Monday, April 04, 2005

Tired of basketball? Watch boxing tonight: Berkowitz spars with Cegelis.

Tonight’s City of Chicago edition of “Public Affairs,” features Christine Cegelis, candidate in the 2006 Primary for the sixth congressional district Democratic nomination, at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV]. Cegelis was the Democratic Party nominee in the 6th CD in 2004. The show airs throughout the City of Chicago. Next week's show in the City features former Republican State Senator Pat O'Malley, who may run for Governor in the 2006 Republican Primary. Of course, he did so in 2004, coming in 2nd with 29 percent of the vote, behind Jim Ryan's 44 percent and just ahead of Corinne Wood's 27 percent.
A partial transcript of the show with Cegelis is included, below. More about tonight's show with Cegelis and an additional partial transcript of the show focusing on school choice, school vouchers are included in this prior blog entry and you can read another partial transcript of tonight's show dealing with Iraq and foreign policy.

Jeff Berkowitz: What is she [House minority leader Nancy Pelosi] famous for in [the] last week. She said, “We must stop them. We must stop them. We must stop them.” This is getting known as the Democratic approach [to social security reform]. And people would say that is a reactionary approach. That is reactionary liberalism because when somebody asks not just you, but others, the Democratic approach [to social security reform] is not to come up with anything. It is to say, “Stop them.” Doesn’t that sound like a reactionary approach?

Christine Cegelis: I don’t think it is a matter of saying, “Stop them.”

Berkowitz: It’s not progressive.

Cegelis: It’s not saying “Stop them.” It’s saying first of all, let’s acknowledge there is a problem. You have to understand I am a systems analyst…So the first thing I want to do is to make sure we have all of the facts on the table, find out exactly where we are because I am not feeling right now—I have been reading as much as I can and I don’t feel like I have a good handle on it and then [set-up] I think a bi-partisan commission that would do that fact gathering—and then come up with the recommendations.

Berkowitz: Put everything on the table. Just walk in there and say, tax increases, benefit increase [oops, meant to say benefit decreases], personal retirement accounts, whatever. It’s all there, let’s sit down and negotiate right?

Cegelis: That would be good, and I think—

Berkowitz: The Democratic Party has said they will not negotiate; they will not sit down until personal retirement accounts are taken off the table. That is a precondition for negotiation. Do you disagree with your party on that?

Cegelis: You know I am not so sure that I would say that we need to take it off the table, but I am not very happy with personal retirement accounts. Mainly because of what I have seen happening with 401 (k)s. I don’t think we should ever—

Berkowitz: You don’t think 401 (k)s are popular?

Cegelis: I don’t think 401 (k)s are very popular with most people, no.
Jeff Berkowitz: …which you would still say is No. 2 [to social security in the 6th Cong. Dist.], the jobs issue?

Christine Cegelis: …I think the economy is a real concern. I think the deficit is a concern to me…

Berkowitz: 400 to 500 billion dollars?

Cegelis: And growing.

Berkowitz: And you would do what? You would raise taxes?

Cegelis:…We need to look at taking back some of those tax cuts.

Berkowitz: You want to take them back. The same thing you said the last time [when you were on this show in September, 2004]?

Cegelis: I did. I said that the last time. I want to—

Berkowitz: The people who earn more than $300,000 would lose their tax cuts? Everybody else can keep them?

Cegelis: Everybody else can keep them. In fact…we are giving an incentive for people to invest who don’t really need an incentive to invest—when in fact what we need is an incentive for demand because you probably know the consumer confidence index continues to fall, so people are buying less, they are saving less. The middle class is being hit very hard. And yet, we continue to give tax cuts to the very, very wealthiest.

Berkowitz: The reality is we give tax cuts cross the board. We give them to low income people. We give them to middle income people and to high income people.

Cegelis: But, the majority of the tax benefit goes-- in fact I read something today--that in 2005 over half the money that was saved in taxes was saved by the top .02 per cent, or those making more than a million dollar a year.

Berkowitz: I think the numbers that come up is that the top 1 % may get 30% of the tax revenue cuts but they in turn pay 30% of the taxes, and 50% of the people don’t pay any income taxes.

Cegelis: But, they are not going to be the ones who are going to be buying. Those are the people, we need--

Berkowitz: Well, they are going to be investing.

Cegelis: But, they are necessarily investing here in the United States…

Berkowitz: They are going to invest where the return is highest.

Cegelis: They are going to invest where the return is highest, therefore taking money away from –

Berkowitz: So, we need to make the return higher in the U. S. and then they will invest more in the United States.

Cegelis: I would hope so, but they are not.

Berkowitz: One way to make the return higher is to cut taxes across the board.

Cegelis: Well, it is not happening, is it? Because they are continuing to invest overseas. We have had these tax cuts in place for some time now.

Berkowitz: How many jobs have come back in the last two years? What is it now? 1 ½ to 2 million jobs [have been created]? [As my critics might suggest, I was way too conservative. The U. S. Economy has added over three million new jobs in the last twenty one months].

Cegelis: But, that is not enough. It is not keeping pace.

Berkowitz: Not enough?

Cegelis: It is not keeping pace.

Berkowitz: How many jobs would you like to create in a year? 5 million?

Cegelis: I think that would be good.

Berkowitz: Well, we would have to import people because we don’t have that many unemployed people.

Cegelis: We do have that many unemployed people.

Berkowitz: At some point. We have about a 5% unemployment rate. Maybe 5 or 5 ½ across the United States.

Cegelis: It is a little higher here.

Berkowitz: To put things in perspective, full employment used to be 4% [unemployment].
Christine Cegelis, Candidate in the 2006 Primary for the sixth congressional district Democratic nomination, recorded on March 20, 2005 and as is airing tonight on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV].