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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  May 17, 2012 6:00am-8:59am EDT

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>> i think it's going to matter a lot what happens in the election, which side gets the leverage, which i can go into the room and say, guess what, we just one and now we are in charge. you can take your medicine now or take your medicine later. i think it's going to matter. there is no appetite for progress before the election. it's very clear. i've asked lots of leaders and they said sorry, blame the other
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guy. it's frustrating to hear. i think there will be a bargain because each side has so much to lose, and they have a lot to gain just by being able to come out of the room with a do. somehow in washington the only time people are focusing his face is during lame-duck session. there's the end of the year, the date these things expire. there are no ratings agencies watching carefully. the stakes are too high to do nothing. and then they think after the election, i think that there will be a time for a grand bargain. i think that it will be incumbent upon either the new president or the current president to solve this problem. i think this is really, this is the task of the generation. we have kids coming out of college, you're scared for them. you are scared for the economy they are inheriting. i think that there is sort of a moral component so the next president will be able to enjoyed the support.
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when gallup asked just about a month ago what is most important to you in this election, the debt was the number one issue. and jobs were just behind that. the debt, people are focused on a. it's never been this way before. zero in a budget used to be -- the place you're going, oh, we busted the budget, sorry. that's the way it was. people literally didn't care about the budget and now they do. i think it has a lot to do with the tea party getting an earful to the republicans. the tea party taking some people out. people always thought they were safe but they were not responding to the constituents in a lot of cases. and i hear democrats talking about spending cuts in a way you have never heard before. so i think there is changed your failure isn't going to be fatal on this, but i do think on of the six months to a year after the election will be the only time that the next president or
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the current president has to change it and then you will get right back into election mode. >> what is your sense of timing? >> we should take the swing right now. as patricia indicates it's difficult during an election year. we have to before you in. i would say i'm not sure the economic impact is going to be, i think we know enough it will be devastating to the economy if we don't deal with these issues before year end. some say that means kicking the can down the road for the new congress and the new president, potentially, to deal with. that is not to be under strict deadlines and i hope -- look, if we don't do that, the federal reserve has told us, chairman frank you said we're looking at maybe a three-point drop in our gdp. we were 2.2 and a first court of issues we're talking about another recession. cbo said the same thing. it would be devastating.
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a combination of the huge tax increases and a combination of sequestered, across the board cut, we also have a debt limit coming up as you which were many of us on republican side it's going to require more focus on spending as many of us who voted for the debt limit increase last year said to be real spending restraint. that's how we got the supercommittee and sold. and other sequestration. it's a time when we do have an opportunity as a country to make some of these tough decisions. i would say the we have no choice, and hope that patricia is right, both parties see that we and sit in their interest to move forward. we simply have to. xavier talked about differences. i would disagree some of the analysis, particularly the impact of bush tax cuts, and defense spending. but look, we can have those debates. we need to face the facts. i think the fact is 24% of gdp and spending right now historically high. we are headed to 30% under the
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likely scenario by 2030. this is unsustainable. we have to do with spending but that is a fact. that is why we are. on the revenue side is relatively low. the cbo says once the economy picks up we will be back to historic averages. we shouldn't be arguing about bush tax cuts, we should be arguing about tax reform. this is an opportunity for us not to keep the current code and add more taxes on top of a, but to reform the code in way that economists across the board pretty much agree with result in a better economic alignment. >> romney in iowa today will give a big speech on this issue. he's released at least part of the text overly. when the things he said in the, this is like -- he said this is like a prairie wildfire, and doesn't care if the republicans are democratic house. it's going to burn. he said both parties are to blame for the mess we got him. so the spirit of doing painful
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things, i'm going ask each of you to say how is your party to blame for the current predicament. >> kathleen, i think he meant to go to you first. [laughter] >> to the degree that democrats have this long-standing understanding that our colleagues on the republican side were intent on eliminating or privatizing important programs that have helped seniors who live in dignity or children to move up into a productive life may be democrats have worked too hard to try to protect those programs from the devastating cuts. and in doing so perhaps that has kept us from trying to come up with a smart budget. so i think patricia said that democrats are talking about
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making some spending reductions. and, in fact, having to agree to the sequestered process indeed did so. though all those are on the discretionary side. there are some cuts to the mentor programs but most of all on the programs that we find near and dear to most american fans, education and so forth. and so i think if you find that democrats are willing to come halfway. the difficulty is -- by the way, i'm using cbo numbers when it comes to the size of the bush tax cuts, none of it paid for so we had to borrow money to do that. to do this bush tax cuts. they were the most important our most expensive element of the last 10 or so years in terms of what we have spent and what has driven some of these deficits. so i think many of us believe that has to be a balanced approach. you just can't look at one side of the table. it has to be a very balanced
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approach to try to do with this. you can do it in ways i think will spur economic growth. i agree with rob. will be able to sub for growth. but you can't talk about reforming the tax code simply to reform the code without dealing with these looming deficits. and the fact that we have essentially spent the tax code more money than we ever spent through the regular appropriations process, we haven't even talked about what erskine bowles and alan simpson calls the tax loopholes. 1.1 trillion been every year, every year, ever to get rid of the tax loopholes that are in the books we would not only do twice as much as bowles-simpson state, but we would deal with a lot of the imbalance we have in our tax code. a lot of those breaks people have become accustomed to selectively got away to do things so we don't disorient the american family. but you can do a number of things without having to do
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violence to the american family's ability to do what my parents did, let me become the first my family to get a college degree. >> do you agree with you that many republicans have which is a lack of spending discipline we have seen in recent years had its origins in the bush administration, that there just was insufficient concern to the long-term cost things like medicare, prescription drugs? >> yeah, i know, i think that's accurate. if you look back at the time period, 2001 on after 9/11, particularly i think it was a sense in this town that more needed to be spent on homeland security and defense. democrats were able to spend more on social programs, it was almost an unwritten agreement we're going to allow the spinning cube increase. -- the spending to increase. president bush should have vetoed appropriations bills prior to i think 2006.
