Focus 580; Talk to the Candidate With Barack Obama
Good morning this is Focus 5 video morning telephone talk show. My name is Jack Brighton sitting in for your regular host David Inge. Very glad you could listen during this hour of the program we'll have another conversation with one of the candidates for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois being vacated by Peter Fitzgerald who has decided not to run again. There are seven Democrats and eight Republicans in the primary for this U.S. Senate seat. During this hour of the show we will talk with Barack Obama. He is a member of the Illinois Senate from the 13th Senate district on Chicago's South Side and he is one of the Democrats. He is the chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and also serves on the judiciary and revenue committees of the Illinois Senate and he will join us this morning by telephone to talk with you that's the point of this program. We like to have these opportunities for listeners and voters to interact directly with the candidates we think that's a very important thing for democracy to have this kind of dialogue. And we will do that this morning with Barack Obama as we talk with Senator Obama we invite you into the conversation.
All you need do is call us around Champaign-Urbana. The number is 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We also have a toll free line anywhere you hear us around the state of Illinois actually anywhere in the US via the Internet. If you're listening you can use that line 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. And please do feel free to join us with your questions since that's what this is all about. And just a brief background on Barack Obama he represents Illinois 13th Senate district on Chicago's South Side. He is chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee and also serves on the judiciary and revenue committees of the Illinois Senate. Senator Obama graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science and a specialty in international relations he went on to Harvard Law School where he graduated magna cum laude and served as the first African-American president of the. Harvard Law Review in addition to serving in the Illinois Senate Barack Obama is currently a law professor specializing in constitutional law at the University of
Chicago Law School. He's also served on the boards of Soma Chicago's leading foundations and chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge a 50 million dollar philanthropic effort to reform the public schools. Well talk about some of these things and again take your questions as we talk with Barack Obama during this hour. And Senator Obama Good morning. Good morning how are you. Thanks. Very well thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me. I wanted to start by asking you I know you've been involved in you know community efforts in Chicago and a number of other activities in addition to your resume as a member of the only Senate and your academic background if you want to you know talk a little bit about your experience of working in the community there. Well you know usually the first thing people want to know is where do I get this name Barack Obama. And people mispronounce it called me Alabama. There are all kinds of variations to it my father. Is from Kenya from Africa and he was a foreign student too who came here to study back in the early 60s. My mother was from
Kansas which is why I talk the way I do. And it's actually community organizing that brought me to Chicago. I had graduated from Columbia University in New York and had become interested in figuring out how I could help rebuild communities that had been devastated by job closings or were hurting because of long histories of segregation. And there were a group of churches on the far South Side of Chicago here that were dealing with steel plants but it closed. And we're trying to figure out how they could help rejuvenate communities so they didn't have much money. All they could afford was a 23 year old kid who was interested and was willing to work hard. So I came out here and worked for three years setting up job training programs for the unemployed. Organizing parents to help promote school reform in the area. Bringing resources and City investment into areas that have been neglected. So I did that
for three and a half years before I went to law school and it was the best education I ever had it really taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they're given the opportunity. The other basic question I have and I want to defer to callers as much as possible since as with issue is all about what do you hope to bring to the U.S. Senate what would you hope to accomplish there. Well you know as I think you noted in the introduction I have devoted most of my life to public service. Certainly most of my adult life both as a community organizer then as a civil rights attorney and most recently as a state senator. And I'm very proud of the track record that I've been able to. Developed in the Illinois Senate. You know I helped to shape the kid care program that provides health insurance for children who don't have who don't qualify for Medicaid but whose parents don't have health insurance on the job. I helped to implement a welfare reform program here in Illinois that's one of the least punitive but one of the most successful in moving
women into the workforce primarily by providing them with daycare and transportation assistance and job training. I helped pass they were an income tax credit that provides tax breaks for people who really need it. People typically making $30000 a year or less. And then this year really focused a lot on revamping our criminal justice system in the past the first of the nation videotaping of interrogations and confessions. The cornerstone of death penalty reform in the state. So. I'm very proud of my track record at the state level but I now think that this country is at a crossroads both internationally and domestically and the voices of ordinary working people are not being heard in Washington they're being drowned out by special interests. I think we have an administration who sees its primary role as protecting the powerful from the demands of the powerless. And I'm hoping to give voice to
the young men who are standing on street corners with vision and hope to families that are struggling to get by and to seniors who are unable to get the medicine they need. Those are the people I hope to represent effectively in Washington the same way. But I believe I've effectively represented them in Springfield. Very good. Well we will talk more about some of these issues that you raised and also to take questions from listeners and we have a couple people waiting patiently So what we go ahead and speak with them. We'll go first to someone in ur band on line number one. Good morning good morning good morning. Should start out by saying I am a very committed Democrat and I'm really pretty easy to get WIO now has had this forum. I know that that Mr. Obama has been. In the east central Illinois area many times that I've never been able to come out and meet with you so this is a wonderful opportunity and I want to thank W I L L for doing this.
