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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  July 29, 2013 12:00pm-5:01pm EDT

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>> so a lot of things happening at once there, but you don't see a lot of it happening on the, you know, just not reading the articles in the paper, you're not seeing people talk about it on the evening news, the local radio stations. they're talking about the nsa and the irs and all the other things -- >> politics of the moment. so are you basically saying, i mean, is this something you're worried about? is there evidence that they are just looking for poorer people and saying forget about your income, we're signing you up, and we'll worry about it next
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year? >> i'm not seeing that, but i'm wondering if that would not evolve as a business model. okay, we've identified what success is, and you need to get there pretty quickly. and in order to say, look, this thing is working just as we planned, you know, the old sutton's law thing, rob banks because that's where the money is. >> california, october 1. you have it very differently. you're doing, you know, much more outreach. i don't know if that gives some navigator kind of programs already up, you're doing messaging, you're doing -- it's a totally different political environment, yet you also have hard-to-reach populations, you have non-english seeking, the farm areas, you've got plenty of young invincibles. so the obstacles are similar, so what are you seeing and what happens when it starts in october? >> hard to say until october. in fact, california is investing
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or will be investing a huge amount in outreach and enrollment. although the full campaign has not launched yet. so there are very big investments that are going to be made by covered california, california's state-based exchange, to do outreach for targeting, generally speaking, the population that's expected to be subsidy eligible. there's also going to be a very large campaign funded by another statewide health care foundation for california endowment targeting people who are already or anticipated to be medical eligible. those need to be well targeted and focused. the question will be how effective is it at targeting people who are eligible and then how receptive are people to the hedges that are presented to them -- to the messages that are presented to them. certainly a great deal of thought and energy is being put
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into these very questions of targeting to ethnic populations, disbursing gee graphicically and determining where the highest pockets are navigating and giving assistance, for example, through state university systems that have sort of natural affinities to younger people and people with families. so a lot of thought is going into this. but the proof will really be when people receive that midge, what do they do? are they activated? do they go to covered california or to another source to learn more, or -- and when they get there, do today find an attractive set of options at prices that are affordable and with conditions that are understandable? and to the question of how the subsidies and the tax credits work, i think that's a huge question about how people really navigate that and how they engage with that in their choices. >> to the extent that you see what's going on in kansas -- >> sure. >> -- october 1. i know you're here, but -- >> let me answer it in a slightly different way and say i realize the metric is can we add
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seven million folks that aren't insured right now. i really think that the future and the success of the aca will be dependent upon metrics that impact folks that already have coverage. and so the thing that i look at the most is the cost issue and the access issue. proponents have said that we can do this major expansion, and you won't lose your coverage, you won't lose your choices, and your cost will be roughly the same and maybe might even decline. folks that have argued against it have said, hey, you're not going to have your choices, and your coverage is going to go up dramatically. if costs go up for people who currently have coverage, i think the political dynamics are such that it will be difficult for the law to remain the law in the long term. on the other hand, if the proponents are correct and costs are roughly the same and people can still go to the same doctor they've always gone to, i don't think it matters how long it takes to enroll the new people. it will happen eventually. the law is in place long enough, eventually, the medicaid
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expansions will continue to occur, eventually folks will get enrolled. and if the law's successful in the costs and excess, people aren't going to say, oh, we need to get rid of it because we only signed up two million instead of seven million. on the other hand, they're not going to care if we beat the seven million number. >> can i just add on to mark's point real quick. seven million previously uninsured people, that's a significant impact on all of them, and another important number that the administration's talked about is that the vast majority of americans who have coverage through a larger employer, who have medicaid or medicare already, the president likes to say you're not affected by this at all. but just to get back to mark's numbers, seven million may seem like a lot, but if you look at people who have individual coverage now plus people who have coverage through small businesses now, it's a much larger number than seven million. and those individuals and those small businesses are going to be significantly affected by the law. the choices they have now are
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going to be replaced by the choices in the individual and small business exchanges, and i think that is an important point to watch. >> when you hear seven million, i might get five different answers to this question, is that seven million who are currently uninsured, or is that seven million who have some -- does that include -- is that seven million who go into exchanges who might be in the individual market now? >> i don't think that number's been broadly defined. it was -- rather, it was a broad definition. we expect to have seven million people sign up. but mark, the governor's point is exactly correct. when we're having this discussion, 11, 12, 13 months from now, the unintended consequences, the impact on price which will occur september, october of 2012 just before an election time, that does have the potential for a significant political drag -- >> '14, not '12. >> i'm sorry. i'm still focused on 2012. i can't get over it. [laughter] 2014. and the, you know, people come
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see me off line off the time who work in the insurance industry, and they talk about the same things that mark just mentioned, you know, the cost to the individual who has something now, their choice and their price point may be significantly different a year there now. >> and you've been trying to say something, right? >> i'd like to take us back to the focus on october 1st and january 1st and the number of seven million. because i think that that is while the news may want to pick be it up, i think the messaging, it's important for leaders to message that that is not the critical date. look back to october 1st is when things open, and it is likely that the numbers will not be be met right away. look back at when the chip program went into effect in 1997, and it took significantly longer for enrollment to happen
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than originally planned. that said, i think that's almost more analogous than medicare part d because it was folks who didn't have insurance as opposed to the medicare population that was in, although i'm not saying we can't learn a lot from the medicare implementation. we certainly can. but in the intervening years, there has been an awful lot learned about how best to reach the kinds of people that they're trying to reach. we've had a whole social media revolution, we have had a lot of research in the last couple of years that states have done to understand how to reach the target population, and i'm kind of excited about what bringing some of those techniques to the outreach enrollment may have. but i do still want to emphasize that the state leaders that we talk with on a regular basis understand that this is not a sprint even though it really feels like one right at the moment. >> feels like a multiyear sprint. >> exhausting. but it's really a marathon.
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and it is the longer term improvement of the health care system, getting more people quality coverage and more affordable coverage that is the promise on the upside of these reforms. >> is, when you look at the states -- and this is for mark and anne, and i think you're working on that somewhat nationally, too, so chime in -- you always knew that the states were going to be different. you always knew this was not designed to be a totally identical even before the medicaid element. states were always going to have a certain number of choices and decisions about who how to shape their exchanges, who governs it, the standards for letting the plans end, you know, whether it would be a little more utah, a little more massachusetts, so you never thought it would be identical. you never thought all 50 states would look the same. the gap is much, much broader not just in terms of the medicaid, but in countless ways that we can't list here.
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how, you know, how, how uneven do you think the results are going to be? i mean, six months, a year from now, i mean, how different is it going to look? >> so i think that there is unlikely in this vast country to be one model that works perfectly, and there could be multiple ways that an exchange is governed, ways that it reaches its consumers, ways that it actually goes in version 2.0 and helps to if similar states are looking ahead to really impact the quality and the delivery system with choices they make in the exchange. i think there could be positive or negative outcomes for patients with different models, and what's important is that we learn the lessons of what's working and doesn't work and spread, spread them quickly so that those that come behind can
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adopt some of those practices. enter we also wanted to ask -- >> we also wanted to ask, i also wanted to give governor parkinson just a couple of minutes because the political focus and the fighting and money is focused on enrollment and coverage. but there's the other 900 pages of the law depending on which edition you're looking at, how many pages, size of the print, that affects how care is delivered. and he's working with chronically ill and disabled and elderly. and just talk about, you know, briefly and we're going to come back to the exchanges, but i want him to talk a little bit about that neglected, that overlooked part of it. a few state things that are interesting that either wouldn't with happen without the health law or wouldn't be as advanced, and then we'll fight more about it. >> i think that's a great question. i think it's also a very underdiscussed topic as it relates to the aca. we tend to think of the aca as just an expansion issue, but when i talked to my old boss
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about it, secretary sebelius or others at hhs, they will argue vehemently that, no, this is also getting at cost and quality issues as well. so i'm very fortunate to have the position now where i run a trade association for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, the holy grail of payment for providers has been what can we do to reduce costs and at the same time keep quality the same or, hopefully, improve it. and there are some parts of the aca that get to that. dual demonstration projects across the country are now spreading where we're trying to take care of folks that are eligible for both medicare and medicaid at the same time and figure out by coordinating that benefit if we can reduce costs and keep quality at the same level. accountable care organizations are popping up around the country to try to coordinate benefits and, again, hopefully keep costs the same or lower while at the same time increasing quality. a lot of these things are happening, aren't being discussed nearly as much as the expansion topic. but in the long run are kind of,
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you know, may have a very large impact in moving along that whole movement of higher quality or lower cost. >> is there one specific program and one specific state that you just get really excited about? >> well, in my current position i tend to get more worried than excited. [laughter] and so we have these dual demonstration projects that have combined the medicare and medicaid benefit in a very big way in california. that will roll out next spring. we have the accountable care organizations that pull postacute providers together with hospitals to try to coordinate that postacute care. and it's both a threat and an opportunity. if we can figure out how to do this right, it can be a terrific thing for providers and for beneficiaries. but we could also make some major mistakes and have some very poor results. so we're actually more focused on that part of the aca than we are on the expansion. >> and is the, is the medicaid expansion or lack thereof going
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to create sort of more unevenness in this world? >> not really. it doesn't affect long-term care providers as much as it would for hospitals or for doctors or most other providers. so in our niche, no. but in the broader spectrum, absolutely. you talk to a hospital exec in a state that's not doing the medicaid expansion, they'll have a very different outlook. >> we do have a twitter question, and i will remind people it is hash mark pro hcbb. the question is how has it helped, and i think probably for you, you might want to say how has it hurt. california first. how is this concept of a campaign playing out? >> well, i think, actually, that was anne's comment, and, you know, again, we -- the campaign in california has not been fully launched. i will say that it is extremely important to watch how it, how it works. i think there will be huge lessons learned.
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but to give people a sense of scope, the california exchange is going to invest about $100 million in the public affairs campaign over the next couple of years. and it will, you know, doubtless invest huge amounts in trying to target and focus that. but that is a huge amount of money even in a state the size of california. it compares, for example, to $50 million that kaiser permanente invested in its thrive campaign nationwide. so, again, the targeting, the outreach to populations that aren't well informed and aren't searching will be huge. will it work, you know, we will see when people, when it's really on the ground and in place. >> there's campaign as public education, there's also campaign as a political connotation, and i think that's part of what this question's getting at. i mean, in rural america people that are closely associated with the white house, this -- we have, it is unlike mma, it is still very divisive, and you don't have people at home actively, you don't have -- in
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2005 you had there were some democrats who really didn't like it or wanted to change it. i don't think -- they didn't hate it as much as we're sort of in the stage we're in now. but they would come here and say i want to repeal it, i want to modify it, i want to write negotiations of prices, blah, blah, blah, we all heard it every day. but they would go home and have more of a proactive outreach. i can't, i don't know of any republican that's going to put -- there may be some that i'm not aware of. i'm not aware of any republican that is proactively going to -- the difference between taking a question and going out to a health fair and saying, okay, i'm going to help you sign up. i don't know of any. >> can i address that? >> yes. >> there would be no mechanism by which you would know how to do that, because the information coming out the administration has been so sparse and, obviously, i don't attend the democratic caucuses, but i rather expect that's something they talk about as well. they just had a big confab this week about, hey, this thing will actually be your friend down the
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road. but there is very little information that's coming out of the administration, and that is actually in context with the way this whole thing has happened. there weren't governors down at the white house when this thing was crafted. there were other special interests, but the governors who you're going to depend upon for this thing to work, they're kind of cut out of the program. i mean, where was the governor of indiana, mitch daniels, who had delivered care in his healthy indiana plan for his state lows and cut costs by 11% over to two years? seems like they would have chained him to the table until he spilled the beans on how he managed to do that, and it was with a health savings account model. he found out something magic happens when people spend their own money for health care even if it wasn't their own money in the first place. there were a lot of opportunities that were missed. then again, it's not my position to advise the administration, i'm sure they wouldn't take it anyway, but those opportunities are continuing to be missed. >> just a couple points about campaign.
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and california's a good example of doing a large-scale public outreach campaign, i think 100 million. that's just a fraction of -- >> the public affairs -- exactly right, yeah. >> on broad-based education and outreach efforts. there is a different strategy here that's much more modern campaign-style microtargetting that is not what happened for both technological and, i think, other reasons in 2005-2006 with medicare. i don't think we could have done it. i mean, the social media, internet technologies didn't exist then. i would say, by the way, that that's a two-edged sword. it is a way of reaching people a lot faster, but there is a lot of information that the administration, others can't control that also spread rapidly -- that will also spread rapidly as these outreach and other activities occur. you know, if any enrollment problems arise -- >> right. if you were relying on twitter for your educational source for enroll, you would have a lot of 140-character confusion.
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>> yeah. and i guess the second thing is to dr. burgess' point as well, our outreach and education infrastructure was led by a mixture of people, some who supported the law, some who didn't. and it was focused from when we set it up a year before on information that's reliable so that people can make an informed choice. we've asked them over and over again what is it that you think your seniors, what you care about, your moms, your family members, what do they really want to know. and it focused on that. it was not a campaign strategy style of identifying, okay, who is likely to benefit or at least potentially be a target for this program and how can we microtarget them. there's a next step to this. this is not the same thing as, you know, just getting somebody out to vote. it's one thing to get them to engage and look at the information, it's a second thing to help them make an informed, honest, fact-based decision about what does this really mean for me, and is it a good idea
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for me to sign up. and that's not just the typical campaign decision. it's a thoughtful decision. this is going to be much more challenging than just, you know, deciding what to buy on amazon or which hotel to book. this is more like, you know, deciding to get a mortgage for your house, something that's got big financial consequences and depends a lot on your current circumstances. that's not a typical campaign strategy focus. that's an education information, personalized information tool focus that needs to accompany any campaign -- >> and that is happening in the states that are implementing their own state-based exchanges and in the partnership states that are doing the consumer assistance and at the federal level that are developing the web site and the consumer assistance for the federally-facilitated marketplace. so there is, while there is campaign-style trying to reach folks going on, i don't think if my experience -- in my experience with people i'm talking to in the states,
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there's nobody that thinks that's enough without having this really important be -- important education that needs to happen. and it's not easy to figure out how to tell people to understand their choices. everyone in this room and out there knows that explaining insurance is a lot different than explaining the features of the newest smartphone. but there's a lot of work going into trying to make that simple, and none of us here knows if that's going to work well or not. but there's a lot of effort going into it. >> do we have audience questions? i'm not sure who has the mic, where is it? so stand up. if someone has a question, signal, and we'll get you a mic. >> coupled with all of this is the funding battles that are going to go on. >> we've got one over here. and please introduce yourself, and make it a question. >> my name's kevin killian, i'm asking about the taft-hartley self-insured plans. will they have to become real insurance with the raising of the lifetime limit, the lifetime cap? thanks.
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>> who wants to take -- >> i didn't fully understand, i'm sorry. >> [inaudible] for union taft-hartley plans. they do under the law these to comply with all the requirements that insurance plans have to, have to comply with. so -- >> annual caps and lifetime caps is what you're asking about? lifetime and annual. the answer is, yes, they have to comply. >> when? >> starting 2014. there have been a number of questions from the unions about that, about whether taft-hartley plans can qualify for subsidies like individual or exchange plans can. i think the answer to that is, no. but this will be one of the many areas where there'll continue to be questions raised. the current law and current administration policy, i believe, is, yes, they have to fully comply. >> other questions? no one else in the room? twitter? i'm -- the only one i have is the challenges of the aca, and i think that's probably what we've
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been talking about for the entire time. how, you know, i guess i have a selfish question in terms of august. how hot is it going to get? i should tell you that i'm so well organized and prepared that i sent my husband out to buy the school supplies yesterday. [laughter] i'll go get the right ones next week. [laughter] >> [inaudible] >> training process, right? for 17 years. we're getting there. >> you're talking about the august recess. >> right. what are we going to hear? >> well, you know, remember -- i'll never forget 2009 -- >> i don't think anybody in this room is forgetting 2009, right. >> sort of really kicked off. and my little sleepy town halls in denton, texas, if i attracted two dozen people, i thought it was a good event. we had 2,000 show up. we had to move it from the air-conditioned space out to the parking lot at 110 degrees because there wasn't simply room for everyone who showed up, and i didn't want the picture on the 6:00 news to be people pounding on the doors saying listen to
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us. so we went out to the parking lot and talked for hours. i don't know that it will be that level, particularly in texas. people are going to be mad about the irs, they're going to be mad about immigration, they're going to be mad about any number of things. i don't know, you know, this will probably be fairly low down on the list. >> think so? >> but -- there's no question, there'll be some discussion about this. i will likely absorb a lot of criticism for not enthusiastically embracing the affordable care act, but it's been well advertised that i've had, i've been a skeptic from day one. i think the other thing that's going to come up and, certainly, i'll hear it back in the texas, is the whole issue of funding. you've got the end of the fiscal year coming up september 30th, exchanges start the next day. there's a nexus that is going to be pretty important. and then, of course, we've got incredible budget battles sometime before the end of the year with the federal debt limit and how that is going to interplay in this. i mean, that's governor perry's
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concern, do i really trust the federal government to do everything they say they're going to do with their checkbook? absolutely not. look at the sequester. what if i start this medicaid expansion, and there is no partner with me at the end of next year, and i'm standing on my own? so the funding questions, i think, are probably going to be some of the more heated ones like, you know, you're in the house, you control the pursestrings, why don't you just shut this thing down. and that will likely be the question i are get. >> let me ask you one other quick question and then we'll check with the audience again. we just got a whole bunch of them, but a really quick question, is sgr not happening this year or happening? >> it passed in the subcommittee on a voice vote last week and will pass the full committee next wednesday, and at some point we'll likely be wrapped up into the bigger budget battles at the end of the year. the important thing about the sgr was it was inclusive, we got input from private providers and patients for a year and a half or two years. relins and democrats worked --
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republicans and democrats worked well into the night for months on this. the important be thing was to get the policy right, we'll worry about the pay-fors at a later date, and the good news was we were able to coalesce around policy. it was insoluble, no one could fix it. we're going to fix it. >> question for california. a twitter question. what pieces of the -- i mean, what is sort of the detail when you do this outreach campaign, what's the hardest thing for ordinary people to grasp? i'm paraphrasing the question, but -- >> you know, i think that the complexity of the laws, the interface of opportunity and obligationing is what makes it -- obligation is what makes it hard for all of us. and, you know, we've talked here about everybody evaluating this through their own lens from their own current circumstances, will i be better off or not better off when this goes forward. the issue that you might hope would mobilize people but really has been absent through all the
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years of this debate is, you know, to what extent are we in this together, and do i have some obligation to participate not, you know, because of my short-term benefit, but for broader reasons? >> anything that mark or anne have to say that, you know, as these people, as we campaign, education, whatever word you choose, that there's something that when you hear people talking about it you know is not going to connect with the audience? >> i've actually liked to come back to something that hasn't come up very quickly which is the importance of collaboration and communication among the different agencies in a state between the feds and the states and between the states and the private sector. and that's happening successfully in places. but it could be better and is going to need to work well going forward. >> back to the point about individuals signing up, the issue of, you know, we're all in this together is maybe one reason to get insurance. it does kind of take you back up
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from the level of what does this mean for me personally to the level of what are we as a society doing about health care. and the challenge there is that there are some very different views. and i think there are -- most americans want to be in this together in terms of making sure everyone gets the coverage they neat that momentum -- they need. that doesn't necessarily mean that all americans are going to support this version of doing it, and i think the philosophical issue is going to be a challenge in this environment, and so that gets back to whether there are a number of people out there who for very rational reasons would say, you know, i'd like to get coverage, but i don't have that much income. this looks kind of expensive, or i used to have a policy before that was cheaper for whatever reason, you know, less generous, i'm young and healthy and so forth. and today may end up not deciding. i think a big question is how much the individual mandate fee will play out in all of this, too, but i could see a lot of people deciding that they're at
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least going to wait through this first, through this first period to see what happens. >> and do you think the planned participation -- i mean, some people have told me that they think, you know, we were talking about premiums, that they may be high the first year because insurers are intrinsically by definition, they're conservative. they don't want to lose all their money x. you might have, they may be placing a little higher the first year, some of them, we know, are holding back to see what happens. so dueck, you know, judging it the first year not just in enrollment but on pricing hay be a hard assessment? >> i think it's hard to say. the more that -- and this is part d, the more you can convey certainty about what the policies are and how well this is going to work, the more competitive prices you're going to get. and that'll work actually very well in medicare part d, and the price has come down even further since then. for this program, i think, it does vary across states. some states have done pretty well with this process.
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i think for many insurers, especially when they don't know how many people are signing up, this is an educated guess this year, and it may well look different from state to state in 2015 based on experiences that differ from state to state in 2014. .. expiring, the debt ceiling limit
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actually being hit, sgr come into play and now discussion that the whole affordable care act may in fact become part of the debt ceiling debate. we're really gearing up for sort after fiscal cliff type scenario like we had last year, not quite as big but with all the drama whether the government will be shut down over there and that debate probably occurring in november. >> you about the aca, the timing of it, that was, looked like a sent debate and debating it but the actual timeline is after enrollment begins and because of economic conditions i think we'll have a long hot december. but the timing of it may interact with the aca little differently. with a question here and then we'll wrap. >> how about -- >> introduce yourself. >> from the business roundtable. how about funding from the exchanges and will states seek more funding than they seek from the federal government and how will that work? what are you hearing? >> states are eligible to aplie
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for establishment grants through august of 2014 and that is particularly for states that may elect to run state-based exchanges or to take on certain functions but after that year they have to be fully self-sustaining and they all have different models that they are working on for self-sustainability including fees on the plans that are part of the marketplace. some just in the exchange. some on the broader marketplace. they're looking at other creative sources such as advertising and sponsorships and, so they need to provide value and they need to, to their customers and they need to be self-sustaining. so the feds will not be funding the exchanges. >> for that federal fall back of states it looks like it will be fees on insuressers. >> right. that's the, that's the current plan. it will not come from the
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treasury after that. >> okay. it is 9:10. time to wrap up our conversation. thank you all for joining us. i thought it was a lively, interesting time. thank you to cvs caremark for your partnership -- >> we'll leave the last few minutes right now to take you live to the center for american progress for a conversation about deficit reduction and its effect on the economy. we'll hear from the head of the committee for a responsible federal budget and former economic advisor to vice president joe biden. >> -- on track to surpass 100% of gdp by 2023 well on its way to levels unheard of in modern american history. this alarming trend prompted many people in washington including the center for american progress to offer a variety of policy solutions to bring the federal budget on to a more sustainable course. today the budget picture looks significantly different than what it did three years ago. projections have the debt key cleaning slowly next five years
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before creeping up again after 2018 ending up in 2023 at about same levels where it is today. this fall washington is likely to be consumed yet again with talks of deficit and debt and spending and taxes. before october 1st congress will have to figure out a way to enact base government funding measures for the next fiscal year to keep the government open and sometime in october or november, we may find ourselves again in a fight over the debt limit. how we should approach these issues and how they fit into larger economic questions of unemployment, inequality and economic mobility depend substantially on what we think the improving budget projections mean. given new budget realities, are they new, is one question? should deficit reductions still take center stage? has the deficit reduction we've accomplished helped or hurt to
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date? and how do we move forward to address the nation's significant economic challenges? to discuss and likely disagree about some of these questions we are really excited and honored to have our distinguished panel. first of all, just in alphabetical order, jared bernstein, is a senior fellow at the center on budget and policy priorities. from 2009 to 2011 he served as the chief economist and economic advisor to the vice president. executive director of the white house task force on the middle class, and a member about president obama's economic team prior to joining the obama administration, bernstein was the senior economist and director of the living standards program at the economic policy institute here in washington. robert bixby has been with the concord coalition since 1992 and has owed as its executive director since 1999. bob was a mem better bipartisan sapp policy center deficit
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reduction task force which was known as the ref lynn-domenici commission. he practiced law and served as a chief staff attorney as the court in virginia maya mcginnis, committee of responsible federal budget and campaign to fix the debt steering committee. she served alongside bob with the bipartisan policy center debt reduction task ever task force. maya worked at brew kings institution, wall street and "the washington post" and advised numerous candidates for political office from both parties. we also have the center and ceo of center for american progress and american progress action fund. she was one of the first members at cap serving as vice president of domestic policy but since then nira served as policy director for senator clinton and policy director for senator clinton's presidential campaign
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and policy director of the obama campaign in 2008 and senior advisor for health reform at the department of health and human services. moderating today ace panel will be david leonhardt. david is the chief of washington bureau at the new york times company. he writes the weekly economic scene column for the business section. he also serves as the staff writer for "the new york times" magazine and contributes to the economist blog. in 2011 david was awarded the pulitzer prize for commentary. prior to joining "the times" in 1999 he worked for "business week" magazine and "the washington post." i like to welcome all of them up to the stage right now and let's give them a nice warm welcome. [applause] >> thank you, michael. thank you all for coming. so we're not going to do opening
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statements. we're going to talk for a while up here and then have a little bit of a discussion and debate and then we'll open it up to you all and take some questions and conversation from the audience. so i guess i want to start out by throwing a question out there for nera and jared. which is, that, there's this whole argument right now that, that we should not worry about the deficit in the short term. that it's not the most important problem. and that it is not about to bite news the short term. we should worry about it in the long term. i guess what i wanted to ask you, and i will start with nera, if we imagine a country which you got to be benevolent despot, right? i could see, i could see -- >> supposed to be on my team. >> how we would do that, right? you've laid out all kind of idea for reducing the deficit at cap and we would have faith you do that but the way the political
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system works it is hard to cut the deficit. the question i have is, given the scale of long-term challenges we have, right, given the fact the more we wait the more they build up and the smaller part of the population we have to focus them on, isn't it dangerous to say more chocolate today, more spinach tomorrow? >> so, i think what's been interesting about the debate in washington is that we've actually been excellent at the spinach. i would turn that on its head. if you look at policy making over the past several years we've been, we've excelled at deficit reduction, not in ways that is the knows rational but actually made real progress on deficit reduction and we haven't been making significant progress in terms of policy-making and economic growth, reducing unemployment, et cetera. so what's fascinating about the
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discussion in washington is that, the traditional notion that deficit reduction is so hard and investment is so easy has really been turned upside down. and, and, you know, and i think that there's a common view that deficit reduction always gets harder, you know, the longer you put it off and what we're saying is, obviously, you know, we've put out a lot of plans that we believe are the right plans for long-term deficit reduction. we're just in a, we're acknowledging that we're in a political, the climate in which rational deficit reduction seems very difficult because of the constraints of one, one party to the talks that will come and, basically what we're doing with a world in which it's the position of one political party to do no revenues. and so, you know, that needs to change for us to take action
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and, we're saying, we should not beholding hostage investment in the economy, that are desperately needed to be search for a grand bargain that may be good in the abstract but can hurt us from actually acting right now. >> jared. >> i think that not doing seven sit reduction right now -- deficit reduction right now is not accurately described as chocolate and doing the reduction later is not really spinach. what i would argue is, basically, basically three quick points and i'll circle back to what i started with. first of all i wholly agree with near a's framing. and in fact deficit reduction so far if you include interest savings mounted to 2.8 trillion the next 10 years according to numbers developed at cbcp. at this point it would take
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another 900 billion over next decade to stablize the debt as share of gdp. that is aa goal we would agree at least upon in a long term n a functional congress, which we don't have, that is not that heavy a lift. i thought neera's teeing up of the framing was just right. look, to suggest somehow an agenda, i don't suggest your agenda, the way you asked the question to suggest it would be kind of like sugar or chocolate to put off current deficit reduction is, i think the wrong frame because it's much, chocolate is sort of what you have after you have been nourished. it is your dessert. frankly our economy is suffering from an absence of basic nutrition right now and the austerity embedded in the deficit reduction that i believe, in my view come too quickly thus far is demonstrably hurting economic growth in the
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long term. i think that is something we all on the panel agreed on. secondly, and the reason why, in the longer term it is really not spinach because once you achieve a more established growth rate, kind of a bonafide recovery that, again we would all recognize as a real genuine recovery, not what we have now, the deficit, relative to the economy falls on its own if you implement some of the kinds of changes that, that i think we need to implement over the longer term. so i'm not saying, if you didn't do anything we would get all better. i'm saying once we start growing again in ernest, the changes we need to make are actually i think, again not that heavy a lift. finally quick point, we, the thing that drives the long-term budget deficit is twofold. one, a lack of adequate revenues and neera mentioned we can get more into that and pressure from health care costs. we've actually made real
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progress in slowing the growth of health care costs but we don't know yet how much they're going to stick. >> right. >> so we actually could and should take advantage of the savings, about 900 billion, according to cbo over the next 10 years, that's the savings from slower-growing health care cost according to their estimate, we should take advantage of that so we don't rush into, i would say, wrong-headed austerity type, what i think is hair on fire, big emergency/the budget -- slash the budget. we have time to be more thoughtful. >> actually you hit something i want to come back to which is teasing out what the actual real differences are among the panel but first i want to come over here and ask bob amaya. if i take a version what they're saying and ask a some of the question, version of churchhill's line when, change my mind when the facts change, what do you do, sir, right? a version of health care costs are slowing as jared said. people talk about, we got
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deficit reduction over 10 years. we got combination of tax increases pushed by obama and spending cuts pushed by republicans. >> sequester. >> sequester at this point it's there. we've had a lost deficit reduction. i guess the question, and i'll start with bob on the end is, i think that a lot of people say, boy, would it be a big deal if people like the two of you, people who have your view on things, came out and said, right now the problem isn't the deficit, the bigger problem is the state of the economy and the deficit's second. why not make that argument from your perspective and push the deficit to a secondary? >> well, i'm happy to accept jared's version of deficit reduction as chocolate. things that hasn't changed that much, clearly the deficit has come down in the short term but
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i think we've been making the case on the grand bargain side, that the short-term deficit not the problem and that what we need to do from a grand bargain point of view is, attack the structural deficit which is the, long-term mismatch between spending programs and revenues, and you need to put those things on the table. so, i would, you know, agree that, in the, you know, in the short term the deficit is, is coming down. it's obviously looking much better. i don't see that though as a reason to postpone trying to address that structural deficit which i've always viewed as the real problem. and i don't think that, you know, that problem has been solved. numbers are going to switch every now and then. that look as little better with the health care costs and some of the changes that have been made. health care costs coming down but i look at the good news and say, okay, we, you look at the
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last cbo projections. you've had declining health care costs, you've had rising revenues, the debt looks relatively stable over next 10 years. we've got all the caps on discretionary spending and yet we still have, an outlook that is unsustainable, at least the debt begins to go up again towards the end of that period. so, i think you can walk and chew gum at the same time. i think in fact the only way you can get at an agreement that might do the sort of, long-term structural issues that some of us want to get at, combined with, you know, some short-term help to the economy is through a grand bargain. i don't see being able to address those things separately. >> i recently decided i would go on a mini health kick, to have green juices and spinach juice
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for breakfast. i realize huge irony i'm in the spinach for breakfast caucus. they are actually good. the kale drinks are not as disgusting as you would think. >> they slip fruit in it. >> there is sugar poured into it. it is kind of tasty. right so a little built of sugar along with the spinach. there we have solution. let me start by saying things we all agree on. certainly there has been real fiscal progress in the past couple years and i think that's great news. i think probably we all agree it's primarily been not in the right ways. sort of a lot of changes we've done through the discretionary caps which are not the big problem areas in the budget to say the least. the sequester now. that is not the spending area of the budget you really want to focus on. that is not where the problems are. i'm not sure how much you all would agree with this, i say the way we raise revenues increasing tax rates instead of tax reform
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not best way to go in generating revenues. that is one thing i would say, so far the accomplishments on deficit reduction not actually the ones we want accomplished, the big parts of the budget that still need to be addressed still haven't been. i think we also agreed the problem is not solved. if you look at what the the fiscal objective is, i would say what you want to do is put the debt on a downward path so it is not growing faster than the economy. we've stablized it so it is coming down for a couple years and then it will come back up. so we haven't reached the overall metric. we agree there is more to do. we all agree, austerity, meaning significant deficit reduction right now not short term, not the right thing for the economy. i believe we all on the panel think that. i certainly believe that we're not focusing on deficit reduction now. that's not the problem. the problem is in the future, the medium term and long term. i think where we might disagree how important is it to start working on those medium and long-term issues right away?
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i would say, what you don't need to do is put deficit reduction in place. you don't need to cut the seven sit. the deficit may be coming down too quickly. you need to make the decisions as quickly as possible. continuing delay how are we going to deal with the biggest problem in the economy, health care cost, even with the good news, health care is growing faster than the economy? how do we deal with aging of the baby boom something we've known about for decade we continued to punt to figure out how to deal with the challenges. how we update the tax code to raise revenues we actually need to finance the budget through a more sane tax code than the one we currently have. i think we need to work on those things as quickly as possible. i'm sure there is disagreement on the perfect budget solution from where i stand, there is no perfect budget solution, what we need to do is get working on trends as quickly as possible. and not have two sides fighting for years and years and years about, well, i want this revenue package, i want this spending package and move towards a
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compromising piece of it. that is how i see that. you had said it would be a really big deal if we came out and said deficit reduction is not the number one priority right now. i remember after the fiscal crisis and economic crisis i would get calls, i'm sure bob got calls, all the time, the deficit is a trillion dollars, you must be apoplectic about this. the truth at time no, i wasn't. that deficit was as a result of a huge economic recession and we needed to take real measures in terms of deficit spending in terms to deal with that there are times, depending where you are in the business cycle where you want big deficits. we're coming out of one of those. that is one of the reasons the deficit was so big and one of the reasons it is coming back down now. there is structural deficit problem we face in this country. there is just an absolute imbalance between our spending and revenues. i hear many arguments, talk about them, why you want to address those sooner rather than later and not let the political difficulties of these be an
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excuse for people continuing to delay making those, putting those policies in place even though you can phase them in very gradually, wait until the economy is stronger, give people time to prepare. you want to make decisions quickly as possible, and bring stability of knowing how we deal with challenges as quickly as possible. >> neera? >> i want to just respond to a few points maya raised. and, probably won't take them in particular order but i would like to, on the issue of health care costs it is the case that health care costs in the last few years have been moderately higher than inflation but we're also at a 50-year low in terms of numbers coming in, in terms of medical inflation. so i think policymakers we shouldn't, you know, there are variables in both directions. we shouldn't assume that health care costs will stay at this level. the question that i think i think we have to grapple is,
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neither should we assume they will automatically go back up. there are variables in both sides, for all we know, health care costs could come in lower than cbo's projections. idea of taking this moment in time and, and putting in place policies that will lock in decisions for generations, seems to me as a polly matter, something you want to think about on those ends. having said that, you know, we've proposed at cap lots of reforms of health care that address lowering, you know, trying to move on health care costs over the long term but we're mindful that middle and low income seniors have borne a lost burdens and the last, during this recession, middle and low income people have borne a lot of burdens in the last faw years. and putting greater burdens on them is a big question for us. i think that really raises, goes to the second point i would like
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to make, which is, that you know, we absolutely agree that an optimum situation is long-term deficit, like having, having a plan. i'm sure we all broadly agree. maybe not in every fine point as maya says, that, that we should have a long-term deficit reduction plan. that invests in the economy right now but i think that washington has, you know, has really, its obsession with deficit reduction, you know, we have to, we have to acknowledge that we have some responsibility for the high unemployment we have right now. you know, policy in washington has not been focused on the, as a laser beam on economic growth, on what the federal government can do to address long-term unemployment. political actors on all sides have been much more focused, you know, if you, look at the house of representatives, they have
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very little talk about long-term unemployment. economic growth measures, that would address the suffering that people have right now. and i guess the point we're making is, the point i would like to make, that essentially, you know, we all have some responsibilities for these things. washington can do some of these things. we tried to get a grand bargain. it has not happened because the house of representatives has been intransigent on the issue of revenues and, we're simply making the point you could have a small-term deal that works over the next couple of years to pull, you know, to substitute sequester, that actually lays, has investments, you know, and, to address unemployment, investment infrastructure, pre-k, other programs. these are asked ideas we put out and that we shouldn't hold, again, we shouldn't hold hostage doing anything around economic growth right now for a grand
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bargain that unfortunately has proved elusive. >> so in the interview that the president had with the "times," this last week, that we ran this weekend he said that he wants to move away from the damaging framework in washington on the deficit. the question for all of you. >> austerity i think he used. >> austerity. >> damaging framework? i blogged on that. >> to what extent does he deserve some blame for that? that would include the pivot, when the administration pivoted in the first term towards emphasizing stimulus to deficit. and then i would say, although it has gotten less attention, the white house didn't have to be in favor of letting the temporary payroll tax stuff lapse at the end of this year. either in retrospect or even saying they should have known it at the time, does the president deserve some of the blame or credit for that framework that he now decries? >> well that is exactly where i wanted to jump in so thank you for asking i think the answer is probably some but i wanted to
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say that, you know, from my taste, and i don't want to be unfair to anybody but there's almost like too much agreement up here on this point. you know, the budget deficit, which i believe was about 10% of gdp in 2009, is going to be under 3% according to forecasts i've seen by 2015. maybe everybody up here was, you know, alarmed about that and saying, boy the budget deficit is falling too quickly but that is not i think the way it is played out in the real world. so there have been strong forces that have been pushing, policymakers towards deficit reduction way too soon in my humble opinion and, it is sounds discordant to hear groups i think we're assigned to this panel that there would be some disagreement, saying, no, no, we all agree with that. >> so where is the disagreement? where do you think, and i invite everybody here, what are the,
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what are the policy measures, not the frameworks and discussion which you think -- >> right, i would say the policies you want to be focusing on are the ones that phase in very slowly and compound the savings over time. not only are we focusing what savings we're getting in the first 10 years but the second 10 years are really important. something like the president put out recently, improvements how we measure inflation known as chain cpi is the kind of policy that would make a lot of sense for the current economy. what happens, very little savings, like two billion in the first year. but growth of those savings becomes very large. at end of the decade and even larger in longer term. same is true with health care measures or anything you would be doing on helping to strengthen social security that you would phase in very gradually. those are the kinds of policies that actually are the ones that could get at our main debt challenges but also i think would fit with our economic situation right now. wouldn't do a lot in the short term. would do a lot in the long term. i would think you want to trade out more damaging cuts from the
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sequester and replace them with those mandatory savings for those kind of policies. >> let me say, david is asking how, that is forward-looking. there i suspect we could have a good discussion with a lot of agreement and probably with us about 100%. i think you're asking how did we, somehow the budget deficit went from 10% of gdp to 3% of gdp when we're all saying it shouldn't have. how did that happen? i didn't believe i was part of the problem when i was arguing against that strenuously part of the administration. was the president part of the problem? certainly the pivot in 2010 came too soon but, you know -- >> let me put it, one of the reasons why we did the work that we did to point out the changing deficit reduction is because i think we all have to, we have to acknowledge that while, you know, there was an overarching chorus of voices that, you know,
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organizations and many organizations were part of that pushed for massive deficit reduction. it wasn't, the theory was the deficit picture was 8% of gdp. there was concern. people heard in washington policymakers about that strategy, right? because they heard these voices. and, they, they didn't apparently hear any of the voices about, very little in the voice around immediate action to reduce the deficit, to invest in the economy now. because they did very little on that score. so i guess, what we're trying to say is, there's reality has changed. you know, if you look at the, ledger, from 2010, where there are projections that deficit reduction and economic growth, deficit reduction we're doing way better than we thought we would. and economic growth we're doing worse than we thought we would by now. cbo's projections we would be at 6:00% unemployment but we're at
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7 1/2. policymakers if we believe in short-term deficit reduction or short term investments and short-term economic growth come and have ideas on that aggressively right now. the deficit picture hasn't changed. we're talking about chain cpo. where is the growth now, that will address the suffering that people have right now around long-term unemployment? >> i was going to say. .
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>> it's not hugely responsible for the short-term decline in the deficit. it's, you know, part of the longer term. so, and so we did have the payroll tax cut expire and the tax cut go up on upper income people, and that has contributed somewhat to the smaller deficits this year. so, i mean, i don't think that the sudden drop in the deficit is a result of, solely the result of some relentless drive to, you know, put on the hair shirt and cut spending. >> do you think -- setting aside the question of whether the deficit, we haven't done, when we've done enough work in the long term which i think all of you would agree we have not, do you think it's come down too quickly in the short term? do you think it should be higher than it is today? >> not necessarily. the deficit is still around 4% of gdp. i think that, you know, it's
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normalizing as the economy begins to recover. so the question then is do you continue, you know, with policies like sequester which hit the wrong part of the budget, hit the things that are the investment? the you're going to make domestic investments, they're going to come from those programs x it's going to be increasingly difficult to do that, and that's not a good thing policy wise. so adjusting the policy choices that you make for deficit reduction, i think, is a good thing. >> what i hear them saying is a version of, look, the deficit has come down a lot, it's come down more than we forecast. economic growth is slower than we forecast, and the unemployment or at least employment population ratio is worse than we thought and that the decline in the deficit has caused some of that, and i guess i'm interested in do you agree with the idea that we have had an economically damaging amount of austerity in the last two years, setting aside the long-term question, or do you think we've had the right amount of short-term deficit reduction so far? >> well, honestly, nobody ever
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knows how -- >> absolutely. >> nobody knows what would have happened other side. i think if you look at the numbers and where the deficit reduction has come, a big part of it is what bob just said, actually the economy performing better than we thought it would, but it's not what it should be, right? so there's a whole lot of policies that you need to be dealing with to promote growth. i would say one of those is switching out the wrong kind of deficit reduction that's in there for the right kind, because i do think the sequester will start to have a bite on the economy going forward. i don't know that it has so much. part of we have higher revenues was cap gains, was people paying, selling their stocks because they knee the tax gains -- knew the tax gains were going to go up, not to mention what was going on with fannie and freddie. so temporary measurings. but i think it will start to become a problem in terms of economic growth on two sides. one, that the sequester spending cuts are cutting out the public investment that exists.
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there's already too little public investment, and it's probably going to come too much, too quickly. but, two, that the debt levels -- and one of the things in this report that it talks about is that this reinhard rogoff report was kind of dismissed, so we don't need to be worried about debt being a harm on the economy. but there are many studies that show debt can drag on the economy. we don't know what that point is -- >> and we probably don't even need studies for that. >> right. guess what? no surprise, it's going to be a drag on the economy. so one has to be worried about that at the same time. so i think what makes sense is to think about what do we know about how to grow the economy? we know we need to be looking at private investment, public investment, and keeping our debt level somewhere that's manageable. we're not doing very well on at least three out of those four and probably could be doing better on private investment with more stability in the economy. so there's a whole comprehensive economic growth strategy that deficit reduction has to be a part of.
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>> jerry? >> let many me go. i quite strongly disagree with -- >> you've been looking for that disagreement. >> he's so convivial in every -- >> product of too much cable television. you know, with a ton of respect because bob and maya know this stuff very well and have been working in this field for a long time. but on the near term economy, i think you had it backwards. i mean, first of all, one of you said that, you know, the economy's done better than we expected. in fact, pretty much every forecast has had to be marked down. i mean, almost every federal reserve forecast has had to be marked down, because the economy be continues to do worse than we expected. currently, gdp growth year-over-year is barely 2%, okay? that's, basically, what we call trend growth. in fact, yeah, i guess we don't really have third -- we don't have seconder quarter yet, but
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the forecasts are coming in around 1% or so. >> but revenues came in higher than expected. that budget a policy. >> [inaudible] >> okay. so that's the second point i wanted to disagree with. that's not a -- demonstrably given the first part of my point, that's not a function of a faster growing economy. that's a function, in part -- that's part of it, i agree, that's part of it, and it'd be good to know how much. somewhere around 50/50, but i don't know. in my first comment i talked about 2.8 rl in deficit savings that we've -- the lower bca caps is part of it, atra's part of it. >> right. >> the deal that the tax increase deal that they were talking about -- >> fiscal cliff. >> the fiscal cliff. >> the new year's tax increases. >> what does atra stand for? anyway, you know, the payroll tax expiration holiday. we have engaged in significant economic policy to bring the budget deficit down. economic growth is part of it.
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economic growth has been deeply subpar, and to sort of sign off and say i'm okay with the deficit reduction we've had so far because the economy is okay seems to me to be really missing a lot of pain that's going on out there. >> >> yeah. and i guess i just on one point that was made which is that, you know, long-term be our debt to -- if our debt to gdp ratio goes out of whack, that's going to have a big challenge for economic growth. and, you know, we can disagree about what studies mean, etc., but let's just assume that's true. i guess what i find frustrating about the current debate is we have an economic growth problem now without, you know, that long-term challenge, right? and it's like this whole austerity debate, this whole discussion about insuring that we are focused on those long-term challenges -- which i agree, rational political actors should be able to do it -- but we don't have rational political actors. and so recognizing reality, we think we should take a different course. but at the same time, it's frustrating to hear about potential challenges to economic
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growth ten years, fifteen years, maybe eight years when we have real challenges right now. [inaudible conversations] >> they're cutting a point and a half off growth this year. >> i know. >> i mean, one thing i noticed about your report is you basically said we had focused for a long time on trying to get a grand bargain, a deal that's big enough all at once to put the debt on a downward path. and your report points out that the grand bargain seems elusive, and i think that's right. i wish that we could put in place a fix that would actually surpass expectations and bring a lot of confidence, but it doesn't seem like the political environment's going to be able to come up with that. but your proposal to me also seemed politically as unrealistic, being what we would do is get rid of a couple years of the sequester, and i think three-quarters of it would be from revenues. the truth is whether you think that's the right policy -- which is completely legitimate to think it's the right policy -- that's not going to happen either. so one of the questions is what
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can we possibly get done this coming fall where we should be trying to work on these issues, and there are going to be all these moments where we are working on these issues, let's think about politically what can get done, and i'm not sure your report has much of a chance of going forward. >> so let me just try to respond to that. we put forward a proposal that, essentially, says that we can have, you know, short -- a smaller, a smaller deal. what's that directly, our view is to have, you know, roughly 50% revenue, not three-fourths, 50% of revenue -- [inaudible conversations] we'd accept three-fourths. and we do count the fiscal cliff as part of what should have been offset in sequester. but i think what we're saying is when you get to a reasonable amount of, you know, when you're talking about a couple of hundred million -- billion dollars, that seems much more reasonable on both sides.
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there's spending we could have and revenue that could make up for that. and i think that we could up do these damaging sequester cuts for a period of time until we get, you know, that are really hurting people right now. you know, cbo does project 700,000 jobs impacted. that's a lot of jobs in this economy. from sequester. and so we're simply saying that, you know, i don't -- it seems to me quite reasonable to expect that the house of representatives that can't do $800 billion in revenue could do $100 billion in revenue, $150 billion in revenue. i think there are ideas circulating around the hill right now that make that a very reasonable amount of money. >> you both -- i'm not sure if you both used the phrases, but you talked about forces that created this deficit framework. can you put some meat on that bone and kind of tell us what are the political groups that
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you think -- feel prix to blame the media -- feel free to blame the media, you know? >> david leonhardt has been obsessed with austerity. >> always win when you blame the media? >> that's probably true, and lawyers. what is, what are the -- >> but not in that order, unfortunately for the media. >> that have created this framework that the president decried as damaging? >> i just start? you know, look, we believe in facts, and the truth is the facts were worse, right? three years ago when the debate started on austerity or having long-term deficit reduction, etc., the predictions of where we'd be throughout the this decade were far worse. and so, to me, you know, it's very reasonable for actors to say this was a significant challenge. we're not arguing that there's some, you know, crazy alliance of people trying to keep growth down. that was the --
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[inaudible] our point is that right now the world has changed, and seems to me policymakers from from throughout the spectrum should recognize that change and adopt it. and i think the issue is like where are people right now? what are the forces arguing for austerity over everything else right now? and that's what we're concerned about. >> what are they? >> well, let me do a little more, and if that's okay, i'll do a little more finger pointing which is i think what you asked for. [laughter] i don't totally agree -- >> it's funny that i'm the nice person. >> i know. and i don't -- i think neera's absolutely right like cbo projections, but paul krugman wrote the other day that a ten-year budget forecast is a particularly boring type of science fiction, and i think that's perhaps well put. i think in the near term we all expected the budget deficit to get really big, and, you know, i was there working for the
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administration when that was happening, and the right question was not is your budget deficit too large in '08, '09, 2010, it's, is it big enough to offset the magnitude of the demand sector, of private sector demand contraction? so i think the forces that have aligned here are those who are actually quite a bit less interested in actual deficit reduction than you'd believe to bring the budget deficit down, there are more people who wanted to just really shrink the heck out of government. they want to get rid of government insurance because they ideologically oppose be it. they don't like the safety net. if you actually give them an opportunity to cut, say, medicare costs as the president did in the election against romney and ryan, they attacked him for that. so, you know, i don't think that they're -- when you actually write down the numbers, they're as serious as they say they are. but i think it's the tea party, i think it's the kind of republican, small government
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overall regardless of what that actually means in the near or the long term that that has gotten, that has adopted deficit reduction as an ideology. i will say there are groups, and i think maya and bob's groups have contributed to a level of urgency of that near term deficit reduction has hurt us and is quite different than the views they actually espouse. so perhaps it's the communications thing. but -- >> say more about that. what do you mean? >> i think that the, well, say more about what? >> about how you think our groups -- i mean -- >> how they're, right, how their groups -- you're saying their groups have contributed to this overemphasis on -- >> on austerity. there's a difference between austerity and long-term deficit reduction, we should clarify that. our focus has been on medium and long-term deficit reduction. >> so i think it has been -- that's what i meant when i said maybe it's a communications thing. so, for example, every time there's a proposal for reducing
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the deficit, i get a flash e-mail from your guys that says it's not going far enough. right? i mean -- >> right. >> including the president's speech the other where i got an e-mail a few minutes after the president speaks -- >> well, that wasn't really a proposal to reduce the deficit, was it? >> no, but i'm saying -- >> [inaudible] >> no, but i'm saying the criticism, the criticism was i wish the president had reduced -- >> wove in fiscal issues. >> so i stand by my assertion, and i'd be happy to collect the press releases. every time there is a proposal to do some deficit reduction, your group has said to do more. now, i think you've argued to do it in the medium term so, again, i'm saying what i hear you saying today makes sense to me. >> it's the failure of the media not to interpret our -- [laughter] >> but you're making a cogent argument there which is that if the only -- >> [inaudible] >> the only message that comes out, right, whether it's from the media or from deficit hawks
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is we need to pay attention to the deficit, that that actually has more impact on the debate than the timing of the thing. >> i think it is difficult sometimes to distinguish between the short term and the long term. >> yes. >> we always make that it's, people here, deficit, and they don't necessarily look at short term, long term stuff. so i think that is one of the vicissitudes of discussing the whole issue is that you get with -- and you do get the discussion that people are more interested in a sustainable fiscal policy or shrink the government sort of thing. that's a different argument actually. i, i kind of want to get back to the so what do we do about it. i mean, the political truesation that i have right now, and this is part of what's going on even with the president's tour, is it's not so much a resetting as i see it as just sort of
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swapping trenches. you go from one trench warfare to another trench warfare so we have the sort of trench warfare on the proposal that cia has put out -- cip has put out. people are talking past each other and not talking with each other. there are, you know, i think if we want to have this discussion about economic growth, let's say that maya and i were to say, okay, things have changed, so let's talk about growth here, but let's also talk about the structural deficit that we have always made our concern. i think i you can do both, and i really think you have to do both. and what's missing now is some sort of process to get us out of the trenches. so we can have trench warfare over the medium term, over growth in the short term. i would like, you know, regular order on the budget would be one way to do it. you've got a house budget, a
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senate budget, the president's made, you know, budget proposals. there's not a mechanism right now where we could mange the sort of trade-off -- make the sort of trade-off and say, okay, maybe, maybe we should accept some higher spending on things that are, you know, have a high potential for growth in the short term. or -- >> [inaudible] >> what would you say to the norm ornstein argument which is it's not about setting up process, it's not about making sure that barack obama and john boehner like each other? i think what ornstein would argue if he were here is that one party has gone much further from the center than the other party. and those of us in the media and at groups that try not to take a side have a really hard time with dealing with that. and it's not about regular order. it's about the fact that barack obama will cut medicare and social security, and republicans won't raise taxes. what do you make of that case?
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>> that is a problem. [laughter] i think if you have, you know -- but, on the other hand, i think you need to probe for possibilities of, you know, there are a lot of -- the senate republicans, for example, i think you have some folks there that would make some sort of a deal, and i would like to see at least something going on there that there was a budget negotiation to test that proposition. because i think everybody recognizes at some point revenues are going to have to be part of the solution. >> but see i think, you know, i think the politics of this, obviously, are terrible. washington is in this a terrible place, and it's toxic, and it's partisan, and it's very difficult to work on issues together, particularly these difficult issues. i do think when you ask your question, though, we should remember that we've cut defense,
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we've cut domestic discretionary, and we've raised revenues. >> right. >> what we haven't done is dealt with social security or medicare. so the premise of your question that one party won't raise revenues, now, they're back to saying they won't raise revenues, we've done revenues, what we haven't done is party reform. since we're both sort of political independents, you would have wanted to invite some of the far right, but they would say, listen, we've done everything, but we haven't done entitlement reform yet. >> see, but that's a great example of how this conversation gets skewed in this perspective because one of the reasons why we have medicare -- we have done, actually, we have taken a lot of money out of medicare. we have lots of reform in medicare. it's in the accountable care act, it's just not counted -- >> but it went back into a new program. >> there's deficit reduction at the end of that because we're taking money out of health care reform be, i mean, there's lower money in medicare, and we're taking money out of tax expenditures, etc., so the
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affordable care act itself was a deficit reduction strategy -- >> particularly in the long term. if you believe the cbo. >> apparently in the long term. the very issue that we're talking about. and i think one of the challenges that gets, that has been so disconcerting and why we are concerned overall is because if you look at what's happened, the entire conversation does move right from this framework of, you know, the president is willing to put forward a kind of balanced plan much to the chagrin of some of his liberal allies. he put forward that plan. he was met by a house republican caucus that moved farther to the right. the paul ryan budget moved farther to the right than it had been in the previous sector. and, you know, one of the challenges is simpson-bowles ii came out and had less revenue, more spending cuts in response. and so i think of that, what we've seen going to the norm
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ornstein point is that the entire -- while the republican party has moved right and where it matters for us is the conversation on deficit reduction has moved farther and farther right as measured by both advocates of simpson-bowles as well as the president himself. >> even with the year end stuff? in the great fight over high-end tax rates, right, in the great bill clinton versus george w. bush fight be, bill clinton has con, right? hasn't he? >> what do you mean? >> 82% -- this is what i want to say, 82% of the bush tax cuts were locked in by the fiscal cliff deal. >> right. so i'm talking about high-end rates. >> yeah. so that, that -- i don't know if you were suggesting this, maya, i'd be interested in your thoughts. i mean, i don't think we're anywhere near done on the revenue side. >> right. >> and, for example, i've been stressing that we've cut $2.8 trillion over ten already, that includes interest savings, but if you actually look at the
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policy part of that, 70% has been spending cuts, 30% has been revenue. i'm not sure i know what the optimal -- i like your 50/50, but -- >> 70 clash -- 70/30 sounds unbalanced. and thirdly, this gets to your question, david, i thought your -- i'm not sure, well, the president if his budget, in his budget puts forth, offers, has elaborated $400 billion in medicare and medicaid cuts and 200 billion in other mandatory cuts. and so, you know, i think that the ornstein analysis sounds accurate to me based on all of the above. >> shouldn't he be out pushing the budget? >> yeah. >> sorry? >> i agree with you, there's a lot of great stuff in the president's budget. shouldn't he be out pushing the budget? >> he has this offer which is on the table which is a very
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sensible offer -- >> right. this is in issue in the senate. they've offered a plan, they're looking for a counteroffer. >> but if you've got to use the bully pulpit to rally public support, there's a perfectly good budget proposal out there that -- >> you mean rallying the public? is that what you're saying? >> yeah. >> because i think that that would be be very cognitively dissonant with where i think the general public is. >> right. >> i don't think the general public wants to hear the president go out and say, look, even if it's long term, it's down the road, we've had an accelerator, now brake -- accelerate now, brake later, you know, i get that. you said it some other way earlier. >> whatever. >> accelerate or not, i don't think that that's -- i think what people want, need and should hear from the president is his plan to do something about, you know, an economic recession that is not official at in this point, but has lagged on for now five years. >> no, i think he can feel the pain on that. but he can talk about his budget
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proposal because i think people do want to hear about that too. and is i'd like to hear about proposals -- >> i ask for what we're trying to accomplish? what does it matter about him speaking about it? the issue is republicans -- >> well, here's my -- >> know what a budget proposal is, and they're not -- if they haven't even done a counteroffer. and to the point you made about the senate, i think the big challenge we have is there are many reasonable voices in the senate. it's hard to move a bill in the senate when it's hard to get the minority leader in the senate to agree to move a bill when he knows the house republicans will kill it, right? because he's in a precarious position, shall we say. and so we're in this world of political constraint, and the question is how do we break out of it. and -- >> well, you've got all of those problems whether he's pushing the budget or doing what he's doing which is, you know, talking about the need for a better with deal for the middle class. i mean, you've got those political problems back in washington no matter what you're
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doing. my point is that if he involves some sort of engagement with the republicans, there's more of a chance of getting something done, and i think hitting some more chord, resonant chord with the public. because if it, again, if we're, if be we're just resetting into different remember trenches, res are not going to be receptive to the president's speech that, you know, the series of speeches that he's making. but if there's some sort of, you know, acknowledgment of the issues that they have with the budget or that they would like to accomplish with the budget, i think that there'd be more of a -- >> i cut to the chase on that? actually, a lot of what you're saying is resonant to me about the trenches, but it seems to me that we're stuck in the trenches because of republican entrance genesee on revenues -- entrance genesee on revenues. so help me figure this out, and i ask that earnestly.
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suppose a two or three-year deal is all we could hope for, and it would replace the sequester with an equal amount of -- >> could we agree to that? >> no, this is a hypothetical. >> i thought that you said earlier, you know, if we can't get a grand bargain -- >> oh, a mini bar gain. i don't want to use the sequester to create another sgr. i don't think we should limp from one crisis to another. i'm just trying to do a more reasonable at least replace part of the sequester -- >> so my question to you is how do we get out of our trenches without new revenues? is it possible? >> out of political trenches or the economic? i mean -- >> well, he's the one who used the metaphor, and i think you mean political trenches where we're both fighting for things that won't happen. >> yeah. >> i mean, you said the same thing. >> no, new revenue has to be part of it, there's no doubt about it. >> to me, as long as one side says i will not do any new be revenues, then i guess i don't
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see how you're not stuck in your trenches. >> do you view the fiscal cliff deal as different than others because of that ticking time bomb, or do you think it signaled some weakening of the grover wing of the republican party? >> well, remember, right after president obama won, boehner made a speech saying he understood -- >> right. >> -- the thing had changed, and revenues were on the table. and unfortunately, what i think was the fiscal cliff was a terribly botched moment where we could have done so much better, where we could have done longer-term savings put the in place, we could have raised a lot more revenues than we did by be doing the right way, and we could have had real savings and the kinds of savings that would have been ripe to dealing with the budget. so i think there was a real openness there. but republicans have always been pretty clear on this that it comes to two things; it comes along with real, structural reforms in entitlement programs and and raising tax reform instead of tax rates. so i think the fight kind of
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deferred the attention twea from how -- away from how he could have done a deal all around. [inaudible conversations] >> no, go ahead. >> i think one of the things fascinating about this debate is how skewed it becomes in washington, because if you actually talk to the american people and their wishes were represented in the political discourse more perfectly than it is now in washington, you know, people if part because of the recession we went think, people, you know, people were much more open to tax increases for the wealthy because the wealthy's fair share of taxes had declined and also the issue with entitlement reform and, again, cap has put forward ideas around entitlement reform. we do believe you can have greater efficiencies, for example, in medicare, etc. but, you know, it's not that republicans want entitlement reform. let's not, like, let's not gloss
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over their demand has been beneficiary cuts in medicare. and what's fascinating about the discourse is that that's the thing that people, because of the economy we've had, the slow growth we've had, people are anxious about losing the benefits, losing things that they have actually benefited from. and the challenge we have in the whole medicare debate what i find be so frustrating about the medicare debate is it's so, so little of the debate actually addresses the fact that things have fundamentally altered. i mean, hopefully fundamentally, have seriously altered over the last three years, and yet we continue to have this conversation about medicare as if it is the same as it was five years ago when inflation was at a much higher level. if we are at a place where medicare is, this is where these assumptions go forward or we're even lower because the affordable care act is working
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effectively, etc., then the whole debate about these entitlements and what we should be doing on structural entitlement changes would radically alter as well. and yet we're willing to say let's put all these ideas in lace now, make them permanent even though we don't know whether the world is going to be much better or worse. >> two points. one, i think it would be more helpful to this discussion because so much of your discussion is focused on the politics of this if you have republicans representing their point of view, and they could say this is why i think this. what i would say is, again, as i just said, you know, the politics in washington is terrible. we can't get anything done. the real concern, i mean -- >> but you referenced entitlements, that's why i said it. >> but i think if you want to have a republican perspective, that would be useful to the discussion. the point is whether you want it done a democratic way or republican way or some kind of compromise, there is a legitimate concern about the medium and long-term fiscal challenges we face, and that ising affecting every
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independent entity that looks at this situation. there is also a real concern about whether washington can govern and deal with these challenges, and it's not at all clear. and so coming up with realistic solution that is going to be implemented is a huge challenge because it seems that washington is broken, and that gets played out on the debt issue a lot. you brought up a couple times as the facts have changed. and i was thinking, you know, both of us, bob and i run groups that have been around before the economic crisis of 2008, and before that we were very concerned about the long-term situation facing the country driven by health care costs and the aging of the population and also insufficient revenues. so then the deficit skyrocketed because of the great recession, is and like i said, that wasn't the time when i was worried about the deficit at the moment. i was worried about us going into depression. and then the deficit's coming down very quickly as you might think would happen -- it was driven up very quickly, and it's coming back down. and the structural problems have not gone away. so i continue to be concerned
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about those same structural problems that were there before. and in terms of the health care, there's really good news that health care costs are coming down. what's really bad news is that they're still growing faster than the economy, so we need to continue to think about ways to generate savings in health care while we're continuing to monitor what's working and what's not. and i actually think cap's done tremendous work in coming up with a lot of health care proposals. those things headache sense to think about implementing -- make sense to think about implementing whether we're growing 3, 4% faster than the economy, 5, 6% -- >> i want to make sure we have time to get out -- >> disagreement, but go ahead. >> i want to ask you even briefly one thing -- each briefly one thing which is can medicare and social security look largely the way they do now forever, and are the democrats right to argue for what are modest changes to those programs rather than big ones? or would it make more sense to say, hey, you know what?
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we are so committed to, for example, pre-k education that we'd be willing to talk about taking medicare to 67? >> i think i hear, basically, long term actually modest changes in these programs are going to be -- >> so there are two challenges, historically we've seen two challenges for medicare, the growth of the elderly population, again, never a surprise, you know, it's not like all of a sudden, you know, a bunch of 80-year-olds showed up here. >> okay. we've known this since 1946. >> and the issue of medical inflation. and so i would say what i would, what i would argue, actually, is that the facts that we're having, you know, somewhere between 500, you know, at least $500 billion change in health care expenditures by the federal government as predicted by cbo because of some of these issues -- >> believe it. >> it might be a higher
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number -- >> go ahead. >> but as a product of medical inflation, that is a structural change. what's happening with medicare inflation is a structural, has a huge, proprofound impact going -- profound impact going forward. transfers what we would do on things like raising the age. the criticism i have on proposals like raising the medicare age is that, you know, in my view it's highly unproductive. it raises the national health care costs, lowers costs for the federal government, raises national health care expenditures, raising cuts for employers, raising cuts for individuals. so i think as a policy matter supporting that kind of cost shifting actually makes us all spend more just so the federal government spends a little less makes very little sense. i think the big issue, the big concern i have about this construct is that if we've learned anything in the last if few years, it's that the
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political forces as currently aligned in the washington are not going to take medicare savings or social security and invest them in pre-k. because the thing we've done over the last couple of years is really kill all the investment that mattered to competitiveness like education, right? research and investments in order to preserve tax cuts. so if i could come up with a magical world in which we had a rational budget, i would make a whole variety of different outcomes. but i think this construct is, it's so far removed from the political world you and i live this that it doesn't even make sense as an option. >> i'm a little more optimistic, i think. by the way, as i recall the number and someone should check, michael linden might know this, i think the cbo forecast over the next ten years for medicaid and medicare together has come down to about 900 billion over the past six months from earlier
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to -- is that about right? >> 500 over the last -- [inaudible] >> okay. it's a big number. it's a big number. hundreds of billions. paul vannedderwater at cbbp has done a lot of writing on this if people want to look it up. my answer to your question is i think with some relative, you know, some quite minor changes to social security it could achieve fiscal solvency over the 75-year forecast. and with medicare i largely agree with neera, and i do think that there are -- i think you said something like, you know, it has undergone a trurl change. i hope it has. it maybe has. >> we don't know. >> yeah, we can't be sure yet. a lot of people who look at very carefully who understand the granular level of health care delivery say they think it has. >> moving from fee for service
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is a structural -- >> i do think there are structural changes. as i understand it -- by the way, the thing that drives this is called the excess health burden. i think that's been around zero for the past few years. so that's a big structural change if it's structural, if be it sticks. in terms of the chain cpi, something you raised earlier, you know, i think that if you -- so this is often talked about in terms of entitlement reform. i don't see it that way. i mean, first of all, if you wanted a more accurate price index for elderly people, i do think chain indexes are more accurate. you should do a chained elderly cpi. so that would be with my first comment. but secondly, if you're going to, if you're going to inject chain cpi into this, it has to be in the context of getting a whole lot for it. >> right. >> for example, it has to apply to the tax code. >> sure. >> it has to include protections for low income people whose benefits are disproportionately
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cut, and it also should include significant new revenues. that's the only way i would consider a deal like that. >> can i just -- >> please meanwhile, if we have a microphone, let's get it circulated. >> if we just took the politics out of it, i just want to understand, you both would say we do need to make changes to social security and medicare, my question is would you say it would be smarter to start to make those changes now rather than waiting? >> no, not now, not with this congress -- oh, you said take the politics out. >> take the politics out. >> gee, that's hard. [inaudible conversations] >> oh, sure. >> that's why i don't think -- my view is that those are very important goals and that we should have them, but where we may disagree is that i think the first, second, third priority for washington policymakers right now should be what to do about economic growth. and so that's what -- that's the point i'd make about political
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resources. there's only so much -- >> yeah, opportunity costs. >> -- anyone can make. the decision that we're having on long-term deficit reduction, you know, i would love -- [inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> i would love to do, i would love to have a set of policies that actually, you know, hire back some of those teachers who have been fired at the state and local level because that's really counterproductive on so many levels. make some investments in infrastructure, etc., right now because that makes sense -- >> but if you were doing one big package, you would also include putting these things in now rather than waiting? that's what i'm trying -- >> well, here's what i think neera would do. [laughter] she would, if you could wave a magic wand and put the politics out of the window, because of the opportunity cost problems she raised, there's only so much political oxygen, i'd put you two in a room, michael linden, dean baker, i'd put people from very different views but who all, i think, share -- >> add some conservatives.
