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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 16, 2014 7:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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sustain it over 10 or 15 years, you know, now it's pretty well ingrained. .. cbo came up with an estimate that said the clinton health-care reform rather than a saving money which the administration said would cost money that was only one of the
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many aspects that someone could look at and judge whether that was a good reform or battery form. people grabbed onto that particular conclusion and try to use it to their best and. >> we are talking with professor philip here at the university of maryland about his book on the congressional budget office. the cbo was used in two ways or in one way it should have been used in two ways. one way is to help a super committee to set the parameters. so director elmendorf went and testified on the nature of the problem that was facing the
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country and what kind of thing was what needed to happen and what would be a reasonable trajectory for trying to get the deficit down for example, and clearly cbo stepped behind the scenes and worked with the committee answering questions. there's an awful lot of work that they do that isn't visible in the sense that they are providing advice when asked to congressionally staff the committees. now, what would have happened if the super committee had been successful is the cbo would have to score whatever legislative changes the super committee came up with in order to determine if they actually met the target that was set for the super committee. the super committee needed to come up with deficit reduction of at least $1.2 trillion in order to prevent the automatic sequestration across-the-board cuts from taking effect. if they had gotten that far which we now know they didn't come out the cbo would have had
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to judge whether the specific changes they came up wit with oe tax side or the spending side actually met at target and if it didn't meet that target, then one of two things would have happened. they would have gone back to the drawing board and added things that would have brought them up to the target or the difference between what they did and the ultimate target would have been subject to this across-the-board cut which is what is going to happen and what some of the changes made. >> what do we mean by scoring? >> cbo is required to do cost estimates of everything old piece of legislation that goes out of the congressional committee before it can be considered on the floor or the house or senate. and that's a very important role in the sense that what existed prior to that point there was no one doing this kind of cost estimate prior to the creation
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of cbo what would happen is that you would either have to resident's budget office of management and budget would reduce some kind of cost estimate, but that wasn't immune from the influence of whether the president actually liked this particular bill or didn't like this particular build or, even worse yet, you might have the sponsor of the particular piece of legislation being the one to do the cost estimates. so they had every incentive to suggest that the cost was lower in fact than it would be in reality. in the cbo clearly doesn't get those cost estimates write all the time. no one would get those cost estimates writ right all the ti. the influence is that people realize that they don't have a particular ax to grind in the debate to try to come up with the cost estimate and they are not trying to eat her help piece
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of legislation gets passed or help to kill the pieces of legislation. >> into telephonic sample cbo got it wrong and an example they got it right? that i would say one example they got it wrong and everybody got it wrong is the -- i'm sorry, in the 2001 when president bush came into office, one of the things that cbo does is they do projections of the outlook for the federal budget. and those projections have sometimes covered five years. but increasingly they cover ten years. so what happened when president bush came into office as there was an estimate from cbo said that left to its own devices, that is under the current law, the budget surplus to cumulatively over the next ten years would be $5.6 trillion, that is truly in with a t.. so that was as all of the
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estimates are not a prediction but it was a projection based on the best information they have. and as anybody should know the further projection the less accurate it is going to be. so, that is the midpoint of the range and it was a pretty big range. but it did support those who thought that it was important for the congress and the president to cut taxes at that point and i think the tax cuts that were enacted were held by the fact that there was this projection which was wrong. there were projections coming elsewhere as well that among the things it didn't predict as it did predict the recession that started soon after that and it also didn't predict september 11, which no one really did. and there were fiscal effects coming out of september 11. and in terms of cbo and this is
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something that also illustrates the limits of any analytical agency, cbo for many years, probably 15 years, producing reports and analyses that were worried about what might happen if the government-sponsored enterprises, fannie mae and freddie mac ever got in a situation they didn't have enough b. that they needed to come to the federal government for a bailout. their position through this time is that would never happen. and as a part of what happened in a financial crisis in 2008 and beyond, the federal government actually had to take over fannie mae and freddie mac at the cost of 200 or $300 billion to the federal budget and this was clearly the case where i think cbo had it right that this was not inevitably have bee happened the were particular things that the congress should do in legislation in order to protect
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the federal government against the potential that something like this would have been. >> in the last couple of years the budget process has broken down in congress. we haven't passed the appropriations as required by law. a lot of continuing resolutions. what has been the role if any in that whole process? stack i think the role is really just to support the process. one thing i was a little uncomfortable talking about the success because i'm talking about the success in an organization in the process which no one would say is successful. and i think part of that is just the limit of what any organization whose job it is to provide information can do. so, you know, with the cbo has been doing in that process is what the cbo always does is have the congress consider legislation. if, you know, it provides an information on the effect of that legislation.
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it doesn't really have any role to play in terms of trying to force the congress or get the congress to do something that the congress does not want to do. one very important thing when she set up the organization, and this really was the working definition of what it means to be nonpartisan, is she said the congressional budget office will not make recommendations. and that was described to me once someone said if you ask how much something costs that they will tell you how much it costs. if you ask them if it is a good idea they will tell you how much it costs. and so, you know, even though i would agree with you and anybody else who says the budget crisis is dysfunctional, i'm not sure how much they can do about that. other than to try to illuminate the effects of the failure to engage in various kind of policies whether it be deficit reduction or something else. stomach to watch the entire
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interview on the congressional budget office, visit our website pulitzer prize winning journalist and contributing correspondent for "the wall street journal." mr. russell the author of red ink inside the high-stakes politics of the federal budget reports on how the budget is created and where much of the money is allocated. >> the editors at random house will publish the book that i did on the head and said to me it is boring and he made it interesting. making it excited when we were about to tumble into the great depression isn't all that hard but there's nothing going on in the budget. i mean the book treatment of the failure of the super committee isn't something that i would read, let alone want to write. so then they said what if you didn't like the year in the life of the budget you could start with the budget being crafted behind the scenes of the white
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house and the president presents the budget and congress actually act on the budget and then the money goes out the door and i said well, you know that's not really the way that it works. and they said really? and so, i began to think well maybe i did actually know something that could be useful and i brought with me to this conversation some of the charts but the pete peterson foundation has done on the budget who has devoted a billion dollars to the foundation to deal with the federal budget. i'm not sure he has made much progress on the policy front. but he has made lots of good charts. and lots of graphic art is making them and their excellent. and as i went through the charts i began to realize, and i think my editors realized at the same time that maybe there was a market for the book that explained where the money comes from and where it goes. and as i thought about that, i thought well, this is a good idea. this is a book i could do
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quickly. i was a little cocky about how quickly. i thought i'm going to write a book about the federal budget for people that have never managed to get to the end of any wall street journal story on the subject. [laughter] and i had this naïve hope that maybe i could play a small role in separating the fact from the opinion. because i think what has happened in a lot of our budget discussion is that people have mixed up with the facts and the reality is and what choices we have to make. the choices are fundamentally in the best sense of the word political. they have to do with our values and how big the government, the nature of the success in our economy and so forth. but what has happened is people start with a set of positions and then they build up a set of facts that support them and they never let the other side of the fact interfere in their arguments. if you watch one cable channel you get one set of facts and the watch another cable channel you get another set and you would never know that they were
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talking about the same thing. so, i know that it is kind of unfashionable to be trying to write a book that says i do not have a solution for the budget crisis. this is not in chapter five this isn't the version of send symbols or words when domenici. but the role of this is to say this isn't so comforted. it's break it down. now, it is hard to understand because it is so big that if the instructions at the white house sends out to the agencies to tell them how to submit requests for the president's budget front 972 pages. the budget itself in the four printed volumes -- you can read them for free online 2,288 pages last year. and then behind each one of those pages there's a whole another set of explanations. my favorite is the department of homeland security which submitted to the congress 3,134 pages to justify their budget one for every $2.6 million they
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needed to spend. now, the budget is big. $3.6 trillion a year, $400 million a day, $17 million an hour. and david berry, who is a humor columnist for use to write for the miami herald and is really good at this stuff once said that the problem -- the reason people don't understand the budget is that millions, billions and trillions sounds too much alike. [laughter] if we called them golf balls on the watermelons and hot air balloons it would be easy to understand the magnitude and there is something he to that. in this book i try to break the budget into the big pieces into digestible morsels and i want to talk about a couple of them here today before returning for two questions. one of them is that when the congress shows that every year the property committed about two thirds of the money. 63% of the money that was spent by the federal government last year was committed to various benefit programs into social
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security and medicaid, for in subsidies, veterans and interest on the debt and they spend the rest of the year arguing about everything else. and what this means is that they are never forced into to confront how much do we want to spend on retirement programs, how much do we want to spend on health care benefits. what is the right amount of before in subsidies in the modern economy? it automatically date indicate if there is a reason to reopen the bill which sometimes there is a do they make any changes. an economist named jean stirling who used to be with the treasury in the ronald reagan years is now in the urban institute pointed out that in 2009 for the first time, every single dollar of tax revenue has been committed before the congress arrived. the rest -- all of the money that the tax code brought in the went to cover benefits and interest on the death and every money on everything else to the defense, domestic discretionary stuff, all that was borrowed.
