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tv   Washington Journal Jim Tankersley  CSPAN  November 22, 2021 6:38pm-7:23pm EST

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sunday, december 5, historian and conservative commentator victor davis hanson joins us to talk about war, politics, and citizenship in the united states. his book titles include the father of us all, the case for drum, and his latest, the dying citizens, in which he says the ideals associated with citizenship are disappearing. join in the conversation with your phone calls, facebook comments, texts, and tweets at noon eastern on in-depth on book tv and before the program, visit c-span.org to get your copies of his books. >> jim is with us and he covers the white house right now for the new york times, focusing on economic policy and the economic porcelain -- correspondent. welcome to washington journal. thank you for having me. host: a big win on friday for the president, for democrats,
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wit the passageh in the house of the $2 trillion social spending measure. it is in limbo now because the house and senate will be off for the thanksgiving break, but what is ahead? what is the challenge for the administration and for congressional democrats in the senate? guest: well, i will start by saying it is a big win for them and like you were saying, clearing the actual vote in the house and advancing it was harder than it looked. it's a package with a lot of moving parts and not a lot of votes to spare. in the house, they have done it. now turning to the senate, they have a couple problems with senators, mostly joe manchin, the centrist from west virginia who has had concerns all along with the size of the bill, with
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some of the spending programs, including some that were named after it passed the house. and also, to a lesser degree now, senator kyrsten sinema of arizona, who has had concerns with the revenue increases the democrats have put into pay for spending, including proposals for raising taxes on corporations. so, they have worked hard, democratic leadership, to address those concerns, but now what we will probably see is big changes, or at least small changes, to the bill in order to try to win the votes of the senators. and as a final wildcard, you have a change that was made in the house to the state and local tax deduction, which really upset senator bernie sanders of vermont. so the left wing of the party, essentially there is a tax cut for higher earners tucked into
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the bill in the house, and may change in the senate. host: the president has had a big win with the signing of the infrastructure bill, so why is it important to his economic agenda to have this $2 trillion social spending measure as part of that? guest: if you back up think about president biden's mission for the economy, he's passed a couple bills to advance things, but it is not complete. the first was to shore up the economy in the midst of this recovery from the covid recession, and that is what the american rescue plan was for, the 1.9 trillion dollar plan he signed in march. then he took his longer-term agenda, which is really about reimagining the rules of american capitalism and the role of government in it, in order to help the country compete in the
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21st century, both on a worker level and on a business level. he cut that in half. the first half past passed, the physical infrastructure bill, for water pipes, internet, a variety of new infrastructure to support a decarbonizing electric sector, like electric vehicle charging stations around the country and improvements in the grid. all of those have been signed into law. the second part that remains is investments in people. the president believes if you want an economy that works for everybody, you need to support the workers better, so that means more education for young people, universal prekindergarten, it means more support for workers once they are actually in the labor force, so there are measures to reduce
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the cost of childcare in here. for now, we will see if it stays, a federal. leave program for workers. and measures to help people cope with middle-class life, including affordable housing, and to top it off, a huge collection of tax credits and other incentives meant to speed that reduction in carbon emissions, both by climate change, and as the president has put it, to position american business to compete for the jobs in the industries that will dominate the global economy focused on reducing carbon emissions. host: it was interesting reading your pc couple days ago about the headline of which says, biden sells infrastructure improvements as a way to counter china. a bit of a foreign-policy story here, but you reported that, and you talked to people about how much of the u.s. is spending on infrastructure, how much china is spending on infrastructure.
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why is that important? guest: the president talks about this a lot, and president trump talked about it a lot, as much as a bipartisan talking point is you can find right now in the country -- the idea that china has been spending big in the last couple decades to remake its infrastructure to have better delivery, to have -- to establish itself solidly as a global leader in manufacturing. and america, economists believe that america has under invested, allowed its infrastructure to decay, or cannot keep up. for example, back to electric cars, what the president addressed this past week, we are very much behind china and europe in the buildout and adoption of electric cars. these are things that fit together in the mind of the president, if you let china
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beat you to the spot of where the new industries are going to be, then you are going to fall behind. and american business will not be competitive and will not make as much in america anymore, and we will keep losing their jobs to china, like we did in the early 2000. that's not what the president wants. president trump did pursue industrial policy in trying to bend the role of government to help certain industries develop in the idea that supporting policies that will not fall behind china in those industries. host: jim is taking your calls, your comments about the biden economic policy. for democrats, 202-748-8000.