I was listening yesterday to the Democratic presidential debate on MSNBC and one of the things that almost all the candidates talked about was that this election in November was going to. And I know that you have to get through the primary for this election in November is going to be about getting people back to work. Getting people to health care they need changing the way we deal with other countries that we interact with and doing something for workers rights both here and overseas. And I wondered if you agree with those statements. And if you were elected senator what would you be doing would you be following the lead of hopefully a Democratic
president or would you be in the forefront with your own legislation. Well I. I think that there is unanimity on the part of Democrats right now that Bush and the Republican Congress have not put in place economic policies that are helping working families. This has been the most fiscally irresponsible administration in recent memory. We have a half a trillion dollar a year deficit and that deficit is the result not of investments in infrastructure that would improve our long term productivity or investments in education that would give our young people the opportunity to compete to compete globally. They're really as a consequence of tax cuts to some of the wealthiest Americans. And I think that we have to reverse those policies and that has to be a number one priority. I've been very specific on a couple of issues that I think we can address right away. On the issues of jobs and I do think that jobs and
economic security have to be our number one priority. We've proposed that we have to revamp our tax code because it currently really incentivizes a lot of the outsourcing that is taking place and that is harming not only our manufacturing base but increasingly is taking away jobs in the service economy high paying jobs in areas like computer programming. So what we've proposed is that we close those corporate tax loopholes that currently allow companies for example to locate offshore and repatriate their profits at a lower tax rate than those who are producing goods domestically and put all those incentives into companies that are doing the right thing by their workers and by their communities. We call it the the real Corporations Act. And what we say is that if a corporation is investing 50 percent of its research and development money in the United States
90 percent of its workers are in the United States it is providing benefits to those workers that they should get generous tax breaks their shareholders should get generous tax breaks and those can be paid for by closing the loopholes that are currently benefiting companies that are sending sending our jobs offshore. I also think that we've got to renegotiate our trade agreements in a very aggressive way. And. Although all of us believe that free trade is important we also have to recognize that we are out of balance right now that our trade agreements and our relationship for example to China which has been devaluing its currency by as much as 40 percent over the last several years to run up a huge trade deficit with us that those are areas in which the United States government has to be looking out for and promoting American workers and that's something that has not been happening it needs to happen soon. And I trust that I'll be in alignment with the presidential nominee on the Democratic
side in pushing for changes and reviews of our various trade agreements. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks so much for the call. We're talking this morning with Barack Obama. He is a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois one of seven Democrats running in the primary for the seat being vacated by Peter Fitzgerald. We have one caller waiting in time for others if you'd like to join us this is about dialogue questions that you have for the candidates on issues that concern you the most. The number around Champaign-Urbana to join us 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Toll free anywhere you Horace around the state 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. We have a listener next on one number two in Urbana also. Good morning Mr. Obama. Yes sir. Could you become nominated and then elected what the standing committees and standing subcommittees in the Senate would you like to serve on. Well that's a terrific question you know every freshman
senator I think aspires to be on the Appropriations Committee because that's where that's where the money if and you know it's like Willy Loman said and I'll bet that's why you go there. Right. Obviously it's sometimes. Difficult to get that much sought after appointment but I think that areas those committees such as appropriations finance or commerce are all of great interest to me because they have a direct impact in terms of how the tax code is written and how our budgets are prioritized in Washington. And those are committees that were I think I can have an enormous impact on the issues that I just mentioned to the earlier caller our ability to change our tax code to encourage employment and shore up our manufacturing base here in the United States. I'm also interested in the Judiciary Committee because as a constitutional lawyer somebody who teaches constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School I am
very concerned about the direction of the federal courts. George Bush's nominees I think have generally been ideologues out of the mainstream of American society. And that is one of the most critical functions. The Senate can play is to make sure that our judicial confirmation process reflects our core values in terms of equality and justice. With that in mind can you comment on the talk about I guess it was a duck hunting trip with Vice President Cheney and Justice Scalia and I'll hang up. Well I think that for the listeners who aren't familiar with it there is a case pending before the Supreme Court and the issue is whether Dick Cheney can keep secret records of various meetings that he had with energy companies. They have those that information should be made public. A
