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Congressman Bill Keating

Join us in an insightful discussion with Congressman Bill Keating, covering significant challenges in his district, environmental concerns at the state level, and top policy debates in Washington D.C. We delve into the complexities of the debt ceiling, the international dynamics around Ukraine, and evaluate the Democrats’ actions since they’ve taken control of the house. Further, we assess President Biden’s first term, and anticipate the potential impacts of the upcoming election on the country’s future. Lastly, we touch on the urgent issue of addiction treatment and the importance of strategic messaging from the White House. Don’t miss out on these critical conversations and more.

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Transcript – Please note, this Transcript is AI Generated. It has not had the discerning ears of a real human to edit it, as such, there are bound to be a few errors

Hello, everybody, this is Jimmy, welcome back to another episode of our show. We have a very special guest today all of our guests are very special. Sometimes they’re very special on a local level. Sometimes they’re very special on the state and the national level. This man is very special on the International, the national state and the local level. It isn’t dumb. He’s a very special man. Please welcome to the show, the congressman of the ninth congressional district of Massachusetts, the one and only the honorable Congressman Bill Keating. Hello, Congressman, how are you today?

I evidently I’m special. Yeah. Thank you.

Very special. And we’re special because you took our time to talk to us today. So we’re very grateful for that. So Bill, just remind people, your district is basically the cape and islands, is that correct? It’s

the south coast. You know, areas like New Bedford, the entire cake, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and the South Shore. Oh, so sure.

Okay, great. By the way, Bill, and I will be doing an event on May 31. in New Bedford, all that will be in the show notes and also be on my website and on Bill. Bill’s website Keating for But Congressman Keating, thanks again, for making time for us today. Just let’s start off with the state level, you represent the south shore of the south south coast, New Bedford, what are the biggest challenges down in your district with the cape and islands in the South Coast,

I think if you look at our region, it’s no surprise that it’s really challenged environmentally. It’s a coastal area, my district is one of the largest coastal districts if you if you put all the islands together and strung them out in the entire country. And so we have erosion, we have a lot of the contamination, the sand that’s there has resulted in, you know, water issues and septic issues. So a lot of the emphasis that I had, and people in our region that represent us focus on focuses around dealing with these environmental issues, we did great work in the last Congress, putting historic levels of funding to deal with some of these climate change environmental issues. And this is the period we sort of reap those benefits. So we just had a huge amount amount of these resources from Massachusetts as a whole. And the district I represent got 90% of them. And we have a lot of smart people, they’re scientists that have done a lot of research. So they’re going to take those grant monies, and they’re going to actually not only deal with the issues in Cape Cod and the Islands in the South Coast, but they’re also going to be laboratory experiments for the rest of the country. So there’s a lot that’s going on in that area. That’s important. And certainly representing that area where people come down if they can get over the bridges in time, these days, they come down and enjoy it. But there’s a lot of work. And there’s a lot of challenges to a district like that, too.

Yeah, it’s a big district. Your the money that came through with that was for the the inflation Reduction Act. Is that where that money was? Yeah, absolutely. Now, I know, in the current Congress, the the Republicans are talking about the debt ceiling, and they have some issues with raising it. And one of the things they wanted to do was cut back on the environmental funding, is that correct?

That’s absolutely right. Actually, the debt ceiling issues a serious one. It’s one that if we default, the big 8 million people in this country right away, facing the loss of their job, 45% of the value of the stock market would go immediately. These aren’t scare tactics. These are the realities that if we do default, it’s like playing Russian roulette. With the with the economy, you know, these kinds of standards, these are for bills that have already, we’ve already spent the money. So someone, it’s like going out with your credit card, and you spent the money. And then the bill comes in, and you say, Well, I don’t want to pay for it. So the thing that’s important is, we can look for areas of agreement, where we can look to cost save, look for areas of waste, look for prioritizing issues, but you do that in the budget. You don’t do that when you hold the hostage bills that you owe. And you know, that’s something that’s going to have drastic effect, not just in this country, but with the value of the dollar as the standard currency of the world. It will have global effects as well. So I hope that we can get past this. We’ve had standoffs before. We’re in 2013 I believe it was, we had one and we’re paying money now. Just in interest rates because of the political stunt you know, threatening to default that So we’re like, this is a serious issue. And I hope it can get behind us in short order, and we can move forward to the other issues. But if you ask in Washington right now, what’s the number one issue? They’ll probably tell you. It’s concerns about defaulting and not, you know, paying on the debt ceiling.