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for republicans, 202-748-8001. for independents, 202-748-8002. tell us about bernie sanders not being happy in the house. guest: this goes back to 2017, the republicans passed a tax cut measure that included a lot of big tax cuts, but it also included ways to offset the costs of the tax cuts of the were doing, and one was to cap and the amount that people could deduct of the state and local taxes that they pay from their federal taxes. this is something that primarily helps those in higher cost, higher taxed states like maryland, california and oregon. so, there was a lot of angst from democrats, that you are raising taxes on our states and not republican states for
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corporations and individuals. and, the democrats won the a lot of house seats in part by promising suburban voters in new jersey and other places that they would roll back that cap. and now they are delivering on that. that's what they put into the bill. the problem for democrats, the thing that sanders is so upset about, when you roll back that limit on the deduction, it's actually a tax-cut, mostly for the rich, because they are the ones most hit by the cap, they are paying the largest amount of taxes and itemizing deductions on their federal taxes. so, the democrats suddenly have a bill that is meant to help people in poverty and people in the middle class, but also tacked on, a tax-cut that will largely benefit the rich. sanders has complained about
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that, and i think you will see him attempt to change or tweak that, to perhaps cap the value of the deduction or do other things so it helps the top earners, but not the super 1%. host: what about drawing the line in the sand in terms of the price tag on the spending bill? guest: sanders has talked about it, but i cannot imagine he will be fighting against any of the senators who were the ones that reduced the overall cost of this bill down from the $3.5 trillion that was in the original framework the democrats had. i do not think that senator manchin, for example, is big on reinstating the salt deduction. the problem is the house, so the question is, can they negotiate with the house, because
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theoretically those house members who are concerned about salt, say, if you touch this, we will walk and not pass whatever comes back from the senate, then the president would have a problem. that is the negotiation, but the democrats i talk with their is the thought that they can do a compromise, and still make progress for salt claiming households. that it would not be such a large tax-cut for the high earners. host: i want to ask one more thing before we get to callers, the president is said to make an announcement on the economy on tuesday, and if there is a word he will make an announcement about the federal reserve, including specifically on the chair, jay powell. what's your sense of what we will hear and tell us background on that. guest: the white house has been saying for some time that a decision will come before
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thanksgiving, on a fed chair. it's late in the process, honestly, the job basically comes open early next year and usually by now a president would have appointed a successor, a replacement like president trump did when he appointed jay powell to replace janet yellen. or reappoint somebody to the office, which has often been the case. the background is democrats are divided over this pick. there's a lot of democrats who think that jay powell has done a very good job with monetary policy, has kept interest rates low, and has kept his foot on the gas to help the economy coming out of this recession in a way that has helped workers. but there are other democrats who are worried about, led by elizabeth warren in massachusetts, who have
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expressed real concerns about jay powell's financial regulation, or in the case of senator whitehouse and senator berkley in oregon, they are concerned he has not made fighting climate change central enough to the fed's mission. there is pressure on the white house to pick a different fed governor, to replace it jay powell, and that that is what we have come down to, either jay powell will be reappointed or lil brainard -- lael brainard will replace him. it has felt like months now that it has taken the president to make a decision. but if we believe with the white house has been telling us, th ey will make a decision. host: it is hard to read what the fed will do sometimes. any indication if he does pick brainard, how the fed would
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operate differently in terms of policy? guest: it is a real question about monetary policy. the general consensus among the democrats pushing for brainard is, you can have the interest rate and other monetary policy policies that you like from jay powell, she will continue those, but you can also get more aggressive with financial regulation. that is the argument from the democrats who support her. one of the arguments from liberals i talked to that support jay powell is she is a question mark, we do not know how fast she will raise interest rates. and she might have a different thought about things than chair powell does. the wildcard in this is inflation is currently running at a much higher pace than the fed thought it would, largely because of the delta variant,
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resurges that nobody in the federal world would have that would affect the economy as it has. that's a headwind for the president and it has been part of the discussions now as he looks to pick the next chair. all these factors are in play, and it is not like they know for sure, well, if you pick option a, you were getting monetary policy a, and b with b. there is mystery to it. they do not know exactly what jay powell would do next year if inflation continues, so that is the injury behind all this. host: jim tankersley of the new york times. the lines are 202-748-8000 for democrats, 202-748-8001 for republicans, and for independents and others, 202-748-8002. john in pennsylvania. he's on the republican line. caller: biden wants to double the irs agents.
