tv Today in Washington CSPAN August 26, 2011 6:00am-9:00am EDT
performance measures, and further streamlining to accelerate project delivery. there are two policy reforms we are supportive of and that is the enhancement and expansion of the loan guarantee program. i want to caution innovative financing mechanisms including infrastructure are valuable financing supplements but they cannot replace the need for funding of the base program. we are also supportive of provisions to reduce bureaucratic hurdles for projects with no significant environmental impact and provisions to accelerate projects approved within specified deadline. we hope your bill will encourage increased cooperation with the regulatory agencies and i want to emphasize we strongly believe a constant or reduced funding level, congress should be more aggressive in removing regulatory burdens and providing states with greater flexibility to deliver projects.
finally i would like to reiterate what i said at the beginning. we believe a bipartisan measure which has been a cooperative between you and the senators, baucus, inhofe and vitter, the investment is the media and have long-term benefits to this country. we respectfully urge you to consider this bipartisan effort and thank you very much. >> thank you. now we call upon the hon. gary ridley. senator inhofe has given you a warm introduction. we welcome you. >> mining is gary ridley, secretary of transportation in oklahoma and i'm here to testify on behalf of the oklahoma transportation. we want to thank you and ranking member inhofe for your leadership and efforts to sustain funding levels and
increase the efficiency of delivering the transportation projects and reauthorization. as we consider the deficiencies of our national transportation system we recognize the challenges faced by congress are significant. transportation departments across the country are hopeful congress can make every effort to a least fund transportation at historic levels. however we are acutely aware of the difficulties presented by the limitations of the projected high with trust fund revenue. there are five waste benchmark investments and direct more transportation dollars to the core infrastructure is appreciated. we are considering reduced federal funding projection, none of the critical needed transportation projects currently being prepared for delivery in oklahoma can be held harmless in the rebalancing of our fiscal constraint construction work plan. in addition renewed focus on core transportation infrastructure and reviewed and consolidation of programs that mandates commission of the
highway trust fund dollars to fringe activities is welcome. if eligibility retained the transportation resources to the activities should be left to the state alone. even more when our state and federal budgets are under extreme pressure and our performance is proposed to be measured by the outcomes like reducing fatalities, improving bridges and roads and reducing congestion. utilization of public/private partnerships and infrastructure banks and other such methodologies that have proven effective in financing certain well-defined transportation systems, should be mindful that none of these financing opportunities provide new revenues for sustainable long-term funding. it is important to ensure that financing options as the federal government's best or only solution to stem the decline of our national transportation system. the nation requires new and effective transportation revenue streams but does not need
encouragement to incur additional debt. extreme care must be extended, exercised when considering such programs in order to avoid overprojecting and over extending our resources. states should not be left to bear the burden of the national transportation system alone. we recognize consistent authorization with reasonable funding commitments extends beyond the reach of the extension act. the complete fiscal resolution of the national transportation funding process may not be at hand. the value of legislative provisions facilitate a more effective project and program delivery system should not be discounted. reducing environmental hurdles for projects with no significant environmental impact will be extremely beneficial. in the last three years we let the contract almost 200 routine projects that were less than five million costs. all these projects required
document that took 380 days to complete. assuming such projects would meet the criteria for expedited process, complete nepa exemption they could shorten the private delivery time on each. the introduction of these ideas is a giant step in the right direction. preparation effort and time saved to deliver projects that meet defined criteria will not only translate in timesaving to the agency but will accelerate direct user benefit to commerce and the traveling public. state and federal regulatory resources and lead agencies will have the opportunity to focus more of their internal resources on other large scale proposed transportation improvements in a more timely and effective manner. even as some progress is evident we have become aware that the
epa and corps of engineers are seeking to expand jurisdictional authority over new water service and modification guidelines. such guidelines are concerning as more and more regulation creeps into the simple drainage ditches and minor tributaries long considered non jurisdictional. in oklahoma corps of engineers issued permits and mitigation members' approval is becoming more difficult to obtain in a timely manner due to the resource strain on existing broad jurisdiction will assertion. this situation can only be exasperated by the jurisdictional authority under the proposed guidelines. regulatory guidelines should not overstate the law, should be easily managed by the responsible agency with resources anticipated to be available and above all should be determined reasonable by state governments and the private sector. it is critical that a balance is
maintained, that the project environment does not restrict delivery of critical needed safety and condition related improvements or economic growth and competitiveness of the nation. thank you, madam chair. ranking member inhofe, for the opportunity to testify. we are grateful to the efforts of the committee in congress to craft and fund a transportation compromise that will carry us to multi-year authorization. glad to answer any questions. >> our next witness is mr. deron lovaas, transportation policy director of the natural resources defense council. welcome. >> thank you. members of the committee, for inviting me to testify today. i want you to imagine a world devoid of the national transportation system. we would face gridlock and paralysis. ranchers and farmers could not
get products to market. manufactures the vehicles could not ship in the u.s. or overseas. transportation is clearly a key means to a variety that boosts the economy. current policy undermined america's safety, energy and climate security and the economy. now is the time to rectify that by investing wisely by setting national mobility access, safety, energy use and environmental quality objectives. public investment in infrastructure can yield economic productivity gains. a million dollars in investment in public education yield $3.5 billion of gdp. annual investment of $30 billion in public transit systems and $10 billion in high-speed rail will create 3.7 million jobs overall and 600,000 jobs in manufacturing over six years. these investments generate $60 billion in net annual gross domestic product gdp. original $45 billion in annual worker in, and $14 billion in annual tax revenue for
additional growth throughout the economy. current fiscal constraints warrant collection and use of cost-benefit data during planning and project selection and design. we need to make sure to invest carefully. government should turn to a tool for successful companies. strategic planning including the use of scenario building. one recent study that takes the cost differential between strategic and business as usual investment and 12% savings for sacramento, 24% for albuquerque and 51% for nashville. there are big savings if we look seriously at the future by building scenarios. we need to fix it first with clear, more aggressive repair maintenance policy. the first maintenance is national crisis. 500 bridges in america failed between 1989 and 2003. seventy thousand bridges across the country are in disrepair. as former white house economic adviser larry summers put it you run a deficit when you borrow money and when you incur maintenance that needs to be done.
either way you are imposing a cost on future generations. we need to break our oil habit by delivering mobility choice driven by a national oil savings objective for transportation policy and similar objectives for states and regions. transportation drive america's dependence on foreign oil. we are off of oil when transportation remains a entirely dependent. nearly 70% of u.s. oil use is for transportation. this translates to a 9,000 gallon per second have it. how do we reduce that dependence? raising the bar on fuel economy for our vehicles which we are making good progress on is the first step. providing more fuel choices by making cars portable and a third prong to attack oil dependence is greater mobility choice. consumers deserve more options for travel including a virtual travel. high occupancy toll lanes, telecommuting, technology that
improves transit traffic flow as well as convenient opportunities. we need to secure funding and financing with new tools and we are in agreement on some of those tools. we favor of looking get tools like oil security and increasing the gas tax over the long run has always been financing. expansion of tifi and other tools like infrastructure banks should award the sunni competitive basis is that measurable outcomes including fuel savings. it important that the accountability be part of an expanded program to leverage taxpayer dollars. we do need to approve projects delivery by tackling real causes, not compromising environmental reviews. environmental reviews account for a small share of transportation project delays. lack of adequate financing is a bigger factor and few projects in the environmental impact
statements with fewer subject of controversy. congress should not legislate based on anecdotes but tackle project delays with improvements and reviewers. we need to move faster, cleaner and cheaper with a free program to facilitate a portable goods units while reducing environmental harm. we can meet growing demand for goods while saving oil and reducing air pollution, water pollution and noise at targeted provisions. we favor competitive grant program to fund innovative project based on energy and environmental performance criteria developed in coordination with environmental stakeholders. we need to protect natural resources by setting a storm water runoff performing standard for rehabilitated highways and roads. smart pollution mitigation strategies like green roads and highways are cost-effective way to reduce storm water runoff, flooding and make clean water requirements. thank you for the opportunity to speak today. we need to press forward with wise investment in smarter and greener transportation program
and i look forward to working with that. >> we are very happy to welcome back mr. greg cohen of the american highway users alliance. >> thank you. madam chairman, ranking member inhofe, ordered to appear before you today to present testimony indicating our strong support of your plan to enact bipartisan mac 21 bills this year. highway users is the only organized non-profit national nonprofit coalition that represents promoting the public across these highway notes. we promote federal, state and local policies and improve safety and mobility and members include aaa, trucking and bus companies, motorcyclists and others that contribute user fees to the trust fund. these members and other businesses in associations represent millions of highway users from coast to coast. we have worked closely with
members of this committee and your professional staff to advocate for a new vision that is streamlined and reflects the national interest. we congratulate the committee on the policy outlined which reflects priorities that we share with you. our goal is not to please traditional trade associations in washington but more importantly concern the interest of the public at large particularly those who pay highway user fees. the unwieldy and complex authorization bills of the past generation lacking direction and full of earmarks put this committee at a public relations disadvantage before we began working two years ago on this. is worth emphasizing how delighted we are that this is the bill that sets a new course focused on reform. we're thrilled that despite the divisive political environment this is being negotiated to receive support from the most
progressive and conservative members of the u.s. senate. bipartisan cooperation is the tradition worth keeping. we strongly support passage through the fiscal and house bills so that a conference committee can be convened quickly and so you can complete your work. the worst outcome would be if congress fails to make progress and we end up with long-term extension bill that cuts funding and fails to reform the program. federal highway program is more valuable than a jobs bill. mobility and safety investments create broad economic growth and improved quality of life and get america competitive advantage in the international trade. saic found investments have saved $43 in final costs for every $1 spent. investing in $175 billion per year on highway projects would have a positive benefit to cost ratio. at current funding levels of
performance based i will program would deliver hundreds of billions of dollars of economic benefits to americans in every state in the country for only $40 billion in annual user costs. we support your efforts to prevent cuts in funding of the highway program. because of the highway trust fund and seemingly impossible task of raising highway user fees on fuel we encourage all the committees that are involved to consider supplementing highway programs for general funds over the next few years. it is important to note that we have always supported highway users paying their full share for the highway program and we agree with the committee that growing the tifia program is a better idea. we would like to supplement funding for all states. we applaud the committee for taking a strong position on reducing bureaucracy and improving project delivery. we understand the committee's plan is to keep all substantive environmental protections in place.
