Reaching Across the Aisle: Bipartisanship in Washington DC

Reaching Across the Aisle: Bipartisanship in Washington DC


>>Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. And
welcome to the Polsky Theatre for the Polsky Practical Personal Enrichment Series. Tonight’s
session is titled Reaching Across the Aisle: Bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. I’m Emily
Fowler, Polsky Series Director. And before we get started, I’d like to request that you
turn off all cell phones or other electronic devices so they won’t disturb our program
this evening. Thank you. Also, before we move ahead, I’d like to recognize our new president
of Johnson County Community College. His name is Dr. Terry Calaway and he’s joining us for
his first Polsky Series this evening. Dr. Calaway. (Applause)
I’d also like to recognize one of our trustees who’s in attendance this evening, Don Weiss.
Don? (Applause) Thank you for coming. The Polsky Practical
Personal Enrichment Series is underwritten by the Norman and Elaine Polsky Family Supporting
Foundation within the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in partnership with Johnson
County Community College. It includes topics not being offered anywhere else where successful
speakers share their knowledge to benefit you. Bless you.
>>Thank you, thank you. I needed that. (Laughter)>>Norman and Elaine Polsky’s name graces the
beautiful Polsky Theatre, where a variety of events are held every year. And we want
to thank them for their generosity which also brings you our series tonight. Norman, Elaine,
thank you very much. (Applause)
I’d like to take another moment to acknowledge Mundy & Yazdi Oriental Rugs for our rug on
stage this evening and to say thank you to our wonderful TV and Carlsen Center production
crews for their assistance. And now for the packet, which you were handed as you came
in tonight. This is for you to take home and share with your family. And let me take you
through the contents very quickly. On the right side, biographical information on both
of our speakers tonight, Representative Dennis Moore and Senator Pat Roberts. On the left
side, the blue question card. If you have a question during the presentation regarding
tonight’s topic, bipartisanship, please write it on the blue card and when we ask you, pass
it to an aisle where they’ll be collected by the ushers for the question and answer
session, which is the last part of the program. If you need a pen this evening, the ushers
have them. You can just ask for one and they’ll give you one if you don’t have one handy.
Also on that side, the green survey card. Give us your feedback so we can improve from
one time to the next. You can also suggest future topics you’d like to see us present
or add yourself to our mailing list if you’re not already on it. Also, hand these to an
usher before you leave tonight. If you’ve been here before, you know that Norman calls
me on Tuesday and asks me how many of these cards did we get back? And I’ll have to tell
him. So help me out and please turn these in this evening. Thank you. Behind the card
is a golden slip that tells you about our three books for sale in the lobby this evening:
Adam Bold’s “The Bold Truth About Mutual Funds” for $10; Jim Stowers’ “Yes, You Can Achieve
Financial Independence,” also $10; and Tony ^Dipardo’s book, “Life, Love, Music and Football”
for $15, and that retails normally for 25. Behind this is a white sheet. And this is
Norm’s quarterly article showing his investment results on one side. On the back is his Big
11, Norm’s present mutual fund holdings. If you’d like to receive a copy of Norm’s article
in the future, please send four self-addressed stamped envelopes to him at the address at
the top of the page. Norm wanted me to stress to you that July was a volatile month, as
you’ve probably realized, for investing. And in this report, he shares what he did to try
to offset this kind of activity in the stock and mutual fund markets. The blue page behind
that is Norm and Elaine’s biographical information, and this includes a list of their endowments
funds on the back. There are 43 in all. And these were set up to help nonprofit organizations
across Kansas City, the United States, and around the world. Not in your packet this
evening, but something I’d like you to make note of is the date and time of our next seminar,
which will be held September the 12th, that’s a Wednesday, here in the Polsky Theatre, 7:30
to 9 p.m. Our program will feature entrepreneurship with Danny O’Neill of The Roasterie, Bob Regnier
of Bank of Blue Valley, and Tim Barton of Freightquote.com. So we hope that you can
join us for that. You may have noticed that tonight’s program is being taped for broadcast
on JCCC TV, which can be found by Johnson County subscribers on Time Warner Channel
17 or Comcast Channel 22. Links to the Polsky Series broadcasts can also be found on the
JCCC website at Video.JCCC.edu, where you can watch them any time, any day. This program
will start running next week, so surf by that channel and please check it out. And now it’s
my pleasure to introduce tonight’s session with Senator Pat Roberts and Representative
Dennis Moore. Senator Roberts has worked on behalf of Kansans in Washington, D.C. for
over 40 years, first as an aide to Congressman Keith Sebelius, then as an eight-term Congressman
and now as a two-term Senator. He has a long history of working with members of both political
parties in the effort to effectively represent the daily lives and pocketbooks of Kansans.
Senator Roberts serves on the Senate Finance Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the Health,
Education, Labor and Pension, abbreviated HELP Committee. Congressman Dennis Moore,
a lifelong Kansan is currently serving his fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives,
where he’s a member of the House Committees on the Budget and Financial services, a co-chair
of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats committed to restoring
fiscal responsibility and accountability to government, and a member of the Center Aisle
Caucus, a group formed to bring more civility and bipartisanship to Congress. Prior to his
service in Congress, Dennis was elected District Attorney in Johnson County, serving from 1976
to 1988. And he was also elected to two terms on the Johnson County Community College Board
of Trustees. Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll turn it over now to Dr. Joe Sopcich, our moderator
for this evening, and I’d like to say welcome, gentlemen.
>>Thank you. (Applause)>>Thank you, Emily, and thank you, Senator
and Congressman, for being here tonight, we really appreciate it. Tonight’s format is
not a debate. This is not a campaign stop unless Congressman Moore has declared for
the Senate and I don’t think that’s happened.>>I’m not.
>>Okay.>>I’m not running for president either.
>>That’s good to know.>>I’m not either, by the way. But go ahead.
>>This is not a primary and we’re not in Iowa. But tonight is about listening and trying
to learn what works and what doesn’t work in Washington. It’s about something that we
so desperately need, the ability for both sides of the aisle to eliminate the aisle
when it comes to getting something done in Washington. We’re going to ask our two guests
this evening to share stories, reflections, and observations about their careers in a
partisan world. We’re going to utilize a conversational format. And toward the end of the evening,
we’ll field questions from the audience that deal with the issue of bipartisanship. For
those of you wanting more information about our guests, there will be resource tables
outside after the event. And both of our guests will be making many more appearances throughout
the month of August. So feel free to contact them for any more information. Now, according
to this format, the so-called conversational format, we’re going to start and ask both
of you to say a few opening remarks. So, Senator, would you go first?
>>I’ll be happy to. First of all, I want to thank everybody in the audience for taking
time out of your very valuable schedule. I know it’s a hot summer August, but thank you
so much for coming out. Senator Frank Carlson, one of my mentors and one of my Godfathers
in this business, he’s the only man to serve as a Congressman and a Governor and a Senator,
and he repeatedly said there are no self-made men or women in public office, it is your
friends who make you what you are. I think if we could really reflect on that as we go
about our daily business in Washington, why maybe things would not be so partisan, or
they would be more bipartisan. But thank you all for coming. I think that’s a good indication.
Norm, thank you so much for this. I truly appreciate it. Norm is a former Marine. There
are no ex-Marines. I’m a former Marine. You’re going to have to put up with that, just live
with it. And so Semper Fidelis, my good friend. And thank you to my good friend, Dennis, who
is a colleague obviously in the House, what we in the Senate call the lower body. We won’t
go into that. (Laughter)>>I already used that on you this morning.
>>I stole the joke from him. He already told that on me this afternoon when we dedicated
a bridge between Overland Park and Lenexa. At any rate, we had a good time. But I think
perhaps what I can do — well, what I’m going to do is do what my staff told me to. (Laughter)
It’s always good to highlight the people who brought you to the dance. The people who mean
so much to you in regards to public service are the people that you sort of hold up there
on a standard and say, Gee, I hope I can emanate that example. Cliff Hope, Sr., who is the
Congressman from the old 5th District. That’s back when we had six members of Congress before
all of the reapportionment. I knew him as a very young man. There is a time that a eulogy
was given about Cliff after he passed away from a Democrat friend of his in the South
that said that Cliff Hope Sr. could have run in any district in any part of the America
and be elected. Now, stop and think about that because there are a lot of districts
that probably neither one of us could run in and win. But for Cliff Hope Sr., that was,
you know, that was just simply the way he was. So he was a great example to me. Frank
Carlson I’ve already mentioned. And Senator Frank, along with Dwight Eisenhower and Conrad
Hilton and Dr. Billy Graham started the Senate and the Washington series of Prayer Breakfasts.
So that’s the kind of person he was. Keith Sebelius, that’s a good name today in Kansas
politics and was a good name for me. I worked for him for 12 years. And Kathleen’s father-in-law.
So basically Keith, his main attribute was he liked people. And he knew the district.