lower court has indicated that it should be made public. It's gone up to the Supreme Court and Justice Scalia is as a member of the Supreme Court has a conflict. Apparently he's a close friend of Dick Cheney as he went duck hunting with him just a while back. It would be appropriate for Justice Scalia to recuse himself from this case. So far he has declined to do so. Unfortunately there is a higher court to appeal to than the Supreme Court so this is one of those issues in which hopefully the other justices particularly Chief Justice Rehnquist are able to push Justice Scalia. Off this case it raises the larger issue though and that is that we are probably going to have at least two or three Supreme Court appointments coming up in the next term. It is critical to have a president and a U.S. Senate that is going to ensure justices who will uphold the
basic liberties and the basic values that we fought so long for. And I am extremely concerned about for example protections of the woman's rights to choose. If you have another four years with George Bush in a Republican controlled controlled Congress I think it could over the long term undermine the civil liberties that we fought for for so long. Well is much more to follow up on there but we have several listeners waiting who will go on next to someone in Park Ridge on line. For good morning on focus 580 Hello Mr. Obama Hello are you fine. I'm full of paper clipping out of a paper a couple weeks ago and it's from the Chicago Tribune and says firms fret H-1B visa list fills up. And the firms are very worried about not getting people in from foreign countries on these H-1B visas. My understanding is that if you from the article it says that it was it was
the camp was lifted 290 5000 which is triple the the original standard count that goes every year and I work with a lot of people that are engineers and educated people that a lot of them are not working in their chosen profession. Right as we have some new people coming in and to me it The article starts out saying it's not even February yet the H-1B visas are nearly gone. And we have a lot of people in this country that need to work educated people right there that are being pushed aside for foreign people coming in and not against having people of other nations working in this country. I think it's great but I think we live here. We shouldn't have to go somewhere else to work. Well I agree with you if this is the other side of the outsourcing issue that is also confronting people in our industry. We should have a policy in terms of granting these visas that says if there are
jobs that cannot be filled by American workers then it's appropriate to grant those visas. It has gotten so porous the way in which these visas rules are implemented that what's really going on right now is if a company can say it's going to be cheaper for us to hire a foreign worker then a visa is appropriate. And that can't to be the policy because what that does is continually drive down the cost of labor for the corporation which is terrific for them but does not do anything for American workers. And this is an example I think of us not implementing policies appropriately and not striking the right balance. None of us would argue that if there are specialties in which American workers cannot fill those jobs that we shouldn't allow workers from other countries to benefit from the skills that they have. But we have not
been aggressive in terms of looking at this whole piece of situation I think it's something that needs to be done. I should say that long term we also obviously have to continually upgrade the skills of American workers and that's part of the reason why our investment in education is so critical. And one of the reasons why it's. Completely unacceptable to me that the Bush administration has only barely made a dent in the declining value of the Pell Grant program and other educational grant and loan programs that would allow people to continually retrain and continually upgrade their skills. This competition is not going to be going away whether it's through outsourcing or through foreign workers coming into the United States. And we've got to make sure that we are doing everything we can to invest in America's young people so that they are at the cutting edge of what it is every industry that they're in that they they're getting the high value high wage jobs that are in those industries that's
something that we're not investing enough at the federal level. And they think you guys hope that this issue gets more attention and it should. I haven't heard it discussed by any other candidates. I'd like to hear more discussion about this in the campaign. But what I will tell you this that you are not alone in raising these issues. As I travel around the state it's striking the number of high skill white collar. Jobs that are going unfilled by American workers and people who just a few years ago were able to easily find work in a word great demand are finding themselves unemployed for long stretches of time and ultimately having to accept jobs at a much lower wage. And as I indicated before the federal government has to you know show the kind of concern and empathy for these workers that reflect themselves in our policies. But then we also have to make sure that we're
providing these workers the skills and ability or the training that they need in order to continually upgrade those skills. OK I appreciate you bringing this up. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thanks for the call. They're already almost in our midpoint here we're talking during this hour focus 580 with Barack Obama. He represents Illinois 13th Senate district on Chicago's south side and he's also one of the Democratic candidates in the primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois. And your questions are welcome we have a couple people waiting in time for others if you like to join us 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 around Champaign-Urbana elsewhere. 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Next up a champagne listener on line number three. Good morning. Yes thank you. I'm glad to see that you seem to be somewhat focused on the tax system. To me this is the most critical area that needs to be dealt with.
I have been reading David Cay Johnston book Perfectly Legal Rights book for those of you who have not picked up that book if you want to see how special interests have just poked. Holes all throughout the tax code in ways that are legal but contrary to the public interest. Boy that's a good book to pick up. Well the most appalling thing I find and there are many appalling things but that the surplus being currently paid into Social Security system is basically being used to fund the tax cuts to the upper income brackets. And I know that this would be a tough battle but how would you go about trying to remedy that and and I guess more generally how do you see the Social Security system and how would you work with the provisions of the Social Security system to protect it as well as to make it more
equitable to the general populace. Well the first thing that we have to do is we have to at minimum roll back the Bush tax cuts for the top 1 percent of the income bracket. Typically people making $300000 a year or more. That costs us approximately 76 to 80 billion dollars annually in lost revenue. And it's for people who really didn't need a tax break. You know I'm certainly glad that we have so many wealthy people in this country and I want them to continue to do well. But you know if you'll recall all these folks were doing pretty well under the previous tax regime of Bill Clinton's. You don't remember a lot of wealthy people complaining about their lot in life back in the 90s when we had the old tech structure this new tax structure has been a complete windfall for them. And as you said it is eroding our fiscal position in a way that over the long term may threaten Social Security. So what we've
proposed is that we roll back at minimum that those tax cuts affecting the wealthiest Americans. Some of that money needs to be used for deficit deficit reduction. We also need honest budgeting in terms of how we calculate the Social Security trust fund versus other spending in the federal government because right now the ability of the federal government to run up large deficits and raid the so Security trust fund is something that promises long term heartache for people who are counting on those benefits. In terms of what we can do to strengthen Social Security the most important thing is to set ourselves on a path of fiscal responsibility we're not going to be able to reduce the deficit overnight. But we what we should do is compound it by for example making Bush's tax cuts permanent. Thank you.
Thank you so much. Thanks very much for the call. A wonderful So we'll go right away next to a caller in Champagne County on line number one. Good morning. Good day. I was very impressed with your talk that you gave on Martin Luther King Day here be trickily because it emphasized You know we're not an essential situation of either our it's both and and this is regarding I think something that resonates with a lot of Bill a lot of people the idea that personal responsibility and community responsibility absolutely. OK I was very good. One thing that you mentioned the judicial role of the Senate. It was quite ironic that as I was listening to your talk I was also monitoring the news in the announcement of the. Recess appointment of Judge Pickering went ahead on that and weekend Martin Luther King weekend he seems to have a penchant for doing that kind of thing right. But actually this is just things that I accumulated while I've been listening also. Rehnquist has rejected a call from some senators to to review Scalia and said it's unprecedented that they would do that in any official
official capacity but I think that there is still a possibly a chance that unofficially the springs might. Well that's what I'm hoping. I don't think that there's going to be some official inquiry but you do hope that the other justices have some influence on as their peer. Right. They were they were trying to keep that duck hunting secret. So I don't know it it seems though it might have known that they were. I don't know. They thought they would have not been found out but well particularly because it started up but I just think that we have to emphasize this is the same Supreme Court that put this administration into office. You would think that they would be painfully aware of the appearance issue even if Scalia was completely objective on this particular issue. The mere hint that there might be some bias on the Supreme Court is hugely corrosive to the long term authority to lead and Thomas both had ties
family ties to the two the Republican Bush campaign so they might have actually been seen need to recruit at that point but when I actually asked one of them ask you about was your support in the state Senate of the help justice bill. And describe that a little bit and see how you might be able to in your role as a U.S. senator have something to do with how that might be implemented down the line I'm thinking of the late senator Simons. A role in attempting I think along with well stone in a couple of other senators at the time of the Clinton imbroglio about health care I don't know what to call it really because I don't I found it not as sincere as it should have been. But Senator Simon. Role was to say that if states individually want to try it you know some other complete system to provide universal health care that they should be allowed to do that with the Medicare and Medicaid money and that that might actually be what the best case scenario is that we could actually go ahead in some way and
