The McLaughlin Group
Subject: Corporate Tax Reform, an Alternative to the World Bank, Low-Salt Diets, The Racial Divide
John McLaughlin, Host;
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report
Time: 11:30 am EDT
Date: Sunday, October 19th, 2014
Copyright © 2014 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, LLC. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email email@example.com or call 1-202-347-1400.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Wyden's Window of Opportunity.
SENATOR RON WYDEN (D-OR): (From videotape.) Go in there and drain the swamp. There have been something like 15,000 tax changes since that last tax reform. So you go in there, clean those out, use the money to hold down the rates and encourage progressivity. And when they did that in the first couple of years out of the box, it created something like 6 million new jobs. Nobody can say they're all due to tax reform, but it sure helped to set the climate, and I think it can do so again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: America's tax code, last overhauled in 1986, 28 years ago, is holding back our economy. Between now and August of 2015, there is a window of opportunity for a bipartisan tax reform. So says Democrat Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who, in a recent Politico newspaper column, challenged House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, to join him in crafting comprehensive tax legislation.
Quote: "My door is wide open, and there is plenty of work to be done on a bipartisan basis," unquote.
The centerpiece of Wyden's tax reform proposal is lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 24 percent in order to make America more competitive with foreign countries. In recent months, a spate of U.S. firms have relocated operations overseas through what are known as, quote-unquote, "inversions," to take advantage of lower foreign taxes.
Wyden's overture to Boehner stems from an August column by the speaker urging President Obama to get in the act. Quote: "President Obama must get his allies on Capitol Hill to do their job. Senate Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, pay lip service to tax reform, but they have utterly failed to act. The president, the leader of his party, must actually lead it," unquote.
Question: Is momentum for tax reform building? Pat Buchanan.
PAT BUCHANAN: It is building. And Wyden's a good man, and it is a great idea and ought to be done. But I don't think it's very hopeful, John, for the reason that there's real sort of anti-business, anti-Wall Street sentiment very much in the Democratic Party in the House and in the Senate, and it'd be very hard to get them together on this. So I don't think it's going to come.
I was with Ronald Reagan in `86. I can remember on the plane to Tokyo's economic summit when we got word that Packwood and others had gotten together -- I think Bradley -- and they were going to cut the top individual tax rate from 50 to 28 percent. And I said go with it.
This idea of simplification and reduce rates is a great idea. Actually, John, in the last analysis, you ought to do away with the income tax, because corporations are the institutions that create jobs. And why do you take away 35 or 40 percent of the seed corn of the American economy?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to get to that in a minute.
ELEANOR CLIFT: I do think there is an opportunity here. I think Wyden is a wily legislator, talented legislator, and he's worked across the aisle in a number of areas. He's put forward a tax reform plan in the past, as you pointed out. And you have some Republicans -- the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, unfortunately, is retiring, but Dave Camp has called the tax system riddled with what he called lobbyist loopholes.
And I think the aversion to how Wall Street operates in this country actually helps the cause of tax reform, because people want to see those loopholes stripped. And regardless of which party wins the Senate in November, neither party will have a commanding majority. They'll either be just a little over 50 or a little below 50, which is, in a way, an opportune time to pursue tax reform together.
They'll probably start with something on inversions in the lame-duck session after the election, because people are really disgusted by the notion of Burger King taking their operations overseas in order to -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's an inversion -
MS. CLIFT: Inversion, what I call an aversion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- a company taking its -- taking its operation overseas.
CLARENCE PAGE: Burger King denies it's an inversion, because they're not moving their office, their headquarters or their actual operation.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)
MORT ZUCKERMAN: When you're merging, you don't have to move your operations.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't move -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You merge with a foreign company because so many foreign countries have much lower corporate tax rates. You then get taxed at the level of the foreign company, whereas American law requires you to tax all of your income all around the world at a much higher rate. So it makes perfect sense, in a business sense, for the companies to do this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's done it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Oh, many companies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Burger King.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Burger King is one. Forty-nine companies have done it just in the last couple of years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Walgreen.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Walgreen, yes.
MS. CLIFT: Walgreen backed away after they got so much negative publicity.
MR. BUCHANAN: Pfizer tried to do it. Pfizer tried to do it with AstraZeneca in Great Britain, and there was a firestorm over it, John. But I can understand why they do it. But it gets into the whole question of economic patriotism and economic treason, if you will. Is it treasonous for companies to get up and leave the country that nurtured them to get lower tax rates and, you know, make money overseas and leave their American workers behind? These have got a tremendous number of issues -
MR. PAGE: Well, we do need tax reform. There's no question about it; people on both sides. However, the problem is actually implementing it, because everybody's got their own sacred cows. You know, the old poem about don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that guy behind that tree. That's still true.
And, you know, the lame-duck session, that's a good time to do it, because that's when you've got people who are going out, got less to lose. The next Congress hasn't taken over yet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many American companies have inverted?
MR. BUCHANAN: Mort said 49 -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Forty-nine just -
MR. BUCHANAN: They're all over the place now, John. They're just moving abroad, move their headquarters over there.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I didn't know that Walgreen had reconsidered.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes -- well, because there's a lot of pressure on these companies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: From where?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: From the press.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Why? Because -
MR. BUCHANAN: Economic treason, John.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's exactly what Pat -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because they want tax revenue here.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, of course they want tax revenue here. But the companies, of course, are saying what are we talking about? We have a very high tax rate compared to the rest of the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if they come back here, then they would probably increase their prices back here in order to accommodate the tax burden they carry here -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- whereas if they go overseas and have a lesser tax burden -
MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- they will reduce their prices and be more competitive. What about that?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there's one other option that they have. Instead of reducing their prices, they increase their profits. I don't know why that's a possibility they might think about it.
MS. CLIFT: Right. And the -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. Have you thought about it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Every -- wherever I can.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Can you invert? Have you inverted?
MR. BUCHANAN: John -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Could you invert?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, you live in Florida, not D.C., right? What's your residence? People do it there. A lot of people put their money in the Caymans. Why do they put their money in Switzerland, in Swiss bank accounts? Everybody. They go from one state to another based on tax rates.
MS. CLIFT: So everybody is -- everybody is playing the system, gaming the system, and it's all legal. That's why Congress has to step up and make sure that this stuff doesn't continue.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's not going to get -
MR. BUCHANAN: -- (inaudible) -- corporate tax rate of 25 percent. Ireland and these guys -- I think Ireland's 12 percent, isn't it?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. So many of the international tax rates are so far below the United States that it is -
MR. BUCHANAN: Ours is the highest.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. I'm sorry. They're much lower than the United States. I thought that's what I said.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: But it is absolutely going to be a disaster for the United States as more and more of these companies -
MS. CLIFT: Right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- move their headquarters abroad. But the tax rates are so much lower -
MS. CLIFT: Which is why it's likely that Congress might actually act in December when they come back after the election.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is Obama going to get behind this?
MS. CLIFT: Yes.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think if you could get everybody together -
MR. PAGE: He already is.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Huh?
MR. PAGE: He's already promised tax reform -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would this be redemptive of Obama?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Listen -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It would help, would it not?
MR. PAGE: If it works.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, at this stage, it'll never get through the Congress. It won't get through the House.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. Mort is right.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Republicans are not going to pass it.
MR. BUCHANAN: There's very hostile forces to really reducing rates on corporations in the Hill. And a lot of corporations are going to fight to protect their little loopholes in the law. What you need is Reagan. Reagan was the last guy to do it.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's right.
MR. BUCHANAN: 1986.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's correct.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: 1986. What happened?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, we had the -- we had the Blue Dogs with us and we had a Republican Senate, as I recall. We lost it that year after we passed the tax bill.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Reagan got in behind it and he pushed it forward.
MR. BUCHANAN: I was on the plane and I heard they said we're going to go to 28 percent. And I said I don't care what the terms are; take it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And he did take it.
