tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 6, 2014 7:30pm-9:31pm EST
partners and teammates in the room. i do want to offer if i might i know you have had many discussion points on policy illegal components. if i could offer something to you generally before you get into the specifics of oklahoma's case a couple of policy statements that i think are relevant. one i think we need to remind our friends on the left that health insurance does not equate to health care. sometimes policymakers at the federal and state level level believe they can expand eligibility and coverage and somehow that magically fits all of our health come outcomes in this country. ..
>> as such we had a long line of delayed treatment for those who needed it in the city of tulsa. i think that we need to remind those in this debate that health insurance and health care are two different concepts. and also this. as you expand the role of government, particularly the federal government, the inflation is going to continue to rise in a substantial way. we have talked about using these programs that we have talked about at the state level. that we need to curtail alto and cost of medical care.
and what ends up happening is a competing expansion as a role of government. it's not what i'll do day-to-day, but it is relevant to my comments today and so this includes the unconstitutionality of the affordable care act in march of 2010. and you remember the human cry in and the criticism that was level against the state attorney general and it was a political case to make demonstration will that. it was an election year and the attorney general was merely a puppet to challenge the administration to the affordable care act and they also said that it is about policy.
the fact that they didn't like the content of the law. i will be the first to tell you that at congress at the time the law was passed, i would be seemingly argued against it. what i will say to you that my colleagues, when these laws have been initiated, fundamentally they are not about politics and they are not about policy. they are about something were transcending in my information, and that its rule of law. fundamentally the cases of this, collectively it is about something more important and one piece of legislation around health care. and we see it in the energy sector and we see it in the finance sector as i indicated. and we see the attitude of theirs, agency believing that they process the authority to
improve upon the statute and to change a statute, to alter a statute, to repeal it so long as the result of what we think needs to occur and so long as we think that it is what congress intended and we have the authority to change this reading of the statute are you to achieve the outcomes that we think are most appropriate. and last time i checked, that is not how our system works. and last time it teaches us that this is passed by the legislative branch and when this passes the piece of legislation, it establishes boundaries for an agency and you don't get this legislative intent. and that is what is so awesome about the justice department, they did go into these cases as they did in oklahoma and they said they got this type of result. we were trying to expand access to health care, they said.
so we can't read the statute that way. and so that is really the tug in the poll that we have experienced in oklahoma and i'm sure that michael has experience as well that these issues about legislative intent and policy and politics have not driven in my estimation the lawsuits that have been filed. it is about the rule of law and making sure that agencies are accountable with a legislative body. a little bit of history about our lawsuit in oklahoma. he actually filed this lawsuit in january 2011. and i joined the coalition with other states at that time, filed a separate litigation in oklahoma in november 2010, saying that the federal government wasn't
anti-individual mandate provision and it was ingrained in the constitution. and so we did this in federal court in oklahoma and shortly thereafter they talked about the other case and it sat dormant until june 2012. after the decision in june 2012, we did what most states across the country started doing and that was evaluating the implementation of the law. because those on the left say that we have litigated this so much while he continued to do litigation. the litigation in 2012 made it to the supreme court about one thing them one thing only, did congress have the authority to pass the law. so implementing the law with adherence to the language and whether they had the authority under the commerce clause.
obviously this was a big part of it as well. giving each state the option and the discretion on this and that was the constitutionality of the original decision. our lawsuit is about something dramatically different. it was about something dramatically different and it is about whether the agency talked about this in the language and the statute. we talked about this in august 2012 and i know that this is going to shock you, but we learned about this with particularly the irs. we evaluated the health care exchange issue and every one of them had something to talk about, it was a policy decision and it was not unilateral, it was legislative and the executive branch making the decision on whether or not to set up an exchange, congress incentivize the creation and so
why did they do that? because they didn't wire it or mandated and that would violate the constitution and so congress did what they always do when they want the states to act a particular way. it offered money and they appropriated billions of dollars and they tied the subsidies to the creation of the state exchange. there was policy and political reasons why the congress do that. particularly the senator from nebraska at the time believed that the federal exchange was a precursor to the single-payer system and was concerned about that. one of the states could have an active and vibrant role and secondly there was a political calculation by the administration, they wanted to share the responsibility of the rollout of the affordable care act with all the states across the country and we now know why, because they are not very good at it.
they didn't appropriate the money that they wanted all the states working towards this implementation and so when 36 of them said no, there was a problem. unfortunately, rather than go back to congress, which is what the president and those that pass the aca should do to fix whatever portion of law do, they took this up at the beginning and they said that we are just going to encourage the statute and changes from the beginning and disregard this and say that the subsidies can be issued in all 50 states irrespective of a policy decision. and that should offend everyone in room, whether you are or or against affordable care act. we should all care about it agency after the fact saying that they had the authority and the power because of a certain circumstance to change the law.
and that is what they did. we had the only life case in the country from that time, august 2012 as i indicated and it amended the complaint and brought the lawsuit against the agency with respect to the role that was adopted in may 2012 and that is what we have been doing since that time. david made the comment that things are moving kind of slowly in oklahoma. i'm just glad that we have gotten out the last two to three weeks. it has been something that we have been litigating with. i'm very encouraged with what was said. and i want to bring to your attention some comments that were made. he addresses this political policy aspect. so if you go read this that were filed by the justice department,
there is more policy discussions than legal analysis and it was more trying to shame the court to get the statute to be passed by congress. and here is what the judge said in response to some of those, making an argument as well. it agency rulemaking power, these are direct quotes. it is not to make laws, it is only the power to adopt regulations to carry into effect the role of congress and to express the statutes. and it goes on at that the court is aware that the stakes are higher in the cases than they might be in other cases. the issue of consequences has been touched upon. and he's speaking of this to vacate the rule that we reach this conclusion with reluctance.
and he goes on to say that this is a case of statutory interpretation and it is what it is no matter which side benefits. such a case even if affirmed on the inevitable is not god or destroy anything but on the contrary the court is upholding the act as written. congress is free in both the state as it was and that should matter and it's great that the federal judge says what he says. and i'm hopeful that tomorrow we are on the eve of perhaps a decision by the u.s. supreme court to pick up this case and to settle this and provide the clarity that is needed across this country. thirty-six states have said no to an exchange collectively that have made that decision based
upon this and policy considerations and right now we have uncertainty about the decisions that they have made and this includes employers because we know that the consequence is more than just simply subsidies not being issued and there are no penalties that can be assessed against the employers in this state. i would also submit to you something that is not talked about it as much and that is the individual mandate that is affected as well because under the affordable care act the exemptions provided to this equips 8% of the annual income. the administration knew that as the law was passed, that this would rise dramatically and they wanted use the subsidies to
avoid the eclipsing of the 8% threshold. and so the subsidies are not issued in 36 states, not only is the employer mandate going to be tripled, but many individuals across those states are not going to have to comply with the individual mandate. so this is a critical lawsuit. because it goes to the heart of whether this administration and these agencies at the federal level can enforce the law as set up at the beginning. so it's desperately needed for the supreme court to deal with this issue sooner rather than later. i'm hopeful that we receive good news about this that has been filed and we honestly support that. i know the general does as well. and we will be there to support that in any way we can get the order is granted. this is an issue to be resolved
after that video came out and the audio came out, clearly jonathan governorber said initially that it was mistake. that he didn't intend what he said. always interesting that people say that. i know you heard me, said those record, about disrailroad the content and meaning of the words. and those videos videos videos e not art of any record or any case in the country. so we had the luxly and the latitude when the videos were produced to actually file a notice of authority and the judge actually made reference it to in his order. here's hat he said. i thought you mind find this interesting. the court permitted the plaintiff, the state of oklahoma, to supplement the record with statements made by
professor jonathan gerber, involved in the aca's drafting. it undisputed nat january 2012, professor gerber made the statement, quote, you're state and don't set up an exchange, your citizen don't get their tax credits. what is disputed if whenever l the statement was off the -- whether the statement was off the cut. and then the said, the statements cut against any argument that the statutory language might support a reeding of incentivizing states as knopp sense, made up. so those videos and that audio, that capturing of him saying that, the court in oklahoma said, this absurdity that the justice department says is the result of the state's lawsuit can't approach that. you can't say they're making it up out of whole cloth.
one of the architects, consultants, individuals that walked with the admission to set up the law, actually when a time the irs was passing their rule, made an unequivocal statement, states, your citizens well be penalized and not have access to subsidies. so with respect to where we are in our lawsuit, we are, as david indicated, in an expedited stature. with the tenth circuit. the briefs will be filed and finalizes at of december 22nd december 22nd of this use and the case will be argued in likely the third week of january. so home hopeful we'veing see a decision soon thereafter. and i hope that also something that follows the grant by the court with respect to michael's lawsuit here in the dc circuit. -- excuse me -- the fourth
circuit in richmond. it's been a pleasure to be with you here today. i'm glad talk to about these matters, about important matters, matters of rule of law, and i know that i began there but i want to end there. because this issue of rule of law is something that i would never have guessed -- and i mean this sincerely. never would have anticipated three or four years ago dealing with the number of cases that we deal with in the state level of agencies literally having an attitude, unapologetically, saying they were going to act because they can. now, i understand chevron deference. i understand that and every attorney in this room understands that, and that's something that congress must deal with. this delegation doctrine, congress providing -- they need to be proscriptive, i believe, these days, because of the license these agencies are taking, but that's a story for another day. on this matter, and other matters, what we have is
something different than discretion. we have an agency engaging in a result-oriented approach, ignoring the plain statutory language and doing so at the expense of checks and balances in our system, and it's creating extraordinary uncertainty in the market place and it must be dealt with by the courts. to send a message to the executive branch that they are not able to engage in that kind of practice, not only around the affordable care act but other areas as well. so i appreciate cato's loadership in putting together the conversation, and the prudent to be with you. happy when we get together next we are celebrating victory in this important fight for rule of law. thank you, david. [applause] >> we have a couple of minutes for questions, and i guess i'd better call on michael cannon first. wait for themake crow --
microphone. >> thank youor your leadership. a point of clarification. i've done a lot of research and reading and speaking and writing about these lawsuit. none of these are my lawsuits. i'm not actually involved in any of the litigation, just comment on it. so credit to the plaintiffs and the attorneys who brought them, including in king v. burwell, where the cert petition is before the supreme court right now. thank you. >> back there. >> i was wondering if the supreme court does decide to grant cert on king, what does that mean for your lawsuits? is it going to be completely preempted by king or is -- >> i didn't hear. what does it mean to whom?
>> to your lawsuit, to the oklahoma lawsuit. is it going to be completely preempted by the king lawsuit or is there -- is it still going to proceed -- what's goal to happen with the lawsuit. >> very likely what would happen is if cert was grant, the tenth circuit would obviously pause until the supreme court makes their decision. so it would cause our lawsuit to probably go into neutral, unless we ride to use some procedure method to join the king vs. burwell cert grant. which is possible. it's extraordinary but it's a possibility. [inaudible question] >> well, if the supreme court takes the case up and issues a
there's been talk about if it wins, there's going to be this sudden affordability vacuum because of the loss of the subsidies. would you think a state could mitigate that damage by, under its authority, under mccarren ferguson to regulate insurance, by making available footballable, nonaca contracts? >> i take issue with this argument there would be substantial disruption in the market place.
we were on a conference call this week. i think this is the most -- perhaps the most unsettled law in the history -- when you think about it, here we are four years boast post this law being adopted and signed, and i think most citizens across the country, one, want to see it repealed and, two, just because of the initial challenge of the states, it's unsettled. we have great uncertainty in the market place not because of our lawsuit. we have great uncertainty because agencies are engaging in regulatory overreach. i spent time with hospital administrators in my state. i asked, how are you making decisions about deploying capital, hiring personnel? he said i cannot. the president himself and the hhs and others changed the statute as drafted, unapologetically, routinely so they can't plan, which is why rule of law matters. so i take, issue, number one,
with the argument that this litigation is going to be a disrupting force in the market place as relates to health care. there was enough disruption in the market place, already, unattributable to our lawsuits. all about regulatory uncertainty. this would provide calculate. it will precipitate come doing what they should have done already, which is fix the law. and i know many in congress have talked about the, but this litigation will cause congress to have to go back and address the affordable care act in its totality, because it goes to the ability of being able to enforce the law and being able to carry out that which the law intended from the very beginning. i think it will cause congress to have to start over and then the states can make decisions from there in the interim, i think states are going to be in a very difficult position until there's resolution on litigation
and then seeing how congress responds. >> you think -- what authority. >> you think a state would have that authority under their regulatory provisions of mcfairway ferguson, to make available nonaca-qualified insurance, contracts for their citizens. now under the aca, when it's in place, that would not preclude paying the tax. you would still have to pay the tax for being in noncompliance. could a state, do you think, have the authority to make those options available to its citizens? >> i think the better question is, would that suffice and satisfy the requirement in the affordable care act for qualified health insurance. what we're doing here is not that, obviously. and so you would still have provisions in the law that requires employers to do what? adopt qualifying health
insurance as defined by hhs. what would be missings in the variableity of the federal government to enforce it. perhaps they could fill a void to provide more access to care for citizens but i don't think it's tied to -- at all the responsibilities in the affordable care act. it's not something -- that's just off the top of my head. i think that that what i would say at this point. >> we're going to take one last question. >> i think what he is getting at is something like this. if how big in king and your challenges are upheld and the -- and all this component of the aca is no longer enforceable in states without a state exchange, and theines subsidiesed premium govs about 8% of income for a lot of people, state could
authorize the sale of nonaca compliant insurance, just like before the aca, and people could buy insurance and it would be affordable at the lower case a., buy whatever insure thans they wanted, wouldn't have to worry about the aca mandate and wouldn't have to pay the individual mandate penalty unless their income were so high a compliant policy were available for less than 8% of their income -- >> i love the hypothetical -- policy issue, not a legal issue. they could but it's untethered -- if relevant to the aca. >> that's the whole point. >> they can do that. all right. thank you, general prewitt. thank you to all of our speakers today. there's more information on this in our web site, cato.org, for those staying for lunch, it's upstairs on the second floor. just take the spiral staircase
>> please have a seat. on behalf of michelle and myself, welcome to the white house. 151 years ago, as our country struggled for its survival, president lincoln dedicated the battlefield at gettysburg as a final resting place for those who have died here, that the nation might live. today the nation that lived pauses to pay tribute to one of those who died there. to bestow the medal of honor, our highest military decoration, upon first lieutenant alonzo h. curbing. now, typically this medal muss be awarded within a few years of the action. but sometimes even the most extraordinary stories can get lost in the passage of time. so, i want to thank the more