some states could show that you can save a lot of money on overhead expenses and deliver a lot more health care efficiently by by using in another system not even necessarily a single payer system but if you would talk about that a bit and expand on both your role at the State Senate and what you could possibly do at the US Senate I'd appreciate it thanks very much. The health care along with jobs and the economy are the things that are uppermost on people's minds. You know what I came into office seven years ago. People already had a concern about the 40 million plus were uninsured seniors are already struggling to keep up with the ever escalating cost of prescription drugs. Now what you're seeing though are people who have health insurance benefits on the job. Seeing their co-payments go up their premiums go up their deductibles go up. I'm meeting families who are saying that they are going to cover their children but are not going to cover themselves. It is a full blown crisis across the
board and I'm also meeting small businesses and large businesses that are unable to sustain the double digit inflation that they're seeing in their health care costs. So I think we've got a terrific opportunity politically what I've tried to do at the state level is to move a process forward to talk about how we provide basic coverage for all Illinois citizens. I was a sponsor of the burdon amendment which would amend the Illinois constitution so that health care was a basic right for all Americans. We weren't able to get it out of committee. We continue to work on that. There is a bill pending currently called the Health. Justice Act which would insist that the state legislature move a process forward over the next couple of years to examine ways in which we could achieve full coverage for all Illinois citizens and perhaps set up a menu of options by which we could
achieve that and then have an up or down vote on one of the PRP or more than one of the proposals that were put forward. It is a difficult problem it's not one that's going to be solved overnight but it's something where we can make significant progress. And at the federal level what I'm looking at is a very specific proposal that would provide health care coverage for all children who need it all across the United States would allow 55 to 64 year olds to buy into the Medicare system and would. Continue to record it would recognize that we're going to still have significant employer based health insurance throughout the country but that we're going to have to provide subsidies to some companies and particularly unemployed workers who are in transition for their COBRA coverage in order to make sure that everybody has basic access to health care. We could do just the expansion of health insurance to all children for thirty seven billion dollars that
someone would cost to expand the current Kid Care program that I worked on so diligently here in Illinois we could cover all children who currently are going without health insurance for thirty seven billion dollars less than half of what it costs for the Bush tax cut to the top 1 percent. And I think that if we can start with children and those persons 55 to 64 that are most vulnerable then we can start filling in those holes and ultimately I think move in the direction of a universal health care plan. Well that is the caller's question we have still people waiting. And let me just briefly introduce reintroduce our guest We're talking with Barack Obama. He is a member of the Illinois Senate and he is running for the U.S. Senate from Illinois in the primary he is a Democrat and currently represents the third. 18th District of Illinois and would like to represent the entire state in the U.S. Senate. If you have questions for us we have a one line open currently 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 toll free anywhere here is
800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. We're next to a listener in Peoria on limber for Good Morning Good Morning. Yes I've not heard any discussion this morning yet about the undercutting of environmental action. And I would like to have the candidates views on that please I just hang up and listen. OK. Thank you for the call. Well thank you for bringing it up. I'm proud to say that two weeks ago I received the endorsement of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters the two leading environmental organizations in the country. And that was based on 100 percent environmental voting record this past year here in Illinois and the work that I've done on a whole range of issues from sustainable energy to trying to retrofit our buildings so that they're more energy efficient. This is has to be the worst environmental president that we have seen
