The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek/The Daily Beast;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report;
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

Taped: Friday, July 19, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of July 20-21, 2013

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JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Stand Your Ground.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: (From videotape.) It's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. These laws try to fix something that was never broken by allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public. Such laws undermine public safety.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Attorney General Eric Holder this week addressed the NAACP, the 104-year-old National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. General Holder denounced Florida's, quote-unquote, "stand your ground" law and other self-defense laws like it that exist in 26 other U.S. states, laws that allow people who feel threatened to not run away but rather to legally defend oneself, even with deadly force if necessary.

These self-defense statutes are now under national public scrutiny in the wake of the February 12, 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old male, in Sanford, Florida. The shooter was George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Last week, after 16 hours and 20 minutes of deliberation, a jury of five white women and one woman who appeared to be Hispanic found Zimmerman not guilty of murder.

Question: Did Zimmerman's lawyers base his defense on Florida's "stand your ground" statute? Pat Buchanan.

PAT BUCHANAN: They did not, John. What they argued was self- defense. They said that Trayvon Martin basically sucker-punched George Zimmerman, knocked him on the ground, beat him martial-arts style, pound and ground, smacked his head on the cement. And in those circumstances, George Zimmerman brought out his concealed gun and shot Trayvon Martin to death.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So there was no requirement to use any statute.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, there was not. And also the Sanford police believed Zimmerman. The jury believed him and others believed him.

Let me say this about the attorney general. He is trying to get off what's being done to him. He's being pushed for a second hate-crime trial of George Zimmerman. But the FBI has investigated and found no racial profiling at all; no profiling of any kind, the jury said. So he's moved on to this issue of "stand your ground."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Under what circumstances does "stand your ground" come into play?

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, the lawyers said they did not use "stand your ground" as a defense. But if you look at the judge's instructions to the jury, it was word for word out of "stand your ground" laws. And if you listen to juror number 37, who gave an interview to Anderson Cooper on CNN, she said they discussed, on at least two occasions, the "stand your ground" law. And in her mind, they were basically voting to acquit along those lines.

She also pointed out that of the six, three initially wanted to acquit, two favored manslaughter, and one second-degree murder. But the judge's instructions were quite explicit, so I don't think you can fault the jury for the decision they arrived at.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What kind of "stand your ground" defense is needed to protect the (witness ?)?

MORT ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think the issue in this particular case was that there was no evidence put in by the prosecution that, in fact, there was a kind of violence, as put here. There was no claim to self-defense. Self-defense was the issue. There was no -- nothing that was put forward in that trial by the prosecution to deny that. And therefore, they had to go with it. That made the conclusion, legal conclusion, for the jury.

When you read what she said in that interview with Anderson Cooper, it's a matter of law that turned the decision into a unanimous decision; when they studied the law and they realized the law made it clear that unless you could deny the issue of self-defense, you had no case.

MS. CLIFT: They weren't making a moral conclusion, in other words.


MS. CLIFT: It was a narrow legal ruling.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The role of a jury is to obey the law and to fulfill the law. That's what they were doing. And that was the law.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think what the attorney general said was helpful under these circumstances?

CLARENCE PAGE: I think it was helpful because he acknowledged that, first of all, there is a racial divide, contrary to what one of the prosecutors even said; race had nothing to do with this case. But we all know better than that, don't we? The case wouldn't have even been brought had the family -- the family was trying to get Zimmerman prosecuted, and it probably wouldn't have happened if the racial angle wasn't capturing everybody's attention and suspicions.

The thing is that "stand your ground" laws are designed for the benefit of the defendant in cases like this, that it broadens the parameters whereby you can use deadly force. And it eliminates any obligation to step away, to back up at all. That's why it's called "stand your ground." And so even though Zimmerman didn't make that plea, the jury was well aware of it. It was in their instructions. And it's up to the prosecution, then --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. PAGE: -- to show --


MS. CLIFT: And the law was drafted by the NRA --

MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible).

MS. CLIFT: -- and passed in Florida initially.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Enough of the AG. Let's move on and go higher. On Friday, President Obama addressed the verdict directly.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community, at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African- American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.

