tv U.S. Senate CSPAN April 4, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT
was in trouble and nevada's unemployment rate was going up -- nevada has had the highest unemployment for ten straight months at over 13%. this president disparaged las vegas and nevada time and again. businesses were afraid to come here for company meetings because they thought they might get singled out. but contrast that with what rudy giuliani when new york got in trouble. he said come to new york city. we need your help. well, the president is going to be here in a couple of weeks. let's hope he comes to las vegas, nevada, and does a rudy giuliani and invites americans back to nevada. [applause] >> now i saw this was a room full of business people. i don't think the president likes you a lot. [laughter] >> i say that a bit tongue and cheek, of course. but when he put his cabinet together, he didn't select a lot of business people to be there, if any. i think he sees business as a
necessary evil but maybe not even necessary in his point of view. i like what you do. i recognize that every good job we're going to create with high incomes and permanence is going to come from the private sector. i i love entrepreneurs and innovators and creators. it's what makes our economy the most robust economy in the world. i wonder how it is the president could be so misguided and i think part of it comes from a perception that europe got it right. and that we got it wrong. because like the europeans, when things got in trouble here he decided to borrow more money, spend more money, and build greater and greater debts. like the europeans, he's disparaging of fossil fuels and is anxious to put in place a cap-and-trade system. like the europeans, he wants to see unions even where the employees don't want them. like the europeans, he's going to forecast deficits as far as the eye can see. i believe in america. i believe that we got it right. i believe the american experiment worked. i believe that what's happening in europe isn't working there and sure as heck wouldn't work here. [applause]
>> i believe in free enterprise. i believe in capitalism. my goodness, i believe in freedom and opportunity. when the founders came together and wrote the founding documents of this country, they not only made a choice to allow us as citizens to choose our elected representatives, but they also allowed us to choose the life we would live. this became the land of opportunity on the entire planet. every person, every pioneer, every innovator, every creator, every person seeking freedom wanted to come here. that's what made america what america is. i love the opportunity and the freedom that is america. washington is trying to smother that with regulation and taxes and a greater and greater reach of the federal government. they're wrong. i believe in america. i believe that we stand by our allies. we stand by our friends. i believe in strength. i believe in a strong military. and strong commitment to the
principles that keep us the hope of the earth. [applause] >> i -- i just wanted to close with a couple of thoughts and then turn to your questions. i think we're at a very unique point of time in american history. i think there's a recognition on the part of the american people that something is really, really wrong with our government. and i say that because for years, even when my dad ran for office back in the 1960s, 1962, we used to talk about deficits and too much spending and, frankly, that was the message that struck home with our base but it was not something that independents or democrats warmed to. and i've seen polls over the decades of what are the biggest issues that americans are concerned about and, frankly, our national debt rarely makes it to the top five. that's different today. the massive spending and excessive debt in this country is now either number one or
number two. it's the economy and our debt. that's a good thing. it means that the american people are focusing on something that's got to be dealt with. for pete's sakes, when the "washington post" a few weeks ago criticizes president obama for not proposing any reforms to social security, you know something is happening in america. [laughter] >> this is -- this is a paper whose editorial board i presume is pretty darn liberal and they're saying something's got to change and my experience in this country is that when our people hear the truth and are called upon to take bold action, americans will rise to the occasion. we're a very patriotic people. i had that brought home to me so many times it's extraordinary. you know, when i was helping run the olympic games in salt lake city a number of years ago, i noted that our athletes -- when they were on the podium and received a gold medal and the national anthem was played, our athletes put their hands over their heart.
and i didn't see any other nation do that and i asked whether this was true, whether other nations do and apparently not. i don't know the exact reason of that. i was told the practice began in the years of franklin delano roosevelt of the recognition of the bloodshed by the heroes who were fighting for our liberty we would place our hands over our hearts. we are a patriotic people. as i place my happened over my heart as the national anthem was played, i think about that blood that was sacrificed by our sons and daughters, by noble families, in the past and today. the american people rise to the occasion. as long as they're told the truth and are given a pathway and we in this room have every opportunity to share the truth with people, to explain to them that we believe in america, that we got it right, that free enterprise, that freedom, that opportunity, that strength, standing with our friends, that american values are right and
true and the only way to preserve peace on the earth and to keep the american dream alive is for us to come together and communicate that to our friends and sacrifice for the greater good of the greatest nation on earth. and i know there are some who would apologize for america. i find that a strange thing. because our free enterprise system, by the way, our free enterprise system now being picked up by places like china and india and parts of a came have helped billions people out of poverty. nothing like it in the history of the earth. like what we have championed and pioneered, lifting people out of poverty and that, of course, the blood of our sons and daughters have shared liberty around the world. this is a great nation. with a great purpose and what you're doing here makes an enormous difference. let's work together so that we can make sure that we remain as we've always been, the hope of the earth. thank you so much. [applause]
>> thank you. thank you. [applause] >> thank you. let's -- thank you. [applause] >> i see a hand up already. [laughter] >> ambassador sembler. [inaudible] >> would you mind introducing -- >> can i have my -- i have to tell a bit about this young lady here. come up here. [applause] >> i recognized -- i recognized almost everybody in the audience who is important except the person who's most important to me, my dear wife, ann. [applause] >> she's quite a champion. she's quite a champion. she was -- she was diagnosed in
1998 with multiple sclerosis and has gone to work to overcome that and be able to be fully physically able to do whatever is required in her life and then a couple of years ago was diagnosed with breast cancer. she is a fighter. she's my hero. mother of our five sons and 16 grandsons. [applause] >> you know, my heart really warms to recognize so many people in this audience that we know and love and have been good friends of ours. and also to recognize what a wonderful thing it is to belong and to feel as though your identity, your jewish identity is something that you work for and love and cherish. mitt and i can appreciate that coming from another religious heritage as well because that gives you such a grounding and such a sense of peace and such a
sense of family and dedication that we pass on to generation to generation. and i honor that as well and appreciate that. i, as i was sitting in the audience, i've heard mitt speak a few times as you might imagine. [laughter] >> and how can i still be moved by things that he says. that's quite amazing, too. but i really was moved by his -- by his thoughts about freedom and about this country. and i have a prediction that if he does decide to go forward, that he will be an absolutely extraordinary president of this country. [applause] >> i should let matt brooks do the calling out of questions here, but you're standing. here comes the microphone, whether you want it or not. >> i appreciated all your
comments. and i think we all can agree on just about everything you said. i just wanted to ask you one question, and i apologize to this but i'm a urologist and i'm a physician. and it's relating to health care. we studied the affordable health care bill and it's got many, many problems. and most people would agree that it would be best to eliminate it and unfund it. and i just wanted you to contrast that, please, to massachusetts and the health care system that developed in massachusetts when you were governor. and how would you make sure that whatever happens to reform health care would be different than massachusetts. [applause] >> good, thank you. good question. [applause] >> and that is the first time i've been asked that question so i appreciate the chance -- [laughter] >> to address it.
a couple things. first of all, you all have universal health care, if you will, socialized medicine in your states. and i say that a bit facetiously. but if somebody in your state who doesn't have insurance has a terrible automobile accident or heart attack or cancer as you know we don't let them die in the street. they go to the hospital and are treated. and guess who pays for them? you, the government. you all are paying for it. and we found out what's happening in our state -- actually we found a number of people who even though their employer offered them health insurance, if they had to pick up 25% or 35% of the premiums, they said, no, i'm going to turn it down. we asked them why are you turning down coverage when you're only paying 25 or 30% of the premium? they said because i can get health care free just by showing up at the emergency room. we said you know, this free rider problem is a real concern and so we're going to insist on
personal responsibility. we're going to say people are going to have the ability to pay, should pay for them and that concept led to an experiment if you will. and that experiment hasn't perfectly. it's consistent with a constitutional approach in this country which is we allow states to preserve powers not specifically granted to the federal government. and so we as a state took on a state problem, republicans and democrats working together. came up with something and tried it. and interestingly, i would never impose something that we did for our state and all the other states. i would never do what president obama did which is usurp the power of states and replace it with an overreaching federal government hand. that's the wrong way. and if i were lucky enough to be president, the thing i would do on day one is grant a waiver to all 50 states from obamacare and then go to work to get it repealed. [applause] >> i could go on but i'm told to
stop when they applaud, yeah, please. [laughter] >> thank you very much for coming. [inaudible] >> thank you. >> okay. recently, donald trump has begun a very brassy attack against president obama. when you were our governor in massachusetts, i was one of your citizens. >> thank you. [laughter] >> when you ran against shannon o'brien, you ran what i'm going to call a gentlemenly type of campaign, as we recently saw in our recent governor's race was also kind of gentlemenly and that gentleman lost, the republican lost. if you had the opportunity to be the candidate, are you willing to take on more of what i'm going to call a pit bull-type of approach towards running? >> there's no question that in my view, when you run, when you disagree with someone on their policies, as much as i disagree with barack obama on his domestic policies which have cost us jobs and men and women
who could be working are not working, it's causing the breakup of families. it causes people to lose faith. it causes kids not to be able to go to college, i will take him on head on and aggressively if i'm a nominee and a candidate. [applause] >> and by the way, if we get the chance to talk about health care, which would be fine, because, of course, he does me the great favor of saying that i was the inspiration for his plan. i'll say if that's the case, why didn't you call me? [laughter] >> why didn't you ask what was wrong? why didn't you ask if this was an experiment, what worked and what didn't, and i would have told him and i know what you're doing, mr. president, is going to bankrupt us. we can't spend more money. [applause] >> even if obamacare was perfect and it's not. and i can't wait to have these conversations. on the other hand, you know, i'm not going to go after people on innuendo and personal attacks. i'm going to go after people i disagree with on policy because i want to make sure the
difference between us is as clear as day and night on every single issue, where there is difference and the people don't get confused by things that may or may not be relevant to independent voters, to women voters to hispanic voters. my goodness we got to talk about opportunity and freedom. we have to be able to draw in the huge number of people who came here as immigrants or descendents of immigrants. and we are the opportunity party and they are the handout party. that's not why they came here. they came here because of opportunity for their kids. he'll battle there. thank you. [applause] >> young lady right here, almost in front of you here. >> thank you, mr. romney. and thank you for capturing the spirit of what i think we all believe and what we all know and hopefully we'll see you in the white house soon. in a couple months --
[applause] >> in a couple of months, the quantative easing that we've been living under is going to go away. the strength of the dollar looks like it's falling. and it's at risk for losing its reserve currency. and in that case, oil may no longer be priced in dollars which could be another problem for us. when you start your campaign and as you enter the white house, in the next months, how you will you deal with that? what would be your response to that and your approach to it? and what can we start doing today to start to prepare for that? >> you know, you heard yesterday -- i believe it was yesterday, a presentation from ambassador sam fox where he described the national balance sheet. by the way, i find it interesting coming from the private sector that we have a government that publishes an income statement every year but doesn't publish a balance sheet. and in the business world, if someone said to you, look,
here's the income statement for my company. how much are you going to pay for it, you'd say well, i can't possibly tell you the answer to that without seeing your balance sheet. but we have a national balance sheet and as sam described it yesterday, it's a pretty frightening thing so people thinking about investing in america and the one way very invest in america is by buying dollars, investing in our businesses, building facilities here, employing americans here and around the world. people make these investments all around the world. and if they think our balance sheet is so sick that the investment is going to be overrun by massive inflation, or an economic collapse of some kind, then they won't invest and if they don't invest we can't get good people getting good jobs and paying incomes. what we have to do urgently in this country is deal with the fact that our balance sheet keeps getting worse and worse every year by greater and greater deficit spending. if you look at what's happening -- our spending is going like that. our revenues are not growing at the same rate. and if you look at the spending is -- let's just talk about where we spend our money.
right now washington is embroiled in a lot of discussion about the discretionary spending, nonmilitary discretionary spending that makes up a little less than at the point % of our budget. we do things we like to do but simply can't afford to do anymore and we got to stop it then there's another 24% of the budget which is the military. and let me tell you, there's a lot of waste in the military. there's no question about that. and we got to cut out the waste, but i'm not going to cut out the waste to pay benefits. i'm going to cut out the waste to make sure that we're able to have a navy which can fulfill its missions in the world. an air force that can protect us and enough soldiers on the ground to care for our interests and assure people around the world that america is strong. look, i recognize that we're a peaceful nation but there is no greater ally of peace than a strong america. and so we have -- we're down to about -- well, let's see. we had 600 ships and the navy
said 300 ships to carry out our mission and now we're 250 to 220 and that's unacceptable and so we're going to have to continue to in the military and the military i'd keep at about 4% of gdp. and then there's the 60% left. i said 20% nonmilitariary discretionary. 20% military then 60% is entitlements and interest. that's where the money is. and if we're going to finally get the trajectory of our spending down such that people in the world can recognize that we've solved our problem, that our balance sheet will be cleaned they'll continue to invest in dollars and jobs. to do that we're going to have to take on the reform of our entitlement programs. not changing an iota but going to people in their 30s and 40s and tell you about these changes in the programs to make sure they are sustainable and we can honor our promises without killing the country and that is something we can talk about in
2012. i'm glad that the "washington post" raised what they would -- their criticism of the president for not taking on social security. we have got to do that. we have to tell the american people the truth, and i know -- i know that -- when i wrote my book two years ago and put a chapter in there called "the worst generation" and laid out in there the fact that my generation, the baby boomers keep on voter bigger bigger benefits for ourselves hoping the next generation will pay for it while we're 6 feet under. that can't go on. and i'm absolutely convinced that the american people understand that. but i know there are people who are convinced instead that even raising the topic of entitlement reforms and making them sustainable is touching the third rail of american politics. i'm told, mitt, you can't possibly write or talk about those things and ever think about winning an election and if that's the case, so be it. we have to tell the american people to truth. and the american people are patriotic enough to do something about it. [applause]
>> you guys can make the choice. you got a bunch of hands all over the room. those are the room go to the microphone. you do the work. >> a great job today. i agree with most everything you said but -- [laughter] >> i just there's a movement afoot for the palestinian authority to declare a unilateral state in violation of the oslo accords with a vote coming up in the fall in the u.n. and supported by most of the countries and particularly terrorist-supporting countries. and the big question is, what will america do? if president obama votes with the u.n. in favor of the unilateral palestinian state and if you should decide to run for president, when you become president, would you reverse that decision of american recognition of a unilaterally declared palestinian state? >> well, there are a lot of -- there are a lot of hypotheticals in there but let's just say this, it would be -- it would be
reprehensible and wrong for the united states of america ever to accede to a request by the palestinian authority to declare an independent state. [applause] >> the palestinians and israelis are going to have to negotiate this amongst themselves. [applause] >> yes. yes, sir. and i think -- we ought to make this the last question so you guys can have some food. i hate standing between an audience and some lunch. [laughter] >> what are your views about reform of the tax code? and if you are in favor of it, could you tell us in what ways? and would you make it revenue-neutral or would you it as an opportunity to cut down the deficit? >> yeah. what i would like to do with spending and taxes would be to have a cap on federal spending. as a percentage of our economy or of our gdp. historically, the number has been -- the government spent about 18.8% of gdp. and our taxes have been roughly that level. i'd say take 18.8% or 19% or
whatever number we agree upon but take a number and say, the federal government is not going to spend more than that level. that's number one. now, how do we get a tax, folks? i'm not looking for ways to have the highest incomed people pay a smaller share of taxes. i know there's some people who would like to do that but i would like to find ways to simplify the tax code and make it more fair. how would you do that? well, there's some who advocate, for instance, the fair tax, which is a national sales tax to replace the income tax. that has some really powerful, positive growth features. as -- [applause] >> you like it, right? as it's currently envisioned it has in my opinion a byproduct that may not be ideal which is that it lowers taxes pretty dramatically of the top 1.5% and races the top tax share by the middle incomed folks and i think it needs to be addressed. i think it will be a long time before washington would embrace a consumption-based tax and i think the right first step we have the most likelihood of being successful in achieving would be something akin to what
the deficit reduction commission described which is a dramatic reduction in the rates of both corporate and individual taxes. i think that makes sense. they achieve the same revenue outcome by basically eliminating some of the special breaks and exemptions that are in our current tax code. i think that has merit. look, we can't attract the investments of moms and dads and families and pension funds and wealthy people -- we can't attract those investments all around the world into this country to build enterprises if we have the highest tax rate in the world. and among developed nations, america is soon to have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. that will not create jobs. i'm not looking for ways to get rich people richer, sorry, sheldon. [laughter] >> i want to do -- i want to do my very best of helping people in america and find good jobs and have good incomes and keep government from getting too big. and if we put a ceiling and say you can't spend more than 18.8%
of the gdp, that in my opinion is one way to do that. and we can keep looking for ways to get our tax rates down so we can be competitive global are. there's some taxes that make no sense in our tax code. i don't know how familiar you are with something called the repatriation tax. this is an unusual tax. let's say microsoft makes $5 billion selling software to the chinese, and they got this big profit, $5 billion they got over there in china in their bank account, if they leave it there, they don't pay u.s. taxes. they just pay chinese taxes but if they bring it home we'll charge them the difference between tax rates up to 35% more in taxes. and does that make any sense? to say to people, if you leave your money outside of the country we won't tax you but if you bring it home, we're going to tax you heavily. by some reports, there's as much as a trillion dollars in corporate profit sitting outside the united states, much of which
would like to come back here and i'm criticized for even raising that they might not raise it all to the investment they might give some of it to the shareholders. [laughter] >> and the answer is, yeah, and the shareholders will buy things. and invest in america. and create jobs. it's amazing -- i spent some time in government as you know -- only four years. my life has been in the private sector. i spent 25 years. [applause] >> yes, thank you. [applause] >> i spent 25 years in the private sector. i spent four years serving my state as governor. i've not been in politics so long that i inhaled. i'm still a business guy. and i would -- and i would occasionally exchange thoughts with others in the legislature. most of whom these individuals had never worked in the private sector or many of whom haven't. i remember one conversation that i remember about our prison system in massachusetts. and i looked to see whether we could bring in a for-profit of company to manage our jails that we were managing them and the people that i was speaking with,
but, governor, they will be more expensive than we are and i thought why would you think that? and they said they have to earn a profit and we don't. i don't think you understand how free enterprise system working. the whole idea of america the profits create incensetives for people to do so things in better ways at lower cost. that's why we outperformed every other place in the world. that's why china is copying us. that incentives works. some people in government just don't understand how america works. and one thing we have to make sure that we do is not so burden the obtained newerial innovative creative spirit of americans with government just lapping over them with more and more regulation and bureaucracy and red tape and taxation that we kill what has made america, america. [applause] >> this is a great and patriotic room.
