Author Joseph Califano

Newsmaker Interviews
Monday, March 5th

Author Joseph Califano "Our Damaged Democracy" with WILK's Sue Henry. Califano served as chief assistant for domestic affairs for President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1977 to 1979.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Joseph it's great to have you on the show how our great to talk Q how are you a live in the dream. There by your books and Mair. Well a lot of problems. Our democracy is damaged. We have problems. There's still concentration of in the past president. Which makes him a whole the other branches. Congress is purple they're really can't seem to yes get anything done in and the courts are becoming politicized but. It's our people understand these problems. Will deal with the and that's why I wrote the book I want armed people to understand. What the problems are in Washington anyone president or anyone in congress. Are anyone's Supreme Court has been building for a well I guess has essentially. But. The book is really hit the problems now let's deal with a week to people can and must deal with them. Now you're in none the at the Johnson narrow White House right now so explain what you think. But since selling what has happened well the institutions are damaged. Well they only give you an example a couple of quick examples. Congress has the exclusive pass to wage war under the constitution. Yeah over the last fifty years president every president has sent troops. And to combat American Canadian government. They had been wounded hundreds hasn't killed has never been a declaration of war the White House yeah. When I was in the Johnson administration whereas the total set was about fifty people everybody. And it can see the light passes of approaches 2000. People. There and and and the you know there's so that there are 400 people and communications at least we have we have a state run media. We we have Y has shot we have but why has YouTube. We have why has just so why Harris Interactive. Or all of these. Two losing 24 hours today. To flourish that president and his programs. You know that's more like commodity and or dictatorship and it is like a democracy. Just to mention you're in the communications world or you know or your life and think about. What what it means so we we we we can deal with these we have to trim back the power of the president. We can't just say congress gets to work guess stop spending all your time raising money. I mean for first and on average to run for reelection 26 he has to raise 30000 dollars a week for every week of the six year term. House member. 151000 about a week for every week of his or her. Six year terms solely. We will lead we gotta we gotta tell congress you know we have we've. We're we're trained to work we're paying you look at these products are paying a well in the solution juppe and help make our schools safer. Do you think god problem deal with the immigration problem my god with anti immigration problem for a decade nobody to outlet. So it's we can do we just have to get the message to our people and probably get some new book that I think can. In this coming election we'll see some new blood I haven't been we'll see a lot of women coming into the congress. In this election. I did I know we bring this up periodically people I say oh that's for the voters to take care about term limits. Well you know I think luck I think. Process the term limits. But they need to be long enough. In some cases do seem to take care term us to look at this from. California the Feinstein. Fire and six year terms. And the Democratic Party organization at least. Voted for another candidate this time. I think that they have to be lined up in the house for example live Republicans have term limits on who's going to be our committee chair. And they get a committee chaired three terms. That's really not enough it's so complex. To chair of the house Ways and Means Committee that give little taxes at all. Medicare and and all the banks and insurance companies I think I think you probably need to maybe go. Took five years terms. So that you have ten years. But I have no problem with term limits we don't need fresh blood there is no question about it. Would we need new energetic people like you know one of the things we have to do. We have to get the money out of politics. There's did the candidates and they have been members of congress spends so much time raising money. And the Supreme Court gave money first amendment rights. They really started to do it about twenty years ago but they're they could sit with them so quote Citizens United opinion. I think there's enough information now about that cause corruption of money and so eruptions slogan ought eruption for congress. Put this court to. Reverse that decision that reversed decisions they reverse the decision segregated schools. That they've they've done a lot of things. Think the way DA it looking around and from your experience in Washington. And makes a good candidates. For congress in your opinion who the people you've seen over the years that have what it takes to get the job done. Well I honestly I don't sit and identifying people who that it changes over their time I think we need someone who is. Has she has to. And and you have to look at the whole person. Was one of the problems with our democracy one of the damage that we have a world goes single issue candidates. Out of business comes along and says mr. or madam congressman. He says it was me I'm pro choice I'm pro life. I'm pro gun control on anti gun control on pro legalizing marijuana are against it just