Jack Abramoff Tells All

I'm Jack Abramoff. Let's discuss the vital role of lobbying & how most lobbyists are an important part of our political process -- also how to ensure those misusing our right to petition our government won't drag you down with them.

@president_bartlet: Thanks for joining us.  Money in politics often leads to poor choices by people receiving it and giving it.  Without reversing the precedent established by SCOTUS, what steps can we take to allow lobbyists to make an argument for a set of ideals rather than money directly making the argument?  Lobbyists are a vital part of the system, and lobbying is not only a constitutional right, it is essential for our republic to function… but, when the lobbyists can give public servants “things” then corruption follows.  The way to fix the system is to require all people lobbying for pay to register (after one meeting – the 20% rule of the LDA is ridiculous – I wasn’t a lobbyist under that definition!) and don’t allow that class of lobbyists or their clients to give anything to a public servant.  If you take out the influence of the money, then a lobbyist can make their case on the merits, like the rest of the nation has to do.

Vikrant Reddy of the Charles Koch Institute discusses bipartisan criminal justice reforms

Vikrant Reddy, Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, joined us Thursday, June 2 to discuss his work on criminal justice reform. Read his essay "A New Agenda for Criminal Justice Reform" on Medium.

@broughton.fowle: Thanks for joining us! What change to the system would most reduce mass incarceration? Drug policy/mandatory sentences? The key to reducing our high levels of incarceration is captured in this pithy line: “Prison is for people we’re scared of, not people we’re mad at.” If a person can be held accountable using community supervision – parole, probation, drug courts, etc. – we should do that as often as possible. The important thing is to make sure public safety is prioritized. Don’t create systems wherein people come out of prison more dangerous than when they went in.

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, sheds some light on issues of religious freedom

Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, joined us on Thursday, May 26th to discuss issues of religious freedom and the 2016 presidential race.

@horsey.wofford: Hi Mr. Reed, thank you for doing this. What is the economic argument you'd make for small businesses and families in support of HB-2? The economic argument for H.B. 2 is simple: the city of Charlotte should not be able to dictate the bathroom policies to private businesses who know better than politicians and bureaucrats how best to meet the needs of their employees and customers. Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina is no social conservative. If anything he tends to lean libertarian in his conservatism. But he signed H.B. 2 for the same reason the business community should support it: the Charlotte city ordinance it negated was an unwarranted and wholly unnecessary solution in search of a problem that did not exist. People have the right to an expectation of privacy in a bathroom, shower facility or locker room. The Charlotte ordinance would have violated that expectation of privacy, especially for women and girls.

I went to the Apple store the other day in Atlanta and asked someone at the genius bar if the store had a policy on transgendered bathrooms. They said no. Yet Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, joined by the gay lobby and the radical left, is lobbying to impose such a policy on every single business establishment in Charlotte---and any business that contracts with the city of Charlotte. This was an overreach by the Charlotte city council and the NC legislature was well within its right to protect its prerogative to make such law, not allow the law to be made for the entire state by a single municipality.

Emily Bazelon of NYT Magazine and the Slate Political Gabfests breaks the ice on decriminalizing prostitution

Emily Bazelon, staff writer for the New York Times Magazine and one of the hosts of the Slate Political Gabfest, joined us on Wednesday, May 25 to discuss her groundbreaking report on decriminalizing sex work.

@kevin.kosar: Thanks for doing this. Is it time to end the Mann Act? Or is it a useful policy to thwart trafficking? The Mann Act has an interesting history: Congress enacted it in 1910 amid a panic over "white slavery," which turned out to be overblown. It still makes sense to have federal laws that address trafficking, and crossing state borders, which the Mann Act prohibits, is part of that. But it's the kind of protective law that blurs the distinction between non-consensual trafficking and consensual sex work. So it seems like time to rewrite it, to limit what's illegal to taking a prostitute across a state border against her will.

Emily Martin of the National Women's Law Center discusses equality and justice for women in the workplace

Emily Martin, General Counsel and VP for Workplace Justice at the National Women's Law Center, joined us on Tuesday, May 24 to discuss closing the wage gap, NWLC's Roadmap to Economic Justice, and confronting gender discrimination on Capitol Hill.

@fogg.mcmahon: Hi emily! Did you hear the recent freakonomics on this topic? Curious if you have thoughts. The gist: discrimination can’t explain why women earn so much less than men. If only it were that easy. It is definitely true that the wage gap has multiple causes, as Freakonomics emphasized, and this requires multiple solutions. First, it is pretty clear that part of the wage gap is driven by pay discrimination based on (possibly subconscious) stereotypes.

For example, in a pretty sobering and compelling 2012 study, science professors who were given otherwise identical applications for a lab manager position proposed an avg starting salary of $30,200 when the applicant was named John, compared to $26,500 when the applicant was named Jennifer. This happened for both male and female science professors reviewing resumes.