And I never saw him lose his temper. And Lord knows he had reason to do that. But I never
saw him lose his temper. And then the efforts by Senator Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum to
work together for Kansas. Bob and his position as Majority Leader and I was pleased to work
with him a lot and with Nancy, who was my predecessor in the Senate. Now, you may not
agree with Nancy on each and every issue. I don’t think that’s possible for any member
of the House or the Senate. But you never questioned her integrity. So those are my
role models in regards of my personal example. And I’d give you another example of bipartisanship.
Sally Thompson was my opponent in 1996. Three months before this happened, we were in a
debate, and there were tough issues and we each had strong differences of opinion. Three
months later I was on the floor of the Senate making her nomination to be the Assistant
Secretary of Agriculture, as requested by Dan Glickman. I remember a reporter asking,
“Why did you do that?” I even went to Dick Durbin and to Carol Moseley Braun, who were
Senators from Illinois who had a hold on her because of another Republican who was being
nominated for another position, and talked them into accepting Sally and this other person.
And here I was on the floor making the nomination for my opponent only three months afterwards.
And the reporter said, “Why did you do that?” I said, “She’s from Kansas.” (Laughter) It’s
pretty simple. If Dan wants her, if President Clinton wants her, if Bob Dole says it’s okay,
why, who am I to stand in the way? (Laughter) And she was most appreciative and I know she
did a good job down there. Working with somebody named Dennis Moore in behalf of the Sunflower
Army Ammunition Plant park, 2000 acres. We have KU– or, no, we have K-State. We have
several governments involved. That park’s going to be as big as Leawood. And we worked
together on that. It will become an entity. It will become something for our children
and our grandchildren. Also a child passport bill that we have together, and we mentioned
we just dedicated a bridge with a partnership with local and city government in between
Overland Park and Lenexa. There isn’t a month that goes by that this guy doesn’t call me
and say, “Hey, we’ve got a bill over here in the House, I’m sending it over to you.
It’s about this and so, what do you think?” And I say, “I’ll get back to you.” You know,
we’re a little stretched a little thinner over there in the Senate with all of our committees.
By the way, I’m on the Ag Committee, too, I’ve gotta sort of toss that in. That wouldn’t
be fair not to say I wasn’t on the Ag Committee. But having said that, Dennis is very innovative
and he’s always seeking for that bipartisan approach. And so he gives me a call, which
I truly appreciate. I think my highlight in regards to bipartisanship was a letter that
I sent to a bureaucrat who shall remain nameless who was going to change the funding in the
World Food Program and the Dole-McGovern School Feeding Program over from the USDA to the
AID Department, the Agency for International Development. Sounds pretty good. Bad idea.
We wanted to keep it in the Department of Agriculture, where we thought we could fully
fund it, or at least to the extent that we could. This guy said, “I’m sorry, but we’ve
had a group, a working group that has decided on behalf of the administration that this
should go over to AID.” And I said, “Well, I think we ought to have some hearings on
that in the Ag Committee, have you come up and explain it.” He said, “Well, I’m not sure,
it’s probably too late for that. We’ll probably make the decision in just another couple of
days.” And I said, “Well, perhaps you’re having a little trouble if we cut out the money in
the appropriation bill, you know, for this program.” He said, “Do you really think there’s
going to be an appropriation bill?” And there wasn’t. We were up against the deadline and
we passed another continuing resolution. That’s not a good thing. I hope we don’t do that
this year. Well, he said, “Send me a memo, Senator.” Well, that made me mad. (Laughter)
So I went down and I got all 100 senators to sign a letter to this bird, or this gentlemen.
(Laughter) Actually, to his agency head, the head of AID and USDA and him. All 100 senators
saying it was a bad choice to move it from USDA to AID. To the democrats I went up and
said, “Listen, I can’t tell you what’s happened, these Republicans are trying to kill the McGovern–Dole
program! Can you believe that?” And then to the Republicans I would say, “You’re not going
to believe this, but we have some Democrat holdover down there that is trying to get
rid of the Dole-McGovern program!” (Laughter) Now that’s sort of a story that I’m exaggerating.
But it shows you that if you really try, if you really do try, you can get some bipartisan
support, a hundred senators is a pretty big deal. I have a bill right now with Avian Flu
with Senator Clinton. She calls me bird man and I call her bird woman. Now, that’s even
been in public. And actually we made that part of the overall bill. And with Ted Kennedy,
who you would not think that — sort of an odd couple there. But we’re working on a disability
bill. It’s called The One Percent Solution, jobs for the severely disabled. And both of
us are working very hard to get that done and hopefully we can work on that. We have
a chance, and I was talking with Dennis about it, to pass the SCHIP bill this year, children’s
insurance program, extremely important program. We have a window of opportunity, yes with
even the atmosphere that we have in Washington. Now, like a typical Senator, I have taken
up too much of my time and I’m going to yield to my colleague and ask him to proceed.
>>Is that right, Joe? (Applause)>>Although, Senator, I am curious about the
terminology using the word “bird” a lot.>>Right.>>Is that–okay.
>>Well, every man a Wildcat and then anyone that wants to be a bird person, why that’s…bird
people. (Laughter)>>Right, Dick?
>>Go for it.>>No comment.
I’d like to thank Dr. Calaway, too, and welcome him to Johnson County as the new president
of Johnson County Community College. Really happy to have him here. And Norm and Elaine
Polsky, thank you for all you do not only for this wonderful community college, probably
one of the best in the whole country, but also what you do for our community. And let’s
give them one more round of applause. (Applause) I’m going to — if you don’t mind, Senator,
I’m going to call you Pat tonight, is that all right?
>>Sure.>>Thank you. All right. Get that formality
out of the way.>>Either that or sir. (Laughter)
>>Pat’s kind of talked some during his opening remarks about some of the things we’ve worked
on together and some of the bipartisanship that’s going on right now contrary to what
a lot of Americans I think see or believe when they watch what’s going on in the House
and Senate. But I want to tell you just a little bit about myself and you’ve got our
bios, so I’m not going to go through all of it. But I came of age in the early ’60s. And
two issues that were on the front burner in the early ’60s obviously were Vietnam, the
war in Vietnam, and civil rights. Civil rights was a huge issue as well, and Dr. Martin Luther
King. In fact, I graduated from high school in 1963 down in Wichita. And I decided I knew
everything so I was going to get away from my parents for a little bit and went down
to Dallas to a startup college called SMU. And while I was there, only there for two
years, and I ended up graduating from the University of Kansas. But I remember my second
year I was there, some friends of mine came into my dorm room and said, “Dennis, we’re
going down to Selma, Alabama, this weekend, why don’t you go with us?” I said, “What’s
going on?” And they said, “We’re going to march with Dr. King, he’s going to lead a
civil rights march.” And I really wanted to go. That’s something I truly believed in.
I called home and talked to my dad and he said, “Son, it’s a great idea, but I’m afraid
if you go, you could get in trouble. My advice is don’t go.” I didn’t go. I regretted it
ever since. When I was elected to Congress in 1998, I took office in January of ’99,
and just a month or so after that, a man named John Lewis, who was a Congressman from Georgia,
invited several of us to go with him down to Selma, Alabama. He was with Dr. King and
marched across that bridge and was beaten by white police officers in Selma, Alabama.
And I went down there and I got to live at least once what I wish I had done the original
time. But I learned a lot from that experience. It’s not always — I loved my dad dearly,
he was deceased last September. But I don’t always agree with my dad or listen to my dad.
Another example I’ll give you, I was elected, Emily told you, District Attorney in 1976.
I took office in January of 1977. And I was there. I think I took office on January 10
of 1977. The second day I was there in my office, I get up, my receptionist says, “Dennis,
your dad’s on the phone.” I said, “Well, hi, dad, what’s up?” And he says, “Son, have you
fired all those Republicans yet?” (Laughter) You gotta understand, my dad was Sedgwick
County Democratic Chairman down in Wichita for like 10 or 12 years. He ran for Congress
and lost, but he was also County Attorney in Wichita for six years. So I guess in some
ways I took after my dad. And I said, “Not yet, dad.” And he said — we had a little
discussion and then we hung up and two days later, the phone rings again. He calls again
and says, “Son, have you fired all those Republicans yet?” I said, “Not yet, dad.” (Laughter) And
two days later, he calls again and says, “Son, you’re not going to fire those damn Republicans,
are you?” (Laughter) I said, “Dad, you got it.” And I really learned early on, I think
you gotta do the right thing. That’s what is most important in public service as district
attorney, as the Board of Trustees at Johnson County Community College, or in Congress,
United States Congress. I think the first and foremost thing we all should try to do,
and I think we do, is do the right thing for our people and our country. (Applause) I tell
— when I speak to Chamber groups, any kind of group around this community, my district,
I almost always say 80% of what we do in Congress shouldn’t be about Democrats or Republicans;
it ought to be about taking care of our people and our country. And I really believe that.
And when I say that, I look around the room and I usually see people sitting there shaking
their heads like this. I think people in this country — and they said it loud and clear
in this last election — are sick to death of all the partisanship going on in Congress,
and I am too. And we need to change the way we’re doing things. (Applause)
And Pat is not one of the people I’m talking about. He is a good guy. No, I’m serious.
I’m serious. There are people up there. And I tell people, too, and I really mean this,
85% of people in the Congress, Democrats and Republicans are good, decent, honorable people
who want to do the right thing. Then there’s a handful of unpleasant people on both sides.
I try to stay away from those people on both sides because they’re the ones, I think, that
give the whole institution of Congress, Senate and the House a bad name. We’ve got to change
that. And we’ve got to change the way we’re doing business in this country. I want to
tell you a quick story and I’ll finish up fairly quickly here. About four months ago,
I was invited over to the White House as a member of the
Blue Dog Coalition, I’m the Cochair for Policy for that group. And this is a group of modern
to conservative Democrats who believe first and foremost, fiscal responsibility. And there
were about nine of us, including five from another group, who are going over to the White
House. And we had a 45-minute meeting with the President. And we decided to meet up in
my office to get our game plan together before we went over there because 45 minutes is not
a long time. We didn’t want somebody taking all the time. So when it was my turn, we each
had two minutes, and I said, “Mr. President, I’m a year older than you are. I have seven
and a half grandchildren and we have mortgaged their future.” I said, “We need as a government
to start living like most American families do within a budget. Right now, Mr. President,
we have an $8.8 trillion national debt. It’s immoral to pass that on to our kids and grandkids.”
And I said, “I’m not pointing my finger at you and your administration, this goes back
30 years to Democratic and Republican presidents, but we need to change the way we’re doing
business.” He looked at me with that look he gets sometimes and he goes, “You got a
point.” Well, I was hoping for a little more than that, but at least I got the acknowledgement.
And we finished our conversation, everybody spoke and the President finished up. And when
we were leaving, everybody got in line to say “Thank you, Mr. President, for inviting
us to the White House.” And I shook hands with him and said, “Thank you, Mr. President,
really appreciate it. I hope this is not just the first and only, but the first of several
meetings like this.” He said, “Dennis, you know what you said back there about us working
together on some issues,” he says, “I think we can and should do that. He says, “Probably
not on tax cuts.” I said, “Mr. President, even on tax cuts, there’s a lot of middle
ground between — it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, it’s not all black and white.
For example, Mr. President, you’ve got a bill, or you’ve talked about total repeal
of the estate tax.” I said, “If we did that, Mr. President, it would cost billions, billions
of dollars in lost revenues and add to our deficit and our debt.” I said, “I’ve got a
bill that would increase the exemption to $3.5 million a person, that’s $7 million for
a family, which would cover 99% of the estates in this country.” And I said, “If we did that,
you’re protecting most — almost all of the small businesses and family farms you’re talking
about, but it’s not costing us billions of dollars in lost revenues.” He said, “You know,
maybe we could find some room to work together.” And that’s what we need to do more of, is
stop either side going to the extremes and start looking for some middle ground where
most of the American people are and where most of Congress should be in working out
problems together and addressing the needs of our country. And I’m hopeful if we do that,
that we’re going to see a change in the future, a positive change in the future. I want to
just finish up by saying one thing, I had a conversation with Speaker Pelosi, new Speaker
Pelosi, right after the last election, on the House floor. And I said, Nancy, I said
I’m starting my ninth year now and the first two years I was here we had what they called
“bipartisan retreats” where a group, all the House members were invited to go off campus
about 20 miles, 25 miles away and have a weekend about twice a year. Not only were members
were invited, but their spouses and children, and you’d sit down and have lunch and dinner.
We’d have meetings. We’d have meetings, speakers come in and talk about issues during the day.
But at lunch and dinner, we would all sit down together, spouses and little kids, little
Democrats and little Republicans, having lunch and dinner together. (Laughter)
The problem is when you do that, you get to be friends and then it’s harder to be nasty
to people when you get angry later. I’m being a little facetious, but you get the point.
And my point to Nancy was, for some reason after two years, they stopped that and I saw
relationships in Congress go just like that. I think relationships are important because
if you know somebody and respect that person, even when you disagree, and we’re going to
have differences. Pat and I are going to be differences. But at least we can be civil
and respectful and work together on 80% of the areas where we should be working for the
American people and for our country. And so I just want to finish by saying I look for
opportunities to do that. Pat and I have worked together on some bills. We will continue in
other areas in the future, especially for our State of Kansas, but for the people in
this country. And so I’m glad to have this opportunity to be here tonight, Joe, and look
forward to the discussion. Thank you. Thanks, Dennis. (Applause)
>>Dennis, you raised the issue of the President’s role in getting legislation through. And both
of you have served under different presidents and, Pat, you all the way back to 1966, so
you’ve seen quite a spectrum of presidents. Could you kind of give us an overview of what
can a President do to foster bipartisanship in the House and what are some good examples
from the past that the Presidents have done to–
>>Please speak up.>>Sure. We’re talking about the role of the
President in the legislature and how the President can foster a spirit of bipartisanship. And
considering the experience of both of our guests, they should be able to provide some
pretty good insights into some of the past performances of Presidents and how they differ.
>>He’s got more experience, but I have more insight. No, I’m kidding. (Laughter) It was
a joke, Pat. It was a joke. I’ve told people over and over, if I were in a position to
advise any president, Democratic or Republican, I would say
>>Can you speak up?>>Yes, sir, I’ll try.
>>Use the mic.>>Oh, I think we are. There we go. If I were
in a position to advise any president, Democratic or Republican, I would say, Mr. President,
at least four times a year, invite the opposition over to the White House and spend an hour
with them. And my point is this, again, I won’t keep repeating this, but a lot of what
we deal with shouldn’t be about Republicans and Democrats. And if I were the President
or advising the President, I would try to get the opposition to sit down with me at
least three or four times a year and say, We’re going to have some honest differences
between our parties and between our outlooks about politics and what happens in our country.
But a lot of these issues should not be partisan at all. Let’s find some middle ground and
see where we can work together for the American people and for our country. And I think — and
I want to take a little jab, I suppose, at this president and some others in the past
who haven’t done that. I told you I was invited over there but for the first six years President
Bush was in office, I was over there a few times. But it was only when he wanted my vote
on a bill. And I’m saying to Democrats and Republican presidents, it would be in your
advantage and our country’s best interest if you would meet on a regular basis with
the opposition and find out and explore where we can find areas where we can work together
and do that for our people and our country. I would just hope the president would meet
on a regular basis with his own party. And I heard that concern from my Democrat friends
when President Clinton was in power as well. There’s always the, you know, the issue with
me that it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. And you’re always hearing about Congressman
X or Senator Y being invited down to the president, or to visit with the president at the White
House. And to do a little smothering of them. Smothering them with the milk of human kindness
because it always curdles. And then the gold liners are the people that are in the middle
and I’ll put Dennis in the middle since he says he’s in the middle. And myself and other
people who, you know, we’re not down there making speeches on the floor. There are several
kinds of Members of Congress and you’ve heard the old adage of the show, horse on the workhorse.
But I remember I belong to the back rail gang in the House of Representatives. We do everything
because we shared the same prejudice. So, we thought we were pretty smart. And we were
back there on the back rail making comments that I can’t repeat now. But we weren’t down
there on the floor making all these partisan speeches with the adjectives and adverbs that
were simply not necessary. It seemed to me, however, that the president’s advisors were
always inviting those folks up because they were making a lot of headlines. I think the
president is probably, he has his own agenda, his own policy, objectives. And goodness knows,
he or she is very, very busy. So, on a regular basis, I don’t know. But I do think on a basis
that is very often, some bipartisan, and I’ve been to a lot of those because of my committee
assignments, especially on the armed services and intelligence, where the president did
gather around 25 or 30 of us. And truly, listen, one thing about President Bush, he does listen.
You might not get that, you know, from the press, but that’s at least my experience.
President Clinton, as I recall, if there was ever a policy person, it was President Clinton.
There’s a big difference between Bush and Clinton and Bush and Reagan. And I could go
back even further than that. President Reagan was always on time. We were always instructed
not to mention politics. He wanted to hear about the policy issue, not politics. One
time I did bring in a little bit of politics to it. Didn’t seem to mind too much. But at
any rate, I thought that was very unusual. And they didn’t call him the great communicator,
you know, for nothing. I remember I was one of the last holdouts on the largest tax increase
at that particular time, that was a Reagan tax increase. A lot of people here probably
wouldn’t believe that. And but that actually happened in 1981. One hundred billion dollars.
And the deal was with Tip O’Neill and the Democrats that for every dollar of revenue
that we would bring in, we would cut spending by $3. Well, we got into a recession and you
see what happened. But I could remember that I was 1 of 5. And it finally awakened me that
I was the only vote that he was after. All the rest of the guys were just show guys.
And so the president would say, “Well, Bob, and how are you going to vote?” Bob Livingston
said, “Well, Mr. President, I am with you.” Well, it finally came to me, and he said,
“Well, Pat, I really think we need the revenue to get this deficit down.” Well, I sort of
sold out and I said, “If you could explain this 10% withholding to my mother, I might
change my mind.” The next day, my mother and I were invited to the White House. And when
I called her and said, “Mom, what are you doing tomorrow at 10 o’clock in the morning?”
And she says, “Well, nothing right now. What did you have in mind, you’re in session.”
And I said, “Well, we’re going down to the White House.” And she says, “What have you
done?” But he was a master at that. And that’s when every vote counted. Bill Emerson, the
late Bill Emerson. Great Senator and Jo Ann Emerson now serves in his place in Missouri
in what they call the Bootheel District. And Bill was voting right along with the rest
of the Reagan robots as we were called. There were some differences from time to time to
be sure. And the president would even call right when we’re voting because he got down
to that one vote counted. One freshman congressman was just as important as the most important
Senator that ever existed. And so, Bill was on the phone. Or he wasn’t on the phone, he
was standing there, and he was going to vote against the president’s position. I can’t
remember what it was, I happened to be for the president’s position. Bill said, “I’m
not going to go down this road this time.” Sure enough, the president calls him in the
cloak room. Six minutes to go onto vote. I’m standing right there and they said, “The president’s
on the line for you Congressman Emerson.” He says, “Oh, God.” So, he picks up the phone
and he says, “Yes, Mr. President? Oh, thank you. Oh, the girls are fine. Yes, sir. Yes,
sir. Yes, Jo Ann’s fine, sir. Thank you so much. Thank you for asking. Yes, sir. Yes,
I know this vote’s very — yes, sir. Yes, sir. Well, this time I just don’t — yes,
sir. Yes, sir. Well, I just — I’m afraid I can’t be with you this time, Mr. President.”
And then pretty soon, “Okay, thank you Mr. President.” He went out to the back rail and tears were
coming down his cheeks.” And I said, “For Lord sake, Bill, all you had to tell him was,
‘No, I’m not going to vote.'” He said, “I just felt like I told my grandfather I couldn’t
go to the ball game with him.” Well, this man was unique. And so when he would give
somebody, even Reagan when he started out, was highly controversial. But now he is considered
one of the most revered presidents in regard to his communication skills. I won’t go into
Nixon, Eisenhower dealt with the leadership a lot. I’m not sure that they met a lot back
during those days. But I think Dennis is right. I think the more that we — the more that
we understand one another, the more that we relate to one another. But we have this schedule
now, Dennis, and you know what it is. It’s the Tuesday/Thursday gang. And, boy, on Tuesdays,
everybody comes in there on the cattle cars and they flock there to the Capitol and we
do our work and on Thursday they’re gone. And on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and on
Mondays, we don’t have an opportunity to share socially, to share individually, to know somebody.
And Dennis is exactly right, unless you know somebody and stand in their shoes and figure
out what district they’re representing, then you have a little bit better understanding
about where they’re coming from. And so you can say, well, on this issue and on this issue
and this issue, there’s no chance, we will agree to disagree, but maybe on this one we
can work together. The one thing that I have learned, well, I hopefully have learned more
than one thing. But at least one of the most important things that I have learned, never
burn any bridges. And sometimes that’s tough. Because sometimes it gets pretty tough. But
never burn any bridges because all of a sudden you’re going to find out the bridge is washed
out, you can’t swim and you’re on the same side with the other fella and he’s trying
to get you, and he’s trying to get you across. And he or she happens to be that person that
you’re going to work with, with the legislation. Presidents come, presidents go, the executive
proposes, we dispose, but I do think that Dennis is exactly right. The more that we
can know one another, like Frankie knows Stephanie, Stephanie knows Frankie, my wife, we know
each other. So we know each other as people and we respect each other’s views. Two words:
Respect and tolerance. Tolerance of the other person’s point of view and respect for that.
Don’t have to agree with them, but if you have respect and tolerance, we’ll go a lot
farther in this country. (Applause)>>Senator, when did this Tuesday/Thursday
club start? Can you identify the causes behind that?
>>Well, you know, the old timers say it was television. And there’s something to that.
And I remember working for Senator Frank Carlson as an intern while attending the home of the
ever optimistic and fighting Wildcats at Manhattan. And then later on when I was — just before
I joined the Marine Corps. And basically he served with Olin Johnson from South Carolina
on the Finance Committee. That’s the committee I’m on now, one of the most powerful committees
in the Senate. Very happy to be. That’s Bob Dole’s old seat, by the way. And Frank Carlson
and Olin Johnson would sit in a room together and they trusted each other implicitly, as
did their staffs, and they would settle major, major issues in private. And the same thing
would happen in committee. The same thing would happen in subcommittee. And then television
came in. Now, you’re not going to roll that back, and you shouldn’t because now we have
citizen participation beyond anybody’s expectation. CSPAN and the whole situation. But I’m saying
that once it became sort of a show place, if you will, where people would make a lot
of speeches as opposed to really sitting down and working together to try to work something
out, that’s part of the problem. And then we’re so terribly mobile. And then the campaign
season starts very early, ’07 is now ’08. We’re into the politics of exhaustion. I mean,
this is ridiculous. And the many different groups that have access to an incredible amount
of money in the campaign process are making it such that members feel that they have to
go back to their district, back to their state more and more and more and more. So we jam
all the votes in there on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday
we’re gone, back home or somewhere where I — in the days that I first came to Washington
and we had an all Republican House membership at that particular time. Larry Wynn Sr., who
is a great friend of mine and a great mentor as well, and Chuck Meyes and Joe Scubas and
Garner Schreiber and Keith Sebelius all met every weekend. Not every weekend, but they
played golf together. They had dinner together. They socialized together. Now, of course,
that’s easier to do with one party. But I remember the same thing was true to some extent
with Jim Slattery and with Dan Glickman. We were good friends, still are good friends.
And I like to think that’s the same thing with us, except our schedules are such that
it’s just damn hard to get together. If we could get to know each other a little bit
better, we’d be a lot better off. But that’s been evolving over a period of years. I think
it really started to get more crucial probably in the ’80s and ’90s with the hectic schedule
of the Congress.>>Dennis, since you were elected in ’98, have
you seen any changes since then?>>Frankly, not very positive in terms of relationships
and getting along and Democrats and Republicans in Congress. As I said, when I went in there
was a proceeding going on called Impeachment of President Clinton. And Pat mentioned interns.
We don’t have interns in our office, we now have sales associates because interns —
But I will say, relationship — what are you laughing about? (Laughter)
>>You know what I’m laughing about.>>Relationships are very, very, very important.
And I belong to a group, it’s a bipartisan group, and I was appointed to this in 2001.
My first meeting as a new member of this group called the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, we
meet at least twice a year with our NATO allies, France, Germany, the UK, either in Europe
or in this country. And it’s not a party. These are long days discussing national and
international security and protecting our nation in Europe and our country here. And
the interesting thing is, when you get to know these people and you travel with Republicans
and Democrats on these group meetings, you get to know your compatriots very, very well.
And Joel Hefley, who’s now no longer in Congress but was a congressman for many, many years
from Colorado. Joel plays the harmonica, I play the guitar. We’d sometimes would take
our instruments along on the play and just play a little bit and get to know each other.
And people seem to really enjoy that. My point is this, not just playing, but getting to
know people because then you can work together and have respect and want to get along even
when you disagree with another person. And that’s the key, I think, to trying to get
back to a better, more civilized institution of Congress, is getting people where they’ll
listen to each other. And even when they have disagreements, and strong disagreements, at
least show civility and respect to the other person and the other side. And if we do that,
we’re doing what’s right again for our people and our country, I truly believe that.
>>Dennis, when there’s an election — and Pat — when there’s an election, some of this
political advertising is so downright dirty and mean-spirited, how can you walk away from
that? How can you forgive and pretend that it never happened?
>>Pat? (Laughter)>>That is tough. And I’ve had some ads run
against me in the past that were very vicious. I thought vicious. And I tried to do the right
thing and tried to respond not in kind when that happens, and I’m sure some people who
were the subject of some of our ads didn’t like those either. But I really want to always
tell the truth in my ads and try to be fair in my ads. And I hope people will reciprocate
and do the same thing with me. And I’m not naive, I’ve been around for a couple of years.
I’ve been elected to a few different offices. So I understand that people get very intense
in their competition to be elected. On the other hand, I still think we owe it to the
people in our state, our County, or whomever we represent to do the right thing. And that
is to be civil, respectful, and always honest when you’re talking to the people you’re representing.
>>Well– (Applause)
>>Thank you. Thank you. I didn’t have that experience. This last time around I was unopposed.
I was hopeful that maybe that would happen again. And you wouldn’t have to worry about
the ads. But I think the whole thing has changed. I think there’s been a dramatic shift in the
political world, mainly because of the 527 groups. And you all know, I think what we’re
talking about, these outside groups. It can be from the right field bleachers or the left
field bleachers or some kind of an ideological group that believes very strongly on an issue.
And I understand that, only in America. And the Supreme Court now says you don’t have
to put a number up there and say call this number to make your point; you just run the
ad. And that’s called the First Amendment. It’s called freedom of speech. But surely
we can find some way to make those expenditures transparent because at least it’s been my
experience that if somebody runs a very negative ad, I mean, one that is really character assassination,
and is not factual. Just not factual. Just a very hateful ad. If it was transparent and
you know where it was coming from and who was financing it, Kansans — I mean the voters
are way ahead of us. Six jumps ahead of us. They know all about this. Most of them turn
the doggone thing off. But it does make an impact if that’s all you’re hearing 24/7,
I’m afraid that’s what we’re going to be into on this election cycle. I hope not. But it
seems to me that there has to be some way to bring those outside groups at least under
the same umbrella of transparency as we have to have in regards to our campaign. Now, as
far as I am concerned, I’m going to have to stop and think about how many elections I’ve
been through, but quite a few. And politics is not beanbag. It’s tough business. When
you are trying to say to people, here’s my ideas, here’s what I think is worthy of your
support, and you’re selling yourself and you’re selling the issue and you’re really talking
about what you believe in, that’s a very strong thing. You’ve got to want to do this more
than anything else or you shouldn’t be, you shouldn’t be campaigning. So, I know that.
But there’s a difference between campaigning for the office and campaigning against somebody
else. And I have always tried to campaign for the office. And I will start out when
I officially announce — I’m in cycle — when I officially announce — well, I’ve already
done that, haven’t I? Never mind. But I will campaign for the office and I will not campaign
against anybody, but I do reserve the right to set the record straight. And again, with
the two-party system in decline, quite frankly, and we have all the outside groups coming
in, it’s very difficult. You can be in the last throes of your campaign and you can have
an ad come on. You have no idea where it came from. And it could be an ad endorsing you!
And you can say I don’t want that ad on there! And you can have a heck of a time finding
out where it comes from, who pulled those strings, and it could even be sort of like
a double ad where somebody runs one in your behalf but it really was somebody else trying
to defeat you. You know, to defeat you. So it’s a very difficult environment out there.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that transparency is certainly the right
step or the first step.>>Do both of you think that civility, bipartisanship,
is at an all-time low? Because when you talk to people, they’ll say, Oh, it was bad during
this period, but it’s nothing the way it is now.
>>It’s pretty bad now and we saw the last two weeks I think Congress was in session,
before what they call the district or the August work period. And it really got pretty
bad and heated. And I think part of the problem, frankly, is when the parties and the majority/minority
in the House are so closely divided as they relatively are now, there’s a lot more intense
competition to win elections. And people resort to things they wouldn’t ordinarily do, and
that is unfortunate. Because, again, we should all be up there working for the people in
our country. And that’s what this is all about. And I appreciate what Pat said, too, because
I try to follow exactly the same thing. I think it was at a very all-time low when I
went in, or I thought it was at that time, relatively speaking, when President Clinton
was under impeachment. Boy, there was just a lot of bitterness and anger going on at
that time. And I think it may be worse now. And I hope, again, that we can improve things.
And again, I will say that I think one way, one major step in the right direction is,
are these meetings, opportunities where you can build relationships where there’s travel
or something like this NATO group where you get to know people on a one-to-one basis.
And when you’re with their spouse and their kids, it’s really not only inappropriate,
but difficult to be nasty to somebody then. And, again, I think if we can do some things
like that, if we can get to know each other in a social relationship, even have some social
evenings. I mean, it sounds like play. A lot of people think we do too much of that already.
But I’m talking seriously about building relationships because those are important to trying to eliminate
some of the bitterness and anger that we’ve seen in Congress and in the House and in the
Senate.>>I’m going to — I’m not going to disagree
with Dennis because we do have a problem now. Now, we just saw that in both the House and
Senate just before we broke for the August district work period or state work period,
whatever you want to call it. I’m going to 45 stops here starting tomorrow. But I can
remember the Vietnam era. And if anything, it was tougher and much more personal during
that particular time in our history than the situation is now with Iraq. With all due respect
to the protesters who were out front, which is — as I walked in today, I shook their
hand and I said, Only in America. We disagree, but only in America. Thank you for coming.
You know, thank you for being here. And I truly meant that. But back during the Vietnam
days and all of that, it got rough. It really got rough. I remember the Nixon impeachment
and resignation. It was terribly difficult, more especially in the Republican Party. Half
the Republican Party said, Stand by the President” The other half of the party said, Impeach
the President, get rid of him. And there wasn’t any middle ground. So it was a very difficult
time. I remember, again, the impeachment proceedings with President Clinton. I also remember that
we had a Speaker at that particular time that stood up and made his speech and called for
the President to resign. The other side stood up and said, “You resign.” He said, “Yes,
I will,” and did. And it got just completely out of hand due to the circumstance involved.
Now, I guess I could go back and pick up different times when we’ve had bitter differences of
opinion due to the subject at hand or the issue at hand. I don’t think that’s changed
too much. But what’s different today, it just seems to me that it’s so impersonal. And again,
when you had Republicans and Democrats and people who had been working in public office
and knew people down through the years, you had sort of an understanding. There was a
certain level that you didn’t go beyond. Sort of a mutual assured destruction kind of thing.
And you just didn’t do that. Again, these outside groups, and I’m not trying to perjure
them or anything else. And they’re all over the lot, so you can’t really single anybody
out. There’s no conscience. Now, I don’t know what we do about that, but there are answers.
And Dennis touched on it. Just step by step. It can happen with just five members getting
together to try to work something out with the real difficult issues we had. Maybe that
five leads to ten. Maybe that — well, maybe if we add in this and that in there and then
all of a sudden the center starts to hold. Maybe that’s not your cup of tea. Maybe that’s
something you don’t believe in. It can start with that.
>>Can I add one thing to what Pat said just now?
>>Sure.>>Pat was in the military service at the time
of the Vietnam, right?>>No, sir.
>>I’m sorry. I apologize. Anyway, you were in the Marines? Pat talked about the attitude
that some people showed to returning servicemen and women from Vietnam and how really horrible
that was in some cases because they were opposed to the Vietnam War. I think there has been
a major change in attitude by the American public, generally, towards returning people
who served in Iraq. And people can absolutely disagree with the policy of the President
or Congress with regard to Iraq, but I think they still respect and honor the people who
serve our country because they’re there by order of the Commander in Chief, not necessarily
because they asked to be there. I did a bill. And I look for opportunities especially, before
this change in the last election, I looked for opportunities always to work across the
aisle with Republicans, because frankly that’s the only way you get legislation passed when
you’re in the minority. And I filed a bill when I heard about what I couldn’t believe
was a death gratuity that was paid to the family of service members who were killed
in combat of $12,000. This was about two years ago. And I didn’t believe it at first. I had
my staff check and, in fact, it was true. I filed a bill to increase the $12,000 so-called
death gratuity to $100,000 because I thought $12,000 is a slap in the face to somebody
— a family of somebody who’s just made the ultimate sacrifice. I got my friend Spencer
Bachus, who’s a Republican from Alabama and happens to be the ranking member on the Budget
Committee — or the Financial Services Committee on which I serve. We got 243 Democrats and
Republicans on that bill, never got called up for a vote, but we both, back home, both
of us talked a lot about this legislation and the need for something like this to happen.
And I talked to some people in the administration, and this bill is now law. And I think those
are the kind of things, if you work together with people on both sides, for people in our
country who deserve something like this, we can make things happen. That’s the right thing
to do. (Applause)
>>I see many of you are filling out your blue question cards. So please pass those, Christy,
Emily, some of the Vol*Stars are picking those up. And we’ll start with those in a few minutes.
One last question. Both of you have served in the majority party and the minority party.
And I would presume it would be preferable to be in the majority party. But what’s your
recollections of that and what’s your point of view?
>>Well, I can pick that up right awell — or right away. I’ve been in the minority, the
long suffering minority in the House of Representative the four years, what we call the Death Valley
days. (Laughter)>>You mean we’re all riding through Death
Valley?>>That’s exactly right. And a lot of us didn’t
make it. But that was the ’94 revolution. And suddenly I become Chairman of the House
Agriculture Committee. And then that was due a lot in part to I think a Democrat party
that had sort of lost touch, had become too arrogant, perhaps that’s too strong a word,
but maybe it’s not strong enough.>>Thank you.
>>I don’t know. But that’s during the post office and the bank and the restaurant scandals,
and I was on House administration at that particular of time, investigated a lot of
that. Several members went to — well, they were looking from behind bars and all of that.
So there sort of was a revolution that went on and we took control of the House. It only
took us ten years to reverse that and Republicans getting in the same kind of trouble in the
House of Representatives. But, yeah, I’ve been in the minority. I’ve been in the majority.
I had a gavel about six months — well, no, about nine months ago. I don’t have it now.
Miss it. Majority it better. (Laughter) You decide what legislation is considered, how
it’s considered, and when it’s considered. And hopefully you live up to that responsibility
and do it in a proper way. I will say this as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and
the Finance Committee and the Merging Threats Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee,
every time I had the gavel, I protected the rights of the minority. And one thing that
I did not do, which some previous chairmen had done, is open up the committee, make a
25-minute speech and then recognize other members for 5 minutes, and the poor devil
on the end hardly ever got anything to say. And so if you really treat your committee
well, the committee will treat you well when you have that kind of majority power. Sometimes
that works, sometimes it doesn’t. But without question, the majority is better.
>>I was in the minority for the first eight years I was in Congress and had been the majority
now for about, what, eight months. And I tell people, when you’re a minority, you vote and
you whine and you complain. When you’re in the majority, you vote, then you have to govern.
Big difference. But it’s an important difference and I certainly agree with Pat on this one
for sure. It’s much more pleasant, usually, to be in the majority, right?
>>True.>>Yes.
>>Thank you, thank you. (Laughter) And you can see we’ve struck a bipartisan
chord here.>>And I’m not whining or complaining either.
(Laughter) I don’t like it much, though.
>>I didn’t mean to infer that you were. There are opportunities. I want to say one more
thing that I say to a lot of people when I speak to groups here. For the last six years
before this last election, one party — and I’m just saying and pointing out the fact
is, the Republican Party had control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. From
the time we were in the sixth or seventh, eighth grades when you start learning about
government in school, we learned about what we called checks and balances. Anybody heard
that term before? When either party, the Democrats or the Republicans have total control of the
House, the Senate, and the Presidency, there are no checks and balances in place. And I
really believe that’s dangerous for our country. I hope and believe I would say the same thing
if the Democrats keep control of the House and Senate and win the Presidency next time
because I truly believe that.>>Which one do you want to give up? (Laughter)
How about the Senate?>>Well, I won’t interrupt you and you don’t
— no. (Laughter) But you see what I’m saying. I really, truly believe that these checks
and balances are important because somebody has to be able to stop and at least ask questions
when the President or the Senate or the House start taking some wrong actions. And I think
it’s very important those checks and balances be in place for our people and our country.
(Applause)>>Bring on the question.
>>Okay. I think we’re going to start out with a few questions here from the audience. And
I know Emily is putting those together back stage. But I do have a couple here that were
turned in in advance.>>Could I see it?
>>No.>>Dennis, Congressman Moore.
>>Yes. Dennis is fine.>>The rumor is — the rumor is that Denny
and the Doo Dahs will be the warmup act for Elton John in the new Sprint Center. Is there
any truth to that? (Laughter)>>I’m sorry I can’t comment.
Yeah, okay.>>Quick story here. A couple of years ago,
we were — I say we. Pat and a lady named Kathleen and I were at this thing that Pat
mentioned in his opening remarks, the ceremony whereby the federal government was transferring
to the state control over between a thousand, two thousand acres of The Sunflower Ammunition
Plant, which was used to manufacture ammunition back during World War II. We were all up in
the speaker stand. We were all supposed to speak. And of course Pat got up and spoke
and finished his comments and sat down. And the governor got up and spoke and finished
her comments and sat down and I said, I turned to Pat and Kathleen and I said, “Well, hell,
by the time you guys have talked there’s nothing left for me to say.” And Pat said, Dennis,
and there had been a warmup, there had been kind of an act over there, a little band playing
before we all got up on the stage and Pat said, “Why don’t you grab that guitar and
do a song.” And I said, “I will if you will, Pat.” And I said “Kathleen?” She says, “I
will too.” And we did “This Land is Your Land” and I’ll tell you what, a picture made the
front page of the metro section of the Kansas City Star and nobody remembers what they said
at all. (Laughter) That bipartisanship works and frankly people
enjoy seeing us politicians be human too.>>Well, I would just say that the song “This
Land is Your Land” fit the part, we didn’t have to say much more.
>>Absolutely.>>Senator Roberts?
>>Yes, sir.>>Pat, this is another hard-hitting question.
Will Ron Prince have the Wildcats ready to play this season? (Laughter)
>>Objection, Your Honor.>>You know, that’s a fait accompli. Without
question. And if they can just throw to the tie end a little bit more, that’s sort of
a joke between some of my friends who — I sort of am an assistant coach with Jon Wefald,
Jumping Jon Wefald, as I call him. But at any rate, and I’m always trying to call the
plays. And I don’t have — I don’t have very good patience with the referees. So I also
referee the ball game and coach the ball game and cheer for the Wildcats and cheer for the
Jayhawks obviously when they’re not playing the Wildcats. And but, at any rate, yeah,
we’ll be prepared. I don’t know about that first game. I asked Ron Prince on behalf of
the Wildcat nation why we’re playing Auburn, a top five team, in the first game? And he
indicated that was because we’re playing Texas in the fourth game. (Laughter) So I said,
okay. Let me point out that my two girls went to KU. Everybody who says that I —
(Applause) Everybody knows that I bleed purple and but
I work with Chancellor Hemenway and I work with the University of Kansas. It’s a great
institution. And my girls went to KU. And I couldn’t write those checks. I stopped and
I just, I gave them to Frankie and she wrote them right away. (Laughter)
>>But we’re all Kansans, right, Pat?>>That’s right, we’re all Kansans.
>>This question deserves to be read. It says, “Asked by a 10-year-old.” So we want to honor
that. And you may have addressed this a little bit, but it’s another opportunity to kind
of repeat some of that. What is your position on smear campaigns?
>>I think we have addressed that issue as far as we both talked earlier about campaigns
and we think a responsibility to be truthful with the American people or the people in
our district and certainly the people in the state that we serve. And try to not look at
another person and point out what their faults, what their weaknesses may be, but talk about
our own strengths, and that’s the way we should — and I think that’s what most American people
want to see, too, in campaigns, is what are you going to do for our state? What are you
going to do for our country? And not just take cheap shots or low blows at the opposition.
>>I think if you read a lot of polls today, people say we’re headed in the wrong direction.
The President’s polling, everybody knows about that, he’s in the 30s.
>>What do you mean?>>Whether he is approved or not approved.
>>Oh.>>What the heck was that?
(Laughter) I was about to point out that Congress has
a 14% approval rate, we’re not much better by any means. But let’s quit smearing. You
know, this gets so tiresome. And ad after ad after ad, I am — as I said, it’s the politics
of exhaustion. The primaries are moved up. It just gets to be a situation where it worries
me that a whole generation of Americans are being turned off about being partners in government.
And if we don’t have partners in government and people who believe in us in order to find
answers to their daily lives and pocketbook problems and challenges, we’re going to lose
a whole generation of folks in regards to their real confidence in government. So in
answer to — where is that 10-year-old?>>Right there.
>>Bless your heart for that, you know, for that question.
>>She’s 11.>>Let’s get a big sponge and let’s get a bunch
of cleaning equipment and a mop and we’ll clean up the smear and so everybody can see
everything that’s going on. And again, campaign for the office. Make the candidate tell you
what they’re going to do for America, for Kansas, for their individual life, not what
the other person is doing wrong. And if we do that, we’ll be a lot better off.
>>Great question. (Applause)
>>How has your family shaped and continues to shape your approach to bipartisanship in
your career? Has it had a big influence?>>I told you my dad had a lot of impact on
me, but not as far as it comes to bipartisanship. I really loved and respected my dad. He was
a dear, dear man and taught me a whole lot. But we had some differences and bipartisanship
was one of them. But my wife, I talk to my other family members, and I think we are all
in agreement with what the Senator just said, that we have to come together and understand
that we’ve got to start talking about positives and not just trying to put other people down.
That doesn’t solve any problems. That doesn’t help our country. And if we go on the right
track and try to take a higher road and talk about what we want to do for our district,
for our state or for our country, and not just try to put down the other person, I think
we’ll all be better off.>>Well, the biggest influence in my life was
my father, who was the National Chairman of the Republican Party under Eisenhower, served
as State Chairman and worked for quite a few governors in the State of Kansas and joined
the Marine Corps at 42 during World War II. I’ve never known a man with more integrity.
Obviously was a Republican, but felt very comfortable working with people across the
aisle. And there was an understanding after 5:00 or after 6:00 or whatever it was, or
after the election, really, that you work together for Kansans. And the classic example
was MacDill Boyd, who was our National Committeeman, and John Montgomery, Senior, not the one who
does such an able job now in Junction City. He was the Democrat National Committeeman,
and they were the best of friends, and understood that. My mother always said that we should
approach all problems and politics in a fair, untrammeled and bipartisan basis and vote
for the straight Republican ticket. (Laughter)>>Your mom and my dad would have gotten along
well together.>>Exactly. But she was a great influence,
too, because she was a dear, dear, dear, dear lady. Now my kids, pardon me, my young adults.
David helped me in my campaign in ’96. And campaigns are tough on kids. This young 10-year-old
over here really hit the nail on the head. When you smear a candidate, I can’t tell you
how that affects your family. And it’s really tough on families. I think people, if they
really stop and think about that, maybe that would be, you know, part of the answer. But
he’s in Washington. He’s a consultant. He’s now 35 years old and went to K-State and is
a fine young man, despite that. And so I’m very proud of him. My daughter, Ashley, I’m
extremely proud of. She works for the World Food Program, now as a contractor, but worked
for five, six, seven years in Rome.>>And she’s the one who went to KU?
>>She’s the one that went to KU. And basically, and I don’t know if I would call her my raging
liberal, but she’s certainly raging. And bless her heart, she has been to countries and she
would call me and she’d tell me what countries, well, I’d say, Now, Ashley, where are you
going? And she said, Well, daddy, they say it’s safe. I said, Where are you going? Well,
I’m going to Afghanistan. And I said, No, you are not. She says, Daddy, you can’t do
anything about it. I said, I can have you fired. (Laughter)
So at any rate, as it turned out, she wasn’t going to Afghanistan, she was going to a country
that was even more unsafe and she was going to Colombia. She got there, by the way, and
she got there right after the guerilla movement, the FARC was in a village and then right before
the paramilitary got there afterwards. Held school for two weeks. Held school and fed
young people for two weeks. If you feed young people at a school, the families of many of
these countries, of these developing countries, the at-risk countries, will send their young
women to school, will send the young ladies to school. If you don’t serve the meal, they
won’t come. That is the answer to terrorism. Educated women throughout the world will not
stand for 7th Century servitude. That’s why this food program and the McGovern–Dole
program is so terribly important. (Applause) My daughter, Ashley, was in a social receiving
line and went through and shook hands with the President. You’re not supposed to talk
about policy or anything like that when you go through a social line. Ashley perks right
up and he says, “How are you, young lady?” “Just fine, Mr. President. I need to talk
to you about what’s going on in your HIV program in Africa. There are some things we really
need to get straight on that.” And Frankie and I went like this. And so she talked to
Michael Gerson and they had a good talk. The President said have her talk to Michael Gerson.”
So my daughter’s having an impact. My youngest daughter is Anne Wesley, she’s out in Denver,
married, and is the Events Planner for the Denver Law School. And so she’s — I’m glad
I have one child west of the Mississippi way out there in the mountain. Long answer to
a short question, I don’t even know what the question was anymore, but that’s what we do
in the Senate. (Laughter) (Applause)>>Okay. Is that what they call a filibuster?
>>That’s sort of a family buster. I’m not quite sure. I can’t tell you how proud I am
of my family. I can’t tell you how proud of the sacrifice that they have made in my behalf
so that I can continue public service and hopefully continue to make a difference. And
I know your family feels the same way, Dennis.>>Absolutely. Can I just say real quickly,
my wife, Stephanie, is sitting down here in front. Pat talked about his daughter and some
of the service she’s done to other people around the world. Stephanie has gone, she’s
a high risk obstetric nurse, has gone for six years to Romania with a group called Medical
Missions. They help little kids, many of whom have, for some reason, cleft palates.
>>Right.>>With a relatively simple surgery, they can
change that child’s whole life. And she runs the women’s clinic there and helps women with
issues that these people in poor, poor countries have. So I’m very proud of Stephanie, too.
(Applause)>>Maybe, you know, maybe if we let the spouses
and the kids run the place for about a year we’d be in better shape. I don’t know.
(Applause)>>You know, Senator Roberts, there’s a comedy
club down on Metcalf.>>I don’t get it, but go ahead.
>>Joe, Joe, Joe.>>Chad, you didn’t say that he was — this was going to be —
Okay. Now, this is –>>I’m trying to protect my Republican friend
here.>>That’s very good. A lot of questions in
here are about energy, about the energy policies of the country. And also a common theme seems
to be one where people just can’t understand why we can’t fix certain issues. This specific
question is, Why can’t we find a bipartisan solution to solving our energy problems? And
if we were to do this, would it help us counter the terrorist threat?>>May I start?
>>Sure.>>You mind?
>>The answer is yes.>>Absolutely. I mentioned my conversation
with the President, that was during the two-minute little exchange that we had. When I was leaving,
everybody walked by and said, “Thank you, Mr. President, for having us over.” And I
kind of mentioned that. When we were walking out, I was the last one to walk out. And I
was walking out and I said, “Mr. President, you have an opportunity to make yourself a
hero, not only to the people in our country but to the world.” And he said, “Well, how’s
that?” I said, “Mr. President, you recall back about 30 years ago, there’s a guy named
Jimmy Carter one night talking to the American people on television about the long lines
at the gas pumps and the energy crisis we were having then.” And I said — he said,
“We need a comprehensive solution to this energy problem and not just — not just drilling.
Not just one thing, but a comprehensive solution.” And I said, “A few months later, the lines
at the gas pumps went down and every American, every adult American got attention deficit
disorder and forgot about what he had said, which was the right thing to do.” And I said,
“If you would get a bipartisan group of Members of Congress and Senators, a small group, and
some people who are experts in this area to come up with a comprehensive plan that doesn’t
just try to drill our way out of this problem, but come at this from 40 different angles
and put together a comprehensive plan, within — and set a goal, 10 years, set a goal for
the American people and say, we’re going to get people the best minds in this country
to come together including some in Congress, and come up with a solution that talks about
hybrids, renewables, alternatives, all kinds of different solutions to this energy problem.”
I said, “You could, we could, as a nation, dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign
oil by say at least two-thirds. Set a goal. We could do it. We have the brain power and
the ingenuity in this country to do it if you just set a goal.” He said, “That’s a pretty
good idea, let me look at that.” Well, I hope we do something like that because we need,
as a nation, to do that. Right now our dependence on foreign oil is a substantial threat to
our security as a nation. (Applause)>>Well, I would agree. We’ve had two energy
bills before the Senate. I voted against both of them. I don’t think those energy bills
will produce one more drop of energy, whether it be in the fossil fuel arena or even renewable
energy. We have a situation where in the oil-producing states, they’re very worried about people
wanting to tax them for maybe wind power that might not work down there. And it gets very
parochial. It’s like the Agriculture Committee, we divide up according to geography and commodities
and we just seen a farm bill passed in the House of Representatives, first one that’s
never been passed by the Agriculture Committee, passed by different other groups. We’re going
to have to see if we can’t do a little better in the Senate. And I think that’s one of the
problems with the energy bill because you have people like myself who say, yes, I think
we need more drilling, more expiration for the fossil fuels that we know that we’re going
to have to have for the immediate future. Longterm, we’re going to explore every other
opportunity, whether it’s clean coal or liquid coal or solar or wind or renewable energy.
Now, renewable energy has been the biggest thing to hit rural America since the railroads.
We have eight ethanol plants in Kansas, two biodiesel plants on the way. On the other
side of it has raised the price of grain to the extent that some of our cowboys don’t
really, you know, they really wonder about it. You don’t want to do one thing in agriculture
at the expense of another segment of agriculture. But still, it has been a tremendous impact
on America. And I think it represents an exciting future. I hope we do this step by step. I
hope we don’t get into mandatory. I hope we get into voluntary and tax incentives to accomplish
these kinds of things regardless of what source of energy that we’re about. I might say that
I — I may have given the impression that I am not for ethanol. Yes, I’m for ethanol.
I realize that in the world of Iowa and the world of Nebraska, Kansas, ethanol is somewhat
of a religion. I sit down with Chuck Grassley every morning, I have a glass of ethanol.
(Laughter) Hell, he’s my leader on the Finance Committee,
you gotta do something to at least get his attention. And it’ll warm you right up, by
the way, if you want to take it. But I think it isn’t just — I went down to the Antarctic
with Ted Stevens. Thirty-one nations down there doing valuable scientific work. I looked
in the ice corridors, 9,000 feet of ice at the South Pole. Yes, for the last 20, 25 years
we have gone through serious global warming. I came back convinced that I ought to be at
least a spokesman to agriculture, quit saying that there isn’t global warming. Don’t say
it’s a big problem, say it’s a challenge. And let’s put agriculture on the right side
of that challenge and we got into carbon sequestration. All that means is carbon in the air, bad;
carbon in the ground, good. There’s a lot of different things we can do the way we farm
today, and we have done those things, that’ll help us out. So there’s a lot of different
ways and opportunities we can approach the energy problem. But again, you’ve got a lot
of parochial interests. The key will be what Dennis said is see if you can compromise at
least to the extent that one doesn’t feel they are being aggrieved by the other.
>>Thank you. Now, here’s a question — or here’s a question that pertains to something
that does have bipartisan support. One legislative activity that has a lot of bipartisan support
is earmarks. When will Johnson County Community College get one? (Laughter)
Now, the question is — the question is, how much longer is this going to be — how much
longer is this going to be allowed to go on?>>You mean that there are no earmarks for
the college or how much longer the earmarks are going to go on?
>>The latter.>>The latter.