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right now, 61% of the u.s. citizens pay no federal income tax. what sense does it make to double the agents, when a lot of people are not paying income tax? studies for immigration in the united states pointed out that the child tax credit will apply to illegals, and more money than -- and they will get more money than u.s. citizens. that is not where i want my tax dollars to go. guest: i will take on the first question first, because it is a good one and i appreciate it. the president, and the build back better plan, does include $80 billion for increasing staff to the irs. that will mean a lot more audits. but the idea, at least of the administration says, is those agents would be focused entirely
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upon the big drivers of what economists call the tax gap, the taxes owed and not owed. that would not be about the people who do not pay federal income tax, for the most part. what the administration says is those agents would be focused on corporate tax avoidance, high earners. there's very sophisticated tax strategies, some of them eu legal, -- them illegal, and the idea is they will train enforcement on that. the president said nobody earning less than $400,000 a year would be subjected to any sort of enforcement from this. the concern is that small businesses taking in more than that could find themselves targets of audits, and that could be difficult for them, but what the administration has said
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over and over is the money is for the higher earners, the ones who are not paying what they owe, so that is where enforcement is meant to be. focused. on the second question, i have not seen the breakdown on the child tax credit, but for everybody else out there, the child tax credit version in the bill extends a credit that was created, enlarged in this in march, that goes to millions of american families to increase in the amount of money they get per child. it also is a refundable credit. so people who do not, who do not file federal income taxes, normally do not make enough money -- you have to file -- but if you do not make enough money to owe federal income taxes, you can still get money back for a child tax credit.
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that refund ability would be made permanent under the new law, and the extended credit would be extended per year. host: a broader question from william in connecticut. "the laws on manufacturing continued for 30 years, however this administration bring back manufacturing dollars to our shores?" guest: it is a question i have thought about pretty much my whole career. back from when i was a reporter in toledo called the way through my time in washington. there is no easy answer on how to bring back those jobs. you are talking about trying to keep high levels of manufacturing production in the country, even if it means slightly fewer jobs, just because of the trends right now, not here only, but globally, manufacturing more with fewer people. but the government has pitched
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the info searchable as a way to improve american manufacturing and make it easier to make things here. but like i was saying at the beginning, they are also making what they would call strategic investments, and there is a companion piece of legislation that includes research funding to try to boost america's research and development and market position and a bunch of sort of emerging high-tech industries of the 21st century, like semi conductors, electric cars -- there's a lot of, again, industrial policies. the president wants to have federal contracts, and federal advantages, towards the meaning can -- towards american manufacturers in the hope that american factories can expand and we will stop importing from china and elsewhere. host: let's hear from frank on
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the independent line. caller: good morning. on taxes, the first caller was uncomfortable with tax dollars going towards illegal immigrants and image and those that do not pay taxes at all. you were talking about the extra irs agents going after corporations, wealthy corporations, and i do not think that is what he was implying when he said 60%. but i think we have a real problem here where republicans are always saying, they do not want tax dollars going towards the minority, the poor, but they do not have a problem with subsidizing companies. i want to ask specifically, i am really curious, what or how long
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have we been subsidizing oil companies? at what cost -- that's what i do not want my tax dollars going towards, to those companies, i want them going towards green energy. that's what i want. my specific question is, how long have we been subsidizing oil companies and how much have we been subsidizing them? thank you. guest: great question. i was just in, earlier this month, at the glasgow climate summit as part of the traveling press corps following the president from the g20 summit in rome, then to scotland. one of the very big contradictions we saw was the president was talking to other countries about how we need to -- and calling upon other countries to end fossil fuel subsidies, while at the same