MR. BUCHANAN: He grabbed it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He grabbed it and he got it through Congress.
MR. BUCHANAN: He took rates all the way from 70 percent to 28 percent -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On a political probability scale, zero to 10, what is the likelihood that there will be major tax reform next year? Zero to 10. Pat Buchanan.
MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's only three to four.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: I give it five or six or even seven in the lame duck; only corporate reform. I think individual tax reform is probably a bridge too far for this Congress -- for the coming Congress.
MR. PAGE: I'll go down the middle -- 50-50, which is better than now. (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think Eleanor is right. Corporate tax reform is a much more likely outcome than total tax reform. But that in itself would be a huge step forward.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the probability, Mort?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'd say it's about 49.4 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not 50-50.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't want to go that far.
MR. PAGE: Always the pessimist.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: Always the pessimist, Mort.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He got it right. Clarence got it right. The answer is 50-50.
Don't forget, the McLaughlin Group has its own website and you can watch this program and earlier programs on the Web at any time, from anywhere in the world, at McLaughlin.com. Could anything be simpler -- McLaughlin.com -- or more joyous?
Issue Two: Banking on the BRICS.
The sixth annual summit of the BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, plus South Africa -- was held at the lush Brazilian beachside resort town of Fortaleza.
The BRICS have a challenging mission -- to decouple themselves from the post-World War II international monetary order forged at the New Hampshire Bretton Woods United Nations monetary and financial conference of July 1944.
The BRICS declared they would establish an alternative to the World Bank, to be called the New Development Bank, based in Shanghai, China. The bank will have a $50 billion loan portfolio, $10 billion from each BRICS member. First, however, the legislatures of BRICS states must approve and fund the new bank. China will rubber-stamp the deal, and the BRICS will fund a $100 billion contingent reserve account to replace reliance on the International Monetary Fund, the IMF.
Now, get this irony. Four years ago, four of the five BRICS received a combined $6,105,000,000 in foreign aid from the United States alone.
Question: Why are the BRICS creating their own international monetary instruments, parallel to the World Bank and the IMF? Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: Each of these economies -- they're big economies and they're coming of age at a time when the American economy is no longer the colossus on the world stage. And they're buying influence around the world. China really is the big dog here, because they've got the money. They want the resources. And you look at some of the projects they have in Latin America and in Africa and you can see where they don't have all the rules that the IMF has and the other international lending authorities have. And they don't make people worry about the environment or impacts on the workforce. And so people think they're getting a great deal.
I think there's going to be a lot of fallout because the Chinese in particular go in. They don't hire local people. They bring in their own workforces. But they do circumvent the bureaucracy of the existing lending agencies, which have been around a long time and are very wary of a lot of these new projects.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, there's a lot of nonsense here. Look, China and India are colliding strategically over the Indian Ocean and border areas China took. What does Russia have in common with South Africa? All they are is they are the non-western countries. We're the G-7 -- four Europeans, Canada, U.S., Japan. They want to be the non-U.S. countries.
This is sort of something that was created, John. I don't think there's any commonality to them economically. I don't think they're any threat whatsoever. I think they just want to say we are not the West, and we are the alternative to the West. And they are not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The World Bank and the IMF dominate -
MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor's right. China is the big dog in the -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They dominate Europe and they dominate the United States.
MR. BUCHANAN: And Japan.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And the BRICS, justifiably and predictably, have come to their senses and decided they're going to do this.
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. What has South Africa -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that fair or unfair?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's exactly right. They want to be independent. They want to be able to make their own decisions. They're going to focus a lot of their resources on infrastructure in their own countries. And this is where they want to have their own, shall we say, approval methods, OK. They don't want to go through the rules and regulations of the World Bank. And they're going to have control of enough money and they're going to focus on their own development, and they'll benefit from it. It makes perfect sense.
MR. PAGE: I think they do have something in common, though -- money. And that's a -- and the profit motive here. This is a new stage for the world economy, I think, because, remember, the IMF and the World Bank were established after World War II, primarily to rebuild Europe. That phase is long -- we're long past that now.