at the same time we can improve interagency procedures and establish deadlines nepa permit reviews. major project can take 19 years to complete every ten years of project is delayed costs double. highway users support streamlined planning processes that include consultation with a wide range of interested parties and inshore representatives of motorists and private bus companies, truckers and highway users, with money in short supply congress should avoid the addition of new planning, additional planning layers or mandates that force cooperation or coordination with reviewers. transportation planning is extremely complex. i have done it. federal mandates that slow the process give new accuracy to produce transportation considerations and transportation planning mandating experimental planning
techniques or create additional hurdles. these have to be avoided. most of the programs proposed by the committee or that we proposed an authorization briefs and previous testimony. we congratulate you and support your core programs for the national highway safety program. safety is our top priority. we urge the committee to consider additional safety proposals like the baucus safety bill and those we proposed in 2010. new freight program is critical to improve commerce corridors. the new national highway system program will improve 4% of the roads but those are the roads that serve as our nation's economic artery. in conclusion this committee has an extraordinary opportunity to improve the economy, reduce congestion, save tens of thousands of lives by expediting the reforming and robust highway transportation program.
we greatly appreciate being your partner in this effort and happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much to all our panelists. i have some questions so don't go yet. i wanted to say that mr. cohen, you brought it home to me that a lot of the reforms in this bill, probably all of them and they are many, really came from the people out there who have been working on various commissions and committees and worked with those on both sides of the aisle. we really appreciate it. what we were able to do was look at these proposals and do something about this program which was stalin. too many little things. we managed to consolidate and save the things we work hard together on. there were some differences. we gave and we took. it was hard. i think at the end of the day we
managed to get this together. i want to make a point here which i know you agree with. the basic highway trust fund is how we fund, that is the bread and butter. it is what all of you referred to and most of the referred to. that is the bread and butter program we are talking about. that is why i appreciate the new ideas that are coming forward. we can't allow those ideas whether it is infrastructure bank or anything else to replace the basic funding mechanism we have here. i know senator baucus has on his plate as it as we act he is going to do everything in his power but you need to help him support him and i say this as someone who has been around here on this committee since i came to the senate so that he and his
members and senator carter is on the committee and i don't know who else is here but the bottom line is they have to feel this is a priority. i already feel that because working for a year during a conference call if you are not sick of me every other week on the phone talking about how can we move in all directions. i felt vote support but the support now has to continue with this committee but also the finance committee. if they don't sense that america wants this, it is very difficult. i want to make that case. you have seen the bipartisan support here. i want to thank you personally but also your organization that you head because your bipartisan mayor then you work with us very clearly and you work with us on the need to have a strong core bill which is maintaining a
level that we have now. you worked with us on safe schools because that is crucial. we kept it and recreational trails and we kept it. of debate. giving here and taking their. that has remained in the bill. i want to ask a question about t tifia for the information of all senators. you had labor and management. chamber of commerce and everybody. you said los angeles passed a half cents tales sacks -- sales tax. the people said they wanted it but it will take 30 years to get all funding and you federal government, if you could come up front and help us at the beginning and move these projects forward you have a
steady stream of income coming behind it. would you be willing to come out? and we talked about it and i went to senator inhofe and sit here is an idea whose time has come. cities and counties all over this nation are stepping forward but it takes time to get the dollars in. through the existing tifia program and i give credit to my chief counsel for saying there's already a program here. it is small but could beat this bill. meet the needs here. we were able to help already with one project. i wonder if you could explain to my colleagues because they support this robust increase, how tifia works and what is enabling your city to do and other projects were funded also to tifia at if you could speak
to some of the reforms if you are familiar with them. if not we will put those in the record. >> thank you, madam chair. i want to thank you and the committee for the work you did on this issue. in the middle of the recession, with the two thirds vote with bipartisan support at the half penny sales-tax generating $40 billion to double the size of 12 rail projects but also to invest in highway repair, expansion of hot plains throughout the region, it became crystal clear when weeks after the passage of that bill people would walk up to me and say where it is the subway you promised? i would have to explain it was a half penny sales tax, not a $0.10 sales tax and that money would generate over a 30 year period of time. working with you in your office
we began to look at innovative financing tools because we knew this day was coming. that the conversation around the deficit, the debt was such that people here and in the congress didn't just want to rely on programs that provide grants. what is great about this specific program is there's a 30-1 leverage. in our case and in counties across the country and state if you have a revenue pool from which to invest in, a stream here you can leverage that, get a loan and pay it back. we already have done that with you. $546 million loan for the crenshaw line.