You know, I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What's the impact of President Obama's statement about the Trayvon Martin case? I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it was insidious, John. First --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Insidious?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, for this reason. The president is stepping out politically. I guess what he feels he ought to do is identifying with the aggrieved community, the Trayvon Martin side of this argument, and he's going all out. And he's raising this racial profiling thing and says it really goes on.

Racial profiling had nothing to do with this case, and he's implying that that's why Trayvon Martin is dead. And he suggested that the African-American community -- that if he had been white, you would have had a different result here.
I think the president has taken sides in what is becoming, unfortunately, a pretty nasty racial dispute in this country rather than doing what he did at Gabby Giffords' --

MR. PAGE: Would Trayvon have been stopped if he was white?

MR. BUCHANAN: -- at Gabby Giffords', where he was magnificent.

MR. PAGE: Would Trayvon have been stopped if he was white?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, let me ask you, would Al Sharpton have been down there if the victim was white?

MR. PAGE: I'm glad Al Sharpton was there, because, like I say, this case wouldn't even have been investigated --

MR. BUCHANAN: You're exactly right. Race --

MR. PAGE: -- if it hadn't been for the race angle. And that's a shame.

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with you. I agree with you.

MR. PAGE: The "stand your ground" law has been around since, what, 2005.

MR. BUCHANAN: This was self-defense.

MR. PAGE: And we're finally getting a big debate on the thing.

MR. BUCHANAN: But it's got nothing -- self-defense -- I mean, "stand your ground" had nothing to do with the decision.

MR. PAGE: But the suspicion was there. It was enough (for ?) the prosecution.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah. Ask --


MS. CLIFT: Ask anybody if --

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a red herring.


MS. CLIFT: Ask anybody if they think race was not included in this. I want to say, the president's remarks on Friday are going to be read by future generations. They're beautiful. They're eloquent. They speak to the pain of a lot of people in this country. You're smirking while I say that.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not smirking.

MS. CLIFT: It sure looked that way, right over there.

MR. PAGE: No smirking, Mort.

MS. CLIFT: Right. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MS. CLIFT: And he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Smirking's prohibited.

MS. CLIFT: He addresses the pain that a lot of people feel. He does not question the jury verdict. He talks about how we can go forward. He doesn't -- he says we've made a lot of progress; this is not a post-racial America. But, you know, if he didn't speak out, what kind of president would he be?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MS. CLIFT: This has been the elephant in the room for the last week. He has an obligation to address this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president --

MS. CLIFT: And I think a lot of people will identify with the remarks that he made.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president is a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln. Was this his Lincoln moment? That's a sincere and direct question.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, I think it was a Lincoln moment for him, and I think a wonderful moment for him. I do agree. I think this speech was -- what he said was appropriate for a president, particularly a president who happens to be African-American in heritage.

I also will say, since I was in attendance at the March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech -- in fact, I was sitting on the stage with him -- I thought this was a moment of extraordinary hope and promise for America. I don't think it's quite worked out that way.

Nevertheless, a president of the United States, it seems to me, particularly with his background, has got to comment on this. I don't see how he can do it otherwise.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that the overall attention to this is exaggerating the actual event?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's gone far beyond the event. You're exactly right. Look, the event had nothing to do with racial profiling, had nothing to do with "stand your ground." It was racial. That's how the case got brought to court.
But, John, I think the president should have -- why is there no word -- George Zimmerman is under threat of his life. His wife -- I mean, his mother is getting threats. I mean, the accusations -- people are being beaten out there. There's vandalism. There's violence.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Why didn't the president stand up and say this has nothing to do -- let's have an argument and a discussion. This should stop. What's the matter with him?

MS. CLIFT: Where are you seeing all this violence? This has been largely peaceful --

MR. BUCHANAN: When you read the --

MS. CLIFT: -- protests. You must be reading the right-wing blogs.


MR. BUCHANAN: Well, they've done a report on people getting beat up. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, Eleanor's point is well taken. You are somewhat exaggerating.

MR. PAGE: Obama said that last week.