Right? It would be huge for your district, not to mention the country in the world. But your district, all that environmental money that’s allocated for that district wouldn’t be there. Is that correct?

It’s true. It’s one of the older demographic districts in terms of the age of the people that I represent, so that those people, you know, they’re during their retirement years, they take that retirement money, that 401 K’s in their retirement money, and they live off of that that’s part of how they get by. And if anything like this happen, they would be facing almost half their value on average of that money gone. So you know, it’s just not about the environment. It’s about the pocketbook, too.

Right? How long have you been in Congress now? Bill?

12 years is my 13th year

throw? And how is it going? What Tell me some of the things that you’re most proud of serving. And one of the most the biggest challenges, we’re all generalists,

you know, what ends up in the doorstep of Congress are issues that can’t be resolved anywhere else. And so that’s sort of like the port of last resort for a lot of issues. But my concentration, as ended up being in the national security international security areas. I’m one of the senior members on both the foreign affairs committee and the Armed Services Committee. So the one good thing in this divisive Congress right now, those two committees stand out as the most cooperative committees across the aisle, with Republicans and Democrats. And it’s a good thing they do. Because if, if we can’t agree on how we conduct ourselves as a country, around the world, with any kind of unity, if we can’t have any kind of unity of our, how we defend ourselves, and protect our citizens, then we’re in big trouble. So while a lot of the other committees, I think it’s more divided, it’s less divided in those committees, and I’m able to get things done across the aisle.

So in terms of on the national level, we know we have the debt ceiling crisis. And we know it’s obviously very divided there. You say a national security were united more. So in terms of Ukraine, I know you’ve been over there. What is your take on what’s going on there? Are we is there still momentum for supporting Zelinsky? And Ukrainians? Are is that waning in Congress? What’s your take on it?

I think it’s one of the strongest areas of bipartisan support. There are people is a fragment of the Republican Party, the more extreme of the extreme, that are isolationist. But we work together on those issues in Ukraine is one of them. We’re really facing a critical time in Ukraine right now. They’ve defied all odds, by every expert that’s out there, not only surviving, but reclaiming some of that land back that they lost the Russian aggression. And in the next month or two, the cover offensive that has been long awaited for by Ukraine, trying to reclaim some of that land that they’ve lost. That’s going to occur as soon as the mud gets off the ground, and then tactically, they can move better. You’ll see that happen. And it’s going to be pivotal maybe in terms of whether the war drags on, or whether the Russians are forced to come to the table and negotiate it all. So this is this. We’re almost at that pivotal stage. I must tell you, though, the atrocities I’ve met with people that are on the ground over there, that dealt with the Human Rights and the torture, that the Russians are doing Russian soldiers. I mean, they’re raping children, boys and girls. They’re doing it in front of their parents. They’re doing things Jimmy that targeting civilian targets maternity hospitals, hospitals, schools, places where people congregate as civilians in their daily lives. They’re trying to terrorize but it’s not working with Ukrainian people. They’re standing up to that and actually feels more resolved I think on their part,