and i -- and i -- i'm not just talking about your walls here, sheldon and miriam. i'm talking about the people that are in this wonderful group. the rjc has had a huge impact. continues to have a huge impact. it will have a huge impact. i appreciate the chance to address you today. we've got great leaders in this room. and i'm convinced that with your leadership, we'll get america on the right track once again. thanks so much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> well, that concludes our morning program. and it certainly ended on a very high note. just a remind the nwc luncheon right out those doors. if you're not registered and you want to join us for lunch, we can still accommodate you. and we've got our evening reception this evening at 6:30
[inaudible conversations] ♪ . >> the federal government runs out of funds friday. congressional leaders are negotiating on federal spending for the rest of the budget year. on the floor senators meet at 2:00 eastern for speeches. and they will vote this afternoon on a judicial nomination. tomorrow, repeal of a tax reporting requirement in the health care law. this week in the house they will consider net neutrality and epa greenhouse gas regulation. house budget committee chairman paul ryan releases the republican 2012 budget. the house gavels in today at 2:00 eastern. you can see it live on c-span. >> as much as anything, what kind of troubles me this just kind of sucks the
oxygen out of so many issues that are pending before the federal communications commission. you know, we can clue gum and walk at the same time i guess but this affects so much of what we're doing. >> a look now at the first 100 days of the current congress. former congress members, vick weber and vic fazio are "wall street journal" congress reporter janet hook. they discuss the debate over the federal budget deficit and the influence of the tea party activists. the american enterprise institute hosts this hour and 20-minute event. >> good morning. my name is carla bowman and i'm a senior fellow here at aei. i would like to welcome all of you and our c-span viewers titled the first 100
days, an early look at the new congress. this morning and i promise you this is no april fool's joke, the pew research center refused thedreleased results of one of their period dick questionses. 38% of americans know the republicans control the house and not the senate. 43% of americans could correctly identify boehner as the speaker while 25% thought nancy pelosi still held the job. pew said the analysis of the poll current politics in washington are a mystery to many. i'm hoping our panel this morning will solve some of the mystery about the state of the washington politics. let me begin by providing a few plume notes. our colleague, norm ornstein was planning to with be us this morning. something came up last night and he is unable to join us. i also have announcement by our treasured colleague, john fortier who is moderating the panel. john has been at aei for
12 1/2 we're years and in that time i added greatly to the aei political corner. i think it is fair to say he is the country's leading expert on early and absentee voting. with our 91-year-old colleague walter burns he updated the indispensable volume, after the people vote. he worked tirelessly to get people in washington to focus on continuity of government issues. john will be leaving us in a few weeks for a new assignment. he will become director of the democracy project at the bipartisan policy center. the democracy project is a bipartisan initiative that analyzes and advocateses for improvements in democratic institution. it is chaired by dan glickman and steve case. its main current projects are strengthening civil discourse in congressional redistricting. we wish john well in this challenging new assignment and we will miss him greatly. john, i will turn it over to you. >> thank you, charles la. thank you for many kindnesses over the years
and you from the institution of aei. i won't be a stranger. just a few blocks away and, expect to be back. we've got a great panel today. i'm going to do some introductions. first a bit of news. bit of news about donald trump. apparently donald trump has declared for president and, turns out he declared of president of latvia, because his birth certificate turns out was not correct. he is, turns out he was born in another place. but it is april fool's. i got that out of the way. i want to turn to more serious matters. we have a panel which we'll run more informnally a question-oriented panel. our panelists are among the country's leading experts about congress, from the inside, from the outside and can talk about what is going on today but also can talk about comparisons especially comparisons to one obvious time period, 1995, but also to some other times where the majority has changed
from one party to the other. so i will start with vin weber, who sitting to my right. who is the managing partner of clark and wine stock. he served in the house of representatives from 1981 to 1993, representing minnesota's second congressional district. in his time in congress he served on the finance and technology, small business, public works, transportation, budget and appropriations committees and was a conference secretary in the leadership for the republicans. vic fazio, his former partner and senior wiser at aiken, who also served in congress from 19789 to 1999. representing california's third district. he was on the appropriations committee. house armed budget, ethics and housed a administration committees as well as chair of the democratic caucus and chair of the dcc c.
janet hook, a political reporter for "the wall street journal" has been covering congress for, since the 1980s when she was in elementary school. for the, now for "the wall street journal", for a long time for "the los angeles times". also for cq. and is the winner of several important awards in journalism. john knight fellowship for professional journalists. everett dirksen award for covering congress and american political science association award for political reporting. norm ornstein as karlyn is not able to join us today. but we're very lucky to have alex brill with us. alex is going to all the thoughts alex tells us today will be his own except for the jokes norm has written for him. no, pressure, alex. not that norm ever made anybody laugh here. you're on the spot. >> that is really not a good deal. >> alex is research fellow
here at the american enterprise institute and formerly was senior advisor to the house ways and men's committee as well as on the staff of the president's council of economic advisors. we'll start with a round of questions and i like to not spend all of our time in the past and think about one obvious comparison of today to 1995 when republicans had taken a majority, faced a democratic president and had, at that time, an actual budget showdown as we certainly face a potential one today and i thought i might start with janet who let her set the stage of 1995. paint a big picture of what had been happening and ultimately how we got to the end of 1959 when the big budget showdown came through. give us a picture where we were in 1995. >> yeah. in 1995, you have to
remember that, 1994 elections weren't a, just any old handover of power from one party to another. we've seen a lot of those over the last 16 years since then but that was like the first time in 40 years that the house had done out of democrat hands. it was a really big deal. the senate had flipped once independently of the house but so, not only was it the entire congress but it was the house for the very first time. and it was, so that it was not just a political and, a political change that changed the a agenda. it was a huge institutional wrenching experience and so when republicans took control of the house they didn't just change the agenda, they tried to change the way congress worked. they, you know, abolished some committees. they streamlined things. but then, and newt gingrich changed the nature of the speakership. he turned into a much more
centralized form of leadership. he was really from, especially from the media point of view, he was the center of all things. he was a larger than life figure. he had a lot of power and he used it. you know, to be honest i have to say when i think about -- oh, that he brought to power his 100 days agenda. which we're at the 100 days mark for this congress, of the contract with america and systematically tried to march through it in the first 100 days. the first 100 days were quite exhausting for members of congress who were involved and for those of us who were covering it. and then from there proceeded some of the longer term confrontations with the clinton white house. if i could just say, i don't want to talk, at too great length on this point but i have to say i'm more struck by the differences between 1995 and today than i am in the similarities because john boehner is many things but he is not a larger than life figure and these
democrat -- these republicans came to power not with a big, you know, 10-point agenda they're marching through if the first 100 days. here we are at the first 100 days they haven't accomplished a lot legislatively. they have transformed the determines terms of debate. it feels very different. there is this problem the senate not being under republican control which gave gingrich kind of a different set of foils. sometimes his enemy was bill clinton and sometimes it was senate republicans. i will leave it at that. >> sure. let me turn to have. in. if you could tell us about. what republicans were thinking. if i'm not wrong. republicans were, confident enough that, public opinion might turn in their direction to have a showdown with the president. you're talking a little by the year in general from the
republican perspective and tell us a little bit about what was in the minds of leaders going into that end of '95. >> well, janelle -- janet, has laid the framework for it. i think the most important similarities between this election and the one n 1994 were the republicans came to washington with a genuine sense of shock at the magnitude of their own victory. republicans didn't, most republicans didn't think they would take control of the congress in 1994. newt did. gingrich predicted it. most people dismissed that as, newt. most republicans didn't expect it. when they came into power there was this genuine sense of awe of what they had done. similar this election. there were more republicans thought they might take the house back this time because there were a lot of predictions out there about that, but magnitude of their victory this time surprised everybody. in both cases i think what you've seen, i will get back to '95. in both cases what it did was convince republicans
knot so much that they had a huge mandate but that the public was demanding change, and if they didn't act on it they would lose majority they won by such a surprising, shocking march dpichblt i think that drove the actions of congress republican congress back in 1995 as it is driving the actions of house republicans today. i really think, not being defensive as a republican, it is not an arrogance, it is a genuine concern they will not be able to keep up with the expectations of the public that just put them in power. that is what happened back in 1995. again, one of the major differences was, and janet alluded to this but i take it a step further. the republicans in 1995 believed that without newt gingrich they would not have been in the majority. no one thinks that about john boehner. they like him. they respect him. i think he is pretty effective speaker actually, but nobody think he is delivered majority the way newt delivered majority. republicans were ready to
follow him in any direction he wanted to go and do anything he wanted to do because they figured they wouldn't be in the majority without him. when he led toward the shutdown of government or confrontation with the clinton administration which led to the shutdown of the government there was a great deal of confidence at the end of the day the guy who ad delivered house majority for the republicans for the first time in 40 years was going to win politically in this confrontation. by the way newt still thinks they won politically in that confrontation. you probably seen that. that was pretty much the attitude. you can't, and janet started talking about it, you can't really overstate the difference between a gingrich-led congress or house and a boehner-led house. >> turn to vick. -- vic. i like to hear point of view inside congress from the democratic side. i guess you can talk about the role of the president, role of president clinton at the time and make comparisons with the president today. obviously senate is in
different hands. that is a difference. maybe tell us a little bit about the democratic view having lost the house after having been in power for 40 years. what you were thinking. >> sure. first of all they were in shell shock. those of us who, in my case ran the campaign committee into the ground that year saw what was happening and tried to, alert the troops without screaming the sky is falling because it only would have fallen faster. but many of the members were not only in disbelief but they were unable to do anything about it even in their own districts in their own campaigns. it was really the acreation of a lot of dead wood, shall we say. i'm some my dear friends but people who had been there a long time, who had not campaigned effectively for many years. it was really the culmination of what lbj said when he signed the civil rights bill in the mid '60s, we have lost the south for a generation.
it took 30 years for it to actually play out but it became the republican cutting-edge, winning seats in the south,. truly conservative people across the spectrum, who were part of the gingrich coalition. i know a lot of my republican friends think of newt as pershing and then ultimately when he couldn't become eisenhower he went. and they need ad pershing to win. but democrats were pretty easy target at that point. today, that's not the case. nancy pelosi was very effective in the minority, winning the majority. i think democrats lost this majority for many reasons but much of it related to events that they believe were beyond their control. maybe you could say they were off message by emphasizing health care in the face of all the joblessness, et cetera, but there's no question that they are far more prepared
to be in the minority now than the democrats who came back here in 1995. i mean many of had barry won. i got 48.4% to reelected. i never appreciated libertarianism as much as i did then. third party candidates were essential. but today, i think the people who survived this wave were kind of caught up in it, knowing that there wasn't anything they could do. this was, they were being pulled out to sea and they couldn't really swim hard enough to mitigate that. and many of them knew what was coming toward the end. it wasn't a surprise. the degree, yes, i think. but they saw of the trend and they probably thought many cases that they would be in the minority. but they're far tougher. they weren't there long enough to have gotten complacent. they certainly are anxious to come back. bill clinton was very effective at segueing into the role of, you know, being
that other branch of government and using, as the term was, triangularization to play off the house and the senate and the dems and the reps to his own advantage. the dick morris moment. this time i think we have a different kind of president. i don't think he is, as into doing that as perhaps some of his advisors would like him to be. at the same time i think his personal relationships with the people on the hill make it hard for him to kind of set them up as the target. i think so much of his presidency is caught up in the issue of the moment, the joblessness issue. a little bit of progress this morning will go a long way. i think he is feels that his presidency is pretty much on the line in relation to the job market. and the economy and the public perception thereof.
so, you know, i think the democrats will pick up some seats in the house. how many, i don't know. we're learning, as we really known for years that everybody's for deficit reduction until you get into the details and i think democrats would be in effect better off if some of the cuts were actually implemented because they're great in theory. when they're actually imposed they don't really pan out very well. look at the governors across the spectrum politically. every state, whether you're a democrat in connecticut or a republican in ohio, you're in the tank because you've started to do some things that, even chris christie, who gets great marks from the media, is losing his support in new jersey because people don't understand what's really involved in deficit reduction or balancing a budget at the state level. >> one follow-up, bill clinton came back from his loss but, at the time,
100 days or so he was still pretty far down, at least down compared to where president obama is today. did that figure in? were you on the hill and others on the hill more worried about your president than you think democrats are today? more thinking that you were going to have to part your own ways? >> well i think democrats were so shell-shocked in '95 that they were more dependent on the white house. there was a little bit of recrimination about the ineffectiveness in the first two years. the btuing of the house. the things that, i think, that led to demise on guns by trying to make that, jamming that into the crime bill which was otherwise popular and caused probably 40 democrats in rural districts to lose. >> changed the gun issue forever. >> absolutely. you see the version even today. >> that's correct. >> and of course, failing to pass a health care bill.
i often said newt would never have let two or three committees stop a health care bill from coming to the floor. he would have put a task force together and a week later there would have been a bill on the floor. and it would have passed. now whether it would have been, you know, enacted, they would have had a record. we had the worst of all worlds. we offended everybody who doesn't like the health care bill and didn't pass it for those who loved it. we really did a lot of things that were playing off the inexperience of the white house. i think some people blamed him for that. i don't think anybody's blaming obama for the policies that they all worked to, you know, put through. they may be unhappy about his communication and his inability to make his case but they're not really at odds with him what the case was. >> i want to move a little more to the present here although i still have some comparative questions that i will try to sprinkle in as we go forward. maybe i can turn back to janet and then to alex about
where we are now. janet has a piece in today's journal about the status of the budget negotiations. where are we now and what's, what are we likely to see in the next few days? just, it is not the 100-day mark today technically. i think the 100-day mark is the day the cr expires or 101-day mark but it is coming up. >> where we are now on the hill is there are all kinds of different budget dynamics at work. most of the focus is on the status of the continuing resolution which expires next week and it's actually been a very interesting week and events surrounding that because it shows me how different things are now than they were before this election which is, i always thought when this budget debate emerged that it was kind of obvious what was going to happen. the republicans wanted spending at 2008 levels. democrats wanted it at 2010 levels. you know what?
how about we split the difference? kind of conventional way. negotiators get together in a room and leaders decide and they cut a deal and then they go out and sell it to their members and they pass it, they twist arms. but, that doesn't work these days, in part because compromise is sort of a really discredited concept, splitting differences is discredited concept among the tea party republicans. so what's happened behind the scenes there has been some kind of agreement or, it is not quite a deal because there has been no handshake on split the difference kind of number on the cr. republicans wanted to gut 61 billion. democrats wanted to cut none and guess where they came out? $33 billion in cuts. john boehner ever since the vice president came out and said we're working to this number in our negotiations boehner has denied there has ever been any kind of agreement on that number. there is this sort of funny dance going on. so there are these sort of private negotiations going on among the appropriations committee staff to sort of
put together some kind of compromise without the imrramatuer because they have unrelated, these policy riders are more controversial and harder to split the difference on than numbers themselves. language to cut off funding for the health care bill, epa policy and so forth some there is kind of two sets of negotiations going on over the riders, over the numbers and it's just this "alice in wonderland" thing where the democrats say we have a deal on the number and republicans say we don't. this will go on this two-track, public, private, money policy thing for a week. and then hopefully there won't be a shutdown at the end of the week but i got to say, i can usually see in advance how things are going to go because i have covered congress so long. i'm not sure how many more twists and turns this is going to take. >> al -- alex can i ask you to talk about the republicans and divisions
within it and budget strategy for different parts of caucus. >> sure. thanks for having me here. sorry norm is not here. i would rather be in the audience hearing his jokes and i will avoid attempts at humor because i'm his substitute this morning. but, you know, i think one of the challenges in the next seven days as they try to put together a bill, has to do with the fact that there's a new dynamic from the new members. and so really two points. one is, as janet was alluding to, many of the freshmen members in the house didn't come here to compromise. they came here to win. and so and they believe there is a difference between compromise and winning. i think a lot of members who have been here for a longer time and served in the majority understand that winning and compromising are actually one and the same
and without getting a deal you've got nothing. so i worked up on the hill for a number of years for someone who was known as a, as a deal-maker, someone who could get a bill, a conference agreement assigned. i worked for congressman bill thomas, chairman of the ways and means committee. one of the things i learned from my experience is, if you lose, no matter how great your principles are you're not moving the ball ahead. we worked on a lot of deals. i saw a lot of deals get put together that ultimately involved compromise and everything that gets enacted into law has things in it that you don't like and that's how you know that you have reached a deal point. that is a new concept i think for some in the house and something that needs, that needs to be worked through and needs to be worked through in the next week. they, the house has not lost yet. they haven't done anything yet but they haven't lost yet either.