we are now in the pipeline, finalist for a $546 million loan for subway and the reason we are qualified the way we are is we are putting up our own money. at a time of high deficits and debts it encourages the responsibility not just beyond the federal government. i associate my remarks or support for this martinovich this is not in lieu of a federal commitment. we understand how important that is but when we are all debating deficits and debt this is a creative way to incentivize locality. if you ask someone in l.a. and detroit if they would rather support a local tax or bond or a state or federal law and they are almost unanimous in their support for local one because they want to see their dollars
come back to their neighborhoods. that was the idea around tifia. you responded to a number of other changes. instead of just 33% of a project this could go up to 50%. also we could do multiple projects. you could get advance notice. i forget the exact term but an opportunity to get up front going forward on multiple projects which helps as well. that is the thinking behind it. one last thing. baucus just walked out. to make this work, getting a transportation bond program could really enhance all of this as well and also have a great deal of leverage, promote public/private partnerships and
the like to really help us particularly during these times. >> i will turn it over to senator inhofe for eight minutes. i want to say to my colleague when the department of transportation made that tifia loan in los angeles, $500 million the score was $20 million. was barely anything. the reason is it was a dedicated stream of funding. hardly any risk at all. that is the exciting part of tifia and why i am grateful. it doesn't replace the core program but when you hear mr. james talk about layoffs and worries and we know construction is still down this will give us a chance to do more than we can with the basis. we did reform tifia to allow rural areas to be able to move forward with practically no
interest rates. it is terrific. i give you eight minutes. >> thank you. we went through this in 2005. we were the majority and i was the chairman. that was $286,400,000 initially. at that time we have really good testimony. some of the same -- you were here saying that amount of money maintains what we have now. what we are talking about is not as if we were saying to drop $12 billion over a two year period is going to inflicts some -- even if full funding is not adequate. i feel strongly about that. i remember so well when they had
the $800 billion -- assumed this bill. we are down on the floor and i couldn't believe that as was mentioned by senator sessions only 3-1/2% of that what we are talking about today. talking about being bipartisan, the chairman and i had an amendment to delete was $29 billion. up to $79 billion. i was going to ask where do you think we would be today if we were successful in that effort but that still would have been wholly 10% of the $800 billion. is mind-boggling to me that such an easy thing to do and we didn't do it. we don't want to make that mistake again. i will start with secretary ridley. we talked about this before. i think ms. martinovich would
agree that this affects the rest of her members states. in the event that we had to do the 34% cut at the current level that is what we are talking about. specifically what would that mean in oklahoma? >> certainly the impact would be devastating to our construction plan. we put together a eight year plan that is fiscally constrained based on the money we receive that the state level as well as anticipated revenue at the federal level considering current statutes and current law. if you have 1-third reduction of federal funds and they make up 60% of our eight year construction work program one would have to -- you are looking at 750 to $800 million out of that construction work program
so you have 4.1 program would have to be reduced by $800 million. certainly there are some projects you could probably look to reduce the length of them but in that program we have 650 bridges we will either replace or rehabilitate. i can't reduce the length of those as you might expect. they are what they are. it would certainly put all projects in that program at risk of being reduced in size or scope or being pushed out of the eight year program were being moved. >> would there be a specific program in our state of oklahoma that you could address as to the difference it would make in that project? we have some huge one in oklahoma city and elsewhere. >> you are right. we have a project in oklahoma city, relocation of the
crosstown bridge. we're getting close to being able to take traffic off of that critical bridge and get on the new mainline. with that requires us to reconnect the downtown area of oklahoma city to and to state 235 and i 35. we are scheduled to have that completed by 2014. one would imagine that project and those series of projects would have to be delayed. in tulsa we have a section of interstate that is a $340 million project that the last project is scheduled for this time next year. if we have a major reduction in federal funds one could imagine that is a project we have to delay. that is the oldest section of interstate in the system. it was being placed before the
interstate system was established. it was planted on an existing highway. high severity rate and high fatality rate in that area and the worst on the interstate system. delaying completion of that project would not only cause additional cost bet you would expect additional accidents for personal injury and fatalities and any delays you could expect. >> i would like to ask mr. james or just about anyone, the alternative, if we were to deal
have plus other problems that >> it is a balancing act and the planning act. i can't plan, how can our customers plan? how can contractors know about their resources? how can supplies be available not knowing do they make a lot or are they reactive? >> that is what i am trying to get at. we have predictability and how that translates into what we're going to get from a bill and we
have flexibility in terms of the state's activities and these things. what i am saying is we have a lot of really good reforms. some of them were easy. some we didn't agree on in the beginning. that to me is as important as the amount of money to predictably -- my time is expired but i want to tell mr. o'sullivan i appreciate your bringing to the table the fact that we have thousands of jobs out there and i often wonder and maybe you could -- of we are successful in changing that $29 billion to $79 billion how many more jobs would you be working on? >> if we use the assistance of 40,000 jobs created for every billion there would be an awful
lot more jobs. there would be less unemployment in the construction industry and the question of what would happen as far as the department of transportation from the labor perspective we have a 15.6% unemployment rate in the construction industry today down from 20%, 1.3 million construction workers out of work. we lost 30,000 members in the last two years and over half of those were construction laborers working on highway projects that had eight years of service in the industry. as the unemployment rate goes up this is a sustained recession in the construction industry that we really haven't witnessed in a long time and we are seeing an exodus of skilled craftsmen and women leaving the industry that makes it difficult when the money is there to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure in this country so the skills train in
this country because of the prolonged -- it is a real problem. >> i appreciate your asking that question. >> we have everybody here. are expressed to you my appreciation for working on this input we are getting. >> it is extraordinary. i windier go to a job retraining center in the central valley. one of the programs was learning how to chef. i went around remanded that room were 25 or 30 working people. at least ten said they were construction people. and they had given up. so your point is poignant and accurate.
i thank you for it. senator whitehouse -- sorry. senator murphy first. senator merkley. >> thank you for your testimony. i really want to make sure we understand fully the job implications. i heard the estimates ranging from 700,000 jobs to 500,000 jobs. a couple of you feel you have a real hand on these numbers help us understand what happens if we don't get this reauthorization and we have a 30% drop. >> i can speak for my company, my customers's companies and our suppliers's companies. we are staffed at a level today that is in anticipation of
maintaining the current level of funding. if for some reason that declines further we unfortunately and our customers and suppliers will have to take further reductions to remain economically viable. we have no other choice. that is the only option. this is not a theoretical job loss issue. it is real. the they're human beings. these are members of mr. o'sullivan's union and others who we will not have work for if this federal program is not maintained at current levels. >> the number i mentioned earlier was a 36% cut, 630,000 job loss to our agency alone.
it is a very sizable impact on the job market but also our ability to fund important project. >> yes, mr ridley. >> a lot of discussion has centered on the current job situation in america in all our states. that is certainly an area we look at in short-term especially for creation or sustaining jobs in the construction market. to me the idea of investing in ourselves and infrastructure establishs exponentially more than that. if we look to the investment our nation put into the interstate system and where we are today with the economy and where we would be without it, rebuilding our national system to get back to where we were or better than
where we were 20 years ago will create investment along those corridors like we haven't seen in a long time. the economic vitality of this nation is centered on how we do our job as far as the infrastructure is concerned. >> i surge in wheat agree investing in infrastructure is critical to the economy and jobs creation and the future economy in terms of the ability to transfer goods and people. we recently had a bipartisan delegation that went to china. it has been 14 years since i have been there. the amount of infrastructure build was massive. estimates have been ranging from 10% to 12% of gdp invest in infrastructure to ride at 200 mile per hour train was kind of a startling feeling because i never had a chance to set foot on a 200 mile per hour train in
the united states. to see the amount of light rail transportation and amount of road infrastructure constructed in a decade and a half. the estimate is we are spending 2% of gdp and barely maintaining the infrastructure we have. i want to thank all of you for your testimony today and applaud the chair and rented member for working together to try to figure out how we can sustain our investment. in my opinion this is the minimal acceptable approach. we should be figuring out how we can spend. someone referred to building bridges in baghdad rather than building bridges here. we need to figure out how to invest more in our infrastructure here. thank you. >> thank you for holding this important hearing and for the
hard work you have put in to create such a broad spectrum of consensus on this point reflected in today's panel. we are facing a serious shortfall in transportation funding. in rhode island one in five of our bridges are structurally deficient. that is the fourth highest ratio of any state. 68% of rhodes are rated in 4 or mediocre condition. 37% of major urban highways are congested. there's a lot of work that needs to be done. estimates are to bring rhode island's highway system into good repair we would have to double our current spending levels for ten years. against that backdrop the house of representatives proposed a budget that would cut current transportation funding levels by more than a third. this would have a devastating
impact on the economy. devastating impact on jobs. road island's unemployment rate is the fourth highest in the country. this would lead to loss of 3500 more jobs in rhode island. it is totally unacceptable and i applaud the chairman, the ranking member and senators baucus and vigor for bringing us to this point. let me ask mr. o'sullivan representing our strongest labor organizations and mr. james representing a strong and successful private sector corporation with interests in this area, have we done a good job in congress at distinguishing between spending and infrastructure spending? i think of a family that has moderate in, and they discover
they have a significant problem in the roof of the family home. you could ignore that. you could sit around a kitchen table and say this family is spending too much. we are not going to spend to fix our roof. that would be wasteful spending. the water would continue to pour through the roof. the damage to the house a family assets would continue. you could see a circumstance in which the smartest decision for the family would be to go to the credit card, fix the roof, protect the asset, save money in the long haul. that is a different family decision then saying let's take the same credit card and take the family to walt disney world for week. some people in washington can't distinguish between those two kinds of spending. one is money out the door and the other leaves you with a national asset that you can go
out and touch. a bridge, a highway, i speed rail system, and improved airport that runs on digital technology instead of cathode ray tubes when bringing in the aircraft safely to our landing strips. i would love to have the thoughts of mr. o'sullivan and mr. james on the distinction between spending for spending's sake and spending to strengthen america's infrastructure and our commonwealth as a nation. >> thank you for the question. having spent a lot of years in the business world where we invest in equipment the answer to that question seems so obvious. when the united states spends
money building infrastructure you have created an asset. it last for decades. we are all travelling on a federal interstate system that has been in existence in many parts of it for four or five decades. it is a real asset. unfortunately there is not a federal balance sheet like there is in the private sector where we can look at our investments over the last 10, 20 or 30 years and say here's a real asset. it is producing economic efficiency, it is producing revenue. it is a long term value enhancing assets. somehow we don't see that. >> we have no capital budget in the federal government to work with to accomplish that. >> thank you for the question.
nice to see you. not only -- we talk about accountability. we all believe whatever money we are going to spend on infrastructure there has to be accountability that needs to be targeted and we need to see it at the end of the day and it has an impact on our economy and our infrastructure and putting people back to work and our ability to move goods and services across the country. i also think that what we need to do is a much better job of the general public realizing. we talk about statistics like 27% of bridges are functionally obsolete or structurally deficient. but people keep driving across the without any knowledge. we did a campaign called build america campaign. we took out billboards across the country and show the undercarriage of a bridge that was running away because you can't always see it from the top down. the impact, it was a union
funded campaign but it was a campaign to inform the general public about the sad state of the infrastructure of our bridges in this country. if we don't get it in washington we need to do is take the message of a crumbling infrastructure across this country so people realize the state of affairs that we have a $2 trillion problem. i commend chairman boxer on your leadership on this issue but we all agree this is a starting point and we need to do even more. what we need to do is make sure that people understand the state of affairs and the reason we need to invest in infrastructure because it affects their livelihood. that campaign really highlighted it for the general public that we put out. we got more calls from the general public saying i can't believe that bridge is in that repair because i couldn't see it driving over but we took
pictures above. >> if i conclude by echoing what mr. o'sullivan said. if you going to the providence place mall which is the big downtown shopping area in providence, i win '95 goes by, you go around and underneath to get into the parking area. if you look up you will see planks across the high beams that support the bridge. the bridge is falling through and the planks stop. chunks of the bridge that fall through from landing on the cars that go by. that is the state of the main artery going to the northeast through the capital city. >> that is a visual that we need to be reminded of. senator inhofe talked about the tragedy in his state when a piece of concrete fell on a young mom who was walking past and she is gone. our responsibility, our
committee's responsibility. i saw appreciate that. when we get to our markup before we leave here i think we should try to get a few photographs of this example and others to keep it in the front of our minds, a stark reminder that we are dealing with life and death and safety in addition to the jobs and the movement of goods and the rest of it. senator sessions. >> thank you. we have the top appointments to the defense department. i had won them they had to tighten their belts like everybody else. we are all in that mode. we need to do our best to maintain the kind of funding this committee proposes. whether we can do that i am not sure. we are in worse shape financially than most people
realize. we are borrowing $0.40 out of every dollar. cities, counties and states are used to repairing to the federal government and they live within their budget and they know we don't have to live with ours. it is a difficult thing. a number of things that i believe the bill attempts to do can be helpful to reduce the delays, some of the roadblocks and problems and that reduces costs. mr ridley, you testified about that earlier. delays to drive up costs and that means you get less miles constructed of roadways as a result and regulations also can drive up costs. do you agree with that? >> yes, you are right on target.
it is not only the cost of delays for putting people to work or the cost of delays for increase inflation, the real cost is for the road user may have to have a structurally deficient bridge and take a detour with a heavy load. for school buses can't cross the bridge because the average load of our average school bus is 15 tons. it may be the shippers trying to get from one side of the state to the other are not able to use the system but more importantly it is the fatality accidents and personal injury accidents that happen on those roads and bridges because we have been unable to fix the problem we know exists. >> when people take time out of their day carrying out business
functions. several years ago there was a serious interstate problem, they put it on an accelerated repair schedule and gave rewards to the contractor for coming and under time. what was your recollection of how that came out? >> it came out beautifully. a good customer of ours repaired the bridge. they worked 24/7, seven days a week. they brought a lot of labor and and got the bridge repaired. it was destroyed by fire and it was back in service within 90 days or less and contractor earned a nice premium from the alabama dot for completing the
project. >> accelerated time frames don't always drive up costs. >> probably they make it dramatically more efficient because of the contractor could bring the workforce in, finish the project, as opposed to stop and start construction which often occurs. >> some of our governors and politicians promise 20 roads and have money to complete ten and they start 20 and take twice as long and that drives up costs but i am not accusing anybody of anything. i do see a lot of roads partially constructed with grass growing up. >> if i could, it is the duration of a program that is the key to the efficient
construction. so project can be started and completed in the duration of a multi-year program. i think that is a huge key. we are all supportive of the two year bill that this committee has reported. ultimately to get efficiency in the highway program there has to be a multi-year bill. >> thank you for sharing that. we will have to look at some things like high-speed rail. that is not yet proven that is very expensive. surge in rail projects in high population areas can be worth while. we have to look at that as part of our projections as far as is that the blessed place to spend
our dollars? we try to get more bang for our buck and preserve the amount of funding that we have got. my time is up. madam chairman, thank you. >> i want to pick up on some things. if we build incentive to completion on time or ahead of time, we have a contract to finish when pete wilson was governor. he put that into play after a series of earthquakes and it was remarkable how that incentive worked. we tried very hard to legislate incentives around here to sit on the button after they move things forward. without taking away the rights of people. if they feel there is an
environmental issue bring it up but you can't string it out forever and that is an important reform that we did. i wanted before i call on senator carter, you are on track when you talk about wasted time. the texas transportation institute studied this issue and the latest fed was finished in 2010. this is what they said. americans waste 4.8 billion hours a year sitting in congestion. this translates to billions of fuel consumed and $150 billion in cost to the nation. when costs are factored in. this is a question of priority. if we allow the trust fund to
expire and we see a 34-36% cut that is what would happen. it is counterproductive because you wind up, this is one of those investments that the dividends paid are very clear. we have to make reforms. we don't want the program that is not efficient and the reason i am so proud of the work we have done here together is we have taken all of the recommendations from people sitting here, business and the environmentalists and labor who have helped us work together across party lines to come up with a bill that is going to address those issues that you talk about. but at the end of the day we have to determine as americans and we represent the american people if investing in it additional $6 billion a year for two years makes sense and i can honestly say in the size budget we have we have to figure this out. i don't know if you were here
when i pointed out that the gain of 6 which was then 5 and now 42 or wherever it is. they actually do mention only one spending priority and that is the highway trust fund. and they instruct in that particular document the finance committee to fund the highway trust fund at the current levels for ten years. and they say how much it would cost. i think senator inhofe was happy with that because it shows a bipartisan consensus. ..
>> we may have different opinions on a host of them, but on this one i think we should build on the bipartisanship we have. we have to do this, because if we don't do this it's counterproductive. if people are going to lose their jobs, and i'm not being melodramatic. they will lose their lives. we've seen too much of that and we will not be able to compete in the world. and so i look forward to working with you. and i'm with you. i'm going to do some tough, tough cutting. we have no choice. we have to do it. but we also need to be smart about how we do it. so i just think you have been
very helpful today, and thank you for being here. and with that, closing up shop today, john carver, please have 10 minutes since we've all taken extra time. >> i don't know what i will do with 10 minutes. i will figure it out. i would've to opening statements during that time, and 17 questions. thanks for working so hard for leadership in working with our colleagues to your right into your left. i really appreciate very much are witnesses being here. and thank you, some of you have been here before, a number of times. your advice to his and your response to our questions. senator boxer just mentioned how much time we waste sitting in traffic jams around this country. every year i think it's a university down in texas that actually figures this out every year and tells us how much time,
puts a price tag on time we waste. running up and down the east coast of her country as we all know is i-95. starts in florida and ends up in maine and runs through delaware. cuts our state and have. for as long as i can member i came to dilbert out of the navy in 1973. we had i-9 i-95 in the toll plaa between maryland and delaware. during weekends, especially summer weekends when a lot of people were trying to get to the beach, went up and down the northeast corridor, holidays, we always had backups, traffic jams right about i-95 coming into dover, going out of dilbert into maryland. one of the things that i saw to do as governor was to introduce new technology. easy pass to expedite the movement of vehicles through i-95 and to increase the number
of lines so we could try to move people through. trying to get through our state, not only do hate to sit there and wait for a while for the privilege of coming through delaware, but you have to pay for the privilege. we worked on an easy pass and made some improvements. as time goes by for a more traffic comes through. 140,000. one of the things i saw to do here in the senate was to garner support three series of earmarks for a highway speed easy basket with two lanes northbound, two-lane southbound and be able to really move traffic. it turns out about 55% of vehicles going up and down i-95 through delaware have the easy pass. if we could just move most of that, over half, 140,000 vehicles onto easy pass speed link we help ourselves in a variety of ways.
we reduce the amount of time people waste sitting there, we reduce the amount of fuel we waste and the amount of air pollution because of all the cars, trucks that are sitting there trying to get through my state. we promote public safety. have you ever noticed coming to the toll plazas, people are darting from one link to another trying to get through more quickly and so forth. so it works like on four different ones. we finally did it. we used money from the stimulus package, and finished, took a while, we had to work with the folks from maryland. they were very helpful with those. working right along the border. we opened it up on the fourth of july weekend and the governor and i come it was a cool event. this articles over i-95. you can walk up there. we took camera crews with us and open up beside you and you can see traffic coming from the north and heading south and everything. and the other way. on the fourth of july weekend, that we can, fourth of july was on monday. it was like -- no traffic jams.
saturday, no traffic jams. the day after, no traffic jams for the first time anybody can ever remember. we had no traffic jams. that is an investment, it's not just a twofer. it yields fruit and so may different ways. it cost about $30 million that the fruits, the headaches will be greatly diminished. that is a smart, smart investment of public dollars, i think. not just for us in our state but for people who go up and down the east coast. and as we prepared to spend money, madam chair, transportation dollars in the next version of our transportation infrastructure bill, i hope that we will try to figure out how to use the money, not just hand it out, but to be able to disperse the money in ways that actually meet the objectives of our nation, reduce
our dependence on oil, foreign oil. reduce pollution, enhance safety. those are good goals for us and i hope we keep that in mind. and the other thing i want to say is, the chairman referred to the gang of six. the gang of six worked close from the erskine bowles alan simpson led efforts of a year ago, the deficit commission created by president obama. one of the things the president has called for, and supported i think i bowles-simpson, et al., and i think by the gang of six is while it's important for us to reduce or budget deficit we know we're doing. we can't go on this way. we need a comprehensive, bipartisan approach. there are things i didn't like entirely by the bowles-simpson proposal but there's a lot of good there. same with the gang of six. we just need to set aside our differences and deal with these issues straight up, tried to do more good than bad. one of the things as we pull
back on spending, raise a few dollars in revenue from one of things i think is important is what the president suggested he says if we are going to win the 21st century if we're going to out intervene, outcompete the rest we have, as we reduce spending, the growth of spending certainly that we have to continue invest in three areas. number one, workforce. we're not going to be competitive. number two, r&d. rmd that has the potential been commercialized, new products. that we can make in this country and so all of the world. number three, infrastructure. number three, infrastructure. if we don't have a moderate ever structure weathers roads, highways, bridges, rail, ports, we will be a second class nation sunday. hopefully not in our lifetimes or our children's lifetime, but someday we will. and thank you for reminding us of that. but as we go forward and invest
in infrastructure it's important for us to invest not just in transportation, not just in domestic spending, not just in defense spending, everything we do, health care. we need to find out what works and do more of that. invest in things will get better results for less money or better results for the same amount of money and that goes back to sample a use with highway easy pass. question. i'm sure glad you gave me the 10 minutes, madam chair. got that off my chest. this is sort of a question to mr. lovaas. is not the way you pronounce your name? >> exactly right, center. >> the question deals with maximizing return on investment. with a new transportation funds in short supply, we cannot fund every transportation project. we have to support to projects that give us the most bang for the bucks, point i was making early.
scenario planning is a proven approach that identifies the cost, performance and trade-offs among investment alternatives. and for instance, the delaware valley regional planning commission uses a strategic planning process to compare alternative and investment approaches. as result the region was able to accommodate expected new growth while reducing congestion, pollution and cost for our families. should more states and cities use this commonsense approach to make the best use of funding by targeting our infrastructure investments? please. >> the short answer is yes. more states as well as region should use this tool. and there are already regions that are doing this, both big and medium sized, and finding that are huge potential savings based on infrastructure that does not have to be built by engaging scenario planning, corporations do it, fortune 500 companies do it. there's a reason government should learn from them. so it's important. and actually in addition to encouraging more of that with
the new law, under current law there are requirements that plans and programs should be can fiscally constrained by its the good question to ask, whether or not that's the case, because nrdc and i would like to see a lot more investment in this program, and let's be quick and would probably have to make some cuts as well so it makes sense to take a look at plans and programs to make sure they are fiscally constrained. >> thanks so much. the last point i will make in my last 40 seconds, in delaware when i was governor we've to say if things are worth having, those are worth paying for, things are worth having. we could have brought money until the cows come home to put in our transportation trust fund to fund our transportation projects. we did some of that but we raise revenues. we raise revenues by easing of the tax on gasoline. still to be competitive with the rest of the region. we would use user fees that were transportation related. at the end of the day we need to
raise revenues. we need to raise some revenues as well. it would be smart if we could raise revenues that would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. so i would leave us without. and with that, my time has expired. thank you so much, madam chair. thank you all. >> thank you for your leadership on this committee. it's so important. the fact that you're also on finance is key to us, because we have reached a milestone today in a bipartisan support for this bill. and we must get that same sense of bipartisanship in the finance committee, because these are, these are tough times, but we know that if we failed to act, we are inviting unemployment. we are inviting second class economic leadership. we are inviting. it's not like we don't know. it's not like we're walking blindly into something. we know what the options are.
what i would like to do in closing today is to go through this panel. i know the mayor is gone, but i know he has told me he is utterly committed to this. we have stark, starkly different approaches going on in the senate and house right now. and i don't think it's necessary to bemoan the fact, but it's necessary to recognize that fact. that we now have the house proposed a bill, which slashes spending in this area between 34 and 36%. we have the budget path bill over there, which does the same. we know we have a looming deadline, which does the same. so we have three ways to go that
would result in a cut of more than a third, and disastrous consequences, that all of you have spelled out, regardless of your views on the environment or politics, or whether you like the president or you don't, whether you're republican or democrat. this has nothing to do with any of that. and i guess what i need to hear from you today, in the most unequivocal way, if you can do this, is to tell me whether you are willing to be part of a team that is going to move forward with this bipartisan bill. this is not going to be easy, but it's necessary. it's necessary for the economy. it's necessary for the environment. it's necessary for competitiveness. it's necessary for safety, and there's a lot of other necessaries. it's necessary to make sure that for a couple of years states know how to plan. we've heard from two incredible people here who deal with the
uncertainty of this every day. and i remember once before when we weren't going to act on the extension, that i believe it was nevada but it could've and other states, i think it was your state, susan, that just had lay off noses are going out. we just can't proceed. so we can't go into this future. this is america. we don't do that. when we know that we can work together. so my question to you, and if you give me a yes on it i'll be very grateful, but if you can't, don't do it because i'm going to call on you. this is an unprecedented job we have. we don't have time. we have to mark up this bill before we leave this summer. we have to get this bill to the senate floor, pass it. we have to then persuade our friend chairman mike and i agree a lot of things, embrace, so welcome. i know he cares about this. we have to convince him to work with us if we get to a conference.
this is a long hurdle. we have to convince the administration to please weigh in now. yes, we want infrastructure. we love it. it's great. it's not the core program. but we should build support for it, but it's not the core program. some going to ask you each, will you be part of a team, a bipartisan team and work as hard as you can to accomplish this bipartisan bill? i will start with you. >> chairman boxer, we will be there unequivocally. we will be there with you lockstep with this committee. this issue is too important. we will be there with you every step of the way. >> wonderful. mr. james? >> my testimony today was in full support of the bill that's being introduced by this committee. we certainly think it is hugely important that surface transportation funding remain a bipartisan effort, which it has been throughout its history.
and we certainly believe that maintaining the current level of funding for the next two years is the best approach to the highway program. >> and will you help a? >> absolutely. that was not complicit in what i said. absolutely we will. >> actually. because it is going to take -- we understand if this bill takes a different turn and somebody here says, any of you don't like it anymore, i get it, but that's not our intent. it's our intent to keep it as you see it. >> madam chair, simply, strong and clearly, yes your aashto will be there. >> aashto is crucial. and audible gary ridley, such close friend of mine, coley, what use a? >> madam chair, certainly the states and cities such as los angeles cannot rely totally on the gas tax that they produce in their local areas. they have to require on other funny because they take transportation as a higher
priority than what those funds will produce. the federal government needs to do the same thing. we believe if you're going to take transportation infrastructure at a higher priority in the gas and diesel tax out of the trust fund cannot produce needed revenues in order to pass the bill but you need to find other revenue sources in order to be able to ensure that it is funded. we are a yes. >> okay. and mr. lovaas? >> we are part of the blue green alliance along with president o'sullivan and reward -- look forward working with him and you moving this forward. >> very pleased to be the. and, finally, mr. cohen who represents everybody. all the users. >> absolutely. we are 100% supportive of this bipartisan effort, and we are glad to be part of the team and we will be there. >> good because tomorrow everyone of you will be on a conference call with me and giving some other colleagues to join on that call so that we can
just keep this coalition together. i just want to say to each and every one of you, this job that i have and send it off has, the rest of us, we would be nowhere without the people because we would be just as senator lautenberg said, talking to each other. and i honestly believe in this effort, and i cannot thank the staff enough, republican staff, democratic staff, this is been a team effort. and there were moments when i thought we would never give your. we've gotten to this point, and so we now have to keep up the momentum. and your answers to this question that i had mean a lot to me. and i know senator inhofe feels the same way because we can't move it through our respective conferences in less we know we have a lot of you behind us. all of you behind us. so thank you very much. this is a milestone. i think this is a day we will remember for longtime. and let's just keep up this spirit and i'll talk to you all
>> now a discussion on wikileaks and freedom of the press. we will hear from james fallows of the atlantic. this discussion comes from the aspen institute's annual ideas festival. it's an hour 10 minutes. >> good morning and welcome to the aspen ideas festival on this glorious after morning. the wikileaks release of government files last year has been described as one of the largest leagues of the u.s.
military diplomatic information in american history. but in truth, it is much more than that. the wikileaks disclosure of nasa security information represents a symbolic transformation. particularly because the means by which the information was released so quickly and without attribution to a particular source or person. the u.s. has struggled for centuries to determine the appropriate trade-offs amongst security, privacy, transparency and access. but the disclosure of critical buzz -- information is not really new or unique. for example, how is this any different from the disclosure of the pentagon papers many, many years ago? what is new, however, is the use of anonymous technologies to instantly disseminate massive amounts of data. and we need to ask ourselves what is different now and how will the actions of wikileaks
affect the interactions between government and the traditional media in the future. and how will such releases impact our enhanced understanding as citizens and as voters of the events on which they report. is a investigative journalism, or is it as some have said her moaning a culture of an arctic exposure be on politics of openness and transparency? to be picked apart out of context by the soundbite culture of the 24 hours news cycle. into complicated and ongoing dance between the first amendment and national security, this event has raised some fundamental questions. questions which defy simple answers. at one extreme the disclosure can be seen as a natural consequence of a society using web technologies to do business, and represents nothing more. that is, you can't take the
benefit of instantaneous access without assuming some related risks. at the other extreme, the disclosure seems, is seen by some as nothing more of a violation of the law. it matters little, it is the result that we must focus on. both point may be reasonable based on your perspective, but neither really satisfy. today we will discuss what follows in the wake of wikileaks. we have a diverse panel to help explore these issues today. all have written on the technologies, and how they impact the society. we have one full-time journalist, and three law professors who, as the one time full-time journalist has said, a journalistic bent. i don't know whether this comment was meant to improve or diminish the social standing of lawyers, or vice versa, but if
t. boone is here, perhaps that's a question for another panel. jim fallows sitting here is a national correspondent for the atlantic. he has worked for the magazine for more than 25 years with assignments around the world having most recently lived in china. in addition to working for the atlantic, he spent time as chief white house speechwriter for jimmy carter, and editor of "u.s. news & world report." jim has been a finalist for the national magazine award five times and has won once. is also one an american award for nonfiction. he is the author of blind into baghdad. larry lessig is the direct of the edmund j. center for ethics and a professor of law at harvard. is the author of several books and cofounder of fixed congress.org. he founded stanford law school center for internet and society, and was a professor of law at
the university of chicago. he once clerked for judge richard posner on the seventh circuit court of appeals, and for justice antonin scalia on the u.s. supreme court. jeff rosen on my far right is a professor of law at george washington university. and the legal affairs editor of "the new republic." he is a senior fellow at the brookings institution where he speaks and writes about technology and the future of democracy. he writes frequently about the effects of technology on privacy and liberty, including articles about the fourth amendment implications. and, finally, jonathan zittrain writer is a professor of law at the harvard law school and harvard kennedy school of government, as was professor of computer science at the harvard school of engineering and applied science. he is cofounder of the brookings center for internet society. jonathan performed the first large-scale test of internet filtering in china and saudi
arabia, and as part of the open net initiative he has co-edited a series of studies of internet filtering by national governments. his book, the future of internet, was published in 2008. so let me begin with letting these panelists talk about this question. and i would like to ask each of you the following question. wikileaks, is wiki links legitimate journalism? and if not, what is it? >> well, like my colleagues, i'm going to stay wikileaks is good and bad. second, wikileaks should not be prosecuted. third, there is an alternative, called open leagues and pitchers the benefits of wikileaks while avoiding its troubling aspects. so wikileaks good and bad, my views in this are shaped by a remarkable memoir. ..
>> soon came to overwhelm the benefits because assange was, had a paranoid resistance to transparency, he had a lack of political neutrality, and he was addicted to concentrating power in his own hands. ironically, these are the very vices wikileaks was founded to oppose. from the beginning, assange and his tiny staff were unwilling to decide between editing and raw
document dumps, and this led to serious privacy decisions. there was the mistaken identification of a german citizen as a tax evader, and last summer the organization or published the raw police file of a belgian politician who had been associated with a pedophile who was jailed for murdering children, the allegations were completely false, but his career was severely harmed as a result. increasingly troubled by the recklessness of wikileaks under assange's leadership, wikileaks released the names of dozens of afghans with little regard for newsworthiness or the names release inside the cables. -- released this cables and didn't engage in the basic procedures he misleadingly promised, blacking out names to protect innocent afghans. he was appalled when assange
floated the idea of auctioning off exclusive access to links, he called this a kind of ebay for wikileaks when he refused to make wikileaks' finances transparent. assange was more addicted to embarrassing america at all costs than to being neutral and to making decisions in the public interest. interestingly, assange kicked shy berg out of the organization eventually because he wouldn't tolerate any criticism, and he gave as a reason, quote, disloyalty, insubordination. these concepts are taken from the espionage act of 1917, the very act the obama administration is thinking about provoking in prosecute assange. we are all lawyers, i don't want to spend a tremendous amount of time -- [laughter] well, we play them on our panels. >> okay, the question is answered. [laughter] >> for first amendment purposes, jim, you can make the same
judgment we can is that julian assange should not be prosecuted. there's no principled way of distinguishing between wikileaks and "the new york times" if you start punishing publishers rather than leakers. in the u.s. constitution you can only ban speech that poses a serious lawless action, that's not a standard wikileaks can meet. the former iser secretary of defense -- wikileaks didn't break the law when it published the cables, and efforts to expand the espionage act to coffer wikileaks are troubling. senator joe lieberman has called for thes espionage act to be amended, he has emerged as a kind of a. mitchell palmer of the digital age. [laughter] he was the woodrow wilson attorney general who prosecuted suspected reds, and this is just very, very troubling on free speech grounds. so what's the alternative?
the alternative is open leaks, an organization founded with other former disaffected wikileaks colleagues. their goal is to create a genuinely neutral platform for whistleblowers that avoids the raps of become -- trappings of becoming pop stars like assange. it's not a publishing platform. it allows whistleblowers to deposit material anonymously, and you can decide when you want the leak to go to new york times or the guardian or an ngo, and you can also specify for how long the recipient should have exclusive access. by offering a series of mailboxes, open leaks doesn't have to choose between large and small leaks. and the key idea is that by separating the receipt of the documents from their publication, open leaks solves the problem from centralization that allowed assange to accumulate too much power and.
so i think to a agree that all of us have some ambivalence about wikileaks but want to prebe serve its benefits -- preserve its benefits, open leaks provides an opportunity for whistleblowers. >> i know the two gentlemen on my left will have an interesting contrarian point of view. the pressure on them will be not to say it's both good and bad. you're going to have to say it's either all good or all bad. i'm going to argue there are extreme versions of both and talk more about the journalistic aspects of this. the good is obvious but might be worth a bit of elaboration which is the natural tendency of any organization to think that details within it own purview are better kept quiet than shared with the general public just because people are better off not knowing. we saw that with julian assange wanting to keep things private. my wife and i have been in china again for the last couple of
months, and it's interesting the exact same rationale, the chinese authorities use the exact same rationale for their very, very sweeping suppression going on right now as serious members of the u.s. government would do, namely that if these details were freely disseminated, public order would be threatened, etc. so the basic foundation of the first amendment and the checks and balances system is that there should be some check on institutions that want to preserve information, and so we see benefits in the transparency that wikileaks in some cases is able to provide. the bads, i think, are equally obvious but worth elaboration. unless you are willing to make a total nihilist type argument, then you can see the dangers here. in addition to the real world cases that jeff was just giving, we can think of a few other thought experiments. suppose, for example, in the recent dump of afpak
documentses, there was tracking information on where osama bin laden had been hanging out. it could have been leaked. as opposed there were dealings underway now to ease gadhafi out of libya. i would argue that it's bad all around if those were publicized. real world circumstances i know about, the u.s. embassy in beijing is in free touch with dissidents in china. they would be at tremendous risk if that is publicized, as i think it may well be. some of that information is now in the pipeline. and disaster preparedness, you know, other things you could think of, ways in which all would be worse off if nihilist view prevailed. what strikes me about the journalism here is that at the end of a decade or two in which everything about the mainstream media has seemed under assault in its finances, in its own presentation of itself, increasingly, in sort of circus-like ways, in all the other forces we no that
mainstream news organizations jeopardize compared to their position in the cronkite era. nothing, i think, has reinforced the centrality of institutions like "the new york times" or the guardian than their dealings with wikileaks and that they have been the place to draw the reasonable balance saying this is in the public interest to disclose, this is not. and so, um, oddly so far i think that we have seen a reassertion of traditional journalistic responsibility by the way that they have had to make these judgments. just one other point. jeff mentioned a positive technological alternative for allowing people to express dissent without having all the disadvantages of having a purely nile i point of view. i don't know what the barrier will be if in the future some bradley manning counterpart is just able to get all of his information up there immediately, and there is no mediation of the times, the guardian, whatever.
i think that's going to be a different set of filtering challenge that i don't know the solution to, but perhaps my colleagues to. >> so i think we should distinguish the problem, the general, contextual problem from the specifics of wikileaks. and the general contextual problem is we've moved from an age of leaks which invokes the idea of a faucet and a little drop coming down from the faucet to the age of the tsunami where what's actually confronting policymakers is a time when leakers are taking huge amounts of data and dumping it out there. and the challenge in the age of the tsunami is to figure out how responsibly to serve this essential public function of facilitating leaks to criticize the government for thicks the -- things the government should be criticized for. and that is a genuinely hard problem. you know, at one extreme you can imagine just turning all this stuff over to the government and saying to the government, you
know, you tell us what you want released, and their answer would be nothing. and the other extreme you could imagine them publishing it on the internet, and that would be terrible too for all the privacy reasons jeff was describing. so the question ises what is the mechanism to sort of find the right balance between these two extremes that deals with this fundamental problem that we're going to be in an age where it's not ten pages or even pentagon paper-sourced material, but it's gig bite of -- gigabytes of data that nobody has the time to investigate. now, my understanding of the history of wikileaks is a little bit different, or a little bit more charitable than, i think, jeff's. i think the early version of wikileaks was actually kind of the grotesque, nihilistic entity that jeff was criticizing, put the data out there and let the world figure out how to deal with it. but, actually, i think there was an evolution in be wikileaks
toward trying to figure out what is the way to filter this effectively to protect the right kind of entities. and part of that was with exactly, jim, what you were saying, turning over the archives to six or seven journalistic entities and saying to them, you tell us what is the real stuff that ought to be out there. and in this sense wikileaks is serving almost like the catch server which is making available the material which the journalists say ought to be made available. at this stage you could say, actually, some of the more journalists were more interested in getting out the salacious newspaper-selling facts than they they were in bringing out the sure -- >> real shocker. >> yeah, surprise, surprise. [laughter] but then the criticism should be directed against these guardians of the first amendment, the journalists, and not so much against the cache server that's just making this stuff available. but i think the person i really want to criticize, the policymaker, the government in response to this.
right? so the government in response to this should be asking, okay, we're in a world with are people are going to be dumping ton of data out there. we should be encouraging good behavior, finding a way to encourage good behavior, and that means trying to encourage entities to behave well or create relationships with entities that behave well so they behave well in the future again. but our government did nothing like that. our government tried to blow this entity up, taking every single step from threatening prosecutions, threatening the death penalty, threatening the suppliers, threatening, you know, amazon, threatening visa. what if visa had called up the paper suppliers to "the new york times" and said if you don't shut down the supply of paper to "the new york times," we're going to be punishing you and 20 other places? that would be an outrageous response for us to imagine there, but that is precisely what our government did in response to wikileaks here. our government turned to the
entities that were making wikileaks function and, basically, threatened them in a way that forced them to pull back and forced wikileaks into a bad position. and my criticism of that is just it's stupidity. its stupidity is that it breaks the opportunity for creating the right kind of relationship that could encourage entities like wikileaks to become quasi-responsible entities for facilitating what will be an essential part of the way information flows in the 21st century. so it reminds me of, you know, in the early days when napster first happened, there's a moment in in the history of napster when they said to the recording industry, look, we'll give you a billion dollars if you just let us survive. we'll pay you for the stuff that's shared, just let us survive. and the recording industry said, no, we're going to blow you up. and they blew them up. and the consequence of blowing napper the up was that 30 other napster-like entities appeared immediately afterwards, and they were much less controllable and
much less potentially profitable for the recording industry, so the recording industry got nothing of what it wanted which is less file sharing, didn't get any money from napster, and napster was blown up. it was out of spite, anger that led them to behave in this irrational way. and it feels to me that's the way the government reacted to wikileaks. it was like there was a mature response which was to say, okay, here's the 21st century, how do we deal with entities like this, how do we get them to behave, and then there was a response of a fit of spite, like, how do we blow them up? how do we assassinate the leaders, how do we make it so these people fear us? this and the point is the second response is self-defeating, it will not produce the thing they want to produce. it'll produce a world where there will be one open leaks, which i agree is a fantastic alternative, and 30 other entities trying to do as much harm as they can because they can get away with it. >> so i think if you're the
american government, you have plenty of reason at the moment for the current situation to feel pretty good about things. and i don't know how many people in the american government contemplating wikileaks are feeling good about things, so my hope is to, first, put some american government types at ease. and that's because the backdrop is a national security apparatus that's gathering as much data as possible, kind of the sort of human sort of follow someone along, cultivate a single source close to the president of some country. those days may still be here, but the real volume is in the vacuum cleaner. and what you can slurp up from all around the world and then process as best you can. and i imagine that many people near that vacuum cleaner, if they think about it, are pretty amazed at the sheer volume of what they are getting and what it translates to as far as just how much intel the united states
has about the plans and pensions and strategies of all the various people, institutions and governments that they want a head's up on what's going on out there. and that information in order to be useful for policymakers, for others has to be shared. that's the post9/11 sort of mandate. and there's a security apparatus that has been developed at great cost to try to share it as much as possible without letting it escape the boundaries of the people who are charged with protecting the information while making use of it. and if you look at that, there's this rough categorization of information, top secret, secret, confidential, that kind of stuff. and to the secret level, to an order of magnitude a million people -- million people -- are trusted with access to that, so much so that in retrospect maybe this was too much that an army private could go and read state department cables. now, maybe there's some good cross-fertilization that can go on there.
