Senator Claire McCaskill (D) held a town hall in Concordia, Missouri at the Community Center Gymnasium on Tuesday, August 10th. Approximately sixty people attended.
The second part of the transcript for the audience question and answer session follows:
…But here’s the thing about going across state lines, interestingly enough. Some of the very people who have talked to me about going across state lines also say to me, what about state’s rights? Now what you do, when you say from Washington that insurance companies don’t have to pay any attention to state law, that they can just sell anywhere in the country, what you’re basically doing is saying that states have no right to regulate what goes on in their state. Which means that the rules they set for insurance companies in New York or in Florida or in Texas could be the rules that a Missourian would have to live by, depending on where [inaudible] coming from. So we’ve always tried to respect the right of states to regulate their marketplaces within their borders. It is a radical concept that we would wipe that out. And the very people who are waving the Constitution saying, Tenth Amendment, Tenth Amendment, I’m a Tenther, are the same ones that say to me sometimes, what about selling across state lines. And I get dizzy. I mean, you can’t have it both ways. We can’t wipe out all the state regulations and also respect state rights. So that’s why I think the way we did it, by having these decisions made at the state level so the state can decide if they want to go in with other states that maybe have similar regulations or rules, you know like in Missouri a woman who has a baby, you can’t kick her out of a hospital in less than twenty-four hours. In other states they don’t have that rule. Well, the Missouri legislature went down there, elected by all of you, and they voted. I think it’s twenty-four, isn’t it? I think it’s twenty-four hours in the laws you guys passed, isn’t it? Yeah. And, you know, so do we want to say to Jeff City you can’t say to insurance companies that women get to stay in the hospital for twenty-four hours when they have a baby? That’s the problem. [inaudible crosstalk] No, no, these are all gonna be private insurance companies. What this is gonna be, it’s gonna be like, uh, the best example I can give you is like Expedia. You know how you can go on Expedia and you can buy a airline ticket here or from Delta or from Northwestern or any of those? That’s what this is gonna be, it’s gonna be like a marketplace. There are gonna be a number of different kinds of policies and a number of different companies that are gonna offer polices. The idea is that it’s one central location where you can get a lot of people to go buy insurance, you get bigger risk pools. And the fact that everything is gonna be in the pool, the idea is it’ll bring down costs for everyone. And we will, you will no longer be paying for your competitor across the road who decides he doesn’t want to offer insurance. And somebody on his workforce breaks their arm, and they go down to the hospital and get their arm fixed and freeload off all of us, ’cause we pay for it with our higher insurance rates. That’s the idea behind this, as unpopular as it is, that’s the concept. Um, and that’s why we didn’t do a public option. It is not gonna be run from Washington. It’s gonna be run at the state leve and hopefully they will combine across state lines to make it more affordable for your company to continue to offer insurance.
Question: Immigration is one of my pet peeves. It seems to me that, uh, [inaudible] Do you agree with Obama and Hillary Clinton [inaudible] the Arizona law. In my opinion, it’s a [inaudible] Congress sitting on their hands [inaudible] They’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. [inaudible] My, my question is, do you agree with [inaudible] Obama [inaudible}?
Senator McCaskill: Well, I agree with some things, I disagree with others. Uh, let me start with the best news. The best news is that, uh, the day before we left Washington last week we were able, I voted for a whole lot a Republican amendments to step up border enforcement, against most of the people in my party. I was able to get border security passed the day before we left Washington, six hundred million dollars. And the whipped cream and the cherry on top of this is the way we’re paying for it. Um, they way we’re paying for it – there are some foreign companies that have come to our country and more than fifty percent of their workforce is H1B visas. In other words, they’re bringing foreigners here with their companies to be the employees. So the idea was that if you have more than, if you’re a foreign company and you have more than fifty percent of your employees that are H1B visas, any other visas you get are gonna be very, very expensive. And the Wall Street Journal, the day after we passed it, this is the best, this Indian company that it will affect, it’s a, it’s a, basically a call center kind of operation, very, very large Indian company, it would affect them. And they were quoted in the Wall Street Journal, saying, this means we’ll have to hire more Americans. Yahoo! I like that. That’s a-okay with me. That’s a great way to pay for the bill as far as I’m concerned.