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so, that's one thing. and that is a big change in the past. the second thing is -- and its related, the one thing rising faster than everything else in the federal budget is healthca healthcare. that's because the government covers were people every year, and because the cost of healthcare is growing faster than almost everything else. in 1960, before medicare and medicaid for the programs that ensure the elderly to the disabled and the poor, 9.5% of the federal budget went to healthcare. last year it was 25% and we are on course even with the affordable care act according to the congressional budget office to hit 33% by 2021. so, this is an extra double fact. you can argue how we should change it and it is certainly the fact we don't have the healthiest population by far even though we spend more on
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healthcare than any other country per capita. but you cannot escape the fact come and i'm struck by the town where democrats and republicans basically can't agree on what time it is there is some kind of consensus on health care as a record of the problem. the other part is federal defense. we have spent hundreds of several hundred billion dollars. that is more than the combined defense budget of china, britain, france, russia, japan, saudi arabia, germany, india, italy, brazil, south korea, australia, canada, turkey, the uae, spain and israel. our defense budget is bigger than the defense budget over the next 17 countries combined. i don't think that is sustainable. there are some big choic choicee made about what extent do we want to be the cost of the world, to what extent is it important for us to keep the lanes open for oil shipments for
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everybody that depends on the whale in the middle east, to what extent do we want to send people to the drop of a hat into the via or somalia or security or wherever? but there are some big items. one of my -- and i think the trouble in the defense budget is a little like covering the federal reserve. it's developed in a set of facts and speech into concepts that the underwriters can't understand. in the book i try to take one thing the defense department has to decide. how many aircraft carriers are enough? so, congress and its infinite wisdom have told the pentagon that they have to have you with an aircraft carriers. they have a special permission to have ten for a while while they are building a new one and the pentagon wants to plac pleae each aircraft carrier that it has. one aircraft carrier every five years for the rest of my life. each of these new aircraft carriers which are enormous in the four and a half acres of the
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modern sovereign territory cost $11 billion. $11 billion is the same amount that medicare will spend all of the hit, knee and shoulder surgery on 700,000 medicare beneficiaries. so when you do the scale, one aircraft carrier to 700,000 joint replacements. and that is not the worst of it. when they take one of these things out of commission, it costs $2 billion. aircraft carriers are expensive even in debt. each one has two nuclear reactors and disassembling the nuclear reactor expense. so we have some decisions to make on how big the defense budget we want to have. one of the -- brad mentioned a couple misconceptions people have. one of the other misconceptions people have is that all of the money that the government spends goes to pay bureaucrats. most of whom most people don't think do a good job. now, it is true the federal
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government employs a lot of people. 4.4 million people. most of them either in the defense department or military or civilian or in one of the various homeland security apparatus is. if we fire every single one of them from president obama's secretary to the person who's collecting the polls as a yellowstone to the guy or woman sitting in the defense facility in north dakota right now if we got rid of all of them come over wages at all the benefits, we would save a lot of money. $435 billion last year. that would have reduced the deficit by even 40%. we would have still had almost a record deficit if we had no federal government employees whatsoever. so, where does all the money go? welcome to the federal government in a sense takes the money and send it out again. the federal government in a sense is a military with a
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health and welfare retirement attached to it. $2.2 trillion of the money that came into the federal government last year went out in the form of the benefits to individuals and much of the rest went in the state and local grants to state and local government. succumb it is not going to be possible to reduce the federal deficit by nickel and dime in federal employees. doesn't mean we aren't going to try but we aren't going to succeed in reducing the deficit in that way. another misconception people have is that we are paying more and more taxes and that we are paying more and more taxes than people in other countries. and i think a lot of people particularly in this room appreciate that americans have a smaller government than most in the developing countries and we pay less of the income in taxes, so we get less of our services and the government an then they doing for instance northern europe. but i think what is less understood is that for a variety of reasons, the share of income
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people in the middle class has been coming down steadily for 30 years. in 1979, people in that little stridmiddlestripe of the 20% ofe distribution paid about 90% of their income in taxes of all kinds in the federal government according to the congressional budget office. in 1999, 20 years later it was down to 17%. last year -- i mean in 2007 before the recession hit, it was about 14%. and last year partly because of the recession people's income or depressed if there were special tax breaks it was down to 10%. the typical american family has been paying less in taxes every year as a share of their income even though the government has been spending more money every year as a share of their income. where is the money coming from? we are borrowing it. last tour we borrowed 36 cents of every dollar we spend. most of it from abroad and half
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of that from the chinese. at the bottom, the series of policies many pursued by republicans as well as democrats, have gradually lightened the tax load from people at the bottom. last year 46% of american households didn't take any income taxes. in ordinary times it has been about 40%. now a lot of them paid payroll l taxes, social security and medicare payroll taxes which for most working americans is a bigger tax than the income tax. but even with that commen, aboue fifth of all americans didn't take either payroll or income taxes. they didn't make enough elderly and there were people living on social security so they took advantage of one of a myriad set of tax breaks for people who are low-wage workers or who have big families or have other deductions. some of them ar were probably wl off. some of them ripped off the system but most of them did not.
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but if you want to think about the federal budget, you have to think about those three things. what are we going to do about health care, what are we going to do about defense, what are we going to do about revenue tax almost everything else is a detail. if you get those three things, then you don't have to put the pieces together. now, the deficit today is bigger than we have had an almost all-time in our history when we were not fighting on the world war. but the deficit today is not a problem. the u.s. government is borrowing almost unlimited amounts of money at extraordinarily low interest rates. the government is borrowing to a ten-year money at 1.5%. that is a record low. it's never been that low. as far as the records that we have go. the problem is now of course is unemployment. 8.3%, 1 billion people who have
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been out of work for a full year or more, and those are the ones that are still working. the deficit is not today's problem. but it's going to be tomorrow's problem. even in today's low interest rates, the federal government spent $230 billion on interest. that is the same as the combined -- that is bigger than the combine budgets of the commerce, education, energy, homeland security, interior justice, state, plus the federal court. so how is it that we are able to borrow so much money and pay such little interest? why aren't we like spain or italy or greece? it's not because we managed our finances or that we have a political system that seems to be a marvelous efficiency and compromise at a comedy. [laughter] it's because the rest of the world looks even worse. the united states is the world's tallest midget when it comes to borrowing money.
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[laughter] if this could go on forever, it would be fantastic. it is integrated go on forever. i have no clue when it's going to end but it's not going to go on forever. as interest rates return to normal, the share of the federal government goes to interest is going to rise and that will crowd out spending on other things and it will mean that we will pay taxes and borrow money. and some of the money we borrowed will go to pay interest on the money we borrowed last year and some of the taxes we pay will go to pay interest to our creditors. and those creditors are increasingly overseas. in 1990, 19% of the federal debt was held by foreigners. 19%. last year it was 46%. that means we will be working harder and if the economy grows we will have more tax revenue and a little share of each of our paychecks will go to pay interest on our debt mainly to
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the chinese which is really weird when you think about it. here is a country where the standard of living is below ours and yet somehow they manage to save incredible amounts of money largely because the government makes them do it and then they use it to lend to us and then in fact they were very generous and allowed us to have a housing bubble and borrow all of this money so that we can run up the value of our house is in times we have a big crisis and we find ourselves in a situation that we are in today. this can't go on forever. it just can't. and sometimes people are asked when is it going to stop? when is the bond market going to retail? i think it is a great question with no answer. but if you know something isn'ts going to go on forever it does seem prudent not to plan on it going on forever. but right now, we are on the course to become the world's largest subprime borrower and we do not have a business plan to
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avoid that. there aren't many heroes in my book. i had hear those in the last book that this didn't lend itself to that. but there are a couple and one of them is doug elmendorf, who is an economist who's the head of the congressional budget office. it's a remarkable institution. it's perhaps one of the few institutions in washington that works the way that it's supposed to work. and it's actually functioning. it was created largely in rebellion of the congress trying to take control from richard nixon to give them independent advice and honest figures on the federal budget on federal spending. and it has done just that. doug elmendorf is trying to talk some sense into his bosses in congress. he is not paid for performance. he said a couple things which i think are relevant. one is we cannot go back to the tax and spending policies of the past because the number of people 65 and over will increase
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by one third between 2012 and 2022. a number of people over age 65 will increase by one third over the next ten years. that is the aging of the baby boom. the idea that we were going to fix the budget deficit, social security, do something about medicare before the baby boomers start collecting is over. they are now turning 65 today and so, we are going to have to have a bigger government than we had in the past despite what you hear from some candidates mainly republicans who think we can go back to something we had before. it's of course possible to go back to a smaller government, but it is extraordinarily difficult. and in a society like ours to tell people we are not going to keep our promise to pay benefits to the elderly because we decided we want a smaller government and that goes to a second point which i think is one of elmendorf's best observations as the federal budget crisis in a single sentence.
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this country faces he said a fundamental disconnect between the services people expect the government to provide, primarily in the form of benefits to the elderly. and the tax revenue people are willing to send to the government. and that the dilemma, that contradiction is at the root of the budget crisis right now. >> this entire program on the creation of the federal budget and a location of money to federal programs can be viewed anytime on the website we conclude programming on the federal budget with oklahoma senator tom coburn author of the debt bomb a bold plan to stop washington from bankrupting america and breach of trust how washington turns outsiders into insiders. the two-term republican senator and ranking member of the homeland security governmental committee and member of the committee on banking, housing and urban affairs presents his spending on federal programs.
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the senator premiered on the three-hour author interview and call-in program in depth. >> in breach of trusand breach w washington turns outsiders into insiders you write ten things congress doesn't want you to know about how it does business. number one, the appropriations committee staff knows more about the content of spending bills than elected representatives serving on that committee. number two, the congress routinely used as emergency spending measures to permanently increase spending. number three, the members are routinely bribed for votes by the given total control over millions of dollars to be used for their projects. do you want to address any of those first three? >> let's address the third one first. if you have a transportation bill and they want your vote
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today will spend the week as they where do you want to spend it is 40 or 60 or $80 million so as a member of congress you can go and politically benefit either the weak areas by saying what this road or this bridge i over the water and i can use the power of the purse to enhance my standing personally and when that was offered to me i tape recorded it and put it out. >> and that was from the transportation committee? >> i put that out because there is no way i know the next stoplight out to be an oklahoma. there is no way i know what the number one player he is and so when the same thing happened in the senate, not long after i came to the senate, i directed all the money that was transferred to me i think it was $80 million to go to the state
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department of transportation who is from oklahoma and has the responsibility of making the priorities and working with oklahoma legislature. but it is interesting other than the interstate system and the areas where we truly have commerce. local roads in oklahoma, local bridges in oklahoma. how did we ever get where the federal government was deciding what our bright eco- priorities or goinfor going to be in those? that is a great example of how we have transferred power from citizens to washington and then we come back but we will tell you where you will spend the money rather than the citizens of the state of oklahoma deciding where their taxes will be spent. so i will tell you transportation costs a whole lot more to build a mile a highway today because we have tried to make it available and it's
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become expensive because we have added all these rules and regulations of these requirements. a large portion, about 18% of the federal highway budget goes to build the first highway or road it goes for enhancement. it's not something the people in oklahoma necessarily want. but we mandate the percentage you have to spend on something other than that from the gas tax to putting gas in your car. to me, that's ludicrous. those are nice things but it's about what's getting ready to happen to the country and with the possible solutions to get out of it are. here's a great example of how we got in trouble in the first place because what the founders belief is that we were to have a limited central government and i salute leedy leave that we should have a limited central
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government but igovernment petie authoritative in terms of the areas that we gave it responsibility. but beyond that, what you do is totally diminished all these laboratories and regional differences when you take it and pull the power away and set it in washington what you're doing is diminishing the liberty and freedoms of other people outside of washington. >> is that money tempting? like one of my campaign themes is i'm not bringing anything onto oklahoma. and the reason is there is no money here. anything that we sent you home we are stealing from your children today. remember out of the $3.6 trillion that was spent, 1.2 trillion of that we borrowed from our children. we didn't borrow it from the chinese.
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we borrowed it from the people that would ultimately pay it back. is it tempting to spend money and enhance your self? i'm sure it is. but the point is to me it is wrong to steal it because what you are doing is stealing their opportunity to be free. and if you look in the context of history, that is how every other public died. we are doing the same thing. every other public experience before they collapse into the whole reason for the debt bomb is people can understand where we are and how we got there and what the solutions are. if we go through and list 9 trillion, we have the gal to outline for us to duplication of the federal government they've gone from two thirds of that now the report will come in april of this year. they've already identified 200
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areas where we have multiple programs doing exactly the same thing. with no oversight by congress, no metrics to see if it is working. and that comes close to $200 billion a year in wasted money. wasted money that is not enhancing what it was intended to do or not facilitate what it was intended to do. >> host: you have science cut technology, engineering and mathematics programs. there are 209 of those. teacher quality 82 programs. economic development, 88. transportation assistance, 80. financial literacy, 56 different programs, job training, 47 different job training programs. homelessness, prevention and assistance, 20 programs, food for the hungry, 18 and disaster
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response preparedness, 17 different programs. >> guest: it's not just outlandish we have that many programs. with outlandish as we don't know if they are working because when they are past their is nothing that says you have to have a metric to see if it is accomplishing the goal into the biggest effect of congress since i've been here is a total lack of oversight of most of the programs. >> host: you recount taking an amendment to the senate floor to get rid of some of these duplication programs, duplicate of programs. what happened? >> we have had one for $2 million past but all the rest have failed because all of these programs have constituencies. by the way, we found another 52 programs for job training for
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the disabled area so, we actually have 106 job training programs or 109 that we spend $24 billion a year on. and we pretty well demonstrated in oklahoma we studied them all in oklahoma. i have my field reps go out and say howard is working in oklahoma. what we pretty well figured out is the federal programs don't work out. once outside of the government the states run themselves to work. if there is a role for the government in training shouldn't it be efficient, shouldn't it be effective, shouldn't the government be looking to see if it works? shouldn't we have metrics on it and should we have 57 different programs. they cost $19 billion a year. what happens in congress is if you question that the first thing people will do is you
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don't want people to get the job training. i is pretty well gotten used to being demonized now. i don't think it is appropriate for us to look at it but most people won't do that because they don't want to get labeled saying i don't want to help people with job training. i don't want to be accused of not solving the problem. therefore cover my eyes and ears and my mouth and let it contin continue. thomas jefferson said there is no role for the federal government and education. if we want one, we need to pass an amendment to the constitution to do this. he was for changing the constitution to get a role for education but he said how is that we have all of these teacher training programs costing billions of dollars a year running out of washington to train teachers who are a
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local and community and state responsibility? how do we get there? and does anybody know if they are improving teacher training? there are two questions one is what is the constitutional role of the federal government. certainly when we passed this to say here's the metrics we are going to use to measure or whether the teacher training programs are effective. >> we are focused on making sure that we can't eliminate the barriers to getting those networks in place, building out
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these networks is our priority. so sometimes there are local siting issues and sometimes there are federal rules that might affect how we deploy things or what the impact might be on historical site for the environment we want to make sure that we are sensitive to those issues and at the same time we want to make sure that we move forward on the employment because our customers who use these devices every day in their lives depend on having a connection to get the launch and that means having a really robust wireless network.
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>> recounts the physical improvements made it to the white house in 1948. he reports on the decamp and president harry truman and his family to the reconstruction which consisted of the gutting of the entire interior of the
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building and addition of the steel frame and underground shelter. [applause] thank you very much for inviting me and for turning out. it's nice to be here. this is as buchanan surmised something that's taken up the last three years of my life and in researching and writing this book which by the way encompasses the time of eight years is no small challenge how to figure out how to present this to you all and still be conscious when i'm finished and determine if i were to do this for an eight year story i would have to cover roughly one days per second and if i were to do that i would be behind.
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i'm taking this day by day. i want to think of this in terms of addressing the central questions i'm often asked about this book. the first is how is it that the most important house in the united states of america, the symbol of the executive branch lets us deteriorate to the point that it collapsed and killed our president, which is a big question. and the second thing is, the second thing i would like to address is how do we get to the white house that we have today? you might not notice that when you look at the house you see the federal house and if he were to be fortunate enough to be inside, as soon as you step in the front door coming you're not in a historical building anymore. you're standing in something that was built in 1950. and that's quite a bit of engineering. and i'm going to try to cover the more interesting parts of it this evening. so, to kick this off every
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experience needed to win. so i would like to introduce you to one of the balloons of my story. this is 19028 factory photograph of a chandelier built by caldwell & co. in 1901. it is number 11836. they called it lovely. they never waited it out unfortunately. it was 3 feet across and nearly 3 feet tall. my estimates are given all of the bohemian crystal on the thing that probably weighed around a thousand pounds. on a winter afternoon in 1948 it was hanging here in the room of the white house. and i would like you to use your imagination and try to imagine around 100 women in this room. they had their glasses on and
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everything and the first lady standing directly beneath the chandelier making small talk which she couldn't stand and a suddenly amidst all of the chatter she hears a tinkling sound and she looks up and sees that a chandelier starts to sway but she can't and now it is truly moving so she summons incest can you please go upstairs and find out what is going on. the study that is directly she finds nothing amiss and except for one thing in the adjoining room that happens to be the president's bathroom area truman is splashing around in the bathtub and i don't believe that he was particularly vigorous but
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it was enough to get it to shaking and enough to shake the chandelier. so they go home and the daughters of the american revolution no one is harmed and they are giving away and she comes upstairs to confront her husband and says i was afraid that was going to come down on top of all of those people. president truman burst out laughing. he thought tha it was fantastic. he thought it would be wonderful if they had nothing other than his reading glasses and he could come down as one of his architects later put it delicately in the report, quote, to dissent in the tub among the ladies. [laughter] but truman was a practical man and after he stopped laughing, he said he better get some engineers in here to take a look around. so, that's how my book starts coming and that's how i just
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started. so, i am going to move a little bit faster now. truman had harbored suspicions about whitehouse integrity almost since the point that he moved in in 1945 when this picture was taken. he would work in his overall study late at night and he was troubled by the sounds that he kept hearing. hearing. there were creaking noises and the curtains would sway on their own even though the windows were closed. as one point in 45 he wrote to his wife i sit here in this old house and work on affairs and speeches all the while listening to the ghosts walk up and down the hallway. the floors popped into the drapes moved back and forth. this is the hallway. i've looked. if you see any can you talk to me when i'm finished. over time he heard of so many
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sounds coming from this hallway that he stopped thinking that ghosts might be the reason for them. at one point, the chandeliers shaking and trembling started to get to be a regular thing, which was very troublesome. and at one point he also borrowed his doctors stethoscope and walk over and pressed against the plaster and he could hear the house creaking slowly back and forth. this wasn't a skyscraper and it shouldn't be making that noise. finally one morning he wrote, quote, the butler brought me my breakfast and at the floor moved like a ship in the sea. that was a serious warning sign it wasn't just shimmying, it was truly moving. but we need a last straw so here it comes. as 1948 progressed, the problems of course got worse.
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not only the american revolution that i told you about, but an incident in june when the family was not home when margaret truman, who is pictured here with her piano and by the way that weighed about 550 pounds fell through the floor and now i should be clear that the entire piano didn't fall through the floor. one of the legs fell through the floor but that's enough to tell you that there's a problem with your house. and margaret said, there is discussion as to whether it fell through the floor or the grand fell through the floor. floor. there's a discrepancy that a piano fall through the floor. possibly this one. and margaret later wrote if there was evidence it was needed at the white house was falling apart it came when my piano and a sitting room broke through the floor. well, no kidding. truman hadn't settled these spooky things were going on.
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in february of 1947 he sent out some confidential letters to douglas of the american institute of architects. that's him right there in the glasses. he also sent another letter to richard doherty who was the head of the american society of civil engineers. that is him right there and he asked them to come to the white house and a kick around and please keep it a secret and they did. in fact, these gentlemen and more and more engineers and architects in the administration would visit the white house throughout 1947 and into 1948 and inspect the house and the word didn't get out to the public but they were finding. the truth came out only after truman was elected in 1948 but the moment that he was literally the moment within a few hours, he was evacuated along with his family. the house was condemned.
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they were afraid if there was a tremor in washington the entire housand theentire house would c. so, why would they evacuate the president of the united states? what on earth have they found? by this time these gentlemen -- i should mention they formed into an official body known as the commission on renovation of the executive mansion. this would oversee the renovation when i say commission i am referring to these gentlemen here. what did they find when they kicked around? you found this. when they chipped away the plaster covering the interior brick wall it wasn't in the plaster but in the bricks. some of the cracks were two stories tall. it was obvious what was happening to the engineers. the interior brick walls were actually pulling away from the outer stone walls of the white house. and in some cases they have pulled away so far they left gaps big enough for you to put your arm through.
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the walls were sinking into the ground pulling down everything with them as they went into create absolute mayhem including an incident one afternoon when the ceiling of the east room dropped 6 inches in about an hour. and it became common practice for the carpenters to rush in and build scaffolding like this and soon the scaffolding like this was all over the house. they were desperate simply to keep the place standing. the wonder of all of this is how long the trumans lived with the scaffolding and the public didn't know about it. what else did they find? they found cracks in the beams of the floors. 130-year-old beams rocked him and never sealed. i don't mean little cracks like the kind that usually happen. if you look at it this here up from there you might be able to make up one of them and if you
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can't we can go closer and maybe you can see it now. this is the actual beam that is preserved in the library in missouri. he had this cut out and set aside possibly because he was worried people might not believe how ridiculous this had gotten and that is the big crack. so, the engineers found out not only this, but things that were inexplicable. massive notches cut into the beam. in some cases there was only 2 inches of blood left that were supporting tons of weight. the wonder was that the house didn't fault him at all. so bu by early 1949, americans finally got truman safely reelected and they wer were ablo make the announcement that the rebuilding was what was necessary literally to save the house. so, let's consider what we have. we have a president that has been moved across the street to
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the blair house, and that's him on the front steps. we have the single most important piece in the united states are virtual heritage about to collapse. and perhaps you're thinking was everybody in the united states was thinking at that moment who was to blame? who was to blame? since we are talking about washington, d.c. i thought that we would move to the local custom and blame some people. so i'm going to start with names of men that you probably already know. we will start by blaming president jackson, polk, pierce, johnson, harrison and taft. why? because these gentlemen brought in at the time what they called in improvements to the house. and every time science advanced and there was something new to make domestically easier of course the president had to have it so it started with jackson who brought in water pipes and
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hollowed out logs and a slight, pierce piped in hot water, johnson brought in the telegraph, telephone, or for an elevator, harrison brought dc electricity and taft on the lower right, a 1 ton bathtub and that is without mr. taft. [laughter] so now this seems reasonable, right, the president should be living comfortably. there's nothing wrong bringing water into the white house. why not? there was a problem because of her time they brought an an asst and they had to drill a hole through the beam and they were told to hurry up. you're inconveniencing the president. so they ripped down what they had to and covered it all. that is what constituted the damage in the beams i referenced earlier. the other problem is that these additions were very happy. a lot of them were cast-iron.
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and in the house that would be built today, bringing in a lot of steel pipes wouldn't necessarily be a problem, but it was a problem in the white house and i want to explain why. the white house had a very unusual system, not unusual for the time, but distinct for its weight load. the outer walls of the house, which i have here. we are looking down at the house. they are in the black. they were 4 feet six and they were stone and they went about 5 feet below the ground and had the footing to think about a pure midfoot. it was pretty decent and curse for the time. the big problem was that the interior walls, which are red, those were walls of brick and basically they had no foundation at all. and i don't think you need an engineering to understand that is a problem. no foundation, people ask me
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about this. no foundation, seriously. i had a hard time believing this because in the engineers to discover by 1948 almost none of the white house original structure drawings had survived. they'd been thrown away. some of them in a higher. but i found this photograph from 1902 and a congressional report, and it pictures the installation oof a new boiler for teddy roosevelt in 1902. and it's not very easy to see. but if you can kind of, you know, narrow in on this the best you can, it's rather instructive. this is a brick appear on the ground floor level of the white house. that would be the peer that would be supporting or hoping to support all of the house above it. what you see broken up here would be the very bottom of the house and what you see here is what they have debated. take note of the man for scale. i want you to notice this. what's that?