than two dozen family members of lieutenant curbing who are here, including his cousin, twice removed, helen lawyering from palm desert, california, who will accept this medal. for fors this family, this is an integral part of who they are and today our whole nation shares their pride and celebrates what the story says about who we are. this award would not have been possible without the efforted of supporters who worked for decades to make the day a reality, and i want to especially acknowledge mar zerwekh, an historian program the town where lieutenant curbing was born. good to see you, market. margaret is also the granddaughter of a union veteran, and lives on a property that was once owned by cushing's
father. when she discovered the story she spent over 25 years researching, writing letters, and raising her voice to ensure this american soldier received the recognition he so richly deserved, and she even managed to bring democrats and republicans together. to make this happen. margaret, we may call on you again. [laughter] >> this medal is about more than just one soldier or one family. it reflects our obligations as a country to the men and women in our armed services. obligations that continue long after they return home, after they removed their uniforms, and even perhaps especially after they've laid downed their lives. so no matter how long it takes, it is never too late to do the right thing. alone sow curbing was razeed by
miss widowed mother and siblings,ing through three brothers who fought for the union. at the come mope who recommend it him to west point rate, his mother is poor, highly commit, and her son will do honor to the position. after graduating from went opinion, lon was assigned to united states artillery, from bull run, from chancellorville to fredericksburg, lon fought bravely and developed a reputation for his cool, competence, and courage under fire. but it was at gettysburg, what one newspaper later called emphatically, soldier's battle, where lon would be immortalized. it was july 3, 1863, the final day of a grouping three-day fight. lon commanded his battery along the wall on cemetery ridge, fending off punishing fire from confederate groups in advance of what we now know at pickett's
charge in the chaos, lon and his men could barely see ahead of them. one colonel described the terrible grandeur of the rain of missile and the spreading sounds. lon was hit and badly wounded. his first sergeant, soldier indiana. frederick fuger, urged him to go to the rear, but lon refused and said, he'd fight it out or die in the attempt. bleeding, and weak, he moved his remaining guns closer to the front. over 10,000 confederate infantrymen advanced, elbow to elbow, over a mile wide. peering through field glasses lon ordered his men to continue firing at the advancing come almosts. he used his own thumb to stop his gun's vent, burning his fingers to the bone. when he was hit the final time, his gun spoke out for him once
more before he fell to the ground, and alonzo cushing was just 22 years old in a letter to lon's sister, krueger wrote that the bravery of the men that day were smylie do your your brother's training. etched on lon's tombstone is the simple, faithful, unto death, and his memory will be horde when one of our navy's cruisers, the u.s. ss gettysburg, dead indicates the officers' dinele hall as the cushing ward room. here today we know that lon and the others who fell that day could not -- we know we know what they could not, that gettysburg was a turning point in the civil war. also proof, if any was needed, that it was thousands of unknown young soldiers, committing unsung acts acts of here heroiso
shaved our union, freed our people, and re-affirmed our nation as one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. i'm mind if might not be stand hearing today as president had it not been for the ultimate sacrifices of those courageous americans. today we honor just one of those enemy, lieutenant alonzo cushing, who, as lincoln said, gave their last full measure of their devotion. his story is property of or larger american story, one that continues today. the spirit, the courage, the determination, that he demonstrated, lives on in our brave men and women in uniform who this very day are serving and making sure that they are defending the freedoms that alonzo helped to preserve, and it's incumbent on all of us as americans to uphold the values they fight for and to continue to honor their service long after they leave the battlefield. for decades.
even centuries to come. so, with that, i'd like to ask helen to join me for the reading of the citation. >> the president of the united states of america authorized by act of congress, march 3, 1863, has outsided in the name of congress the met useful honor to first lieutenant alonzo h. cushing, united states army. first lieutenant alonzo cushing distinguished himself by acts of bravery above and beyond the call of duty while serving a as artillery commander at get birdie burg, pennsylvania, on july 3, 1863, during the american civil war. that morning, confederate forced led by general robert e. lee banon cannonnating his position. using field glasses, first lieutenant cushion directed fire for his own artillery battery and refused to leave the bea
battlefield after being shuck in the shoulder. as he continued to direct fire he was shuck again, this time suffering grieve voice damage to his abdomen. still refusing to a bon don his command, he stood tall and continued to direct devastating fire into oncombing forces. as the confederate norses closed in the was struck in the mouth by a bullet and fell decide beside his gun. his gallant stand opened wide gaps, directing the army's ability. his heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his own life are in keeping with the highest traditions of military receives and reflect great credit upon himself. battery a, army of the potomac and the united states army.
[applause] >> let me ask the members of congress who helped to make this happen, join us for a photograph, and let's get our secretary and -- two secretaries right here. come on up. >> swing around here. that way everybody can get a good picture. you can hold those. [inaudible conversations] [applause]
va secretary robert mcdonald spoke about the state of the veterans affairs department after his first 100 days on the job. from the "christian science monitor" breakfast, this is an hour. >> here we go, folks. >> notice the iron control we have here. it's really something, isn't it? good morning. i'm dave cook from the monitor. thank you for coming. our guest this morning is veterans affairs secretary robert mcdonald. this is his first visit with our group and we thank him for making time in his busy free veterans skid excelled to all be here. he was born in gary, indiana, moved to a chicago suburb, became an eagle scout, and won admission to the united states military academy, graduating in
the top two percent of the west point class of 1975. he later earned an mba from the university of utah. the spent five years in the army, serve as an airborne ranger, attaining the rank of captain before joining the procter & gamble company. during his 33 years at p & g, our guest rose to a variety of increasingly responsible positions, working in canada, the philippines, japan, and bell jump, before becoming the firm's chairman and ceo in 2007. our guest served on the board xerox and u.s. steel. mr. mcdonald left p & g in 2015 and was confirmed as secretary of veterans affair in july of this year. this ends ends the biographical portion of the gram. now the ground rules. we are on the record here. please, no live blogging or tweeting, in short no filing of
any kind while the breakfast is underway to give us time to listen to what our guest says to help you resist the relentles civilie urge we'll e-mail pictures of the session to all reporters here. the va will distribute a transtranscript of the breakfast today. at regular attendees now, if you would like to ask a question, please do the traditional thing and send me a subtle, known threatening signal, raised eyebrow, and i'll happily call on you. the he interest of transparency, let me note i'm a veteran and have two sons in the military. no one in the cook clan is collecting veterans benefits, and with that cleansing disclosure behind us, we'll start off by offering our guest the opportunity to make opening comments and then move to questions from around the table. >> my pleasure. please call me bob. i'm encouraging everyone at
veterans affairs to do that. and please feel free to enter into the discussion after i conclude my remarks. i look forward to our discussion this morning. since being sworn in and getting confirmed and being sworn in, we have embarked on the road to veterans today. today is my 100th day since swearing in, so a little more than 90 days. in the 100 days i've been to 21 different cities. i visited over 41 different va facilities. we did that strategically, meaning i visited every kind of facility from a medical center to a domicile. i've spoken at 11 different medical schools and with 11 different deans of medical schools in an attempt to recruit the healthcare professionals we need. i've met with every veteran service organization.