there have been a couple of bills that have made it across the finish line. these short-term crs, these small spending revisions. some extent underappreciated how bipartisan those bills have been. thereby partisan by nature given the fact that the democrats control the senate but they're actually, those bills have been actually bipartisan within the house as well. the last cr that we had, last temporary one, house republicans, 54 peeled off that bill but 85 democrats came on. and so, i think that as they work through negotiations over the next week, they're going to be thinking about the fact that the last cr, they had 53 extra votes. so it is all about 218 in the house and it's about finding that compromise where you've got enough votes wherever they may come from. now i don't know if it's a policy up there now. when i was there on the staff, there was concept of the majority of the majority.
and we didn't bring bills to the floor that weren't going to pass with a majority of the majority, even if they would have passed otherwise. and i think that's, that wasn't a new concept at the time either. and, i certainly one that's on people's minds at the moment. but they do have, they do have a cushion coming into this negotiation based off the last cr and they will be playing those margins and so however they work to solve this negotiations between the house, the senate and the white house, they're going to need to depend on not only the democrat majority in the senate and president but they're going to need to rely on democrats in the house. going into this process they have got them. they have, but the question is, in particular, as janet noted i think issues of the riders. some issues become nonstarters and, it's, difficult to deal with a nonstarter, under this kind
of time pressure. i'm not surprised that a deal hasn't been made today and a deal is not going to be made over the weekend or monday or tuesday. i don't think i ever saw a deal that didn't get made in the afternoon before everyone got on a plane and went home or a afternoon before things shut down. so they will keep negotiating until there is no more time to negotiate and they will try to negotiate a little bit more. but i do think they will get somewhere at the end of the day. >> can i turn to vin and ask you, do you think this deal is going to happen? janet raised the possibility maybe, maybe you get down to the end and we have another cr. i don't think anybody wants that or we have a shutdown. seems like we're zeroing in on this bill number? a couple of subquestions, are republicans going to depend on democrat votes to get it? how many are they going to lose? if john boehner puts together a deal and puts it through with some democrats vote and losing republican votes will that hurt him in
the caucus, or hurt him politically or is that a sign of his strength in being a deal maker? >> i spoke what would happen, i was up on the hill yesterday and spoke two to members of the republican leadership separately and about different matters. at the end of the conversation i pud them aside are we going to the have a shutdown or not? one said yes and one said no. i think that kind of tells us you basic answer to the question this is very unpredictable and i'm not sure. forced prediction i think they will avoid a shutdown. republicans really don't want to see it happen. i don't think democrats by and large -- some say it will benefit democrats politically. i'm not so sure the democrats are sure this time as they might have been in retrospect. . . if he produces
that because his -- he's -- they're working very hard for the freshmen members and have been for months now, literally months. meeting with them in small groups to talk about keeping their eyes on the big issue which is going to be the fy12 budget and i think to the extent that they have convinced the freshmen members of the fy12 budget is the big issue, the leadership is going to get a little bit of a pass on the way that they avoid a shutdown of the government in the interim. if they allow freshmen members to say i stood up for my principles and we avoided the government shutdown because we
were focusing on fy12 that seems to be an acceptable political construct for the speaker. that doesn't lead to you a conclusion what happens to the fy12 budget which is another issue but it will get us through next week. >> you want -- same question. >> well, i agree with vin. i think there's a kind of -- in some ways a missing of the point. this is de minimis, really. this is nothing. we have a debt limit. the next time -- the budget of the next fiscal year? why are we getting into such a drawn out, politically potent fight over a relatively small share of the part of the federal bullets. you got to save your bullets for the real war and not a skirmish. i think boehner is the right guy for this because i think he's experienced. he's been in the minority, in
the majority. he is a speaker, maybe more in the tradition of more the democratic speakers that preceded newt. he is a person who can reach across the lines to the other party. he's got kevin mccarthy, you know, negotiating with the blue dogs. i think he understands that he has to win these fights, and he has to save those members of his party caucus who don't get it by making sure that they can, you know, vote no but have something happen that will keep the government from shutting down and making them all look bad. now the question is what are the democrats going to do? how cooperative will they be? i can't really fathom, vin, that they will prevent a deal from coming together and some will be tementdz to vote no but probably feel by and large they need to be part of the solution and not present a target to the problem but when you get to the debt
limit it gets harder for the democrats to put the votes up there. that will be a much harder vote because many of these new members because whether they fear renomination or re-election or don't care, one or the other and i think there's a little of both, they're not going to vote for what's happened in the past. this is as you know making sure there's enough money in your checking account to cover the checks you've written and there's a number of democrats who say, look, you're in charge now. it's your ball. you carry it through the line. i'm not sure there won't be some who will be part of that solution. but there'll be many who politically feel this is john boehner's job. this is his challenge. and they're not going to be part of making it easy for him. after all, it's never been the minority's role to help the majority in this context. >> i think that's entirely right. and the problem is the republicans, at least the new ones will say, but we cannot
write the checks so you have an excuse on both sides which is a lethal combination. >> i was interested in what dick was kind of saying in putting this c.r. fight in perspective. it's a tiny part of the problem. and in one respect, that's true, the other way in looking at it in terms of discretionary spending, this is -- i mean, while it's a small part of the problem, this is -- even if they do $30 billion the biggest cut in discretionary spending congress has ever made. and if i were the republicans i'd declare victory and go home because the democrats are now making their position cutting $30 billion. now, 3 months ago, 2 months ago paul ryan proposed it as his initial starting point for the republicans' position and it turned out not to be enough for the tea party people but when paul ryan approached it it was a monumental armageddon we can't cut that much terms of the debate have moved so far that's now the democrats' negotiating position. and the one other thing the debt limit and the shutdown question,
one republican said to me something really interesting yesterday which was, you know, kind of talking about, 30 billion, 60 billion is still a lot of money and the differences are small compared to when you look at the debt limit. and he said to me if we're going to have a shutdown, we should have a shutdown over something really big like entitlement reform or the debt ceiling. we shouldn't have a shut down, you know, over $30 billion. anyway, i thought -- >> but janet, i would think the republicans already depriving themselves of a victory by the way they are operating. >> to make it look like a big capitulation? >> right. >> just real quick on the government issue. i think this is a really important one. i'd like to see where the date was certain. the other problem with the debt limit we know it's coming but we don't really know when and so there's a lot of play in when we hit it and when it is. i've written that it's foolishly constructed. it's not a really good metric of our obligations. it needs to be fixed.
no one wants to do that. and the point this is a classic issue of the partisan vote. this is the majority's responsibility. they voted on a debt limit 10 times in the last 10 years and it split the vote nobody wants to take and that they, you know, attach onto something else. it's also an issue that the tea party has grabbed onto in an incredible way. and it's an issue where to jan's point it's not about $30 billion it's not about entitlement reform. these are the kinds of things that they want. in exchange for a debt limit vote, when, you know, we haven't even begun that debate and we don't even know when we're going to hit that limit, it's one -- it makes negotiating the dollar levels in particular count a heck of a lot of easier to simply talk about some of the bigger dollar longer term things and i think that is going to be an issue that plays out over the
summer in a very complicated way with, i think, a lot of disappointed people all around as we move towards the debt limit issue. >> i'll pick up on some of the other points. it's difficulty to be in john boehner's position. in some ways i think he's not in as difficult position as some people say in that all of you have mentioned that this is one fight, and there are others to come -- and i think the strategy all along for republicans has been, we want to find lots of opportunities to say to cut spending. we'll cut spending here at the short-term c.r., the c.r. at the end of the year. it's going to be a continuing theme and so for now i think speaker boehner can go to his tea party members and say, i look, i thought for you as much as i could and we have these other opportunities. all these other opportunities coming up soon. does it, a, help to get things done quicker. republicans are talking about laying off their budget next
week. do they need to get this done, to lay it out and can they tell tea party members, hey, we need to get this done and we're on to the next thing? what about these next battles? where do democrats especially feel we've done enough? we've just been through this round where we've given and we're not going to give anymore? what's the dynamic of the coming battles and how it affects the current showdown? >> well, i'll start. that's a big topic and i'm sure everybody will have a lot to say about it. i think it's important for the republicans to get their budget out there partially because it's important to find out what the democrats' response is going to be on the entitlement question. then we will have a somewhat better idea what the real playing field is going to be in this congress it seems to me. paul has decided -- has made it very clear and boehner has backed him up that they will say something about entitlements about their budget. we're not sure how specific it's going to be but they're going to put that into play. it seems very clear to me and i
think it is to every republican that i've talked to that nancy pelosi and the democratic caucus are going to come down on them like a ton of bricks on that entitlement issue. they're expecting that. the question then is what does the president -- what do the senate democrat leaders say -- does entitlement reform become as it has been sometimes in the past simply a straight-cut partisan issue? as somebody who really is concerned about the long-term debt, i think that would be a tragic thing. tragic not just for the republicans or the democrats but for the country 'cause i think it will eliminate the chance of entitlement reform until we have a fiscal meltdown in this country. i'm not prone to overstate things but i really believe it. so on the other hand -- i'm not saying the white house and the senate democrats have to embrace -- but if there's any opening at all to say, all right, let's sit down and talk about the right way to reform health care spending, lease seat of entitlement spending and let's see revenue is on the
table because democrats won't -- then there's an opening to actually make something happen that would be pretty big in the course of this congress. but until somebody leads and says, okay, we want to deal with entitlements, and forces the other party to say what they're going to do we just don't know what the playing field really is. >> it seems to me where we have to focus is the senate where we have 64 members saying they want a big comprehensive approach. you've got, you know, conrad crapo, johanns bennett, durbin, coburn and chambliss warner -- all these people colliding to figure out to do what really needs to do which is the broader fix. and hopefully everybody is learning about the importance of a relatively small portion of the budget that's called discretionary spending. and will think in terms of doing something far broader. and whether you take social security -- and often put it in a separate category or not it's
really about the burgeoning cost of medicare and medicaid. and net party is really prepared to step up to that in a fundamental way. i think republicans are most effective in attacking obama's health care proposals by saying they're cutting your medicare which is, of course, what democrats said about republican budgets during the '90s, you know, and it wasn't cutting. it was reducing the rate of increase, remember? so, you know, this has become the third rail even more than social security. and we don't really have an answer to it. and that's, ip, going to flow out of something that was announced yesterday about accountable care organizations and capitation and ways of reducing the cost of health care. but we're a long way from seeing that fully implemented and effective. so, you know, i hope that something can come together in the senate and then, you know, see whether there's a center in
the house that would support something like that. the conventional wisdom, of course, is that this can't be done before a presidential election. but i think the president would get involved if he felt, as he said, we're all getting in the boat at the same time. so that it isn't going to tip over. but that's a pretty tough thing to do. it's still something that ultimately will have to be done or we'll be reacting to a meltdown in the bond market or something that will give everyone the imperative of acting. >> i have to say listening to these guys and thinking about looking ahead, it always make me realize right now we're doing the easy stuff. i mean, this is like -- the c.r. is totally straightforward, cutting spending. i think it was senator durbin -- i hope i'm attributing correctly who said the c.r. is like algebra and doing entitlement reform is advanced calculus and i don't think there's a lot of people up there who's
integration in differentiating skills are up to task. i really see a climate and a receptiveness and a seriousness in the way people are talking about entitlement reform and debt and deficit reduction that's easy to overlook while all this partisan sniping is going on. you know, that doesn't mean that anything is going to happen like anytime soon but i just think people are laying the groundwork for a serious effort to change longer term policy and there are many, many obstacles in the way. when i was talking to paul ryan a couple of weeks ago he said something that sounds a little bit resigned, maybe we need another re-election before this stuff can really happen. and i don't know -- it's clear that paul ryan is very serious about putting something out on entitlement reform as the assumptions of his budget, the budget resolution itself, of course, doesn't make any specific policy changes.
it just sort of states an intention to do something. and vince is right it's not clear how specific he will be about what policies he thinks it's going to take to get to the targets. so once that's out there, then, you know, attention does tend to this gang of 6 in the senate where people are talking. so i have to say most of their discussions seems to be aiming in the direction not of the substantive changes that need to be made but some mechanism for setting targets that are -- that the targets become the action-forcing event and that sounds like all these sort of process changes that have been enacted in the past that have had mixed success in actually reducing the deficit. so -- i mean, there are a lot of questions. and, you know, if i had to bet right now, i'm not going to bet in public. [laughter] >> but anyway -- anyway, it's a really very interesting debate and kind of like the c.r. and i said before i wasn't quite sure
how they would get to april 8th. who knows what's around the corner, so -- >> i really agree with vin's comment that we're -- that the outlook is serious from a fiscal perspective. there's no question in that there's really serious issues and i think members are seeing what's happening in other developed countries. they're reading the papers and their members are truly concerned about the fiscally unstable outlook. and i have to agree with vin's comment. it's about the health care spending. social security becomes a small problem relative to the fact that the rate of growth of health care spending is in excess of the rate of growth of anything else. and so it will eat us all if we can't change that path. what that might mean, you know -- given all that, i don't actually think that there's -- that there's the strength in congress to make those health
care changes that are necessary in the near term. i think that there's too much -- you know, people have just lived through this once. they don't want to live through it again. there's too much focus on this repeal and not enough preparation for the replacement. and the issues are difficult. what i think that might mean if there's an opportunity to make progress is that it might mean that there's an opportunity to take a bite out of the smaller problem which is still a really big problem which is the social security issue. a couple things on that -- on that. one, i think that for the first time in the social security debate, i think there's an opportunity for people to look towards making improvements to the social security problem that we face rather than fixing it all together. and so if you look at various proposals on social security reform, all other proposals solved the problem. the problem is that congress never solves the problem. on a good day they make the
problem less bad. and so when we get serious about making changes to the social security system, it's when -- i think when we start to talk about incremental changes instead of wholesale changes. small changes in raising the retirement age that make the problem less worse. i think there's an opportunity at least for social security to come into the -- the reform to come in the forefront. one, because i think people don't want to tackle the health care issue but two, the president's fiscal commission which reported out last december -- i had the opportunity to serve as a consultant on the tax side of the commission but on the social security side, they put together a full proposal. they actually solved the problem by their mettic and a number of their members that have been mentioned on the senate side were members of the fiscal commission. and so there has been some work of recent on social security and a number of those key, the gang
of 6, coburn and others, maybe there's an opportunity to come. the last point, what i think would be unfortunate is if -- as jan was talking about some of the process reform issues. what i think would be odd is to link process vote with the debt limit. so to -- to pass a rule on a debt limit which takes away that rule or raises that limit, that's to avoid the process, repeal that process and instead impose another process. it seems to me you're not making the progress. >> could you ask you a question? >> sure. >> do you think we're about to roll grover norquist? [laughter] >> i think that in order to make -- in order to get the deals that need to be done, that's going to have to be part of the problem. >> there goes your invitation to
the wednesday meeting. [laughter] >> go ahead. >> i just want to come back -- i mean, to the point that janet brought up at least tangentially. something you hear often or at least i've heard often on different panels and settings i've been in the last few weeks is this notion well, we can't really deal with this debt and spending problem until after the next election. and people who put that point of view forward come from many different standpoints. one argument is, well, only a re-elected president obama free of the burdens of re-election can get this done. another version is, only a newly elected republican president with a fresh mandate can get this done. and the final version, which mainly you get out of the house republicans is we need to have another election in which there's an even stronger mandate for spending reduction than the last one. i just want to say i don't buy any of that. we have had the election. the best we're going to have in terms of a mandate for spending reduction.
tell me if i'm right. i don't remember any election in which deficit, debt and spending were as predominant an issue as in the last election. no election. we're not going to get another one of those. now, yeah, we didn't talk specifically about cutting social security and medicare and raising taxes, but spending deficits were the central issue in this last election. if we can't deal with this issue now, i'm just going to tell you, my view is it will be much, much harder after the next election. if not impossible. >> i would also add that for the two parties to be responsible and in charge of every element of the government and to implement this will put you in the political wilderness for a period of time. so why not do it when we have divided government, when, in fact, the blame will be assessed across the spectrum. i mean, i think politically both parties are better off in this environment than what they hope the next one will be. >> i want to open it up to the audience. i do have one last question i
want to get in so i'm going to throw it out there while the mics are moving around. i want to discuss how the house works, nancy pelosi, speaker boehner had an open rule which was quite entertaining and probably kept janet there late many night as we went through the budget in great detail. what do you make the way the house is working? and then i guess the -- related to that i want you to talk a little bit about speaker boehner. he was compared to earlier speakers but i want to ask vin, boehner versus gingrich but boehner versus boehner. what is boehner like now versus what he was like back in '95 and what he has learned to make him the speaker now? >> the gang of 7?
is that the group? >> yeah. i think -- that's a big question. i think one of the things that distinguishes john boehner -- and this may go to vin's point. he was a committee chairman. and that's important training. it's different than a lot of people who move up the leadership ladder and not through the committee process. john boehner really accomplished something remarkable. he was knocked off the leadership ladder, and then did what many people who get off the leadership ladder do. he went into the committee and decided to become a serious legislator but then he did something that almost never happened. he came back into the leadership process having been a pretty effective committee chairman of a committee that's very tough for a republican to chair. it's not a choice assignment usually for republicans. and he did a very good job. i think that affects the way that he performing as speaker in a fairly significant way and we'll see that play out as we go -- as we go forward.