This will [inaudible] six hundred million dollars in a very focused way along the border, um, for task forces. As a former prosecutor I know that, you know, you don’t just put the same amount of help everywhere along the border. It’s a very long border. It will be unmanned drones, aerial vehicles for real time aerial photography that we can see, real time, various places across the border without a lot of manpower. It’s gonna help. The good news also is immigration is down. Deportations are up. The percentage of the deportations being people who have committed crimes is up sixty percent. And audits against businesses that hire illegal immigrants are at a record high. So, we’re moving the right direction. More people are getting deported, more of them are bad guys, less people are coming across the border, and more businesses are being audited. Rather than just photo-op workplace raids, that’s wha
t we used to do, we’d do a workplace raid and the people that were there that day that were illegal, there’d be cameras rolling and everyone gets this mistaken impression that the employer was being held accountable and they never were. Employers didn’t even get a rap on the knuckle. Now we’re going more aggressively after the magnet that’s pulling them across.
I get the frustration in Arizona. Do I think that every border state can start doing federal immigration policy? I don’t think our Constitution allows for that. Now maybe we need to change the Constitution in that regard. I’m not here to debate that today. I completely understand the frustration of the Arizona people. But I think the way to get at that is do what we need to do to secure the border and begin to enforce the laws we have. I voted against comprehensive immigration, I voted against amnesty, I’m not gonna go there until this country demonstrates to the people who occupy it legally that we can enforce the law. So, that, that’s where I am on immigration. So that means I come down yes some places and no other places.
Senator McCaskill: [reading the question] I’m interested in protecting the environment. How do you think clean energy can be made economically beneficial and promoted as so? Mos, most of the publicity has been to scare us about the cost to individuals of regulation. We’re behind many countries in this area.
I appreciate your sentiment. I will tell you that my hesitancy in this regard is because Missouri is a coal dependent state and this is a tough economy. The last thing I’m going to be a part of at this point is larger costs to working people in Missouri, small businesses and manufacturing, for a cost on carbon that we don’t yet have the technology or the alternative energy developed that make it a cost effective alternative. Now, there are allowances in the bill for coal dependent states, but I thought they were allowances in the bill that were paying off people that we shouldn’t be paying off. You know, I’m not big on let’s pay off this state to get these votes, let’s pay off that state to these votes, so that’s why I was not happy with the House bill in that regard. Um, we’re doing some things to incentivize alternative energy. And yes, I do think we need to lead the world, but on the other hand it’s the same atmosphere. And if China and India are putting up coal fired plants every ten minutes, I, I want us to lead but I don’t want us to be [inaudible]. I don’t want us to be in a situation where all of a sudden manufacturing is really fleeing our shores, going for cheap dirty energy in India and China because our rules are so serious and stringent and their rules aren’t. We’ve got to bring our competitors along. Not just Europe, who’s done this, but our competitors, which for manufacturing is, is more South America, India, China and to some extent Japan.
Voice: Do you think that the, quote, mainstream media is downplaying the dangers?
Senator McCaskill: Is the mainstream media, I’m breaking my rule here ’cause I’m not supposed to go out of order, mainstream media is, are they downplaying the dangers? I don’t know what the mainstream media is anymore. Here’s one of my com…[crosstalk] [voice: “The three networks.”] Well, the three networks I think probably cover it pretty accurately on the evening news, but here’s the, the problem we’ve got with all the media right now. We now have news outlets that you go to get affirmation, not information. My friends on the left they all go watch MSNBC and you know what they feel? Righteously vindicated. We’re right, we’re right, listen to Rachel, listen to Keith. People on the right? They go to Fox and they say, the listen to Sean Hannity and they, and they go, you know what? We’re right, we’re right. And meanwhile what I had as a kid? [voice: “You think they’re equal.”] I think both, I think in different ways they’re very alike. Both of them are playing to a segment of ideological opinion in this country as opposed to [inaudible] really trying to present both sides. And when I was little I had to watch the evening news on network. And that was pretty straightforward. [voice: “Huh.”] That was pretty straightforward. I mean, you know, whether it was NBC, Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and then we’d talk about the news at the dinner table. And it was pretty objective. I’m not sure that all of our news sources now are as objective as they used to be when I was a kid. [inaudible crosstalk] Yeah [laugh].
Transcript(s) of the remainder of the question and answer session will follow in subsequent posts.