The Latest News Out Of Washington With NPR Correspondent Ron Elving: Guns, Trade, And The Economy

Mar 7, 2018

NPR's senior editor and correspondent for the Washington Desk, Ron Elving, joins us to talk about the biggest news in our nation's capital this week, including President Trump's trade announcements, the resignation of the President's top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, and more. 

Related Reading:

 "White House Week: Hope Hicks, Kushner's Business, Trump Talks Trade," from Elving for NPR. 

"White House Economic Adviser Gary Cohn Quits," from NPR. 

"Trump Says He's Not Worried That Steel And Aluminum Tariffs Might Spark Trade War," from NPR. 


Note: This transcript is machine-generated and contains plenty of errors. Please refer to the audio when quoting guests.

Transcript of the hour-long broadcast show:

I'm Laura Knoy and this is the Exchange.

[00:00:45] National Public Radio senior editor Ron Elving is with us today. Helping us untangle the major headlines out of D.C. and their impact on New Hampshire politics for example President Trump's recent announcement of hefty tariffs on aluminum and steel imports here in New Hampshire. Most elected officials regardless of party criticized the move saying our state's economy would be hurt not helped by higher prices for these materials. We'll talk the politics of trade with Ron Elving also whether Congress will tackle legislation to reduce gun violence or leave it up to the states. And we'll cover the latest twists and turns of the immigration debate later in the hour. NHPR Annie Ropeik will update us on Granite State reaction this week to an offshore oil drilling proposal. And let's hear from you first on this tariff announcement. What do you think are steel and aluminum tariffs a good idea or not. Let us know. Our e-mail exchange at NHPR. Again exchange at NIH dot org refund respond on Facebook or Twitter at NHPR or exchange. Well give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. And Ron Elving joins us from NPR in Washington. Ron welcome to the exchange. Good to have you.

[00:01:57] It's a pleasure to be with you.

[00:01:58] Well here in New Hampshire Ron we've heard lots of opposition to these tariffs from our governor from many business groups from our congressional delegation who likes these Rhon who thinks these are a good idea.

[00:02:11] Some people in the White House certainly do the nationalists as they're called seem to have taken over in the long running struggle within the Trump White House between the nationalists and the globalists symbolized perhaps by Gary Cohn who is the chief economic adviser to President Trump and who has responded to this change in the wind by deciding it's time for him to go so he's leaving the White House largely over this particular issue. So the globalists of course have prevailed for decades and generations since World War II and believing that trade is good not only for the world but for the United States. And there has been all through that period of time a pushback from people who say But wait a minute. A lot of our factories can't compete with say Mexico or we can't produce this or that as cheaply as they can in Canada or we may be seeing a lot of competition from Europe or China and now that China is such a big player in the world stage. This is largely about China. So this struggle has probably less to do with any one individual issue or any one individual industry or any one particular factory or set of workers than it has to do with a real redefinition of how the world operates and people who are unhappy with the way it's been operating are getting their opportunity with President Trump to basically fight back.

[00:03:29] Well the president made his argument for tariffs both on economic and national security grounds. So let's hear a little bit of that.

[00:03:37] Ron here's President Trump announcing his steel and aluminum tariffs and what's been allowed to go on for decades is disgraceful. It's disgraceful. And. When it comes to a time when our country can make aluminum and steel and somebody said it before and I will tell you you almost don't have much of a country. Because without steel and aluminum your country is not to say hey we need it we need it even for defense. If you think I mean we need it for defense we need great steelmakers great aluminum makers for defense.

[00:04:15] Again that's President Trump announcing his steel and aluminum tariffs. So Ron many people are familiar with the president's position on trade is unfair. He often says that America gets a raw deal from trade agreements like the WTO and so forth. But what about this national defense argument.

[00:04:32] This is the reason the president has the power to impose these tariffs unilaterally because back in the Cold War era and this particular law is more than 50 years old. Back in the Cold War era there was this sense that we should always have control over the basic materials the basic raw materials and also the manufacturing of the actual weapons that we would use in a war. Many people in the 1960s had a vivid memory of how in 1940s we won World War II by outproducing the world. We actually had produced more material in the last year of World War II than Germany had produced in all the war up until then. That's how we buried them in our extraordinary industrial output. We were proud of that and we were justly proud of it. And people felt as though that was the source of our strength and our preeminence in the world and we needed to always be sure we could do it all for ourselves. That was how the world operated. The world has operated very differently in more recent decades and now we are getting used to a world in which you obtain your materials from wherever it makes most sense to obtain them and that obviously has a lot to do with cost. It also has to do with convenience. And so if you believe that the steel that we get from Canada for example could be cut off in some future conflict so that we could no longer make tanks or canon or guns to defend ourselves.

[00:05:51] If you believe that that is still some sort of real lipstick prospect then you have a national security argument and at least in this case that's what the president's putting forward because that's the justification the law gave him to make these tariffs and put these tariffs in place unilaterally.

[00:06:09] Well as you said a moment ago the president's top economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned over this. There's been a lot of coverage of that on NPR. But outside the Beltway Ron you know why does that matter. Seems like palace intrigue to us.

[00:06:23] You know outside of D.C. It probably does and it probably should. In the sense that you're not going to follow every twist and turn in a White House where they've already had 40 percent turnover in their personnel in one year. This is something that I think bores people and they think well these are just you know folks who can't get along or high egos who want to go back to Wall Street and make more money. And there's some truth in that for certain. At the same time when Gary Cohn leaves not just because he doesn't feel he's being listened to enough but because he feels he cannot be associated with a beggar thy neighbor policy of going to war with our trading partners and that includes not just China who might be the main target here but also the collateral damage to our relationships with Europe our relationships with Mexico and Canada which are obviously in flux with the renegotiation of NAFTA and with the president saying in just the last few hours maybe we could have a car about maybe we could say we're going to bar all steel imports or we're going to we're going to charge them 25 percent extra by just say well we're not going to do that for Canada.

[00:07:27] We're just going to make an exception for them. Well Canada's our biggest source of foreign steel. So if you do that do you really have an effective tariff policy that's going to help the domestic industry recover. This is the question that hangs over everything the president is doing right now. Gary Cohen thought this was such terrible policy that he just couldn't be associated with it. So it's not that Gary Cohen is gone. Why is he gone. And what is he trying to tell us by leaving. And also in his particular case what other policies that we aren't talking about yet will also all be altered by his absence he's been seen as a general moderating influence on the president on not only economic issues but social issues as well.

[00:08:09] Well I want to ask you Ron about the reaction in Congress but also remind our listeners would love to hear from you. We're covering a couple major headlines this morning with Ron Elving NPR senior editor. Right now we're talking about the recent tarof announcement from the president. What do you think exchange at NHPR dot org exchange at any port org is our email or give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 and Ron an email just came in from Brian. He says thankfully we finally have a president who will stand behind American workers. Thank you Brian for the e-mail Ron. This is something that Donald Trump really made a point of doing on the campaign trail.

[00:08:52] Yes as much as he talked about the wall with Mexico he talked about changing our relationships with our trading partners particularly those in NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement and also with respect to China. Didn't talk so much about some of the other countries that we do business with. But knowing that there was a great deal of resentment about Chinese goods that come to the United States subsidized by the Chinese government knowing that there were a lot of jobs that had gone away in the last 30 40 years that American manufacturing has been in a species of decline. We have lots less of the heavy industry that we used to have. We drive fewer cars that were made in the United States relative to cars made in all the rest of the world although we're still buying an awful lot of cars that are made in the United States. So the caller certainly has a point that American workers have felt and with justification for decades that their government was working for the world's good for the global trade agenda as opposed to protecting American jobs first.

[00:09:55] Well and there is some support in New Hampshire for these tariffs even though our manufacturing sector tends more towards the high tech and using imported inputs instead of creating steel and aluminum. But according to a Concord Monitor article by our colleague Paul Steinhauser there is some political support in New Hampshire for this Republican State Representative Al Baldasaro a big big Trump supporter here in the state said he disagrees with the governor agrees with the president on these tariffs and then levy Sanders the newest Democratic candidate in the state's first congressional district. Again quoting from Paul's article here agreed with the president saying the tests are very good idea. Larry Sanders saying you know for someone who's been in a union for 23 years I can definitely tell you that folks I talked to overall think it's a good idea. So there's that political oddity right Ron that union members who often vote Democratic actually often like the idea that the president opposes these tariffs.

[00:10:53] Yes. And that was one of the reasons not the only but that was one of the powerful reasons that a lot of formerly Democratic voting people in Labor liked Donald Trump's message.

[00:11:03] They might not have liked everything about Donald Trump but they wound up voting for him because they thought he would do these kinds of things or at least threatened to do these kinds of things and change the terms of debate put us in more of an aggressive position in going to the bargaining table with other countries which we have certainly not usually been since World War II. We may have felt as though we had so many of the cards the whole world economic system was operating on the dollar more or less. We were the reserve currency. We were the big dog. And so we felt that we could be generous through a lot of these decades since World War II. And it's come time many people feel the AFLCIO has endorsed President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum. Many people in the labor movement feel it's time for the United States to stop being magnanimous in its global negotiations and to start to be much more aggressive about the interests of our own companies and our own workers. And that is certainly a legitimate position. It's a powerful position. The question is what will be the consequences if you really do go about this via tariffs via the kind of protectionism that the president is talking about much as when we get to immigration. We'll talk about what the best way is to balance those concerns.

[00:12:17] Right and we will talk about immigration. Also the politics around reducing gun violence. All that's coming up in just a minute with Ron Elving but we'll take your e-mails comments questions about this tariff proposal for a few more minutes. So send us your comments like Brian did exchange at định PR dot org. So Ron I do want to ask you about the reaction in Congress and to kick that off. Let's hear a little bit from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Here he is speaking to reporters making it quite clear he does not like this tariff proposal at all.

[00:12:50] There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasize into a larger trade war. And many of our members are discussing. With the administration just how broad how sweeping. This might be. And there's a high level of concern about interfering with what appears to be an economy of taking off in every respect as you've heard. Others. Suggest here today. So yeah there's a high level of concern about it.

[00:13:29] All right. That's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Ron not sounding happy at all.

[00:13:34] You know there is actually a humorous side too to what some of our trading partners have done to get the attention of our National Republican Congressional leaders. Mitch McConnell comes from Kentucky and one of the first things we were told by the European Union was that if they were going to be tariffs on steel and aluminum they were going to be tariffs on US bourbon which comes from Mitch McConnell's home state and that they were also going to go after Harley Davidson motorcycles which come from Wisconsin which is the home state of Paul Ryan the speaker of the House CI's too. While we're at it with this story so this does not happen in a vacuum. And if the United States is actually going to go ahead with this newly aggressive policy on trade there will be consequences and the pain of this is always very inequitably distributed the benefits might go to those people who would keep some jobs in the United States and U.S. Steel immediately said that they would keep one plant or reopen a plant in Illinois and have 500 jobs saved so they would have something to hold up and say here's an example of why Trump is right. And then of course we've also heard immediately from people who use a lot of steel and are buying it from cheaper sources saying are we going to be able to manufacture the heavy equipment that we've been manufacturing at the price we've been manufacturing it so that we can remain competitive in world markets and sell for example huge pieces of construction equipment manufactured in the United States and sold around the world. These are legitimate questions. There will be winners.

[00:15:00] There will be losers. And one understands that there have been in the past in some of the people who have been losing feel this is their chance. This is their turn to be the winners. And we will see how all that plays out in the negotiations and in the retaliations that are going to be coming in the weeks and months ahead.

[00:15:17] Back to our listeners Ron and Andrew is from Keene. Andrew thanks for calling in. Go ahead.

[00:15:22] I was wondering what your third term paper was saying there was a kind of paradox in that before 1939 a lot of countries that used her said an increase in GDP growth and post 1939 a lot of countries that imposed hers had a major slowdown in GDP growth.

[00:15:47] So looking at the idea of earlier on perhaps in our history tariff's worked. But in this more modern era Andrew seems to be asking looks like tariffs have been not beneficial.

[00:15:59] If you look at 1939 and talk about growth that you're talking about a comparison between the latter part of the great worldwide depression and the earlier part of the great worldwide depression that began around 1929 1930 1931 it was bad in the United States we had 25 percent unemployment officially probably was a great deal higher than that. So when the economies of the world began to recover in the late 1930s unfortunately largely by building the armaments that they would use in World War II which began in 1939 that is probably true that countries that had imposed a lot of tariffs at the beginning of the Depression deepening the Great Depression. We in this country had one called the Smoot Hawley Tariff. And it deepened the Great Depression and then in the trough of the Great Depression you hit the bottom with very little trade and then towards the end you get a pre-war and wartime buildup that in all countries probably made their economies look a little healthier even though it really didn't have that much to do with trade and tariff.

[00:17:05] Andrew thank you for the call and Facebook comment from Amanda who says these terrorists will cause ripples that we will be dealing with for years. Harm to our own industries and foreign relations. Amanda says I think that people are truly focused on the short game.

[00:17:21] I want to ask you about the maybe longer term game on this politically Ron. Thank you Amanda for the comment.

[00:17:28] By the way what happens next on this tariff proposal does it go through Congress or a tariff's really the sole jurisdiction of the executive branch in this particular instance if the president can make an argument of national security significance in steel and aluminum are of course used in many defense. Many defense applications. The president has the authority to impose them on his own. It was given to him by Congress. Congress normally would be responsible for this kind of thing but Congress as we were talking about earlier half a century ago in the midst of the Cold War said that we can't really ever become dependent on anyone else for the basic raw materials of making war. So that was steel that was aluminum and many other products as well. And the president was given the authority really to do this on his own and that's what we're operating under right now and Congress is scrambling around the Republicans who are the majority in the House and Senate most of whom are very upset by this policy change most of whom are more free traders by philosophy. And they're saying well what can we do to get in the president's way what can we do to actually keep this from happening.

[00:18:34] And at the moment that is a pretty high bar. They would have to pass a new law and the president would be empowered to veto that new law. And having two thirds to override the president's veto is probably impossible.

[00:18:47] All right. Well and coming up after a short break Ron we will turn our attention to legislation in Congress and in the States aimed at reducing gun violence. We'll talk about that. Also want to share a little bit of an e-mail from Mike. He says I think what is underplayed here is the importance of having domestic steel and aluminum manufacturing capacity here in the U.S.. Mike said it's not just whether or not Canada will continue to buy provide steel to us during a conflict. It's also a question of who will cover the increased demand for steel during a conflict. So Mike thank you for that e-mail. We'll continue taking your questions and comments in just a moment. Stay with us.

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[00:20:32] This is the exchange I'm Lorik new day Today NPR senior editor and Washington correspondent Ron Elving is with us to explore headlines out of D.C. and how they're playing out across the country including of course here in the Granite State. We've covered the president's tariff announcement. We're going to turn now to gun policy and immigration policy. And as always let's hear from you. Send us an e-mail exchange at định PR dot org exchange at NHPR forward respond on Facebook or Twitter at any exchange. Or give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. So Ron let's turn to gun violence. Talk about the political response in Washington and in the states on the goal of reducing the likelihood of yet another mass shooting. It's been three weeks since 17 children and adults lost their lives in the latest massacre. You said that you've seen these debates play out before after similar mass shootings the Las Vegas concert the church in Texas and on and on. How did these political discussions typically go wrong. We were talking yesterday that you know you've seen more than one of these debates play out sadly.

[00:21:42] Yes. What you start with is it's too soon to talk about this it's a great tragedy. We should send our thoughts and prayers and all of those statements of course are true then that period of time sometimes goes on for some days and then eventually we start talking about mental health. Certainly this shooter whoever he was must have been in some sense or another terribly disturbed. We should talk more about the need for greater mental health programs in general. And of course that is a safe statement. Everyone agrees that we should be able to do more for people who have mental problems. Then we segue into a discussion of whether or not such people should be able to get firearms. And that leads us to a discussion of background checks and whether or not it's possible to ask gun dealers to know everything about someone they're selling a gun and then we go from that to talking about whether or not certain weapons should simply be banned. We had a 10 year assault weapon or assault style weapon ban from 1994 to 2004 and then it expired because it had a 10 year sunset provision. And Republicans who had taken over Congress in the meantime did not want to extend that ban did not believe in it. And so we have had free of a AR 15s as were used in a couple of the shootings that you just mentioned and other assault style weapons which are legally available although some stores have now said they don't want to sell them anymore.

[00:23:10] And in many states are legally available to 18 year olds including the 18 year old who did the shooting in Parkland Florida. So this is the regular progression when we go through these various stages people sort of fall away. Everyone's on board for hopes and for thoughts and prayers. Everyone's on board for talking about mental health but it becomes very difficult to know how to change the system. Everyone's on board for the idea of not selling guns to the wrong people but not onboard for any kind of a system for determining who is the right kind of people or the wrong kind of people. And then finally we come down to just talking about guns themselves. And at that point usually some time has passed and some of the initial shock and tragedy has worn off. I hate to say it but unfortunately we have become inured to these mass shootings we become inured even to the shootings in schools and people will talk about a little bit more obscurity or maybe asking for this or that. But in the end if it gets down to talking about actual gun control actually taking some weapons off the market support for those ideas dissipates rather quickly. The National Rifle Association is extraordinarily well organized not just in the sense of money people put too much in terms of their campaign contributions. Their real power is in their ability to move votes which they have proven again and again nationally and at the state level.

[00:24:37] So you've seen this progression of this conversation play out pretty much along the same playbook each time around. Does this conversation this time especially given the activism of some of these young people not only the students affected this time but high schoolers around the country.

[00:24:57] Does this time sounds different than it does in respect to the parkland shooting particularly because of those students that you mentioned many of them have been not only extraordinarily moving in their testimony but quite articulate quite persistent.

[00:25:14] They organized marches to Tallahassee Florida their state capitol. And they clearly had an impact there. So at the state level at the state level in Florida which is a state well known for its liberal gun laws for its lack of gun control. Some people call it the gun shy state. It has. It has actually passed its first serious set of restrictions on purchasing guns that it has had in a generation. More than 20 years. And that is in the face of opposition from the NRA which is quite powerful in Florida. It has there an extraordinarily effective lobbyist in a woman named Marion Hammer who is 78 years old and arguably the most effective pro gun lobbyist at the state level in the nation. She is quite a phenomenon and an institution in Tallahassee. And yet and yet the Florida state legislature has passed restrictions on gun ownership raising the age for buying one of these weapons from 18 to 21 long guns. And Governor Rick Scott who is certainly an ambitious governor who is thinking about running for the Senate maybe thinking about running for president someday has taken that Bill home opened it and said I'm going to read every word in this and I'm going to decide whether or not I think it's good for Florida. And if I think it is I'm going to sign it. But most of the things in this bill are things that he has expressed support for in the recent past.

[00:26:38] And Ron you mentioned another area of common ground even on this difficult issue is keeping guns out of the hands of people who seem like they are on the verge of committing violent acts and we do have a background check system the NICS as it's called. There's a proposal that I read about from a Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn Carillion I hope I'm pronouncing that right would improve federal background checks by incentivizing better reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. What about this Ron. Is this an area of common ground strengthening the background check system.

[00:27:19] Yes it is. It is an area where for example John Cornyn the senator you mentioned from Texas as a Republican is the number two leader in the Senate and he is willing to talk about some kind of more effective restrictions on who may buy one of these weapons. He has paired with Chris Murphy from Connecticut a Democrat who is a longtime advocate of greater gun control and who was if you will radicalized on the issue by the Sandy Hook shootings at that school there several years ago. So this is this is something that some people in both parties can agree upon. It's a restriction. And perhaps from a strictly political standpoint not to be crass but just to be political of the way that you begin to move the borders in the territory of talking about guns is to start with something perhaps small perhaps peripheral even and see if you can get some kind of an agreement there. Confront the National Rifle Association and say we know you don't like this but this is something we can agree on. And we even though we are not anti NRA anti gun we are going to agree on these few small restrictions. That's a small step. And it is not gun control in the sense that we most often think of it but it is a small step in a direction that the NRA has rejected. And to have a moment of if you will pushing back the NRA would be to change the playing field considerably from what we've had in recent years.

[00:28:51] What other common ground might exist on this issue of mass violence. I mean no one you know gun control or gun person or pro gun person Republican Democrat nobody wants children to be killed in school or a loved one to be killed by going to church or the movies.

[00:29:09] I mean you know nobody wants their loved ones to be killed the massacre so I just wonder what other common ground is there on this issue.