let me on that issue and I'll give you millions of dollars. We too many people in congress. That have done that. That's one thing. The second thing that really is affecting the quality people and Eric and there are unwillingness to compromise or make a deal would get something done. Is gerrymandering you know you carve out of district. The Republicans are always gonna win new car at another district that Democrats are I was gonna win you going through this in Pennsylvania. Today as you know and and so. The election is of the primary that's when the candidates elected and in the Republican Party pushes them. The candidates has the right edges of their party. And Kennedy democratic play pushing them in the left edges. They come to Washington. And they've committed on the far right of the far leftist take this position take depositions. And they won't give them what they've done that may compromise of four letter word. Did they think they've really and made it. Difficult impossible in many cases it is compromise. Because these commitments initially somebody that we can look at look at the whole person this is somebody character. Nobody knows what the congress is gonna deal would I would gonna have to deal with. That's. Greater war in the Middle East or how they're gonna have to vote on. On issues relating to Russia or cyber security you're building up or what they do a Hawaii won't just get together on immigration. What are they gonna do about the fact that we still have. Millions and millions of poor people in the richest country in the world. What they can do about some of the concentrations of power you look at look at the larger person look at. You know and I say also in many cases but it's your gut you know you know you've you've you've. You've been upended in the entertainment world team could come across lots and lots of people. You know you get a feel recently that gal tank guy. He's got he's he's gonna he's he's straight talking. I think he'll be beyond the tough ones and trying to figure out what the right thing to do this. Excellent you did talk in the beginning about the power of the presidency and then talked about. Joseph the enormous amount of people in the White House the staff. How many of the decisions do you believe are under the jurisdiction of president Trout and how many things do you think have been farmed out to other people how do you see this presidency. This this presidency in them and most of the ones for the last couple. With the reality is an empty tanks foreign policy. It's National Security Council steps in the white house of over 400 people. This device is not making policy decisions. About a decision being made in the White House. Like general McMaster and and by the present. And defectors say it is constantly traveling and you know Hillary Clinton mentioned secretary. Under a million miles M and a million miles I think our current secretary of analog a million miles. Is an inning in which respect to in the counsel's office. Decisions remains. In the light touch you know would wind up present Obama. One to Libby said he went to his attorney general our code and he says is this kind of situation where under the law. I have to either report to congress or hostilities has sixty days analysts say yeah decisions to do that. So little White House counsel. So that you seem to want to doubts about thirty or forty lawyers probably more with prompt. And Obama's last council said no you don't have to do it Palestinians and wanted and that was going to follow. And wonder why asks is this big in this powerful. It overwhelms the executive branch. Exit hole you know we were we we've single surgeon that trump. That's capitalism is not able to get any assistants secretaries or get them confirmed Gergen and cleared to get them out to the to the congress well part of that problem has. When you say this company I'd like to be the assistant. Secretary and in health and human services for Medicare. And until late and then. What I'm gonna have to say that and say well you know there are twenty people in the White House to whatever the numbers say. That really oversee the department and they'll probably equal big ones on measures so hard to get good people. And in addition to which the media. Make his own this war and of of of nieces and which you can say anything about anyone. And yeah if it does fire early and catch up within a difference for all sports do you really ever catch up with a and the that's appears. Potential candidates and less of that status. We want to send it was gonna say what can I do from my district what can I do from my state. To make it best to help the people blessed that fish bit the first question what does the first question today. If capital raise the money in Iran. And other Republican. Pulled political leaders in the Democrat Lucent how the money if you run. Please don't get the money from dragon race. That's not the world we want a livable. And how you always get the money out of an answer popular in the money will somehow get in there there will be. Some sort of influencers who still have the ability to do at. Two elected officials well. Unity in a good point I was shaking things if there's a court would reverse its decision in its decision. That they could you know now today. When everybody knows who's been contributing so it's so in the open how is whatever. And out. For giving money to purchase rights but yeah it is that's not true they were wrong about that as a result of their decision now I have something politics. Quote the money. Can contribute to your campaign. And nobody on Ellis may I can do it through a couple of you know try and so thus they. I think wanted to. We have technology you know you buy something on Amazon and Amazon. Knows knows what that you like that kind of issue as a kind of book you read other. But you know we can within and they know within a minute. We we can't within minutes of the of the time monies and contribute to a candidate make it public put it on line we have a technology to require that. And and and in accordance got to give congress the freedom to pass so let him do that and then that a deal. And that you know that will have a big impact. I also think it's that you know it's it's a full suite sales. On the you can only give you would you lie for you and your hasn't can only give. Play it's it's. 54. Sorry. 2720. And 5400 dollars. To a candidate. There's an election cycle that's nonsense. House how to how people get ahead and then tailor everything to trump or can also give 101000 every state. Democratic or Republican committee and that and that committee can then turn it over to the president we got to clean that you know that that's. And actually assume that really needs to be swept out. Not to. And and has since been no indication that president wants to do that or I but I but. Weekend deal wouldn't we week weekend you know. The point where people finally say enough. You may or may not agree with what happened in the Italian election yesterday. What it really represented people saying. We're getting too much control from the European Union we don't want it just shocked the country. Angela Merkel in Germany was shocked at cheap cheap there early patch together any any a government. We need to you know our elected officials need that kind of a shock. And that shot can only get home in this democracy. From we the people that's like saying we the people must act we must vote we must vote in primaries. We must make her views now. And and and and I believe. The American people whole point of this book is due to problems now c'mon every time we've had these problems what they are. You vote as you citizens you have. Figured out how to deal with to get around. You know he's a civil rights bill we have to deal with that approach well we had country's civil rights bills are in the Johnson administration. Who we we you know we. We'll have you know Truman's Roosevelt so I can't go for Medicare. It's 22 controversial and poignant Social Security passed in 193132. And it's true on the drive and nothing ever happened but finally. Took a lot finally listened to Johnson says Medicare. As long as I can breathe I'm gratified for the return finally got. So we end and we have for a senior citizens. And George Bush came along the pharmaceutical companies and open it up to pharmaceuticals. Which we weekend. We thought it. So let's get that let's make all voices heard and that's what this book is all about may cure voice heard. Yeah the problems you may not have fully understood them but if you look at our bench democracy we the people must act still gets it you'll understand. You can assume they're hard to get it turned out to adjust it for a week live honestly eat. We preach. Two iron on talk radio acquire all the time and I'm sure we have a lot of voters they'll listen but the same time why can't we fire up. Everybody to care. Well that's contributed Lou I think we can and I think he'll attract as part having attracting can't sit you know people say. What they're losing my vote meg well. If you lived in Virginia in this last election. A tie a tie vote. Determine who would control. The legislature. The assembly. Because it was a tie vote it was it was decided by a flip of a Corning. You vote does count. And that's an Al Mehdi Gibson. You'll get enough votes to give you candidate. Victories. But he came out there and he gave enough votes to scare the hell out of that candidate. And. I I think that's where it has and it and it should be early and ability I think primaries. Because of the gerrymandering but also. Look at the last election you know we sell my god how can we get these two candidates. A little was confident I really didn't express any vision. And I guy who has been ego maniacs are what happened. Hillary Clinton got the democratic nomination with 8% of registered Democrats. Congrats Republican nomination with 7% of registered Republicans. You know you don't sit back. You can either act as a panel are my god we have voting places. In the local school we have them in the local fire house we have them when you know there are plenty of them and most. Districts so get out there and do it and do it in local elections still. But get out there and change. In that message can only come from the boat the only. Ultimately. That really can put the rubber to the road is so they can say. You gotta be a senator anymore sorry. We're going to somebody else you have and delivered for us or you're not gonna be a congressman. Oh we know once you as governor and get out there you have the power to hire and fire. Think about it. Even if you're if you're working in a factory if you working two jobs because he's young he can't get enough. Income could take seriously and machine do that. You still have been one point place where you're the bullish view lovable that's what the hell you been doing for the last twenty years get out. Joseph a Califano junior boys sixers Baring almost time for us I really appreciated Andy orcas are damaged democracy. We the people must that we conduct in the future if we need to pick our chins up. You absolutely can and I can you gotta find show so I'm delighted to be honest. Thank you so much we really appreciate it just.