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Rep. Richard Neal On Trump Transition

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., asks a question during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., asks a question during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
This article is more than 6 years old.

President-elect Donald Trump's adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed on MSNBC today that Trump no longer wants to move forward with pursuing an investigation into the use of a private email server by Hillary Clinton. Conway said by doing so, Trump is setting a tone for Republicans in Congress.

We have been checking in with members of the Massachusetts delegation about just how to move forward after the divisive election.

Today, we turn to Democratic U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, dean of the New England congressional delegation. He represents Massachusetts' 1st Congressional District, which covers parts of western Massachusetts including all of Berkshire County, as well as parts of Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester counties.

Interview Highlights

On Trump's Announcement To Not Investigate Clinton

"Well I'm pleased that the Trump Administration has acknowledged that we don't live in a third world country where all of a sudden the victor in the campaign then decides to have the loser in the campaign imprisoned. And I thought that was another very bad moment during the course of the campaign and I think it came on the heels of the chants that said, "Lock her up." And I must tell you, I think that in one sense, we're all relieved that this campaign is over and I think it did not lift our aspirations."

On What He's Thinking Now That The Election Is Over

"One of the things that comes to mind immediately is that these campaigns go on too long. I think there's broad agreement — it drives the money chase, it drives the advertising chase and it also builds more conflict into the system. And I think the candidates then, after they've seen things, then all of a sudden announce two weeks after the campaign, well that was never really on the agenda anyway. And I think that's a troubling aspect when you consider that a campaign should be about forming a government. And that there is a connection to the electionary process, but part of it is to inspire people and in this instance here, I think that we leave this campaign season without a lot of inspiration."

On National Support For Trump

"When you consider that half the American people, 46 percent really didn't show up on election day, that's another consideration. I think that one could pursue that argument by simply saying, in the state of Wisconsin, which Secretary Clinton lost by 27,000 votes, that the turnout in Milwaukee was down by 40,000 votes.

"I have concluded that in a couple of the big states that the polling was within the margin of error, so I think there's some forgiveness that's granted there, but not to miss the point, that these campaigns are so poisonous now at virtually every level. And then we ask the public to rally to us in terms of governance afterward and it becomes much more challenging.

On Support For Trump In His District

"You can also contrast it with the fact that on the same day, 75 percent of those voters voted for me. And I think that's fairly telling as well. I don't want to understate the role that the protest vote played in this campaign because I think that would be a great disservice to the energy on the other side.

"But I also think that one of the things that happened during the course of this campaign was that there were a series of outrageous statements that were offered and then if we simply say well I really didn't mean it, and I've been going through polling data for example where many people that supported Donald Trump are now saying well they never believed that he was really going to build the wall and ask the Mexican government to pay for it. So I think there is a certain degree of license that one gets in a campaign, don't get me wrong.

"But there's also a moment I think to talk about the future and to talk about some of the concrete things that one would do if they were to exceed to the highest office in the land and I think that in this instance, there were three debates. The issue of global warming never came up. There were three debates; The issue of real infrastructure investment really never came up. The worker participation rate in America which is now at a post-War lull, never came up. And for the first time in 30 years, productivity is not going to grow, that never came up.

"I think that economic anxiety that was coursing through the system and you hear my colleagues in the delegation, they would tell you I talk about this stuff all the time. And instead, we were talking about nasty woman and we're going to impanel a special grand jury afterwards and we're gonna have a special prosecutor. I just think that democracy pays a price for that in a representative arena."

On Trump's Transition Team

"I think that there is a certain degree of latitude that a President-elect is granted. I mean, he did win the election. So I think that there will be ample time through the hearing process and the vetting process when questions will be asked and there will be an opportunity for those who require congressional consent to state their views in public.

But I would go so far as to be critical of Steve Bannon's appointment because I think he has flirted with intense racial statements and anti-Semitism and I think that in the quest for public office, we sometimes surround ourselves with people that we bring the government afterward. And I think the test case oughta be that they avoid those sort of charged moments as Bannon did during the campaign."

On Former Sen. Scott Brown's Consideration For Veterans Affairs

"I think he's a worthy candidate, to quote Governor Baker. I think he has a military record, I think that he served in the U.S. Senate and I think that in this instance here, if the vetting process doesn't come up with any questions, I would think he'd be a fine candidate."

On Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Being Ruled Unconstitutional

"I certainly support the Consumer Board, but I think you're very perceptive in the critique that you've just offered and that is the argument against -- as I hear it, see it — it's really as to whether or not the executive can unilaterally transfer executive authority to an individual in an appointed capacity as opposed to an elected capacity, that would have these broad powers and not have to answer to congressional oversight. I think that' really the issue.

"But at the same time, I think in the aftermath of what came out of the worst recession since the Great Depression, I think Senator Warren is correct on that issue. We need to maintain a Consumer Protection Board, and somebody serve as an overseer within the constitutional framework of responsibility."

On Trump's Tax Plan

"I think that it takes us back to Jack Kemp's years of making the argument for what are called supply-side economics during the Reagan years. And the problem with the argument is that they have said for a decades that tax cuts pay for themselves and there's really no evidence that supports that position. You really can't find a mainstream economist who would embrace that position as well...

"The inducement of the tax cuts during the Bush year was supposed to be economic growth. It is, I think, clear to say that it was the slowest economic growth since Herbert Hoover was president. I don't say this to you to sound as though I'm whining, because I do think that you could perhaps consider some targeted middle-class tax cuts. Because the economy, regardless of what both sides say on this, it's really been representative of pretty slow growth... That does not create enough jobs to really break through the deficits."


Richard Neal, congressman representing the 1st District of Massachusetts. He tweets @RepRichardNeal.

This article was originally published on November 22, 2016.

This segment aired on November 22, 2016.



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