Ferris Bueller as an adult and Bill Clinton kind of being his -- is like, you know, cheerleader, the devil on his shoulder, I think.
PARKER: No, I think Bill Clinton as Ferris Bueller as an adult. This is how he grew up.
AVLON: This is a whole alternative history of the Clinton administration. I like that.
PARKER: It's one of my favorite movies of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PARKER: Time for "Fun with Politics." Eliot, you know, the Republicans are calling for President Obama to rescind his QE2, whatever that is. I'm still not sure.
SPITZER: We'll figure it out.
PARKER: I think I need a copy of quantitative easing for dummies.
SPITZER: We all do.
PARKER: But as far as I can tell, it's the president, the federal government is printing money --
PARKER: -- that we don't have --
PARKER: -- to give to banks who don't need it.
SPITZER: Exactly. You know what? That is basically what it is. But maybe there's another way of looking at it. Think about this QE2 just like the other QE2.
PARKER: You mean, the luxury ocean liner.
SPITZER: That's the very one.
PARKER: Well, I actually knew some people who sailed on that boat in the day and it was the grandest ship on the sea.
SPITZER: Grand and expensive. Wrap your head around these numbers, Kathleen, the ship are in this "Queen Elizabeth II" cost 24 million British pounds in 1968, hundreds of millions of dollars today's value.
PARKER: That's a lot of moola (ph), but guess what? They at least got a boat out of it.
SPITZER: They've got a boat out to the tune of, Kathleen, you know what? A cheap one compared to the president's QE2 of $600 billion hot of the presses. $600 billion that Bernanke prints every week when he goes down into the basement of the Fed. That's what he does to keep busy. But this time they say it will keep the economy sailing right along.
PARKER: I get it, Eliot. The ship is docked somewhere and abandoned, awaiting its fate just like, I'm afraid the president's QE2.
SPITZER: Exactly. Here's hoping the ship find a home and sails again someday. Same goes for the president's plan. If it doesn't, we could be heading for a very unhappy Hollywood ending.
MUSIC: Near far wherever you are --
SPITZER: Who can forget the "Titanic," great movie, not such a great ride.
PARKER: I'm sobbing. I cry every time I see it. We'll be right back.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Joe Johns. More of "PARKER SPITZER" in a moment. First, the latest.
Deliberations to continue tomorrow morning in the ethics trial of Representative Charlie Rangel. A House committee rejected the New York Democrat's request to delay today's hearing. Rangel claimed he needed more time to hire a new legal team then he stormed out of the proceedings. He stands accused of 13 ethics violations including failure to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic.
And after five days, an Ohio mother, her 10-year-old son and a family friend are still missing tonight. Hopes of finding them were raised after a third family member, 13-year-old Sarah Maynard, was found bound and gagged in the basement of a home about 50 miles northeast of Columbus. Matthew Hoffman who lives in the home was arrest for kidnapping and additional charges are expected.
Tonight on "360," the fight over full body scanners and pat downs. Are they essential to airline safety or an invasion of privacy? And what about repeated exposure to radiation from the scanners? We're looking at the legal and medical implications. "360" at 10:00 tonight. That's the latest. "PARKER SPITZER" back after this.
PARKER: Welcome to "Our Political Party," the place for so many of our most interesting guests let loose a little and discuss a variety of objects and topics. With us tonight, we have CNN contributor and HBO boxing analyst Max Kellerman, Elise Jordan, who is a former speechwriter for Condoleezza Rice and also travels frequently to Afghanistan, and John Avlon, aggressive centrist and senior political analyst for "The Daily Beast."
All right. Our first question tonight concerns the former president, Bill Clinton, who has apparently made a cameo appearance in the hilarious movie "Hangover 2." So what would you recommend as a cameo for the president? Not the current president, for Bill Clinton.
JOHN AVLON, "THE DAILY BEAST": For Bill Clinton.
PARKER: Where would you see him next?
AVLON: You know, I'm going to default. The movie that needs a sequel badly is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." And I think Bill Clinton would just --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is right.
PARKER: I think Bill Clinton Ferris Bueller as an adult.
AVLON: Ferris Bueller as an adult and Bill Clinton kind of being his -- is like, you know, cheerleader, the devil on his shoulder, I think.
PARKER: No, I think Bill Clinton as Ferris Bueller as an adult. This is how he grew up.
AVLON: This is a whole alternative history of the Clinton administration. I like that.
PARKER: It's one of my favorite movies of all time.
SPITZER: "Hangover" is my favorite. ELISE JORDAN, WRITER: I want Bill Clinton on the "Meet the Parents" sequel because they have an upcoming wedding December, and Chelsea just got married. He's so excited about being a grandparent. And he could come in with Robert de Niro. You know, Bill Clinton loves to talk about his historical legacy, could educate the children, inspire new generation of Clintonites, perhaps. I just think it would be a great star turn.
SPITZER: Didn't they make a sequel to that but it had a name?
JORDAN: Yes, yes, yes.
SPITZER: It's hard to say it on TV. It's not what they meant but it's kind of hard to say.
SPITZER: The "old school."
MAX KELLERMAN, BOXING ANALYST, HBO SPORTS: Oh, nice. Because if Todd Phillips is going to make a sequel, make it a funny one. Make it a funny movie, not of the "Hangover." Sorry, I'm not a "Hangover" fan.
SPITZER: Anyway, all right. Always seem to be hearing about these days is cut spending, cut spending. (INAUDIBLE) of "The Washington Post" just placed a bet. He said that this Congress will actually increase spending. What do you think they'll do and why? Do you buy that?