MR. PAGE: Obama said that last week. He said -- I can't remember the exact quote --

MS. CLIFT: That's right.

MR. PAGE: -- but he said, you know, calm heads prevailed, et cetera, et cetera.

MR. BUCHANAN: Why did he raise the racial profiling thing and talk for 10 minutes on racial profiling?

MR. PAGE: Because that's the elephant in the room right now.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- past week.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he was racially profiled, Trayvon Martin?

MR. PAGE: That's not the issue.

MS. CLIFT: If that were a white --

MR. PAGE: Obama said --

MS. CLIFT: If that were a white teenager --

MR. PAGE: -- let the courts take care of the specifics of this case.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. PAGE: The reason why we're talking about it today, Pat, is because racial profiling is a very real issue in this society.

MR. BUCHANAN: But why --

MR. PAGE: And this is the first time we've gotten a serious national hearing and debate and argument about "stand your ground." It took this to get that. And that's the real shame here.

MS. CLIFT: And he --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think -- do you think racial profiling is as big as apparently the president thought was required for him to enter this matter?

MR. PAGE: Well, you know, all the way around, Pat -- Pat -- John, you look at Eric Holder's speech earlier this week and Obama's speech --


MR. PAGE: -- later. This was all -- it was very personal. This is part of the black experience in America. It's part of the experience of being a minority that every day you've got to think about your status as a minority. And profiling is part of that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that the nation -- the nation elected, as their president, Barack Obama, who is a black man.

MR. PAGE: That's right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you still think that the issue is there, front and center, to warrant his intrusion -- his intrusion -- his participation in the dialogue at this time, after the attorney general has spoken definitively on it.

MR. PAGE: I said earlier this week that I thought that Obama should speak out, but I understand why he doesn't, because no matter what he says, he's going to get attacked by various snipers out there. And that's what's happened.

(Cross talk.)

MR. PAGE: He already did, because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think -- just a moment.

MR. PAGE: -- people want to hear his point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he's made matters better or worse?

MR. PAGE: It's better. You know, people talk about things being worse. It's only because a lot of folks who didn't have to worry about race before --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MR. PAGE: -- are hearing about it because of the Twitter age, et cetera. We need to have a national conversation. Unfortunately --


MR. PAGE: -- this is what it takes to get one.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So far -- so far you're doing all right.

MR. PAGE: Thank you.


MR. PAGE: I'm --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to ask you one final question.

MR. PAGE: Sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's a close call?

MR. PAGE: Of what?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of the president -- by the president in getting involved? It's a close call for him.

MR. PAGE: I think it was a courageous call on his part.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A close call. A close call.

MR. PAGE: I think he did an excellent job.


MR. PAGE: One of the other --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You could argue that --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this was --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He has to be involved. When you see what was in the news ever since that case came out, this is a major national issue. The president has to address it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think it was beginning to fade?

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think it was beginning to fade.

MR. BUCHANAN: It was beginning to fade, John.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And it shouldn't have faded.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think it was beginning to fade.

MR. BUCHANAN: He has re-raised --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The issues are still there, and he has to address them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think he had a moment, especially when he said, you know, when a black man enters a department store, there are a number of eyes on him; if it's a white man, that's not the case.


MR. PAGE: Yeah, well, you know --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, there is profiling.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- there is some ingraining impact. But on the other hand --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- maybe he made it more of a thing --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- than it was.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- there's racial profiling. Clarence is right. It's because if you take young black African males, 18 to 29, they have an astronomical rate -- one third are in jail, prison or probation. This is why the profiling is done. This is behind all the fear. The cabs in New York -- 49 out of 51 -- 49 of 50 muggings --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?

MR. BUCHANAN: There is profiling, and there is a reason for it.

MS. CLIFT: The president -- if you listened to the president --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a reason for it?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure. And it's not irrational.

MR. PAGE: Pat, you know my son. I want to hear you talk to him about that --

MR. BUCHANAN: He's not --

MR. PAGE: -- because when you're --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let him finish.

MR. PAGE: -- on the receiving end of it, that's where the tension comes.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me ask you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's that again?

MR. PAGE: That's the suspicion -- when you're on the receiving end of profiling --

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, let me --


MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- part of being a minority is -- (inaudible) --

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me ask you --

MR. PAGE: -- walk into a store and (wonder ?) if you're being profiled.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me ask you about your son.

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Something happens to him violently in D.C. Do you think it'll be because of a white situation?

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: I want to point out --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Just a moment.

MS. CLIFT: -- when the president answered that question, he said Trayvon Martin statistically was more likely to be killed by his own peer --

MR. PAGE: Right.

MS. CLIFT: -- than what happened.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it's --

MS. CLIFT: And he said there are no excuses --

MR. BUCHANAN: Do you think a white cop is (oppressing ?) your son?

MS. CLIFT: He said --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --

MS. CLIFT: He said there are no excuses --

MR. PAGE: You've got white thugs. You've got black thugs. You know, you've got to warn your children about all kinds of threats. I'm happy I haven't got to tell my children about Jim Crow segregation signs like my parents --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a one-word answer.

MR. PAGE: We've made progress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: One word --

MR. PAGE: But we've still got a ways to go.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Give me a one-word answer.

MR. PAGE: One or two.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president's intrusion or involvement in this matter is more of a plus than a minus. Which is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: He has inflamed an issue --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's more of a minus --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- which was dying out.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- more of a minus.

MS. CLIFT: He is the leader of the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: More of a plus.

MS. CLIFT: He spoke to people who feel great pain about this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. More of a plus?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. He's the moral leader of the country. He should have commented.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: More of a plus.

MR. PAGE: You may think it's dying out, but the viewership by black --

MR. BUCHANAN: It ain't now. (Laughs.)

MR. PAGE: -- society --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the answer?

MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible). We just suppress it. It was a plus.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a plus, and he'll probably be asked more about it -- it'll probably be the subject of this weekend's talk shows --

MR. BUCHANAN: Perhaps.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which he always manages to create an atmosphere for by what he says on Thursday or Friday.
Issue Two: Detroit Goes Bankrupt.

On Thursday, the city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in federal court. It is the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.

Question: What accounts for Motown's record $18 billion bankruptcy? Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you had a -- first place, you had an erosion of the population in that city from a 1,800,000 people to 700,000 people. The whole lifestyle of that city has been changed. It has become a city that is virtually unenforceable in terms of just protection against criminals. The level of violence and criminal violence in that city is amazing. That's why a lot of people are leaving.

The main industry in that city, which was the automobile industry, a lot of those companies have just left. So they have no jobs. They have no revenues. They can't afford to pay the police. The police are the least efficient and the least effective police of probably any city in the country. It is no wonder that people are leaving and business is leaving, and the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not understanding why this phenomenon has happened. Can you address that?

MR. PAGE: It started --

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, it began right after World War II. Shelley grew up there. She grew up right in Detroit.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Your wife.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah. And you got the attraction of suburbia. A lot of people moved out first, and the auto industry moves out of there. And then they've had a number -- excuse me -- of liberal mayors, like they had up in New York, guys who -- generous pensions and all these other things. At the same time, the tax base disintegrated slower and slower. You get the crime, which is horrendous out there. There's been a number of efforts to rebuild it. The Republicans had a convention out there. They had a big downtown effort led by Ford and such.

But, John, it is -- this is really a disaster and a tragedy of the first order. It's the largest American city to go through this. And I don't know how they're going to get out of it.

MS. CLIFT: It's been dying on the --

MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- I almost grew up there, because I was there every summer to visit relatives since the early `50s. And you're right. Really it's the same problem every city in America has had with deindustrialization. The only thing is, when the auto industry left, nothing replaced it.


MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. PAGE: And so you got the King -- Martin Luther King riots back in -- I'm sorry --


MR. PAGE: Well, `68 was King, but the year before, `67, those riots only accelerated white flight and disinvestment. And then you had, you know, a series of different mayors and local conflicts politically. But again, it really boils down to disinvestment, nobody coming in to replace the investment that left. And it's just gotten worse, which means you lose police services, schools, et cetera, et cetera.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not hearing the root cause of why the decline.