These countries that we helped to develop in the past half-century are now included in the new BRICS nations, and they do want that kind of -
MR. BUCHANAN: Russia doesn't give any foreign aid. The Chinese are all over Africa. They're bleeding these countries of their resources.
MR. PAGE: But remember -
MR. BUCHANAN: The Chinese are the big players.
MR. PAGE: -- China is not -- China is not doing aid, Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: Let me ask you, John, what is South Africa doing, I mean, as a country and an economy, doing in any major collection of -
MS. CLIFT: Providing -
MR. BUCHANAN: -- (inaudible) -- other than it provides the S at the end of BRICS?
MS. CLIFT: It's providing window dressing for what China is doing. It's basically China and a lot of other countries that cover it, make it look like a benign international effort, when it's really China -
MR. PAGE: Well, China is not giving aid.
MS. CLIFT: -- extending their influence.
MR. PAGE: China's investing. They're reaping billions out of Africa.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. PAGE: And, like Eleanor said, they're not creating that many local jobs and local development.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm going to ask Mort the key question here, and that is, does this pose any immediate challenge to U.S. interests?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Sure, it does. It's going to have a completely independent source of huge amounts of capital that are basically focused on countries outside of the United States. And so we are going to lose some of the clout that we had in all of these decisions, and not just in terms of lending but in terms of American investment and American opportunity. There's no doubt about it.
MR. BUCHANAN: It's a manifestation of people that do not want to be so closely associated with the United States and the West anymore. The divergence has already taken place before they got together and called themselves BRICS.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Chinese and Russia plan to take over the world order through BRICS.
MR. BUCHANAN: My belief is Russia has sought repeatedly to join in -- to join the West, and we have virtually driven them back into the arms of China. What Nixon broke up, these recent presidents and administrations have put back together.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How could BRICS have been averted?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, there could have been -- on one level can't have been avoided, because you have one institution making the decisions. That institution is dominated by the United States and by England, the traditional sort of western capitalist countries. You know, it doesn't work for everybody now, OK. They have different values, different ways they want to place their money, and different ways they want to invest their money.
MS. CLIFT: It's totally understandable that they would link together and try to give some push-back to the West and show that their emerging economies need to be treated like they're world powers, which they are.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: They also have much larger economies. Their economies have grown. China has become a huge force in all of this, and they're going to have a platform whether we like it or not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: OK.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- from the environmental and labor regulations and all that they have to deal with -
MS. CLIFT: That's right. That's right, yes.
MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So the West has a fight on its hands to maintain -
MS. CLIFT: (The planet loses ?).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The West has a fight on its hands to maintain the world order that we currently have.
MR. BUCHANAN: Richard Nixon -- I heard him once tell a foreign minister, when you sup with the devil, bring a long spoon. And that's what these fellows ought to do if they're dealing with the Chinese rather than the Americans.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: A Fair Shake for Salt.
FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I): (From videotape.) I have an admission to make. What's been written about me is true. I love salt in my food. I put salt on my popcorn. As a matter of fact, popcorn without salt is not popcorn. And while this isn't the healthiest habit in the world, it's not as bad as it sounds.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg can relax when it comes to his salt shaker if a new study on low-salt diets is proof. During his tenure as mayor, Bloomberg was one of the country's leading anti-salt crusaders. Under his NSRI -- National Salt Reduction Initiative -- dozens of states and cities banded together to pressure major companies like Butterball, Hostess, Kraft, Starbucks and Taco Bell to cut the salt added to foods. The goal was to reduce the average American salt intake from 3,400 milligrams daily to the 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams advocated by noted health organizations.
Now a major study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine says that those low levels of salt consumption recommended by the experts and the politicians are more likely to -- get this -- kill you than help you. That's right. Low salt intake can be lethal.
