This was a well run meeting considering the number of candidates running for US Senate seat. What was most impressive was that the convention not only completed all of its business but so many people waited around to get the final ballot outcome. Read more
Meeting at Wells Fargo Bank in Provo. Many people attended (over 150) so there was standing room by the time the debate started. It was well run.
This was a debate that was recorded with Doug Wright that I listened to.
5/4/2010 7:42:29 AM Question Howard Stephenson says you do not support states rights. “We’re not beholding to the state”
5/4/2010 7:42:53 AM Answer She quotes Howard Stephenson saying that he wrote a letter to Hatch and I about state’s rights and that we said we are not beholding to them.
The discussion has to do with the 17th amendment. We were voted by the state legislature. Howard would like that back. He and some others and frankly most of my opponents would support that amendment saying we should be responsive to the legislature versus to the population as a whole.
I am opposed to repealing the 17th amendment. I had a conversation with Allen Simpson and he laughed. Before the 17th amendment the corruption was huge in the states.
In Montana they got the legislature drunk and voted in a single guy.
We have not taken away states rights. The Constitution is amended by the States and 3/4 of the states have to agree to it. They agreed to the 17th and I stand with them. The people should elect them.
5/4/2010 7:46:23 AM Question There were unfilled seats in the Senate when the legislatures couldn’t vote in a person. For 1901-03 some states could not even agree on who should win.
5/4/2010 7:47:21 AM Question Was Stephenson saying that you are not beholding to the legislators or the people of the state?
5/4/2010 7:47:45 AM Answer Bob Bennett I am for the people of the state. My opponents say they will repeal the 17th.
5/4/2010 7:48:30 AM Question Merrill How about Energy Solutions?
5/4/2010 7:48:40 AM Answer Bob Bennett “The lawyer who argued that the states had no rights in this matter was Mike Lee.
Mike says that we should enshrine the States rights.
The bill that I am reluctant to get behind on the national level would change the regulations for the entire country. I want to make sure that America’s trading position is not going to be compromised.
There is no license pending for Energy Solutions. There is no action necessary if we decide we really don’t want it. I am just saying to wait until the final decision happens and we see what the impact would be for the country as a whole.”
5/4/2010 7:50:31 AM Question You put forth a health care reform bill. Can you explain why National government could mandate?
5/4/2010 7:50:52 AM Answer Bob Bennett The lawyers who look at this are split. With respect to the Bennett/Widen bill the government is already deep in health care now. It is the most expensive and very inefficient. I want to reform the system.
I sat down with Widen from Oregon and one of the issues he had was about guaranteed issue – no preexisting condition clause. In order to pay for it you have to have everyone in the risk pool otherwise the one guy who did not have health insurance and has an accident, they would cause the loss.
I mentioned that we could put in the bill the mandate, but I reserved the right to not agree.
He said that everything was negotiable. I want to work this issue out. We were straight armed by Obama and Baucus. They plowed ahead with their plan. I said that I couldn’t deal with that plan so I stopped work on our plan.
I don’t mind putting forth a proposed solution that I don’t know if I am going to support in the end in order to get discussion going.
I am not fully convinced that the mandate is unconstitutional. My constituents are against it. I would consider that.
Politics is not about perfect, it is about compromise. Our founding fathers disagreed bitterly about what the Constitution should be.
Madison was absolutely convinced one way and Hamilton was convinced the other way. Washington sided with Hamilton.
My opponents would make the Constitution black and white. They would say that I am anti-Constitution because we disagree.
I believe that we have to fix the system. In order to start the conversation I had to do that.”
5/4/2010 7:56:32 AM Question Isn’t one way for the government to back out versus take over.
5/4/2010 7:56:43 AM Answer Bob Bennett I had an opt out clause. The pool in the State of Utah would be 3 million people and that is big enough. The State of Utah has done a lot of work that makes a plan similar to our plan as Bennett – Widen. They could have run. I have worked with Dave Clark and our ideas are very similar. Our bill would have allowed them to not be required to follow our suggestions.
5/4/2010 7:58:02 AM Question We have a 14 trillion dollar debt. How are we going to pay it back?
5/4/2010 7:58:18 AM Answer Bob Bennett According to the congressional budget office our plan is much cheaper. We would not have increased the debt with our plan. The CBO scored the Obama plan and it was enormous. Our plan was scored and it saved us a trillion dollars.
The debt is driven by entitlements, Medicare and Medicaid.
We would put something in place to replace it. The best health care is the cheapest and is available in Seattle, WA, Rochester and Salt Lake City. We could make it cheaper if we followed the plan here in Utah.
With Medicaid and Medicare there are perverse incentives that drive costs up. His plan is tremendously expensive. To the degree that health care is a part of the debt our plan moves the needle downward and his moves it up.”