Congressman ideally what what what do you think the best case scenario would be to resolve this

almost every war ends up in negotiations? You know, World War Two didn’t because the enemies will come pletely decimated whodunit attempted originally. To go in to Ukraine. He thought it would be easy. Go right to cave. take over the government set up a puppet Government. That was his plan that failed. So once that has failed, and he has no hope of that anymore, it’s going to end up in the negotiating table. So how do you get to the table? Well, the only way Putin will go to the table is if he’s losing. And he’s forced to. And this counter offensive that I’m talking about, could set the stage where that might occur. You know, the, it’s really unbelievable. The loss of lives by the Russians, we have forecasts, and just over a year, over 100,000 casualties, over 20,000, and that’s conservative, Russians killed. And if you look at all the time, we were in Iraq and Afghanistan, add it all up, it didn’t come close to 20,000. If you look at the time, the they’re on a track where all the casualties that we lost the Vietnam could occur in the next year or so at this rate with Russia, but he doesn’t care. He’s just putting those people out there in the frontlines. He’s gone to the prisons, and cleaned out the prisons, and said, We will give you clemency if you go to the front line. Some of those prisoners, some that, for instance, have HIV and they’re not getting treatment, they’re they’re saying, We’ll give you treatment, if you go to the front lines. And they just he’s just putting these people out there. And in the last few months, they’re just getting slaughtered like a meat grinder. And he doesn’t seem to care. i There’s a point where losing different land that he reclaimed, and he said that part of his country will drive him back to the negotiating table. And that’s it’s only at that point, I believe, we’ll be able to talk about a ceasefire and dealing with the other issues.

Tell me Were you surprised, because I know Biden has gotten pretty high marks for most people in the country on both sides of the aisle, really, for his handling of the Ukraine issue, and keeping NATO together, etc. Were you surprised at the results of the midterms? In terms of the Democrats not being slotted? We surprised that those results?

I was I guess you’re not supposed to say that? Yeah. But if you look at history, if you mentioned, it happens every time there’s usually a big loss. Yeah. And they turn that didn’t occur. In fact, we almost won wasn’t for New York State. And I think some malpractice, the way they handled it as the Democratic Party, we could still be in the majority, which would have been a historic achievement. But I’m very confident in two years, the majority beat back because there is extremism on the other side. And when talking about these radical cuts, they’re cutting into veterans issues. They’re cutting into Social Security, and Medicare, they say, they’re not going to do that. But their plan to deal with the deficit resulted in cuts that inevitably would have hit those areas as well. They want to cut but they just don’t want to say they are going to cut it. That’s hugely unpopular. And they’ve taken the time they have right now. And you have to ask yourself this question in very common sense terms. What have they done now that they have the power in the house to help the average person in their daily life? And that simple question, the answer, that’s nothing, nothing. And so with that being the case, they are really going to have a hard time going into this next election. So I surprised we kept it as close as we did. But that makes me very confident that they’re doubling down and all these losing issues, they’re doing nothing about the increasing gun violence and the loss of life. Even though 89 980 to 90% of the public believes that we should take actions on assault weapons, red flag issues, background checks, these are hugely popular on the woman’s reproductive rights issues. Huge numbers against what they’re doing, but then they’re doubling down on it. So they might be winning points on their narrow base. But if you take this kind of extremist policy, you’re not going to get the independent voters. And those are the voters you need in a general election. And unless they change course, radically, they’re gonna face a very tough election this next time out. And we’ll have the house back.

Are you happy with President Biden, do you think he’s doing a good job? How would you grade them and are you he just announced his reelection campaign last week? I you enthusiastically behind them moving forward?

You mentioned it. He did a job I don’t think most people could do and we have united all those Countries in Europe, you know, individually into a huge coalition historic coalition. And I don’t think anyone anticipated that. But his background as foreign policy, he knew that a lot of these leaders on a personal basis, you know, the stories are legion that if some of these people have an illness in the family, he picks up the phone and calls them up. He’s known them for years. And that really helped. So I think, you know, when you look back at history, even at this first term, that’s what they’re going to point to with Joe Biden, how he staved off one of the greatest challenges to Western democracy by putting a coalition together, so he gets great grades for that. You know, the popularity polls are tough. There’s a country wide poll coming out. Very shortly, it’s going to show unbelievable popularity for Joe Biden. But I think the bad news is that country is Ireland. Well, that’s good. We love them over here. And he had a great successful trip. And some of that comes from that background myself. It was great to see

him. But domestically, the achievements have been pretty formidable, have they not?