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time, behind the scenes, pushing for oil producers to crank up production to ease gas prices in america. and not being able to follow through on his promise to eliminate all subsidies for fossil fuels in the u.s. tax code as part of the build back better agenda. there's still billions of dollars in subsidies, even after the moves they would make in the build to try to limit benefits for oil and gas companies. i do not know exactly what they are, but there's all kinds of businesses subsidize, and oil is one of them. the president did have a chance to levy an additional direct tax on fossil fuels earlier this year. republicans, oddly enough, wanted to include an increase in the federal gas tax as part of a
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paid part of the infrastructure bill, the president said it violated his pledge to not raise taxes on those making less than $400,000 a year. but, it is true that the u.s. has done a lot of subsidizing of fossil fuels, as pretty much everybody in the world has over time, and that is the fight right now the global climate stage, how fast can you end subsidies, how can you bend the market towards a place where fossil fuels are no longer competitive, and no longer burning them. host: on the gas tax, does the trillion dollar infrastructure plan address how to replenish the highway trust fund? guest: it has a bunch of money for highways. in the build. it is paid for in a different way than raising the gas tax. they have a variety of things in
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the bill, and the cbo says the bill is not entirely paid for, which is ironic because it is a think the republicans have been hitting on a lot on the other bill, which is almost entirely paid for, depending on how you count the potential revenues -- the cbo says it is not paid for because they assume the increased irs enforcement will bring about $200 billion gross additional tax over a decade. the administration thinks it will be more than double that. host: i want to get your thoughts on what the chair of the economic council had to stay on the price tag for the build back better plan in terms of now that it's in the senate if it will shrink. [video clip] >> you expect this bill to shrink as moderates in the senate get their hands on it,
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right? >> this is a process that we have been going through for months, listening to members in the house and senate. the milestone in the house was a big in important step in getting this bill done, now we move to the senate. we will work with every member of the senate on this bill. but i think that because of that work over several months, we really now have a good understanding of where the consensus lies, it lies in lowering costs for american families, getting people back to work by actually addressing the barriers keeping people from doing so, like childcare, and it lies in making serious reforms that will restore fairness in the tax code. we have broad agreement on those provisions, so i expect as we see it move to the senate, we will have momentum, we will work as the process does to get a bill through the senate. we need 50 votes. then it will go back to the
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house and the president's desk. host: what are your thoughts? guest: he was very good at not answering the question. i have questioned him many times as well. but i think that, in general, when you talk to democrats, including people in the white house, they expect that some of this will be scaled back, whether it is limiting the actual spending amount on that salt tax cut, or i think, it is not 100% certain, but a lot of democrats are of the belief that they will have to drop the paid leave program because senator manchin has repeatedly said he is against it. he may have other things he insists on. he's a fan of means testing, phasing out benefits in a bill, so that they do not go to high income people. and there may be areas not yet
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tested in the bill that he will want to see tested. but we will see. like you have been saying, this is a complex negotiation, and so, i know the white house would love to get this done this calendar year. and they are feeling momentum right now off of the president signing the infrastructure bill and starting to sell it to the country, and they would like to also get a win with a bill that passes, so they can start talking about it. host: to larry in olympia, washington, on the democrats line. go ahead. yes, sir? caller: i have one question, since you have an economic person on. and i also have a question for you as far as reporting news, or
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doing what you do regarding the news. and that is, why has there never been real reporting on what has happened it to the income tax over the years, coming from the 1960's and 1970's to the present day and how, how high income earners in the 1960's and 1970's paid it so much more in income tax? and how they were fine with it, because they made so much more than the average middle-class person. host: let's get a response. guest: this is something i have written about over the years. it's true, there were higher marginal income tax rates in the 1960's, 1970's. there were also more loopholes. but in general, the rich did pay