MR. PAGE: The same thing that's hurt every city in the country, as well as legacy costs from old union contracts, but not having investment to replace the -- (inaudible) -- investment, which is -- (inaudible).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why couldn't the impressive delegation from Detroit and from the state have done more to get help from the federal government?

MR. PAGE: Well, there's been a lot over the years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've had two prominent senators --

MR. PAGE: Well, besides the federal government, they've done a lot over the years. But they keep running into bad luck. Even the gambling vote -- (laughs) -- brought new revenue.


MR. PAGE: They've done some downtown redevelopment. But every time they get rolling, some economic downturn comes or something.

MR. BUCHANAN: World War --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It had nothing to do with the ruling elite in Detroit?

MR. PAGE: Well, it had everything to do with the ruling elite, not just in Detroit but --


MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible) -- as well.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like the mayor of Detroit?

MR. PAGE: The suburbs as well.


MS. CLIFT: There have been plenty of corrupt officials, but the city has been dying on the vine for a long time. And the collapse of the auto industry really accelerated that.

MR. BUCHANAN: World War II --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me. Let me finish, Pat. Pittsburgh, for example, was built on the steel industry, and they were very creative. They're now a thriving city. There was a lack of imagination, I guess, in Detroit. But they didn't convert. When the auto industry left them, they did not convert to anything else.

MR. BUCHANAN: World War II ended and the defense industries went to California.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let's do a quick exit on this segment on Mr. Bernanke and the Fed.

BEN BERNANKE (chairman, Federal Reserve Board of Governors): (From videotape.) With unemployment still high and declining only gradually, and with inflation running below the committee's longer-run objectives, a highly accommodative monetary policy will remain appropriate for the foreseeable future.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured investors and global markets this week by reporting to the U.S. Congress that the Fed is not retreating from its unprecedented economic stimulus, known as QE3 -- quantitative easing number three -- for now.
QE3 means that the Fed pumps $85 billion into the U.S. economy every month. The Fed buys bonds and other assets. But Mr. Bernanke is realistic, as he explained. Unemployment is still too high for the Fed to ease off on its quantitative easing. As of June, U.S. unemployment was at 7.6 percent. Underemployment is currently at 17.6 percent, according to Gallup.

The Fed won't stop QE3 unless unemployment drops from 7.6 percent to 7 percent. If that happens and the economy maintains its, quote- unquote, "modest to moderate pace" of growth, then QE3 would be eased as early as this year, and then terminated by mid-2014, a year from now.
On the flip side, Mr. Bernanke noted that should the economy worsen, the Fed stands at the ready to increase QE3 purchases.

Mort, sum it all up, will you? You've got about 30 seconds.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: He is dealing with a critical issue, which is that the economy is not recovering. We are growing at less than 2 percent, despite the huge fiscal intervention, despite the huge monetary intervention. And he doesn't know what more to do with it, and that's what he's focusing on. We're going to continue those programs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he overly pessimistic?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, he's not overly pessimistic, not at all. He was overly optimistic. That was his problem.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: His term is up at the end of the year. Will he be reappointed?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. The president has basically made it clear that he's not going to reappoint him, in one of the rather nasty episodes of American public life.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because Bernanke says things like this?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, because -- for whatever his reasons; I don't know. Bernanke has been a genius. He has been an absolute transformative head of the Federal Reserve. He's done an amazing job, as nobody's ever done before.

MS. CLIFT: The president is entitled to his own appointment.


MS. CLIFT: He's already served, I think, two terms.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Immigrants -- a Blessing?
House Republicans could kill the Senate's immigration reform overhaul. Three weeks ago, the Senate passed a bill that would allow 11 million illegal immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship over the course of 10 years. Such a path to citizenship, say House Republicans, would open the floodgates, and low-skilled workers from Mexico would stream over an unprotected border, driving down U.S. wages.
Undocumented immigrants, they say, should not be granted any path to citizenship. And House Republicans say the bill is not tough enough on border security.

OK, essayist Rana Foroohar in Time Magazine finds this opposition, quote-unquote, "utterly baffling." Immigrants, says Foroohar, are the, quote-unquote, "key reason" that the U.S. population and economic growth exceed that of most of the industrialized world. And not only has net immigration of low-skilled workers from Mexico slowed for the past decade; it is expected to reverse.

Mexico's economy is growing. And Mexican migrants, who make up 28 percent of the foreign-born population of the U.S., are going home to Mexico. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that the total number of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. who return to Mexico, a minimum of 65 percent and possibly even 95 percent, did so voluntarily.

Also, immigrants who gain legal citizenship contribute to Social Security revenue, pay taxes that cut the Fed's budget deficit, and they even grow the economy because of the key role immigrants play in business and job creation.

Question: If immigration is an unalloyed blessing, why is it so controversial with much of the electorate? I ask you, Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: It's controversial with a small portion of the electorate. Republican House members, who represent districts that don't have many Hispanics, they don't feel any of the political pressure.

If we're going to get an immigration reform bill, it's going to be because of pressures from the business community, from the high- tech community, who understand all of the figures that she cites in that article, and if the speaker of the House is going to be willing to put a bill on the floor that is not necessarily going to get a majority of his caucus. The votes are there if John Boehner will let them express themselves.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does the Senate immigration bill authorize?

MS. CLIFT: The Senate bill authorizes an arduous path to leadership -- to citizenship. It takes 13 years. And it authorizes billions in reinforcing the border, a ridiculous amount of money. And all the people so worried about the deficit don't seem to care about that.

The border's pretty well enforced. Hardly anybody is coming across anyway. It's just a political ploy to get --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It authorizes 1.6 million new workers a year to compete against Americans, with a 17.6 percent current underemployment rate for jobs.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The 1.6 million new worker visas will span every industry, from tourism to high tech to blue-collar jobs. At present rates of job creation, it takes eight months to create that many new jobs.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to speak to that?

MS. CLIFT: (Inaudible.) (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: I will speak to that. Let me speak to that. H1Bs, which Mort's very high on, they come in and take jobs of middle- class guys, engineers. You take folks coming in from the service economy, from the Third World. You've got -- black unemployment in this country is twice as high as white unemployment. Hispanic unemployment is high. Why in heaven's name are you bringing in millions of people and giving amnesty to millions of people when our own folks aren't working? Would they help the economy?

MR. PAGE: The answer is --

MR. BUCHANAN: But would they help --

MR. PAGE: -- they do create jobs. They found Fortune 500 businesses, from Google to Yahoo, et cetera.

MR. BUCHANAN: Every --

MR. PAGE: They also help to raise --

MR. BUCHANAN: Average immigrants --

MR. PAGE: You know, when you make them citizens, when you make them stable citizens -- stable residents -- then they buy houses. That improves the housing industry.

(Cross talk.)

MS. CLIFT: And 11 million of them are here already.

MR. BUCHANAN: They contribute $10,000 a year in taxes --

MR. PAGE: You wanted an answer. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and use $30,000 a year in services.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about existing high-tech workers and engineers? Are their salaries being driven down --


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and their emoluments being driven down --

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure, they are.

MR. PAGE: No, because --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- by reason of --

MR. PAGE: Those are the kind of people we need right now, whether they come from overseas or here, skilled workers.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have a huge shortage of people like that. We had 195,000 H1B visas in the year 2000. It was cut down to 65,000. We have a tremendous shortage of these kinds of engineers in this country. That's why the high-tech --

MR. BUCHANAN: That's why Americans aren't going to Georgia Tech anymore.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's why the high-tech --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're not going into engineering.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And let me just tell you another thing. There's a political issue here, let's face it, OK, because if you have this bill, the Democrats are -- the Republicans are convinced that the one big state that they've been carrying, which is Texas, will never be carried by the Republicans again. So there is a political issue here as well.

MS. CLIFT: They don't want --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we need immigration for population growth?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, we do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Out of time. Bye-bye. Happy birthday, Nelson Mandela.

(C) 2013 Federal News Service