DealBook Conference 2019
November 6, 2019, New York City, United States
DealBook Conference 2019
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Valerie Jarrett on Voter Registration, Political Ads and More | DealBook
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About speakers

Valerie Jarrett
Senior Advisor to President Obama at White House
Andrew Ross Sorkin
Columnist & Editor-at-Large at New York Times

Valerie B. Jarrett is Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. Prior to her current position, she served as Co-Chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, and Senior Advisor to Obama's presidential campaign.Jarrett became the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Habitat Company on January 31, 2007. She had served as Executive Vice President of Habitat for 12 years. Prior to that, Jarrett served for eight years in Chicago government as Deputy Corporation Counsel for Finance and Development, Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development. Before her city government service, Ms. Jarrett practiced law with two private law firms.Prior to joining the Obama administration, Jarrett served as a Director of corporate and not for profit boards, including Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, and Vice Chair of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, and the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee. She was a Director of the Local Initiative Support Corporation, The Joyce Foundation, and a Trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry.From 1995 to 2003, Jarrett served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board. Jarrett also served as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange from April 2004 through April 2007. She was a Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from January 2006 through April 2007.

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Sorkin is an award-winning journalist and author. He is a financial columnist for The New York Times and a co-anchor of "Squawk Box," CNBC's signature morning program. Sorkin is also the editor-at-large of DealBook, a news site he founded in 2001 that is published by The Times.Sorkin is the author of the best selling book, Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves, which chronicled the events of the 2008 financial crisis. The book was adapted as a movie by HBO Films in 2011. Sorkin was a co-producer of the film, which was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards.Sorkin began writing for The New York Times in 1995 under unusual circumstances: he hadn’t yet graduated from high school.

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About the talk

Topic: Business

Board Chair When We All Vote, Valerie Jarrett talked to Andrew Ross Sorkin at the New York Times DealBook Conference on November 6, 2019.

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I want to bring out the one only Valerie Jarrett this afternoon to talk about what she's doing with voting because she is working on a fascinating an important project and then we're going to head into the politics of the moment. So if I could Valerie Jarrett of when we all vote author of finding my voice Thank you so very much for being here this afternoon. Thank you been having a bunch of fastening conversations. Quite interesting backstage to watch what's been going on,

but I also want to talk about when we all vote cuz this is a project that I know is near and dear to your heart and it's only what I think it's quite important but I think what's going on in terms of how people are approaching voting in this country right now, which is to say in the last election. If I'm right 43% of Americans who could vote did not get presidential presidential election and you are basically making your lights work now to try to raise that number

responsibility is to vote and so we decided a very deliberate way to create a nonpartisan organization. Mrs. Obama is the leader of it will going to be announcing a whole new group of co-chairs tomorrow. Businesses that are involved mayor's universities high schools all designed to say what is our culture going to be are we going to have a culture where everybody participates and if we can get people to do the shows that they become lifelong butter? now and then and ones that looked at evidence-based ways of registering their students to vote had dramatic outcomes, like going from

14% up to 60% and what it requires it to sit down with a look. Why don't you do this until people are working with their friends and making it fun go to the poles together have watch parties together appreciate the fact that the only way we're going to hold our elected officials accountable is if we vote and that means everybody everybody. In this room can help several of you will be a part of our announcement tomorrow. I hope so. You should register everyone who works with you in about you should give people time off so that they can go and

vote and states that don't have generous early vote on possibilities. If it's only on one day, how can they vote? If you don't let them go you should work with your customers importance of Erin. I'm on the board of the last cycle. Not only did Lyft put on making it easy for the drivers are employees or customers to vote. But we also offered Free Ride supposed to people who couldn't afford it. That's one of the major barriers transportation to people on voting. So how can we remove as

mysterious as possible? So years ago Bernie Sanders had this idea for democracy Jag where he basically wanted everybody shut down business. He won't he thought that that election day should just be there. we think about Value of that Senator Sanders was espousing with the right one, which is it. We should make this a priority and the only way we're going to make it a priority is to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to register and to vote and that is a change in our social contract because

right now if 43% of American citizens who have the right to vote don't vote. What message is that sending about their engagement with our democracy voting? So there's a lot of countries that force you to vote or you get fined or or worse? We're not going to call it compulsory. I had breakfast with someone this morning. So we're going to call Universal about and people like that better but the but Australia a couple years ago, and the reason wasn't obvious to me one of those folks there that was supporting it and will not only do we think it's our civic

duty, but also the energy tends to be on the extreme with the money tends to be on the extremes. And if everybody had to vote it was forced politicians give them permission. If you will to work in the middle and compromise wouldn't be such a dirty word because that's where most people are and so I think yes, it should be your responsibility. But I also think if everybody were in their voting we would more likely hold politicians accountable and special interest groups would not have the power that they have because the middle of Democratic party right now is very interesting.