i've spoken in most of their national conventions. a few i missed because of the timing of my confirmation. i spoke with members of congress before i was confirmed. i spoke with 67 senators, i think it was. all of this was designed to gather as much information as i could possibly get as to what that road to veterans day plan should look like. that 90-day plan is focused first and foremost on rebuilding trust. that's the first strategy of the plan. we know that trust has been compromised with the va, and we know we have to earn back the trust won veteran at a time. at va i think our mission is clear to care for the veterans of this country. they are our customers and everything we do should be looked at through the lens of the veteran. we also have another responsibility, which is to make sure we are good, shareholders,
good users of taxpayer money. so, we balance those two. we balance carrying -- caring for veterans and making sure we're good stewards of shareholder money and trust. our values, i think, are the right values. many of us now have started wearing these pins with the acronym, icare, an acronym that connotes how we care about our veterans but also is an acronym that represents the different values the organization. i stands for integrity. c is for commitment, a is for advocacy for our veterans. r. is for respect for our veterans for each other. and e. is for excellence, the kind of program, kind of health care, kind of benefits that we want to provide. not surprisingly, with what happened in the past that created the crisis, the first
thing i did was i asked every leader in the organization to meet with their subordinates and talk about our values and our mission, and then recommit themselves to those values and to that mission, and i asked for a report back from all of our leaders. i felt it was fundamentally important to start there, and every year, on the day that va was started, we are going to have an annual exercise of discussing our values, discussing our mission, and talking about various scenarios where people have either positively exercised those values in the behavior on the job, or negatively done so and we'll make sure everybody understands what the expectation is. relative to changing the culture, a lot of the culture is about accountability, and i know there's been a lot written about this. you can imagine that if you're in my chair, dave talked about
the number of leadership opportunities i've had around the world. changing culture is one of the most important things a leader can do, particularly coming out of a crisis situation. it's obviousfully my best interests to move as quickly and as aggressively as possible in changing that culture, and one way to do that is you hold people accountable for their behaviors, particularly when the behaviors violate the values of the organization. right now we have over 40 disciplinary actions in process with senior leaders, and we have over 100 investigations going on within the va by the inspector general, by the department of justice, by the fbi. when they're complete, we will take aggressive disciplinary action. there's been much written
recently about the priority of various investigations. we need to wait for the fbi to complete their investigations before we can act. the disciplinary action we take is administrative action, not a criminal action, and the criminal action needs to be concluded first, and obviously the easiest way to mess up an evidentiary situation is to have multiple people investigating at the same time. so, we're waiting -- we're eager to get the files back, and they're coming back every sickle day. just got one this week from the fbi, from the department of justice, when they feel they cannot prosecutor an individual -- prosecute an individual based on criminal behavior, then we do the disciplinary behavior, which is the next order of behavior. we are doing it aggressively and consistent with the law. at the same time, we have worked with the office of special
counsel under the whistle blower protection certification program to certify the department and we're making sure that all employees know in the department that we want every employee to be critical of our operation and we're also forming teams of employees for critical repeatable processes in the operation, to help us improve those. so we actually want our employees to be critical, and we value the feedback that we have gotten from is whether blowers, and when -- whistle-blowers, and when i go out another visit is immediate with whistle-blowers collectively and individually. and immediate with union leaders. i want everyone in the tent itch want an inclusive organization and i want people to help improve our operations from the lowest level to the highest level. we worked closely with the office special counsel to
resolve the whistleblower situations we have. there were three individuals in particular from the phoenix situation where they all now have new jobs good, jobs, and we're making progress. it's important every employee in va have a responsibility to the organization and to our veterans to improve our operation every single day, and you can't do that if you're not critical. our road to veterans day focused on hack excel -- accelerating access to care. i want to thank my west point classmate and a dear friend, sloan gibson, an acting secretary for a number of months, for the work he did to lay down the pavement on the early part of the road. under his leadership we began to surge resources to places where resources were needed to get people off eight lists, driver down the disability claim
backlog and reduce homelessness. i heard in facilities all over the country about how we had extended clinic hours in the evening, on the weekends. we have mobile units we brought to various locations like phoenix. we have hired more doctors. we have hired more nurses. in order to be able to extend those hours. we have asked people to work overtime, and these results have been effective in getting people off of wait lists and into clinics. >> this is the part of the program where i'm rude and say if you could do another minute or two, then we can do questions -- >> i will. >> if i don't get to questions they'll march on me with torches. it's ugly. >> va scheduled more than 1.2 million more appointment ned past four months over the same period a year ago. in total medical centers are scheduling over 19 million veteran appointments from june to october. we authorized 1.1 million nonva
care authorizations. 47% increase versus a year ago. people going to private sector. we have reduced the new patient primary care wait time by 18%, completed 98% of employments within 30 days of the desired time, and in phoenix, which is the first place i visited, wait times are down 37%. again, everything has to look -- be look at through the lens of the veteran. we also undertaking the biggest reorganization of va in our history. we're calling it "my va," and we can talk more about that in the question and answer period since david is pushing me forward. we're also busy working on the implementation of the new veterans access choice and accountability act. that is underway. we are working very hard. yesterday we began sending out cards to veterans who exceed the 40-mile limit from a va
facility, and so that those individuals can get service if they choose to from primary care. another big strategy in the road to veterans day was the blueprint for excellence. it's a new strategic framework we put together for the veterans health administration. jonathan curlin, former undersecretary of health, and carolyn clancy, the interim secretary of health, both led that effort. it lays out the strategies for regaining a preemanant position not only as the largest healthcare system in the country, but the best. as i talked -- i've been to universities to recruit doctors and nurses and we're moving forward with that. we have reduce the claims backlog by 60%, reduced veteran homelessness by 33%. going to facilities and identifying best practices and moving those around. one of our key strategies to do
that is employing a very obvious technology that been used in business, not quite as obvious in healthcare systems in this country. in our national cemetery administration, which is the third one of our administerings, you have health, benefits, and national cemetery. we have an organization that already works well. this organization is rated at the top by the american customer satisfaction index, even higher than companies like lexus and google, and we want to take their learning and expand them across the department. what encourages me about the future are the employees we have. at va. the vast number of employees work very hard to care for veterans. i've met the researchers who helped invent the shingles virus vaccine. i've met the researchers who have won nobel prize winners.
we have tremendous capability within the va, and it's matter of providing the leadership, i think we need in order to get us back up to where we need to be. the single metric we're going to use to define discuss is the satisfaction of our veterans. our customers. how is that, david? >> that was good, thank you, sir. >> you're welcome. >> the road map is -- that i'm going to ask one and then weol to michelle from fox, connor o'brien, mark latin from the examiner, curt from cnn, josh hix from the post, anna from the monitor, dave from reuters. mark thompson from "time." leo from military tombs. that will get us into this. you have had vast experience in management but it's a vast challenge, 150 hospitals, 820
clinics, 6.5 million active patients, 317,000 employees. is this the toughest management challenge you have ever faced? >> it's a tough management challenge but different than the other ones i've faced before. it's tough in its size. as you mentioned, 340,000 employees. that's about three times the size of procter & gamble. the largest healthcare system in the world. health care is a very difficult business. it'sen in in the healthcare business before. not in the hospital area but in products. and people die in hospitals. it's unfortunate, but people die in hospitals, and adverse outcomes occasionally happen in hospitals, and it makes it a very tough business because, like sigma would tell you, you want zero defects, and when you couple the size with the potential for catastrophic outcomes, that makes it difficult. the one positive thing i would
say is this is a lot different than what i had to do at procter and gamble because i'm doing it in english, and when you have to do it in japan, and you have to do it in japanese -- [speaking in foreign language] >> when you night english it's easier than trying to do it in different culture in a different language, but cultural change is the similar initiative. so that would be the way i would describe it. the -- one of the beauties at proctor and gamble we had 5 million consumers, and on any given day, 5 billion consumers in the world use at least one proctor and gamble product. here i have 22 million von is serve and nine million that use
our healthcare system. so, the focus on laser-like focus on customer service. >> michelle in english. >> in english, okay. well, have been critical of the va for not removing top officials because of mismanagement and granted you greater authority to fire executives. what are you doing to hold workers involved in the scandal accountable. >> as i said, michelle, we're moving as aggressively as possible. by the law. by the law. the important thing that i have to look at -- and believe me, i've been involved in disciplinary actions all over the world. one thing we have to look at is we have to make sure whatever action we take sticks. sticks -- is fair, it sticks and that on appeal, we are
successful. let's look at the new power i was granted. the new power i was granted is the appeal time for a senior executive service employee of the va has been reduced in half. that is the only change in the law. what does that sunshine well, senior executive service are less than one percent of all va employees. and the only change is the appeal time. so, the law didn't grant any kind of new power that would suddenly give me the ability to walk into a room and simply fire people. i wouldn't do that anyway. our constitution provides for due process, and we are following the due process, and as i said, the fbi is involved in many of these investigations,
the department of justice, and the inspector general, and as all of that evidentiary material is created, it is passed on to us if they decide not to do criminal prosecution. criminal prosecution has the priority, and then the administrative disciplinary action follows. >> can i do a quick followup? "the wall street journal" quoted the head of the house committee on veterans affairs, jeff miller, as saying the department appears to be giving failing executives an opportunity to quit, retire, or find new jobs without consequence. from what you stayed does that mean that's just an unavoidable -- >> again, i respect chairman milliary lot, as i do senators flake and mccain, and i'm sure they're familiar with the law. the law says that you cannot claw back the retirement earned
over a career unless the person commits treason or a treasonous-like activity. that is a criminal violation. so, i've got to wait for the fbi the department of justice to determine if the criminal violation has been committed, in which case they would prosecutor, before i can take disciplinary action. i do not have the authority to claw back on the retirement, and i have to tell you in the private sector, ceo does not have the authority to claw back on the retirement. that would be violating the constitution property rights, because it's been earned over a long period of time. it would have to be a criminal egregious behavior. these laws are very clear, and i'm skeptical whether members of congress don't understand the law. what disturbs me is we're creating -- trying to create
controversy using veterans to do that, and i don't think that's appropriate. >> connor. >> thank you, sir. yesterday the first phase of the joint -- nonva health care were in the mail. you said by december 10 all potentially eligible veterans would have their choice cards. do you have an idea how many potentially eligible veterans there are out of 9.1 million in the va? do you have an idea how many will use outside nonva. >> we have estimated but i prefer not to share those estimates because we're going to learn along the way. the reason we're doing the faced roll-out is because as we work the plan in advance, we work
with veteran service organizations, work with staff members of congress. one of the things our veterans service organization groups pleaded with us was not to send out nine million cards immediately, because the implication other would be, if you received a card, you were eligible use it. what we wanted to do is make sure, as we roll the cards out, we explain to the veterans who is eligible, who is not. we have done a lot of training of the veteran service organizations, so that they know how to answer the questions. we have a help line that is set up. if you call the help line, you'll hear a record from me and then be directed to help. so we started with those that we believe are above -- beyond the 40-mile distance is the criteria. we thought that was the best place to start. then the next group are those who might be waiting longer than 30 days. we thought that was the next best place to go. and then we're going to go to
everyone. so, we thought that was the best approach and that was the approach that our veteran service organizations and the staff members of our two committees encouraged us to follow. that's why we're following that. >> since april, it's been confirmed that qualification of patient records is nationwide, systemic, deliberate, and potential layin. separate from that, completely separate from the qualification issue, office of special counsel sent the president a letter in june stating the widespread culture of retaliation. and yet in that time you have managed to fire one person. and despite what you said about meeting the close criminal investigation, the department of yates next case of sharon helmund. sent a memo saying they don't
have to wait for us. they can fire her anytime they want to is that what you consider accountability in -- >> first of all, at least in what i've rather, mark -- maybe you wrote it. i don't recall. it was an unnamed source at the house committee, talking about an unnamed source at the justice department. so, i have not seen in the memo. you're adding more to it than i have. perhaps your law degree is more credible than others. but i would encourage you to talk to someone who is an expert in constitutional law and federal law and just check your sources a little bit. secondly, in the case of phoenix, and in the cases where you talked about people violating our values, i've been
very clear all along, as i have been this morning, that we will not tolerate that, and that we will seek the separation of those people. when i talk about the 40-plus cases where we're seeking disciplinary action, the majority of those are senior executive service and higher level leadership employees. but you should know that the veterans affairs department separates over 3,000 people a year, and the list of people that i'm currently tracking for potential separation is over 2,000. so i'm just talking about the leadership positions that have been more written about in the news. our inspector general testified at the house veterans affairs committee hearing that he arrests 500 people on average a year from the veterans affairs department. so, again, we're just talking to
people on the top of the organization. we're currently tracking about 2,000 people for disciplinary action in total at all levels, and the reports i provide to chairman sanders and chairman miller has over 40 people on it. but it meets a very specific criteria they gave me in terms of level and time. >> has the justice department asked you not to fire sharon helmund? >> i cannot comment on a specific case because it's imn process. and so i can't comment. >> curt? >> -- shows 10% as of october 1st, 10% of patients are still waiting 30 days for an a -- >> i'm surery, the century ray? >> dat released by the va yesterday. >> data released yesterday. >> the number was 10% are
waiting 30 days or more. i'm wondering if you do that as acceptable, is that do good progress -- >> that's a good question. that a good question. we are going through a process right now of benchmarking the private sector on what acceptable wait times are. what you'll find is it varies widely, depending upon whether it's primary care or a specialty and also varies by geography. prior to this job i lived in cincinnati, ohio. when i would make an appointment with me dermatologist it was usually nine months but that is the way determine nothing works. we're trying to -- dermatology works. we are trying to figure out the right standard. we used the 30 days the va would like the appointment, as the standard that we're using right now. and until we gate more defined
standard and one that works well with the private sector, we'll use that standard. >> do you think that is possible that go to zero percent? >> that's an average. but i've been to facilities where we have walk-in mental health capability. if somebody wants to walk in they can. we have some places where we have walk-in primary carry facilities. so that's an average. you assume some places are zero. other places it may be too high and we're working to get those down. >> josh hix from the post. >> so, the -- new the law the veteran choices card were all supposed to go out today. and so -- but instead you're rolling them out in phases, three rounds. so, two questions. have you -- what did you tell
congress about that and what was their response, and then, number two, who is responsible for the delay? contractorrors, the va? >> the law didn't specify i.v.ly which cards would go out -- specifically which cards would go out on which day to which addresses. laws generally are north that clear. in fact, after the law was passed -- and you recall i went to a committee, the house and the senate passed different laws, they got together and n committee, sorted through it. after the law was passed issue had separate meetings with chairman miller, chairman sanders, and we went through the law and said what do we need to correct? and so what we did was we put together technical changes to the law that they then acted upon. at the time the law was passed
there was no idea as to how best to execute this. that is our job. our job is to execute the law the best we can. so, we immediately stood up the process of trying to figure out, can we do these cards ourselves or do we have to hire an outside third party? at the same time we worked with our veteran service organizations, and the staffs of the two committees, the house committee and the senate committee, to talk about the best way to do this, and if you look at what we have accomplished from the time the law was passed until the day, yesterday, that the card started going out, i think you would argue it's nothing short of excellent execution, but it was during the discussions we had with the house and senate committees and with the veterans service organizations -- and i particularly would underscore the veteran service organizations because all of us were fearful if we sent nine
million cards out would we create chaos in our veteran population ask the veteran population would wonder why they're receiving a card and have trouble sorting through the instructs whether it's was a oh-mile limit or 30-day wait limit or because they're veterans. that is why, during the process, we determined the best way to execute, still meeting the deadline of sending some cards out on november 5th -- was to night phase phases. it was relatively unanimous to that point. now there was a statement by paul rieckhoff last night that wasn't the point, but actually his representative, bill, was in our meetings, and agreed that was the best way to do it. >> thank you for being here today. >> thank you. >> a question about women
veterans. advocacy groups has been the va treatment of women who are, as i'm sure you know, more likely to grapple with poverty, being uninsured, and so i wanted to know if that is win of your concerns after visiting these 41 centers you shared these concerns, and how do you plan to proceed on that? >> i'm sure you raised it to me this is one of my highest priorities. as we go through the change effort we have to change and create capable to deal with the increasing up in of female veterans. 11% of our veterans are female. about 20% of the dod is female. our structures, our buildings, were built in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. when i was in the the military i didn't see too many female soldiers during the time in the
82nd airborne division. we have to change. we have to hire more female specialty doctors. we have to hire more female primary care doctors because often times female veterans want to go to a primary care doctor who is female. we have to change our facilities. we have to provide daycare. we have to do things we hadn't considered before. so one of my focuses on my trips has been to get out to areas where we're working on this. i was just in atlanta, where we have inherited a building from the department of defense, and we're turning it into a women's health center, where we can provide this kind of capability, and our female veterans don't have to go to the same facility as the men, and they can get the women-based care there we're partnering with moorehouse come of medicine on that.