The study tracked 100,000 people in 17 countries for three years. Those who consume the recommended levels of less than 3,000 milligrams per day had a 27 percent higher risk of death, heart attack or stroke than those whose salt intake ranged between 3,000 and 6,000 milligrams. In other words, the average American's current salt intake of 3,400 milligrams is healthier than the low levels recommended by the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization and the Food & Drug Administration.
It turns out that Michael Bloomberg can have all the salt he wants on his food if this New England Journal of Medicine study is correct.
Someone said to me Bloomberg should have egg on his face. If you're going to become an activist and urge sweeping change, you should first be certain that the change you advocate is beneficial instead of detrimental.
MR. PAGE: Who told you that, the salt industry? (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think I'm in the pocket of the salt industry?
MR. PAGE: I'm asking, John. I'm just asking. I mean, really -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. PAGE: -- the Heart Association, the FDA, et cetera.
MR. BUCHANAN: But John -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible.)
MR. PAGE: I go along with their assessment.
MR. BUCHANAN: They weren't in Siberia, but I think they've all been closed down. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they in the -- are they in the leader of the Senate's home district?
MR. BUCHANAN: You mean Nevada?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: Not that I know of. There's uranium and stuff out there, I think.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: You don't want to put uranium on your soup, I'll tell you that. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You put uranium on your soup?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)
MR. ZUCKERMAN: My father happened to have high blood pressure and a heart condition. We grew up in a family without salt, OK; I mean, literally. Everybody said you had to cut it out. Now, it doesn't mean that I don't have a good taste of food. But so far, so good is all I can say. And none of my siblings -
MS. CLIFT: But you can throw out -
MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- have had any difficulty, nor my -- (inaudible).
MS. CLIFT: You can throw out every salt shaker that you have and you absorb enough salt in processed foods.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MS. CLIFT: They put salt in everything. And I must say, Pat's been invoking Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MS. CLIFT: When Reagan was president, he once did an interview where he talked about the changes he'd made in his diet and he said he'd given up salt.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MS. CLIFT: He said except for eggs. He said only a raccoon can eat an egg without salt.
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence -
MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible) -- put salt on that.
MR. BUCHANAN: Speaking of Nixon, John -
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on. Hold on.
MR. BUCHANAN: Speaking of Nixon, let me tell you a little story. Very late in life, he was told by his doctor that he had to give up all drinking. And he called Bebe Rebozo, his friend, and Bebe said, sir, if I were you, I'd get a second opinion.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.
MR. BUCHANAN: All these things cancel each other out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where did we read if the salt loses its savor, wherewith will it be salted?
MR. BUCHANAN: The Bible.
MR. PAGE: Shakespeare?
MR. BUCHANAN: No, it's the New Testament. Good heavens.
MR. PAGE: Oh, OK.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who said it?
MR. BUCHANAN: Jesus himself.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who'd he say it to?
MR. BUCHANAN: He said it to some Jewish fellows, I think. OK?
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. (Laughter.)
MR. PAGE: That's a good guess. That's a good guess.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: I have to confess, I was there and it's exactly what he said. I couldn't agree with you more. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Four: Racial Divide.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall and why a man whose father, less than 60 years ago, might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When President Obama was inaugurated as the nation's 44th president in January 2009, nearly six years ago, it was a watershed moment in U.S. history. America had elected its first African-American president. And while President Obama has never claimed he would heal the racial divide in this country, to many there was a sense that progress had been made towards that goal.
But a recent Politico poll shows that little has changed. Voters in battleground states, where there are the most competitive Senate and House races, say that when it comes to race relations in the U.S., from the time that Barack Obama took office in 2009, nearly half -- get this -- 46 percent say race relations have worsened since 2009. Only 6 percent of voters say relations have gotten better. And again, nearly half, 48 percent, say race relations have stayed the same.
Among white voters, 49 percent say relations have worsened, while 4 percent say they are better. Forty-seven percent say they have stayed the same. Among black voters, 38 percent, race relations have worsened, 13 percent say better, and 47 percent they have stayed the same.