[00:29:16] Well of course the great disagreement comes on how do you prevent those things from happening and gun advocates say that just taking guns away from from law abiding citizens changes nothing with respect to the not law abiding citizens who do these violent crimes and that those kinds of people would always find some way to find a gun and they have an argument. I think another thing though that people might agree on would be raising the age for purchase of all guns all guns of all kinds. There are some restrictions by age and many states extending that to all guns for people to not be able to purchase it until they're 21. Understand that people will say if you go into the military at 18 you're handling much larger armaments than this and that is true. But of course you are doing it in a military context. If you talk about depriving people of the right to buy alcohol until they're 21 it doesn't seem entirely out of the realm of reason to also deny people the right to buy guns. That is something I think people are coming together around and that that might actually happen although again the NRA totally opposes raising the age limit this time in this latest mass shooting.

[00:30:25] President Trump initially said he was onboard with some gun control ideas reportedly going so at one point is to suggest a conversation on assault weapons ban. Where does that stand now where does the president stand now on some of these ideas of reducing you know yet another massacre.

[00:30:45] We have seen several instances of the president calling in senators and members of Congress from both parties leaders people with ideas and having an on camera hour long discussion sitting there in the White House and the president being very open to ideas being particularly encouraging to the Democrats actually in some cases seeming to to scold some of the Republicans who are in the room. Oh you're just afraid of the NRA he said to one member of Congress at one of these meetings that I'm describing. And then the very next night after that on television performance the president sat down with Chris Cox who is the head of the National Rifle Association. Chris Cox emerged from that meeting to say the president is against gun control the president is fine with the NRA agenda and everything is as it was before and the president tweeted out that he supported the NRA fully. So those would seem to be contradictory evenings of all of the president's schedule at the White House one night. He's one kind of guy acting on a particular way and seeming very open to certain ideas and the next night seeming to say no not at all. So we will have to wait to see where the president comes down if there is actually legislation at some point or another put on his desk would he sign it or not. The Rick Scott decision he's making down in Florida the governor there. That could happen the other way that we might see more of the president's actual feelings on guns would be what he would be willing to support in terms of proposals in the Congress.

[00:32:17] But here again we are already passing into that phase of a post tragedy discussion about guns in which DeLay has done its work. And we are moving on to talking about tariffs and talking again about immigration and talking about various and sundry palace intrigue and scandals in the White House and less and less talk about guns every day.

[00:32:40] Well I do want to ask you about immigration but two more questions for you please Ron about this gun control debate and the politics of it. An e-mail came in from Mike who says there's an argument that's being made on conservative radio that Democrats did not pass gun control during the Obama administration when they controlled Congress. What's the truth of this Mike. Thanks for the e-mail. And Ron first of all just a point of fact. Democrats control Congress during the Obama administration. That was 0 8 and 0 9. Right. So they controlled it for two years and then it switched over to Republicans in 2010. Am I correct.

[00:33:16] That is absolutely correct. Also the Democrats when they very briefly had the votes to prevail in the Senate just really a matter of a few months focused on passing health care. That's when Obamacare got through the Senate. They had certainly control in the house for those same two years and they probably could have passed some kind of a gun control bill at that time in the House or whether they could have done it in the Senate is a much much tougher call you would have to assume absolute lockstep every Democrat on board for it in the very brief period of time that they had 60 votes. Thereafter they did not have and did not have it for very long. They might have prioritized guns over health care but at the time that was not where the political energy was running by any means. And they also I'm sure had the sense that at every time in the past when they had prioritized gun control as an issue it had come back to bite them rather hard in the next election we saw that after the assault weapons ban was passed in 1994 the Democrats lost control of House and Senate that very fall that very November right after that assault weapons ban was passed. We saw it in the Al Gore election in 2000. If the Democrats are associated in some states with gun control it seems to cost them at the polls or at least it did in those eras.

[00:34:34] Now some time has passed since both of those elections I mentioned and the Democrats may be in some sense learning the last lesson and not looking forward and maybe that's why they didn't prioritize it in those two years right after Obama was elected in 2008.

[00:34:48] OK Mike I appreciate the point. Thanks for the e-mail one last question for you on this Ron please. There's a march planned in Washington talking about you know shifting political winds on this issue. There's a big march planned in D.C. later this month called March for our lives there our sister marches planned in a lot of other cities around the country.

[00:35:09] What's your sense of what impact this might have especially if a lot of people show up a few moments ago I said that people are not talking about guns so much today as they were a few weeks ago and that it seems to dissipate a little every day. One of the ideas behind this march is to reverse that energy and to get people back on the page. Back on the issue of gun control and say yeah it's fine to talk about Nik's it's fine to talk about better background checks it's fine to talk about raising the age limit. But what we want is something that would really make a difference in terms of taking some of these guns out of the hands of some of these people. And one way to do that would be to go back to the assault style weapons ban that is going to be the theme of this march as I understand it two weeks from Saturday and these people are going to change the conversation for a period of days. They're going to have everyone focused on guns. Again one assumes and it takes that kind of political activity to make a difference but ultimately ultimately that is not enough. What has to happen if gun laws are going to change is that different people need to be elected to make different laws. And that doesn't happen just with marching. It happens with elections.

[00:36:23] I want to talk briefly with Iran about immigration reforms has come up a lot in Washington recently with the president's announcement last fall that he would get rid of Dokka the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals unless broader reform was done. And since then boy we've been heard so much about this a series of deadlines one on March 5th wants to be laid to be said later this month. We will have reform. No we won't we are going to get together on this. No we aren't. Mitch McConnell promises he will then we don't hear anything.

