IndustryWeek Summit (Environmental Issues)

Dec. 21, 2004
Nov. 20, 1998, Washington, D.C.
DONOHUE:: Well, if you wonder why the partisanship has gone away, you should look at last night's hearings. I think that there will continue to be organization of the Congress along party lines. And a certain amount of partisanship that goes with that. And I believe there is going to be bi-partisan approach and partisan passion to a number of issues. And passion is driven by what people think their constituents are really hot about. Often it is, you know, that is more important then what they think is really important. We have put a republic form of government because we thought democracy really didn't work very well. And yet, if you go to California and you go to the Pacific Northwest and you go to other places, we are doing a lot of government by democracy. That is, we are doing referendums. And more and more as the polling gets very, very sophisticated, a lot of folks are figuring out who they have to deal with to stay in office or to advance their own agenda. So I think you are going to have partisan organization of the Congress. That is, Republicans and Democrats and a few whatever in between. And you are going to have a partisan agenda as people begin to put-up. You know, I agree with Jerry that Republicans are going to be coming out with taxes and all that sort of thing, tax cuts. But when you get down to passing issues or stopping issues, they are going to be with bi-partisan groups that have a very partisan bent about the issue. A philosophical bent about the issue. Now am I suggesting that we are not, you know, we are not going to do -- get party leadership and have committee chairman manner and all? Of course it does. But I think if you want to know where the pendulum is going, and pendulums always go back and forth, this pendulum is going to the point that you are going to have to be able to build a bi-partisan coalition of people around very partisan issues to succeed. You know, we said to ourselves, "What are things we are going to do?" Scary. You know, when I came here I had a sixteen month plan. I realize it runs out the end of next month, you know, so we had to have another plan. We said "What are the issues we are going to advance?" And in addition to all the legislative things that are coming down the pike, you know, health care and transportation issues as related to air, and trade issues and all that. We took, in addition to that, we took eight things that we are going to spend our time and money on. First of all, we are going to spend a tremendous amount of money on plaintiffs, bar, trial lawyers and tort reform. Because if you just look in the newspaper, they are sucking up more money. They are going to -- you know, we are going to have three major parties. And one of them is going to be trial lawyers. And this is a serious matter. Forget all the issues, just follow the money like Willie Sutton did. Second, we are going to continue our work with labor union leaders to provide a balance on the other side of what they are doing. But on the other hand, any time we can find some common interest on these sort of passionate issues, we are going to try and do that. Third, we are going to work very hard on the environmental area. I mean, you know, we spend a trillion -- over twenty years to clean up the place. We're going to spend a trillion and one-half the next twenty years. And we are looking at six or seven new environmental issues from Kyoto to the whole question of environmental justice, that together amount to more than all of the regulation of government from every department in this government. JASINOWSKI: Tom, let me just say though that on the environment, for example, I think we do have to focus. We can't cover all of these things and I would suggest and be interested in your opinion, that Superfund is really going to the issue teed up in the environmental area in this next Congress. And that the business community is going to have to really decide whether or not it is prepared to move that forward with the Congress or not. Or do you see something else? DONOHUE:: No, I mean, I think Superfund is a very important thing to look at. We have spent more money on Superfund and done less things with it, except pay lawyers, then any environmental program that we have. And we need to do some things about it. But here is no question that environmental -- that the whole question of the Kyoto thing is getting more interesting. As many of Jerry's members and my members ,because they want to trade around the world, and your members, are sort of signing on. Whether winking over the fence at us that don't let this thing get too big. Nox (nitrogen oxide) haze the attack on the diesel engine is going to cost a fortune. And environmental justice, which is counter-intuitive to everything the administration and the Congress is talking about in Brownfield and getting people to work in the inner city and so on is a very scary kind of issue. And so we are going to have to put a lot of time in that because no one company, no one industry can challenge that. They will eat them alive. And then I'll just say in one sentence, we are going to work on trade and the tax issue Jerry talked about. The big bang budget thing. That is a huge matter that is going to happen between and. And that is social security, government pensions, Medicare, Medicaid, health care and national defense. All of which require huge amounts of money. And we are the highest tax we've been since the second world war. Where the hell do we get it. And then the elections and get out the vote and stuff. That is where we are going to put our money. But we've got to put it there in a different way. And that is what I'm hoping that we figure out how to do. We have the best people. We have tripled the number of lobbyists we have on the Hill. And we are getting the people behind them to support them. JASINOWSKI: But don't you think, Tom, again, that that requires that our policies be as -- I know you would agree, even more member driven. That we have to be supporting things. We have a buy-in from them on a grass-roots basis outside of Washington, in order to move some of these issues forward. The fact of the matter is, a lot of the business community is turned off by Washington politics as Jack was saying earlier. I think we've got to re-engage them. Maybe the election is a bit of a wake up call, but beyond that I am convinced that if we show them more, the bottom line impact of a lot of these things, we can engage them better on a grass-roots basis. DONOHUE:: I think you would like me to say yes. And I do think you are right. And by the way, if you can show them the impact, you are absolutely right. But those people that run around and just do surveys of their members, whether it is us or you or anybody else, has to understand that part of our responsibility is to educate the members what a lot of this stuff could really do to them. Where they, you know, they hear --somebody hears about environmental justice and they say well who cares. But if it shuts down every Brownfield investment in every major city in this country, that is a dumb idea. Our guys don't understand that. So we need to go explain it to them. And what it means in English and Jack does the best job of explaining what it means in English. And that is, ain't going to be any more jobs here. Oh, okay. I understand that. And I think we have got to do a better job on that. BRANDT: Jack, Barry, I would like what issues your groups are going to be focusing on. And in particular, do you see a different way of working with Congress? FARIS: Let me come back to your partisan issue for a second?
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