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>> that's right, add some conservatives and say that, you know, what you came out with is what we would do. so that it won't absorb the political oxygen that we need right now, but we'd have a back-loaded plan that would get us to fiscal sustainability that was balanced. because i think there is, there are enough people many town who would go there. -- in town who would go there. >> ma'am, on the aisle. go ahead. >> my name is rhode island chel friedman, i'm with the coalition on human needs, and earlier jerry mentioned the pain that's out there. we have been documented since march 1 the pain to low income families who are losing head start, public housing and all of those things. at the same time, a fast growing, deep inequality in our country, and then on top of that you have the unemployment situation. thus far, i don't think corporations have contributed
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one penny to deficit reduction. so i would ask bob and maya, do you support tax policy changes that result in corporations, many of the wealthiest who have paid zero taxes over a number of years, do you support policies that would make wealthy corporations contribute more to deficit reduction, and if so, what tax policy changes for corporations would you support? >> good question, thank you. >> we taking turns? >> idea. yes. go ahead. >> i'll answer that question first. i think that your point -- i mean, your starting point about the problem is absolutely correct. so i look at your coalition and the fact that the sequester, again, the sequester is going to do real damage. it's already started to, and that damage is only going to get worse. and that's because we have been focusing on the wrong budgetary
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fixes, and we need to look at the problem parts of the budget. my position is that you desperately need to reform the tax code both individual and corporate. what that means is looking at the over $1.3 trillion in tax breaks that we have a year in lost revenues that come from deductions and exemptionings and exclusions. -- exemptionings and exclusions. these have different effects on the individual and the corporate side. you need to reform them, get rid of the ones that aren't working as much as possible and use that as the basis for tax reform which is going to have to contribute to raising revenues along with doing the rest of the budgetary savings piece that's necessary. i think that the overall goal, honestly, should be to think about how you make the tax code more progressive. i would do it in a way that is least damaging to the economy. i'd probably do that at the individual level more than the corporate level because of the competitiveness issues. but i think the overall point is a really important one. but tax reform is going to be
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critical to getting this done because right now the differences in how different industries are treated, corporations are treated, it's highly uncompetitive, and it's highly not fair. and i think the same thing applies on the individual side as well where you have a lot of tax breaks too. >> do you favor revenue-neutral corporate tax reform? >> i think the white house probably would support revenue-neutral corporate tax reform. >> the white house is not really revenue neutral. >> i'm happy to raise that with you. i think that we're going to -- see, i mean, because of the aging of the population and even as health care costs are zero excess cost growth, we're going to have a big problem simply because there are more people like me who are getting older and will, you know, soon qualify for benefits. so that's what's really driving up the spending over the longer term. and as that, as we go from a set point of federal spending at a certain level, about 21% of gdp,
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to a higher level we are going to need more revenues. and so i agree with maya on the tax reform. you know, most of the proposals from bipartisan groups like domenici-rivlin and erskine bowles and alan simpson did follow this principle that you should get rid of a lot of the exemptions and credits and deductions and loopholes that both individuals and corporations went fit from -- benefit from. and you could actually lower the rate if you wanted to and still get more revenue in. or, you know, dial up rates that you need, whatever you need to make it all work. so, you know, no be, i don't actually -- i don't think that revenue, i don't think that tax reform be should be revenue neutral. >> just a quick factual point. i think this is correct that i think only 10% of that, you know, 1.3 trillion tax expenditures that we forgo is from the corporate side. >> yeah.
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most of it's individual. [inaudible conversations] >> yeah. ma'am in the striped dress on the aisle. >> i think it's an issue of fairness people raise. >> thank you. annabell fisher, i'm going to direct my question initially to bob. first, i want to preface it by saying as a trivia question for all of you up there maybe in the audience that didn't know, what country in the world has the most billionaires? the united states. i personally am tired of hearing these talking points, so i think, i think jared sort of insulted people in the midwest and other parts who don't live in d.c. that they're not aware and they're not engaged. i find that insulting -- >> i don't think i said that. >> you said we don't care about knowing about the budget. >> let me ask you a question. >> my question to bob, and i was very involved with the concord coalition when i lived in seattle. i wish you were more out there now. so my question to you because this discussion today is about
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fixing the debt. what would the concord coalition recommend today? do you, would you want to look at changing the entitlements? having worked in health care and knowing what's going on with the affordable care act and being one of those seniors now on medicare and how it is not working, what would the concord coalition recommend today in terms of knowing that the politics in d.c. are broken but in terms of policy? you all did a good job when i got involved with you all. >> what do you think the right solution on medicare is? >> [inaudible] >> just on medicare? >> yeah. >> [inaudible] >> look, i think that we're going to have to do a number of things, and i think that, first of all, i would move away from the fee-for-service as much as we can. because that's a cost driver and
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drives a lot of waste -- rewards quantity rather than quality. and so there are some things in the affordable care act that would move in that direction. i think they could be more aggressive. so if i were to design a medicare plan, it would probably look kind of like the domenici-rivlin plan. we did move to a premium support type of system which cap anticipated -- capitated, put some sort of a cap on medicare cost growth, but would enact some cost savings that would allow you to maintain within that cap. and i think that getting a, you know, ending fee for service would be one of them. i do think that beneficiaries can pay more particularly at the upper end. so phasing in at a, you know, more means-tested premiums as we are doing is another route.
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that does, you know, to some extent ask people to pay more, no doubt about it, but i think that's going to have to be part of the solution. so, you know, that's -- those are a couple of the big ideas on medicare. >> i want to quickly respond. look, i think the discourse is significantly damaged went you interject a level of rudeness that i thought your question did. [applause] and i was careful not to say anything like what you said i said, so let's also be careful about that. what i said, and i remember, is that i believe it would be cognitively dissonant if the president went out, said i'm here to talk about the economy, and he began by talking about his budget. so i urge you to listen more carefully. >> [inaudible] >> sir. >> thank you. larry checko, checko communications and a concerned citizen. one of the structural problems i see is that all jobs are not created equal.
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and if we're talking about growth here, it seems to me that if we believe -- and i think we do, tell me if i'm wrong -- that this is a consumer economy, so if two-thirds of our economy are based on consumer consumption and you have so many people out there right now working two and three jobs and still can't make it, it seems that's where the structural problem lies. and this is at a time when corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars, banks are making unheard of profits, executive pay increases have gone up 14% while most workers' salaries have remained flat. they claim that nearly half of all americans don't pay taxes. they can't afford to pay taxes. how do we -- i guess my question is how do we get those at the upper end, those in the corporate structure, those in the 1%, 10%, even the 20%, how do we get them to understand that we're all in this together? and if we don't break this logjam, this country is in deep,
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deep dodo? >> can i take that one? [laughter] and, you know, honestly, i the think that the president was talking about a lot of these trends, and one of -- in his remarks in "the new york times" over the weekend. and i think, you know, you're absolutely right. one of the great frustrations that we have is that people haven't recognized enough how much growing inequality actually hurts economic growth over the long term. and, you know, at cap we have done a fair amount of work on this set of questions, and there's a whole range of reasons why that's true. one of the ones you referenced we're about a 70% demand economy. that means when people have wages, they're -- they have income come in, they're able to buy things. that's really important in our economy since so much of it is fueled by consumption. and one of the big challenges we've had in this economy is precisely this issue which is that their wages have been stuck, there's a lot of downward pressure on wages from
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technology, globalization, other factors that is creating real pressures downward and economic growth. it's one of the reasons why economic growth has been so anemic. be ask so you're getting at the kind of issue that, you know, was these sets of challenges, growing inequality, the downward pressure on growth for our country, it's complete, it's almost completely absent from the discourse in washington because for a lot of -- for process reasons, other reasons we are so fixed on these issues of the fiscal cliff and previous points we had real challenges with deficit reduction. and so i'd say, again, what you're pointing out is really the political economy question we have which is in a world in which we live today, how can we get focused on some of these challenges that are not ten-year problems, fifteen-year problems.
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they will get, you know, they will get much worse in 10 or 15 years, but they're really big problems today. >> right. >> and that's part of the -- >> so i love the question because i think it goes to the heart of the challenge. i don't think it's a political economy question, i think it's an economy question. i think there are huge, huge challenges to the u.s. economy and the global economy, but the u.s. economy in terms of growing income inequality, the fact that we don't know how to grow the economy well enough, the fact that competitiveness isn't what it should be, the fact that we are not trained, we do not have enough workers who are trained to be able actually to function in this economy. and we need to see it more holistically. one of the things that frustrates me kind of as a more on my think tank side is the debate feels very stale to me right now. what i haven't seen are a whole lot of now ideas which is how we're going to deal with these in the hyperintegrated, hypercompetitive economy. and i'm hoping that the issue so
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deep and profound that people are starting to understand how it has such a ripple effect through the economy and some of the great minds will start moving in this direction and coming up with new be ideas. what concerns me is leaving the fiscal piece out of that discussion. the economy is an integrated mechanism, right? and we need to be thinking about growth and inequality and our fiscal sustainability and all of these pieces together. and we are very compartmentalized both on capitol hill, but also in think tanks how we think about these issues. one of the problems that i see as a result of the excessive borrowing that we've done for so long is that our debt levels are now basically at historic highs. and what it does is it leaves us strapped when we're thinking about the kinds of investments we need to be making in our economy. and we now need to think of these, at the budget as really a trade-off. we're putting a whole lot of money into certain parts of our budget and our economy, and we are neglecting others. and i think the sequester and
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the need to fix our entitlement programs is kind of one example of that. but we're willing to cut investment programs because it's easy, because you just put caps on discretionary, and you don't really look at the problems and talk about the real effects, and we're not willing to deal with some of the bigger challenges in health care and retirement because their really hard, and people push back against them. and i hope we can kind of use the feed to deal with our long-term budget as an opportunity to rethink about our budgetary priorities. because i think they're backwards, and we are completely sacrificing the kinds of investment and the kind of concerns there on the economy that really need to be -- >> yeah, but just in the spirit of disagreement, let me just say one thing, i'm sorry. but when we talk about, you know, there's -- everyone has supported things like changing medicare's benefits for high end. the things we were talking about or the discourse in washington about into entitlements has been about hitting middle income and low income people who receive these entitlements.
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so we shouldn't think that this conversation about entitlement reform is divorced from a conversation about inequality. it's true, it's for -- >> that's not what i'm saying. we need to talk about them all. >> exactly. but supporting efforts to take, you know, funds from middle income and some low income beneficiaries whether they're medicare or social security recipients would exacerbate inequality as well. we should just recognize that. now, we can all say that there's people more deserving of investment like the horrific numbers of poor children we have if our society. but we should also recognize in the absence of making a huge investment there, you're still talking about deficit reduction often does drive inequality. >> it doesn't have to -- >> it doesn't have to -- >> but given -- >> when it has. >> it has. sir? >> my name is mark, i'm a legislative education
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consultant, and tony and i used to be connected with a group called the cf foundation in arkansas which believes in the infusion of the arts in education at all levels. and the lady on my left, your name is what -- >> maya macguineas. >> i'm glad you're kind of blending into my thinking in this question. seeing as how there is a group of people in congress, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, hint, hint, who are taking all revenue increases off the table before any conversations begin, does the group think that we have invested enough in education to satisfy our hyperconnected economy and its work force down the road? or not? >> well, i defer to the group. i mean, there's an amount -- i would guess none of you think we've invested enough, but i actually think there's a serious argument we have, and we're doing it in the wrong way. i'm probably wrong, but do you think we've invested enough in education? >> i mean, i don't think that --
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i think you put your finger on the right question which is really it's not like an amount, it's whether it's being properly targeted or not. i mean, i'd be perfectly happy to spend more on education, but if it's for loans that subsidize schools that just charge more to build sports arenas, that's not the way to do it. [laughter] so i, you know, so i'm not sure that i would -- >> early childhood. >> i think that that's an investment. that's the sort of thing we should be investing in. >> you know what it does remind me of, though, one thing this government doesn't do well enough yet is we're starting to collect a whole lot of data on various programs, but we're not doing a great job of integrating it into our budget. and if we were able to take better use of the data we're starting to collect, and i think this is likely to happen. we'll do more to do cost benefit
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analysis and figure out what's working a better target. but if we were able to do that, i think it would be so incredibly useful to point out to the places. and my guess is that the answer is both, we are misspending a lot of education reports, but bigger than that, we need to spend a lot more on public education. but i hope we will integrate much better use of metrics and data into our budgetary process, because part of the problem with reforming the budget or raising revenues when you need to is you hear stories of -- >> we are going to leave this discussion now, but you can find it streaming live online at c-span's home page. on to the floor of the u.s. senate which will be taking up the nomination of james comey to be the director of the fbi, a vote to move forward on his confirmation disedged for 5:-- scheduled for 5:30 and work today on transportation ask housing programs. our government's legislative branch. establish the works of their
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hands and strengthen them to honor you by serving others. lord, let your 0 life-giving spirit move them to feel greater compassion for those in need. use them to remove barriers that divide us to make suspicions disappear and to cause hatred to cease. may they strive to be agents of healing and hope, as they help us all live in greater justice and peace. we pray in your great name. amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance
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to our 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. mr. reid: mr. president? the president pro tempore: the majority leader. mr. reid: following morning business there will be a period -- following leader remarks there will be a period of morning business until 4:15 today. following that morning business the senate will resume consideration of s. 1243, the transportation bill. at 4:30 the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the nomination of james b. comey to be director of the f.b.i.. i'm sorry to report, mr. president, there will be a cloture vote on him at 5:30 today. our chief law enforcement officer, we had to file cloture on that. mr. president, every respectable economist has said that the
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shortsighted arbitrary cuts known as sequester will cost american jobs. medical researchers say that these painful cuts will set medical research in this country back decades, potentially costing the world a cure for cancer, flu, aids, and many other diseases that we're on the cusp of making great headway. the sequester will make cuts in education to give children a shot at success. we also know the sequester will slash the safety net that keeps millions of senior citizens, children, veterans and low-income families from descending into poverty. and we know the sequester is as bad for national security as it is for the economy. these cuts have grounded a third of the united states combat, slashed troop training budgets and kept aircraft carriers that
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should have been handed for the persian gulf and other places stranded at port instead. meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of civilian employees of the department of defense, employees who support military missions carried out by service members overseas, have been furloughed. but it's not too late to reverse these hard-hearted cuts, cuts that were never supposed to take effect in the first place. the sequester was designed to be so painful, it would force democrats and republicans to compromise and find a smart, responsible way to reduce the deficit. there was compromise on one side, with the democrats, and of course none, as usual, with the republicans on the other side. but we haven't given up on reversing these cuts and choosing that responsible path. we've cut the deficit in half over the last three years by more than $2.6 trillion. and while there's more work to be done, we should be making targeted cuts while investing in
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the things that make america grow. so it's clear, we have reduced the debt by $2.6 trillion and the yearly deficit has been cut in half over the last three years. the way to pursue this type of sound fiscal policy is through regular order, regular order of the budget process. and while there's more work to be done, the cuts that i've talked about, mr. president, we should be making targeted cuts on investing in things that make america grow. the american economy is poised to grow, is growing now. not strong enough, not fast enough but it is growing. all we have to do is get out of the way. according to a report released last week by the nonpartisan congressional budget office, reversing the sequester would create additional 900,000 jobs and it would increase gross domestic product by a percentage point. that's a million jobs right there.