dating back to before Teddy Roosevelt. I think that in most other policy areas the Bush administration has least made some pretense at addressing existing issues even though they've typically not done much. This is an area in which there is no defense of the Bush administration's record on issue after issue whether it's gutting the Clean Air Act by removing those provisions that required fixing up power plants so that they're emitting less pollution to drilling in the Arctic. Instead of trying to promote fuel efficiency in our cars and automobiles and wean ourselves off of our dependence on foreign oil. The Bush administration has been on the wrong side of the issues and I think this is one of the areas where there's the stark contrast between presidential between
Democrats both at the presidential level and at the United States Senate level. We are in it. I think we are at a point and I think many scientists agree where if we don't take seriously issues like global warming and greenhouse gas emissions and if we don't take seriously the need to reduce our dependence on oil and coal then we're going to have problems. And so what I've specifically proposed addition to just strengthening those laws that are already on the books and that have proven themselves to work is that we need to make aggressive investments in areas like alternative energy fuel cells windmills solar power. Those are all areas not only in which we can improve the environment but also we can bring about economic development. Our community is just a quick example if it would not take that much for the government to provide some small subsidies to
for the use of windmills on farms all across the state. It would help farmers who would generate cash income by having a windmill on their farm and in addition it would be a clean source of energy that Illinois could benefit from over the long term. So I think this is an area in which there are a whole host of improvements that can be made but we have to start with enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And by the way funding EPA which is slated for a significant cut in dollars under the Bush administration's 2005 budget. Very good. Because of the caller's question we have civil people waiting to go on next to someone in East Moline on line number two. Good morning. Yes Mr. Obama I have about four things I'd like to ask you about. And if any of them been commented on just skip over because I don't want to waste time but I'm concerned about this. Ashcroft and the lack of privacy and civil
liberties that may stem from some of the legislation that's been passed and I'm wondering how you feel about scaling back some of that and certainly avoiding worsening it. Well with respect to the justice administration and the Patriot Act I think that we have seen a significant assault on our civil liberties. There were legitimate changes that needed to be made and some of our laws after 9/11 to accommodate the realities of terrorism and the threats to domestic security. And I'll give you an example of something that was contained in the Patriot Act that made sense and that was that we needed to shift and allow the use of roving wiretaps on phones. You know yes a lot of current. Law or law up until that point required or allowed only the tapping of land based phones and obviously if we got tears running around with cell phones we want to be able to tap
those as well. For the most part though it was a shoddy piece of legislation that was rushed through Congress right in the midst of the anthrax scare and as a consequence contained a whole series of provisions that violated a couple of basic tenets of jurisprudence. A couple of basic tenets of law that we always want to be mindful of. Number one that a judge should find a probable cause or at least a reasonable suspicion before issuing a warrant for searches seizures wiretaps those provisions in many cases were violated. Number two that when the government is investigating you and obtains your records that at some point you should be notified about it so that you can defend yourself against these charges particularly when it comes to U.S. citizens and there were provisions in the Patriot Act that allowed for example the government to ask librarians about the books that you checked out.
Without And the librarian was prohibited by law from letting you know that the government had asked about those materials. Those are areas in which. A Executive Branch of the Justice Department can potentially abuse them in ways that I think will run against the grain of our Constitution and the kinds of liberties we want to preserve. There are some other areas though that the just Sparkman's been engaging in that the don't have to do with the Patriot Act in particular but they are maybe even more frightening. Specifically the use of the label enemy combatant against a U.S. citizen to arrest that citizen place him in detention and not charge him with anything and not give him access to a lawyer. You know the the the principle of habeas corpus that you can't be held without charges being brought against you publicly. You perceive the American Constitution
goes back to the Magna Carta. And John Ashcroft doesn't seem to be interested in that particular principle. You know we have to be aggressive with respect to the war on terrorism. We have to greatly improve our intelligence. There are legitimate tools of law enforcement that we need to provide. But we have to make sure that we strike that right balance and we have to make sure that we have a judiciary that's going to be reviewing what the Justice Department is doing and the FBI is doing it the CIA is doing to make sure that they aren't overstepping those bounds. All right well you're obviously well acquainted with all concerned. What about the tax would you favor re-imposing that. Yes they you know and I would favor re-imposing it I would be willing to review and I think we should look at statistics. You know there been a lot of numbers running around about the family farms of family restaurants and such that are given up
because of the estate tax. We may need to make an adjustment upwards to accommodate inflation to make sure that small biz. This is don't end up being lost as a consequence of the estate tax but the notion for example that Bill Gates or Sam Walton should not put money back into this country and invest it in the people of America given everything that Americas has done for them makes no sense and in fact they themselves have acknowledged that for the most part it makes no sense. Thank you and my last question is how do you feel about Bush's poor grammar and how do you relate that to the fact that he went to Yale Harvard probably as a legacy. And is he just trying to play to the anti-intellectual ism in this country and is that an act or what. I'm sorry you know I didn't catch the first part of the question. Oh I say. How do you feel about Bush's poor grammar his poor grammar and the institutions he attended I mean is this guy just putting on an
act. I you know I am a intellectual supporter of one. I don't know I mean if you do get a sense that George Bush really likes to pretend that he's not the son of privilege. And you know that's probably good politics for him. I'm less worried about his grammar than I am about his poor policies. You know I think if you know the good old boys like him they better be starting to worry about half of his policies eroding the middle class. I'm I'm still have a foot him I think. That's right. I think that when I write I I don't mind him you know announcing good policies with bad grammar. But but it's the policies that have been so destructive to the American people that I'd like to see reversed. That's a good quote. We'll thank you much as we have a caller waiting I want to just make sure though before when it's time to touch a little bit about international relations and you know I know it's a subject that you study is an undergrad certainly in political science at Columbia. How do you feel
about the direction that the United States has taken in terms of foreign policy over the past few years what would you hope to see different about that. And certainly we could talk about Iraq in whatever else you'd like to. Well this is an area in which I think there are some significant differences and in the Democratic field for the U.S. Senate I stood up publicly and equivocally over a year ago to oppose the Bush war in Iraq. I did so not because I think that the world is better is not better off with a light that has too many negatives. I did so knowing that the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein that he was a brutal dictator and had terrorized his people for many years and threatened his neighbors. But because inspections were working. Sanctions were working. There was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction that would cause an imminent threat to the United
States and there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. And I felt that our number one priority needed to be effectively prosecuting the war on terrorism. This was an enormous and hugely expensive distraction that has frayed our international relationships in all sorts of ways. This administration I think is unbounded in its arrogance when it comes to foreign policy that was on display before Iraq. The unilateral rejection of the Kyoto Protocol rejection of the International Criminal Court rejection of the international landmines treaty a whole host of areas where we could strengthen. International rules and norms and institutions and thereby strengthen the long term stability of the world. My hope is that the American people having seen the questionable intelligence and the ideological nature of the Iraqi war are going to be
much more skeptical of a continuation of the unilateral approach that the Bush administration has taken. I think the Democratic Party has to be aggressive in explaining how our long term security rests on our ability to work with other nations to ferret out the sorts of. Threats that al Qaeda represents and also to provoke the kinds of economic development instability in other countries that is necessary for for us to to drain the swamp of that the breeds terrorism poverty ignorance lack of education a lack of development for women in particular all across the globe. Those are all areas where I think we have to put much more emphasis. Very good we have a couple callers will go next to a listener in Urbana on one number one. Good morning.