i walked through the facility with the dean, and we're making great strides but we have to do more. this also pertains to homelessness, and it pertains to benefits. because we're going to be looking at more female disability claims, we're going to need to provide new facilities for homelessness. i was in boston at the new england center for homeless veterans and mitt with some of the -- well, one in particular, homeless woman there, female veteran there, and we are -- we contribute money and resources to that site, starting in the new year we're going to remodel the entire facility because right now the women veterans don't have a way to enter the facility and exit the facility without going through the multigender space, and one of
the things we learned is the women want to have their own floor and they want to be able to come in and out. so, this is a huge issue. we have a lady, a veteran, west point graduate, alyssa, who works in our office, who is the advocate for women's issues, and it's a very important thing for us. in fact, i'll be speaking saturday -- monday, monday in the white house, about employment of women veterans. >> i have a question about the time you were being confirmed, congress approved $16 billion in emergency funds. which was recommended it would take to get a handle on these problems. where are you on the resources and as you have now been in the job 100 days do you have a
better sense what it's going to talk that -- will it take more resources, congress coming back next week, car new appropriations bill? ask for more -- >> we need more. the only amount that sloan asked for was 17-1/2. we got 15. and what we didn't get was, for example, the ability to hire more people to deal with disability claims, which was part of the original 17-1/2. we didn't get some money for ssvf, program for homeless. but think about a curve, a line that's going northeast, and think about the fact that we were below the line in terms of the money we needed. this gets us closer to the line but the line is still going northeast. early on i did an analysis trying to say, how did we get into this situation? why do we have such need but we
don't have capacity? if you look back historically, we had agent orange presumptions created. we discovered things like tbi and pstd, which now we have people making claims for tb and i ptsd that fought in previous wars before that science was available. we have the average veteran now makes six claims. after world war ii it was one. the other thing found out was you don't see the full effect of the war on the veterans of the war until 40 years after the war is over, because these veterans age, and as they age, they get more and more difficult problems. i can attest to that because i have about 60 parachute jumps, missing two disks in my lower back and every night it's harder and harder to sleep and harder and harder to stand for long periods of time. so, 40 years from how to is
going to be the peak need of the veterans who fought in afghanistan and iraq. so we need to start building that capability now, and we're going to be asking for budget increases in order to do that to be able to provide the capable ity the law says we need to provide for our veterans. [inaudible question] >> under president obama the budget has increased every year. and that's good news. but again, it's going to have to continually increase because that curve is heading on a slope up. it's not steady and it's not flat. and most americans would think, the wars are over, so we don't have to worry as much about the va. i'm telling you that 40 years later, we still are caring for a
dependent from thesive war. we still are caring for 100 spanish american war dependents. we still are caring for world war ii -- 40 years after the war. >> keith from "stars and stripes." >> we're still getting a lot of reports of the climate at the va hospital, retaliation, employees fearful of coming forward. a lot of that because a lot of the leaders that were responsible for that are still there. what are you doing to address those ongoing issues and can you point to anything tangible that has changed in that arena? >> a number of things. number one, if we have any inclunk we're going to take disciplinary action against someone we move them out and they're no longer in the
organization. secondly, i meet with whys blowers and ask them about retaliation. we have been certified by the office special counsel in their whistleblower certification program. that was not the case previously. number four, is when we have remediated these situations, like we did in phoenix, the three individuals there got great jobs. if you talk to them today, think they will tell you things have changed, and that they're happy with their new jobs. at least that's what they've told me. so, you should check with them. you have to be careful. things are changing pretty quickly, and you have to make sure you're on top of the changes because you may be hearing old news. but i've made it very clear in video in writing, in personal involveds, that retaliation against whistle-blowers will not be tolerated. and i want to know about it, and i will go to the source to find
out about it. >> mark thompson from "time." >> yes, secretary bob in may, general sin shaq can i went down in flames -- general shinseki went down in flames. people thought he was a guy that got it, wound veteran, had run the army. if he couldn't get it, how can you get it? given your corporate background and have you talked to general shinseki to avoid whatever potholes he rap into. >> we community with general shin second kim i have tremendous admiration for him and respect for him. his wife and i have served on the fundraising committee at west point, my mall matter and his mall matter. i think the skills i need to do this job are not unlike the skills i needed to run an $85 billion company that is one of the most admired companies in the world.
you don't run a company like that by being lax on disciplinary action. why is it in my interest -- you read the articles that some of you write. why is it in my interest to go slow on disciplinary? explain why that's in my interest and tell me why you want to play some kind of political game about veterans? i'm a veteran. i'm about caring for veterans. i cared for a consumer population of 5 billion people around the world in over 200 countries around the world. i'm now caring for 22 million veterans in this country, nine million of which use our healthcare system. you can imagine, i -- when i was asked to do the job i thought it was terribly high calling. i immediately said yes. it's not that i need this job. this is a calling for me.
it's an opportunity to take 40 years of leadership experience all over the world, different size organizations, different problems, and apply it to a very serious problem in the united states, to care for people i served with, who put their lives in danger to save my life. >> but along those lines, general shinseki was on the hill this year saying these problems were isolated, there weren't that many of them. then the ig report came out and they were plainly systemic. if the va bureaucracy could hide it from him, are you convinced they're not able to hide it from you? >> when you have run an $85 billion company and 200 countries around the world and you speak multiple languages and you have operated the those countries some you have traveled to 41 different sites, it's pretty hard to hide stuff. >> leo shine from military times. >> but it takes time to change.
>> sure does. >> you said rebuilding -- is priority -- >> excuse me? >> you said -- you have had a constant drum beet on the firing and accountability issue on the hill, and question about sect gibson's involvement with the ig and might have influenced the report or might be among the vs os i've talked to they're feeling feeling feeling the bureaucracy is years away from being fixed how are you doing with rebuilding trust? do you feel like you're making some progress? >> it takes time, leo. but as you know, my first national press conference i gave out my cell phone number. i've been getting in the early days i was getting 250 calls or texts a day. i set up a team to help me
remediate every one of those actions. of those calls they've now dwindled to maybe five to ten a day. or texts. we have been able to remediate a number of those. probably over 30%. some of them rear pettive calls of people -- repetitive calls of people wanting to us give them, for example, 100% disability when they don't deserve it and we're not going to do that. we have a responsibility to taxpayers. on the other hand, some are them are clear issue we have, that we have to solve. and when i can solve one of those or help solve one of those, and then the veteran calls me back and tells me i've changed their life, i've made a difference, that's everything to me. that what counts. that's why i'm doing this. so, it's going to take time. but we're going to change va into an organization that is
focused on the customer, where everybody gives out their cell phone number. where everybody embraces the veteran, where everybody worries about veteran outcomes and not internal outcomes. i mean -- that's what will make it worthwhile. >> take nine million phone calls before you can get to that point. >> as a leader you have to set an example. right? and by giving out my cell phone number i was trying to set an example for the organization of what my expectations were for them. and not surprisingly, what you see now, you got people giving out their cell phone number. you got people embracing veterans as they walk in the door. many people were doing this ahead of time. but now you're seeing it even more broadly. it's going to take time. but we will get it done. >> let me do a quick followup on disability. the gao reported 60,000 veterans
were trim dinners, drawing military retirement pay, plus disable prom -- from the veterans and disability from the social security. average payment, 59 grand. 2300 veterans receive payments of more than 100,000. is that something that needs to be fixed or is that good? >> well, some of that is, i think, based in the law so the law needs to be changed. ...
this is one of the areas were lean six sigma has helped us. we have more work to do. the other thing that has helped assisted digitization of the claim work. initially it was all done on paper. today over 90% of it is done digitally and what we find is when you do it digitally you can do it more quickly and you can do it more accurately. so we are working with the veterans service organizations to turn more and more of the claims and to what we call fully developed claims meaning the veterans service organizations us create a thorough file but then also we are doing it digitally. >> kevin diaz from houston. >> sir congressman from texas is drafting legislation. congressman john conyers is drafting legislation and you might be aware of this trying
to, designed to propagate to make greater use of volunteer doctors to help with backlogs etc.. he is not talking out these without compensation. straight up free doctors to help you guys deal with your caseload but he says and a lot of veterans have also told me that they run into resistance from the va because you guys consider it more than of an administrative hassle than it's worth to manage a cadre of pro bono doctors so can you talk about that issue a little bit? >> yeah first of all what are the changes we are making is to look at strategic partnerships as a force multiplier. when i was preparing for my confirmation hearing i went through the existing strategies of the organization that are publicly available on line. the second strategy talks about partnerships but what i found in the organization was kind of a
bunker mentality that we are partners would look more as competitors than not. for example major league baseball kindly use the first game of the world series to call out their support for veterans. we cooperated with them on the building of a clinic in kansas city which is not far from ballpark. we had a greater% -- opportunity to go there not other people there and secondly the owner of the new york mets had put together a program welcome back veterans and the owner of the boston red sox put together a program called home base. both of which i have visited and they felt like they weren't getting the support from va that they wanted. i am all about partnerships and
i'm all about strategic partnerships because it's an opportunity to multiply the capability that we have and as i was mentioning to the previous question we don't have the budget we need so why would we turn our backs when there is help that is willing to be given. having said that let me tell you a story. early on in the job i was told about this great program at a local law school. i won't mention any names and that law school wanted to provide pro bono help to help veterans fill out fully developed plans, just like a veterans service organization would. it was very effective. they did a number -- of law students to the students to remember those claims for us. it wasn't long after that we got a letter from the dean of the law school saying we would like to continue doing this and would you now pay us to do it?
i appreciate probe -- pro bono work. we have partnerships with the best medical schools in the country. i was at massachusetts general hospital. the doctors there teach at harvard medical school. they work in the va and they serve at the hospital. the duke medical school, the doctors their work in the medical school. they also do their clinical work at the va. the reason doctors like to work at the va and the reason 7%, 70% plus of all doctors have trained at the va is because we have this unique combination of the three-legged stool. we have the best patient in the world and we have an opportunity to do clinical work with that patient, very appreciative patient. a patient who loves to tell stories. they are able to educate others so they can learn from their clinical work and they can go in a classroom and educate others and i believe in steven covey's
line in the seven habits of highly effective people if you want somebody to be good at something have them teach it in the 30s research. we spent eight -- $1.8 billion a year in research and many doctors want to do research in addition to their clinical work in educating others. when i go to these medical centers i also meet with the deans of the medical schools about the associations we have and it's a potential to boost up our operation when we need to buy using more of the medical school doctors or in the case of las vegas when i was there, we have the toles air force base doctors, air force doctors who do flight physicals. they, they do clinical work of the local va because they are able to keep their medical practice robust while still serving in the air force. so we are open for business. we want to partner with
everybody but we want a relationship that is mutually beneficial. we don't want to necessarily have to pay egregiously for it. >> brian with a military times last question. >> i wonder if you could describe the makeup and the operations of your office about accountability review and since they are fielding so many claims when he selected these people where they themselves subject to some of these whistleblower components? >> yes they were better than what we did was we brought in general counsel from the outsi outside, from outside of va but in government from dod actually. she was a former general counsel of the va but years before and the people that we brought in to the best of our knowledge have
been vetted and are frankly doing a big job job and does i talked about it is a big job. as i said -- i sat down with one of the bso veterans service organizations president of the other day and i showed him the pages and pages i have of all of the people that we had disciplinary action going against him it's over 2000 people. this is front and back printed so this group is very busy. so i know you all have written about the 40 plus but that's not it. we are talking about senior executive service people there. >> people are being pulled in from different places that are working on this. >> it's a very fluid operation. at the top of the operation are three people that i meet with weekly. in fact i met with two of three yesterday.
next-day discussion on the impact of republican control of both the house and senate. gail russell chaddock of the "christian science monitor" and jackie kucinich of the "washington post" were guests on this morning's "washington journal." this is an hour. >> host: we are joined with jackie kucinich of the "washington post" and gail russell chaddock of the "christian science monitor." i want to begin with a headline that you wrote for the monitor. how can congress fix itself? it should stop trying to fix itself. can you explain? >> guest: the monitor did a cover story when we pull together the best people we could think of her longtime congress watches and former congressional leaders. i was involved in entering a couple of them and to think of the evidence. the end of it i realized their
suggestions for reform were only about reversing previous reforms all of which had unintended consequences such as transparency laws that were designed to bring people into the negotiations in the said what happened as the negotiations would storm out of the room and there's even less visibility. campaign finance reform, that idea of getting money out of politics and even earmark reform which i wrote about endlessly. i was very enthused with a concept which is why i covered it so much. but one of the things that seems to have happened if congress doesn't work as well unless leaders have some kind of leverage over members in reservation. in effect every reform idea of the last 20 or 30 years has had pretty serious unintended consequences of the headline is kind of a joke that obviously an
institution that has a rating of eight, 9%, lower than tv news i regret to inform you, lower than just about any other institution obviously need to fi fix it agan be what we did before. let's go let's talk about the election returns and we begin jackie kucinich talking to -- what's the message to speaker boehner? >> guest: speaker boehner needs to figure out a way to get his conference in line. he has started to do that. do that better do that. i think at the end of last year he started to get to a place where he could get his people to vote for something and to stop doing things like trying to repeal obamacare. i don't think that is gone. i don't really think that's an issue that they are going to be able to dispel with the cycle. i also think they wanted both sides to work together. now you are going to republicans working together however then you look internally there's going to be some internal
disputes with republicans and you can see if they can break through this but over the last congress sub, house side, mcconnell is going to have to try to get a balance on his site as well. >> host: and the message to the new republican leader of the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell? >> guest: try to get things done. get things done. get that body moving again. one of the interesting things particularly on issues, we talked a lot about keystone is one of the things the republicans are going to try to get done now that they have both houses of congress. a lot of the democrats that law supported keystone as well. some of these things is not necessarily a slam dunk just because you have two sides of congress that agree with each other. >> host: here's what the president said yesterday an issue of immigration whether or not he will have an executive order if congress fails to act on the issue. >> i have no doubt that there will be some republicans who are
angered or frustrated by an executive action that i may ta take. those are folks, i just have to say who are also deeply opposed to immigration reform. in any form and blocked the house from being able to pass a bipartisan bill. i have said before that i actually believe that john boehner sincere about wanting to get immigration reform passed which is why a four-year i held off taking any action beyond what we had already done for the so-called dream kids and did everything i could to give him space and room to get something done. and what i also said at the time
was if in fact congress in this congress could not get something done that i would take further executive actions in order to make the system work better, understanding that any bill that they pass will supplant the executive actions that i take. >> host: sub on the two takeaways that you can read between the lines is that he will have an executive order on immigration. he also indicated that he will probably veto the keystone xl pipeline. he didn't say that but if you read between the lines it seems that is where his mind might be going. >> guest: i think that's absolutely right. they are suddenly two new members that we haven't used in washington very much. one is to 90 and the other 67. that's the threshold for overcoming a presidential veto on its new reality now. we can talk about a lot of things but if you can't get the person to sign the bill it's not going anywhere. the other thing that is very
interesting about this is the amount of leverage that they have within their own party. the president talks about it as if it's a character issue. boehner boehner couldn't somehow delivers caucus. when nancy pelosi passed health care reform she had 40 votes on her own side of the aisle that she could say fine we don't need you. vote the way you think you have to. boehner hasn't had that and it's not clear what the number now is, how many tea party folks he can just say fine vote however you want and get something through. those are the two numbers. >> host: jackie kucinich this morning speaker boehner and senator mitch mcconnell in an op-ed in the wall street trouble getting attention. saying quote before the tax code we also need to reform the tax code. we need to redefine full-time as working 40 hours a week. need to move on the keystone xl pipeline. there are plenty of tasks ahead and they conclude by saying this. the skeptics say nothing will be
accomplished in the next two years of selective service of the people we will make it our job to prove the skeptics wrong. >> guest: color me a skeptic. not only are there internal issues but as you pointed out you have a the president ready on bills so far in his presidency and most of that was because of the errors in the bill. i think you are going to see that uptick significantly. as far as tax reform you have corporate taxes are something they are going to push. you have the medical device tax that they want to repeal but you know even those two things it's going to be a difficult task. >> host: the democratic leader nancy pelosi again saying she's going to run. do you think there will be any movement to have a change in the democratic leadership in either the house or the senate? >> guest: i think if you go over her entire career going back to when she was the hostess
at a party she was raising a ton of money. i don't think she is going in mushy ones do. seems pretty clear she doesn't want to. >> she said in this letter members and candidates won hard-fought campaigns connected to their constituents and strengthened by the tenacious leadership of israel. unfortunately we lost valued members of the house so we know must continue to fight for middle income families who are the backbone of our democracy. there is a lot left to do to jumpstart the middle class which we hope we can do with bipartisanship and with fairness. jackie kucinich. >> guest: i would agree with gail that nancy pelosi will be there as long as she wants to be or until they take over the house again. then i think she's going to get
members of the caucus challenging her. until then there's no reason. >> host: look at this map because you can see the dark areas are republicans in the house of representatives and the lighter areas the democratic seats in the house and certainly on each coast and sprinkled in the middle and in the midwest but for the most part geographically the republican country when you look at the "washington post." >> guest: what is even more interesting to my sense is looking what happened at the state legislature level. you have 25 states with a republican governor and entire republican legislature and two-thirds of the states have an entirely republican congress, house and senate. that's an extraordinary set of numbers especially when you see what they are doing at the state level. the decisions they're making about medicare and access to guns and even women's
reproductive rights. if you ask yourself what most impacts what my daily life is like the states are having a great deal to say about that and a plot of the interesting fights at that level. a lot of people were expecting that sam brownback would be go gone. he's still there. governor walker is still there. i think that's every bit as interesting as what's going to happen washington and. >> guest: is a consequence of 2010. that's when the republican legislature started rising and democrats haven't been able to break that since that happened. people talk about how the tea party is power and that's one of a think the things that particular revolution as hell. >> we have heard from senator pat roberts on his victory speech saying he will be the
incoming chair of the senate agriculture committee. what changes can we expect among these committees when the gop takes over? >> guest: in terms of chairman? that is an excellent question. i think one of the things that is going to change as far as the races that are still out, one of her biggest pushes was i in the chair the energy committee. that is why you should send me back. she is no longer at the chair of the energy committee and doesn't have nearly the force that she did with the democrats a majority and that a majority in that may hurt in the december runoff. >> host: the journal reporting this morning that a lot of the general groups that supported democrats may not be there for her because of her support of the keystone pipeline and dealing with women's reproductive rights. >> guest: exactly. you mentioned the chairman.
he wants to stay on financial services and he was the one that people thought might challenge boehner and it looks as though that's not going to happen. in fact that's one of the interesting stories how the speaker has moved very quickly to consolidate his position. i think you are going to see a very different situation in the new house. the tea party, you ask tea party people who party people who'd you claimed credit for in the new congress? it's not like 2010 and within two party ranks one of the most interesting things will be looking at where senator paul go somewhere senator cruz go. a whole new set of issues with tremendous bipartisan potential such as mandatory sentencing or what is his other one? you can get a lot of support on the left over issues like spying
and i think there's a lot of creativity in the republican ranks on that front. >> guest: the other thing about rand paul is he has a great relationship with senator mcconnell. he endorsed him early against his republican opponent and i think that relationship is going to be extremely interesting to watch and i think it's good for mcconnell that someone like rand paul is on the side if there's a filibuster in the air. he'll have a little bit more control over that. >> host: jackie kucinich of "the washington post" and gail russell chaddock of the "christian science monitor" should look at the election returns and look ahead for for congress this ear next year patricia is joining us from panama city florida on our democrat line. welcome to the conversation. >> caller: hi, how are you? what i wanted to ask is now that the republicans have taken over everything does that mean that they are going to go along with brian's budget and cut medicare
and give vouchers out and are they also going to privatize social security which they have threatened to do over and over and over again? facilitate the social security issue first. that is not an part of the debate. willet? >> guest: social security is something everyone talks about and have a good reason to delay. i think for the next year the rule of fun can be everything -- 2016. people are talking about this being the election of our lifetime because so many critical issues will have to be decided. since i've started covering congress in 2 million people is that if we don't deal with social security now albeit too late. it really is upon us in 2016. i think anything big is going to be kicked over to that period simply because you not cannot overcome a presidential veto and no one wants to go into that election. the social security vote is
going to be very difficult that we don't do it in a bipartisan way doesn't get done. >> host: let's go to kallen cookeville tennessee. republican line, good morning to you. >> caller: thank you for taking my call. there's one part of the election that i think is very important understand and that's the confirmation of federal judges. the district in federal judges, appellate judges and also supreme court justices. obama in the senate had a rule that they could hardly get anything passed without a simple majority. now that the republicans have control more moderate judges will come up in the long run. as far as everything else goes medicare they're going to have to do something about that. thank you for taking my call. >> host: thank you. appreciate it. >> guest: i think something democrats are trying to do in a
lame section -- session to think it's going to be on the top of the agenda for the democratic senate. >> host: let's go to marjorie and new york on her line for for democrats. good morning. mark, are you with us? one more time for mark in west delhi. how about tim and maine joining us on the republican line. go ahead. >> caller: yes, i would like to make a comment about an executive order that the president made. hello? puts the weekend hear you. go ahead tim. >> guest: for many years there have been corporations in this country that have been hiring illegal workers for the sole purpose of evading taxes, social security and medicare taxes. i would like to see the president do an executive order to -- ceos in the meatpacking
industry. they have been doing it for 40 years now and they have been getting away with it. >> host: thank you for the call. you're shaking your head. >> guest: no he is right. that's 11 of the issues that's the most frustrating and i think it's also one that potentially could unite some democrats and some republicans. the leadership doesn't want to go after corporations period whether they are democratic leaders are republican leaders. that's been a real sore point but i think the caller is absolutely right. is he still there by the way? >> host: e. is not that he brought up the issue issue of executive order and the president talked about this yesterday. he basically framed the issue of immigration saying look if congress acts on immigration that would supersede anything i signed into law with an executive order. he said if you don't i'm going to add. >> guest: another element, he said want to act if you act in way that is acceptable i will be
sending my order. it's a brand-new theory of checks and balances. the first time i heard it was congressman becerra he said we have given congress time to act and they have enacted so now we are acting. where in the federalist papers does it say that one branch gets to say to the other time out. >> guest: republicans taking this and doesn't solve the immigration problem. the house is more republican than it is before and that is where the holdup has been so i don't see how republicans taking the senate all of a sudden means immigration reform is clear to go. >> host: speaker boehner and senator mcconnell talked about obamacare here's what senator mcconnell said yesterday in louisville. >> it was no secret that every one of my