Absolutely. I mean, these issues of dealing with climate change, you know, they sit us down, and the committee’s that I’m on, especially on services, and every Congress that say, what are the existential threats to the planet that wakes you up in the morning? Yeah, sit down, and you have our own government telling us, what are the threats to the survival of the earth. So there’s three things they point to every year, they haven’t change. But there’s nuclear war, which you would think of off the top of my head. And then there’s the pandemic, which they would say every year, and until it happened, I honestly thought it wasn’t going to be a threat, the threat that it was, and the damage that it did. And the third one, and this is the military talking is climate change. That’s how serious this is. It’s a lot, a lot of our defense budget goes to dealing with these issues, a lot of the conflicts around the world, because the migration that occurs, you know, when there’s famine, starvation. And so it’s a huge issue. And we took it on, at a scope that no one has ever done before. And Joe Biden steered that ship, and now we’re seeing the results of it in an unprecedented investment. That’s there in some of the highest growth industries. And, you know, everyone’s talking about China. They were ahead of us in so many fronts, this investment that we did on climate change is one that’s going to propel us to the lead on that front as well. And, and you know how he did most of that. He didn’t do it with big government doing it. There’s a lot of tax credits for businesses, small ones, medium ones, as well as the large ones. And having that kind of, you know, money’s there to push them over the top. In these investments. It’s incredible that the one of the fastest growing parts of our economy surround these issues. And if we’re gonna have good paying jobs into the future, and a strong economy and not lose our footing to other countries around the world, that investments so important, so he gets high grades on that one, too.

Right? Well, you would think that the Republicans in the House would understand that the, the the environmental legislation that they got through as a job creator. I mean, it’s it’s pretty, it’s pretty obvious. You just look at the track record on the on any type of investment if the government makes the tax credits, people are going to invest in it. I mean, the end some of the states that have have come the furthest are red states with wind energy down in Texas. It’s huge. In the Midwest, that huge. We got the offshore wind, how is that going now with the offshore wind here in Massachusetts, you’re right about

that, even in this latest Republican effort to deal with the deficit. They won by 217 to 215 votes. I mean, that’s as close as it gets one person changing their vote and wouldn’t go forward. And they had to make changes on biofuels and those issues, because those Republicans weren’t going to vote for it. Because it’s important in their district. They’re gonna find out more and more, these are jobs in their district, and jobs that are going to help us in the future, compete with the rest of the world and jobs. They’re going to help us deal with a climate change issue that we’re paying so much for as we go forth. So I don’t understand exactly why sometimes they vote against their own district. You know, They’re going in the other direction, harder that Bill said that we’re going to, they wanted to invest more in coal, and in oil, and gas. And they’re going in the opposite direction of the rest of the world, except third world countries and thanks. So we’re, we’re seeing them take very strange positions in terms of, I think, common sense issues, but also political issues. This is a, you know, it’s not a net gain, it’s a net loss when you get to the general elections, because mostly independent voters don’t have the same enthusiasm. For parties. That’s why they’re independent, they’d like the ability to go back and forth and choose. But that doesn’t mean they are not passionate about issues. And when you’re just looking at your own base in a primary, and ignoring, which in my district is two thirds of the vote independence, then you’re really hurting your chances, even on the political front. And, you know, sometimes on issues, the people lead a lot of the political leaders, and when you’re looking at the issue of gun safety, when you’re looking at the issue, that we have made great progress on healthcare issues, you know, that it was the people that led some of the leaders, the public support was there before the leaders took action. And I think that they’re going to see the effects of this, because the people are ahead on these issues. And the digging themselves into a hole on issues of personal freedoms, you know, woman should be able to make her own healthcare choices. They had a whole whole week dedicated to having Washington make the decisions about what’s going to happen in your local school, and not having local school committees make those decisions. It’s just the opposite of what, you know, maybe a decade ago, the Republican Party stood for. Yeah,

Bill, do you think that as we get closer to 2024, that the Democratic Party, the Democrats will be increasingly more supportive of President Biden? And do you think that the country as a whole will be more supportive of President Biden, even though he’s at he was very funny, actually, at the correspondents dinner last week, he was, you know, making fun of his own age and everything that always goes over big. And I know you’re very funny, when we get together on May 31. Out in New Bedford, we always have a lot of fun there, I do more comedy, and then interview you. And we have a lot of fun with the audience with q&a. But do you think there will be more support as the as things become clearer to the general public about what’s at stake with the 2024? election?

Well, what do you mean, we’re a divided country right now more than we should be? And it’s going to be a divisive election, regardless of what happens. That’s when I’d like to see that lesson. I think everyone would. But I think if they look beyond the divisive issues, and what they’re trying to do to vilify people that run for office, and people, certainly the President, they’re gonna look, I hope, behind all that and say, Look what he did, when democracy was threatened. Look what he did, taking us out of the pandemic, look what he did, keeping the economy of flow. I have a lot of small business people in the cape and the south coast and South Shore, they’ll say, you know, I’d be out of business now, with the pandemic. If you didn’t just keep us alive and keep our employees here working for us. Those issues are going to really take hold, I think, when people have a chance to reflect and say, Where are we going in the future? Because elections aren’t about the past. They are about the future. And a lot of the things that we did, together with the President, a lot of the things we’re trying to still do, they’re not dealing with the past. Certainly, they’re not even focused as much on the President as they are in the future. One of the things we did call the chips bill, which put Made in America businesses right in the front line, so we’re not dependent on China, or Taiwan or other countries for chips and other materials. We’re manufacturing that stuff here. We learned during the COVID pandemic, the supply chains are critical. We learned what happens when they can be interfered with by prescription drugs, so many of them came from China. What if they’re cut off? And those fears result in us looking forward and saying, We can’t continue to do the same thing. We have to change things. And so I think when they look at what Joe Biden and Democrats have done, We’ve looked forward on issues. And when when we have a message that looks forward. And unfortunately, it looks like Trump might be the nominee and the Republicans, they’re not just looking at the status quo. They’re looking backwards. They’re looking at bringing people’s women’s health care rights back 3040 50 years, they’re looking at having Washington, interfere with people’s personal lives, so that they can make their own decisions at the local level, they bring the opportunity to vote, close to the old poll tax days where it’s become harder and harder for people to vote if they’re a minority or a college student. So you’re going to have an election, that I think with independence, and that’s where it really is going to rest. Where people are saying, do we want to look forward? Or do we want to look backwards, and it doesn’t matter if the leader is 80 years old? If you’re an 80 year old leader looking forward, versus a 77 year old leader looking backwards, I don’t think age is going to matter that much.

Good point, Phil. One issue, I think that the President could, you know, not only help millions of people with and, but also just it’s a common sense issue is the issue of addiction and drug treatment that is essential to so many people. And I think he could really make the case like having the addiction in his own family, obviously, with his son Hunter and the challenges that he had hit that represents millions of people in the country. And I think if we were to take the lead on that issue nationally about that, that cuts across, you know, race, class, political party, G, geography, income, etc, religion doesn’t matter, it’s affects so many people, it would be really gratifying to see the Democrats really out front on that issue. Because I think a it’s going to save millions of lives and be, it’s always going to engender a great support, because people will do anything to help a person or, or an entity that is trying to save the lives of their own kids. And that’s what we’re up against. I mean, last year, I think it was 100,000, overdoses and 2022. And it’s ongoing. And I just think that he could be hammering that issue home, and the Democrats can be hammering that issue home all over the country,