5/4/2010 8:00:58 AM Question What about the federal government get out entirely. I would set up my own actuaries with a certain fixed plan that would allow me to market anywhere in the US.
5/4/2010 8:01:32 AM Answer Bob Bennett “Under our plan you could do that. I believe that we would grow the Health Savings Account very quickly.
Everyone would pay cash out of their own accounts and the trauma would be covered by insurance.
Right now you file a claim when you get a flu shot. That is expensive and a waste. The companies are trying to figure out if you are covered or not. Then insurance becomes the solution for big problems and you use cash for other things.
If we went that direction, as my plan was pushing, then the quality would go up, price would go down. We would abolish Medicaid and just like we would do with the poor we would provide food stamp type solutions.
We would pay the fixed premiums for the poor to be on the same plans. The way Medicaid is structured it makes people stay on it.
5/4/2010 8:05:10 AM Question For those of us out of government it is too large in scope. Both Republicans and Democrats have grown it.
Do you agree it is too large and what did you do to reduce it?
5/4/2010 8:05:52 AM Answer Bob Bennett I agree that the federal government has its nose in too many places. The people have voted for the representatives that have gotten us here. The people are in charge. The time began with Franklin Roosevelt’s day and has expanded since then.
It is hard when they say that the federal government is too big and then ask for help.
I was on the joint economic committee when the testimony came before us to say that we would be under taxed and the Clinton’s would fix that.
I understand that the deficit went up when the Republicans had everything. We show in our pie chart that in fiscal 2008 the federal deficit was 116 billion dollars. Out of a 3.3 trillion dollar budget, 116 billion isn’t too big. We were only spending a small fraction more than we took in.
Some people make big deal about earmark spending. It represents 8/10 of one percent of the entire budget.
If we want to talk about spending we have to talk about entitlements or “mandatory spending.” That means we have to spend it whether we have the money or not. If we don’t have it, we have to borrow it. The three programs are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
If you look at the Bush record, the spending went up in three areas. One was entitlements because it was mandatory and the baby boom is coming. Bush is the second president who tried to address it in 2004. Reagan was the last one who tried to reign it in. Everyone who was in the Senate learned from the loss by Reagan that they should not talk about the issue. Bush brought it up and the Republicans lost control of both houses in 2006.
My opponents are saying that we should do away with them. They are just not going away.
The second area that we spent in was Defense and Homeland Security. We otherwise held the line. The argument is made that we were too tight in our spending. Collapses of bridges and other problems. They point the fingers at us for these things. The Republicans controlled the spending but there was war, 911 and entitlements. I am the only one to say that the truth is entitlement spending in this race.
If we do not turn down the entitlement spending we will have a growing deficit and debt. These are the key. Here is the number. You measure debt, not in straight dollars but as a percent of GDP. Our debt was 120 percent over GDP during WWII. We then moved it down to 30 percent over GDP.
Republicans balanced the budget for 3 years and got a surplus through tax changes. We were able to get through a quick recession with our good practices. The debt is now at 80 percent over GDP and is headed for 100 percent over GDP in the next 2 years.
We have to reign in the spending and grow the economy so that our ratio changes. The Obama administration is spending more and the challenge is going to come in the next two years and that is why I am running again. If it were 5-10 years down the road then I would step down.
The crisis is now. I have a background in it. I have a bill to deal with it. My colleagues want to keep putting this off. Our founders kept pushing off an issue too and it led to a war. Just kicking down the road the entitlements.
The crisis is going to come in 2 years and I will be there with the solution.
5/4/2010 8:19:27 AM Question With health care, the federal government, they could allow insurance companies to cross line and have tort reform and it would not cost money.
5/4/2010 8:19:56 AM Answer Bob Bennett It would not be what they would vote for. I wanted Tort reform but Widen didn’t. We tried it before as Republicans and it was filibustered. It takes 51 votes to organize but with 41 votes you can stop anything. The trial lawyers own the Democratic congress and that is why.
5/4/2010 8:20:55 AM Question I know when Social Security was set up it was a savings account.
5/4/2010 8:21:08 AM Answer Bob Bennett “Social Security has been a Ponzi since the beginning. The demographics worked then. Roughly 50% of Americans didn’t live till 65. They would pay in and likely get nothing out as a percentage. Half of the people who are paying in won’t draw out because they are dead. The other half would only draw out for a few years.
Now though you have a loss because 3/4 of the Americans survive to 67 and they live for 13 years. The Ponzi scheme or lottery won’t work anymore.
President Roosevelt called it the insurance company (Federal Insurance..) It has been a violation of truth in advertising. It is the most popular program. 2 presidents have tried it and been rebuked.
My method of fixing it I got in to as Chairman of the Committee. It was far enough down the road that they did not want to address it. I learned about it and discovered something.
The way Social Security is constructed is based on calculating a single number. It is based on a number of calculations. If you retire and have paid in the same amount as your neighbor then you get different numbers. There is an “inflation plus”. Not only does it track inflation but there is more. This equation is unsustainable. And that is what will bankrupt us.
All we do, simply speaking, is take out the kicker. We take away the “plus” and the Social Security trustees have scored my plan and they say that my plan will make it sustainable forever.
Medicare and Medicaid are more difficult. I want to talk with others about it to come up with a solution. In my perfect world I would make promises but I have a record. In a perfect world the HSA is a way to go.
5/4/2010 8:27:52 AM Question I have a special needs brother and we need to make some changes. My brother who is just older than I gets 800.00 from SSI. How would he be effected?
5/4/2010 8:28:27 AM Answer Bob Bennett He is not the effected individual. The middle and upper class are the ones who cast the most. Everyone pays in and everyone gets out.
If we leave the kicker in for the people who need it. But Warren Buffett should only go with straight inflation.
5/4/2010 8:29:20 AM Question There was a phone call about abortion and Obama was siding a deal that would repeal all laws.
5/4/2010 8:29:39 AM Answer Bob Bennett I am unaware of anything like that. There is something in the federal law, the Hyde amendment says that no federal money can be spent for abortion. That is still sacrosanct and nothing in my bill would change that. President Obama cannot change that without Congress’s permission.
5/4/2010 8:30:43 AM Question I read about Buffett recently and there is a lawsuit against Goldman Sachs. Buffett is defending them and says they should be able to be the market maker and that they should be able to make money if they are smarter.
I believe in fair markets and capitalism but when you have unfair advantage I don’t think that is optimal utilization. When you get to the point of smaller government so that you can’t cover fraud. Where do you stand on reform and protections?
5/4/2010 8:32:18 AM Answer Bob Bennett “We need to change our structure. I do not support the Dodd bill with respect to federal controls. If you have a furniture store with a layaway plan that you want. I don’t want them to have to be a bank. It is a disaster.
Specifically to the Goldman Sachs thing I saw the same story. It is interesting to me that the SEC that brought the lawsuit brought it with a 3 to 2 vote. They did not have a unanimous vote. The 3 Democratic commissioners said go and the 2 Republicans said no. There is a hint of politics. Whether there is merit or not is a problem.
5/4/2010 8:34:36 AM Question My mortgage company called and tried to refinance me. He gave me ball park numbers. I went to check bankrate.com and they didn’t have a great deal.
The agent says that he had special 3 day deals. My neighbor went and was pressured.
5/4/2010 8:37:26 AM Answer The fundamental principle is about access to information. If you choose badly you suffer the consequences. You can’t have it both ways.
5/4/2010 8:38:43 AM Answer I have gotten a lot of phone calls and try to be polite. I have been a delegate and I am stunned by the superficiality of the claims. I am concerned about what was going on. This is just one of the issues that I have heard. My patience has gone.
I am grateful for you Senator. I think the Social Security plan needs to happen. Here is something that will change my children and grandchildren lives.
I am ready to go to convention. I would be happy to talk to anyone about the answers.
5/4/2010 8:41:11 AM Question Goldman Sachs is a smoke screen to cover for the Dodd bill that is a disaster. This would include more government control and intrusion. I would like to know your thinking on entitlement.
Any time the government sets up a new entitlement store everyone lines up. Every dollar the government takes at the back of the store much less makes it to the front.
Entitlements are politically untouchable. I see Senator DeMint taking the stage and taking the issue to the people since the rest of the Senate isn’t doing it. Reagan did that too. I think you have the character, charisma and capacity. I haven’t seen you do it.
5/4/2010 8:43:31 AM Answer Bob Bennett Well, Senator DeMint has not addressed entitlement. (pause) The challenge here (pause). How do I say this carefully. I deal in substance. My colleagues deal in flash. I am uncomfortable on the flash and air time. I would rather be with those who are voting rather than crusading on a talk show.
I like Senator Coburn. He has a flair. He gets on the shows and he works on the problem. We had to do TARP and he voted for it. I joined him and would rather lose standing in the blogosphere and do what is right.
I have been on MSNBC and Bloomberg and I am on the economic shows. I am not on the other shows.
I plead guilty to the charge that I am not out there making the cases in the media. When the time comes when the bills have to be written and the solution has to be hammered out, at the risk of sounding egotistical, I will be there shaping the legislation and reform.
To be completely blunt none of my opponents will even have a seat at the table because they won’t have the credibility. They won’t be solving the problem.