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at that point, frankly spending didn't start to be restrained and we had growth in economy and this is prior to the financial crisis. we got very close to balance, 1.2% of gdp. we are on track not just to get close to balance but we prepared and i proposed a five year balanced budget, and it's all public record. there was a sense we're getting the spending back under control. there was no increase in domestic spending and with some changes in the budget on medicare, for instance, that were new. so i do think that was the issue though, both democrats and republicans, republicans are partly to blame, took their eye off the ball. that's were i would be critical. second of courses on the entitlement programs. xavier said, important, got to have them. need to be strong and the safety
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net needs to be there. it cannot continue as it is. the mandatory spending under the president's budget is 64%. in 10 years he takes it to 78%. this is the fastest-growing part of the budget, and republicans to democrats alike have been unwilling to touch that third rail. and that, going back to 1980s really is the last time there was a significant change in income programs. that's a challenge. i appreciate xavier's words today. we worked on the supercommittee. we came closer than the folks in the media would acknowledge that in the end we were rebuffed by a lot of different factors, but it's got to be a combination. growth side, more revenue. we got to get in tax reform, including as you know in the supercommittee, republican side put votes on the table, revenue as well. pro-growth action reform. been on the entitlement side we've got to do with this issue before it bankrupts the country. >> it seems to me the polls
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reflect this, you have a radicalized center. that is, independent moderates are just as anxious, just as frustrated with the status quo as we'll see on the left and the right where we are accustomed to seeing people being more extreme in their view. the last time we had that on this issue was the 1992 with ross perot running a third party candidate on this issue bring it front and center. it's things like the conditions are right. where is the ross perot this time? he seems to be nowhere along. >> i think a lot of independence are wonderware, maybe not ross perot, but where is the person speaking for us, where's the person speaking our language? where's the man or woman who knows what we are going through a and when to take a step outside of politics to try and solve that problem? and i've been going into this, into this election cycle i think people were thinking that there could be a third party candidate, although the thinking
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was that if the republican nominee would be wrong there might be a third party candidate to the right of romney. it's difficult to say. i think that the parties are so strong, so difficult, you need so much money to run, there just aren't the people stepping up. there is the center raging moderation of flaming independence, but that aren't a lot of good choices for independence to pick from. and i think there are fewer and fewer independence i think in congress. i think people from the center are leaving but there is a getting eaten in their own elections, or their living of the own accord because it is so hard to be moderate. there is no reward for moderation right now in american politics. >> we have eight minutes left and i welcome hope finish on a note of optimism, but before we get there i would like to inject more of a note of pessimism. which is at least on the a lot
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of the outward evidence, this problem isn't getting easier. is getting worse. the problem political will on describing. you've got moderate senators who are leaving the institution because they don't feel that there's a workable center. senator, i believe you're packed with senator lugar and his primary the other night and he was defeated in part because he was seen as willing to compromise. the parties are getting more divided, fewer conservative democrats, fewer liberal republicans. isn't this getting harder as a political proposition rather than easier? >> i think where it gets easier is where the american people, as kathleen has said, begin to realize this is a crisis stage, we have to do with it. if we don't, we're likely to be back in the recession. and it forces us to deal not just with taking the can down the road but fundamental
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changes. >> what did you make of the indiana result by the way? what does that say about our politics in washington? >> it probably says a lot of things. dick lugar is a good friend of mine but a lot of it has to do with the fact that he didn't have a residency in his own state. i think the committee has picked up some of the other's backs but missed the fact there was a legitimate concern when he couldn't vote in his own election. a lot of republicans more in the middle, more than once that or the other, all shared a concern about that. so that was part of the dynamic in that race. then obviously a republican primary, the more conservative candidate sometimes has an advantage. that was the case there. but look, i think it's not, maybe i'm naïve about this but not so much about your ideology about your willingness to find a resolve. i think we're hired to seek solutions and to help move the country for and help our constituents. and i think whether you're
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xavier pretends to be more on the left side, or more on the right side, if you don't have that objective i think it's going passionate it's inescapable. we've got to solve these problems to if we don't by the way we will not have economic growth we all care about. i think that's one thing, kathleen, maybe the ross perot of this direction has to see more about the fact that it's not just about the charged in the numbers. it's about token opportunity. and if we do not solve this problem, the uncertainty, the unpredictable in our economy will not change. we will not have a robust recovery we all hope for to help those young kids xavier talked about to have opportunity in life because you 15% unemployment coming out of college these days. you look at labor rates the way it was before president obama came in, we were over 11% unemployment. it won't change in my view into we do with this problem. we have to link a fiscal problem to the economic opportunity. that will i think that was to to get a lot more support,
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republican and democrat. >> do you believe that what he just said? there is an argument the highest profile person to advance -- the new york times is low, it's a concern about deficits that is regarding what should be the top priority, which is growth. >> i don't think it's so much what paul krugman says i think it's what republicans are saying for the last 70 years. i don't care if it's a poll you take a day or a poll over the last three or four years. more often than not to reap public is way ahead of the politician. >> if you took a real swig of castor oil to do something on the deficit that it would hurt the economy. >> i think the public would tell you we want to decrease the deficit but we don't want to do it if it will cost us jobs. we don't want us to deficit reduction plan that says don't go those highways, don't don't repair those bridges. and the transportation opposition to will provide a. so i think the public is very much in tune with what we need
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to do. i bet you they would say the biggest deficit we face today is a jobs deficit but if you give -- get people back to work, they are paying taxes. treasure has more money. lower deficits. so if we could all agree and i think there are enough folks on both sides of the of the want to get something done, and i was certain about myself and the. if we could get something done, even though we're losing good folks, senator snowe is leading. she's always been part of the bipartisan solution. at the end of the day, at the end of the day we have to take a look at the numbers. my biggest concern is that we will do more harm by acting than by not because we have a failed a mechanism. we have something in place that can give us some $7 trillion in deficit reduction without congress having to metal politically. and that as you mentioned all these expirations, so rather
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than tweak and increase the deficit by doing this with that, recognize that right now in law we can save over $7 trillion in the deficit if we allow the law to take effect, and we can take advantage of the fact we can tweak some of what would take place on january 1 and still have deficit reduction, bigger than bowles-simpson. so we can do a number of things sitting down together speak to is i want to make sure i'm hindu right. sounds like you're saying maybe we should take a few months off at the end of your and get this problem solved. >> to me, i guarantee you most everyone in this room right now is not suffering economically. but yet there are millions of americans who are. i guarantee you on january 1 when we have this armageddon we keep talking about, all the expiration of all these tax provisions, the quest going into effect for most of those
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americans are not going to be hit as hard as if, for example, we don't do something about the interest rates on student loans in the month. that interest rate hike will cost most is about $1000. that's more than they did in bush tax cuts. and so the reality is we are not talk about middle america here. and if we worked we would be willing to do the tough stuff the way would ask the guys who speed is i'm going to get everybody, you may have concern for some my questions i noticed, but i want to finish on an up note. so why don't we come in the remaining time, go down closer to me and said answer this question as concise as is possible, i'm optimistic this problem will be solved in the political will, will be found because, what? >> because i think that will get an election behind us, we'll have a little breathing room, and i really do believe that the
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people who come to washington here for the right reasons, and almost all people of goodwill and leaders are going to step forward. they always have. this country has made it this far with a lot of significant problems to solve and we've always soften. i don't have any specific reasons to be optimistic other than i think that the leaders will rise to the level of the people that they are trying to lead. >> kathleen? what makes you so cheerful? >> in 1992 ross perot health center the deficit. i think you made easier for president clinton to act responsibly. we now have simpson-bowles and rivlin-domenici. if we can find a way to centered the discussion, i think a responsible media can do that. responsible candidates and those -- i think we can have a campaign that will forecast the governors to make it easier to
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address these very service problems for future generations. >> i think the middle-class will wake up and they will speak very loudly, whether it is this election or future collection. i think with democracy the ship turns very slowly but i think the middle class, that the heart of america has kept us going will wake us up and make us do things if we ourselves can't. but i think the answers are there, we can do it without having to middle-class pushes into doing the right thing. >> senator sunshine, give us the upbeat. >> listen, you mentioned governor romney has given a speech which i didn't realize, but on tax reform, and again, at the risk of being partisan here, i love the fact that he's talking about programs and tax reform. not tax cuts. will generate more revenue and he's willing to talk about some very publicly sensitive issue of title but reform and he's been talking about it for the primaries but you all don't cover it very much.
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that is out of. i think that will force a debate on these issues. i agree with catholic. it's hard to see us coming together in lame duck or after the first of the year without a presidential focus on these issues. i think most people are going to say we've got to address these issues. it can't continue to allow congress to kick the can down the road to avoid these problems. i think they're directly related to the economy, and that's one reason i'm optimistic as i think you are related to the economy and if more of us make that connection inkling and even more people will be interest. xavier is right. that's also important, i think they are connected. by the way, if we don't solve this problem by year-end the recession will hurt everyone. we've got to do with this issue. >> all right, 40 minutes. we got it licked. i think i deserve the nobel prize for clarity and consensus. in less than an hour we solved
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our long-term problem. thank you very much. our panel is really great. [applause] >> now more from the peterson foundation fiscal summit in this hour-long panel includes a drmer co-chair of the presidency deficit reduction committee, alan simpson, and philadelphia mayor michael nutter. right >> it's the first time i've ever been to the right of you. [laughter] >> i didn't hear that. >> the first time i've been to the right of you. >> i did hear that. >> i heard the last couple of -e speakers and i have been interviewing a lot of people on it madmeet issues this week. it made me think of you mustel feel like the pope these days. everyone feels the need to kiss the ring of simpson-bowles. t >> just something.o ki
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[laughter] >> to go ahead. e >> even if they don't adhere to what everything you laid out. but what i'd like to do is haves you talk a little bit about what you're doing when you go aroundt the country and try to lay the o groundwork for support. what you're hearing back from hi people of what to expect, whatng they want what they need and what they understand about the problem. >> first, thanks to pete peterson and michael for this.mi this is achae great forum, and m always proud to show up i knew pete years and years ago when is talking about social security reform, wrote a book, t wonderful, dear man.he's a very dear, dear person in my life. erskine bowles, one of the finest human beings i've ever worked with. he's just superb. super he's the numbers guy.y. he calls himself a numbers guy. i do the color. let me tell you what we found. erskine and i will often say toa a group, might say just this
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way. g on the ropicture, we don't do bs or much. and people are thirsting for that. and you don't give them bs and mush. am heromeone gets up on the hind legs and sayse i'm here today f we're here to save everything and we are not, we will savere mecious medicare and pressures medicaid and precious social security and precious defense without touching those, those people are fake.urity they are phony. you can get there unless you're messing wit the big four. and there biggest of the big fo. his medicare. and there's no need to go any on further, blame it on obamnicare, collett elvis presley care, i don't care caarre. it can't possibly work under an. scenario if you use your brain.f well, what do you mean by that? well, it'sme going to take care- preexisting condition forcondito somebody three years old whomeod
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will live to be 60. one person in the united states weighs more than the other two. tu have obesity, you've got diabetes, a and b. you've got people who choose toe an booze and cigarettes and and tobacco, and designer drugs. and a new disease is discovered every month. who the hell do you think -- and then the guy would buy the build is, doesn't even get a b what the hell is that? usurer had. and 10,000 a day turning 65. people here that and then another final one is this, and then fire away, if anybodye' believes they're holding up thee defense budget, the only thing hollow is their brain. because here's a statistic. we spent 750 billion a year on defense, and the top 14 top 1coe countries son earth, including china and russia combined spend 540 billion. run it through your head again.
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750 billion for us, 550 billion for the biggest 14 countries on earth, including russia and triea, and you are hauling out the defense budget. where w the drinks are on me. this is one are. you how many contractors yet in the? defense department? quite a range. bet what is a? million -- a million and 10 million. that is a hell of a range. twee anaughter] and that's where we are. that i security now, we will go broke thres e years faster as of the report last securit debaven't heard a peep out of fae aarp. i mean, these guys arest monste. i said on these pages in your or just monsters? they were really quite- irritated. anyway, that's it. [laughter] [applause] >> so the question is what do you hear back? we all know, we all know that mr medicare is going to be a problem in the future, continue
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to grow. but don't take away what i have now. we don't know that defense spending far exceeds what theex rest of the world spins, but don'tsp leave us vulnerable. when you get pushback, what do t you do? and what are the two or threefis numbers, figures, arguments, that seemed to make peopleha understand everyone is going to have to contribute to this? >> the escape hatch is, i'm h ready to doat something as longg everybody else will. that's the escape hatch. because they know nobody else is going to do that. and that's their way out. smiles and graciousness, i'ms ad ieady. i'm ready for any of that a stu. and you have the realtors, youo. know, housing in america. what's a million dollar mortgage interest deduction? duction steady at 500,000 then give a a
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12.5% nonrefundable tax creditu helps the little g but i tell you, george, what uns y understand is thateverybody when everybody is talking about this, they will say i'm ready to do something.omething, the pocrisy and the idiocy o those who say i don't want to not wahe little guy. let me tell you when the tippin. point comes that it will come p from democrats or republicans or anybody you know. it will come from people who w loan us money. and the market will respond andt they will say we want more monel for our money. at that point inflation will kick in and interest rates will make advocate hurts the most is the little guy.he ll >> as the chairman of travelerse i think you're deep in the bonds market every day. i know this is an imprecise thi science, but how much time, how much time are the bond markets going to give our federal our government to address this?
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>> i suspect less than most t people thing.le you asked the question, what are a couple of numbers to getatteno peoples attention. we have put out a couple.l ferav total federal revenues last year from all sources to put 3 trillion. total spending, 3.6. we spent 1.3 on 2.3. cbo in 2020, congressional budget office data, social security, medicaid and medicare simply llsed on demographics will be a trillion dollars a year more yeo than it is now. it's going to grow from about a trillion six last year, we are $1 using round numbers.- you've round trillions. in 2020, 2.7 trillion. that's stunning to me. and i suspect that the time that we have to do with this is shorter than most people wouldo. observe. the principal beneficiary, by thee way, certainly it princip.
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beneficiary is u.s. government. another amazing statistic. stati 15 trillion debt, 12 trying had by the public.ght here that's the same number it was nm one of 5 trillion outstandingav5 because rates are down so low. you put rates in today that they were when the debt was 5 trillion half a trillion dollars to the deficit we sit on today. so simple stuff. i get confused when people talkk about debt is a percentage of gdp. but tell me that we have in me essence a fixed cost of at trillion dollars a year cominger at us and we will march our way tog it. that just scares the hell out of the. >> how is this affecting the decision-making of you and your peers speak with the reason we started in this, because you know i have a company to run iss we start asking ourselves threee or four years ago how are weor going to plan for the next 10, what thenk that's dosiness people do. we sat down and we said what's ?
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the outlook?e best w cou the best predicted to was if we uld be awfanything it would be awful. and if we actually acted it would be difficult for a few years but it would get better. . until there is some clarity, i do not think there's any one solution. the only solution that does not work is the one we are doing now, nothing. until there was some clarity, most business people were hunkered down. we're trying to figure out how to run our business. in that slow-growth environment, how is your business to do as well as they can do? >> cutting costs as close as you can to the bone. quite not putting more people to work in manage in the medium term. i recognize the fiscal cliff in january 1 but that is not how you run a business.
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until you see a plan to make it better -- >> simpson-bowles is one plan. i have heard the president expressed his frustration about simpson-bowles and the way the financial and the corporate community has reacted. when it comes to the tax increases, particularly those on the business side, the business runs away. >> i will only speak for myself. we are in. it is a matter of public policy. we would stand up for that in the heart beat. when you start breaking it into pieces, you cannot put it together again. this is a matter of priorities in choices. we can do anything. we are the richest country on the planet. the only thing we cannot do is .
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how can you not sign up for it in a heartbeat? >> if you asked me, what is the one word that almost everyone can sign onto it would be balanced? -- be balance. can you sell that at the local level? >> we sold it. people bought it. it was real. it was honest. in september of 2008 before we really knew what was going on, i announced to the public that we had a minimum of $450,000,000.50-year plan deficit. -- $450 million 5-year plan deficit. i told it had grown. two days after president obama
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was elected, that thursday, i stood up to republicans and said we had a $1 billion five-year plan deficit. i use the words "this is a shared sacrifice approach." we stopped our business tax reduction program. we cut a variety of services, a look at everything we were doing. we did not lay off thousands of people. i did not want to damage our ability to provide services. there were things we are doing that so we could not anymore. we did temporarily raise taxes as well. we closed to $2.4 billion gap. in january, i announced we had another $1.5 billion five-year
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plan deficit. it was 500 cuts and 50 cermet new revenues. -- 50% cuts and 50% new revenues. no one was happy. every senior executive in the city government to pay cuts and furloughs. we had to let the public know that we were not going to ask anyone to do anything that we were not prepared to do. >> can you tell us how much the symbolism mattered? do you think it is a model? >> i do not make a whole lot of money. it is what it is. i will tell you what happens. we decided to then have eight town hall meeting shortly after we made all these announcements. the swimming pool will not open. the library hours will be cut back. it was not one of my best
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moments. we go to these meetings. eight town hall meetings. i wonder people. three hours of folks screaming at us about how stupid we were. -- 300 people. three hours of folks screaming at us about how stupid we were. people understood that my 10% cut was not solving the fiscal crisis. they understood the mayor stood up to cut his plan as part of a plan that would close the hole and that we were serious. no one stands up and the stuff like that. >> i did that once when i was getting shelled on every side, i gave back $93,000. it saved me a lot of pain. it may be symbolism. they understand that. taxing the rich and all the
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stuff they do not get. they understand that. you did it to yourself. >> where do you get your health care? it is free. you fly on a government plane. where you get that back to reading the-- that, read the digest?"s >> you can have these venting sessions where everyone could at least speak. >> my constituents are there. we had a close personal relationship. i pick of their trash. we run recreational centers. if you call 911, you expect someone will show up. i have a daily poll. there are thousands of people i run to on a daily basis. they tell me how you feel. the people from philadelphia are
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not shy. i think that many members of congress are very much out of touch with what is really going on back home. they live in a closed circle environment. this all about point scoring in who is up and who is down and he will cut the next ad -- who will cut the next adding he will be on television. mayors do not have time for that. i cannot debate on whether i'm plowing snow. you either did it or you did not. this is a daily test we go through. our budget is balanced. theirs is not. i cannot spend more than i have. i have a capital budget. they do not. they just wait for step to break and then they send somebody to fixed appeared in march 2008, 98 was shut down for three days because a bridge inspector
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happen to go to a store to get a cheese steak, looked up, and sell a gaping hole in i-95. there is no capital program in the federal government. how can you run a government with no capital program and no idea going into the future of how you will spend an plan? this is not the way to run the railroad. >> there are not that many recent examples where government, republicans and democrats, have come together to make more difficult choices. you have them come together in 2001 to pass tax cuts. the last time i could see was probably under the first president bush in 1990. both parties seem to learn from down that roado again. >> that road got all twisted. they went to the air base and put together a deal and said
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"here is what we can do. we can give budget reform. we can deal with catastrophic health care." house members were out there. they were all republicans. they made the deal. they said "we need revenue." they went to george the first and said he will not believe what we are asking. if we can do this, we need revenue and you will have to help. he said, "that is great. these are funds." dole promise that and so did newt gingrich. we boughttisan votes, the package. newt came back and won on the floor of the house and said there is a member of the group i
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am voting against. i hope my republican colleagues could help. the democrats were thrilled. it was the end of george bush. it was the beginning of newt. >> in your commission, you were but haveet buy in limited success. -- buy in and had limited success. how do you build a bipartisan coalition? >> you do it with trust. trust is the coin of the realm in the legislative body. that is all i ever did. i did not want to be anybody. i wanted to legislate. i knew how to do it. i knew how to construct bills.
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i knew that. there is no trust now. the coin of the realm is trust and there is no trust even among party members. look what is happening within one of the leaders of the house helps some guy in the primary to knock off another guy that was sitting next to him. what is that? >> there is probably even less trust from everyone out there in the country and how they feel about washington. they cannot trust washington right now to solve their problems. >> i think the next word is "courage >" ." you have to have the courage to do the right thing. some in our profession worry so much about keeping their job and
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what ever is going on in their head that they are blind to the 50 million folks that do not have one. they are worried if i do this and then i have to raise more money or this group will line up against me. the country is calling on you for your service. have some courage. do what is right. the rest will take care of itself. if this is the only thing you can do, that is really a personal problem. >> are they speaking out? are they mobilizing? are the energized? >> i think every survey has shown that democrats, republicans, libertarians, what ever you want to be, everyone is calling for compromise. unfortunately, 500 folks here are not really listening. they're talking amongst themselves in a room. this is our thing.
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we have a position. we have to maintain its. the country is calling for compromise. no one is in a total gridlock. i do not know what the constituency is for gridlock. you do it. people hear it. you make your pitch. can it be sold? to take action and move on. that is what this business is about. i'm a public servant. >> i am reminded, and i recognize it is different because he was appointed and not elected, of paul volcker in the 1970's. we have corrosive inflation. he went to take out a mortgage. he understood the only thing worse than fixing inflation was not fixing it. in 10 days, he took the prime rate up to 20% and it really triggered the recession of 1982.
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the last time we have unemployment over 10% and had an impact on the center of the country. companies where dependent on this. it traded a foundation shortly there after. it sustained economic growth. i look at that moment as good as an example of shared sacrifice as i can think of in my lifetime when everybody was impacted by it. you try to buy a house. it was hard. the only people that benefit it were those that had money and could get decent return. we were struggling. there is no easy answer here. it is going to take a group of people. it was different because he was appointed and not elected. it will take people who have a responsibility of their role. >> if you are at a town meeting trying to sell a plan like this
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in six months, they say that is easy for you. you have a comfortable living. what are you prepared to sacrifice? >> whatever i am asked up. i'm serious. we talk about can you sit down and do bipartisan work and banged out a solution that to give their nose to. whatever the as the me, my own personal story my father started a tiny printing business. it enabled me to be the first person in my family to be able to go to college. here i sit. have you not feel some obligation to do what ever is asked that i feel that way. whatever it is. whenever the compromise is. -- whenever the compromise is. you have to step up.
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>> we are approaching a pretty remarkable moment. unlike anyone that i know in my adult lifetime where so many decisions have to be made at time.a concentrated we have a limited time to bring people together. you are almost certain to be doing it after an election when feelings are most raw. looking at it from both sides, recommend that congress deal with that right after the election? to put it off? to bite the bullet in the lame duck session? >> i think it is going to be between november 6 and december 31. it will be chaos. it will be absolute chaos.
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you are going to find the guys that were defeated. new ones are waiting to come in. if you have a flood, a fiscal cliff. if you extend the bush tax situation, that is $3.80 trillion over 10 years. you have to take the payroll back to 6.2. when they raise it, grover will call that a tax increase. then you have the sequester coming in. there will be hair and blood and eyeballs all over the floor. did they will do something. they may do a six month extension. you can bet the closest thing. the old president or whoever is
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elected is going to come in an january and say i never knew these figures were so bad. i am so shocked that this country is in this unsustainable, a totally predictable situation of the deficit and interest which matches anything in spain, portugal, ireland, or italy. we of $16 trillion. what the is $1 trillion? -- we owe $16 trillion. what is a $1 trillion? nobody knows. the big bang theory of the universe was 13,600 million years ago. that is not even close to $1 trillion. that is where we are. it is like you have rocks for brains. >> we're also at 8%
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unemployment. can you sign on to what talked about?nton signe >> and bill clinton has been the greatest ally for us. i know he went to the president. i know he went to him and said "you did this by executive order and you got 11 of the 18 to vote for it, hell, i wrap my arms around that thing and take get." he would have. he told the president that. >> would you take delaying the cutbacks until the economy is growing again? >> we put in our proposal. when everything fails, read the 67 page report. it uses a word of "shared sacrifice" and "going broke."
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it is not a mystery. he cannot get there would just fluffing it. what the hell was your question? speak out. >> i said i think you did. [laughter] what did you find you cannot address, you cannot cut, people would say no way? >> every department and agency in the government had to take a cut. i had to cut police services. i did not lay off a police officer or sanitation worker or health worker but we cut back over time in the police department by 30%. we lose 15 or 18 officers a
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month. we were not able to hire as many as i wanted. we kept it at historic lows. a part of it was really more about what we were not going to do while maintaining the core services. i do not know when a recession will be over. technically, it is over. i do believe this is not going to last forever. i have to be prepared for growth going forward. people would not stand for massive cuts in public safety. they would not stand for massive cuts in programs that affect children or seniors, are most vulnerable populations. where we could cut administratively and become more efficiently. every service we provide has a constituency. that is why we got three hours of shouting and screaming. there are some things that are essential and some things that are good to have a. we kept the essentials and cut
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back on the good to have stuff. if you want to see leadership and action, democrats and republicans, more than half of my colleagues i have no idea what party they are in. there is no democratic or republican way of sweeping the street. we do what we do. that is where you're seeing great leadership on the grounds all back home that mayors are providing because we have to. there was a guy on the video. we have to get things done. you get things done by making tough decisions. every majomayor have constituens that are upset. some will win and some will lose. they are trying to do the right thing to run their city's. >> would you think your own party has fallen short in washington?
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-- where do you think your party has fallen short in washington? >> we did not hold onto the house. that cramped our style a little bit. for single more and more votes to take place -- forcing more and more votes to take place, the senate -- you have ot pushing infighting. make folks vote. i was a legislator. it was not ad d & r thing. you can say whatever you want to say about the republican party. right, wrong, or in different, they seem to stick together.
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it would certainly be more beneficial to the president if the democrats would really line up. this is the agenda. these are the reasons why. be bold in their actions. >> i wonder if you can address, when the things we know is difficult and you hear it around the world, if we fail to make the investments we need to make an education, if we fail to make sure that our infrastructure is world class and on a par with china, we're not going to be able to have the kind of growth we need in the future. in the end, growth will be the biggest driver for producing our deficit. can you sell that idea across the business community? >> business people are good about talking about priorities and making choices. we live in a world of limited
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resources and infinite demand. most business people get the notion of you cannot do everything and you have to pick your spots. i do not think that debate, i do not think we have had a rich discussions of priorities. we have been trying these last 10 years to do everything simultaneously. it is all important. everything is important. i love your numbers on the defense department. it falls into choices and priorities. i think the business community get it. i think they get it then more people -- most people give us credit for. you do not know what you do not know. one of the biggest buyers of treasuries is the japanese. >> they have a tsunami. they have had to shut down all of their nuclear plants. it would not be an unreasonable decision for them to make a
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comment to take those dollars that would have been directed to financial advancements and put it into other investments. does that put more pressure on the treasury? i do not know. i began to recognize that there is a geopolitical elements that we do not control. we can get wrapped up in the debate of the dollars we spend. someone has got to lend them to us. it gets back to how much time do we have. we do not know the factors that could turn that upside-down. >> it could be happening in greece. >> that is exactly right. you can see that and lots of places around the world. we have had good leadership. we have had sound decisions. the longer we wait, the more painful it will be. it is arithmetic. complicated.n, but
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there is a factor of what we do not control. i worry about that a lot. >> judy woodruff brought this up. what would you say to richard murdocuch? >> i was shocked. senator lugar is a very dear friend of mine. he was helpful on my leadership. we counted on him. he was such a remarkable man. i believe this gentleman that one said that we have to step up the partisanship. that is his pitch. i would cite the case of paul that came to the u.s. senate who was there when i was there who said "stick it in jesse helms." after a year, it they were
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sponsoring legislation together. there are some softening agents in there. they are not likely where they were before. the softening agent in the senate are not there. the sharp edge people are there. then you have a couple of leaders. you have here and mitch -- harry and mitch. they love the ring. they know how to hold their turf. if you mess around too much around with the other guy, and they will make you the chairman of the journal committee. or the ranking member. [laughter] >> you do not sound all that optimistic. do you think that these issues will be addressed in the fall, personally in the u.s. senate? >> that things can be solved with the way they are now? >> dole finally said that we
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will not go with that. first, i've got to have this. we cannot give you that. we will give it to you in six months. get that thing off of here. we have legislation. they are here to do fund- raisers. we would have night where we cannot get a quorum because they were raising >> you have to have discipline and use a little courage. the filibuster, don't mess with that, because that is an automatic fannie keeking machine. it will kick your fanny sometimes and it will keep you in the fannie some time and you will not love it. there is a way to break that
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easily. it is just three words. listen to the threat of filibuster. we will have a round the clock, bring your cot. >> put the question around. i think one of the advantages when it works on a local level is that people actually can make the direct connection between the sacrifice they are making, the cutbacks have had to endure, and the benefits. what were the benefits that people saw? >> we saw we actually had a plan. some parts that might agree with and some parts they hate.
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it was constant communication with the public on a regular basis. this is why we are doing this. this is what this is about. we talk about shared sacrifice, a million times of day. we talked about the fact we would not compromise on public safety. we are still focused on, in the midst of -- we are running the government with integrity. there have been some challenges with that in previous administrations. i jokingly said it was a dumb idea. but we were out there on a regular basis. our basic philosophy was, you have a right to be upset.
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you have a right to let us know what is on your mind and we will tell you why we are doing what we are doing. i think in that exercise was over and the next budget came, and things continue to worsen, but we were steadfast in what we were trying to accomplish. people got the message that we are not just throwing everything up on the wall to see what sticks. here is the plan, this is what we are trying to accomplish. public safety was not being compromised. we were focused on our police officers and firefighters and correction officers and the like. the things that people truly cared about. we have 70 swimming pools and philadelphia. when i made that announcement, i said we were only going to be built have 10 of them open. this was in november. -- only going to be able to have 10 of them open. we ended up having 46 of those
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pools open, and every summer since, all 70 have been opened. we had five ice rinks. i said we would only be able to keep two of them open. they immediately stepped up and said we will run the other three for you. you are out there hustling and working, driving the agenda, getting the private sector involved. we had people sending us money on their own, saying we have to have these pools open. people want to see action. they want to see leadership. we talked about trust, courage, and in the end, if you want to run for office, then be a leader. if you have a deep-seated need to be loved and admired every day, this is not the business for you. work in a pet shop somewhere. [laughter] we have courage, trust, fairness, balance.
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let me throw in another word and see if you view it -- said you put this in context with your plan. not just avoiding a catastrophe, but really gaining a picture of what america can look like if a plan like this is implemented, and what it will need -- what it will mean to the average man or woman sitting at home. >> first, just to comment. if you are a leader, you are taking flak by the ton. he said it beautifully. if you want to be loved, go somewhere else. i have had my skin ripped off 100 times and it grows back double strength. my dad ran for public office. he was a governor and senator. somebody yelled out, simpson, i would not vote for you if you were jesus christ. he said, if i were jesus christ, you would not be in my precinct. [laughter]
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an attack unanswered is an attack believed. you are entitled to be called up full, edie it, bonehead, but never let it distorts the you are. but i m an optimist. these guys are all talking about what we have to do. i do have hope, and it will come before december 31, because in a room somewhere, not like paul and chris will sit down -- there is no need to study it any further. you had all those things and everything is out there. there's nothing hidden as to what you do. you have to have a blend of revenue. to cannot spend your way out of this. cannot tax your way out of it, and you cannot grow your way out of it. not a single economists said you could have double-digit growth for years and grow your way out
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of this. you have to have a blend. if you are in a situation , --ing with andy sternbac those guys put together a recommendation, what we do with the defense budget. if you cannot get that done, and forget the stereotyping. that is what is out there now. you say dick durbin sign on to our report -- what is this? i can tell you that i really feel you are going to see people come together and drop all the phony stuff. the phony stuff is, i am not going to touch medicare, medicaid, social security and defense. those people are total fraud. every cent of revenue last year, everything, excise, sales,
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everything the federal government brought in which only three programs, medicare, medicaid, and social security, and we borrowed everything else, including the wars and homeland security and culture and infrastructure and research and development. that is where we are. >> i want to go back to last august. the stalemate over the debt limit. we saw the stalemate coming out of that. it did seem like that was the moment when the world was watching. what were the practical effects that you felt? >> i will give you a very specific example. just on the optimism point for a second time i do think the topic is getting recognized.
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two or three years ago, it was not. if you consider that progress, raising the focus, sounding the alarm and having people hear it, that is real progress. the next up is, you have to do something about it. but we were banging away and no one was listening a few years ago. we had a pretty good investment portfolio, and i never believed for a moment that a maturing treasury bill or bonn would not be paid. i never believed it. but what if we were wrong? what if we just live on one. in the week before, we actually raise the half billion dollars of cash. we went to two banks, which i found very funny. we were worried that the federal redwood not pay its obligations and we were wrong to give the money to banks. it was a relevant point. we put a half billion dollars
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into two banks. we did enough cash for to know that if we were wrong, in which could run our business for 30 days on that cash flow. >> we did a temporary default. i cannot imagine that a maturing bill would not get paid. >> that was the work that bob used always use in 1993 and 1994, literally unthinkable that we would not hit the debt limit yet. we came far closer than anyone ever thought. >> it is to separate issues. a maturing bond was not require a higher debt limit. we cannot imagine that a maturing obligation would not get paid. they could not fuel the engine to spend money. but the politics of the moment were unclear. it was not visible enough to any of us to roll the dice and bet the ranch that we would be
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right. we had enough in the mattress so that if we were wrong, we could keep the place going. >> you have to put money away in the matter is again for next year. >> i hope we don't need to get a bigger mattress. >> you referred to it a couple of times. could you have done what you did without the requirement you had to balance your budget? >> i would have wanted to. i believe in fiscal integrity. i believe in the fundamental principles that you cannot spend more than you have, that you have to have a balanced budget. with or without a balanced budget requirement, we also have rating agencies. i came into government in 1992. the city on its own was facing a fiscal crisis that had nothing new did nothing to do with anything going on in the
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country. i learned some tough lessons. i paid attention to the finances of the city very closely. fiscal integrity and physical security are very, very important to me. we have a lot of people watching what goes on in our city. the rating agencies also pay attention to those issues and i am -- the fact that we have a balanced budget requirement, that we have a fiscal oversight into the, that we have to produce a five-year plan puts in certain contexts people understanding that it is unfathomable that we will might have a balanced budget. we have to have a five-year plan approved by a financial oversight agency. it will be a major embarrassment not to be able to do those things. bourses' fiscal discipline, but a five-year plan also forces you think about every dollar you want to spend, that is $5. it ensures a certain amount of discipline but allows you to plan for the future.
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i am not sure what the folks down here are doing other than trying to get through that next news cycle. that kind of discipline really is required. you have to understand the consequences of your actions. i am left with the impression that unfairly that some of the proposed cuts that come down through these budgets, we are not clear that many members of congress truly understand the consequences of these cuts, the impact it will have at home. you can name 100 programs which all have their constituencies. i get that, but there have to be some fundamentals that you agree to. fiscal integrity has to be one of them. dealing with the debt crisis is a paramount issue with the government. i agree with the center, but it has to be balanced approach. it can be a number of different
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things, but you have to have some core principles about what you are trying to do, what are the outcomes you are expecting, and where are you going. those are the things that unfortunately, many of us do not hear about a local level as it relates to the federal government. >> let me wrap this up with a hippocratic oath to the next six months between now and the election. it does not look like much is going to get done in washington until afterwards. what is the best way for both parties to do no harm between now and november? >> i think this could to keep telling the story. sounds so corny, town meetings -- i would always find out where they are and then have a town meeting in that play spirit i would speak for five minutes and state for two hours. these people will not expose themselves to the public except in certain other ways. [laughter]
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i don't know why that slipped out there like that. communication, talking, -- i bet we have talked to 500,000 people in the last year and a half. we speak for 10 minutes each and take questions for an hour, and stick around sometimes. people are saying, how come people don't understand where we are? we sadeq you are listening to people that are more interested in re-election than their country. grover norquist is one smart cookie. he is the most powerful man in america right now. how does that sound to you, that grover norquist, the americans for taxpayers reform or whatever is coming is the most powerful man in america. he has 95% of the sitting members of my party pledging never to raise a single penny in tax without the commensurate cut
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in spending. so we said here is one for you, grover. we are taking the tack expenditures and getting paid taking $100 billion to reduce the debt and the other trillion to give to the lower tax base. what can he do to you? he cannot murder you or burn down your house. the only thing he can do is to beat you for re-election or put some of dud in the primary to take you out. that means more it to you than your country, then you should not even be in congress. [applause] >> in a few moments, former president george w. bush honors human rights activists from around the world. the senate's back in session at 9:30 eastern. today's agenda includes consideration of two nominations
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to the federal reserve board of governors. >> former president george w. bush was in washington this week to honor human rights activists from around the world. among them was myanmar democracy leader and nobel peace prize laureate, awning san sue key. this is a little more than an hour. [applause] >> good morning, president and mrs. bush, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to a celebration of human freedom. i'm jim glassman, the founding executive director of the george w. bush institute. the bush institution is part of the george w. bush presidential center, now in the final stages of construction on the campus of
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southern methodist university in dallas. it's a great building, designed by robert alternative to lead platinum specifications. we hope to see you at dedication less than a year from now. the bush institute itself has been operating for more than two years. we have mowned ten programs in -- mounts ten programs in six areas of engagement; economic growth, education reform, global health, the women's initiative, the military service initiative and human freedom. our mission in human freedom is to extend liberty to pressed nations around the world. advancing freedom is our goal, in fact, each of our six areas of engagement. in africa, for example, we're leading a fight against women's cancers with a dozen partners including the u.s. state
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department. no woman can be truly free to make choices that will improve the lives of members of her family if she suffers from preventable and curable cervical cancer. no young person is free to pursue his dreams if education system fails him, so we are out to improve america's school principals and middle schools. and if economy fails to grow robustly, americans will lack the freedom and opportunity they deserve and desire. so we are aiming at a target of 4 percent economic growth. in the area of human freedom itself, the center piece of our work is called the freedom collection, a living archive that documents the global struggle for democracy and human freedom. the freedom collection features video interviews and compelling writings and artifacts that tell the stories of dissidents and freedom advocates. i'd like to acknowledge the
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architects of the freedom collection, will, who conceived it, ambassador kristin silverberg who led the project from its inception, ambassador grover joseph reese, lindsay who's now the director -- lynn day lloyd -- lindsay lloyd. on march 28th in dallas, president and mrs. bush launched, the online portal to the collection. to date, we have interviewed approximately 60 leading freedom advocates from around the world including nobel laureates, senior statesmen and women, cyber dissidents, religious leaders and many others. we will do hundreds of these interviews, and these are the nonviolent troops of liberty. portions of each interview are available on the web site.
8:22 am features sections on particular countries to help provide background and context for the interviews. there are also short films on featured themes; prisoners of conscious, women as human rights defenders, messages from dissident to dissident and others. several other remarkable individuals already featured on are here today. please, stand as i call your name. ammar ab dull ha mid of syria, rodrigo i have monte of venezuela. bob fu of china. march sell -- normando hernandez of cuba. cristal of venezuela. ahmed -- [inaudible] of egypt.
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dwan -- [inaudible] of vietnam. coup ri sa how of burma. thank you. [applause] our hope is that the freedom collection will remind dissidents of this: you are part of a large network of freedom-loving people with deep historic roots. you are not alone. we also want the site to inspire americans and others living in freedom to support today's dissidents. to help build our network and reach these audiences, digital and social media will play an essential role. today we're pleased to recognize facebook as a social media partner on the freedom collection. through facebook we are extending the reach of the
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freedom collection and the bush center's efforts to promote liberty by documenting and sharing the global struggle for human freedom. having a strong presence on facebook -- [inaudible] and foster greater debate and understanding. we're pleased that joe kaplan, vice president of u.s. policy for facebook, is in the audience with us. and speaking of technology, i'm happy to say that the great freedom advocate awning san sue chi will be joining us via teleconference later in the program. rainy season in burma permitting. i should add rainy season in washington permitting. now, i'd like to play for you one of the short films that are included in the freedom collection. be
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[background sounds] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> we have a slight technical problem. [laughter] this is due to the rainy season in burma, i can tell you. [laughter] ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ >> in our time, freedom has great historical momentum, but it is not an impersonal force. it always advances through the choices and courage of individuals. the freedom revolution often begins in a few minds, a few hearts, among men and women who risk everything for the sake of a universal ideal. they reject the counsel of fear, apathy and despair. they accept sacrifices for a future they may not live to see. and they are capable of unsuspected greatness. during meetings in the oval office, i was eager to hear their stories, and now the bush institute is collecting these stories and interviews conducted around the world. we have asked men and women who have inspired others to describe what inspired them, what ignited the fuse of their outrage and
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resistance, why did they accept the difficult calling of a dissident's life? ken omar of burma explains her decades of activism. >> it was already in my blood as a person. for me, whenever i see something unjustice happen in front of me, whether it happen to me or someone else, i cannot take it. so when i was studying chemistry in my final year at the university, i come to be in a group of students who were simply demanding for the true release of a student, a fellow student who was shot and killed by the police without any reason really. this is complete injustice. and i cannot take it. so that was the first time i decided that i will do something ab it. about it. >> dissidents are often
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motivated by a passion for truth and a refusal to participate in the lies of that gnat cam governments -- fanatical governments. >> many people said this was selfish on your part because the consequences can be borne on your family, but the consequences of their silence have been borne by me and are being borne by all of you also, so silence has consequences, and the consequences of not rocking the boat, it may not be the dramatic death that we see when people take to the street, it may not be arrests, but the -- but it's the death of hope. >> ariel was a boxing coach in cuba. [speaking spanish]
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>> democratic activists often speak of self-respect, a feeling that they can no longer participate in a failing, degrading system that was undermining their dignity and the dignity of their country. the great czech freedom fighter made this point clearly.
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>> the path of most dissidents leads through some desolate places where hope comes hard. many find comfort in a power greater or than any government. pastor bob fu of china recall his dark night of the soul as a student activist. >> when the real bullies start
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shooting, when the tanks were ordered to crush many of the innocent citizens including students all over, you know, student leaders' dream were broken. it was during that time i came to christian faith, i accepted christ as my savior and lord because i just lost hope in myself and on the political system, on the party in general, each on the human being. and i was deeply despaired and disappointed and, you know, thinking, you know, how can i really make my dream come true, how can i change the society by changing the government? >> in the past several decades,
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we have seen again and again that courage and vision can be more powerful than all the guns and lies of an oppressive government. we have seen how the sudden illumination of a single conscience can be the turning point of a history and a nation. it is our privilege and duty to recognize and help courageous advocates of freedom around the world. our message to them is clear: when you stand for liberty, we will stand with you. ♪ ♪ [applause] >> good morning. my name is a.m. mad abdul ha immediate, in september 2005 i was forced to leave my country for criticizing president bashar
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assad. i live in washington with my wife, daughter and son. together with the help of our friends here and in syria and in partnership with a program initiated by president george w. bush, we launched a foundation for syria and across the middle east. we worked hard at developing the leadership skills of young men and women who from depths of despair and oppression were trying to stitch together activism networks. these networks were dedicated to raising awareness about both democracy and the practice of civil disobedience. the aim was to hold government accountable to the will of the people. hard work finally began to pay off when people all across syria inspired by developments in tunisia and egypt rose up against the corruption and oppression of the assad regime. the movement was peaceful and inclusive. the cross was held high.
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arabs and christians, sign nebraskas and -- [inaudible] -- sunnis and -- [inaudible] all demanded a transition to democratic government. in response, assad 40 hold power ordered the troops to attack peaceful demonstrators and death squads to assassinate reformers. in little over a year, 15,000 people have been killed, 80,000 are languishing in jails, and more than 250,000 have become refugees. the international community has done little to help the syrian people. but it is still our hope that world leaders will be compelled by their conscience and by their national self-interest to act, to end to tragedy and to bring syria freedom. the stories of dissidents highlighted in the freedom collection can help motivate international policymakers to do the right thing. the collection also helps oppressed people break the
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barrier of fear and the wall of silence that de1kre7bds on the wall of autocratic rule. others went before, and their stories teach where success lies. it's not easy. while the price of activism is sometimes the death of the human body, the price of silence is always the death of the human spirit, and that is a far greater price to pay. protesters in syria and around the world draw inspiration from president george w. bush. during his administration, president bush personally met with more than 180 pro-democracy and human rights activists, independent journalists and family members from 35 countries. he initiated programs that inspire bed, informed and trained thousands of young free freedom advocates, many of them in leadership positions in their changing countries. and upon leaving office he
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founded the president bush center dedicated to improving the human condition throughout the world with a strong emphasis on unleashing freedom in nations like syria. as he said, the best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all of the world. ladies and gentlemen, please, join me in welcoming the 43rd president of the united states, george w. bush. [applause] >> thank you. please b seated. [applause] ammar, thank you for your kind words. all of us here today join you in hoping and praying for the end of violence and for the advance of freedom in syria. let me thank each of the dissidents and democracy advocates who have joined us for your example of conscience. we honor your sacrifice, we
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celebrate your courage, and we will support your struggle for as long as it takes. i want to thank all of you for attending the washington launch of the freedom collection. i actually found my freedom by leaving washington. [laughter] but it's good on occasion to be back and to see old friends. i want to thank those who work for the bush foundation in the dallas, mark langdell's the president. i thank jimmy glassman, founding director and all those who work for the bush institute. i want to thank the i san coes for joining us. victor and katarina, thank you for your leadership of the orange revolution. members of congress, we appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule. diplomatic corps, thank you for being here and members of the bush administration, the mighty bush administration. [laughter] thanks for showing up. these are extraordinary times in the history of freedom.
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in the arab spring, we have seen the broadest challenge to authoritarian rule since the collapse of soviet communism. great change has come to a region where many thought impossible. the idea that arab people are somehow content with oppression has been discredited forever. yet we've also seen instability, uncertainty and the revenge of brutal rulers. the collapse of an old order can unleash resentments and power struggles that a new order is not yet prepared to handle. freedom is a powerful force, but it does not advance on wheels of historical inevitability. and it is history that proves this point. the american revolution of 776 -- 1776 produced george washington who embodied the democratic habits of a new nation. the friend of revolution of 1789
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eventually produced that pole onwho set out to conquer europe. the outcome of a freedom revolution is determined by human choices and the creation of durable democratic traditions. some look at the risks inherent in democratic change, particularly in the middle east and north africa, and find the dangers too great. america, they argue, should be content with supporting the flawed leaders they know in the name of stability. but in the long run, this foreign policy approach is not realistic. it is not realistic to presume the so-called stability enhances our national security. be nor is it within the power of america to indefinitely preserve the old order which is inherently unstable. oppressive governments distrust the diffusion of choice and power, choking off the best source of national prosperity
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and success. the hording of power reeds to cronyism, corruption, inefficiency and resentment. this is the crisis of tyranny. it fears and fights the very human attributes that make a nation great; creativity, enterprise, initiative and responsibility. dictators can maintain power for a time by force, and by feeding resentments toward enemies -- internal or external, real or imagined. but eventually, in scarcity and mediocrity their failure becomes evident. in every nation a few eyes open first. it is dissidents who see the shabby reality of presentation and refuse to live any longer with lies and humiliation. they show defiance and courage and stubbornness. but above all, they have a genius for hope.
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it's been said that politics is not the art of the possible, it is the art of imagining the impossible and then making it happen. from hab lurk to mandela to awning sue san chi, dissidents have practiced the art of the impossible. america does not get to choose if a freedom revolution should begin or end in the middle east or elsewhere. it only gets to choose what side it is on. the tactics of promoting freedom will vary case by case, but america's message should ring clear and strong: we stand for freedom and for the institutions and habits that make freedom work for everyone. today when a dictator falls or yields to the democratic movement, a glorious day. the years of transition that follow can be difficult. people forget that this was true in central europe where democratic institutions and
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attitudes did not spring up overnight. from time to time, there's been be corruption, backsliding and nostalgia for communist rule. there have been threats to independent media and civil society. essential economic reforms have sometimes proved painful and unpopular. it takes courage to ignite a freedom revolution, but it also takes courage to secure a freedom revolution for future generations through structural reform. both types of bravery deserve our strong support be. this is now the challenge in parts of north africa and the middle east. after the euphoria, nations must deal with questions of tremendous complexity. what effect will majority rule have on the rights of women and religious minorities? how can militias be incorporated into a national army? what should be the relationship between the central government
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and regional authorities? problems once kept submerged by force must now be resolved by politics and consensus. but political institutions and traditions are often weak, and some remain unreconciled to freedom. we know the problems, but we've also seen a source of hope. the people of north africa and the middle east now realize that their leaders are not invincible. they can be held to account. citizens of the region have developed habits of dissent and expectations of economic performance. future rulers who ignore those expectations, who try returning to oppression and blame shifting may find an accountability of their own. oppression depends on unthissed and inactive -- uninformed and inactive citizens, and in much of the middle east, the era of the passive citizen is over.
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as americans, our goal should be to help reformers turn the end of tyranny into durable, accountable civic structures; strong constitutions, political parties committed to pluralism, free elections, the rule of law and property rights, hopeful economies drawn into open world markets, healthy civic institutions, protections for the rights of minorities and women. this work will require patience and creativity and active american leadership. it will involve the strengthening of civil society with a particular emphasis on the the role of women. it'll require a consistent defense of religious liberty. it will mean the encouragement of development and education and health, of trade and foreign investment, of people-to-people contacts. there are no guarantees, and
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there will certainly be setbacks. but if america does not support the advance of democratic institutions and values, who will? in promoting freedom, our methods must be flexible. change comes at different paces in different places. liberty often arrives not in leaps, but in steps. yet flexibility does not mean ambiguity. the same principles must apply to all countries. as a country embraces freedom, it finds economic and social progress. but only when a government treats its people with dignity does the nation fulfill its greatness. and when a government violates the rights of a citizen, it dishonors an entire nation. one way to encourage freedom is to highlight and honor those who make it the defining cause of their lives. laura and i had the privilege of
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meeting many dissidents and democracy activists at the white house. they really inspired us. and we did our best to assure them that they were not alone, that the hopes and prayers of a great nation were with them. this is also one of the primary goals of the bush institute. we are gathering the stories and artifacts of democratic reformers not just to celebrate the past, but to educate the next generation. we want a young activist in venezuela to hear bob fu talk of his struggle with despair. we want a syrian dissent to learn havel's art of the impossible. the freedom collection a continueally-updated project designed to share the inspiration and lessons of great reformers and disdents. our goal is to provide both moral support and practical knowledge. thomas jefferson once wrote about the contagion of liberty
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with the freedom collection, we aim to spread it. there's nothing easy about the pursuit of freedom. in america we know something about this. we face challenges since our independence, protecting minorities, building a national army, defining the relationship between the central government and regional authorities. and at times they've nearly torn us apart. it took many decades of struggle to live up to our founding promise, but we never ceased believing in the power of those ideals, and we should not today. for all the difficulties, the advance of freedom remains the most powerful, hopeful trend of our time. in 1900 not one country in the world met the modern standards of democracy including our own. by 1950 there were 22. today, according to freedomhouse, there are now more than 310 electoral
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democracies -- 110 electoral democracies. no advance of freedom is inevitable, and any gain can be lost, but there's a reason for the momentum of liberty across the centuries: human beings were not designed for servitude. they were created for better things. and the human soul is forever restless until it rests in the freedom. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, president bush. good morning to you all. [laughter] that's very texan. my name is --
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[inaudible] fu, most people know me as bob. not very typical american name -- chinese name. i'm the founder of china aid association based near midland, texas. in 1989 i was part of the student democracy movement in tiananmen square. though the movement was crushed by tanks, yet the hearts for freedom have continued. later, i became a house church pastor out of -- and was eventually jailed for running an independent house church and a secret bible school. in 1996 my wife and i escaped to hong kong, and in '97 we were admitted to the united states of america as refugees just days before hong kong was handed over to china. banned unofficial churches in china have 60-80 million
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followers who at great risk are trying to exercise their chinese constitutional guaranteed religious freedom. those in prison for their beliefs are typically denied access to religious materials including the bible. one group of prisoners, imprisoned laborers, transcribed each book of the bible by hand into notebooks and circulated from within the prison. last year i presented one of those notebooks to president and mrs. bush for inclusion in the freedom collection. at china aid association, we promote religious freedom and rule of law in china. we believe that religious freedom is the first freedom
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which leads the foundation for all other human rights. my organization monitors and exposes the abuses of religious freedom. we also assist the abused spiritually and legally in their defense of liberty. we work with house church leaders and individuals like the blind self-taught lawyer, cheng wang chung, and we hope to see him and his family in the united states soon. chen gang chung. there must be something in the dusty air of midland, texas, that inspires individuals to stand up for what is right. the community there graciously welcomed my family and me and has taken up our cause.
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it is, perhaps, no surprise that laura bush -- a native of midland -- shares that community's commitment of human dignity and freedom. mrs. bush frequently says that freedom is universal, that god is the source of our freedom and that every man, woman regardless -- and child -- regardless of country or creed is endowed with fundamental human rights. whether speaking out against the oppression of women in afghanistan and campaigning for the efforts of aung san suu kyi to bring democracy to burma, mrs. bush demonstrates her
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convictions and beliefs with actions. it is my pleasure and honor to introduce my fellow midlanders, mrs. laura w. bush. [applause] >> thank you so much. i really appreciate it. thank you very much, pastor fu. thank you all. thank you very much, pastor fu. he did present to the freedom collection the book of revelations written in chinese character by hand, written by prisoners in china who were imprisoned because they wanted to practice christianity and passed around in prison so that people would have the chance to read the books of the bible. thank you very much. thank you for your inspiration to all of us, and thank you for being a part of our freedom
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collection, and thank you for your friendship. and thanks to everybody who's joined us today. george and i have met with dozens of dissidents, as he told you before and as you saw in the video, from around the world. brave men and women from places like afghanistan, iran, north korea, burma and cuba who have risked everything so that their children might one day live in freedom. they inspire us, and we want people around the world to hear their stories through the freedom collection. many of the voices included in the freedom collection are historical accounts of freedom's triumph over tyranny. others remind us that the quest for liberty goes on. more than half of the world's population lives in countries where basic human rights are restricted or denied. be in many of these -- in many of these nations, men and women stand side by side demanding their rights and representative
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government. these freedom advocates sacrifice security, and they endure violence and intimidation so that those in neglected corners of their society might know the promise of liberty. george and i are especially grateful to the dissidents and human rights activists who have joined us today. youth-organized networks and assembled lawyers and journalists, home mistakers and human rights -- homemakers and human rights activists. together, you've fought to end political corruption and insure government transparency. you've lobbied governments and international organizations to speak out against oppression and brutality. you've leveraged traditional media and social media to give the people of your countries a megaphone so that all of us may hear your call for justice and freedom. and because of your efforts, some of you have endured
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interrogation, harassment, imprisonment or exile. we want you to know that we stand with you. though today some of you may choose anonymity to avoid greater oppression by unjust leaders, we see you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country. more than two decades ago aung san suu kyi led her political party to a landslide victory in burma's 990 elections -- 1990 elections, yet she 13e79 most of the next 20 years under house arrest as the ruling military regime sought to suffocate her influence on the people of burma. during aung san suu kyi's enforced seclusion, other burmese women persevered in their dissent. they spoke out, and they told the world about the systematic military campaign of rape and
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abuse that had been waged against women in burma. in november 2010, awning san sue key was finally granted her freedom. like many around the world, president bush and i celebrated her release. and we followed recent events in burma, her political party won all but one of their races in the election held this spring. their large margin of victory raises expectations for the future electoral victories in burma. and just two weeks ago nobel peace prize winner aung san suu kyi was finally sworn in as a member of parliament in burma. as she took her seat in the governing body, the moment was surely bittersweet and overdue and a clear victory for the men and women of burma. her example shows people everywhere that political
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isolation and prison cannot silence the call for liberty. although concerns about burma's transition to democracy remain, we know from our own history that democracy is not perfected overnight. today we're grateful to have aung san suu kyi join us i via skype to give us her perspective on the transition in burma. i'm so very glad to see you today, and i look forward to seeing you in person one day. welcome today to this conference on freedom. [applause] thank you so much for your donation to the freedom collection. we're happy to havehe
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