Yeah. You said a lot of good things today. I'm Latino so that when I think about illegal aliens I also think about the U.S. is a long history of extralegal activities in Latin America. But so let me ask you what I imagine could be a difficult question once you've got your tap shoes on. What is your thinking. What is the thinking in your district about immigration and illegal aliens. And I understand that there might be a lot of hostility there. And how are your own opinions either leading or following those of your constituents. Well. No I think that people are concerned about immigration in my district like they are all across the state. I think they're in part driven by misinformation. I think that there has been
particularly on the Republican side an attempt to scapegoat undocumented workers as the cause of job loss in this country. That's not borne out by the evidence. It's not borne out by the statistics. What I do think is a legitimate concern is that we should have an orderly process for people entering the United States illegally and we do not have the kinds of security along our borders that would ensure that we can maintain that orderly flow. And oftentimes the people who were hurt and exploited the most are those who are desperate to come in from Mexico and take enormous risks and and often deadly risks to get here. So I think that our overall immigration policy has to reflect two to companion interests one is secure borders. Number two is an acknowledgment that we do have eight to 10 million undocumented workers in this
country that for all the talk those persons are not going to be deported a time so we don't we don't have the resources for it and we don't have the. Mechanism to find all those undocumented workers. What we need to do is is to secure our borders and then provide some sort of stable process for those workers to move in a direction of long term citizenship and those pathways have not been presented right now and because they haven't been presented those undocumented workers are not willing to come forward. They're not wanted identify themselves that poses long term domestic security threats because we don't know who's in this country and what it also does is it helps depress wages. And I do think undocumented workers in this country are depressing wages because they themselves are being exploited they don't have the ability to unionize they don't have access to
the basic rights that are supposed to be provided to American workers. And that's an area that I think we've got to we've got to work on. But we've got to give them some incentive to come forward and the Bush administration's latest proposal that would tie their status being here in this country to employers is not going to give them much incentive because they know that they'd be deported in three years and in the meantime they'd be completely vulnerable to whatever demands that their employers made on them. So this is not a that we're going to be wrestling with for some time to come. I don't think there are easy answers to it. And people who try to demagogue it and. Exploited for political purposes I think they are doing all of us a disservice. Appreciate your constituents or THANK YOU THANK YOU. Thanks so much for the call. We're almost out of time we have one caller waiting. Will include them before we. And here this is a listener in Champaign line number three.
Good morning good morning good morning. You were comments that were just as we expect the opponent you know used quote being partisan. Appreciate that two questions kind of meeting in the same direction that he sent a message here's the quote be starting to be defined a Matisse for the whole state Tony in effect the case for United States. You think it is appropriate to post an opinion and second the seme made made of San Francisco are deciding to give the licenses for same sex marriage used by himself be going beyond state laws do you think you know I mean some people could you should tighten the AMA not I'm not I'm just quoting that. But do you think it's appropriate. I would hang up on it. OK thanks so much. Well we're going through a big cultural. Shift around the issue of gay lesbian marriage. And I think that is a issue that is going to continue to play itself out
over the next several years. We've already seen an enormous change in attitudes I think towards gays and lesbians over the last several years and I think that's been generally a positive thing. I think the American people are decent people and are not interested in discriminating against persons just because of sexual orientation. I've been a chief sponsor of Bill here in the state of Illinois Senate bill want to one that would add sexual orientation to those provisions that prevent people from being discriminated against because of on the job or in terms of obtaining housing I think that that's at the core of what America is about. I'm not in favor of gay marriage because I think that the concept of marriage has religious connotations for many people in many traditions. I am in favor of civil unions and making sure that gay and lesbian persons have the basic rights that all Americans enjoy but they should be able to transfer property they should be able to visit their partners in
hospitals. They should not be discriminated against on the job. I think at the federal level we have to make sure that we re-examine policies like don't ask don't tell that. Prohibit essentially openly gay and lesbian persons from serving in the military I can assure you of that there are gay and lesbian men and women who are currently making enormous sacrifices in Iraq. The notion that we would somehow treat them differently I think does a dishonor to all of us who depend on those young men men and women in our armed forces so I think there are a range of changes that we're going to have to make. And I think that the I can't speak for the masses to say it's Court or the mayor of San Francisco I can tell you that my long term interest here is making sure that all Americans black white gay straight. Anik what have you or are able to participate in our community and
be part of the American dream. That's a good place to stop and we're going to have to do so quickly because we're out of time here but I will tell folks that if you'd like to know more about our guest you can look at his Web site Obama for Illinois dot com that's a winner has been Barack Obama running for the U.S. Senate from Illinois thank you so much Senator Obama. Really enjoyed it. All right.
- Focus 580
- Producing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media
- Contributing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
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- With Barack Obama (State Senator and Democratic primary candidate for U. S. Senate from Illinois)
- Broadcast Date
- Asset type
- Talk Show
- Government; Barack Obama; Elections; Politics
- Media type
Guest: Obama, Barack
Host: Brighton, Jack
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
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Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-ec3522b9cb3 (unknown)
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
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- Chicago: “Focus 580; Talk to the Candidate With Barack Obama,” 2004-02-16, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-st7dr2pt8z.
- MLA: “Focus 580; Talk to the Candidate With Barack Obama.” 2004-02-16. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-st7dr2pt8z>.
- APA: Focus 580; Talk to the Candidate With Barack Obama. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-st7dr2pt8z