But the wage gap has other causes as well. Part of it is that women are over-represented in low-wage jobs - for example, they are more than 60% of min wage workers - and under-represented in many high-wage jobs. This isn't necessarily reflective of "women's choices.”

Analyses have shown that the more women that enter an occupation, the more wages go down -- work tends to be devalued because women do it. I call that discrimination too. Discrimination in the form of harassment can also be part of what leads women not to pursue high wage work, like engineering, etc.

John Lettieri of the Economic Innovation Group discusses how policymakers can leverage the startup economy

John Lettieri, co-founder and senior director for policy and strategy at the Economic Innovation Group, joined us on Thursday, May 19 to share the Distressed Communities Index and the introduction of the Investing in Opportunity Act.

@hiscock826: Hi John. What do you think the single most important thing that's missing right now from our policy debate regarding spearheading a more dynamic economy like you said? And how can we help? We need an obsessive focus on startups. There has been a 30+ yr decline in the rate of new business formation in the US -- counter to the perception that startups are at an all-time high. 

Most new businesses fail, but the ones that succeed are disproportionately responsible for job growth, and the healthy disruption you need in stale industries. Right now we have no startup strategy in terms of public policy.

@morrow.fish: Your DCI analytical tools are impressive. I'm also digging the way you're using big data to inspire legislation. Is this EIG's MO? Heck yeah! We definitely prioritize a data-driven approach as an organization. Our goal is to put better tools into the hands of policymakers, researchers, and the media to help tackle some really complicated issues. That's our bread and butter.

Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute discusses the NDAA and military spending reforms

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow in the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where she works on defense strategy, defense budgets, and military readiness. She joined us on Tuesday, May 17 to discuss the NDAA and defense spending reform.

@conspickle: Hi Mackenzie, thanks for visiting us. How do you feel about House Republicans stripping the provision requiring women to register for Selective Service? Thanks for having me today. It is a purely political move designed to protect members from taking a tough vote in a presidential election year. But it is certainly a debate worth having, and I think the Senate is going to do exactly that. They also may not take a vote but I expect a floor discussion on women and the draft in the US Senate after their bill keeps the provision.

Sen. McCain raised a great point when explaining why he included the provision to have women register. He said we will never utilize the draft again, and he's most likely right. But this is the kind of national-level debate voters hope their elected officials will have. If McCain is right, why not abolish the draft outright?

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform Discusses Taxes, Hillary 2016, and Burning Man

Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform and the champion of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Mr. Norquist joined us Friday, April 29th, 2016 to discuss tax reform, Burning Man, and Hillary's challenges in 2016.

@conspickle: Regardless of who the GOP nominee is, what will be Hillary's biggest challenge in the general? Hillary's challenge in the general election is her age -- her ideas & understanding of the electorate are old. Visit www.hightaxhillary.com to see Hillary's threats of taxes on new constituencies.

Hillary supported gun control in 1993. Though all gun owners lived in Wyoming. She supported a 25% tax on guns & a $2500 fee to sell a gun. Today, there are more than 13M Americans with Concealed Carry permits. 1M in PA. 1.5M in FL. 450k in OH. 650k in MI. Swing states.

Hillary is old enough to think insulting oil and gas workers costs votes only in TX, LA, OK, AK. How fracking has brought energy jobs to OH, PA, and CO -- try and get 270 electoral votes without those states.

Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum Discusses Immigration Reform and the United States v. Texas

Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, is a leading voice on immigration policy and politics. He joined us on Thursday, April 28th, 2016 to discuss immigration reform and the United States v. Texas SCOTUS case.

@f.sjl: Putting my personal opinion and the moral question aside, doesn't it seem like legally the DAPA program is unconstitutional? Remains to be seen. But this is about prosecutorial discretion and use of LE resources. A practice that dates back to Eisenhower. Smart law enforcement required the Prioritization of resources which is what DAPA does. Focuses on felons not families. For smart legal arguments behind DACA/DAPA (I just play a lawyer on tv) go to http://bitly.com/1VWHuam

David Wessel of the Brookings Institution discusses the Fiscal Ship and how to steer the federal budget to a sustainable course

David Wessel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution. Mr. Wessel joined us on Tuesday, April 27th to discuss the Fiscal Ship — www.fiscalship.org — a new web game that challenges you to put the federal budget on a sustainable course.

@willey.case: Is the Fiscal Ship aimed more at policy makers or are the general public? We are aiming the game at the general public, the folks who never quite get to the end of any newspaper story on the federal debt but have a sense that it's important

BTW, for those interested on how we built the game. See fiscalship.org/faq.html

 @sam.ward: Fiscal ship doesn't use dynamic scoring! Rigged! Sam. We don't use dynamic scoring. It's impossible to dynamically SCORE100 individual tax/spending options, one at a time. CBO, JCT only score the very big changes (immigration, tax reform)