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the united states just dug its way out of the great recession. we've seen 40 straight months of job growth with private sector employees adding more than 7.2 million jobs. but we cannot afford to reject almost a million new jobs. congress must reverse the sequester and stop the manufacturing crisis. now, mr. president, if republicans force us to bring -- to the brink of another government shutdown for ideological reasons, the economy will suffer. i would suggest to any of my republican colleagues that has this idea, give a call to newt gingrich. he'll return your phone calls. ask him how it worked. it was disastrous for newt gingrich, the republicans and the country. it didn't work then and it won't work now. if republicans threaten a catastrophic revolt on the nation's bills the economy will suffer, and that is an understatement. if republicans refuse to work with democrats to negotiate a
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reasonable budget to reverse these deep cuts, the economy will suffer. it's time to remove the stumbling block preventing the american economy from recovering and expanding. it's been 129 days since the senate passed its reasonable pro-growth budget. remember, mr. president, the republicans said we want regular order. we want a budget. we passed a budget. now they won't follow regular order. they won't let us even to go to conference. we've asked consent to go to conference with the house 17 different times. as long as senate republicans refuse to allow budget committee chairwoman patty murphy to negotiate a budget compromise with her house republican counterparts the economy is at risk. it's time to set aside partisan differences and tworbg -- work to find common ground. passing the senate transportation appropriations
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bill would be a good measure. this measure would create jobs rebuilding america's deficient infrastructure and renew the nation's commitment to make affordable housing available to low-income families. i commend the appropriations committee led by barbara mikulski. this subcommittee now before the senate is led by patty murray. they have done wonderful work. i believe some of my republican colleagues are as eager to return to regular order passing appropriations bills as i am. they've got to break away from the pack. i hope these reasonable republicans will continue to work with us to advance this important bipartisan measure. would the chair announce the business of the day. 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 4:15 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. mr. reid: i would note the absence of a quorum.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be suspended and that i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: sunday brought the sad news that my dear friend colonel george e. bugday passed away. he was 88 years old. to say he lived a full life would be quite an understatement. his was filled with so many extraordinary experiences, adventures, challenges, accomplishments and with such love, compassion and courage that it could have supplied enough experience, excitement and satisfaction for ten lifetimes. bud knew defeats and triumphs on a scale few will know. he lived in moments filled with every conceivable emotion. he knew terror and suffering, he knew joy and deliverance. he knew solidarity, self-respect
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and dignity. knowing him as well as i did, i'm certain he faced his end satisfied he made the most on earth. he will have faced it with courage as he faced all adversity. he will have faced it with gratitude for the love and companionship of his beloved wife and best friend doy, his sons stevie and george and his twin girls. he will have face it had with humility for having had the honor to serve his country with distinction in three wars: world war ii, the korean war, and the vietnam war. i had the honor of being bud's friend for almost five decades of his 88 years. we met in 1967 when the vietnamese left me to die in the prison cell bud shared with major norris overly. but bud and norris wouldn't let me die. they bathed me, fed me, nursed me, encouraged me and ordered me
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back to life. norris did much of the work, but bud did all he could, considering that he, too, had recently been near death, shot, bombed, beaten savagely by his captors and his arm broken in three places. he was a hard man to kill, and he expected the same from his subordinates. they saved my life. a big debt to repay, obviously. but more than that, bud showed me how to save my self-respect and my honor, and that is a debt i can never repay. bud was a fierce, and i mean really fierce resistor. he could not be broken in spirit, no matter how broken he was in body. those who knew bud after the war could see how tough he was, but my god, to have known him in prison confronting our enemies day in and day out, never, ever
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yielding, defying men who had the power of life and death over us, to witness him sing the national anthem in response to having a rifle pointed at his face, well, that was something to behold. unforgettable. no one had more guts than bud, greater determination to do his duty and then some. to keep faith with his country and his comrades, whatever the cost. bud was my commanding officer, but more, he was my inspiration. as he was for all the men who were privileged to serve under him. nothing offers more compelling testimony to bud's guts and determination and his patriotism than the account of his escape from captivity. in the entire war, he was the only american who managed to escape from north vietnam. in 1967, then major bud day
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commanded a squadron of f-100's that served as foreign air controllers over north vietnam and laos. they were called the misties, named for bud's favorite song. theirs was probably the most dangerous combat duty in the air force and they suffered high casualties. on august 26, bud day was one of those casualties. bud was shot down by a surface to air missile 20 miles inside north vietnam. he hit the fuselage of his f-100 when he ejected, breaking his arm, damaging his eye and injuring his back. bud was immediately captured by north vietnamese militia. he was interrogated by his captors in an underground prison camp. when he refused to answer their questions, they staged a mock execution. then they hung him by his feet for hours and beat him. believing he was too badly injured to escape, they tied him up loosely and left him guarded by two green tiedged soldiers.
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-- teenaged soldiers. they misjudged him. on his fifth day of captivity, he untied his ropes and escaped. bud stayed on the run for about two weeks. he wasn't certain how long he was free. he lost track of time. he made it across the d.m.z. and into south vietnam. a bomb, however, had fallen near him his second night on the run, striking him with shrapnel, concussing him and rupturing his eardrums. but limping, bleeding, starving and in great pain, bud kept heading south, across rivers, through dense jungles, over hills, crawling sometimes on his hands and knees, evading enemy patrols and surviving on berries, frogs and rain water. on the last night of bud's escape, he arrived within two kilometers of a forward marine base. sensibly judging it more dangerous to approach the guarded base at night than to
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wait until morning when the marine guard could see he was an american, bud slept one more night in the jungle. early the next morning, he encountered a vietcong patrol. he was shot trying to hobble to the base, recaptured and returned to the camp he had escaped where he was tortured some more. a few days later, bud's captors took him to the prison we called the plantation where i would meet him two months later. he was -- he was one of the most grievously injured pilots to arrive in hanoi. norris helped nurse him back to some semblance of health, although he would never fully recover from his wounds. then bud helped norris nurse me. whenever i felt my spirits and resistance flag, i looked to bud for the courage to continue and for the example of how to serve my country in difficult
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circumstances. bud was the bravest man i ever knew, and i've known more than a few. he was great company, too, and made it possible to actually have fun in prison once in a while. he received the medal of honor when he came home, the highest of his many decorations for valor. despite his injuries, he managed to regain flying status and commanded a flight wing at eglin air force base. when bud ultimately retired from the air force, he practiced law. after service in world war ii and before he deployed to the korean war, he had graduated from college and law school. he devoted his practice to defending the interests of his fellow veterans. bud and i stayed close through all the years that have passed since our war. we talked often. we saw each other regularly. he campaigned with me in all my campaigns and advised me always.
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we argued sometimes, agreed more often, laughed a lot and always enjoyed each other's company. i'm going to miss him terribly. even though bud had reached advanced years, for some reason i could never imagine bud yielding to anything, even, i thought, to the laws of nature. tough old bird that he was, i always thought he would outlive us all, but he's gone now to a heaven i expect he imagined would look -- would look like an iowa cornfield in early winter filled with pheasants. i will miss bud every day for the rest of my life, but i will see him again. i know i will. i'll hunt the field with him, and i look forward to it. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call: mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: i ask consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. nelson: mr. president, i want to eulogize a great american that senator mccain has just spoken about. it's been said that it is the soldier who has given us our most important freedoms over the course of our history. and that was certainly the case of air force colonel george
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"bud" day. that is a true statement. colonel day was a good friend of senator mccain's. he was a resident of florida, living in the fort walton beach area. and he, sadly, passed away, but at the very extended life's age of 88. and i want, in addition, to senator mccain's comments, to remember and honor this american hero, who was one of the most highly decorated service members that country has ever seen. he was a medal of honor recipient, he was a veteran of three wars, world war ii, the
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korean war, and the war in vietnam. and because his f-100 fighter jet was shot down, he ended up being a prisoner of war in vietnam for nearly six years, and there in hanoi he and senator mccain became cellmates. when asked about their experience together, senator mccain said "i owe my life to bud, and much of what i know about character and patriotism." he was the bravest man i ever knew. end of quote. senator mccain has just recounted a number of those things, and i don't know, but
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i have heard it said either from colonel day or senator mccain mccain, but it was john mccain who was put into that cell nearly dead after he had been beaten after his arm was broken when he ejected from his aircraft, he had been beaten and they put him in the cell and bud day nursed him back to health. after the p.o.w.'s were released from vietnam, interestingly, colonel day returned to active duty and he returned to active flying status. he retired in 1977 as the air force's most decorated officer.
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and it's also been said that a nation can be judged by how it treats those who have borne its battles. after he left the air force, colonel day -- listen to this -- he continued public service. he went to law school, he practiced law, and he championed veterans' issues. so, mr. president, i just wanted to take a moment after emotional speech by senator mccain to say that i say and many are saying a little prayer of thanks that colonel bud day helped preserve the freedom of this country with his service to this country. mr. president, i yield the floor.
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and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: i ask that the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i'm here today to pay respects to an american hero. mr. boozman: lance corporal benjamin tuttle, who sacrificed his life for this country in support of operation enduring freedom. lance corporal tuttle graduated from gentry high school in gentry, arkansas, in 2012. his appreciation for athletics kept him active after school as a football player, wrestler and track runner. as a student, he made his interest in serving in the marines well-known. he shared his love for his country and the corps during a trip back to his alma mater this last fall. his love of country was coupled with his love for his family. in a facebook post, he wrote he
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would be back home in october and was anxious to fish go, to dinner and just hang out with family and friends. lance corporal tuttle was serving aboard the u.s.s. nimitz. he was assigned to the marine fighter attack squadron 323, marine aircraft group 11, 3rd marine aircraft wing, 1st marine expeditionary force, marine corps air station miramar, california. lance corporal tuttle was only 19 when he gave his life for his conference. he's a true american hero who made the ultimate sacrifice. i ask my colleagues to keep his family and friends in their thoughts and their prayers. on behalf of a grateful nation, i humbly offer my sincerest gratitude for his patriotism and his selfless service. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. a senator: i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. moremr. moran::the need for ecoc growth remains. economic growth has been stagnant creating difficulties for small businesses, working families, recent college graduates and for entrepreneurs. if we have a goal -- if i have a goal here, it is to make certain that every american has the opportunity to pursue what we all know is the american dream. mr. moran: and for that to be possible we need a growing opportunity that includes letting people go to work, pay off their loans, save for their future. last month the senate had an
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opportunity to do something positive about our economy. we spent a significant amount of time addressing this issue of immigration, trying to fix our nation's broken immigration system. sensible and overdue are improvements to our nation's immigration laws that will spur economic growth and create american jobs. that's why i have been so interested to see how highly skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants create jobs and contribute to the u.s. economy. it is that aspect of our nation's broken immigration system that i want to talk about today. s there is an economic imperative to pwraouf our nation's -- improve our nation's immigration laws. according to partnership for a new american economy, american businesses are projected to need an estimated 800,000 workers with advanced stem degrees by 2018 but will only find 550,000
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american graduates with that advanced degree. first and foremost, we must do more to prepare americans for careers in science, technology and engineering. i've been encouraged that several immigration proposals before congress aimed to improve stem, education for americans so that one day we will no longer be required to seek outside labor for meeting our country's needs. but in the short term, we must work to equip americans with the skills for the 21st century. we also need to create a path for highly skilled foreign students to stay in the united states where their ideas and talents, their intellect can fuel american economic growth. legislation that i introduced with the senator from virginia, senator warner, is called start-up act 3.0, creates visas for foreign students who graduate from an american university with a master's or
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ph.d. degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. these skilled workers would be granted conditional status contingent upon them filling a needed gap in the u.s. workforce. this will help grow american companies secure the talent they need for job openings. without this help, companies will have to look elsewhere, will find it more difficult to find the qualified workers they need and will likely open locations overseas and taking the jobs with them. when i was in silicon valley last year, i met with executives at facebook, and they told me they were ready to hire close to 80 foreign-born but u.s.-educated individuals in california, but their h-1b visas were never granted. rather than forego these skilled workers, the company hired them anyway. that caught my attention. but the story is they placed them in dublin, ireland, not in the united states. facebook was ultimately able to get visas for these workers after training them in ireland, but all too often companies end
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up housing the jobs permanently overseas. when this happens, it is not only those specific jobs that are lost -- in this case we didn't just lose 80 jobs, but also the many supporting jobs and economic activity associated with those jobs. and even more damaging, more damning, more frustrating to me is many of these highly skilled workers who are now kpwhraoed in some other -- employed in some other country will become entrepreneurs that will start successful businesses there. not in the united states. those 80 engineers working in dublin, ireland, for facebook, i have no doubt but what one or more of them will be the next originator, the next innovator for a company like facebook. and we want them in the united states creating that opportunity here for americans. immigrants to the united states have a long history of creating businesses here in our country. today one in every ten americans employed at a privately owned
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u.s. company works at an immigrant-owned firm, and immigrants are more than twice as likely as native-born americans to start a business. of the current fortune 500 companies, more than 40% were founded by a first or second generation of american. ranked number 73 on that list, google, cofounded in 1998 by sergie brin, an immigrant from russia, while at stanford university. google is now the world's top search engine, generates more than $50 billion in revenue annually and employs tens of thousands. we need to create an immigration system that welcomes more immigrants like sergie brin. our bill start-up 3.0 starts a foreign-born visas. those individuals with a good idea, capital and a willingness to hire americans would be able to stay in the united states and grow their businesses here.
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each immigrant entrepreneur would be required to create jobs for americans, providing a way for an immigrant entrepreneur for a way to stay in the united states and create american jobs just makes economic sense. skwrerl this -- earlier this year the coffin foundation studied the economic impact of the visa in start-up 3.0. the kaufman foundation predicts the entrepreneur visa could generate 500,000 to 1.6 million new jobs during the next ten years. these are real jobs with real economic impact that could boost g.d.p., by their estimate, by 1.5, 1.5% or more. when we talk about economic growth and creating opportunity, a boost in g.d.p. by 1.5%, that's a major accomplishment. recognizing this potential, several bills create visas for immigrant entrepreneurs. it is important that these visas be structured in a way as to
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facilitate job creation, unnecessarily high investment in revenue requirements and burdensome mandates like having to submit a business plan to a washington, d.c. office, a government office, threatens to diminish the impact these entrepreneurial visas could have. although well-intentioned, the invest visa created in the senate immigration bill fell prey to some of those traps. to improve that idea, i developed an amendment with the help of entrepreneurs, investors and start-up policy experts. this amendment would reduce paperwork and recording requirements so that entrepreneurs could spend more time building their businesses, allow entrepreneurs to secure initial investment from those closest to them, add flexibility to the way in which start-up employees are compensated to account for geographic and industry differences, and clarify that jobs created by immigrant entrepreneurs must be held by americans. a list of more than 30 start-up companies, investors and business leaders and immigration attorneys supported this amendment. sadly, like many other amendments, it was blocked from
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even receiving consideration: but in the end, that may not matter. the speaker of the house has said that the senate immigration bill is -- quote -- dead on arrival. instead of taking up senate legislation, the house is pursuing a more perhaps methodical approach to immigration, writing several targeted bills that address aspects of our broken immigration system. congress crafts better policy when it's done in manageable bite sizes. we do not have to look far, in my view, in the past to see what happens when congress bites off more than it can chew. implementation of the affordable care act and dodd-frank offer two examples of the unintended consequences of passing giant bills, multithousand pages that are poorly understood. in fact, it was 1986 comprehensive immigration bill that left us with so many problems that we're attempting to fix today.
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passing a series of smaller, more targeted immigration bills will result in better policy and achieve better results for the american people. moreover, there is broad agreement within congress on many aspects of immigration policy. last year, the house of representatives passed two immigration bills. one would have reported -- i'm sorry. one would have repurposed visas from the diversity lottery to stem visas for some of our most talented foreign-born u.s. graduates. another would have eliminated the employment-based green card for country cap, allowing american employers to have access to the best talents, regardless of where a potential employee was born. this bill passed 389-15 in the house. yet neither received a vote in the senate because adherence to the approach that says we can't do anything unless we do everything. this line of thinking has prevented progress on important challenges facing our country for a long time.
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republicans and democrats agree that creating opportunities for highly skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants to contribute to our economy is beneficial to america. i hope, i strongly hope that congress will finally come together and pass things that we can agree upon now while continuing to work on the issues that divide us. in my view, we no longer can allow ourselves to be held hostage to the all or nothing strategy or wait until after the next election. right now, other countries are taking advantages of our inability to solve problems and are exploiting our broken immigration system. since i arrived in the united states senate in 2011, at least seven countries have changed their policies and laws to better attract highly skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants. of those countries, canada even went so far as to buy billboards in silicon valley in an attempt to poach our best and brightest. we must address this problem, and the best way to do so is in a measured, incremental way.
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the benefits to our nation's economy will be great and the goodwill produced by working in a bipartisan manner on targeted solutions will sew the seeds of trust necessary to solve the problems where disagreement remains. so we'll see what happens now in the immigration debate, but my hope is that if we're unable to pass so-called broad-based immigration reform, if we're unable to come up with sensible solutions in an understandable legislative package, let us at least work to accomplish those things that there is broad agreement on and continue to work to solve those problems that there remains disagreement today. mr. president, thank you. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: i rise today to discuss an issue that is vital for the future health and well-being of citizens in our country, that is funding for medical research for the natural institutes of health.
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unfortunately, n.i.h. funding like many federal priorities is being impacted by the across-the-board spending cuts. as we all mow, we want to see that budget go down, we want to see the debt reduced but we have to do it in a sensible way, not with a hammer. sequestration was never intended to be implemented and was supposed to bring democrats and republicans together to focus on smart solutions to reducing our debt. i'm a supporter of the work of the debt commission, i believe there's a we can bring down our debt in a significant way but i don't think we meant to have sequestration implemented in the way it's being implemented and seeing the kind of cuts that we're seeing. these cuts are creating headwinds against short-term economic growth, reducing access to important services, and threatening our nation's leadership in areas like medical research. congress needs to take a broader, long-term view toward our debt and deficit. that's why i support the senate
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budget which would replace the sequester with targeted spending cuts and additional revenue, reducing the deficit in a balanced way. i know that senator murray who heads up the budget committee has been trying valiantly to get this budget to a conference committee supported by the democrats in the senate and supported by republicans like senator mccain and senator collins. we have been stopped every step of the way but this should go through regular order into a conference committee so we can work out these differences with the house and replace sequester with something that makes sense. today i want to talk on the impacts of sequestration on this particular area of the federal budget, that is medical research. it may not be the first thing you think of when you think about these cuts and what they mean but i hope when you listen to my stories today it brings on a whole new significance. in the last century we've made strides to understand the worlds rather than around us. this research has led to a
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greater understanding of the nature and cause of disease and spurred a new generation of therapies and intervention to treat diseases. our country has been a leader in this era of scientific discovery and we're responsible for developing many of the innovative therapies that have changed the face of science and given hope to unless of patients across the world. these advancements have been made possible by our commitment to funding research through the national institutes of health. today the n.i.h. is the largest source of medical research funding in the world. through its 27 institutes, n.i.h. funds research to prevent, detect, better treat, and even cure fatal and debilitating diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, mental health issues. the institutes also fund basic science which provides the foundation for future
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breakthroughs in all fields of scientific discovery. researchers in my state tell me they can't think of anything they do clinically that wasn't influenced by basic research made possible through n.i.h. funding. think of the advancements that we've made. these clinical advancements are critical to improving health and saving the lives of millions of americans. but to truly understand the importance of n.i.h. mr. president, i think it's important to understand the impact of our own people so i want to share some of the ways that n.i.h. funding has had an influence in my state. on people. on people like jim from medina, minnesota. jim was 36 when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 1998. he was a professional engineer. he had an m.b.a. from northwestern's kellogg school of management and worked in the family's 56-year-old air conditioning and heating business, cullin companies inc.
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he had everything to live for. but when jim was diagnosed, there were almost no treatment options beyond radical surgery and radiation. so jim looked for other options. and over the course of the next ten years, he participated in multiple clinical trials and some seven treatments, all made possible by research grant funding. jim passed away at age 46, but thanks to the clinical trials, jim lived over ten years, allowing his young son max the chance to get to know his dad. he also was able to continue his lifelong athletic endeavors with a rise across the country with live strong in 2004 as part of the tour of hope, spreading the message of hope and survivorship. but the clinical trials didn't just help jim, and this is the key part, mr. president, whether you're from connecticut or from minnesota. one of the trials that jim participated in proved so effective that it is now the standard treatment regimen for
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people who are diagnosed with the same cancer as jim. that wouldn't have been possible if jim hadn't been willing to go through those treatments and if they hadn't been funded by n.i.h. then there's karen. she's a 48-year-old wife, mother of two teenagers and a teacher. she was diagnosed with leukemia in august of 2005. with her type of leukemia, the prognosis is relatively good, and using the current treatments available, she remained in remission until 2009. then in the summer of 2009, she started feeling sick again and received news that the cancer had returned. her only treatment option was a bone marrow transplant, which had a 25% mortality rate. so she and her husband visited with specialists and discovered that she had a mutation that didn't respond to the current at that time frontline medications. that's when she learned about clinical trials. in january of 2010, she began
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her clinical trial journey and has now been involved in two clinical trials. she responded well to the second clinical trial and has been in remission for over two years. her kids are now 17 and 13 and she and her husband are preparing to sends thei send tht daughter off to college in the fall of 201467814. n.i.h. supports these that maim the studies paul. in minnesota, we have the paul and sheila wellstone muscular dystrophy center which is supported by n.i.h. funding. it has 46 faculty members and 476 minnesota colleges and schools and receives $6 million in annual funding from n.i.h. together these scientists are conducting over tentative clinical research studies that are giving hope to parents and patients with muscular dystrophy. and this facility believes science is more than just about the research. the researchers here have
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volunteered hundreds of hours helping to educate the people that they serve and ensuring these families have access to support networks. all of this is possible because of federal investment in the n.i.h. these are inspiring stories, but supporting n.i.h. is important for another reason -- meeting the skyrocketing costs of treating chronic diseases. in total, today more than half of americans are suffering from one or more chronic diseases. according to the centers for disease control and prevention, taken together, these chronic diseases cause seven in ten deaths and account for about 75% of the $2 trillion we spend on medical care. this year it's estimated that almost 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer. almost 600,000 are projected to die from this devastating disease. that's approximately 1,600 people a day. everyone in this room knows someone who's had cancer or has cancer now. 26 million americans are living
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with diabetes, with a new case diagnosed every 30 seconds. and an estimated 5.2 million americans are living with alzheimer's disease and we know this number will escalate rapidly in the come years as it is baby-boom generation ages. the growing prevalence of chronic disease, mr. president, is having an impact not just on americans' physical health but on our economy as well. in 2008, cancer cost our country over $200 billion. a recent report on diabetes costs showed that the money spent on diabetes care has risen 41%, from $174 billion to $245 billion in the last five years. and alzheimer's alone is expected to cost our country over $1 trillion by 2050. all of us as taxpayers help pay that bill because public programs like medicare and medicaid cover a significant amount of the costs of care and treatment. but if we had earlier
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interventions and treatments that delayed the onset of these diseases, mr. president, we would be able to reduce spending significantly. take alzheimer's as an example. mr. president, does the majority leader want to speak? i can go back to the end of my remarks when he's finished. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i appreciate my friend from minnesota as courteous as she always is. i would scn unanimou unanimous r statement not appear interrupted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to executive session and it be in order to file cloture on executive calendars numbered 201 and 221. further, that the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. finally, that if this request is granted, the senate resume legislative session after the final cloture motion is reported, pursuant to this order. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. reid: it's under rule 22. i said rule 20. it's under rule 22 is how we're proceeding on this.
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okay, we're going to -- hang on, mr. president. let's start over. because these numbers i read them backward. should have been going frontward. i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to comparative effectiveness exif session and it be in order to file cloture on executive calendars number 201, 221 -- okay, so it's not my fault. okay? okay, mr. president. all right. here we go again. it be in order to file cloture on executive calendars number 201 and 220, further, that the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. finally, that if this request is granted, the senate resume legislative session after the final cloture motion is report reported, pursuant to this order. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. the senate will proceed to
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executive session and the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of justice. byron todd jones of minnesota to be director, bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosiv explosives. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. in fact, it should already be there. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of byron todd jones of minnesota to be director, bureau of chal, bure , tobacco, firearms and explosives. signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. reid: i would ask, mr. president, that the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: mr. president, before i proceed, i would just note that it's quoins dental that the senatocoincidental that thesenae floor but i've heard her often
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speak about what a wonderful job this man has done, as u.s. northern the state of minnesota, in addition to his other duties. so i'm glad she's here on the floor to understand we're moving forward on this. mr. president, there's another matter to be reported. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, department of state, samantha power of massachusetts to be the representative of the united states of america to the united nations with the rank and status of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary poe ten sherry and the representative of the united states of america in the security council of the united nations. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk on calendar number 220. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the low tuition mother. the clerk: cloture motion, we, the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 2269 standing rules of the senate -- rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate, meesh hoove to bring to a close the debate of samantha power to be the representative of the united states of america to the
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united nations, with the rank and status of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary po of the united nations security council. signed by 17 senators as follows. mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent again that the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: extend my appreciation again to my friend from minnesota. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will resume legislative session. the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i first want to thank the majority leader for his work and the members of the senate for allowing todd jones to get a vote as head of the alcohol, tobacco, firearms bureau. this is a job that has gone unfilled, mr. president, as you know, for seven years, since it became confirmable under law. seven years. under president bush, under president obama. these 24 agents have had no leader. during that time, they have
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investigated extensive crimes, including just this year the boston marathon bombing as well as the explosion in texas. these are just examples of what these agents are doing. they deserve a full-time leader. mr. jones is a former marine, five children. he's been going back and forth between minnesota, doing the u.s. attorney's office job, and doing the a.t.f. job. for two years. enough is enough. i'm very glad that we are moving forward with this nomination. i'm glad for mr. jones, who deserves this, who's been willing to put his name forward, who is willing to come in to clean up this agency after fast and furious and all the concerns we all had about what happened with that effort. he was willing to come in, take over this very difficult job and do two jobs at once. he deserves to be confirmed for this job. i'm very pleased for the agents as well, those 2,400 hardworking people that simply go to work every day, immune from the politics, immune from what democrats think or republicans
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think. they just deserve a boss. that's what this vote is about. now, mr. president, i want to finish my remarks here about n.i.h., the national institutes of health, something incredibly important in my state. it's the home of mayo clinic, home of university of minnesota, where they are undertaking the simple task of mapping the brain, and talk about what these cuts mean.á i focused before on the stories of individual minnesotans but i also spoke about the cost if we don't do anything, the cost of inaction, the cost of not doing research. look at alzheimer's as an example. if we were able to delay the onset of alzheimer's by five years -- not curing it, mr. president. this is simply delaying the onset by five years, similar to the effect of anticholesterol drugs have on affecting heart disease, we would be able to cut government spending on alzheimer's cast by 2050. we're talking here about
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billions of dollars. the answer, of course, to delay the onset of alzheimer's by five years won't just drop from the sky. it needs dedicated scientists and doctors with the resources to conduct the experiments. i've seen what they are doing with mapping the brain. i met with those scientists afterwards, as i asked them about the groundbreaking work they did, they talked about the effect this is having on young scientists who are afraid to go in these fields, who don't know if their research is going to be funded because there is only enough money to fund the research that has been going on for years. so many innovative ideas can be lost if this continues. we all heard at lunch last week from francis collins who heads up the n.i.h. talking about the hope and exciting developments that are going on in combatting diseases. yet our country, what a time to step back. this is not the time to step back. this is not the time when we're on the verge of delaying the onset of alzheimer's of helping so many people, saving so much
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money, when we're what we're spending on research is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of the december. investment in n.i.h. isn't just the right thing to do from a public health perspective it, makes good economic sense. n.i.h. generates tens of billions of dollars in new economic activity across the country each year and supports hundreds of thousands of good jobs. in 2012, n.i.h. funding supported 8,800 jobs in my state alone. unfortunately, federal investment in medical research stagnated in the last decade, and as a result of sequestration, funding for n.i.h. was slashed $1.55 billion this year alone. this cut means 700 fewer competitive research grants will be funded and 750 fewer patients will be admitted to the n.i.h. clinical center. and this reduction comes at a time when we are funding only 18% of potential projects. a record low for the second year in a row.
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in minnesota, the university of minnesota could lose 50 million of its federal research budget. this drop in support not only threatens research in the short term but could have devastating effects on innovation in the united states for years to come. i hear from countless students and researchers who are considering leaving the field or even the country because the funding isn't available here. if we're not going to have the funding they are going to do research in canada or some other country. we can't allow the pipeline of future researchers to dry up or move overseas. investing in medical research is the right thing to do. it's also the smart thing to do. and that's why support for this research is not a partisan issue in the senate, at least it has not been up until now. i want to thank senate appropriations committee chairwoman mikulski and ranking member shelby and the labor and health and human services subcommittee chairman senator harkin and ranking member moran
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for their strong leadership on this issue. i applaud the work they have done prioritizing n.i.h. funding by providing $31 billion in 2014. this figure could again be cut by billions, madam president, if we do not replace the sequester with sensible targeted spending cuts similar to what we included in the senate budget. so why put the money aside if we're going to slash it because of sequester when we all know it should be replaced with more targeted spending cuts, something that makes more sense, is a mix of revenue and spend cuts as suggested by the simpson-bowles commission and every other economic commission that looked at this matter. it is time to replace sequestration with something that makes sense, and cutting research that saves lives and lengthen people's lives who have alzheimer's, that helps people that have autism, that helps people that have diabetes, this is the wrong way to go. we all agree about the importance of reining in wasteful spending and reducing the deficit, madam president, about the need for the government to improve its fiscal
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discipline, but we can't do this in a way that is penny wise and pound foolish. fiscal responsibility is about values and priorities just as much as it's about dollars and cents. it's about spending smart as well as spending cuts. i strongly support the n.i.h. and the hope it brings to people in my state and across the country. i look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to replace the cuts imposed by the sequester and ensure our country maintains its leadership in medical innovation. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i want to thank and join my friend and colleague from
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minnesota, senator klobuchar, in her remarks about todd jones, one of the very distinguished two law enforcement nominees who will come before this body for confirmation in the coming days. and i want to join her in enthusiastically praising acting director jones for his perseverance and courage in the past months, indeed years that he has served in this critical position when we went through recently the debate on sensible commonsense gun violence measures, which unfortunately did not pass this body, we heard often about the need for more prosecutions, about more effective investigation and pursuit of cases against lawbreakers involving guns. and todd jones is committed to that task, i believe with many
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others that there need to be more prosecutions and more effective enforcement of these laws. it needs more resources to do those prosecutions and it needs nor leadership, which todd jones can provide if he is confirmed and given the mandate from the united states senate that he needs and the agency deserves to do its work more effectively. we will hear in just a few minutes from my great friend and colleague from connecticut about the continuing scourge of gun violence, how it continues to take a toll in the absence of effective measures from the united states congress. and i join him in urging that this body fulfill its obligation
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and its mandate, responsibility from the american people to do more and do it more effectively. and adopt sensible measures like national background checks, a ban on illegal purchases and school safety measures. but what's needed at the end of the day also, as much as new laws, are a determination to enforce the law, which todd jones will bring to this office on gun violence, on all of the responsibilities within the important purview of the at & f. the alcohol, tobacco and firearms bureau has a long and storied and distinguished history, and todd jones will make it more so through his leadership. and equally important this afternoon we will vote on james
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comey, a resident of fair field, connecticut, i am proud to say, as the next director of the federal bureau of investigation. i know this agency well because i worked with agents of the f.b.i. day in and day out when i was united states attorney in connecticut for four and a half years. i know it well because i have seen its work as attorney general of connecticut. and i know it well because over the years i've come to know the extraordinary men and women of the f.b.i., extraordinary in their bravery and perseverance and skill, their expertise and experience, their respect for the law, which is so critical, their sense of balance and mission along with their dedication to making america
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safer. and their mandate and purview has expanded over the years from the days when car thefts and kidnapping comprised a major part of their caseload to now cybersecurity and terrorism and computer hacking. jim come "y" visa man for the pho -- gym -- jim comey is a man for the modern f.b.i. for an agency that faces new threats and responsibility. he is truly a prosecutor's prosecutor. his life's work has been about law enforcement. he began in the united states department of justice as assistant u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york, and he rose to become deputy chief of the criminal division, and soon he moved to the job of
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managing assistant u.s. attorney for the eastern district of virginia, where his superiors recognized his exceptional ability and his remarkable combination of scholarship and practical sense of investigation when they assigned to him responsibility for the terrorist attack on the khobar towers barracks in saudi arabia. he quickly delivered 14 indictments and earned another promotion, this time to become united states attorney for the southern district of new york. his service there was recognized as remarkably distinguished and successful, especially in overseeing that office's terrorism investigations and prosecutions. and he made a priority of corporate crime, white-collar crime, never fearing to take on
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the toughest of challenges, prosecuting big businesses but also terrorism, and he received the director's award for superior performances in the henry o.stimson medal. in that job -- and much has been written about this incident in his professional life -- he demonstrated unbelievable and really passionate dedication to the rule of law in standing up to his own superiors in speaking
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truth to power on a variety of issues but most especially when he stood up to some of the president's men and his own superior in saying he would stand for personal constitutional rights at a time when they were threatened. and he has been a person of integrity and dedication to the rule of law bigger than any single person throughout his career, even in the face of that kind of tremendous pressure. in my conversations with him, he has also committed himself to vigorous and zealous pursuit of gun violence. and i have spoken to him publicly and privately about this issue. he testified in response to my questions and others and
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demonstrated clearly his commitment to effective enforcement of existing and new laws, improved laws, such as background checks and a ban on straw purchases and illegal trafficking. he has also committed himself publicly and in his conversations with me to a continued crackdown on human trafficking. i want to thank and commend the f.b.i. for its stunningly successful arrests of 150 pimps, rescuing 105 children in a nationwide crackdown within the past 24, 48 hours, including six children in new haven, connecticut. this stunning success shows
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dramatically, including the rescue of six children in connecticut, how this invisible, pernicious scourge can hit close to home. it has hit home in connecticut. i saw it as attorney general of our state. as a crime, a predatory scourge that hits men and women and children most searingly and heartbreakingly, children who are forced into labor into sexual exploitation and the f.b.i.'s crackdown shows that effective partnership involving local police like law enforcement in new haven, connecticut, where six children were rembgd, along with -- rembgd, along with state and federal law enforcement can effectively crack down on this scourge. the f.b.i. is to be commended and so is mr. comey for his
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commitment to dealing with this problem. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. morning business is closed. mr. blumenthal: if i may with with consent have two additional minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. blumenthal: i commend the f.b.i. and thank them for this effective action and mr. comey for his commitment to continuing that crackdown on human trafficking. and also to his wife and his family, his five children, for their generosity in becoming an adoption family, that is, adopting children. through the licensed parents, foster parents program in connecticut. becoming foster parents, i should say more accurately, and caring for infants and toddlers. they've also donated money to create a foundation to support
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children who age out of foster care. he is truly a man dedicated to public service, he will be proud and we will be proud of him as an effective and able leader for the f.b.i. in a challenging time. i thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 1243 which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 99, s. 1243 a bill making appropriations for the departments of transportation, housing, and urban development for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2013 and for other purposes.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: madam president, i'd ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you, madam president. let me associate myself with the remarks might have colleague from connecticut, senator blumenthal, as well as the majority leader who was here earlier today and senator klobuchar, all speaking on behalf of our nominee to head the a.t.f. as well as senator blumenthal's remarks on behalf of fairfield connecticut, resident james comey to be head of the f.b.i. very few agencies other than the a.t.f. and the f.b.i. more integrally involved in the preservation of the health and safety of the american public and we deserve to have votes on those tonight and this week. but i also want to associate myself with the other remarks that senator klobuchar made.
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she talked about our obligation as a body to reverse these very damaging sequester cuts to n.i.h. funding to medical research funding and she listed off some very compelling stories about men and women who have had their lives saved, preserved, lengthened because of discoveries made buy medical research. and it's a reminder i think to the senate and to the house to anyone who treads upon these two floors that we hold life and death in our hands with the decisions that we make. we decide when we choose to fund or not fund the n.i.h. as to whether we are going to give life to people who are waiting on these kind of cures and treatments. but similarly, we make decisions about life and death, madam president, when we choose not to act, when we choose to do nothing, to sit pat. in this case we make a decision to allow people to die in this
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country, specifically 6,633 people since december 14 when we make a choice to do nothing about the scourge of gun violence that continues to plague this nation. i've tried to come down here every single week to, as senator klobuchar did in speaking about tects the effects of funding -- effects of funding medical research in personal terms to talk about the implications of doing nothing when it comes to the increasing levels of gun violence in this country in similarly personal terms. december 14, of course, for most people is easily recognized as the date in which 20 6- and 7-year-olds were killed in sandy hook, connecticut as well as six adults who cared them as well as the gunman and his mother. since that day, 6,633 people
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have been dild killed by guns at a rate of about 30 a day, the highest of any civilized nation in the world and we do nothing. one of those on july 14 was horseley shorter jr. horseley managed a family dollar store in tampa, florida, and junior, as he was known, had some kids come in occasionally who would try to take things out of the store, try to steal. when he had to report them to the police, i would but -- he would but this was a gentlemen gentle man and more often he would try to talk through things with them to try to help them understand what they were doing and what the implications were. he would never do anything to instigate a fight, his friends said, in fact, his last words to one of his coworkers was the pen is mightier than the sword.
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what happened that day was that an armed robber came into the store, demanded money from the clerk. according to police, shorter was inside the office and he ran out to try to help his coworker who was at the counter when he was shot. the robber then forced the clerk at gunpoint into the parking lot where he stole the clerk's car and used it to escape. according to one friend, shorter was close to that coworker, took him under his wing, which is the reason he ran into harm's way to try to save him. his friends said i believe that is why this young guy was alive today. junior wasn't going to watch nobody die. he gave his life for him. about two weeks earlier on july 2, chenise reed, 22 and aneat reed, her mother as well as eddie mcewen were shot in a triple murder in fort worth,
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texas. an hour after the shooter killed his pregnant girlfriend, her mother and her little brother, he walked into the forest hills police department telling officers to arrest him because he did something bad. he was 22 years old. he had a history of domestic violence, he was sentenced to one year of deferred adjudication probation because of assault, and because of domestic disputes and because of his easy access to guns, in order to resolve this disagreement, he shot his pregnant girlfriend, her mother, and her 10-year-old little brother. just a couple of days ago, in bridgeport, connecticut, pablo aquino died. he was 27 years old." he was described as a humble
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man, always at the baseball fields helping kids out, he spent his dates at the fairfield hunting club in westport where he tended to the horses. he got into a simple argument when the suspects decided that the best way some solve this argument was to turn a gun on pablo, killing him. the next day, the community had a vigil for him. the vigil was there to remember him but also because they didn't have enough money for a funeral, and so as the vigil was goinggoing on, one of his friends stood out on the corner with an empty tin can of iced tea mix asking passers-by to contribute a couple cents to a funeral that was expected to cost $2,000. over the july fourth period, three shootings in new haven, connecticut, at around 10:30 on wednesday night police said
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somebody shot and killed errol marshall. his body was discovered and the front porch of a home. and courtney jackson, 26 years old suffering from a gunshot wound. brian gibson of new haven was shot outside of a public housing complex just shortly thereafter. all three murders connected, all three murders due to the fact that too many kids and too many young dawts don't know how to resolve disputes any other way than getting a gun and also because in a city like new haven guns are like water. they are all over the place. they are all over the place because this body doesn't pass guns keeping the hands outside of criminals, we refuse to pass a bill making it a federal crime to illegally traffic guns. all those seem very dissimilar
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from newtown but then there are ones you hear about that strike you as so similar to the reason why i'm here today talking about this because of the 26 people that died in sandy hook elementary school. not much more than a month after newtown, the griego family was killed all in one fell swoop in dweark, new mexico. greg, safina, 5, and angelina, 2. the parents were killed by their son, the little girls and boy killed by their brother. knee ahigha -- knee amiaya was -- nehemiah was 5 years old when he took a semiautomatic when to kill his family. like adam lanza, the shooter in
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newtown, nehemiah was a troubled teen. like adam lanza he took out his rage on his family first, killing his mother while she lay sleeping in her bed, like adam lanza he had plans to continue his killing spree. he was going to go to the local wal-mart before he was stopped. he was anticipating getting into a firefight with the police. like adam lanza, he used an assault weapon that was readily available to him in his own home. greg, 51, sarah, 40. safina 9, angelina, 2. five of the 6,633 people, 30 or so a day killed by guns since december 14. we're not going to pass them all by passing a piece of legislation on the senate floor. intreches won't bring 6,600
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people back, nor will a ban on human trafficking or a ban on assault weapons but they will absolutely bring some of those people back, lessen to the rate below 30 a day. so, madam president, i'm going to continue to come down to the floor week after week to stem cell the stories of the victims of gun violence to give them a voice on the floor of the senate. so that someday, sometime hopefully soon this place will wake up to the fact that we do have responsibility over life and death on the floor of the senate and it's about time when it comes to the rising incidents of gun violence across this country that we do something about it. i yield back the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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quorum call: mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: department of justice james b. comey jr. of connecticut to be director of the federal bureau of investigation. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 5:30 shall be equally divided and controlled in the
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usual form. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be divided equally between the majority and minority. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i ask unanimous consent the kwourb be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: i wanted to notify all our colleagues that senator collins and i have been working together with many of our colleagues on amendments to the transportation and housing bill over the past week, and i want to be very clear that that
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work is continuing. the majority leader has made clear that we're going to keep working on amendments on that bill, so everybody should be prepared for more votes. and i want to urge all of my colleagues to continue talking to me and continue talking to senator collins, and we will keep working to get as many amendments done as possible. many of you have approached us already with your plans and thoughts. i urge the rest of you not to wait until the last minute. senator collins and i are working with the floor staff to line up votes. i know everyone is anxious to have august recess occur. we are as well. the sooner we can get the amendments and get this bill completed, the soon all of us will be able to accomplish that. i know that a number of our colleagues on the floor that have noted that this has been an open process, that's what senator collins and i set out to do, and we're going to make sure that that continues. this is a bipartisan bill. i will remind all of us that it got six republican votes in committee and 73 votes to
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proceed to the open debate we've had this past week. that debate, again, is going to continue. i'm hopeful we can move to a bipartisan finish on a good bill that reflects great ideas from both sides of the aisle. i again want to thank senator collins for her work on this, and we are ready to move forward. i yield the floor to her at this time. ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, madam president. colleagues, as the chairman of our subcommittee, senator murray, has pointed out, we are continuing to work through the amendments that have been filed on this bill. i don't think i need to remind any of our colleagues on either side of the aisle that the august recess is fast approaching, and the senate will have to wrap up its work on this bill before we adjourn. so i would say to my colleagues if you have good ideas or even not so good ideas about this
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bill, we would urge to you come to the senate floor and file your amendments, and do so as soon as possible. as chairman murray has pointed out, this has been an open amendment process. we have disposed of some amendments, a couple through roll call votes and a few others through unanimous consent. but we could have done a lot more last week had people been willing to come to the floor and allowed us to proceed to amendments that were filed. i also want to highlight a letter that the appropriations committee has received from more than 2,420 national, state, and local organizations and state and local government officials in support of the funding that is -- and the programs that are included in this important bill.
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and, madam president, this is an important bill. it is a bill that will help us rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. it is a bill that helps us meet the housing needs of homeless veterans, of disabled senior citizens, of very low-income families. and it is a bill that will help the private sector create thousands of new jobs at a time when our economy really needs them. in fact, hundreds of thousands of new jobs. so it's not surprising to me that so many organizations are lending their voices in support of this bill. i want to read just one quote from the letter from these organizations. the letter notes that -- quote -- "through these investments,
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congress supports small business job creation, expands our nation's infrastructure capacity, supports economic recovery and growth, reduces homelessness and housing hardships and promotes lasting community and family economic success. i think that's a very good description of the purpose and the programs in this bill. one of the programs in this bill that is extremely popular and has been used to very good effect to promote economic development and community revitalization in my state is the funding for the community development block grant program. that's an area where our bill differs greatly from the house bill. i want to point out that tomorrow the house of representatives is expected to
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consider its version of the fiscal year 2014 transportation and housing and urban development appropriations bill. so, just think about this, madam president, if we pass our bill, they pass their bill, we could actually proceed to a conference committee, work out the differences between our respective bills, and the differences are marked. i don't minimize the differences in terms of priorities and funding. but that's what conference is all about. and if we do pass our bill and the house proceeds to pass its version of the t-h.u.d. appropriations bill, we will be the first, but i hope not the only fiscal year 2014 spending bill that is ready for
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conference, goes to conference, and i hope becomes law. finally, madam president, let me say i recognize that the senate bill is not perfect despite the heroic efforts that senator murray and i made in committee, and the input and insights from our colleagues that are incorporated into this bill. but it is a good-faith bipartisan effort that attempts to strike the right balance between fiscal responsibility and our nation's infrastructure and housing needs. i'm confident that the bill that would come back from conference would be, frankly, at a lower spending level which i and many on my side of the aisle want to see. but i was encouraged by the senate's vote last week of 73-26, to allow the senate to proceed to this bill. and i know we can make
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improvements. that's what the amendment process is all about. so again, i just want to second what our chairman has said and encourage our colleagues to get their amendments filed and to work with both of us so we can proceed and wrap up this work session on a high note of passing on time an individual appropriations bill. and i am willing to work hard over the recess to conference the two bills to get going on that, and i know that the chairman is as well. so thank you, madam president, and i want to thank the chairman and my staff and her staff also for working so hard. thank you. mrs. murray: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. leahy: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: madam president, i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: madam president, what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: the nomination of mr. comey to be f.b.i. director. mr. leahy: thank you. madam president, i would like to speak about the comey nomination. obviously i feel he should be confirmed to be our next director of the federal bureau of investigations but i feel it should be done without delay. director mueller has served very
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well, exemplary, but his term expires in early september so it's imperative the senate work quick willly -- quickly to confirm his successor. i worked with ranking member grassley as soon as we returned from the fourth of july recess and earlier this month with senator grassley's cooperation, we in the judiciary committee unanimously reported the nomination of james comey to the floor. however, in contrast with treatment of previous f.b.i. director nominees, those f.b.i. director nominees have all -- of proceeding presidents, they were all confirmed by the full senate within a day or two of being reported by the senate judiciary committee. james comey is the first february direct or -- f.b.i. director to be filibustered,
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nominee to be filibustered in senate history. by either republicans or democrats, in this case, of course, it's republicans who are filibustering him. madam president, a law enforcement position like this, somebody who was voted out by every single republican and democratic senator out of the committee, and then to be filibustered by republicans on his nomination? we should be voting to confirm james comey tonight. it's already taken twice as long to bring this nomination up for a vote in the full senate as for any previous f.b.i. director. what is it that the republicans see different about president obama from his predecessors? you know, president obama officially nominated james comey june 21, 38 days ago.
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no other f.b.i. director has waited longer than 20 days from nomination to confirmation. the f.b.i. director plays a very vital role in our national security, and the senate should put an end to these routine delays. nearly 12 years ago when the senate considered president bush's nomination, robert mueller, to be direct or of the f.b.i. on the same day he had been reported by the senate judiciary committee i spoke about the rights of all americans are at stake in the selection of a new f.b.i. director, and how the f.b.i.'s extraordinary power to affect the lives of ordinary americans. and i contrast that, madam president, with president bush, the democrats were in the minority, and we democrats worked to get president bush's nominee confirmed the same day he came out of committee.
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why the republicans -- what is it they see different about president obama from president bush, here they have someone eminently -- imminently well qualified, nominated by president bush, but they want to treat him differently -- immeant nently qualified, nominated by president obama, they want to treat him differently than the man nominated by president bush. i mean we democrats think politics should not play in the confirmation of f.b.i. director. republicans shouldn't allow politics to play in the confirmation of an f.b.i. director. i said at that time with robert mueller, i know the f.b.i.'s sweeping powers when used properly can protect the security of all of us by combating crime and espionage and terrorism. but i also warned that unchecked
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these same powers should undermine our civil liberties and our right to privacy. when i spoke those words i didn't know that just 40 days later, the world -- 40 days after i spoke today the world and the f.b.i. would change dramatically in the wake of the terrorist attacks on september 11. i shook this area, including even the senate because of the anthrax attack, one deadly anthrax letter was addressed to me and killed somebody who touched the envelope that was addressed to me. but the full senate considers the president's nomination of james comey to be direct or of the f.b.i. what i said back in 2001 holds true today. with the expansion of the f.b.i.'s surveillance activities, it's even more imperative that the next f.b.i.
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director possess unflagging commitment to the constitution and the rule of law and that we be allowed to vote yes or no. in times of a filibuster, you're voting maybe. we ought some vote yes or no. i believe james comey is the right man to lead the f.b.i.. he's had a long outstanding career in law enforcement. he worked for years as a front and line prosecutor on a range of cases involving terrorism, white-collar fraud, all at the core of the f.b.i.'s mission. he also serves as the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york. and he served as deputy attorney general under president george w. bush. in fact, madam president, many of us remember when he was deputy attorney general, dramatic hospital bedside


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