[00:36:54] Help us figure this out Ron first of all this series of deadlines What are these all about the president when the president was Barack Obama used an executive action to defer action on childhood arrivals deferred action for childhood arrivals where Dhaka comes from DACA. And then when President Trump came in having opposed that he said I don't see any reason that we should keep that unless we can make it part of some much larger. Look at all the aspects of the immigration system that I would like to change in the direction that I would like to change. I want to get rid of what President Trump calls chain migration which is passed officially been called family reunification.

[00:37:32] He wanted to have a wall of course famously on the Mexican border and this would be the price for making permanent the deferred action status for these childhood arrivals people who came to the country when they were minors brought by their parents in most cases. And really something they had no control over. Many of them have lived here their entire life with the exception of a few years and know no other country. So this is a special category within people who are in this country illegally within the people who are in this country without documents. So the president said look you all want to do something for these folks and I'd like to do something for them too. I have nothing but love in my heart for the Dreamers he said. At one point in the Dreamers is the term that President Obama had given to these childhood arrivals. They were dreamers in the sense that they wanted to be part of the American dream. So President Trump says those folks are going to have to leave now and set a March 5th deadline. Of course people went to court to question whether or not the president could do that. By and large the courts have said yes eventually the president could do that. But right now this March 5th deadline looks kind of arbitrary and we need to see more information about this that and the other thing. So the courts have held up the enforcement of the March 5th repeal if you will of the deferred action. That means that these people are still staying here in limbo.

[00:38:50] It means seven or eight hundred thousand people who have identified themselves to the federal government might yet at some point be rounded up and deported. It means another million people who are in the same status but haven't identified themselves to the federal government could be apprehended and deported. So we're we're looking at up eventually having a cliff here but the courts have pushed that cliff off a little bit.

[00:39:12] Well Ron thank you so much for helping us out. We really appreciate it. It's always fun to talk to you. Always a pleasure Laura. That's Ron Elving NPR's senior editor. Correspondent for The Washington desk.

[00:39:22] Coming up offshore oil drilling off the coast of New England. Any role people fill us in. Stay with us.

[00:40:33] This is the exchange on Laura Knoy. We turn now to another story of huge interest in coastal New England. Offshore oil drilling. In January interior secretary Ryan Zinke he proposed an expansion of drilling on most of the U.S. Coast including protected areas of the Atlantic. Since then coastal states nationwide have expressed opposition and the Department of the interior website received more than a million comments from a wide variety of people most of them taking issue with the plan and some of them turned out at a Monday public forum in New Hampshire held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and environment and energy reporter. Annie Ropeik was there and she joins us now at any. Thank you very much. Well the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management first of all what is the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

[00:41:19] So we call it Boh-Mah part of the Department of the interior that is in charge of oil and gas drilling. It used to be like the Minerals Service I can't remember the exact name but they used to be in charge of mining in that kind of thing and now it's this separate little thing that came up after the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf Coast. So relatively new agency. Yeah it's a sort of a new form of the drilling part of the federal government that kind of oversees safety and regulations and where drilling goes on the Outer Continental Shelf which is sort of the far offshore boundaries of the country.

[00:41:55] So Pacific and Atlantic that's just the Atlantic although of course for the purposes of our discussion we'll focus on the Atlantic so BOEM came to New Hampshire this week. What happened.

[00:42:05] They did. Yes they've been going around to every state that's included in this new plan which covers 90 percent of the nation's coastlines including Alaska the Gulf Coast the whole Pacific and Atlantic coast. So it's parts of the country that haven't been really under consideration for real drilling activity in years. And so they have been answering questions for residents and stakeholders just kind of trying to provide information so people can make more educated comments that basically seems like that's their mission. They're taking verbal testimonies of this was not a hearing or a listening session. More of almost a science fair kind of feeling well trifold boards and just people getting to ask questions of government employees.

[00:42:46] Well the Department of the interior secretary Ryan Zinke again you mentioned that this covers a lot of land along the coast and he and he said this is important to at least look at because so much he said of our shorelines right now are not open to drilling this audio is from NPR by the way.

[00:43:07] Well I came to the office. We've looked at what was available for oil and gas and what wasn't. Today about 94 percent of our outer continental shelf is off limits for possible development.

[00:43:21] So that's Ryan Zinke any kind of making the case that look a lot of this is off limits and maybe it should be off limits.

[00:43:27] Yes it was interesting to read through the proposal when it first came out. They have maps that are kind of the economically viable oil and gas so that basically means what is in the ocean floor that it would be kind of worth it to see that it would be worth more selling it than it would take to to access it. So they say that the North Atlantic section which is basically the Gulf main contains about 3 percent of the nation's economically viable oil and gas resources that's potential. So just 3 percent. I mean the hotspots are really still the Gulf and Alaska's North Slope. And a few a few other spots. But you know we're pretty far down on the list. We also don't have any of the infrastructure set up for this. I mean places like California and Washington State don't either that are part of this proposal. You know the oil and gas industry in the country is really concentrated in the Gulf and in Alaska and that's where they're sort of prepared to do this kind of stuff. This would be a huge uphill kind of change for a region like ours if it were to happen.

[00:44:28] The infrastructure would have to be put into place. I want to remind our listeners that you can join us with your comments and questions about this offshore drilling proposal that he's been covering send us an email exchange at NHPR on our dot org. Again exchange at any JPR dot org or give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. You can respond to Facebook or Twitter too if you'd like. And each PR exchange we're talking about this recent proposal to expand or at least explore expansion of offshore oil drilling off the Atlantic coast especially here in New England.

[00:45:04] So BOEM again any this agency comes to town. They have this forum who turns up yeah.

[00:45:11] So there was a protest outside. First of all they kind of came early and then all sort of filtered inside. Once they finished holding your signs and wanted to actually kind of get some information and so there were a lot of the protesters inside but also just people who had reasonable serious questions you know I mean there were some sort of oppositional feeling from some people to the government employees I say but also just plenty of people who had questions and were ready to sit down when they were done talking to the folks and write up an earnest comment about what they thought about the plan. So like I said kind of a science fair atmosphere. They had all these posters set up with maps and data and you know the different ways that they do their offshore drilling exploration. Government employees stationed in each of those little stations and people just got to go around and ask questions and then sit and read their comment at the end.

[00:45:59] So it wasn't any like a regular public forum where the government official is at the front of the room he or she makes a statement or a justification and then says I'm open to questions for the audience. Everybody has two minutes or something like that it wasn't a moderated open forum or not at all.

[00:46:14] And there's been some criticism of that. The Sierra Club and some other environmental groups held their own what they called an unofficial public hearing to allow verbal oral testimony to let people use their voices. You know and then they're collecting those statements and they're going to submit those comments. But you know BOEM says that it's really looking for almost practical feedback here. I talked to Renee or she is in charge of strategic resources at forums. That's the whole office that's basically spearheading this plan. She's been with the department since the 1980s interestingly. This is the first time she and a lot of other career folks have even had to think about the North Atlantic and she says you know what. Sessions like this are really designed to give people an opportunity to make an effective criticism of the proposal rather than just telling the Secretary it's good or it's bad.

[00:46:58] Well let's hear a little bit from Renee Orr I hate gas or oil and gas.

[00:47:03] That's really not informative to the to the decisions that he has to make and the balancing that he has to do.

[00:47:08] So yeah he and being Ryan's yes she wants people to write comments that the secretary can actually use to to reshape his proposal in some practical way. I mean I think she understands there's a lot of strong feelings about this that are pretty broad ideological feelings and they respect those but I think there is some question as to how useful those are to secretaries and whose idea this was you know and if people really want to see places like the North Atlantic taken out of consideration which is entirely possible so this is just a draft of the draft right. So were public comment on this one closes tomorrow and then tomorrow coming up he will revise the plan based on the comments he gets now and put out sort of a final proposal at the end of the year and there will be another public comment session on that. So this time around they're really looking for stakeholders in the regions to be giving sort of localized feedback to say you know I live in Portsmouth and this is exactly what this would do to my personal business and my life and why I don't think you should do it or why I think you should.

[00:48:11] Let's hear from our listeners and again you can send us an email exchange at any age PR dot org or give us a call 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 and any ALS calling us from Concord. Hi Al. Go ahead you're on the exchange welcome.

[00:48:26] Thank you. My question was I believe that Secretary Zycie has exempted Florida from the drilling will mar a Lago is am I correct to that.

[00:48:35] I don't think it's just Mar a Lago but I know that Gov. Rick Scott of Florida was concerned about this and I to my knowledge they've told Florida the same basic thing they've told New Hampshire which is we hear you we will consider taking you out of the running.

[00:48:48] Well yeah what's that process like because I think Governor Sununu has also said he doesn't like this so what's the process by which governors along the Atlantic coast say you know.

[00:48:56] Yeah I know that Governor Sununu got to go down to D.C. and had a private meeting with Secretary Rowans and he and and laid out his concerns about this plan. You know he has been clear from the beginning he does not want to see drilling in New Hampshire. He says you know based on our our size would be devastated by any kind of spill or anything like that. It's interesting we're such a small part of the coastline that we almost get you know more of the harm than we do the benefit just because of how small of a piece we are it's like it would cover the whole coastline and we are making of laws that sort of the economic foundation of drilling in New England. So Sununu seems encouraged that secretaries and he heard him and will consider taking at least New Hampshire if not New England out of the running. And I believe that they've had similar conversations with Governor Scott around Florida.

[00:49:48] Well thank you for that call and again the number 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 email exchange at NH PR dot org. You know any you mentioned that this agency bome again the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management wants to hear from stakeholders now given what you said about New England that we don't really have an oil and gas you know offshore drilling industry here. It seems like most of the quote unquote stakeholders would be people who wouldn't like this. You know Oceanside tourism fishermen people like that.

[00:50:24] Yeah I know that's true. I mean there's not really an established drilling industry here to advocate. And so you know the medical benefits of this would be construction jobs and infrastructure logistics jobs to set it up and to run the process is to drive the stuff around to run the coastal. You know the the port side kind of stuff. And you know we do have a shipping and logistics industry here already and certainly in Maine and Massachusetts and Rhode Island. There is also offshore energy development in places like Rhode Island but that's very different when you're talking about wind turbines than it is an oil well. And so I think most of the voices in this conversation in this part of the country are environmentalist people from the tourism industry fishermen certainly lobstermen in Maine. Yeah absolutely. And even our recreational fishermen in New Hampshire you know a near shore spill could get Washington very quickly on our currents and devastate the charter boat kind of fisheries that really drive parts of the economy on the sea coast.

[00:51:29] What are the benefits that the Trump administration thinks this could bring to you know not just the country but let's be parochial to the region.

