He's a Republican, a Wall Street financier, and a supporter of 'Medicare for all'

By Laurence Darmiento, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Q: Since you're a Republican and overseer of the Hoover Institution, which largely opposes federal government solutions to societal problems, I am curious what your friends think about your opinions.

A: They can't refute the conservative foundation and logic on which my policy beliefs are built. All of my best friends, with few exceptions, voted for Trump for one of two reasons: because they didn't want their taxes increased, or they're from the evangelical community and they think they will help advance evangelical issues. So I guess the point I am trying to make is that the real message that we get here is that the majority of these people are opposed to sort of heavy-handed government policies and broad tax increases. I understand that view, and I think there is some very good merit to it. However, I do understand also that a lot of things that we need to get done cost money, and so I think to bridge the conservatives and the liberals there are a number of broad-based ideas.

Q: Can you give an example?

A: I had dinner with President Obama when he was still president, and I said if you could be king for a day and you got to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? One of the first things he said is: I would implement a carbon tax, and I would get rid of the national gas tax. And he said, "Here is the reason, Scott: Oil is not the vilest offender, there are other offenders who are vile and so a carbon tax would be an incentive to basically either get the largest contributors to carbon emissions to modify their behavior or it would just put them out of business." You know, George Bush supported the idea of a carbon tax. That's something that I think is a way to help start bridging the gap.

Q: What about the Green New Deal?

A: I think I'm gonna have my conservative friends throwing rocks at me here, but the Green New Deal is actually not such a bad idea. Now, the thing is, I don't necessarily agree with the form in which it's being proposed, but it is essentially addressing these climate issues in a way to actually increase efficiency (and) economic output. Why shouldn't we encourage people from where I grew up, in western Pennsylvania, which was all about steel and coal; why shouldn't we be working with them to integrate them into the development or manufacture of solar panels or windmills? Why aren't we saying we want to exploit the underemployed labor in the region to lift them out of this poverty and help it become a vital and growing part of the new economy? So something like the Green New Deal could actually be something that is very good for the people who have supported Trump.


Q: So what do you mean then by saying you don't support it in the way it's being proposed?

A: Generally they're talking about a lot of government programs, which I am not in favor of. There is no such thing as a temporary government program. The thing I am in favor of is a series of tax incentives. I was in Davos, and I was on a panel with Al Gore ... and as I pointed out to Vice President Gore: "This is just an inconvenient truth. Until we have economic incentives behind these initiatives, we are not going to get them implemented fast enough to make a difference."

Q: What about the question of providing more access to affordable healthcare through something like "Medicare for all"?

A: In terms of Medicare for all, what is the problem, people? I don't get it. If you get to a certain age or are at a certain income level and you can't afford your healthcare, I don't see an issue about having Medicare for all. Again, I'll probably get somebody at the Hoover Institution throwing rocks at me for that comment. I think that, in a society like ours, a social safety net is necessary.


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