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more in taxes back then. now, that rate has fallen. i think it is notable that for all the things the democrats are going to do, if they pass the build back better at, they will not raise the marginal tax rate per say, it will still be at 37%, because of objections from senator kyrsten sinema. but they are looking to impose a sur-tax, additional income tax on those earning very high incomes, over $10 million a year, and that would apply to all income, including income from investments, which is taxed at a much lower rate than even the top marginal income tax rate. so, you would see a gain in the progress of the tax code at the very top. rich people would face higher
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marginal tax rates over time under this bill. but, again, because of the salt deduction, that is not necessarily true right away. that's part of why the taxes in this are still a work in progress, because even democrats, the party that has been campaigning on taxi the rich over the last several decades, are struggling to raise taxes on high earners in the way that the caller is talking about, going back in time, and that shows the difficult politics of this, even though it does poll well across the country, in washington it is tough for them to actually follow through on. host: david in orlando says, "we will never get ahead into corporate america pays taxes and brings back jobs to the usa." he also says about green energy, "you cannot do away with gasoline autos altogether, it
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must be a shared market. it will take a century to cover green power, be realistic." guest: this is the president who believes that we can essentially have everything, every vehicle in the united states be electric by, i believe he said the end of 2035, or 2030. general motors says it will do so by 2035, only cell electric vehicles, talking about new vehicles, obviously. so there is an aggressive ambition to try to make that switch happen faster than the emailer is adjusting. but there -- is suggesting. but there are huge problems. we have an enormous amount of gas stations in this country. that's not true yet of electric charging stations. you cannot find places to charge
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an electric car, they are not everywhere in the way that gas stations are. so that is part of what the president has talked about in building out the infrastructure, you both need an electric grid and enough juice and stations, to carry the amount of electricity that you would need to completely electrify your fleet. it is a really difficult problem. you have to be realistic about it. but i think that, i was at a gm plant last week, and they believe that electric is coming faster than may be people thought possible just a few years ago. host: richard in athens, tennessee, on the republican line. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i'm off work today, so i was going through the news channels, and contrary to popular belief,
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republicans do not just watch fox news. host: thank you for watching, richard. caller: i skipped over to msnbc and they had one of their economic pundits on there, and they had a chart out and were explaining the deficit spending that the build back better plan is going to be over a 10 year time span. and i was shocked that they give this information out, because it was $150 billion a year every year over a 10 year period, and he was explaining the smoke and mirrors in the plan was it was frontloaded on spending, but backended on the feedback. once you start a social program, it's going to be hard to end that. they were talking about how one will program would run for a
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year, then it would have to be funded. my problem is, as joe the plumber, a consumer of news, where do you go to get accurate information? because you hear the president whispering in the microphone, it will not cost anything. to fox news, saying we will fall off the. face of the earth then msnbc coming up with these numbers. host: we appreciate that. let's hear from jim. guest: i have to say that that is a great question. and iv that it is -- i think it is hard because we need to reflect the ambiguity of this. the bill, as written, is largely if not entirely paid for, but the caller's right, if you were to extend all the programs it
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creates, including the expanded child tax credit for the full decade, there would not be enough money to pay for it. the question is, what's a future congress going to do? will they extend it without raising more taxes to offset it? the president said he will not sign a bill that extends things by borrowing money. or will they choose to let things expire? this was a problem we had in 2017 with the republican tax cuts, too. the republicans did the same thing. they made corporate tax cuts permit, but they set the individual tax cuts to expire in 2025. making them permanent would cost trillions more and they did not have an offset prayer that. they also did not have a offsetn -- an offset for the tax cuts they had. i think it is fair to assume that there is a high likelihood that things will be extended.