But the question I was going to ask you what you think everybody should be Show that you know, the country doesn't know the name of the Vice President. That's a problem. Do I watch all the cheap seats? Volume and not that much and I think again if it were part of our social contract if it were part of our culture, if it began early that's part of the reason why we want to spend some time with these high school students because they will be more likely to vote as they got

older and if they get into the habit of doing their homework to figure out what who are these candidates and what do they stand for in believe that I should put my finances and my family and my life in their hands and make an informed decision. I think we would be a better stronger Country Ford much disagreement except in those states that are trying to pass laws to vote fraud where we have in our country very little if any vote for bipartisan issue, but there are people who believe that

if you succeed It will endure to the benefit of the Democratic Party. Whether I'm prepared to say today that it's going to be any one particular party. I will say this that we need a very deliberate way are going around the country. I'll give you an example of one of the groups that we've been working with him and he was just here some of the youngsters from Parkland last summer travel the country red and blue States alike registering people to vote. We want to see young people do just that and we want to see them

do it in a way that isn't necessarily ideological but really is cultural conversation and you can take off your your your when we both had a little understand what I want to understand what you think is happening inside the Democratic party right now who you think really has the advantage you talked about the middle it feels right. Now that the party has moved in terms of where the bases around Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, which to me in many ways feels like a rebuke. Of where the Obama Administration was

just a couple years ago. Actually tell right now where the center of the party is cuz we have candidates who are on all ends of that Spectrum. But what I would say to you is this Andrew that entire group of that spectrum is like this compared to where we are with the current Administration. And so any of those candidates who if any of them are elected. I think that the shared values I have about two different parties that they have the shared values are we want to create

a country where every young person has a chance for a good education and succeeds. We want to create a country where Americans have access to Affordable Healthcare will want to keep America safe. We want to be globally competitive of core values of the democratic and an Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders art to me like that. That's the end of the stage in that in the stages. Who is Eminem having lived through two presidential cycles and eight years in the White

House? What you argue about in a campaign you argue about your policies and that's terrific and it's good to have that rope us discussion. And the second you walk in that Oval Office. Your challenge will be the art of the possible not Perfection. Not what you think of the absolute best thing to do and it would we have this conversation the other day. I thought the public option would be right do the ACI in a public auction. Will you know what we another bus for public option. I'm very happy to 20 million people have health care under the ACA. And so I think that's a difference between a

campaign and actually govern and right now let's have a full spirited conversation about the range of options for frankly. They are not that different when you compare them and contrast them to what I'm saying coming out of the White House is the Democratic nominee. Ever the nominee is I will work my fantasy off between then and the election absolutely. I don't see that much difference between them in terms of their core values what they care about what kind of country that they all envision and I'm prepared to work for whoever emerges. What do you think? What do you

think of the wealth tax that is now the news we just off of the comedy bit from SNL up about about with your boyfriend on the line would medicare-for-all make sense. Maybe it would the reason why I was such a supporter of the Public Public option is because we know Medicare Works. In fact, there are people who said to me keep the federal government out of my medicare because they like their Medicare news break. It is a federal government program. So let's give them a chance with a public option if they want to up then and then they might see Really working

and I might prefer this over my private insurer. So I believe in like incremental progress and I don't know that overnight. We're going to get Medicare for all but if Elizabeth Warren wants to get out there and make that cake good for her the president President Obama the former president president obviously obvious reasons. How many years we've been critical of him? Oh my goodness who hasn't been critical at some point in time. I don't think this isn't about him. I mean,

that's the difference. I think frankly between what we have now and public service is President Obama never looked at this as being about him. He looks it is about being about you. And so if he thinks that when you compare the core values of the democratic party and everybody who's on that plate right now compared to the administration that's an office today. Is he going to get out there and work for anyone in that field you betcha and it doesn't matter whether they've been critical of him whether he talked about or the former

president rather about endorsing. No didn't work for Biden to ask him if he wouldn't ask him. I thought that was inappropriate that's between the two of them. But I think as I said, obviously Vice President Biden was instrumental in the Obama Administration. I don't know a vice president that has been a better partner to President Obama at but we have a big field. I think frankly is good for the candidates to get out there take their message directly to the American people and make their

case and I don't think you could shortcut that by an endorsement from the farmers open up in just a minute, but I have one question Facebook because we can talk about it all day. And because there's been this sort of a big debate about political advertising. Dorsey on one side stackelberg on the other and you don't think that they would be ever an opportunity to figure out a way to police. You're competing public policies. Yes. We like to have an open platform. Yes, we like to get as many people involved as I just said in the political debate.

But right now we know that there is there are on the platform a lot of paid advertising that is simply a place that has let's put a pin in it until we figure this out and I respect that because what they're saying is it's more important to try to figure it out. But in the meantime, let's not perpetuate what we know to be false on a platform that we know is influential. Because I don't know if you agree with this I would argue to you but it may not be consequential economically in terms of the advertising cost of sale. But if you really think about who would benefit out of

trump Administration in a huge Advertiser on Facebook, it becomes a regulatory problem with Dan has an economic cost. It's all true that look let's let's at least spend some time and energy trying to figure it out. And as long as there's no consequence. What incentive do I have to figure it out there just continue to dollars they do from the advertising and call it a day. So I think what we're prepared to stay until we figure this out. We're just simply not going to do it no harm. And right now we know that there's a lot of harm through false and

misleading advertising does being paid for you don't have a right to the right to freedom of speech. You don't have a right to pay to perpetuate advertising weather for fake or or accurate. Actually. That's not you're right. Let's open up for questions. I know I don't know the Anthony scaramucci is here and the mooch is here. I want both of them to be jumping in on this conversation a because he's got a microphone. Hey there. Hey, how are you? Wonder what I spend any electric what

effects it has generally on partisan politics. We only need to look at Richard Victory and what he had to say the Republican Party in the 1970s, which was the fewer people vote the better we do. So this is always been a built-in strategy suppressing the vote to favor one party over another but here's my concern expand the electorate and I think we absolutely must and sugar and I applaud your work will it have to be paired with campaign Finance reform because the bigger the electric the more the Reliance on things like advertising and influence. So that's my question to you

to Congress to pass campaign Finance reform is going to be up to a whole group of secretaries of state to make sure that they are monitoring and enforcing fair and open elections. It's going to be up to advocacy groups such as Eric Holder for Motorola mic was doing at the legal defense fund to go after those states that are either through gerrymandering or through other laws trying to suppress the vote the work Stacey Abrams is doing in Georgia and now taking it more broadly. I'm just

trying to educate people about their civic responsibility to vote. So yes, it's a mosaic and I'm focusing on one piece of that Mosaic, but you make a very good point. I'm here. I'm in I'm in the I'm in the I'm in the I'm in the back Andrew just like in high school. Robert and I could get back here with me so Val the first things I want to thank you for bringing me into the White House before the inauguration. So that was sort of my 12-day. You know, that was those big for me. The real serious question is given where we all are right now.

In your opinion eight years in the White House. Countries got to do a tremendous amount of healing. So suggest some things to everybody in this room. What we would need to do Republicans and Democrats to put this thing back together and directionally where we all want. Thank you for that. I think part of what we have to do is stop talking at each other and start speaking with one another and look social media has been an incredible Force for good. It's also been weaponized and I think I worry about a particular with young people who perhaps or not developing the social habits that they

need to be successful adults when this whole idea of just like this ain't over actually has to learn to open up to hear one. Another to realize that there is a different side of an issue and look there's some issues that I care desperately about but it doesn't mean I can't work with somebody on another issue about which we might happen to agree and I think part of what social media is permitting and it's not the only contributor to this but it's a big one is it allows us to

stay comfortable in our little Echo chamber where we only listen to news from sources, which we have decided are accurate where they are at. And we don't actually talk to one another and I I think that's again it gets back to the manager already or Universal voting that I was focusing on because I think we need to draw more people into the conversation and so many people are shunning politics altogether that the only way we change that is as if they feel empowered to actually change the trajectory to hold our elected officials accountable young people in particular.

Well shame on us if we can't find somebody who is looking up for their interest. So I think every one of us can begin the effort that I think is towards healing which is just go try to talk to somebody in the White House my goodness. Talked about this a lot. I work very closely with Mark Holden general counsel Koch Industries. Men who worked hard a picture of President Obama wasn't reelected or elected in the first place as well as every other Democrat then, but you know, what, they said about Criminal Justice Reform or Rupert Murdoch, we worked with him on immigration

reform legislation passed, but we were closer than we would have had it not been for our willingness to reach out beyond our comfort zone and we all should be

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