>>Yeah.>>One person’s earmark is another person’s
very valuable addition to the budget for a very worthwhile project. How many out here
think that the federal money that both Dennis and I worked on and earmarked, if you will,
for the bridge between Overland Park and Lenexa is a nasty old earmark and we shouldn’t have
done that? Hands? Oh. (Laughter) It’s like people have come into my office and I know
they come into Dennis’s office and they say — when we talk about how tight the budget
is, and wonderful programs. Wonderful programs for people. Programs that have worked. Programs
that I have worked for. But, you know, the budget just doesn’t account for the increase
that we need, Senator. And so, really, I know that we have to balance the, you know, the
budget and work on this terrible deficit that we have. But, you see, my program’s a little
different. My program is really an investment in people, or whatever program that you’re
talking about. And basis in total, that’s what we’re talking about. Now we have I think
a move, a foot in the Congress where we can at least provide full transparency. You’ve
done that I know in the House. We have not done yet — done that yet in the Senate. I
think it is coming. And I think gone are the days that you’re going to see the bridges
to nowhere or the rainforest in Iowa, so on and so forth. I think the transparency is
needed. If you have transparency, there isn’t an earmark that I have tried to work for — well,
let me draw another example. We just dedicated the Lewis and Clark Center at Fort Leavenworth.
That’s the intellectual center of the Army. Now they are doing work there at Fort Leavenworth,
which is really the University of the Army, teaching doctrine that will save lives and
that in the future will provide the Army the wherewithal and the military capability to
provide our national security. It’s $150 million for the Lewis and Clark Center. It is the
finest learning center in the United States. And I helped dedicate that because I’m very
proud of the, quite frankly, the federal funds that went into that building. Did the Department
of Defense recommend that and put it in the budget? No. Did I put it in as an earmark
with the help of Ted Stevens and Danny Inouye, the Chairman and the ranking member of the
Appropriations Committee? Yes. Did the Department of Defense know that I was going to do that
with the help of Ted and Danny? Yes. So they were complicit in this as well. But that dedication
today, a very emotional dedication for me, is something that where we invested in America’s
future. So before we get into classifying all earmarks as bad, we have to be selective
at least. And we have to be transparent. And I can say that without any hesitation, I know
that whatever Dennis and I work together on, whatever Dennis works on in regards to that
kind of thing, I think it will be for the benefit of the people of Kansas and will stand
the light of scrutiny. (Applause)
>>Well, let me — let me just kind of tag on to what Pat has said here, because I have
told people over and over, and I really mean this, and maybe your reaction was an indication
that you do, too, before when Pat asked the question about who’s against —
>>I can’t hear you.>>I’m sorry. I think earmarks in themselves
are neither bad nor good. It depends exactly on what they’re used for. If they’re used
for a good purpose such as economic development, such as a center as Pat mentioned here for
the Department of Defense, such as flood control in Wyandotte and Johnson County, if it’s used
for a purpose like that and it’s good for the people in our area, it’s excellent. If
it’s for a bridge to nowhere, we should never have it. In fact, I filed a bill back in May
to require that if any member of the House asks for an earmark, that they would have
to put their name, the amount requested and a description of the project and submit this,
which would within 48 hours prior to a vote in a committee or on the House floor, be posted
on a publicly accessible website where everybody in this country could see it. If we do that,
I am absolutely confident that transparency will correct 99.9% of the problems and there
will be no more bridges to nowhere. In fact, today, as Pat said, we dedicated what I call
a Bridge to Somewhere that’s going to be — help not only moving traffic but economic development
in this area. And that’s a good earmark. (Applause)
>>There are a lot of questions in here about health care, and most of them are extremely
passionate. And I want to read you a couple of these.
>>Sure.>>What is your bipartisan solution to our
broken health care system? Note, the U.S. is 41st in the world in terms of longevity
because of our lack of quality, affordable health care. And then this one is single-spaced
on both sides of the card. And it closes, when will Democrats and Republicans together
take the responsibility entrusted to them in the United States Constitution to protect
all American people and mandate national health insurance — or not health insurance, but
health care for all Americans? Could you spend a few minutes just addressing bipartisan solutions?
>>May I start since –>>Certainly.
>>Very quickly, because we’re running out of time, I think. I’ve got two bills right
now. There are no simple solutions to this problem, just like the energy problem. It’s
going to take coming at this from several different directions, I think we’re going
to address this as a nation and help provide what our people deserve in this country. One
is SCHIP that Pat mentioned earlier, the state health insurance program. He supports it in
the Senate, I support it in the House. I’m concerned, the President said he’s going to
veto it because of some of the funding the President didn’t want in that. But my concern
is this, we need that program that serves billions of low income kids who have no opportunity
for health care if they don’t have this SCHIP program. Number 2, I have a bill right now
that I think, and it’s bipartisan. Paul, I’m just blanking right now. He’s the ranking
member of the Budget Committee from Illinois. Paul and I filed this bill that would establish
what they call a Health Information Technology Program in banks, like trusts around the country
where an individual, any person in this auditorium could put electronic medical records and make
that available. If this is instituted nationwide, we’re told by the RAND Corporation, who did
a study, it could save over $160 billion a year in health care costs that could be used
to help people who simply don’t have health care. It’s the right thing to do, it would
reduce medical errors and it would improve medical care for people in our country. Those
are just two examples of where we can start. It’s not a comprehensive cure for the health
care program right now. It’s not a comprehensive thing. But it’s one of several different parts
that we can put together in this puzzle and provide the health care that the American
people deserve.>>I want to go on SCHIP, or the Chip program,
the Children’s Health Insurance Program. I’m on the Finance Committee, I’m part of the
coalition that carefully crafted, compromised, where we feel — there’s never enough money
that you really would like to have, but we feel that it is a reasonable amount. And it
puts an end to this practice of 16 states through waivers granted by this administration,
by the way, to allow adults to get onto this program and to allow states like New York
to put the level at 400% of poverty. With a family of three, four, that’s $81,000. So
you’re going to get a children’s health insurance program given to adults that have an income
of $81,000 that are going to get a hit by the AMT tax. Now, that’s not what we’re driving
at to help those poor children who need health insurance. Now, we spend $30 billion in the
House, or pardon me, in the Senate. We crafted a compromised which we think set — well,
what it’s done has made both sides angry, so we know it’s pretty good. (Laughter) And
it passed in the Senate 68-31. 68. You have to have 66 to override a presidential veto.
We have 68 on that compromise. Now, the House bill has 70 billion. In that is the Medicare
fix for doctors or they’re going to get cut 10% on Medicare this next year. And we can’t
allow that to happen because all sorts of bad things happen to the Medicare program
and to our whole health care delivery system if in fact that happens. Plus, hospital payments
as well, that’s 5.7%, plus a lot of problems with the home health care industry as well.
Now, somehow or other we have to revolve that in conference. And we in the Senate are very
hopeful that if we have 68 votes for our version, that those in the Senate — or pardon me,
those in the House will say, Okay, we’ll fix the Medicare problem with doctors and the
Medicare problem with our hospitals, but we’ll do it in a separate bill. That brings costs
down but it’s still about 15 billion over. That’s what the President objects to. So if
we can hold firm with the Senate bill, and if we can convince this administration to
quit giving waivers to states putting adults at 400% poverty or less, that’s the only one
that’s at 400%, you’re really killing the program or really being very harmful for the
program that is targeted to low income kids. This is something we can do. This is going
to be a real test of bipartisanship. We have a window. And Dennis and I are going to work
very hard to get that done. I hope to be on the conference and I hope there’s good news.
And that will be a giant step forward to protecting our — those who can least afford it, the
health care that they so desperately need. (Applause)
>>And I would like to send over to you, Pat, a copy of my bill on health information technology
and electronic medical records trusts because I think you might be interested in that, and
I really think it can help our country as well.
>>All right, sir.>>Last question.
>>Yes, sir.>>Have you ever supported a political candidate
of the opposing party?>>Ever?
>>Well…>>Why don’t you take that first, I gotta think
about this. (Laughter)>>My dad would roll over, but I have voted
for Republicans in the past. I really try to look at the person and do what’s right
for our people and our country. (Applause)>>My turn?
>>Yeah.>>Well, Dennis, I solicit your vote. (Laughter)
That was unfair. No, it wasn’t unfair!>>Next question, Joe.
>>You know, I usually get more Democrat votes than the Democrat, but that’s just the way
it’s been. I’ve been very fortunate, and certainly hope to be again. I’m trying to think in public
office, I can think of several occasions, but obviously as the past Chairman of the
Intelligence Committee, all that information is classified and we can’t get into it.
(Laughter)>>Thank you very much.
>>I haven’t taken any oath.>>Emily’s here. Does that mean something?
>>Well, first, we’d like to thank all of you who took the time to complete a card. We’re
going to photocopy these because many of them or all of them are so well done, and we will
give both Senator Roberts and Congressman Moore a copy of those so your comments can
go straight to these guys here.>>Do they have names and addresses on these
cards?>>In some cases, some people wrote their names.
>>And we’ll try to respond if you put your name and address on there.
>>And also we’d like to thank the Congressman and the Senator for taking the time tonight
and responding to these questions and also sharing with us some of their stories about
what goes on in Washington and how we can make things better. So thank you very much.
Thank you. (Applause)>>Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming
tonight. Three things: Green cards, hand them to the ushers on the way out; pick up a book
in the lobby; and please have some cookie, punch, or coffee on us before you leave tonight.
Thank you for coming, and come again.

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