the other thing i would say about speaker boehner -- newt gingrich -- compared to newt. newt gingrich really thought of himself as the leader of the republican party. i mean, there's no question in his mind that he was the leader of the republican party. other people might have questioned that. john boehner doesn't really think of himself that way. he gets a bad time and a lot of jokes made about him because his emotionalism. i think there's a genuine humility that runs through john boehner about the position that he's in, and he does not view his role in politics in anywhere near the same way that speaker gingrich did back in the 1990s. >> i was also going to point out that he was in leadership. he fell out of leadership so he's been in the room when these balancing tests have to be imposed. something that is not -- [inaudible] >> for example, who was the insurgent who not served very long in any leadership role before he was in charge. >> all right. why don't we open it up to the audience. we'll start with michael barone
here in the front row. i was going to say identify yourself at the microscope but i just did. >> michael barone with aei and the washington examiner. >> we know who you are. [laughter] >> speaker boehner, he was then minority leader boehner, gave a speak in this room i believe in september saying apropo of what vin and vick were saying that he was going to let committee chairmen have their lead in bipartisan legislations and committees such as the no child left behind act in which he worked with george miller which we considered was not a real bipartisan guy. and he -- that he would in effect abandon this majority of the majority rule and bring things forward. he did so on the ge engine question which was of some interest to his district. ge has a big plant in the
cincinnati era and they build jet engines. it's hard to speaker hassart -- speaker boehner to defund a project that they had in their local districter. denny hastert would not allow the defunding in his area. is there a sticking point well, on this one we just got to get the majority and we're going to set it up in a committee so we can't lose. >> boehner's promised to have wide open rules is really -- he allowed that on h.r. 1 the big c.r. and other rules were restraint so strictly speaking he violated the promise that everything would be wide open. i don't think anybody really thought he was going to do that on everything. i mean, you do have to run the house i don't think he's done that yet on any politically sensitive question but i think that's a really good thing to
kind of watch for. at some point -- i mean, one thing that really struck me what's watching the open rule debate on the continuing resolution -- there were hundreds of amendments. and while i don't see a lot of bipartisan bills coming out of committees, a lot of those amendments, the votes were bipartisan. you know, when you have a house rules committee that decides there are only going to be three amendments and the majorities controls it those will be amendments that will go up and down on party lines. if anybody will offer any kind of amendment they want, it turns out there were a lot of interesting coalitions for you political scientists in the room, it was probably a field day that you get to watch shifting coalitions on different issues where you propose abolishing the norb and you find out that actually there are a lot of republicans that don't want to do that. or you come up with this proposal to abolish the ge second engine for the joint strike fighter, which was, you know, antiearmark people and, you know -- people had been going after that for years. and it comes to a vote and when
the speaker of the house actually has a local interest in it and, you know -- i thought that was really remarkable. i kept looking around where the signs that john boehner is twisting arms on this and i didn't find them, so -- anyway, to your point then, i guess you're raising a good question i don't quite see what the end point is. i expect at some point he's going to use the power of the rules committee to control the outcome. it doesn't seem like he has yet. >> he will have to at some point but i think, michael, people have not really focused on is allowing the kind of debate and argument and amendment process that we saw in actually has been a pretty effective management tool for john boehner. he does indeed have a fraccus caucus. he has a third of his caucus that are new members. they were influenced by a grassroots conservative movement which we sort of call the tea party. >> it wasn't aimed at boehner it
aimed at washington leadership. and so managing this fraccus caucus is a difficult task. it served him well to have an open process and have people cord and build coalition that they want and at the end of the day not be able to say, well, the speaker in a heavy-handed way did what those tea party activists warned us he would do and try to shut us down. now, at some point that's going to come to a -- we're going to come to an issue that requires discipline and then we'll find out whether or not he can impose that. but up to now, i think that it's been a fairly effective tactic in allowing him to sort of coalesce the republican conference. >> i would say that he's getting a lot of benefit and will continue to for the next two years out of having one open rule. you know, that -- that went on for a week and it made an impression. so now he can close the rules process as he's done subsequently. and everybody will say, well, remember we had an open rule on
the whole budget? so, you know, he sort of defanged the argument. but specifically on the second engine, you know, i think you saw where the votes were and it was a very smart move to build his support among the tea party members, the new members of congress who will now say, well, he gave us is vote. and he didn't try to, you know, use his power. and so he's thinking down the road about the challenges ahead for him. >> i'm with the wilson center. the latest cnn poll on the tea party movement is kind of interesting. it shows that the american people's favorable ratings have gone down about 5 points to around 32% up about 21 points i think to 47% unfavorable. i'm just wondering whether -- and the other thing that came
out was that most of those unfavorable ratings came to people earning under 50,000. can you speculate as to why there's a more negativity? it's just the way the press or the democrats framing this or is something else going on there or how it may factor in the 2012 electses both -- elections both for presidential and 2012 elections? >> i have to say i have a hard time both as a reporter and just sort of as a citizen figuring out who the tea party is. i actually feel guilty every time i use it in my stories when i don't really know who they are. i mean, i think it's an interesting concept that has captured a whole spirit of the vote in 2010 that vin was talking about. and the interesting thing as a reporter is to figure out if you want the tea party point of view
who do you talk to? there are a couple of national tea party groups but you can't claim that those are representative of the tea party. they just happen to be people who kind of like to -- yeah. who have it in their name. and even when you get down to the level of -- i was reporting a few months ago on the tea party in maine 'cause i was interested in the question of whether olympia snowe was going to have a tea party challenge and she has more than one person identifying themselves as a tea party person. and i called one guy who has tea party blog oh, he's not really a tea party person so it can get kind of confusing. and so basically i kind of take my cue from members of congress themselves. if they identify themselves, as a kind of -- sympathizer tea party movement, i say what kind of politician is this? this is getting way too metaphysical of covering politics. i don't know what to make about
polls about people who i can't think about who they are. >> i think janet makes a very strong instructional point. we talk about the tea party and really don't know what it is. there are literally hundreds of organizations -- i'm not making that up, hundreds. somebody told me 1,000 or more organizations that call themselves tea party organizations. the tea party patriots, tea party buddies, tea party guys around the corner. there's an event that's going to be taking place in the next couple of weeks in minnesota. this will be the tundra tea party. [laughter] >> so there's lots of tea party folks around. in the congress itself, among the 80-plus freshmen members there's 10 at the very most 20 that you can look into their background and say, yeah, they've got some direct connection to a tea party organization in their district. the other 60-plus, you know, are certainly influenced by grassroots activity but they have no connection to it. but everything unpleasant happening around the country is blamed on the tea party and a lot of it is at the state level
and not the federal level and that's probably why the image of the tea party has gone somewhat downhill since the last election. >> and i also note that there are tea party members who are not freshmen. also. a lot of the votes that defected were not freshmen -- >> well, i think if anybody is trying to per sonfy michele bachmann. but it has been helpful to the democrats. you have to realize the republican party has become rather radical in many ways. 43% of identified republicans don't believe that obama was born in this country. that's going right to the legitimacy of the president. so -- i mean, i think there's a group of people in the party who are mad as hell and not taking it anymore. and they're really impacting how issues are dealt with here in washington. and at the state level. and it is one of the things that gives the democrats hope. and they had very little three
months ago. >> the only thing i'd add on the tea party is just the observation that it's a -- it's not a third-party. and they're operating within the republican party. and that was -- i think it's an important dynamic of obviously in the last election, but these are new voices or voices that have returned but these are republican candidates. i don't know if that will sustain itself in the future but at the moment we're talking about a division within the caucus versus a different party. and i think that affects the dynamics significantly. >> i've been looking this way. i'm going to turn this way and we'll go right here for questions. >> thank you. [inaudible] >> i'm a washington, d.c. tea party patriot. i would like to know whether janet or anyone else on the panel could give us an idea since you don't feel like you know who we really are, could you give us an idea -- do you
know what we really stand for? and if so, could you just inform us. thank you. >> well, i have a very clear sense of the kinds of issues that people who identify themselves as tea party activists -- and, you know, i talk to a lot of people on the tea party patriots, you know, concerns about the size of government and the levels of federal spending. i don't have any confusion in my mind about what people who identify themselves as tea party people -- what they believe in and what they're seeking. my confusion is kind of the political entity. do you see the difference? >> okay. why don't we go in the back here. if you could just identify yourself. >> thank you. tea party people just believe in limited government. it's real simple. last year, if i could say and then i'll ask my question 5.5 total federal and state that's 3.1 if anybody would like to check that out and then indirect
costs were about 2.5 trillion according to atr's cost of government. so you've got 8 trillion of government-created costs last year in a 14.5 trillion economy. so that's what tea party people and limited people government in general are concerned about. my question is, 2000 and 2006 -- the charge has always been republicans had complete control, quote-unquote. but in the senate on average they had just 53 seats. so is that complete control? and why didn't the republicans ever respond to that? >> yeah, i'd like to say that the notion of the senate ever being controlled by anybody is a little foreign to me. i mean, it's kind of -- it's a very -- it's an institution that parties have a hard time controlling even when they have a majority. and even when the democrats had the magic number of 60, they had
a hard time controlling outcomes. i mean, to talk about a party controlling the senate assumes that everybody in the party votes the same way and there are no filibusters. so i don't know -- i mean, i think in the senate, it's -- the majority party -- there's a sense that they have a responsibility rather than they have more responsibility than the minority party, but i think -- i think the democrats are -- have come to appreciate themselves especially now with the republicans controlling the house that having a majority in the senate is very far from controlling things. >> why don't we go right here. >> thank you. chuck rostum from gannett. as we're speaking this morning there's a hearing on the aarp and its nonprofit status. and you add that to the list of planned parenthood, npr and big bird and epa, defunding epa, i'm
wondering congressman weber, if you're concerned that this new republican majority in the house has been branded as an ideological majority, more interested in defunding the left than in actually balancing the budget? and i'd be interested in congressman fazio's comment on that as well. >> yeah, i am somewhat concerned about that. i want to clarify, though, the republicans -- the democrats wanted to say we should strip spending bills of all riders and deliver clean spending bills and i don't care that far because republicans -- if you think about it from a policy standpoint, the only policy leverage they have is to attach something to a spending bill. they're not going to pass a bill through the senate and get it signed in law by the president so they must -- whether it's -- i mean, you've identified the most emotive issues inland empire, big bird, higher
educational reform, epa regulation things they are really concerned about that are serious policy issues to republicans, their only ability to ability to impact those will put a rider and a bill on a must-pass spending bill. there has to be a process of compromise but at the end of the day they can probably get some of what they want. so i don't go so far as to say, i think, the republicans should skied to the democrats that we're going to pass, quote, clean spending bills. i am concerned that we've allowed a few very big symbolic issues to drown out at least in part this message that, i think, some people mentioned earlier that we've not made our case for our own success. we've cut spending for the first time maybe ever and that -- you know, yes, it's a drop in the bucket compared to the big -- big budget but it's still the first time we've done it and that's kind of getting lost in the argument about all these high profile and emotional issues. and that does worry me. >> i would just say that it's certainly been helpful to the
democrats by making the defunding of the left as you put it the centerpiece and that, i think, is stimulated -- a counter-reaction on the democratic side that has been lacking. you know, their base hasn't been energized. but maybe we give governor walker even more credit for that. but the bottom line here is, republicans would have been better off to do across-the-board cuts. i mean, they were always hard, you know, to pinpoint where the impact will be and everybody thinks well, government is too big so we could reduce it in size. but when you get into the specifics and start talking about truly de minimis amounts of money, just to make a point politically, i think you are way off-message and democrats aren't concerned about it. they are elated. >> i totally agree with you. the rhetoric of an across-the-board cut would be almost undeniable in this environment. you know, you mean we can't cut one-tenth of the federal budget? who will defend that given the
fiscal situation in the state and then the program becomes the issue rather than the amount of the cut. >> we will go back here. >> i'm from the hill. there's been some talk in the senate about raising revenue as well with the millionaire's tax or with reducing deductions people can make in their taxes. what do you guys think will happen if that makes it to the house? >> i would just say that i'm encouraged by the focus on tax expenditures that came out of the boll-simpson work and i think that's really where the senate is going to focus. i mean, there may be some efforts to increase taxes on upper incomed people but i think we need a total reform and we need to do a lot about tax expenditure. then i think there's bipartisan support growing for reducing rates, both on individuals and on corporations. but it's not going to be all
give and no take. there's going to have to be a kind of zero-sum game here. >> you can tell we're in different parties because i agree -- i think bowles-simpson put only the conceptual framework in which you can have a revenue increase. and it has considerable heartburn for both parties. if you're a republican it's a net tax increase and there's no reason why democrats would support it if it's not a net tax increase and that's hard. somebody mentioned grover norquist. that's what grover is objecting to. that's major league heartburn for republicans. if you're a progressive democrat, you're not -- you're not imposing a millionaire's tax. you're bringing down marginal rates on both individuals and corporations. that's the only way the republicans will support a net revenue increase if in the framework of a progrowth tax reform and republicans believe that reducing marginal rates on both corporations and individuals is a progrowth tax reform.
so you got a really difficult sell on both sides of the aisle for that but i think it's possible -- you know, ryan and the house republicans who voted against bowles-simpson have gone out of their way to make clear they did not do so because of the revenue provisions but of the failure of bowles-simpson of spending. but you do a revenue-raising progrowth and reform the tax agreed. but that's not going to happen. that's contrary to basic republican economic philosophy. >> okay, why don't we go right here. [inaudible] >> wait one second for the microphone. okay. great. >> i want to go back to the gentleman's question about the increase in unfavorbility of the tea party and mr. fazio's remark
about michele bachmann being -- identifying with the tea party and, you know, seeing herself as a leader. number one, is there a link between some of the high powerful politicians like michele bachmann and sharron angle and the drop -- or the increase in unfavorable -- the unfavorable side of tea party? >> my own view -- quickly, i don't think it's individuals. i think it's fights that are going on that are unpopular in the country and i come back to the state level you see in the popularity of john casic and scott walker and the other -- even governor christie go down as they've had to deal with issues in their own states. and inevitably democrats do a pretty good job of labeling everything that's unpopular as being tea party. but my own view is that it's not linked to these individuals who are trying to run to the head of the parade, if you will. i mean, that's not clear to me
that there is any leader of the tea party but many people would like to make themselves the leader of the tea party. >> i'd just add that i think there's a natural factor behind some of these polls in the sense that it's difficult to sustain an eagerness and happiness and support in any movement, in any party. i was out in arizona a couple months ago with a tea party patriot at a conference that they had organized. and a number of people remarked that one of -- from the tea party perspective, one of their concerns is the ability to keep things going. i mean, it's just -- i mean, people are working -- those, whoever they are, these tea partiers, they're working very hard and holding down full-time jobs at the same time. and to some extent, you know, it can get tiring after a while and the momentum can be lost and i think a lot what happened in washington and in the political process has to do with momentum.
you know, one of my biggest concerns with bowles-simpson -- and i worked on it is that i'm concerned that we lost the momentum. there's an opportunity to grab hold of that, the set of recommendations and run with them. and instead there was a bit of a pause. it wasn't really picked up in the president's budget. and a lot of things with age, you know, the excitement around them can start to dissipate and that's true, i think, for politicians issues as well as political issues. >> we might have time for one more question. we got a question right here. the microphone is coming. >> thank you. i'm from nhk. after the 2010 elections a lot of republicans said this is their last chance to make good on their promises because in the previous times they end up with a huge loss in '06 and '06 and
do you think in this 100-day period the republicans lost a sense of urgency or do you think that it's still a race against time towards the 2012 election? >> i don't think the republicans lost any sense of urgency. i think quite the opposite. part of what we talked about before is they feel a sense of urgency on every single bill that's coming up as opposed to looking at the broader picture of the big budget so i don't think there's any sense of loss of urgency. the question, and i think it is still a question 'cause i don't know how it's going to be answered is, can they come to grips with the realities of the budget as opposed to the campaign rhetoric about the budget? and i said earlier, and i really believe this, we've never had an election in which we focused more on the deficit and spending and i think that conditions the environment. nonetheless, you know, the rhetoric out of politicians of both parties about it was not particularly helpful in terms of
getting us towards the solution we want. democrats would have you believe it can all be solved by raising taxes on upper incomed people and republicans is finding that line in the budget entitled waste, fraud and abuse. it's not true. we now are facing the situation we have to talk about, social security, medicare revenues and defense, which we haven't talked about yet today. all of which are much more difficult than taxing somebody else than finding waste, fraud and abuse. >> and the sense of urgency, it takes me back to my earlier point about the difference between now and 1995. since 1995, both parties have had this experience of gaining power, reading what they think is their mandate and then being thrown out either because they misread their mandate or they didn't deliver on their promises and i think that's the sense of -- that's in part why they have more of a sense of urgency. they know that the electorate right now is pretty volatile.
there's a big chunk of independent voters that have been a big part of the independent party movement. and, you know, if they don't -- if they don't deliver it's not clear a lot of the tea party voters will go democratic. they might just stay home. >> i'm going to give one last chance of the panelists to say a little wrap-up of anything they didn't say about the 112th congress or where we might be going. so why don't i start with alex and come down the line for a couple of last comments. >> i think i've made all my points. i'm happy to yield my time. [laughter] >> yeah. i don't know. i guess -- yeah, i guess i have, too. [laughter] >> i would just like to play off something vin just said in response to the last question, and that is, you know, we have been dancing around budget issues for so many years. you know, tax the rich, waste, fraud and abuse. that was ronald reagan's
favorite. and we never really dealt with the problem and it's gotten bigger and bigger and more and more difficult to resolve. and that's why, i think, whether it's bowles-simpson or dominici-revlin or others out there. we have begun to come to some bipartisan agreement that we can't kick the can down the road that much longer. and, you know, it's causing everybody to come in from their ideological perch that was so comfortable that they've kind of become whetted to it. how we resolve this is yet to be determined. but at least we have people out there, you know, pushing us in that direction. i really believe that politicians -- and i'm certainly one of them have contributed to this attitude that the public has which is that we can do it all by cutting your pay, welfare and foreign aid.
the things that really matter growingly in the federal budget are the tough ones, not the -- not the symbolic ones. and yet the public is nowhere near adequately informed about that reality. they just don't know that. and, you know, it's been easier to keep them in the dark because it would have meant everybody having to give up some of that ideology. so, you know, i think that's the encouraging news maybe out of the election subsequently. but i think it's no longer a partisan agenda. it's now gotten to be a bipartisan one or we won't get any further than we've gotten in the last 30 years. >> might it happen in this budget? i mean, obviously, it will be closer to the presidential elections. is this the time or when is the time if you're hopeful? >> i think now is the only time. if it doesn't happen now, i'm deeply pessimistic. i'm going to use my last comment to do something i shouldn't do which is not to sum up what we've said but to raise a
totally new issue that we haven't talked about. but i think as we look forward, what i -- i think that there's an indication that we're going to have a national security debate in this country that we haven't seen for a long, long time and the reason i say that is because i'm looking at what i've seen from some republicans that would be very surprising. it would have been shocking a few years ago. you had the senators on the bowles-simpson commission talking about reductions in the defense budget which secretary gates promptly called, quote, catastrophic. to see republicans talking about that is not something we've ever seen before. hal haley barboru calling for reductions in the defense budget, the much maligned michele bachmann has come out -- flatly against doing anything we're doing in libya. that doesn't endear her to the neocons. i'm looking at the tea leaves in all of this, no pun intended, by
the way, in saying, you know, we're going to -- at some point we're going to have a debate about national security that we haven't had for a long time in this country. it's going to have to do with intervention. it's going to be heavily influenced by the cost of our military budget and of those interventions. and it can be a good thing but it's going to be something we haven't seen for a long time in this country. >> wow, join me in thanking the panelists for a great panel. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> meet one of our top winners in this year's studentcam competition. this year theme asked students to produce a video about an event, issue or topic that helped them better understand the role of the federal government. today, we go to fairfax, virginia to talk to one of our third prize winners nathan krauss. he's a senior at fairfax academy. >> hello. >> what led you to have a documentary in the u.s. economy. >> i was given my assignment in fairfax to make a documentary for c-span's contest and i really don't like any school assignments. it's just a waste of time so when i looked at the prompt for the contest i decided to focus on the topic that i actually wanted to learn more about. and like i said in the beginning, i've been hearing so much about the economy in the news for the last years, i really just wanted to learn more and get a better understanding where we're at as a country. >> how has you been personally impacted by the u.s. economy?