Among Hispanic voters, 30 percent, relations have worsened; 14 percent, improved; 56 percent, stayed the same.
The poll was conducted in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white policeman shot to death an unarmed black teenager, followed by riots and protests.
Question: To what extent were these polling results influenced by last summer's events in Ferguson? Clarence.
MR. PAGE: I think they may be somewhat affected, but I think -- I have a feeling, though, that the reason why a lot of people say that race relations have gotten worse is because they now have to think about them, whereas they could have ignored them before and were ignoring them, whereas, since Barack Obama's election, race has come up as an issue in politics as people wonder if Obama's opposition is predominantly racist, for example. I mean, those are questions that weren't asked about Bill Clinton and his opposition, even though it was about the same.
But when you ask people about their personal lives, they'll tell you that their race relations are about the same or better because they get along with their neighbors or they get along with people at work or at school, whatever. I think that the Ferguson incident affects people as far as their national view, just like the O.J. Simpson verdict did back in the `90s.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you pick up yourself from your own intuitions?
MR. PAGE: As far as race relations?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mmm hmm.
MR. PAGE: Well, you know, when I was a kid, we still had white and colored signs over the water fountains and restrooms. I think things have gotten a lot better since then. And I look at my son, who's 25 years old. He's a millennial, and he's grown up in a multiracial, multicultural environment. And their view of racism is different. But they are just as divided by race as far as attitudes toward police -- talking about the younger generation.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did the election of Barack Obama help accelerate a convergence of the races, meaning a reduction of anything like prejudice?
MR. PAGE: I don't know if it accelerated it, because, as I say, we were doing pretty good already. We've made a lot of progress since the `60s. But after Obama's election, we began to see (a color cast to ?) political divides.
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, John, let me talk to this.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)
MR. BUCHANAN: Look, you've got -- African-Americans are now in law, in entertainment, in politics, public service. And there are more black public employees or public leaders in Mississippi than any other state in the Union elected. But the difference I see is what's happening worldwide. And we've talked about it with that Scottish issue. People are tending more to move into their own -- Hispanics in their own communities and African-Americans in their own communities. They're separating and they're seeing themselves as us versus them more than I've seen as a community in a good while.
MS. CLIFT: I don't see that -- I don't see that among young people at all. I mean, I think, you know, there's a lot of inclusivity, if you want to use that word. They do not see ethnic and racial barriers.
I think with President Obama, I think we congratulate ourselves as a nation that we elected a black president. I think everyone thought -- a lot of people thought that we were past a lot of our past. And we weren't. And I think the black community sometimes thinks he hasn't done enough for them. And there are some white people in this country who are offended just by the fact that a black man sits in the White House. And those attitudes are not going to go away over a space of an eight-year term.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll give you 10 seconds.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I don't think that's the issue of Obama as you describe it. I think, frankly, there is a huge disappointment in his performance as president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Pat.
MR. BUCHANAN: They will try to do something about inversions and corporate taxes in the lame-duck session, but it will not succeed.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: The race for control of the Senate is coming down to so many tight races. We won't know which party controls the Senate until December, when Mary Landrieu in Louisiana will be in a runoff with her Republican challenger.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clarence.
MR. PAGE: Watch for some more big announcements on privatized space travel. It's becoming a growth industry in the private sector much faster than expected.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you going to go up?
MR. PAGE: I'm thinking about it. (Laughs.) I'm getting a little on in years, but I've always wanted to do it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's your wife saying?
MR. PAGE: She says to the moon.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. PAGE: To the moon, honey. Remember "The Honeymooners"?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.) Right to the moon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Inaudible) -- I've arranged for you to come with me.
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort.
MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think the Chinese are going to continue to grow as a major force in international business and international finance. And the story that we covered here is just one example of that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Obamacare" was the death-knell for the Democrats' control of the House in 2010. I predict that if the Democrats lose their Senate majority next month, the clamor among remaining Democrats in the House and the Senate to repeal "Obamacare" before the election in 2016 will be deafening.