[00:51:37] Yes so they are trying to frame this basically as as the resources that are down there the potential oil and gas that's in the ocean belongs to all Americans. That's the language we heard a lot at this forum in Concord. And so that basically there is untapped money to be made out there and fuel for us to use to depend on our own energy instead of importing a lot of it or to export to other countries to sell and to make money for the country and make tax revenues and jobs for the regions that would support that drilling industry. You know again New England that's a really uphill hill to climb. And also places like California and Washington even Florida you know there's just not a lot of infrastructure out there for this already. It's been very regionalized and so this would be a big change for a lot of the places that it comes to. You know I think it'll be interesting to see what the final proposal is. It may be more of a we're going to keep places open for exploration but we'll push off the leasing for these places that are really concerned about it but we'll really ramp up the leasing and the actual drilling in the places where it's already happening. I think that would be sort of a practical course to take but it's anyone's guess what the secretary will come up with.

[00:52:53] So the administration is basically saying look New England you know we're all Americans we're all in this together and other places have drilling so you can look at it too.

[00:53:02] Yeah. That it's down there and just because you're not getting it out right now doesn't mean you shouldn't try. There has been exploration for oil and gas and New England. At one point in the past I believe it was in the 1980s or 90s. And those are the surveys that are sort of basing this off.

[00:53:18] Well here's an e-mail from Josh who just came in. Josh says he's a Portsmouth City Councilor. He says the additional carbon released from opening up the Gulf of Maine to offshore drilling may negate the renewable energy policy that the Portsmouth City Council passed Monday night and any spill could be a disaster for our local economy. Thanks Josh for the e-mail. And I'm wondering how strongly the tourism industry was out in force any of this bome meeting.

[00:53:46] Yeah Josh just talking there about Portsmouth New all renewable energy goal that they're working toward and he's right that this is a climate change issue in part. But it is also a practical issue of what will happen to our beaches and to ours or of Inland Waters I mean things that could get swept into the Piscataqua or the Green Bay or Green Bay. And so yes from a lot of people who came in from the sea coast who are really worried about the beach you know who are who had a second home there spent lots of time there from other parts of the state who could just foresee you know even a small spill or the the aesthetic effect of new infrastructure having a huge economic effect on places like Portsmouth and rye and parts of the seacoast that really rely on that stuff especially in the summertime some of the comments I read on Hampton Beach especially very concerned maybe even some of the elected officials in New Hampshire said look we invested a lot of money in that Hampton Beach State Park.

[00:54:44] It's a huge money maker for the state. Let's not put it at risk.

[00:54:49] Yeah I think it's interesting that we saw Governor Sununu come out against this just immediately. I mean he is definitely no enemy to the Trump administration necessarily and so and he's certainly not an enemy of fossil fuels necessarily and so he has been clearly against this from the start I think he really clearly prioritizing tourism as are an economic foundation over any potential that this could bring.

[00:55:13] So the next step in terms of what this agency plans to do. The feeling that I got from hearing your report was that Renee or we've heard from earlier was saying look don't panic nobody freak out. This is just a draft of a draft of a draft of a draft like nothing is set and stone. So what's the next step.

[00:55:33] Yes so. So like I said the comment period for this draft draft closes tomorrow so if you have last minute thoughts you want to get in. You can go into rooms website and find out how to submit those. And then Secretary zonkey and his staff will go through all of those. Did you say more than a million comments have been submitted. Yes. So they're going to go through all that stuff. We're going to talk to all the governors and the senators and the politicians who have been speaking out against this and they're going to come up with a final version of what areas they would actually like to open to new leasing and when and we'll do that by the end of the year. So in December and then there'd be a 90 day comment period on that that's sort of the official it would go on the Federal Register and that's the formal rule making process. And then after that they would come out with a final with a final version. Those would include formal public hearings. And that kind of thing.

[00:56:23] So they're following the usual process for these types of proposals any but how much do these comments count.

[00:56:31] That's a great question. I think it's hard to say. It was interesting to hear some of the people talking to the bomb employees at the forum in Concord. You know there was everything from really detailed scientific questions you know people pointing to the map and the federal employee pointing to the map and saying what does this mean and what if this happened and trying to understand you know what about a gas surplus or what if there's a shortage and what does that mean for where you would drill and the prices and the really detailed questions of how the drilling industry works. And then on the other side of the room you know we had I sit and listen for well to one woman talking to a federal employee about climate change and how this fits into that. So it's hard to say what kind of comments they're really interested in and want take your comment into account even means. But I think they've they've certainly heard plenty of them. And it'll be just an interesting process to see those things come up with.

[00:57:25] And thank you so much for helping us out. Really appreciate it. Thank you. And our energy and environment reporter Annie Ropeik the exchange is a production of new Hampshire Public Radio. Our conversation always continues online on Facebook and at NHPR dorg. By the way we're on Instagram NHPR our exchange show. Check it out for some fun behind the scenes photos. Our engineer is Dan Colgan our senior producer is Ellen Graham. Producers are Jessica Hunt and Christina Phillips. Theme music was composed by Bob Lord and I'm Laura.

[00:58:31] The views expressed in this program are those of the individuals and not those of NHPR or its board of trustees or its underwriters. If you missed part of today's program listen to the exchange any time at định PR dot org or subscribe to our podcast.