bradley manning is like, you know, guys, there's something you missed here -- [laughter] but it was just sort of, you know, cost effective. the state department was sort of using the defense department's network to use its secret cables back and forth, and bradley manning was able to walk out with a cd-rom. how rarely this happens should be some reason to take heart because out of those million people if just a handful more of them wanted to walk out with some cd-roms and send them to anybody, you would have an even larger tsunami, and it hasn't happened. my guess is it hasn't happened because the people charged with protecting it identify with the mission, they don't want to just put this stuff pellmell. and perhaps, one hopes, if they see some abuse of this extremely powerful mechanism to gather data and to learn about what's going on in the world, possibly for bad ends, one hopes there are internal channels with which to complain. inspectors, general congressional committees,
whatever it might be. to the extent that there aren't, you see so far one person making the choice, whether it was a reasonable one or not will be examined, perhaps, should he go on trial, making a choice to go externally rather than proceed through channels with whatever beef he had that led him to do what he did. but that's incredible. to me it's sort of talk about a glass 999,999,999th full rather than empty. and and he takes it to a guy, all he needs to be the perfect james bond villain is a hairless cat. [laughter] and then it turns out this guy doesn't spew it out. that was wikileaks 1.0, spew it out and let people comb over it. no, this guy get into a collaboration with "the new york times" ander the spiegel and,
like, the big, known parties that call up the government. hey, i've got some classified documents, you mind if i leak 'em? after 18 months of careful consideration, we've decided to tell you that the government is sometimes spying on people. [laughter] details remain murky, but anonymous person went on record to say we shouldn't have said this. [laughter] like, that is all. and we wonder why journalism is in trouble. [laughter] so i'm just saying even on this first path it's not all that napster like. napster was a little less careful about its inaugural efforts at sharing music far and wide without payment than julian assange, eccentric as he he is/. and now that there's a head's up, you can bet billions of dollars are being spent to make it so it will be extremely inconvenient to share secret stuff if you're part of the national security establishment,
and there'll be no cd-roms allowed in your enclosed area at which point you're going to bring your iphone and do your real work outside because you have to. all of this is to say the government has ways because the information is meant toly in a bubble to try to keep that bubble protected, to take the really big secrets and categorize them in a way that it doesn't get shared with a million people. not much to see here. okay. the thing that the government one hopes would be learning from this, however, is that just as we are asking members of the government to identify enough with the project that they should keep the secrets even if there were a way to leak them, there ought to be a way to importune our citizens and entities around the world to be enough of an identity with the government that they have no interest in spewing osama bin laden's location somewhere even if it were available. and i think we can tibet there. we can get there.
the big picture is how to create an establishment where you see enough trust of the government of people, including proactively releasing information that has been habitually classified as secret. anybody you talk to is going to say there's too much information. let's figure out a way to get that stuff processed and out there, and should there be a leak, be able to sit down at the table and work through how to make it as undamaging as possible. and that, to me, is the way forward prompted by this sort of event. and all that leaves behind are the private company that don't have the money to invest in the kind of security the federal government does that are naturally more porous. they've got contractors coming in and out, and they need to figure out how to protect credit card number, sensitive health information, that sort of stuff so there isn't a tsunami of that either. and that remains a big challenge. >> thanks very much.5,fñxd
let me ask you a couple of questions here. and i'm a little embarrassed to admit i read a whole bunch of o articles that were written by all of you on the plane on the way out, and i don't remember exactly who to attribute this to. [laughter] so i'm going to ask whoever wrote this o elaborate on it. [laughter] there was this concept of targeted transparency versus naked transparency that either one of you referenced or one of you wrote about. and -- >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> right, right. so whoever the murderer is, please, speak up and e has been rate on that a little bit because i thought it was fairly interesting in terms of sorting out the kind of information that should just sort of be put out there and others that need to enter in to what i think was called complex chain of
comprehension. >> so i -- [laughter] >> that does sound like you. >> yeah. so i take responsibility for -- >> and my apologies. >> -- the naked transparency movement. it's unrelated to wikileaks. this is a way of thinking about a lot of us act vies in the transparency movement who are trying to produce all sorts of transparency about government. and a lot of it, i think, is absolutely essential and good, but some of it is inherchtly ambiguous. -- inherently ambiguous. for example, of course we with need to have all sorts of information about campaign contributions every member of congress takes, but all of that transparency gets used to produce all sorts of cynicism about the way congress works because you can always find a particular connection between what congress does and the contributions they have. so the naked transparency movement helps feed in this sense the cynicism that exists
around, um, government entities. and some people like cynicism, other people -- i would like to find a way to produce governments where we weren't cynical about it, and transparency alone is not going to do that. so i take responsibility for that part of it. we have to recognize that just throwing it all out there, this is jeff rosen's first point, just throwing it all out there doesn't actually necessarily produce more understanding. um, it often produces, you know, more scandal, more misunderstanding, more gotcha journalism opportunities but not understanding in the public that you're trying to affect. and that should lead us to think more sensibly about what the right way to respond to getting information out there is. >> great. um, jeff, the debate about wikileaks clearly centered on first amendment issues. and in that framework, um, when is it appropriate for the
government to punish pub hi case of information both classified and unclassified related to national security, and when is it not? where is the, where is the balance there? >> the standards are drawn with exquisite precision, and this is the result of a hard-worn battle. there were a series of prosecutions during the post-world war i era where anarchists who advocated nothing more than general opposition to the war effort were prosecuted for their speech. and in a series of heroic dissenting opinions by oliver wendell holdment and louis -- holmes and louis brandeis, the supreme court said that, no, you need speech that poses an imminent threat of serious lawless action, and in this context usually that means the publication of troop movements or the death of soldiers. the espionage act itself which is controversial, it's not as if
we should accept even its limited requirements, require that you know that you're leaking classified national security information and that you intend to harm the government at the same time. and efforts to invoke this act have just been remarkably unsuccessful. you'll remember the scooter libby leak prosecution, and the reason that scooter libby was prosecuted for false statements rather than for leaking classified information is because it would have been nearly impossible to prove that he knew the information was classified and that he intended to harm the government. more recently, the obama administration disgracefully tried to prosecute an official named drake and recently dropped the prosecution because they concluded they could not have met the espionage act requirements. so those are the -- that's where the law draws the line. and the pressure now is to expand that definition and to allow for the prosecution not only of leakers under this very limited definition, but also of publications themselves. and that would represent a
tremendous threat to the first amendment. i agree with the many people who have concluded that such a law would be unconstitutional and would violate the first amendment if it passed. so for all these reasons, i really don't think that prosecution is a productive angle to think about. >> anyone have a follow up? >> yeah. i just wanted to say there are, our political and governmental cultures make it difficult for people precisely because they're in authority and maybe have a chance to execute, to exercise some discretion on when to bring a prosecution or to make an exception. there's a lot of pressure on them once they are in authority not to do it. there was something going around right after wikileaks happened where somebody had surmised that if you were a law student, for example, one of our students and you had heard about wikileaks and maybe were going to click through to the handful of cables that actually had been published of the 200,000, i think, at that time maybe only 200 had been published and still only a small
fraction b have, our students were told if you ever want a job in the federal government, you are not to read the cables because they are still classified. they're one link away. like, a child could click on the link and read the document, if a child knew how to read, but you can't because if you do, that will mean you will have downloaded the cable to your computer which is not a classified-handling machine, it's not properly outfitted to take the cable in which exposes it to further compromise by the enemy. now, that is manifestly as a rationale, i think, absurd. and the people in the government who gave anonymous quote toss the newspapers asking about this saying, you know what? if you're a student, don't click through on the cables. was it okay to read for "the new york times"? well, it might not be good for your health, just don't read the cables yourself because you're not downloading the information to your machine. the government people who said that realized how absurd it was as they said it but did not feel they had the authority to belay
the fact that it remained classified. and i think we just passed the anniversary recently where only the pentagon papers officially were released and declass tide. so being able to somehow match the needs of security with the realities of a situation so you don't end with those kinds of absurdities, i think, would help a lot. >> government contractors were also under the same rules which made my job appearing for this thing particularly difficult. [laughter] because i couldn't read any of it. >> right. you'd have to cover your ears and say, la, la, la, i'm not listening. >> follow on that particular point jonathan was making about the absurdity of these rules and then make a political point, and i'm using my non-lawyer privilege here. i did an article about the absurdities of these notices at various government departments. they'd say these things are in "the new york times," do not read them on your computer, and