AVLON: Look, I mean, I think he's making a bet on the fact that Republicans have traditional increased spending when they've had unified control. But I think the difference is is that, you know, with divided government, we've actually seen a decrease in spending historically. The big question is going to be, do they just get the tax cuts done? In which case, you know, the argument there they're going to be adding money to the deficit and the debt? Or are they going to listen to the American people and actually start dealing with the debt. Are they going to be content to demagogue it or are they going to deal with it. And the real test is this deficit commission.
SPITZER: Can I tell you one thing?
SPITZER: Everybody's take on this election was people cared about the deficit. When you really poll the electorate on that, when they say they care about is jobs not the deficit. So there is a way that they could do something that would be dead wrong, which would be to pass the tax cuts, not cut spending and still get re-elected. I hope they don't do it. It would be bad for the country, but I expect it the way it is.
AVLON: I think that would be hugely cynical.
SPITZER: That's why I think they're going to do it. AVLON: There are going to be some politicians who are content just to demagogue it, use it as a campaign issue, but don't make the tough decisions. And that's where the real challenge comes in. That's where the responsibility of governing comes in. And that's where the action is going to be.
PARKER: Any bets over here?
JORDAN: Well, I think the Republican base really cares about it. And so I think that if they just, you know, kind of ride it out and they don't actually do anything and make good on kind of their campaign promises, it could look really bad in 2012 for the Republicans.
KELLERMAN: I think it depends on the extent to which the Tea Party has been co-opted by the Republican Party. And even watching Rand Paul on this show last week, you see that it seems as though there has been a co-opting that's taking place and these Tea Partiers who, if even if they're hopelessly doctrinaire, if nothing else, they are when they say they're libertarian, you kind of believed them. And at this point in order to get elected and, maybe they're learning to stay elected or maybe they'll learn to stay elected, they're not maybe, as doctrinaire as they first appeared to be. And if that's the case, and they've been co-opted, then spending could certainly increase.
PARKER: I think Ezra (ph) is wrong. I don't think it's going to happen.
AVLON: You don't think so?
SPITZER: You think they're going to cut?
SPITZER: Where? We had a whole slew on this show. We keep saying, where are you going to cut? They don't seem comfortable with the notion that running away from the deficit commission report, they're saying no tax increases, tax cuts. Then you mention social security. All the stuff we do every day, they don't want to go there.
PARKER: Well, let's just say campaigning is different from governing.
SPITZER: Well --
PARKER: When you get in there and you have to do something, you can't -- we can't just keep going this way so we've got to do something. I think they will.
SPITZER: Time for one quick final question. This weekend boxer Manny Pacquiao Boxer won his eighth title. The Filipino boxer is being called one of the all-time greats. What a lot of people don't know is he also is a congressman in the Philippines. How does a boxer's skill in the ring translate into working in Congress? Max, you know both of these rings. What do you think?
KELLERMAN: He is one of the greatest fighters of all time. I just worked the fight over the weekend for HBO. He's amazing. But I don't think it helps to legislate -- you know, for a legislator. It helps for an executive maybe.
KELLERMAN: Maybe Obama could learn something from, from Manny Pacquiao. But don't you have to work with people. Anthony Weiner notwithstanding.
SPITZER: Come on, I'll defend Anthony. He's different.
KELLERMAN: He puts on a good bluff. He actually works well.
KELLERMAN: He's Manny Pacquiao in the Congress.
SPITZER: Eight titles. But that's all right.
KELLERMAN: That's right. I don't know. I mean, Manny Pacquiao, the best thing he has going for him, actually, is that he's wealthy and so doesn't have to pocket appropriations as is common in the Philippines.
KELLERMAN: Manny Pacquiao. He's wealthy because of his boxing?
KELLERMAN: Yes. So he can actually funnel the money to the poor, which was his stated goal for getting into politics in the first place.
SPITZER: He has eight titles in different weight classes?
KELLERMAN: He really has. This is all kind of modern boxing shenanigans. He has world titles legitimately in four different weight classes. Now you can compare him to the all time, the all-time record. And he's one of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing.
SPITZER: Right. Elise, boxing and being in Congress, anything in common?
JORDAN: I think there's a lot. The Republicans, Democrats are always trying to just beat each other senseless. And so if you can just stay in the game, you know, stick in there, not get knocked out, roll with the punches and manage to get reelected, that's a coup.
SPITZER: Can he take a punch or just throw one?
KELLERMAN: Oh, he can do it all. He can certainly do it all.
PARKER: I was thinking of Nancy Pelosi. She sort of came into mind when I thought about somebody who can throw punches and get what she wants, right?
AVLON: She can take a punch, too.
PARKER: She can take one, too.
AVLON: She's the speaker.
I think the real lesson in politics and sports, you always want to be playing offense. And that's the way to really change the game. And whenever folks fall back on defense they tend to lose. And one thing is there's a temptation I think on some folks to play rope a dope, especially in Congress, wait for the other side to overreach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
AVLON: You know, and that's I think that --
KELLERMAN: Not with the Republicans, it doesn't work.
AVLON: No, not Republicans.
KELLERMAN: By the way, I had a couple of pints talking sports with him. He can go for a couple of hours.
SPITZER: On that note, we have to actually wrap it up here. Elise, Jordan, Max Kellerman, John Avlon, thank you so much for being with us today.
Be sure to join us tomorrow night. Good night from New York. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.