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The Axe Files - Ep. 143: Rep. Ro Khanna The Axe Files - Ep. 143: Rep. Ro Khanna Released May 1, 2017 [00:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Support for "The Axe Files" comes from Rocket Mortgage

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Text of The Axe Files - Ep. 143: Rep. Ro Khanna The Axe Files - Ep. 143: Rep. Ro Khanna Released May 1, 2017...

  • Ep. 143 – Ro Khanna 1

    The Axe Files - Ep. 143: Rep. Ro Khanna Released May 1, 2017 [00:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Support for "The Axe Files" comes from Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. When it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender, work with one that has your best interest in mind. Use Rocket Mortgage for a transparent trustworthy home loan process that's completely online at UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now, from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN, "The Axe Files", with your host, David Axelrod. DAVID AXELROD, "THE AXE FILES" HOST: When you talk about challenges to our democracy, you have to start by looking at the challenges to our economy of rapid changes wrought by technology. No one's thought more about this than Congressman Ro Khanna, a brand new member of Congress from Silicon Valley, who has made it his business to travel the country talking about the transformation of the economy, the changes in the nature of work. And what we need to do as a country to adapt to them so that the largest number of people get the opportunities they need. Congressman Khanna came by the Institute of Politics of the other day. And we sat down to talk about this and his own really interesting story. Congressman Ro Khanna, first of all welcome back to University of Chicago. I know you cut your teeth here, your academic teeth here some -- in the 90s. So, welcome back. It is good to see you. REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: It's good to be back. I had learned lunch at Medici. I did not know was still around. AXELROD: Yes, oh yes. Oh yes. That -- now that's an institution for those of you who come to Chicago, the Medici 57th St. You've talked about your story as kind of a classic American story. Share your story with us, your family's story. KHANNA: My parents came here in the 1960s. My father came to study

  • Ep. 143 – Ro Khanna 2

    chemical engineering at Michigan. Then he went back to India, got married to my mom. They came -- my mom came over in early 1970s. I was born in… AXELROD: Why'd they come over? KHANNA: They came over for opportunity, for education. I mean, my dad was - - there was much better chance back then to have a great education here. And it was in the, as you remember, was in the 60s when he came there was Sputnik in the sense that we wanted people with an engineering or science background. It was the simplest thing to come. He got a visa -- student visa early on. And then when he worked at a chemical engineering company, he got a green card. And you know, we really were opening -- open to people in science. And it was also after the civil rights moment. Before 1965 there were very few Indian Americans or Chinese Americans. And it was really the civil rights movement that led to the Immigration Reform Act of 65 that opened immigration to Asia. AXELROD: You know, the obvious question is about where we are now. I was really dismayed to read about the kind of precipitous decline in the number of international students who were applying American colleges and universities. Now I think 40 percent was the number in, you know, in the current class of students who are applying for admission. What is the impact of that? KHANNA: Well one it is not having the best and brightest come to the United States. That's one of things that make us great as opposed to the Ming Dynasty in China that didn't have sort of diversity of people from around the world. Our uniqueness was we really attracted talent from every part of the world. And now those folks are just going to be creating jobs and sorting companies in other places. And also diminishes in some sense American leadership. I mean, one of the advantages we had is people looked up to America because so many folks knew someone who studied here or had an influence on our ideas. AXELROD: You are a -- you studied economics before you went to law

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    school. Do -- have you -- and I am sure you have very -- a a bunch of smart folks who you tap for various data. Have you up studied what the impact of the sort of abandonment or retreat on immigration might have on our economy? KHANNA: Oh, there's studies all over the place. I don't want to quote something inaccurate, but I think it's -- I mean, we're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars that -- of value that immigrants have created either through startup companies or by helping build so many technology companies. [00:05:00] And I think that the important thing to know is many of them who come to the United States were paying for their education or subsidizing them. And then, we're -- if we're asking them to go back, we're basically paying for their education and saying "create jobs or companies overseas". And anyone, you know, from all of the president's talk about American greatness, I ask the counter factual. I mean, imagine a world where Google, Facebook, Tesla, Yahoo, were Chinese companies, or European companies. That wouldn't be an America we would want. We want these companies here. And anyone who's walked through those companies know they're people from around the world -- that's partly what makes them so successful. AXELROD: You know, when the -- when the Obama administration and the Senate passed an immigration reform bill during his administration, the Congressional Budget Office did an estimate and said that it would add, I think it was 1.4 trillion, was the number. See now I'm quoting inaccurate, but I'm pretty sure that's accurate -- 1.4 trillion over a decade. So, presumably the reverse is true as well -- if we ratchet down immigration, there's a fairly significant number in terms of loss growth that we can count on. KHANNA: Absolutely. And, as you know, David, the biggest factor for America's economic growth from 1950 to today was actually women entering the work force, because one of the biggest restrictors on economic growth was our labor supply. So, now we're not going to have the luxury of a huge increase of women in the work force. One of the things we need is immigrants at all levels. And, to restrict it is to restrict America's economic growth. Now, no one's saying there haven't been abuses. I mean, part of the abuse, I

  • Ep. 143 – Ro Khanna 4

    think, of some of these companies that have over 50 percent H1B Visa holders, or people who are using foreign workers to pay below market wages. I think those few examples have been so excessive that they've gotten people questioning all immigration. In my views, we should perform some of the abuses, but not throw out all the immigration that's led to our success. AXELROD: It's interesting you've -- you've been traveling the country, I know, talking to people in -- particularly in rural communities and communities -- factory towns, where the factories have long since gone. And president Trump did very well there, in the Fall there, as you know. And, there is this sense of loss there, in a sense that it is immigration -- it is trade that has cost people their jobs or middle class wages. It's kind of -- it's translated into an ugly strain, you know, our country -- some of which aim that at Indian Americans, who we saw the incident in Kansas, that was so tragic. As an Indian American, how do you process all of that? And what are you saying to folks when you're out there and having this dialogue? KHANNA: Well, I start, as many people do, with their own upbringing. I mean, I grew up in Bucks county, Pennsylvania. It's fairly suburban, rural -- it was 99 percent Caucasian. When my family was Moving into our street, there was a little bit of chatter on the street that Khannas are moving in. And my parents finally figured out what the fuss was about. I'm of Hindu faith, and on Christmas Eve, everyone would put the candle lights on the street. So my dad said we'd be happy to put the candle lights on the street, and we put out street lights. And for 18 years growing up, we had great relationships with the neighborhood. So there was a sense of me that believes fundamentally in the decency - kindness, of most Americans. And a challenge of - how do we find this common identity and respect for some of their traditions while being proud of your own heritage? When I went to Paintsville, I don't want to go on too long, but John Yarmuth was a member of Congress in Kentucky. AXELROD: Kentucky.

  • Ep. 143 – Ro Khanna 5

    KHANNA: He said to me, (inaudible), you should know 2 facts about where you're going down. One, Barrack Obama lost this area to Hilary Clinton in the primary, 9 percent to 91 percent. AXELROD: Yeah. I remember that. KHANNA: You do? Well, now -- AXELROD: I was on the 9 percent side on that one. KHANNA: You guys really fence (ph) OK, this is not a criticism, in any way, but - - AXELROD: It's just math. KHANNA: It's just math. But he said what do you think? I said, well, probably had something to do with race. He said, well, Jesse Jackson in 1988 won that county. And I said really? I said how did he do that? And he said he showed up and Obama didn’t need to show up. Those (ph) (inaudible) the primary won for other reasons. But there was something to his point of just showing up mattered and I’ve got to tell you, when I went there, there was such a warm reception from folks. Here’s this person coming to our community, talking not in a patronizing way. Not OK, here I’m from Silicon Valley, let me tell you what you need to do but in a way of listening, understanding wh