>> from what my dad told me, my parents had my college savings invested in stocks and bonds and when the recession hit in 2008 we basically lost all the investments have gained over the years we've been cutting back on a lot of expenses to try to save up money. my dad started biking to the metro and returned the cable box and when the interest rates dropped my parents were able to refinance our house. >> you said the government messed up. what do you mean by that? >> i was basically summarizing what professor johnson, my dad had told me about the causes of the 2008 recession. so the federal reserve had really loose policies when it came to giving out loans and what it ended up happening is a lot of the -- a lot of the people went into debt and couldn't pay back the banks and when people can't pay the banks, the banks can't pay back their debts to the other companies and it all becomes a really big mess. >> and what is the state of the economy right now? >> from what i hear in the news,
it sounds like the state of the u.s. economy is definitely improving, you know, there's still a lot of issues of unemployment, inflation but we really recovered from some of the problems caused by the 2008 recession. >> in your documentary, you picked noel johnson, he's an economic professor at george mason university. why did you choose him? >> when i set up to make my film i wanted to interview somebody who really knew what they were talking about. i mean, not like my dad doesn't know what he's talking about but i wanted to find somebody who could really teach me about what's going on. since george mason university is right by my house i emailed a bunch of economic professors there. since he knows more about the economy than economics professors and professor johnson was basically just the first to respond and i went ahead and interviewed him. >> and so what are your concerns about the future of the u.s. economy? >> there's a chance that the government could end up sacrificing our investment as professor johnson said to pay off these debts that we've accumulated from things like the stimulus package. and, you know, the economy
regularly declines and improves and declines and improves but the government could potentially hurt us in the long run by giving us tons of debt for an immediate recovery. >> what have you learned from working on this documentary. >> i learned a lot. i learned about the low interest rates which i never even heard about and i just kind of got a better idea that how the government handles an economic crisis. but i think more importantly i learned a lot about the financial situation of my family and it was really surprising to think how my college savings could easily just disappeared in the stock market and how difficult it is to recover from something like that. >> well, nathan, thanks for talking with us today. >> no problem. >> and now here's a portion of nathan's documentary, the national economy through my lens. >> does everyone benefit from these interest rates in the same way that i do? >> well, we were fortunate that we were able to qualify for a good low rate because we had good credit. you know, we always pay our credit bills off every month.
we try not to carry much debt. and a lot of people have a hard time getting loans especially now because after the mortgage crisis, the government clamped down and the investors are much more cautious about lending money now so their criteria for making loans are much tougher than they were before. banks are not lending the money as much as we'd like them to. people are not borrowing the money as much as we'd like them to do. the reason that's the case is partly because they're afraid to do business. partly because they're afraid interest rates are going to become negative. >> i know a lot of people probably can't get the kind of loans that they want to get now so maybe they're going the opposite direction now and they're making things too tough. >> and you can see this entire video and all the winning documentaries at studentcam.org and continue the conversation at our facebook and twitter pages. >> the u.s. senate gaveling in.
senators will begin the day with general speeches. at 4:30 eastern they turn to a judicial nomination with a vote on the nomination scheduled for 5:30 eastern. off the floor negotiations continue on federal spending for the remainder of the budget year. funds run out on friday. the house will vote today on reducing the pentagon's printing budget by 10%. you can see live house coverage on our companion network c-span. live senate coverage now here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, the architect and sustainer of our destinies, you
are the source and center of our highest joy. bring into this chamber a unity that will destroy cynicism, criticism, and complacency. lord, we need this unity to maintain a government worthy of those who have sacrificed so much for freedom. as the american people view today's deliberations, may they sense a fresh civility and respect that are truly exemplary. let your kingdom come. let your
will be done on earth as it is in heaven. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., aprill 4, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable michael f. bennet, a senator from the state of colorado, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore.
mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid:. mr. reid: there will be a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. following morning business, the senate will proceed to the executive session to consider the nomination of jimmie v. reyna to be united states circuit judge. we will vote on that at 4:30 this afternoon. we will be able to vote on 1099. we've spent enough time on 1099. senators should expect two roll call votes thaous prior to the caucus -- tuesday prior to the caucus meetings on 1099. i've spoken to the republican leader. we think we may have it halfway
clear to finish small business jobs. we'll see how that works out. we'll work on that today and in the morning and certainly in our caucuses tomorrow afternoon. i'm told there are two bills at the desk due for second reading. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the titles of the bill for the second time. the clerk: 786, a bill sto* to stimulate the -- to stimulate the economy. h.r. 471, an act to reauthorize the d.c. opportunity scholarship program and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president, i object to any further proceedings with respect to these bills en bloc. the presiding officer: the objection is heard. the bills will be placed on the calendar with the provisions of rule 14. mr. reid: mr. president, the time we have left to work on a budget agreement is extremely short. , a window which we can avoid a
possible shutdown is closing quickly. it is no longer measured in months or weeks. we're now just down to a few days. in the time we have to get a long legislative process started in both houses is measured really in hours. it's clear that those sitting at the negotiating table have different priorities. that's true of aefrpb negotiation. but -- of any negotiation. but we all should share the same goal: to keep the country running and keep the economic recovery moving forward. we all want to cut the deficit. last week we agreed upon a number on which to base our budget. $73 billion below the president's proposal. agreements remain on where we should make those cuts. we worked through the weekend to bridge that gap. we made some progress. we're not where we should be yet. there is another way in which the sides remain separated. democrats have demonstrated throughout this process that we're willing to meet in the
middle. our republicans in the tea party continue to reject reality and insist instead on ideology. let me give a couple of examples. first, they refuse to recognize that h.r. 1, that is the budget the house passed, is going to happen. the tea party pushed it through the house over the objections of some republicans and all democrats. then the senate soundly defeated -- mr. president, even all republicans didn't vote for h.r. 1 in the senate. we all know the president would never sign it into law anyway. the republican party and the tea party need to admit that democrats have proven what the country already knows, that neither party can pass a budget without the other party and neither chamber can send it to the other -- i'm sorry, neither chamber can send it to the president without the other chamber. democrats stand ready to meet the republicans halfway and the senate stands ready to meet the house halfway. we hope our partners on the other side are willing to be just as reasonable.
second, tea party republicans refuse to recognize that their budget is simply an appalling proposal. they stomp their feet and call compromise a dirty word and insist on a budget that will hurt america rather than help it. it slashes programs for the sake of slashing programs. it chops zeros off the budget for nothing more than bragging rights. the authors and advocates either completely ignore the impact of their dangerous cuts or they know the damage it will do and simply don't care. either way it's not right. their budget won't do a thing to lower unemployment. in fact, it will cost the country 700,000 jobs. that's not my estimate, mr. president. that's the estimate of the head of moody's, independent economists who worked for democrats and republicans. it hurts seniors. it slashes funding for the social security administration, which means seniors and disabled americans who count on the
benefits they earn over a lifetime of hard work will have to wait for these benefits. in many cases those social security checks are seniors' only source of income. in some cases they are the only thing keeping them out of poverty. and those checks have nothing at all to do with the deficit. nothing. the republican budget will hurt women and their families. it cuts nutritional programs for women, infants and children. this program has nothing to do, mr. president, with the deficit. this program, the w.i.c. program, women, infants and children, this is a program for the poor, the very poor that our budget makes cuts to planned parenthood. they are based on ideology, not economics. planned parent hao*t does not contribute -- does not contribute to the deficit. their budget will also hurt our veterans. there is a successful program in this country that helps homeless veterans afford housing. democrats think that our
nation's veterans who are down and out, need a roof over their head and we think it's a worthy program. the republican budget nearly eliminates it. their budget will also hurt students. the tea party plan gives hundreds of thousands of impoverished boys and girls out of head start, a program to allow them to learn to read. little preschoolkids. it cuts college students' pell grants and slashes job training programs. that's no way to recover, mr. president. an independent economist analyzed the tea party's plan and found that it will actually put the brakes on economic growth. the point of this whole exercise, our budget, is to help the economy. democrats will not stand for a budget that weakens our economy. none of the people i've just mentioned led us into the recession. punishing innocent bystanders
like seniors, women, veterans and students will not lead us to recovery. this is what we mean when we say their budget is based on ideology and not reality. this is what we mean when we say the republican and tea party budget slashes irresponsibly and when they refuse to relent on dangerous cuts, many of them have nothing to do with the deficit. that's what we mean when we say that either side -- i'm sorry. that's -- i'm sorry, mr. president. and when they refuse to relent on those dangerous cuts, many of which have nothing to do with the deficit. that's what we mean when we say the other side simply isn't being reasonable. mr. president, our national budget reflects our values and the tough choices that we make. democrats have made many tough choices because we know the sacrifices are the cost of consensus and we believe they're worth it. but we've never forgotten that what we cut is more important, is not more important than how much we cut. in addition, the many choices about what to slash and what to
keep, the republican leadership has another very big choice to make. it has to decide whether it will do what the tea party wants it to do or what the country needs it to do. i'm hopeful we'll make the right choice and we can come to a timely agreement. but the bottom line is this: at the end of the day we're all on the same side. time, however, is not on our side. i yield the floor, mr. president. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: amidst all the other business we'll be facing this week, i'd like to note a well come development in the war on -- a welcome development in the war on terror. for the last two years, the obama administration has actively sought to bring the 9/11 plotters into our communities for civilian trials, a completely horrible idea. that rightly drew overwhelmingly bipartisan opposition from the american people and from their elected representatives here in congress.
today the administration is announcing that it has changed course. the administration, incredibly enough, today is announcing it has changed course. and that khalid sheikh mohammed and the others who plotted these terrible attacks, today the administration is announce tag it changed course and that khalid sheikh mohammed and the others who plotted these attacks will be tried in military commissions at guantanamo bay, rather than at a civilian court in new york or some other u.s. stivment i remember autumn of our discussions on this issue over the last two years. the president issued an executive order on day one to close guantanamo down, indicated they were glg to mainstream that's terrorists under the u.s. court system. so this change today is truly a welcome development. the administration is announcing
that k.s.m. and the others who plotted these crimes will be tried in a proper jurisdiction -- these military commissions -- at the proper place for these commission trials -- guantanamo bay. this is the right outcome to the long and spirited debate that preceded this decision. military commissions at guantanamo, far from the u.s. mainland, were always the right idea for a variety of compelling reasons, which and others have enumerated repeatedly over the last two years. for the sake of the safety and the security of the american people, i'm glad the president reconsidered his position on how and where to try these detainees. going forward, this model should be the rule rather than the exception. i'm sure this decision will draw widespread approval and it is
very welcome news. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:30 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: mr. president, i'm going to come back at 4:00 today because there's something that's going on with all the people that are talking about the atrocities in libya and throughout the middle east. there's one more atrocity that's taking place right now in a country called cote d'ivoire in
west africa. and i want to make sure that i get on record in that i believe our state department ask wrong in the position that they have taken -- is wrong in the position that they have taken on this. we can right now avert a real tragedy, something maybe comparable to what happened in 1994 in rwanda with the genocide. so i want to come back and talk about that, but i'm going to do that sometime around 4:00 this afternoon. in the meantime, the business at hand is the amendments -- are the amendments to the small business act. the amendment that has been most talked about and is the one that i have authored along with senator mcconnell is the same thing as the bill that i introduced some time ago with fred upton, congressman fred upton of the house, and myself, inhofe, of the senate. that's something that's going -- to give you a little background, let me say this has been about a
nine-year battle for meevment i've gone all the way back to kyoto when we talked about the fact that we are going to have to do something to limit greenhouse gases. at that time -- this was this is a national treaty. it was during the clinton-gore administration. and everyone at that time stated and felt, and i agreed with because no one said anything to the contrary, that greenhouse gases or anthropogenic gases, methane, co2, causes catastrophic global warming. everyone believed that. that all started with the united nations, the intergovernmental panel on climate change. many years ago back in the 1 1990's. then as we -- there was a wake-up call and we thought, why should we, as the united states of america, sign on to a treaty when the rest. world wasn't going to do it, when it was going to be difficult for us to -- difficult
for us economically and it would not affect the developing world? so we passed a resolution saying we weren't going to do t right after that in 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2009 and as recently as last year different members have introduced legislation that would impose this -- almost the same thing as the kyoto treaty on us, and that is cap and trade. what i did -- and at that time republicans were in the majority. i was the chairman of a committee called the environment and public works. in that committee it was -- we thought we better look at this to make sure that the science is there. now, mr. president, this is important because we had found out that for us to pass a cap-and-trade bill, the cost would be somewhere between $300 billion and $400 billion a year. so my feeling was, as chairman of that committee, let's find out if in fact it is -- it is,
you -- it is -- you know, the science is there. we will, scientists started coming to me, one after another after another after another, when they knew that i was going to question the legitimacy of the science and said, you noshing the science isn't there. we're getting the opportunity to get our views this. that became reality. the waxman-markey bill came over from the house. we're talking about something that would cost the american people between $300 billion ands 400 billion a year. now, sometimes i'm not quite as smart as some of the guys around here, when you talk about billions and trillions of dlarks i like to look and see how does that feactd my state of oklahoma. i have the tax returns filed by oklahomans and i do the math and when you do the math with $300 billion to $400 billion a year, that means it would cost my average taxpayer who files a tax
return in oklahoma, a little over $3,100 a year. if that's going to stop the world from coming in, maybe that's whrnlg it. what do you get for that? even lease is jackson, the administrator of the environmental protection agency, and of course she's one that was apopts pointed by president obama, when we asked her -- and i asked they ar her in a public, if we were to pass any of these cap-and-trade bills that would be so costly to americans, what would it do in terms of greenhouse gases? her response was, we will, it would do very little of anything because that would only affect the united states of america. that's not where the problem s the problem is in places like china and mexico. as we lost our jobs to other states, obviously it will end up increasing the emissions of co2. so that'sed kind of where we were. we had the passed all these thifntion and so with the
president just absolutely committed to doing something about the emissions of co2, he decided that he would do it through regulation. what he could not do through legislation. so we had legislation that couldn't pass and so obviously he went ahead and started saying that we're going to let the e.p.a. do the same thing as we would have done in the -- with legislation. now, that again would cost the american people between $300 billion and $400 billion a year. we will, to do that, you have to have what -- well, to do that, you have to have what -- this is kind of in the weeds, mr. president -- you have to have an endangerment finding. it has to be a proclamation by the administration and has to be based on science. a year and a half ago right before the copenhagen event, we had, again, lisa jackson, the administrator of the e.p.a., a very fine person, one who was courageous enough to tell the
truth when asked a question. she was in and i asked the question again in a public forum. i said, director jackson, i'm going to leave for copie copenh. i am going to be a one-man truth squad. now, if you're going to do this through the administration, that means you have to base it on some type of science. i asked the question, what type of science -- what type of science will you base this type of science on, the endangerment finding? the answer was the ipcc shall the intergovernmental panel on climate change. it all started with the united nations. and we're going to be in a position to look and see just what -- you know, where we would go from here. so with that, coincidentally -- and it wasn't by design -- somebody uncovered a lot of e-mails and things over in europe that totally defunked or
discredited what they were trying to do over there with the science. nerksdz the ipcc was cooking the science. i think we all know that. so now we have an effort to use an endangerment finding to try to do this by regulation. and they're just going full ahead as much as they can. i have to say that it's my feeling that this obama administration, they don't really want to have fossil fuels. when i say that, i will back up some things by stating what the administration has said. the secretary of economic policy says the administration believes it is no longer sufficient to address the nation's energy needs by finding more fossil fuels. we're talking about oil, gas, coal -- fossil fuels. then there's another statement that was made to the extent the lower tax rate encourages overproduction of oil and gas, it is detrimental to long-term
energy security. what this is, the administration is saying we want green -- we want green nrpg. that's fine. we all want green energy and after i'm dead and gone, aim sure the technology will be there and we'll be able to run this country on green energy. in the meantime, you can't do it without oil, gas, and coal. right now we're dependent on coal for 50% of all of our energy. i would like to say also, if i can find it -- yes, here is another statement. this is out of the obama administration, mr. president. steven chu, secretary of energy, told "the wall street journal," "somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in europe." in other words, unless we get the american people really complaining about high price of gas, we're not going to be doing nismg so the bottom line here, they're trying to boost the price of gas to do that. this is the surprise here. i couldn't have said this a year ago, but the c.r.s., congressional research, which sprich not challenged, they --
which pretty much is not challenged, they came up with the fact -- put the first chart up -- that we in the united states have more recoverable reserves in oil, gas, and coal than any other country in the world. here we are right here. the next is russia. next to that saudi arabia. you can see here, we have more than saudi arabia, china, and iran all put together. that's us right there. that's the united states of america. we have those reserves. now, you'll hear people say, we will, we don't because we only have 3% of the world's supply of oil and gas. well, they're saying that because they're using the term "proven reserves." in order to have proven reserves, you have to drill to find out and prove that the oil is there. obviously if we have a government, an administration who won't let us drill for oil and gas, then obviously we can't be proven. so we have to go by recoverable. and no one will argue with this -- w well, they might argue but
they can't do it with a straight face -- that recoverable reserves are very, very large. here's what we have in caves oil right here -- in case of oil right here. it is -- this amount here. 135 billion barrels of oil, 83% of the oil. by the way, 83% of the oil that would be on public lands, we won't allow ourselves -- or the liberals in this body won't allow us -- and the white house -- to drill because they have their -- not just the moratorium but they stop us sometimes through permits. but we have enough oil to run this country for 50 years without being reliant upon anybody else, without being reliant upon certainly the middle east or any of the rest of our hemisphere. now, if we were to go ahead and with the friendlies in our hemisphere -- canada, mexico -- we could be independent of the middle east in a very short period of time.
in natural gas, we have huge -- oh, i'm sorry. coal -- in coacialtion the united states has 28% of all the coal. and that's a very significant thing. as far as natural gas is concerned, we have enough natural gas to actually run this country for 90 years. at the rate we're using natural gas now, only on our own, if we would allow ourselves to go ahead and -- and produce it. so that's where we are right n now, and, of course, we have -- i would be remiss if i didn't say we've been wanting my amendment. it's amendment number 183 to the small business act. we've been trying to get it up for three -- three weeks now and several times it's been postponed. i think it's been postponed for one of two reasons. either the -- they don't have the votes to stop it, and according to senator manchin from west virginia, who stated just the other day there are 12
or 13 democrats willing to vote for my amendment and you get all the republicans, that would be enough to reach 60 and pass my amendment. what does my amendment do? it takes away the jurisdiction from the environmental protection agency from regulating greenhouse gases. simple as that. so we -- maybe we have the votes there. but the other reason is -- and i don't blame the leadership on the other side of the aisle, they don't want to subject their senators to voting, to have to cast a vote that would make -- that would allow the e.p.a. to continue harassing and overregulating manufacturers and refineries and businesses and farmers and -- and the rest of america. well, there are two votes that are out there that they've been offering as cover votes. one's the baucus amendment and the other's the rockefeller amendment. the baucus amendment would exempt some of the smaller ones. frankly, i think everyone knows that that is something that really wouldn't work. in fact, somewhere here i have the quotes from the american
farm bureau. well, i don't have it right here but by and large what they say is that they want to be sure that everyone understands that you can't pass the baucus amendment because that will just -- you -- you could exempt some farmers and some other smaller people, schools maybe, churches, but with the higher price of energy, it all trickles down to them. so that's why the american farm bureau, the association of manufacturers and others are very much in -- in favor of my amendment. the other one is the -- the rockefeller amendment that would merely delay it for two years. the reason i'm opposed to this -- and on the floor of the senate, senator rockefeller made some statements on the floor the other day that weren't very flattering and that's unlike him because normally that's not the way he would do. he -- unfortunately my effort was dubbed as -- quote -- a childlike, immature, and, yes,
you guessed it, crazy too." but i would only say that over the years that senator rockefeller has stated that the e.p.a. -- well, i'll just read you what he has stated. "e.p.a. has little or nor authority to address economic needs. they say they do but they don't. they have no ability to incentivize and deploy new technologies. they have no obligation to protect the hard-working peopl people," and on and on and on. so i would agree with those statements of senator rockefeller. i would just say that if you're going on get rid of this thing, this overregulation, let's go ahead and do it. let's don't just postpone something for two years. we have documentations from various companies, industries that say we are going to put something in place that's going to employ a large number of people but we -- we can't do it so long as the uncertainty is -- is out there. the -- point comfort in texas, 1,182 jobs were lost.
they wanted to -- they were planning a formosa plastics that had been planned, planning a $1 billion operation and expansion. it would have employed 700 construction jobs, 357 service jobs, 125 full-time operations and maintenance jobs and yet they're not doing it because of the regulation that's taking place and the uncertainty of what the e.p.a. is going to be doing to us. elderado, arkansas, similar situation. the arkansas-based lion oil was forced to delay several hundred million dollars of refinery expansion because of the uncertainty of the regulation by the environmental protection agency. louisiana, the same thing, 1,850 jobs that are lost. so i would only say this, i've had people ask me over the years, and they say, inhofe, what if you're wrong? well, this is what i would say and how i respond to that. when you stop and say, if i'm wrong and the -- actually the greenhouse gases do cause catastrophic global warming, if
that's the case, then you're not going to resolve it by having united states of america do something unilaterally. the chinese are over there celebrating right now, hoping that we'll pass something to stop us from -- from regulatin regulating -- or make us regulate greenhouse gases because those jobs, as we have them -- and we have all the figures on this if anyone's interested, my web site is inhofe.senate.gov. we can quantify the money lost and jobs involved. stop and think about it. anyone who's a comparable state to oklahoma, do you really want to increase your taxes by over $3,000 a year and you get nothing for it? with that i would just make another appeal to the administration and to the -- t the -- the democrats here in the senate to call a vote on my amendment number 183. just call it and let's get this thing behind us. let's try to save energy for america. with that, i will yield the floor.
mr. kyl: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: thank you, mr. president. i want to compliment my colleague from oklahoma for the leadership that he's exercised with respect to the rogue environmental protection agency attempting to regulate in effect what we breathe and the job-killing program that would result from the regulations that would be prohibited from being adopted were the inhofe-mcconnell amendment to be adopted by this body. and i share his desire that we be able to vote on that and stop these onerous regulations from being put into effect. mr. president, the other thing i'd like to talk about -- may i ask unanimous consent to speak -- not to exceed 15 minutes in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: thank you. i want to address two things but starting with health care. i recall that during the debate over health care -- and we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the signing of the health care legislation a little over a week ago -- but i recall the then-speaker of the house, nancy pelosi, saying that
we'll have to pass the bill in order to find out what's in it. and i don't think she realized how true her statement really was. i just read something over the weekend from a march 31 edition of the "washington examiner." would ask unanimous consent to insert article bayhron york in the record at the -- by ron york in the record at the conclusion of my remarks. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: i'll just read the first sentence and a couple of other items from it. the headline is: "uncovered, new $2 billion bailout in obama-care." here's the first sentence. "investigators for the house energy and commerce can committe have discovered that a little-known provision in the national health care law has allowed the federal government to pay nearly $2 billion to unions, state public employee systems, and big corporations to subsidize health coverage costs for early retirees." and then the article goes on to point out that they discovered this in oversight hearings of an
obscure agency known as the ccio, or the center for consumer information and insurance. the idea under the law apparently was to subsidize unions and states and companies that had made dmoiments provide -- commitments to provide health insurance for workers who retired early. and they pointed out there was a $5 billion appropriation in the bill and that at the rate of spending by this agency, they'll burn through the entire $5 billion as early as 2012. and where is the money being sent to? well, by far and away the biggest single recipient is the united auto workers labor union, which so far had received well over $200 million. other recipients include at&t, verizon, general electric, general motors corporation, and a few states' public employees retirement systems. but by far and away the
contribution to the united auto workers and the teamsters and united food and commercial workers was -- was far and away more than the amount of money sent to the state pension funds. the point here being, mr. president, that we learn something new almost every week about obama-care. as i said, it was just a little over a week ago that it celebrated its first anniversary and we're only now discovering some of the things that were hidden away in it, which i think had we been able to debate the bill in a more appropriate fashion -- remember, it passed on christmas eve day of the year before last -- that we probably would have been able to discover these things. had the bill been read, had we had time to read all of the fine print. these are the kind of things we were -- we discovered. and i suspect that the -- that the proponents of the bill, those who voted for it, might not have been so quick to vote for it. maybe we'll have a chance to
repeal this particular provision of the bill if there's any money left that hasn't been unspent by the time we get around to doing that. i'll propose to my colleagues that we try to accomplish that. a second thing with respect to obama care that continues to trouble me is something called the independent payment advisory board. and this is troublesome for three reasons, two of which have to do with process and the third the substance. the independent payment advisory board goes by the acronym of apab, and it was created in order to try to find savings in the medicare program. now, obviously we have read a lot about the billions, tens of billions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse in medicare. the problem is, this -- this board is not likely to get at that waste, fraud and abuse because its primary mission -- in fact, it is restricted to finding cost savings only as a
result of reducing the payments to providers. in fact, james caperetta of the ethics and policy center has done some very good writing on this, and he notes that the board is strictly limited to what it can recommend and implement and that the board can only -- i'm quoting here -- "cut medicare payment rates for those providing services to beneficiaries." well, that's a problem because it doesn't get to the real heart of where a lot of the waste, fraud and abuse in medicare is. and, secondly, and i'll conclude my remarks with this main point, when you cut the payment rates for the doctors, for example, who are taking care of medicare patients, what happens? you get fewer doctors willing to take care of medicare patients. we're all familiar with the stories in our own states of more and more physicians either not taking any medicare patients or at least not taking any new medicare patients. and the result of that is there are far fewer doctors available to treat folks with the result that there is a much longer waiting time for people to get the care they need and the end
result of that is, of course, that care delayed is frequently care denied. that's the problem that exists in our countries like great britain, our neighbor to the north canada, and it's coming to your own community here pretty soon as a result of the fact that we're not paying the physicians and other providers enough as it is. and yet that's the only thing that ipab can do to further reduce the costs. but i mentioned two procedural problems. the first is that this board is comprised of 15 unelected bureaucrats -- the president makes the appointments. he does not have to balance them politically so they could all be members of one political party. he can make recess appointments so the senate may not even have an opportunity to pass on these individuals. and the second procedural problem is that when they make their recommendations, it comes to the congress in a take-it-or-leave-it procedural posture. that is to say, either congress adopts the recommendations of
the board or a number equal to that with what we decide ourselves as the appropriate way to achieve that amount or the department of human -- of health and human services must implement the board's original recommendations, period. that's it. so we're ceding authority here to an unelected board of people whose -- whose political views could reflect, for example, only those of the president of the united states and whose recommendations almost automatically become law. only if the congress within a specified period of time is able to recommend an alternative that can -- can get the votes and it would have to be a 60-vote majority, would the recommendations of the board be overridden. so for procedural reasons, this was not the right way to tackle the problem of costs of the medicare program that we do need to get a handle on.
it's a very undemocratic approach. but as i said, the procedure is just part of the problem. the real question is, how are we going to address costs in medicare? now, we're going to see some very innovative ideas from the house of representatives, from the budget chairman, paul ryan, this week when the house budget is released and he tackles the tough problem of helping to constrain the costs of medicare. one of the ways that i find very unappealing to control medicare costs is by putting a cap on how much we can spend and by reimbursing the providers, in particular physicians, with that particular cap in mind. and as i said, the reason is because physicians -- it's going to cost physicians a certain amount of money to take care of each patient, and if they cannot be reimbursed in an amount sufficient to cover their expenses and a little bit more, they're simply going to turn to other kinds of patients. they've already turned away from medicaid patients because
medicaid does not reimburse at a level that meets their requirements, and as a result, i mean, it is a dirty little secret in the medical profession that medicaid is rationed health care and that's not right. because these are the poorest in our society. they need support. they need help. but they have to wait a long time. and a lot of times there just aren't the people to take care of them. now we're going to convert the system that takes care of our senior citizens into the same kind of, well, whatever we have available kind of servicement -- service. because when you begin reducing those payments to the providers, you're going to get fewer providers with the result that you're going to get less care. it's a simple matter of economics. and, again, this is being recommended by -- not by physicians, not by the patients' groups and so on, but by people unelected bureaucrats appointed to this board. and as i said before, according to mr. cappereta, according to
the law this is all the board can do. this is what it's restricted to doing. by cutting medicare patients, the board will only delay and deny care. that's the critical point here. now, i'm painting this picture of physicians not being paid enough. the reality is that today medicare already pays physicians 20% less than private insurance companies do. now, part of that is because private insurance companies are cost shifters. that is to say, when a physician can't make enough money serving the government paid-for patients, medicare, then they charge more to the private-sector paid patients. we, therefore, are paying more in the private sector for our insurance than it really would cost. but that's in order to subsidize the payment of the physicians who don't make enough under medicare today. what the ipad would do is reduce
those payments even more. and, as i said, this in turn will lead to reduced access to care for seniors and reduced access for care means rationed care. i quoted james cappereta before. he says and i quote -- "in a very real sense seniors will be the ones holding the bag for these cuts when they can't access care due to a lack of willing suppliers." and i close this point by noting, mr. president, that there's another government health care program that i'm very familiar with because of the large number of native americans in my state of arizona who have access to health care from the federal government under the indian health service. and in indian country they have a saying that it's not really facetious -- they say it with a bit of a rye smile on their
face -- they say, just get sick before july. and the reason is there's a definite limit on how much the program will pay out. they set a cap at the beginning of the year. and when enough people have gotten sick enough up to a certain point of the year, that's enough of the coverage. you wait basically until money's available next year. that's an oversimplification. but that's what a single-pair system does. when we agree to cut costs, we reduce the amount of money available, and who suffers? the people we promised air. we're seeing it now in medicaid and we're going to see it in medicare. -- medicare if we're not careful. that's why we need to repeal the independent advisory board. and there's legislation introduced to do this. senator cornyn and i cosponsored the health care bureaucrats elimination act, senate bill
668, which would eliminate the ipad and i hope we will have an opportunity to bring that legislation to the floor so our colleagues can join us in excising this piece of obamacare so our seniors don't suffer from rationed health care. i would just note that there's a long group of organizations which join us in our opposition to ipad, groups like the american health care association, the american college of raidology, the national association of social workers, volunteers of america, and others. so i hope, as said, mr. president, when the time comes we'll have an opportunity to really have a debate about this aspect of obamacare. i know that the supporters of the health care reform act did not intend this negative result. i mean, i'm not suggesting that colleagues who supported obamacare love seniors any less than -- than i love my mother and they love their -- their parents and others.