I lost the cousin, and I lost a lot of friends to addiction, lives lost. And way back, when I first became a district attorney in Massachusetts, the DEA has a responsibility when there’s a death to investigate how the death happened to make sure there’s no foul play. And in the early years, time and time again, I was finding, often young people did in finding out that they weren’t involved in any crime, they were involved in. They, they didn’t have any background, they became addicted to prescription drugs, and the opioid drugs and that set them off into heroin and other drugs as well. And I started the first heroin Council, one of the first in the country dealing with this, it was an anti opioid Council. And we realized right off the bat, what was happening, that these big corporations, drug companies were profiteering and not telling the truth about the addiction that surrounds these opioid drugs. And now we’ve seen it move to fentanyl more deadly harder to deal with, they can make these in these very small, you know, factories, if you will, the size of a room and make money is so hard to trace. So the stakes have gotten higher. And the challenges have gotten higher, even though we made some progress. But this issue should affect everyone in the country. And because I can’t I don’t know how many families that have been been affected by this themselves. And even if their family isn’t affected their friends and neighbors, the people they live with in a community are all affected. And we can do more on this. But we have to work on the education front. And we have to make sure we’re clear. We have to make sure there’s resources behind it. And we have to take this as the threat to life and human life that it is. And I think you’ve hit on something. People care about this. It’s bipartisan, but the passion of taking the next step and making sure we’re driving these resources towards greater awareness of what’s going on. Enforcement helps, but the greatest thing we can do is awareness and then treatment. And when it’s necessary, right, and the treatment is very expensive, as you know. But the more we set up the ability to treat people, the less expensive it will be. And I think we’ve made great progress on some fronts. But the challenges the goalposts have been moved with fentanyl.

Right, a bill. I think a lot of it comes for the general public, just the average person, the independent voter, the people that don’t, you know, follow politics every day. It’s the messaging that has to come from the White House, the messaging being, as up there, when we talk about climate change, we’re talking about drug treatment, you know, it’s gotta be up there with the 234 things that are front and center on the minds of people because it’s affecting, obviously the homeless issue, the gun issue, the, you know, domestic violence, health care by May.

Suicide is

the suicide issue. Absolutely. So I just think it’s something that is needs to be addressed. And I think the President would be the perfect messenger for this, given his own family history. And given the family history of so many other people are Republicans and Democrats, going back to Jerry Ford, and Betty Ford, and Billy Carter and Jimmy Carter. I mean, you know, there’s all these families have been affected on that level. And I just think it’s something that would resonate with the American people. And I, I hope that they can hear this interview, and hopefully put it up there. And the one, though, in the in the top three or four issues that they’re talking about moving into 2024.

You’re right. I think the President is in a position where I think the compassion He usually comes through with as an individual, as well as own personal experience with son could help. There’s no one that’s immune from this. And we all have to look at this as a national priority.

Well, Bill, you’re right on. And thank you so much for your time today. I look forward to seeing you on May 31. in New Bedford, we’re gonna have a lot of fun. I’ll do a little performance bill come out, he’ll do a little, we’ll do a little q&a. And then the audience, we open it up to the audience for questions, and there’ll be a fundraiser for Bill. And so if you like Bill Keating, come on down, if you don’t know that much about him, come on down, learn something about this former DEA who ran for Congress, and it’s been there for 12 years now and doing great work and got the best interests of the south coast of Massachusetts and the United States of America at heart. So Bill, thanks a million for being here today. Bill Keating Keating for or Jimmy You can get tickets to the May 31 event. And it’s great to see you again. Keep up the good work. Please carry the message me You make us proud and keep keep doing what you’re doing.

All right. Thanks, Jim. And thanks for you doing the work you’re doing on the issues that we discussed as well as other issues appreciate.

Of course, thank you, buddy.

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