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the question is, at what point do extensions, if they happen, be forced to be offset by spending cuts or by additional tax increases? we cannot predict the future, so all we can do as reported is convey it to you with ambiguity. we can see with the budget math looks like right now as the bill is written, the tax cuts there, but we can also see what could easily happen in an alternate future where the spending and tax cut programs are extended and not offset by other revenues. that would push the deficit up even more. so that's not made for an easy headline or segment on cable news, but that is the right way to think about it. the way the bill is written leaves possibility for future deficit spending, but not a certainty of it, in the same way the 2017 tax cuts left of the possibility for future deficit
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tax cuts. host: the president last week tapped mitch landrieu to oversee for the executive branch the spending, the infrastructure bill spending -- the former mayor of new orleans, mitch landrieu. is it too early to tell how his role would differ from that of pete buttigieg, the transportation secretary? guest: his department actually did distribute grants, but what mitch landrieu will be doing a similar to the efforts that president biden pushed, when he was vice president and he was in charge of both making sure it was being distributed in a way that the administration meant it to be, making sure it was effective, and in charge of championing it all the time. in 2016, championing the
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stimulus. i think that is more the role mitch landrieu will play, versus secretary pete, who is in charge of a large effort to get money out the door and into programs funded, just like other secretaries, those of energy and others, will have to play and getting money out into their departments. host: you mentioned covering the glasgow climate conference, what was a quick take away from the result of that, specifically for the united states? guest: i wasn't surprised the world struggled to come to, you know, as meaningful of commitments as activists have been pushing for. the reality is we still, i mean, the president was on a split screen the whole time, trying to
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push the idea that america was back on the climate issue after president trump pulled america out of the paris agreement, but at the same time he was fighting at home to salvage the revisions of his build back better plan. so long as that is the case, it will be heard over the world to come to the type of agreements that scientists say you need to limit 1.5 degrees celsius, what activists are pushing for. but i think the general take away that i saw from smart people i know who spent the entire time at the conference, as opposed to a few days, that there were at least building blocks of progress. the u.s. and china had a surprise agreement on pollutants. so, these were steps. that's the way i would frame it, small progress, less than what
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scientists wanted, but progress. host: caller on the republican line. caller: good morning. i have called my senators to vote against this giant welfare bill. on top of that, buried in the bill is amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens. i'm adamantly against this. and any republican that votes for this should be booted out of office. thank you. host: go ahead. guest: two things. i appreciate the perspective. basically, every american congress hears it -- republican in congress hears it. we know that none in the house would will for this bill. and the democrats have decided that they do not need the votes. just like the republicans did
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with the tax cuts, they're using their reconciliation process to vote on party lines. the only small thing i would take here with the caller's description is i do not think that democrats are burying the immigration provision at all, they are talking about it, and they see it as a positive. of course, it's a huge gap between the parties, but not something that they are trying to hide. it also could end up falling out of the bill. so we will have to watch that. host: jim tankersley covers of the white house, specifically on economic policy. we'll look for your reporting this week on the president's fed pick. thanks for being with us. >> c-span's washington journal. everyday, we are taking your calls live on the air on the needs of the day and we will
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discuss policy issues that impact you. president biden's economic agenda and next year's midterm election. the president of the center for american progress action fund and then kevin coleman, vice president of the national federation of independent business on the impact of biden administration policies on small businesses. watch washington journal at 7:00 eastern tuesday morning on c-span or on c-span now, our new mobile app. join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages, and tweets. >> sunday, december 5, on in-depth, historian and conservative commentator victor davis hanson joins us to talk about war, politics, and citizenship in the united states . his book titles include the father of us all, the case for trump and his latest, which he says the idea of american citizenship and the ideals
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associated with it are disappearing. join me with the conversations with phone calls, facebook comments, texts, and tweets on in-depth on book tv. before the program, visit c-spanshop.org to get your copies of his books. >> you can be part of the national conversation by participating in c-span's studentcam video competition. your opinion matters. if you are a middle or high school student, we are asking you to create a documentary that answers the question "how does the federal government impact your life?" it must show supporting and opposing points of view on a program that affects you or your community using c-span video clips which are easy to find and access at c-span.org. it rewards $100,000 in total cash

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