that's not the point. laws have unintended consequences. and when we create a mechanism to -- quote -- "save money" like this one and constrain it the way we have, i know what we're going to get. we're not going to like it. we're going to hear from our seniors. before i hear from my mother, i'd like to get this problem fixed. finally, mr. president, i wanted to insert in the record and discuss very briefly an op-ed that was in "the wall street journal," of today, "time for a budget game changer." and this is written by gary becker, george p. schultz and john taylor. john taylor and george becker are economist professors -- becker at the university of chicago, taylor at stanford university. george shultz is former secretary of labor, secretary of treasury, and secretary of state. all three are affiliated with the hoover institution. and in this article present, i
think, the real answer to the two key problems that face us today. i'd like to ask unanimous consent at the conclusion of my remarks that this piece called "time for a budget game changer" be inserted in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: we don't have enough jobs in this country, is one of the key problems, we need to get the economy growing and we're having to borrow far too much money because of government spending. what this piece points out is there's a direct relationship between the two. now that's not too surprising, of course. the bottom line is that government borrowing and spending distorts the market by making less money available for private sector to invest. and if the private sector can invest, jobs can be created and we can grow the economy. what they do in this piece is to create a very credible strategy to reduce the growth of federal government spending, bring the deficit down and increase
economic growth. those goals are not only not -- fit together very nicely. as they point out the essential first step is to reduce discretionary spending in the current fiscal year, 2011, and that's the work that the senate and the house are engaged in right now. and we will have to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through the end of september. we can substantially reduce the spending. and they point out how in this op-ed. the second part is a longer-term plan to get total spending as a share of our gross domestic product down. we do that, and they have a plan to do that in a relatively gradual way. but, nevertheless, provides real substantial savings over the next 10 years and longer to appoint -- to a voint that is -- to a point consistent with the historical relationship between the revenues that the government has collected and the spend that
the government makes. let me just quote the first two sentences -- first three sentences of their op-ed. they said, "wanted a strategy for economic growth, full employment and deficit reduction all without inflation. experience shows how to get there. credible actions that reduce the rapid growth of federal spending and debt will raise economic growth and lower the unemployment rate. higher private invest noment, not more -- investment is the surest way to increase prosperity. and they point out, i'm quoting, when private investment is high, unemployment is low. in contrast higher government spending is not associated with lower unemployment. it is a piece that i -- i recommend to all of my colleagues because it establishes -- and these are first-rate economists who have done their research and can demonstrate the direct
relationship between reduced government spending and more employment and growth. the bottom line is you leave more money in the private sector to be invested by businesses in the private sector the more they will invest and hire people. the more the economy will grow and ironically, by the way, the more the economy grows, the more revenues the federal government gets because you have more tax and a higher tax basis. so private economic growth is good for families and businesses and people seeking jobs as well as for the federal government if you're looking for more revenues. but the wrong answer is to spend more money in the government, 40-plus cents of which has to be borrowed. every dollar that we spend, we have to borrow 40 cents of that. half of which is borrowed from countries abroad. and that borrowing and spending crowds out the opportunities in the private market to do the same. so there's a direct relationship
by -- in terms of how much we can reduce our federal spending on the one hand and how much we can grow the economy on pt others -- on the other. and that's what these economists point out is the -- is the way for us both in the short term and in the longer term to get a handle on both our federal budget deficit and induce private sector to invest more thus reducing unemployment rap increasing our -- and increasing our economic growth. mr. president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coats: mr. president, it is my understanding that we're in morning business and i have ten minutes allocated to me. i may not take that much time. i'm here to essentially support
the hard work of a colleague, senator johanns, in bringing to the floor for a vote tomorrow repeal of the 1099 provisions in the current health care bill. as i campaigned throughout the state of indiana over this past year, meeting with business people, individuals, running whether it's a small shop in a small town or a large business on the outskirts of a busy manufacturing center, several themes were repeated over and over and over. one was we continue to have problems of creating jobs because of the massive amount of regulations that are flowing out of washington that at a time of fiscal downturn in particular are keeping our business from going forward and hiring people, being competitive. we spent time in the back room
with paperwork, filling out what seemed to be unnecessary burdens imposed upon us bay the regulatory agencies and our compliance with that. now, some of these regulations are necessary. we all know that for purposes of health and safety, there are regulations that are important, and keeping companies' feet to the fire in terms of making sure that their workplace is a safe and healthy place to work, these are important, and there are others. but clearly, there is an excess, and what i heard people saying all across the state of indiana, our government has grown too big, it spends too much money and overregulates. particularly when it comes to business, that overregulation and that taxation is impeding our ability to compete on a world worldwide -- worldwide basis to provide the kinds of jobs and services that america is used to providing in such a successful way. tomorrow this vote will deal
with an aspect of the health care bill that was passed in the last congress. tucked away in that health care bill is a provision requiring every company, every church, every charity to submit a separate i.r.s. 1099 form for taxes when -- detailing and describing the goods that they purchase in order to run their church, run their hospital, run their business, run their charity. i've talked to hospitals, small and rural, big and large across the state of indiana, and they said do you realize how many separate items that we purchase every year of over $600? do you understand how many hundreds if not thousands of prescription drugs we purchase in order to have available here to perform our services in this hospital, how many band-aids, how many cotton patches, how many sophisticated drugs? hundreds of thousands of items are purchased by large companies
every year, and each one of those then now has to be calculated as to whether or not the purchase price was more than than $600 for the lot that they buy, and it has to be detailed and then sent to washington. mr. president, there are not enough bureaucrats in washington to begin to process the paperwork that would flood into the city. there are not enough buildings in this city to house those bureaucrats processing those forms. there are not enough warehouses in this city to store the forms that would flow in here. all for what reason? because the i.r.s. supposedly, this is a way to collect more taxes on companies that have not submitted forms that they have actually purchased this particular material, even though they are required on the tax laws to honestly and i believe almost unanimously -- maybe 99%
of the time do just that. so it is a -- it is a solution without a problem. clearly what senator johanns has been attempting to do over the last several months and even in the last congress is to bring forward a bill which would repeal the onerous provision of the health care law. u.s. chamber of commerce said this about the 1099 reporting requirement, and i quote -- "state when they can least afford it, entities will have to institute new complex recordkeeping, data collection and reporting requirements to track every purchase by vendor and payment method." this provision, they said, will dramatically increase accounting costs and could expose businesses to costly and unjustified audits by the i.r.s. mr. president, even the i.r.s. information reporting program advisory committee has ruled against this, deeming this mandate burdensome with no
measurable purpose. forcing businesses to spend time in the back room to fill out all these forms and do all this recordkeeping, and particularly those small businesses that don't have the back room, where the owner and the proprietor of the business is the one that has to fill out these forms instead of being out there to sell his services or run his business. those are particularly burdened by this -- by this unnecessary regulation. clearly, if we want to promote our businesses and hire more people and get more people back to work, we have to release them from the burden of unnecessary regulation, and i would also add to that taxation. so tomorrow, when this vote comes up, let's pass the johanns amendment to repeal this unnecessary and costly provision and send it to the white house for the president's signature, and while we're at it, mr. president, let's also take -- continue to take a look at the health care bill, because if this provision somehow
survived the scrutiny before passage, there must be many more of these in there. and let me just mention one of them, that it directly impacts my state. medical device companies are a key industry in the state of indiana. in fact, we're one of the leaders, the leading state in the country for the number of people engaged in producing medical devices. that industry was slapped with a 2.6% sales tax on medical devices under the new health care law, simply as a means, as a pay-for for the new health care law provisions. now, this is an innovative industry, an industry which is at the cutting edge of technology, which is one of our best exporting industries. they sell all over the world. we talk about the loss of american capacity to manufacture. we have skilled work force in place with thousands of people employed throughout the state of
indiana. several hundred companies producing medical devices. they have developed the innovation and skill to be the best in the world. yet just out of the blue because we're looking for a pay-for in the health care bill that had nothing to do with their production of that product or that business, they are slapped with this $20 billion impact tax, a 2.6% sales tax which turns out to be about about $20 billion under the health care law. that is -- i have given these statistics for just one state of indiana. i know minnesota and a number of other states are engaged in the medical device business. but signaling out, though, the medical device manufacturers to help pay for the massive cost of this law, the health care law hinders job growth and stifles innovation. this is a resource-rich, research-rich industry in america that needs to be encouraged not discouraged, that
needs to have incentives to go forward, not disincentives, that doesn't need more regulation and higher taxes but needs to be seen as a -- as the production of a product, which is the best in the world and what the world wants to buy. so as we look at the health care bill, i'm sure there are many provisions that need to be addressed. i, of course, am on record for repealing and starting over for reasons that i have stated before and won't go into too much detail now. i think it is fatally flawed. i think starting over would give us a far more cost-effective, incremental improvement in ways to address our health care needs in this country without breaking the bank. nevertheless, if we can't do that, we need to keep looking at situations that we're going to be addressing tomorrow, the 1099 repeal, and situations that i have just described, the medical device tax. mr. president, with that, i will close out here, urging my
objection. mr. coats: it just occurred to me -- maybe it should have occurred to me earlier before my talk. i should have addressed this, but since no one is on the floor seeking to be recognized. it occurred to me that the president sitting in the chair, presiding, officer of the senate, represents the state of connecticut, and i represent the state of indiana. the two of us are the only ones here on the floor of the senate at this particular time, but you and i have something very much that's going to draw our attention this evening, and that is the final game of the ncaa basketball tournament, connecticut versus butler. i could extol the virtues of butler for a long, long time and take some advantage of you because you're in the chair and you can't reply, but i won't do that. i'm here to say we have a friendly bet on for this. i've got some good indiana-produced goodies coming your way should connecticut prevail. i have you have connecticut-produced goodies
coming my way. by goodies, i mean popcorn, a can of beans or whatever your state is famous for producing. i wouldn't want anybody to get the wrong impression of what we possibly are exchanging here. butler has been a dream and a joy for those of us from indiana and hopefully those from across the country to watch this small school, 4,400 students from indiana come out of a mid-may skwror conference, names -- mid major conference. yet, they have knocked off the giants. with one more giant, i might say, to face this evening. but this little midwestern school plays basketball the hoosier way, and that is a credible collection of players that were not recruited by the big schools but came together and worked together as a team under the inspired leadership of their young coach and have now
found themselves in the ncaa finals two years in a row; i think something no one would have predicted particularly after their lost their star player last year who left school early to go to the n.b.a. my best wishes, mr. president, for your team. as much as i give you those best wishes, i'm looking forward tomorrow to receiving your part of the bargain delivered to my office. but if not, i'll be standing at your front door. it's already assembled just in case. we're rooting for a great game tonight and i think probably one of the most exciting things that happens in sports is the amateur basketball tournament that's played by our ncaa colleges. it's a joy to watch these young men. and then tomorrow, i might just mention, the notre dame women's team will be playing in the
finals against texas a and m. looking forward to see that game. our hopes are we are not be in session this evening in the senate. i don't think we will be. so you and i will be, unfortunately, not in houston but in front of a big-screen tv cheering on our teams. with that, mr. president, i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: thank you, senator. the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
republican on the budget committee is something that's very, very -- and i believe to america. two aspects of it: one is how will we finish this fiscal year that ends september 30. the house republicans have sent over legislation that funds the government, but it's $61 billion less than was expected or had been projected under last year's budget. i don't think anyone would be surprised that after the last election and the big spenders took a pretty big hit, that there would be a reduction after the continuing resolution of, i guess, five months expired. and since that expired a few weeks ago and we've had some short-term continuing resolutions, we've reduced spending by about $10 billion. and i truly believe that we need
to move it on down to the full $61 billion, and over ten years that will reduce the baseline by $61 billion and fairly computed, it will save in a ten-year time frame alone $860 billion. this is close to $1 trillion. it's real money, and it is a significant step that we should take. i hope this congress will. the next matter that's before us is what about next year's budget. we should already be in that cycle. the president has submitted the budget he's required by law to submit to the congress. it does nothing about the threat to our country economically and financially. it's a great disappointment, the most irresponsible budget ever submitted, i am confident, by any president in the history of the american republic. i've said that before, and i
truly believe it. it is irresponsible. we cannot adopt it, will not adopt it. and it will not become law. but our senate has indicated that they are prepared to consider, democrats too, a better budget perhaps. but we haven't seen it. it's not been brought forth to the budget committee as law requires us to so far, and we're behind schedule. but the house tomorrow will consider a historic budget that honestly and carefully confronts the challenges facing us long term and short term, dealing with entitlements without gimmicks and allows us to begin to focus on what the challenges are and why we have to take these steps. because who wants to talk about
cutting spending? what politician likes to do that? it's not something we really like to do. why are we talking about this? why? can't it just be put off? is it just political squabbling between republicans and democrats who are always bickering? is this what it's all about? is there anything real here? do we have a problem that's -- can't be avoided? is it -- can't we just continue like we are? why do we have to worry about more reduction of spending? that's the question. that's the question. do we have a real crisis? are we facing a threat to our economic well-being that could throw this country into another recession, maybe even a depression? surely hopefully not. a fiscal financial crisis, is that possible? well, let's talk about a couple
things. admiral mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, recently stated that our national debt is the greatest threat to our national security. that's a pretty strong statement. secretary of the state clinton has said something very similar. is that true? the american people pretty clearly agree with admiral mullen by a huge margin. they say we are on the wrong track. you are mismanaging washington. there was a shellacking of the big spenders in the last election. people know we're spending too much money. we've had a 24% increase in spending in the last, since president obama has been president. 24% increase in discretionary
non-defense spending. what's the inflation rate been? 2%, 1% during this time? we had a 24% increase. and next year's budget proposed by the president calls for an 11% increase in education, 10.5% increase in state department, 9.5% increase in the energy department, 61% increase in transportation and high-speed rail. what? an inflation of 2% and we've got five times -- 50 times nearly that amount of spending increases. so -- but alarmingly, it's not just the american people. it's not just tea party, great american people who are concerned about their country. it's not just tea party members that are expressing concern and
calling for action. it is the nation's top financial experts. this is what's important. and they're calling for action sooner rather than later. erskine bowles, president obama's choice to head the deficit commission -- he was also president clinton's chief of staff and a very successful businessman himself -- was chosen by president obama to head the debt commission along with alan simpson, the former republican senator, and in a written statement they submitted to the budget committee just, what, two weeks ago, this is what they said -- a formal written statement from the debt commission cochairman to the budget committee of the united states. quote -- "this is the most predictable financial crisis this nation has ever faced." close quote.
"predictable crisis." in other words, you can see it coming. they spent months doing the research on all of this. they heard from all kinds of witnesses. when asked when the crisis might occur did, which could involve some sort of double-difficult session or even -- some sort of double-dip recession or higher unemployment -- when this kind of economic crisis could occur, mr. bowles said, "tabo "two yea, maybe sooner, maybe later." alan simpson said it could be a year -- within a year. these are stark warnings and the same message is coming from a host of the world's top financial experts. now, the good news -- i got to say, the good news is that our country's strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit still exists and the indications are
that des spirt the economic drag on our huge debt burden, the economy far slower than normal recovering from this recession is struggling to rebound. if we act decisively now, ending our wasteful spending habits, we can be confident that progress in growth will continue. our nation's leaders are aware that their country is face ago crisis. they have no higher moral responsibility than to act to protect the nation from that danger. today's "wall street journal" had an op-ed by the nobel prize laureate garry becker, former secretary of treasury jurnlg shuttle, and economic professor john taylor. the article embraces the $61 billion in reduced spending passed by the house and debunks the critics unequivocally who call these cuts extreme. they directly and categorically assert these spending reductions
will not result in higher job losses and explain why that's a false view. but, again, is the debate over spending just another republican or democratic squabble? it iis it just teanlt to signify nothing? the answer is is a resounding no. we are spending money we don't have in amounts dramatically greater than at any time in our history. when this fiscal year ends september 30, we will have spent $3.7 trillion and taken in only $2.2 trillion. 40 cents of every dollar we spend this year will be borrowed. we have to borrow the money we don't have. this will be the largest of three consecutive deficits exceeding $1 trillion. president bush was rightly
condemned for his $450 billion deficit one year, the highest he ever had. we've been over $1 trillion the last three years. and next year's budget deficit is expected to exceed $1 trillion. this money must be borrowed and interest paid. nothing comes from nothing. last year the nation's total interest payment was $200 billion. that's how much we paid on the money we borrowed for prospeckive -- for perspective, the federal highway program is about $40 billion. we spent $200 billion on interest. we'd like to have spent more on highways. federal education programs cost about $70 billion. so already the interest on our debt is the fastest-growing expense of our government and is crowdingcrowding out spending fr programs. but hold your hat. our current trajectory takes us
at increasing speed on a road, as a former head of the european union said -- he described it as a road -- about the united states -- the road to financial hell. according to the official score or analysis of the president's ten-year budget, the total debt of america will be more -- will more than double from $13 trillion to $27 trillion over the ten-year period, and our annual interest will increase from $200 billion last year to $940 billion. that's how much interest we'll be paying in the tenth year under the budget. it will cost more than education, highways, the energy, state department combined. indeed, our interest payments will surge past defense, medicare, medicaid. that's why expert after expert, witness after witness,
republicans and democrats say the united states is on an unsustainable path. yet president obama's budget increases all spending every year, including discretionary spending, doubling the debt of the united states again, all the while raising taxes by almost $2 trillion. it makes no proposals to put medicare, medicaid, social security on sound footing. nothing. it creates a debt path where his lowest annual deficit in ten years is $748 billion. that's the best year. and with his out year deficits increasing so that by the tenth year his budget is scored as having a deficit of $1.2 trillion. is that unsustainable or not? it is extreme to say we've got to change that course, that we can't continue it?
well, let me quote a few experts, not just jeff sessions, the senator from alabama. how about some people whose lives have been enmeshed in the debt of america. they seem to share the concerns, it seems to me, of the extremists, you know, the tea party people. they're extremists. well, what do the experts say? how aboutal l.a. greenspan, the -- how about alan greenspan, the former chairman of the federal reserve. "i think it is the type of budget that will be passed by congress. it doesn't look like that's so, unfortunately. he goes on to say, "the only question is, will it be before
or after the bond market crisis?" close quote. is alan greenspan extreme? he said also a few weeks ago that we could have a debt crisis in our country in two to three years. bill gross, who has the world's largest bond fund at pacific management, eliminated government-related debt from his flagship fund. they no longer have any united states treasury bonds. this was what he wrote very recently: "if the u.s.a. were a corporation, then it would probably have a negative net worth of $35 trillion to $40 trillion" once our "assets were properly accounted for, no lendinger would lend to such a corporation." is bill gross extreme?
erskine bowles and alan simpson said, "we believe that if we do not take decisive action, our nation faces the most predictable economic crisis in its history," and mr. bowls befe budget committee asked how and when that might happen by senator conrad. "the problem is going to happen. it is a problem. we're going to have to face up to and maybe -- in maybe two years, maybe less, maybe a little more." alan simpson said, "i think the crisis could come before two years." secretary of treasury geithner, president obama's secretary of treasury, when asked about the reinhardt-rogoff study which said, when debt reaches 0e9d% of g.d.p., the economy of a nation slows down noticeably -- when
debt reaches 90% of g.d.p., the economy of a nation slows down notice when i. they'll be testifying tomorrow. when asked about their analysis that 90%, when your debt equals 90% of your gross domestic product your economy is slowed and pulled down and we're already at 95% heading to 100% by september 30, mr. geithner said it was an excellent study. he didn't debunk t he didn't say this is an extreme study. he said, in some ways, it understates the risk. understates the risk, because it is not just that countries that live with very high debt to g.d.p. ratios are consigned to weaker growth. they're consigned to the damage that comes from periodic financial crises as well. the secretary -- is secretary
geithner extreme? admiral mullen, is he extreme? senator conrad, our democratic chairman, is very concerned about the trajectory we are on, and in march -- and on march 15 at the budget committee hearing, this is what he said. "i believe our nation is in peril. we are hurtling towards a fiscal cliff. we are clearly hon an unsustainable course." pete domenici, part of the rivlin-domenici commission, debt commission, similar to the bowls-simpson commission, former chairman of the budget committee in the senate, said "i've never been more worried for my country." are senator conrad and senator domenici extreme? i think not. only three bodies can propose spending plans. the white house budget has been submitted. it would doubt our debt, surge
our -- it would double our debt, surge our interest spending, increasing spending at every level and raise taxes substantially. now we will tomorrow have the house plan. it will be released by budget chairman rein. it is the most serious attempt ever made to solve america's spending and debt problems while saving critical programs such as medicare. saving those programs. they are heading to default now. what does the senate plan to do? the democrat senate. doing nothing seems to be what the plan is. we haven't even a budget proposal and haven't had any hearings set to morning a budget proposal. i doubt that the president's plan will be brought forward in its present form because it would receive not many democratic votes, and i suspect no republican votes.
so i don't know what we are, but i would just say the senate has got to do something. we have to propose a budget. we have to be engaged in the process. we can't stick our head in the sand. we cannot be in denial. is the president going to change? is he going to now all of a sudden take responsibility for the fact that we may be heading to a fiscal crisis that could surge unemployment, surge interest rates, place this nation in financial risk? we haven't seen it yet. and if he doesn't act, what will our senate democratic colleagues do? i call on them to step up. represent their constituency, to do the right thing. we've got to do the right thing. we can't continue on this.
we cannot continue on this course. from my view, american leaders have no higher duty, no greater moral responsibility than to take all appropriate steps to protect the good people we serve from a clear and present danger. a danger that's been detailed to us with clarity and repetition by some of america's finest leaders. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, first let me say how refreshing it is to hear the senator from alabama, as scary as it is, tell the truth about the problem we have. when i tell people back in my state of oklahoma that -- i refresh their memories and i remember in 1996 standing at this podium -- right here -- and that was when the clinton budget came out for the fiscal year
1996 and it was $1.5 trillion budget and i said, a $1.5 trillion budget is employable to sustain. and yet the budget that the senator from -- from alabama is talking about was a budget of this president and, of course, with his majority in the house and the senate, that actually has a deficit that is greater than the entire tbowg run the entire united states of america in 1996. -- budget to run the entire united states of america in 1996. and that's the deficit. that's what my 20 kids and grandkids are going to have to pay for. and when you stop and use the statements that are real, that can't be denied, and that is that this president just in the two years he's been here has increased the debt more than all presidents before him, from george washington to george w. bush. it's not believable and that's what makes it so difficult, because people think, how can this possibly be? and yet it is. that is the reality of it. a few minutes ago i talked at some length about a very
significant amendment that's going to be coming up and that is to take the jurisdiction away from the environmental protection agency having to do with the cap and trade, something that they were unable to do legislatively and they're going to try to do with -- through regulations in the environmental protection agency. so i've already talked about that, but there's something that has not been mentioned on the floor of this senate that i think is very significant and it's surprisingly enough, i say, mr. president, hardly anyone is even aware that it's going on and that is we're all concerned. we hear everyday about the atrocities that are committed in -- in libya and about the people that are being mowed down, and what they don't realize is, that's not the only place this is going on. i have to share, as much as i hate to do it because i'm disagreeing with our state department when i say this, but i have to -- i have to say it because somebody has to say it. right now, there are -- the potential of having large numbers of people tortured,
murdered in cote devar is taking place. and let me just say -- set the stage here so people will be aware of it. i've had occasion to be in cote devar. some people call it the ivory coast. it's in west africa. it's an area where a lot of the slave trade came from that came to this country. it's a place that has been led by a president named larent bagbo for the last -- since -- the last ten years. i first became acquainted with the -- with the president back before he was president of coe devar. in fact, his wife, simone, was not his wife at that time, and she was a member of parliament. and so i watched -- i kind of sat through what happened in 2002 when there was a real effort by -- primarily by one individual, his name is alasain
awatra, from the northern part of cote devar charging against him. now, it's kind of interesting because cote devar is one country but up in north you have primarily the muslim area, in the south and east primarily the christian element. and so there's been a real effort for -- for quite some time for the chosen one up there, who's a lasain dewatra, to defeat president bagboa. now, here's the problem we have. there was an election that took place a few months ago when it appeared that -- that awatra actual beat the incumbent president, president bagboa. and so we were all concerned about this in terms of was it a straight election -- and i'm going to tell you here in a couple minutes why it was not -- but also tried to -- to call
this to the attention of the administration. way back in january after the election took place, i wrote a letter to secretary clinton, and i said, i'd like to have you reevaluate -- i'm going to have that letter at the conclusion of my remarks as a part of my statement to be printed in the record. but to look at this and evaluate this as to what actually won't in that election and how it was -- it was rigged. otarra tried to deny the involvement in a mass slaughter that took place just a couple of days ago. that was in a town called duquae. duquae was in a town called -- in the southern part of -- an area that was very strongly in favorite of president bagbao. and somewhere between 300 and a thousand people in that western town of duquae were slaughtered, were with guns and machetes. and mr. watara and his people
tried to deny their involvement in the mass slaughter but the forces took place in the town days earlier and the bagbao forces were not even near the town. they had left the town a week before this happened. and so don't believe me but the guardian, which is a british newspaper, reported last nigh night -- just last night, they said -- and i'm going to quote now from the newspaper -- it said, "the u.n. mission said traditional hunters, known as dozoes, fought alongside awatra's forces and took part in killing 330 people in the western town of duguea. the international committee for the recor red cross said at lea0 people were killed in the -- in the violence" -- and i'm still quoting from the newspaper -- "last week." what we don't know is that 800 plus the 330, so roughly it's a thousand. "william a.haaifa, who's the head of the united nations mission in the ivory coast,
blamed 220 of the deaths on the pro-pro- awatra forces." the full article goes into a lot of detail. also, the bbc reporter wrote that -- quote -- "in the last 24 hours, i spot four pigs eating something dark in a charred courtyard standing by a newly dug mass grave. a u.n. soldier from more rock psychochowinging -- morocco is choking from wage and grief. i asked him if some of the dead are children and he begins to sob. the massacre was done by the watara forces who took over the town. president bagbao called for a cease-fire repeatedly." i called that. he's called for a cease-fire because the awatra forces have denied it.
why? this cease-fire could have been established if they would accepted mediation through the african union. in march 27, the african union sent former cape verde foreign minister jose brito to mediate between watara and bagbao. bagbao accepted mediation, watara did not. i've been watching the events in cote d'voire and there's a serious question as to whether watara is the legit mallee -- legitimately elected president of cote d'voire. i've sent the evidence to the secretary of -- secretary clinton on two occasions, spanning the last few months. one of them is where we actually
have the evidence of the number of votes that were stolen. in one letter, i pointed out, the last letter, which i'll make a part of this record, to the evidence which shows that watara received $94,87 -- 94,873 votes that were listed on a tally sheet for one of -- of the five regions in the rebel-held north. times this by four and it comes to very close to the margin of victory from -- that allegedly president gbagbo lost. that's 400,000 votes. so if, indeed, a similar amount of voter fraud exists in these four regions, gbagbo is the actual winner of the november 28 presidential election. but if that's too complicated, look at it this way. in those five regions -- they don't call them precincts -- well some they do so it's a little confusing, but in the first letter i sent in, i commented that gbagbo during
what we would call the primary had won thousands of votes in each one of those five prei think it sinks up north. however, in the primary runoff, he got zero. and i suggest to you, mr. president, that is a statistical impossibility. you can't get zero, tookly after you've already had thousands -- particularly after you've already had thousands of votes. in my letter for secretary clinton, i called for the united states to support new elections there but thus far these efforts have received an inadequate response. based on the news that awatra has murdered some 1,000 people in duquae, i hope that the lust reconsider its position and call for a new election. this wednesday, april 6, will mark the 17th anniversary of the 1994 rwanda general side. i went back for the anniversary of that genocide. i've been there many times before. we know that the u.n. general secretary -- secretary-genera
secretary-general -- secretary-general, kofi annan, and others knew the extent of this violence early on but did nothing to do it. well, now we know there could be another genocide occurring and we do know in advance. and that's why the united states is going to have to call for an immediate cease-fire to prevent quattra an from slaughter and te who are protecting president gbagbo at the present time around the presidential palace. you've got to get this mental picture. they've got these kids, young kids, they don't have any weapons, they're carrying baseball bats and two-by-fours. and i have also been told that within the last half-hour, that the united nations helicopters, the u.n. peacekeeping helicopters, are firing on gbagbo's military camp, causing massive explosions. now there, could be some confusion on this because two of the articles that came out in the last half-hour, one of them was talking about the french who are kind of behind in supporting, of course, quatara.
the other says the u.n. i'm not sure. one of the two in. lastly, i've sent a letter to senate foreign relations committee chairman john kerry -- and by the way, i talked to him personally about this. he's very concerned about it. i've requested that i convene a hearing as soon as possible into the atrocities committed by forces loyal to the rebel lead leader, quatara, as well as into what i believe were flawed elections that gave legitimacy to his claim of the presidency. so i do ask unanimous consent that now, at the conclusion of these remarks, placed in the record immediately following my comments would be the -- the two letters sent to secretary clinton along with a letter sent to senator kerry and with the calculation -- or the miscalculation of the election that i honestly in my heart believe was stolen. this is what we're asking to be put in the record. this is the tabulations of the precincts. and you add up the precincts, in
the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination, which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination: the judiciary. jimmie v. reyna of maryland to be united states circuit judge for the federal circuit. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be one hour of debate equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their
designees. mr. leahy: mr. president, i'd ask consent that however the time is divided, that the vote not be later than 5:30. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: i thank the majority leader for beginning another workweek by scheduling a confirmation vote on an important judicial nomination. the nomination of jimmie v. reyna to the federal circuit was reported unanimously by the judiciary committee last month. i expect his nomination to be confirmed with strong bipartisan support. i wouldn't be surprised to see him supported unanimously. of course this is true also of
the other judicial nominations pending on the senate's executive calendar including several for what have been designated judicial emergency vacancies in new york, california, florida and tennessee. with nearly one out of every nine judicial judges vacant we should address this by voting promptly on nominations reported favorably by the judiciary committee. after this confirmation today the nominations of another dozen judges and that of the deputy attorney general of the united states will remain pending and await senate consideration and final senate action. several of the judicial nominations and that of the department of attorney general have been awaiting final senate action since last year. when he is confirmed mr. reyna will become the first latino to
serve on the u.s. court of appeals. he is a past president of the hispanic bar association. mr. reyna specialized in international trade law, very complex, very important part of our law. he was unanimously rated by the american bar association's standing committee in the federal judiciary as well qualified to serve in this court. and for those not used to this rating, that is the highest possible rating a nominee can get. his nomination demonstrates president obama's commitment to working with senators to select well-qualified nominees and his commitment to increasing diversity on the federal bench. it is appropriate that we're considering mr. reyna's nomination in a timely manner. there is no reason to take weeks and amongst particularly those who are consensus nominees.
mr. reyna tphofplgs is one of -- nomination is one of 13 nominations waiting after being reported by the judiciary committee. two of those nominations have twice been considered, first last year, again in february, both times reportd with strong bipartisan support. susan carney of connecticut filled a judicial emergency vacancies in the u.s. court of appeals for the second circuit. michael simon to fill a vacancy in oregon. another has been reported favorably three times with bipartisan support, jack owe kopbl of the district -- jack mcconnell of the district of rhode island. another has been reported favorably four times, judge edward chant in the northern district of california. all of them are long awaiting for a senate vote.
vote them up, vote them down. don't hold them in this nominee limbo where they can't go on with their life, they can't plan. it's demoralizing to the federal judiciary. it certainly does not reflect well on the united states senate, a body that i love. i wish you'd vote them, vote them up or 0 vote them down. we have nominations pending to fill the judicial vacancy of the d.c. circuit, a second judicial emergency vacancy in california, judicial emergency vacancies in new york, tennessee and florida. two vacancies in virginia and a vacancy in new jersey. and i expect the judiciary committee will consider reporting additional judicial nominations this week and a number of judicial nominations ready for final senate action. we should follow the model we're following today. i thank both the democratic and republican leaders for that, by
considering and confirming the president's nomination for the federal bench in a timely manner. president obama worked with senators on both sides of the aisle to identify superbly qualified nominees in districts with vacancies. all 13 of the nominations on the executive calendar have the support of their home sta*euts state senators -- home state senators, republicans and democrats. they have demonstrated faithfulness to the constitution. all should have an up-or-down vote. they have been considered by the bipartisan judiciary committee. they should be voted on without weeks of needless delay. we have a long way to go to do as well as we did during president bush's first term. i was chairman for a year and a half when we confirmed 205 of his judicial nominations. we confirmed 100 of those in the 17 months i was chairman and another 105 in the 31 months the
president's party held the chairmanship. so far well into president obama's third year in office, the senate has only been allowed to consider 75 of president obama's federal circuit district court nominations; a long way from the benchmarks the democrats set for president bush in his first two years in office. so i hope that this today may be a sign that we're going to go back to the way the senate should act. i hope we can clear the calendar of nominees before the next recess and at the a minimum, the senate proceed to confirm those who will be confirmed unanimously. if we join together, we can do that. i congratulate jimmie ray navment by the time this day is over, he will be confirmed by the u.s. senate for a seat on the federal circuit.
mr. president, i'm going -- about to -- i see the distinguished -- very distinguished senator from tennessee on the floor. i'm going to suggest the absence of a quorum, because i'd like to speak for him just for a moment before he speaks. i'd suggest the absence of a quorum and ask that the time be divided equally. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: mr. president, it is my sad responsibility to announce that the former governor, ned mccourter, of tennessee has decide this afternoon. ned has many friends here in washington but he has a lot more in tennessee. what symbolized ned mccorter
to me is a story that occurred to me when i was elected governor in 1978. i was a young republican, about 37 years old. there hadn't been many republican governor in tennessee at that time. the whole state was one party. it was very democratic. ned mccorter was the speaker of the house. for those who know him, he was a big, burly, haas cartwright kind of fellow. shortly after i came in, the capitol hill media came up to ned and said, we will, mr. speaker, what are you going to do with this new, young republican governor? and speak mccorter said, i'm going to help him. because if he succeeds, our state succeeds. and for eight years, as he was speaker and i was governor, he did that. and the people of tennessee apparently didn't mind it
because after i left, they elected him governor and he served for eight years. that sort of bipartisan cooperation was the way i learned about politics in tennessee. ned was a pretty fair-going democrat. he was one of president clinton's close he have friends and early allies. democrats all around our country came to him for his homespun advice. he had no problem working hard during election time to put legislators who were democratic in the place of republicans who were already in their seats. that was not a problem for him. but in between elections he knew what to do. we would meet in the governor's office every tuesday morning and we'd go over the issues, the republican governor and the democratic leaders. and then we would decide what to do. and if i came up with a better schools program, why, the democrats would come up with an even better "better schools"
program. so when tennessee became the first state to pay teachers more for teaching we will on a statewood basis in 1984, i made the proposal, but it was the result of a bipartisan education commission that speaker m mcwherter and i both agreed on. when the legislature greed it i may have proposed it as governor, but it was amended by the weekly county amendment which was the home county of speaker mcwherter. it was his willing ness to fashion a consensus bill, a really revolutionary idea at that time -- reward outstanding teaching by paying them well. he did the same thing when it came to highways and roads. tennessee had one. worst road systems in the early 19 eavmentz by the time he and i were finished, it had what the truckers called "the best." we increased revenues to pay for it so we didn't run up any debt
for the state. in every case, speaker mcwherter supported and made sure it passed. when we became a state that attracted japanese descrirks he knew that the commitments i had made as a republican governor he would pull fill as a democratic leader of the house of representatives and that he would continue as a democratic governor. it was a seamless transition. the same was true with the automobile industry when it began to cam come to tennessee. people looked around for a central location with a right-to-work law and good working people. and through a succession of governors, republican, democrat, republican, democrat, we worked together to do that. and of special interest it might be to washington, d.c., right now, through all those democratic and republican governors, we agreed that our state would have almost no debt. that's right, under governor mcwherter and speaker
mcwherter, our state had almost no debt. if we wanted something, we paid for it. he was one of the finest public servants that i've hfer a chance to work w he may have a close friend. he had an indpek schuss personality and a great sense of humor. the last visits i had with him included the inauguration of the new governor, bill haslett. ned mcwherter and the new governor are the best of friends. their son competed for the right to be the new governor of the state of tennessee. the governor and jim haslett were the best of friends. there are a lot of people in our state that come in and out of politics. and maybe they're appreciated. maybe they're not. only a few leave a lasting impression. ned mcwherter will be among
the very few that leave the most impression, and part of it is his big burly infectious, lovable personality. part of it was his good sense of politics and openness around the state capitol. but a lot of it was his willingness to say to people like a new, young governor of the opposite party, i'm going to help you succeed because if you succeed, our state succeeds. governor mcwherter and i talked many times -- i talked with him most recently about a week ago; he was going to see his doctor again to find out whether he said he had a short fuse or long fuse. parntsly he had a short fuse. didn't have much life left in him, lome not have known it -- although he may not have known it, or perhaps he did. he used to joke and say that the size of the crowd at your funeral will depend a lot upon
the weather. i think what all of us in tennessee will say about ned is the size of the crowd at his funeral will have nothing to do with the weather because i imagine it'll be standing-room only with people pouring out of the back doors. we're sad he's gone but it's been 80 remarkable years. the governor who never graduated from college is the governor who had the courage to put into our state law the sanders model for relating student achievement to teacher performance, helping our state win this administration's "race to the top" award some 15 or 20 years later. it made a real contribution to our state. he's got a big place in all of our hearts. i'm sad to report that he's gone, but it's an important time to celebrate the life of a public servant whose lessons of how to achieve consensus and still be a good politician would be a good lesson for everyone in
washington, d.c. mr. president, i yield the floor. i notice the absence of a quoarnlings and i ask that the time be -- i notice the absence of a quorum, and i ask that the time be equally divided between the parties. the presiding officer: without objection, the clerk will call the rolroll the roll. quorum call: