Mueller says little, but was that the point?


This is Josh Barrow and welcome to left right and center. You're civilized yet. Provocative Antidote self contained opinion bubbles that dominate political debate. This is the fourth week of July and this week it was muller time Robert Mueller testified before the House judiciary and intelligence committees he's and well. I'm not sure we learn very much that was clearly muller's intent. He already wrote the report that people could read if they felt like it. He said in May the report was his testimony and he wouldn't go beyond it so Democrats spent much of the hearing quoting from the report and asking to affirm mm-hmm that what he had said in the report was true they also tried and failed to get him to say the president had committed acts that would get most people indicted for obstruction of justice. Were they not sitting presidents who are protected by a Longstanding Department of Justice memo that says you can't indict a sitting president. Republicans Republicans for their part wanted him to talk about the steele dossier and the origins of the F._B._i.. Investigation into people around the trump campaign which wouldn't do saying that's not as purview. We'll talk about those hearings in a moment later in the show. We'll be joined by two academics focused on climate policy. One rhythm has provocative thesis that the green new deal is far less expensive than it appears also Evelyn Farkas will join us to talk about rising tensions with Iran and the president's unusual efforts to get American rapper ASEP rocky sprung from Swedish jail but now let's bring in our left frighten center panel as always. I'm your center joined by rich lowry editor of National Review on the right and on the left flank along the Roosevelt Institute. Hello Hi cash. Hey Josh Rich. What did you make of the Muller hearings well? It was obviously a fizzle missile and we all learned afterwards that had been an open secret in Washington that Bob Mueller had lost a step. Unfortunately we saw that demonstrated on live T._v.. For four or five hours and top Democrats must have known us but just been so desperate to try to create a T._V.. Moment that would catalyze and shake something loose on the impeachment dynamic. They went through it anyway so it wasn't a game changer establish a little bit sad and I think the main thing we learned is that it was very unlikely that Bob Mueller was rigorously in charge of his own investigation so Felicia. I think to rich's point a lot of the disappointment was that Muller did not serve. Anybody's political goals certainly didn't do what Democrats were hoping in terms of T._v.. Moments out of this hearing airing. I also don't think he provided a great deal for Republicans. I think you know to to richest point. There's this this talk about him having lost. I didn't think he was as bad as a lot of people thought he was. I mean he's clearly hard of hearing <hes> and he's clearly you know he's seventy. Five less energetic than he once was ause. I thought he got better in terms of his performance through the day but I do think that it was partly that you know that Bob Muller is less energetic that he once was but it was also partly he was trying not to be interesting and so that he was not interesting is not necessarily so Sara Lee a failure on his part. Now that's right we could have expected that he told us that <hes> you know I think the most sad and also actually alarming part of the entire set of testimonies the really wanting disrespect that many elected Republicans showed to muller himself. You had sensenbrenner accusing him fishing. You had gohmert you know trying to enter into the record. A piece called Robert Muller Unmasked and this just seems like an attempt to actually personally attack him <hes> you know there are real underlying issues here about what the president attempted to do to obstruct justice. I think these remain very serious issues and <music> all of that is obstructed by these questions about mother himself. I find that really actually quite scary. Rich to Felicia point one thing that Muller did seem interested in talking about at length was was passed an ongoing Russian threats to to U._S.. Elections <hes> <hes> which is something that is discussed somewhat in part one of his report there are also counterintelligence findings that have not been in probably never will be made public <hes> that relate to that he clearly wanted <hes> more focus on those efforts for twenty twenty Republican congressman will heard <hes> spent his time on that in the House Intelligence Committee hearing but otherwise it wasn't a big issue. Shouldn't this be something that is a focus for for members in both parties something that that really one can learn a lot from both what's in the report we've seen and then what's in some some material that we're not privy to you but that that is in the government's possession yes but I don't know why we need Bob Mueller to tell us that that I think there's been this ridiculous puffing up of Bob Mueller some sort of Oracle where if you write something down in the report you know that's one thing but if you actually actually says it in a yes or no answer and congressional testimony then it's unassailable true in and now everyone has to rally around this. He's just a guy he's just a prosecutor in members of Congress can make their own judgments about all these matters and I didn't see any personal attacks on him from Republicans. I did see some Republicans very effectively raising the issue that this new prosecutorial standard of not exonerated is exist nowhere in our law nowhere in president. It's it's impossible. I think to think any U._S.. Attorney who's ever advance such a standard and this was put the molar sometimes without the without giving you an opportunity to respond but sometimes actually in a back and forth and he could do nothing to defend it because it's indefensible but on on the Russian interference operations issue this isn't something that Muller was confining himself to yes or no answers on and it's not something just some guys the former director of the F._B._I.. With extensive experience in counter intelligence obviously there are other people who are also experts on this issue but this is an issue where his relevant standing is not just that he's a former prosecutor. It's his experience as a counterintelligence. We're making a huge deal like like a major moment at the hearing was when Adam Schiff said unpatriotic and wrong to welcome foreign assistance and Muller says is problematic at the least I and I was supposed to be like a a big moment <hes> why you know everyone can have their own judgments about these things I think obviously it's problematic and you shouldn't welcome foreign assistance in an election but the just Bob Mueller the the Democrats have been using him as a crutch. He's going to do the investigation. He's going to tell them what matters and the investigation and he's GonNa Create The T._v.. Moment that's going to create the political drive for impeachment and I just think that's been pathetic. They should step up themselves or shut up. Does this take impeachment impeachment off the table. Because what what I was looking at here imagining about impeachment Felicia is Democrats. Have this idea that impeachment hearings will be useful in some way that they will focus public attention on the president's wrongdoing more than it's already been. They will change minds wouldn't impeachment hearings look kind of similar to these hearings. I think there's a real reason that Democrats are conflicted on impeachment because it is a calm too confusing and almost difficult strategic question as to whether or not hearings would <hes> do do more to actually attack the president or as you say <hes> look like a non issue so I think the impeachment issue remains <hes> confusing but I want to go back to the Russia question because we can talk about Bob Muller all we want but let's not forget that the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday released a report about Russia's targeting of elect of our elections in two thousand sixteen. It looks like they are doing the exact same thing in twenty twenty. They're already doing it. We are seeing no no additional federal attention to this seeing no additional federal funding for it. This is a problem that actually right and left ought to be concerned about and I think the fact that rich you dismiss it or try to make it a subset of Bob Muller's performance <hes> This Week is wrong riches there. I mean setting aside specific legislative solutions. Are you confident that election officials in the fifty states all of which Russia made efforts to breach Election Systems in two thousand sixteen I mean are you confident. This issue is being handled appropriately. I think I've even heard Mark Warner saying on T._v.. That the agency level the trump administration is taking this seriously. I think some Democrats in folks on the left are now calling Mitch McConnell Moscow Mitch rich because he doesn't want to rush to pass one of these so-called election security bills that would do a lot to federalize our elections and that's just not that's not the way the system set up to ron and it doesn't mean he welcomes <hes> foreign interference doesn't mean once foreign interference but I don't. I don't have the insight to know what's happening. Every you know every single state in the country on this but it's something people should obviously be aware of and be trying to harden our defenses against as these hearings were happening. We also got closer to finalizing the budget agreement that sets federal spending levels and raise the debt limit for the next two years. It's a bipartisan agreement but the deal pass the house mostly with democratic support. They're actually enough. Democratic votes for the deal that could have passed with no Republican support at all about two thirds of house. Republicans voted no rich that vote tally assign the Democrats got the better end of this deal. Yeah I think you know Republicans got more defense spending which they wanted but they're not enthusiastic about the overall level spending I do think though it's kind of the final nail nailed coffin of the tea party Republicans are a big spending party now. They're not as big a spending party as the Democrats Wanna be but the deficit obsession debt obsession is all gone now and May. They return pending a Democrat winning the White House and wanting to spend more than even Republicans do but this was the the final nail in a stage of Republican politics that is now over Felicia to the extent that you I saw this on the democratic side. They tend to come from the left saying that it spends too much on defense that it doesn't impose enough restrictions on the way the the trump administration spends money related to immigration efforts. Do you think Democrats made a good deal here. I think one really important thing happened. In this budget deal which is that we got rid of question. We got rid of automatic spending cuts that were just as we saw when we talked about this earlier this year during the shutdown. Where's your so problematic and what the point that twenty eleven law did was every couple of years we had an environment of crisis that was sort of self manufactured because we had to undo funding levels that were artificially created <hes> and we created a kind of brinksmanship in the meantime Congress still head to fund the government and so I think getting rid of automatic matic spending cuts <hes> was a very important part of what happened in this last deal one criticism? I've been hearing from Democrats with this deal. It runs out in mid twenty twenty. One people are saying it sets up a situation you could have a Democratic president and you would give the Republican Congress Chris Power Soon in that president's term to pull basically what happened in twenty eleven with Barack Obama and threaten a debt ceiling crisis and try to force some big spending cuts related to that you talk about getting rid of the sequester you're getting rid of the lever that has forced Republicans is to the table over and over again since two thousand thirteen two thousand fourteen which is Republicans are focused on undoing the automatic spending cuts in the military and you've seen relatively smooth dealmaking in most cases starting with Paul Ryan and Patty Murray Twenty fourteen do worry about about setting up that twenty twenty one crisis. I do worry about setting up other kinds of spending crises but I think what we have to do which I think we're gonNA talk about. Later in the show is really rethink what it means to fund the Federal Government End to actually use public investment spending so I was obviously I wasn't there. I don't know why they couldn't go get past sort of June twenty twenty one <hes> I actually we've seen very many short term deals that were far less than two years so I I expect that this was really the best that the speaker could get and I think that pushing it out this long actually gives us time to start talking about what the what the debt-to-gdp ratio really ought to be <hes> I have some confidence that actually we can <hes> both get more Revenue Avenue <hes> and increase our understanding of what that ceiling ought to be so we can actually really start funding government Felicia. What do you want to talk about well? What I really wanted to talk about? Was this recent polling we've seen that has as looking very hard at how important independence are are in the twenty twenty presidential race. You know you've seen trump's approval rating about ten percent higher in must win states like Wisconsin and Florida and most of this is with white non college voters so I think it's really important to look at these independents to ask ask what are they actually think about the economy and why might they vote on what basis might they vote <hes> and there's a couple of things that democrats should really focus on <hes> first of all many of these white working class voters are economically distressed and that it could actually affect their vote away from trump. I just did a study <hes> for the voter study group with my co-authors Lee Druckman and Vanessa Williamson and we found that not only one in five Republicans think more like a Democrat on economic policies. They want to tax the rich which they wanNA raise minimum wage. They're actually they say they're more likely to vote against president trump because of that <hes> the second thing is that when you go right to the ultimate swing voter independence who are economically progressive these people are seven percent of the electorate and they've already started switching their votes. They pulled the lever for congressional Democrats by sixteen points more in two thousand eighteen than they voted for Hillary Clinton in two thousand sixteen. You have correctly I think this focus on and <hes> independence white working class voters but let's not forget that these folks are actually economically progressive so rich it feels to me like there are hazards and opportunities for for both parties in in these areas that Felicias describing. I think that these observations ovation's actually do significant extent to inform Donald Trump's two thousand sixteen campaign with his emphasis on the needs of workers rather than entrepreneurs on trade and being in favour of Tariffs de Emphasizing entitlement cuts that previous Republicans had been more enthusiastic about and then you see democratic policies some of which poll really well with these voters and some of which don't pull so well and so you have you have different policies that trump would like to emphasize versus the ones that Democratic candidates might be emphasizing twenty twenty. Do you think that Donald Trump is on strong enough ground round with these kinds of voters well. That's a big question. I know the answer to it. It will do a lot to determine twenty twenty <hes> the outcome. I think what we're seeing potentially on the Republican side is a giving away of off the language in the logic that had made the Republicans small government party kind of across the board you you kind of listen to what a Missouri Senator Josh Holly is saying and he he gives these big denunciations of the free market or says the free market is not the be all and end all denounces the the elite and wealthy people and then the policy is well. Maybe we should have more tax credits or something but there's no reason that that was the case he's making wouldn't <hes> support much more government activism than Republicans have ever had before that wouldn't support tax increases on the rich and the way the Republicans have advocated before I dunno went you know an one hundred years more <hes> so ah trump was was might have just been a precursor to this and we've talked a lot on this show he he kinda got the populist appeal and the populist rhetoric but a lot of the economic policies been traditional Republican policy as wonder whether that traditional Republican policy wash out in future years flea show and you describe these these voters in the middle as as economically progressive presumably that depends on precisely which progressive economic policies you're you're talking to them about and you're seeing this fight in the Democratic presidential primary right now about how far left to be on these issues and what to emphasize so for example a public option health insurance plan pulls extremely well even pulls pretty well Republicans pulls almost universal sport among Democrats very strong support among independents but there are a number of items on the Progressive Policy Agenda Agenda that are underwater in the polling if you ask about Medicare for all that replaces private health insurance <hes> there's a new mattress poll out last week that has that underwater <hes> forty one percent in favor fifty four percent opposed among the whole public and then things like offering health insurance to to unauthorized immigrants part of National Health Insurance plan very unpopular slavery reparations very unpopular so you have certain aspects of a progressive economic agenda that are getting a fair amount to play in this presidential primary that do not pull well and that I assume do not opole with these specific economically distressed working class white voters that you're talking about right well the two or three issues that Paul extremely well with these particular economically distressed voters are higher taxes on the wealthy and a a higher minimum wage which isn't surprising and if you look at that poll us you do see that Medicare for all who want it a kind of public option which I actually think is a path ultimately to a much greater kind of federal <hes> support of <hes> <hes> healthcare that pulls it seventy percent you see government regulation of prescription drug prices also pulling sixty seven percent you see a green new deal pulling it sixty three percent U._C.. A wealth tax pulling it about that so these are very very progressive policies and if you would told me that these were the in two thousand fifteen or twenty sixteen that these were going to be the policies that seventy percent of Americans we're going to support I would say maybe we have a really progressive country so rich. I mean you you sort of describe what Josh Holly is talking about with this sort of you know repositioning repositioning conservatism as against bigness whether in the public or the private sector and taking on big tax as to some extent vaporware and you talk about a way that you could <hes> put more meat on the bones but it sounds like that's not a way that you would want to do what is the alternative. I mean isn't the diagnosis says right that you know Ryan Ism was tired did not speak to the interests and needs of voters in the middle of the electorate didn't speak to the to the working class part of the Republican Party base. What is the alternative to moving the Republican Party in that direction well? I think it's coming up with intelligent elgin alternatives that don't have big economic <hes> downsides you know Republicans WanNa get on board. The minimum of big federal minimum wage increase. I think for instance that would be a mistake because you're squeezing certain people than out of the lower end of the Labor knbr market which are jobs that are really important in terms of getting training and skills and getting to the next rung of labor market so you don't want to endorse policies that have unintended consequences and an entitlement reform. I I think it's it's it just can be an economic necessity necessity as a matter of accounting at some point. This is a heck of a problem for a pop party is going to have more populous orientation and going to have to have some appeal in places like Pennsylvania Selena upper midwest presumably going forward what is a form of that <hes> in Tottenham form that would be politically saleable and I just don't have an answer to that actually WanNa turn back to this question of key swing voters and focus on. On a minute sub section but very important one there are six percent of Americans who say they approve of trump's management of the economy but they disapprove of his overall performance as president so this is a really interesting group and these voters say day. They're holding back from voting for him because of their own values. They don't think he's going to be a good role model for their kids their their values on non economic issues mostly family separation and climate and their real concerns about his character and temperament so I think that that is also a really important group to look at. Let's take a break. I'll be back with rich lowry of National Review and Felicia Wong of the Roosevelt Institute to talk about the green new deal. You're listening to left right and center. What do you think share your thoughts on? Today's show go on our facebook page or tweet us at L. R._C.. K._C._R._W. and download the K._c._R._W.. APP to listen to left right and center on demand back again with left right and center. I'm Josh Borough of New York magazine on the right as rich lowry editor of national review on the left is Felicia Wong President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute. We're going to do something a little unusual. In this segment Felicia has brought a guest with her J. W Mason who is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute J J W was an interesting new paper making a macroeconomic as for the green new deal flee before we bring in J. W can you set the political context a little bit for us. Can you talk about what this paper represents in terms of sort of reframing the debate about the green new deal right well. The Roosevelt report is really designed to do three things first to show that we don't have to trade off between improving the economy and making the economy more green you can do both so that's a reframe. The second thing is to show that to really make the transition to a green economy economy not just to move to phase out fossil fuels but also to expand mass transit or to retrofit buildings or pay farmers to capture carbon you simply must have public investment led strategy and then the last thing that the report is designed to do due to show that we can actually pay for it. The problem now is no longer climate denial to actually climate austerity and the report is designed to show that that austerity is wrong well so let's bring in J W Mason J W is an associate professor of economics at John Jay College in addition to being fellow Roosevelt Hydro W so your paper argues that a robust green new deal program might entail new expenditures of five percent of G._D._p.. which is a lot for context existing? Federal Spending is about twenty three twenty four percent of G._D._p.. A._D._p.. You say we could incur those expenses with little or no new taxes and that we should think of this not as an economic cost at all but as an investment how how does that math at the idea here is we're trying to connect to conversations that really have been taking place in separate silos silo. There's a conversation about e carbonation and climate change and then there's a conversation about the macro economy and the macro-economy conversation. We know that we've been facing inflation below the feds target for many years. We know that we face the problem with zero lower bound. We faced persistent assistant periods of high unemployment. We faced very low interest rates in the U._S. and around the world now we're looking at a new round of fed cuts. We're looking at the talking about a new extraordinary stimulus so central bank. Yes thanks so so essentially usually when we turned macroeconomics we're looking at a world that seems to be suffering from a persistent lack of aggregate demand suffering from a persistent lack of sufficient spending to employ all the labor and other productive resources available to us with a lot of economic costs then unfortunately when we talk about climate we've tended to assume that we are working with the economy at full employment. That's fully using its resources and so anything that we devote to decarbonisation is going to have to be taken away from meeting some other needs but in a world where we have the problem of the zero lower bound where we have this problem. Secular stagnation has Larry Summers and other people have talked about of persistent demand show it was it doesn't make sense to think of it that way that when you spend money on public program like decarbonisation not only are you what are some very urgent goals for our society but you're also helping plug this gap. You're also helping make up the shortfall in demand as we've seen conventional monetary policy is simply not able to do said of break that down the usual way that people think about the economy A. and the way the economy works in certain economic situations is basically that if the government goes out and spends more money and either taxes or borrows in order to do that spending that that's going to crowd out other activity in the economy the government borrows more money that push up interest rates that makes it more expensive for businesses to do private investment and so the government spending crowds out private spending your contention is because of this economic situation we're in where there's a shortage of aggregate demand. The government can go out and borrow and spend and that doesn't crowd out private activity so the government could spend conceivably not just on the renew deal but on anything and it essentially would cost less than it appears to cost on the government's financial statements. That's exactly right. That's exactly right. The social cost new spending is much lower when you have a shortfall of aggregate demand and that's really in a way that's what a world of low interest rates is telling US older persistent low interest rates is telling us that the opportunity cost public spending is much less than it might have been at at various times in the past. I have one more person I want to bring into this conversation and that's Joseph Mike who is the director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center <hes> just as one of people on the right who's been trying to interest conservatives and Libertarians and the idea that we need some sort of aggressive climate policy <hes> welcome Joseph. Thank you for joining US happy to be here. Thank you so. Is this an argument that appeals to you that essentially you know so many of the debates that we have about climate change inch prevention and with the the assumption that there's a really large economic costs associated with them that you need to convince people that that cost is worth incurring that basically that frame is wrong and that we can go out and say to people actually this is something that it's not completely free but a lot of it is free well. I think it's <hes> I'm a little skeptical. Though I appreciate the argument I agree there's evidence there slack in the economy <hes> in in in demand and I agree that <hes> oftentimes the costs of climate action have been overstated as a means of of of <hes> opposing individual policies but I I do question if it's <hes> if it's a going to be a constructive move to cast the cost of decarbonising the economy which we should do as as a feature as opposed to a bug of the of the policies. Let's see we want to use it really depends on your read of the situation. I think if we're in a situation where we simply can't spend enough money and we've we've seen this situation we saw the situation during the great recession where conventional monetary policy in the U._S. and elsewhere was simply not able to get the economy up to full employment and where I think today there's widespread agreement that the stimulus package adopted in the U._S. and elsewhere was not large enough then. I think we absolutely have to say that spending more money on anything is a feature are not about knows it happens. We're fortunate to have a very urgent problem to spend the money on but isn't the phrase on anything really key in there this this macroeconomic argument that you're making obviously this has been a controversial topic in U.. S. Politics for for over a decade it would apply to to any new public investment. So isn't the burden still on you to show that this is the appropriate way to spend that money I mean you could you could spend it on healthcare on child care on infrastructure not particularly aimed at at at green benefits isn't the burden still to show that this is the best use of these resources even if it is feasible to finance them through government borrowing I think to some extent our report is aimed at people who agree that the problem of climate changes and extremely urgent social problem and that is one of our highest priorities and are concerned about the paying foresight. I don't think our goal was to convince people the urgency of the problem. I think there's plenty of other evidence and arguments out there to convince people that I do think there's a certain argument for decarbonisation in particular because there is a certain time limited aspect of this. It's not unlike healthcare education. It's not something something the government is necessarily going to be doing permanently so if we think that this period of weak demand might not be might be something that will last for ten or twenty years but not forever. There's a certain argument there and I also think there's an argument that when you want to do this kind of macroeconomic spending there's a lot got to be said for public investment in particular and I think that <hes> you know that's something that clearly is a big component of decarbonisation way that it might not be for some of these other areas rich have Republicans to an extent opened up this line of argument for people on the left which is to say that you know Republicans came into office with some priorities they wanted to spend more money on the military. They wanted a corporate tax cut and they decided that there was no need to pay for that that the macroeconomic situation was such that the government could just borrow more money in order to pursue those priorities and and so far economic performance seems to continue to be fine in that environment of increased borrowing. Why shouldn't the left pick that up and pick its own policy goals and say that's what to use the increased deficit spending for yeah? I don't think Republicans have any credibility spending at the moment and in deficit spending we've had hasn't had any obvious immediate economic harms. My fear is just by the time we all agree that <hes> we can spend any amount of money and deficits don't matter at all will spend ourselves to a level where deficits matter and economic conditions will will change and it just seems to me that this this <hes> paper with all due respect to my today W it's it's more of a case for spending than than spending on the green new deal per se and I would think if you accept those premises. Thomases and I don't want to spend on things that make the economy more efficient and more productive <hes> their infrastructure projects that could do that for instance like basic R._N._D.. <hes> where we're I think we're not spending as much which is we should is a no brainer. A green new deal involves a notch just creating new sources of energy but scourging the sources of energy we already have that are represent great national wealth and are more efficient and I just don't buy the argument and that making energy basically more expensive and for swearing sources of energy that that are more efficient is good for the economy. You can make other arguments for that. It's allegedly gonNA save the planet but there's going to be a a big free lunch and a boon to the economy makes no sense to me well. So W D do you buy that premise because it it seems to me that the way that you and some others talk about some of these investments in new technology are similar to way that people often talk about the Apollo program which is to say that you know we did we had this expensive program to go to the moon and we had all sorts of ancillary learning from doing that that that boosted productivity in the economy and that led to other useful innovations and ultimately produced more economic growth so I think that sometimes the argument you hear about green technology the claim Ms that this particular area both public spending and of regulations that forced shifts in private spending that they'll they'll force people to do useful are indeed that will make the economy more productive in the long run. I guess the question is how do we know that because usually when the government comes in and tells private that businesses no don't do the thing you thought was most efficient do this other thing you should tend to expect that to to reduce economic output. So why is this a case where you get positive knock on benefits from that one piece is Felicia said we're not just talking about regulation. We're talking about public investment vestment and there's a big difference. I think when you're trying to build up new industries from scratch it's true that simply raising costs as something like a carbon tax. You know this is why we don't agree with people who say the carbon tax is the be all and end all policy here because all that does do is raise costs for existing carbon intensive forms of energy and production and we think that's not enough you need directed public investment into new sectors and we think there's a lot of areas where there's increasing returns where you start an industry initially. It's not cost competitive initially can't get going on its own. It can't be successful in the market but with smart strategic subsidies and public investment you get to the point where it is and I think we are. We're already seeing this. You know there's a reason why most of the new installed capacity of electricity in the U._S. is wind power because it's cost effective. It's because it's actually cheaper to invest today for private companies but that didn't happen on its own happened because you initially had public investment and you had subsidies that got it up to that point. If you ask why is China taking off dominating the Solar Altaic Market it's because they've had smart policies of putting public resources. They're building up that sector sector and getting it to the point where it's then cost competitive. It's not the case that you simply already have sort of the most efficient options you have and if you close them off you're just going to be doing something less efficient Joseph some of the arguments that j w made their <hes> are related to a declining enthusiasm suzy. Ask them that I see for carbon taxes from some climate advocates on the left basically saying there are concerns about carbon taxes both politically that they that they will end up being unpopular and their aggressivity and arguing that through some of these other approaches you can achieve many of the goals you try to achieve through a carbon tax that through public investment in research and development you can move people away from from carbon-emitting activities <hes> without making carbon tax central to your climate. <hes> plan does that make sense to you is the carbon tax is important as people made it out to be well. I have to say I think a carbon tax is the best <hes> policy approach we can take to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and that's largely for the same reasons that we're just described right research and development or early deployment of wind power for instance changes the relative if prices in the marketplace and you shift to that kind of production. That's exactly what a carbon tax intends to do as well. I think the idea that we need to do a lot more spending right the programs. We've done previously for clean energy or not five percent of G._D._p.. That's Defense Department apartment types of numbers and I don't know that that's necessary to <hes> read our economic production of Greenhouse Gases J. W where did you come up with five percent. It was really just a benchmark number that was sort of the high end. The argument was even if we got that hi this is still still affordable. It was not it was not an estimate of what we think. The cost would be a lot of estimates out there low lower than that but but I do think it's a lot more than where we are now. I think that that that there is an urgency to this requires a level of public investment. Maybe it's not five percent G._D._p.. Maybe it's three percent sean of G._D._p.. It's still a lot of money again that number and the report was simply arguing that even if you take sort of high end estimate it's still something that we can afford rich. What if anything do you think we should be doing about this? I mean you have people like Joseph out there trying trying trying to get Republicans to take seriously the idea that this is this is not just a real problem but a real problem that is addressable through public policy in the Republicans should care about addressing people obviously worry about the economic effects you also see people like the president sort of sowing doubt about the underlying hang science and and the extent to which this is really a problem <hes> if you have concerns about you know specific economic effects of specific policies what if anything do you think we should be doing about climate change basic research and remaining a rich and dynamic a society with the ability to adapt if the worst comes but I don't believe that we're in a climate crisis I think a lot of the rhetoric we see on the left the Democratic Party where every time there's a tornado or a flood or hurricane is responsibility of global warming none of that supported <hes> by the the research and even the the most robust A._F._C. version of the green new deal look at the estimates using the best models out there and it just has a miniscule fact on global temperatures <hes> eight years from now so I think there are a lot of people who ideologically they like more spending they like more regulation and I think the climate supposed crisis is their new way to make the case for that agenda which is a very old one Joseph. What do you say to that? I assume this is something that you hear a lot in your work. I sympathize with the idea that there's the impulse to have a lot more public. Spending is now being put on a climate action timescale right that this is a sort of a convenient mechanism by which to push a different agenda which is about changing the economic structure of the United States. I agree with J W that climate is a compelling issue for public policy makers. I would push back on rich saying that <hes> the manifestations of global warming in individual weather events and extreme events are increasingly visible when you look at the <hes> the scientific literature and the we're now in a regime where we're managing both the costs costs of adapting to climate change and dealing with its damages as well as reducing emissions to prevent future damages G._W.. I want to ask about how your proposal fits into the broader economic agenda on the left which is to say what what you have pointed out about. The idea that we are below capacity interest rates are low they appear to remain low even when the deficit grows that gives us room to spend you see people on the left say that about a lot of policies you see I mean <hes> Alexandria Casio Cortez noting that when talking about single payer healthcare and and how that can be financed and so to rich's point there even if there is room to spend more on a deficit spending basis that room is not infinite eventually you would reach a point where you were borrowing enough that deficits would matter again and so you can use that space once let's you can use it to spend <hes> and then once you've spent it then an additional program the also WANNA implement at the same time you would presumably have to finance that with taxes or something else so how does this fit into the agenda. If you know if people take up what you say on the green new deal <hes> how would you also do single oh payer. How would you do childcare? How would you do other things that are that are on the left's agenda which I assume you also support? I think we really need to bracket single payer Medicare for all which is is really vastly more expensive than anything else. We're talking about including the green new deal and clearly I think almost almost everybody who talks about that is also talking about some kind of revenue that goes with it so comma Harris. Yes I think I think so. I think that one I think that it's not obvious to me that setting that one aside that we don't have space to do actually of robust green new deal and you know robust housing program and and some type of free higher education and the rest of it because it's Medicare for all is just is just much much bigger than the rest of those things but I also I do think and this is a starting point here. The climate change problem is the great problem facing us today. It's probably the most urgent public policy <hes> <hes> problem that we face <hes> so I don't I don't see a problem with with prioritizing that. Honestly I want to bring in Felicia again to to close the segment <hes> we talked about the green new deal like seven months ago. We were on a special edition the show over the holidays where we talked about visions for what's coming with the left and I remember I asked you what is the green new deal because at the time it really felt like more talking point there has been more detail that has been rolled out over the last few months it still feels to me like an issue where the democratic coalition benefits in terms of being able to form cohesion by a certain amount of vagueness about exactly what the policy is going to entail. I mean for example. G._W.'s paper is sort of agnostic on on the use of a carbon tax doesn't endorse or reject it. <hes> does has does note that if you do it. It's regressive offset it with something that's progressive but once you start putting details in deciding you know where we're going to spend the money. How are we going to finance it? Does that start to fracture the coalition at all as you have to start to make prioritizing choices and how do you deal with that. Well I'd actually make the other argument that the great <hes> fragility of potential green new deal is not putting enough policy specifics behind it so what you've seen since we talked about it in December January is a number of people putting more meat on the bones of the framework <hes> that was that initially came out so you see our report where we you know list three different buckets in which you could really do significant spending you see Jay Inslee as work work which really focuses much more on jobs in front line communities and also focuses on regulation of oil and Gas Vice President Joe Biden also has a climate plan. You've seen better come out with a set of policies you saw the House Democrats. Come out with <hes> you know something that is intended to be somewhat imperilled to the original A._F._C. Green new deal so I think that this is it's actually important to put enough meat on the bone so people actually know what we're talking about here and then we can have the policy debate. Things are going to be fractured but I actually think there's great agreement on the left at this isn't urgent priority and I think folks are GonNa work it out whether it's as you know targets for twenty thirty versus twenty thirty five versus twenty-fifty. That's something that's going to be worked out but moving is the most important thing I want to thank G._W.. Mason from the Roosevelt Institute and Joseph Mike It from the Niskanen Center. Thank you both for joining us. I've been talking with Felicia Wong of the Roosevelt Institute and Rich Lowry of National Review. We will be back with Evelyn Farkas to talk about Iran and S._F.. Rocky you're listening to left right and center join the conversation on our facebook page or tweet us at L._l._c. k._c._R._W.. Stream all episodes of left right and center and other great shows at K._c._R._W.. Dot Com slash podcasts highest vanessa host of the NOCTURNE podcast and I wanNA tell you about K._c._R._W.'s annual twenty four hour radio race. It's a competition where producers make original audio audio stories overnight. The radio race is dear to my heart because I was a finalist way back in two thousand fourteen along with Nocturne co-creator can spiraling back then I was just about to start knocked her but I didn't have a lot of experience coming up with story ideas quickly glee and turning them around on a tight deadline. The radio race was an amazing challenge and honestly one of the most on experiences of my life. It was exciting and harrowing an almost as much adrenaline as the one time I tried parasailing it also marked the beginning meaning of my creative relationship with K._c._R._W.. Today nocturne is distributed by the station. The radio raise takes place this summer August tenth through the eleventh were asking producers of all levels and from anywhere in the world to participate and to make a nonfiction nonfiction radio story based on common theme. I can't wait to hear what you create over the course of a day and one very intense night sign up right now at K._c._R._W.. Dot Com slash radio race back again with left right and center. I'm your host. Josh Barrow on the right is rich. Lowry editor of National Review on the left is Felicia Wong President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute and now we're joined by Evelyn Farkas who is a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States Evelyn is here to talk about the rising tensions with Iran but I want to ask first about another foreign power. That's on president trump's mind this week which is Sweden American rapper. Asep Rocky has been jailed in Sweden for several weeks now. He was arrested for assault though he says he acted in self defense. The arrest has led to the cancellation of much of his European. Tour and various American officials and celebrities have urged the Swedes to release him most notably president trump has put extensive public and private pressure on Swedish Prime Minister Stephan loafing trump reacted angrily win loaf told him the sweetest judiciary is independent and there's nothing you can do to influence the prosecution <hes> Ellen first of all hello and thank you for joining us. Hello Hi Tash great to be here so I'm not GonNa ask you to comment on Swedish law and the validity of this prosecution. My question is essentially American diplomacy with foreign powers. I assume ordinarily has a variety of goals were balancing and obviously Sweden is not the most consequential and powerful world power we interact with but how does it affect our foreign relations when the president picks a hobby horse like this and lobbies lobbies on it on a way that truly looks quite improper to officials and members of the public abroad. It's so disturbing Josh because it's so abnormal you know this is another example of what the president himself would call unpresidential behavior because normally when you have a situation where a U._S.. Citizen is accused of committing a crime and put in jail and faced with a criminal prosecution. The United States will not intervene politically or otherwise if the country's democracy with a strong rule of law. Maybe you would have something happening at the embassy level. Let's say the ambassador would go and make sure that everything's proceeding as you would imagine a democracy that the I would be defendant is is has access to family etc but Sweden is a very strong democracy with a very strong rule of law and so you there would be minimal work that the United States would have to to do there and certainly you would never have a president publicly calling for the release of someone who's been accused of a crime again in a democracy where they're not want to just Willy Nilly accuse people their own citizens or other citizens of crimes the way the president has approached this is the way you would approach it and the way he should approach it in dealing with Russia because Russia today as we know or maybe this is a reminder or or maybe it's I information for some listeners but Russians been holding a man by the name of Paul whalen forty nine year old guy who went to Russia and it looks like he was snatched by the Russians under false pretenses they plant it looks like the intelligence community planted some some information with him and said that he was a spy and they've been holding him without a trial with improper access to medical <hes> medical assistance that his family says he needs and that case is one where the president needs to intervene because there is no rule of law affectively in Russia that Kremlin is holding this guy in response for our holding of Maria Boutin A- and that's a whole nother story a Russian national. Obviously this is irregular and improper my question. Does it matter or are there like are there harms to the United States because the president has has picked this fight to pick yes because of course now he's insulted Sweden and while Sweden is not a member of NATO. It's very closely aligned with NATO. If you just pull out your map and you look at the number one threat threat being Russia you have to deal with Sweden they provide us with good information and intelligence on what Russia is doing. We work very closely with Sweden as a partner. We obviously also have a trading relationship with Sweden Sweden's a member of the European Union and if we treat our friends like this us again every other friend is going to think when are we when is the president of the United States going to tweet about us and essentially draws down on our ability to influence our friends and others and that's a problem for the United States of America Erica. Yes the president's trying to distract from probably Russian interference 'cause. I don't know if we're GONNA talk about it but two big developments are the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report saying that all fifty states retargeted by the Russians and then of course we had the muller testimony the other day and you want to talk about Iran but that's probably what the president's trying to deflect attention from but it does do diplomatic damage. What is there to be done about Iran right now because you've had this escalation since it's the U._S.? Withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal reimpose sanctions Iran has been doing these provocative things. They're enriching more uranium than was allowed under the deal. They shut down the U._S.. Drone last month they've been intercepting ships on their way in and out of the Persian Gulf. What kind of risks does this pose specifically quickly to the interest the United States and what can we do about them? At this point having pulled out of the deal yeah I mean look the Iranians like the North Koreans and another scenario they would like the United States to come back to the negotiating table and make another deal similar to the one that we made with them before the United States on the other hand has said all the way up to president trump were willing to negotiate but when you then look at secretary pompey's language he said we'll negotiate if Iran and then he has a list of I think it's something like sixteen eighteen conditions and essentially what it all adds up to is if Iran completely changes its foreign policy which is unrealistic and so we keep pressuring Iran through sanctions the latest thing now is this tanker war. You're in quotes if you will in the Straits of Hormuz where we're pressuring Iran and and limiting their ability to move oil in particular through the streets of her moods so we're cutting off more of their potential revenue and it's pushing them to the wall and the hope in this administration maybe that they negotiate on better terms. It may be that there's a regime change. This is the problem that I can identify as an American trying. Had to figure out what my government is trying to do and it's also the problem that I think is in the back of the Europeans minds as they are trying to navigate the the situation because they don't want war. They don't want escalation. They're not pushing for regime change. They would prefer to go back back to a negotiated settlement something along the lines of what we had before rich. Do you have a sense of of what the strategy is inside the administration right now because you have these officials including the president who are all over the map on how they would seem to like to approach Iran you have the president it's sort of a openly talking about John Bolton as someone who favors Hawk attractions that that he would never favor on the other hand you had the president allowing Rand Paul to try to negotiate a very dovish member of the party. Is there a theory within the administration of how they're going to get around in line well. The consensus across all factions is squeezing Iran and will continue to see more of that. I expect these certifications for so-called civilian nuclear work in Iran that Iran's cooperating with Europeans with that we basically allow by certifying. I expect those not to be renewed. which be another pressure point? A big benefit from the Iran nuclear deal be one of the last benefits to to go away but what what comes next is the big question I do think <hes> trump imagines this as a prelude to diplomacy and negotiations. I think that's probably where we're more likely headed rather than <hes> toward more intense conflict. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what the Iranians a think as well and I think so far <hes> the administration's handled it fairly well the various provocations and the Straits of Hormuz we can do more to provide security to shipping and we're heading heading that way but given that Iran seems desperate to be retaliated against in some sort of major way and desperate <hes> to be bombed presumably because it thinks thinks it would create domestic political problems for trump that will create greater tensions in the U._S.. Alliance science with its European partners. It's probably not a good idea to give them that and trump hasn't yet felicia by the idea of trump is the keystone of restraint here who has held us together. Yeah I don't agree with <hes> riches read of the situation situation as I see it. I think the trump administration's response is really incoherent in an actually reflects a deep internal divide because on the one hand you see maximum pressure for regime change you see a doubling down on sanctions you see threats of military attacks in on the other hand you see and this has been true from the beginning of the trump administration not just with Iran but you see a really deep isolationism that is at the heart of putting America first so I think it's really tough to be strategically. He's smart in a game of chicken. When you've already tipped your hand that you're going to swear I and I think that going back as we've already said <hes> to rules of law and being a nation of law that is the best the best way to create more stability in the International System Evelyn? Is it possible to put the deal together if trump decided you know that he's going to send Rand Paul or somebody else's an envoy and try to you know presumably trump would say like this is like the U._s. m._C._A.. It's very different than the thing that that came before for it. If the president came around and wanted to get back into something that looked like the Iran deal. Would that still be in the offing. Is that something around absolutely yes <hes>. I have josh a an OP ED in the Washington Post now almost a month ago that essentially lays this out we just need the president to decide that that he wants to deal and the deal can include all of the elements that you had in the Obama deal and the joint the J._C._p.. Away but he can make make it better he can include missiles <hes>. I think the Iranians would go for that. Maybe he can get some of the Americans that the Iranians are holding released in prison in Iran. Perhaps also Thais the the American that has being Austin tastes being held in Syria they run INS might be able to get him sprung so a few other things maybe some some language on a resolution a peaceful resolution for Syria. I believe the Iranians would come to the table and they would make a deal like that. So I think it is possible. The problem is that it seems that the administration wants a maximalist outcome. They're not gonna go for this kind of compromise and I think because that's unrealistic it will drag on this this tit for tat situation with the Iranians where the Iranians will continue to escalate to try to get us to make a deal and the risk for that entire time will continue and possibly increase the risk that we will have some kind of military confrontation if the president does what you're advocating here goes back and gets a deal. That's like the old deal but a little bit better wouldn't that be vindication of his whole strategy here wouldn't he show that indeed by pulling out of the deal and by doing this aggressive posturing that he had succeeded in improving on Obama's deal it could be if what he got was good enough and or better enough. I guess if those watching thought it was substantially better I mean I think if it was like M._c._i.. And it was just incrementally better view would have have some discussion about that some debate about it but yeah it could be successful. The only thing is again the U._S.. Government is taking on a lot of risk with a strategy. If I were in the White House I would want to negotiate an end to this to limit the risks to the U._S.. Risk Government to the U._S. military to U._S.. Personnel to the United States of America writ large and the economic interest we have because we have a whole nother bunch of issues to worry about besides Iran us going to add yes. It's true the ministrations to manage right now a very maximus. They'll have have to decide what they're really gettable deliverables are that they want to seek an negotiation but also the Iranians. I don't think have any incentive to do anything before November. Twenty twenty in the hopes that a Democrat is elected president who will just return to the deal. No questions asked far aren't they in a lot of economic trouble. Wouldn't it be to Iran significant advantage Evelyn to to get out from under some of the sanctions yeah and that's why I think that president trump can get a better deal and and frankly speaking. I've been hearing Democrats. Say you know those who are running for office but other experts say you know yeah now now. If we got back into office we would also want a better deal so let's go for the better deal but let's not drag out the situation where because the other cost of it getting back active diplomacy where we started josh is that we are really severely straining our relations with the European allies and we need them as I said for a bunch of other more important situations Russia China Etcetera <hes>. We're going to leave that there I wanNA thank Evelyne Farkas senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund. Thank you for joining us. Thanks Josh we've we've reached time once again for our famed left right and center ranch featuring pet peeves from across the political spectrum flee along. What's your rent on Wednesday? The Federal Trade Commission issued a five billion dollar fine against facebook but that fine as big as it sounds is is insufficient. It's actually weightless facebook had already set aside three billion dollars to pay potential vines and it stock price actually rose after the F._t._C. announced the fine but more importantly as F._T._C. Commissioner row hit Chopra Chopra who cast one of the two dissenting votes on the deal said the settlement imposes no meaningful changes to the company structure or financial incentives which led to these violations the fine leaves the company's business model intact facebook is the tip of the iceberg regulators have to go after the concentration of power that causes harms and not just slap fines on top while leaving those structures intact rich lowry. It's her soapbox senator. Josh Holly stands accused of resorting to the antisemitic tropes because he repeatedly used the word quo cosmopolitan to describe borderless elites at a conservative conference on nationalism last week's true that the word has historical baggage going back to Joseph Stalin in the nineteen forties forties who used it when he was embarking on antisemitic purges in the Soviet Union but it's a word that's used widely in academic literature because it's so useful it's also a word that cosmopolitans used to describe themselves so in Short Art Josh Holidays innocent of the charge and it's a perfectly good word and our contemporary context for my rent. Mark Kleiman passed away this Sunday at the age of sixty eight climbing was public policy professor at N._Y._U.. And one of America's leading experts on drug and criminal the justice policy he had a brilliant mind these areas he described how you could make parole and probation systems more effective and less for Conan at the same time he designed drug legalization regimes that would discourage increased drug use and dependence and he advocated an approach to drunk driving that focused on control of problem drinkers a policy that appears to save lives both on and off the road his research and his work with lawmakers improved lives and we'll continue to do so after his death estates perform their criminal justice systems and move toward marijuana legalization. Mark was always generous with his time when I wrote about these issues he made me and so many other people smarter about them and he will be missed. That's all we have time for today. I WanNA thank rich lowry. Felicia Wong J W Mason Joseph Mike Catt and Evelyn Farkas left right and center was produced by Rebecca Mooney our technical director J._C. Swat Katie Buerskens.

Coming up next