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is a very crude foundation they found a stone as they dug and they threw them down there maybe with a little bit of mortar and built the peer on top of it. if you use per scale what do we have? maybe 3 feet or so. you may think 3 feet of stone isn't a bad foundation. maybe not. but consider that on the peer and on every other in the basement, the white house was pressing down at 20 tons per linear foot. and the ground beneath the white house was stand which was another problem. so, back back to the blame game because i don't want to kick mud on to many people. james hogan who decided the white house in 1972? actually it isn't. the study of mechanics didn't exist yet. ..
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she wanted 107. the only way to give that to her was to take this wall and the staircase and rip it out. and that is what poor charles fallin mcginn who built the station for us here in new york had to do and so what did they do to replace the wall? they built a hanging trust in the floor above it to carry the
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weight instead of supporting it from below. he would hang it from above and it was perfectly fine until 1913 when ellen wilson destroyed it by modifying the third floor and adding bath tubs and living quarters and more towns of piping and iron. along came calvin coolidge in 1927 who he decided to rebuild the third floor roof and it needed to be done but mr. coolidge rebuilt it out of cement. by the time this was done the two upper floors of the white house had risen to 180 tons. then finally i'm afraid i have to blame harry truman much as i like the man, for adding a balcony to the south portico right here it even though he was aware that the house was in trouble while it's going in. it was made of steel i beams and concrete 18 inches thick and i calculated a wait another 62 tons or so.
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do we understand now why we are seeing? in the walls? why these walls are sinking? these problems fell to these men. this is the commission you saw assembled on the frontline before. this is their meeting room in the east wing. these men were trusted with solving a big problem which is what on earth were they going to do about this house. not only did they have to decide what to do about the house but they also had to face off with those who said at the time if the white house the white house isn't as bad a shape maybe we should just tear it down. who honors would say something like this? this man said something like that. this is congressman clarence kannon who was chair of the house appropriations committee and mr. canon believe five $.4 million which was the price tag affixed to the renovation work was too high and kannon argued to harry truman in a letter quote he said people want a new building and if you think
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that is a fringe opinion i want you to consider the congressman cannon got the "washington post" editorial page to agree with him. fortunately the commission had always favored the plan plan that hipaa drawn up by lorenzo winslow who is the white house architect of fdr hired and truman kept on and on august 2, 1949 the commission voted that they were going to preserve the house and i want to explain what preserve means because preserve back then meant something different than what we would understand today. what they were able to save was only the façade of the house. as far as those inadequate foundations even on the outside wall, those were the original footings down about 5 feet. they determined they would have to bring them down another 22 feet before they hit a solid layer of gravel that the white house could sit on so they had to build these walls down by
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excavating letter wrote cones and pouring cement into them and then they had to dig out all of the earth inside and then inside the house they would erect a steel skeleton not unlike we see in a skyscraper. so that is a big job. meanwhile the house -- white house furniture got sent to the national gallery. they took everything out of the white house. this is the white house furniture in storage at the national gallery and if you think this doesn't look like the national gallery this was an unfinished gallery that he security guards converted into a basketball court. i should mention that most of this furniture wasn't worth very much. presidents routinely redecorated and so he we are not looking at all chippendale's here. chester arthur in 1882 trucks 24 wagon loads of white house furniture off to the auction house and many presidents did this. grace coolidge lamented when she
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became first lady that she had looked around for original pieces of furniture and all she could find was a single chair that belonged to abraham lincoln so there wasn't much to save. there were a few pieces and they took out what they could and they moved it to the national gallery. this is the state dining room just before the renovation began and i would like you to imagine it without its furniture, without george haley's portrait and without the lighting fixtures. is there anything else in this picture that looks possibly worth preserving if it were up to you? may be all that -- nice paneling and maybe that nifty stone fireplace. the truth is the commission didn't care about any of those things. they were ready just to demolish all of this stuff. luckily for us one man did care about this and that was lorenzo winslow the white house architect. lorenzo winslow took all of those beautiful car fittings off
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of the walls. he had them all numbered and he had them all shift down to this warehouse on the right side down on d street. winslow had planned once the renovation was finished he thought we will have steel in place and take the beautiful interior panels and doorframes and put everything back where it was. that was the plan. i would like you to remember that as we are going to come back to that. so the bids were opened october 20, 1949 and the philadelphia-based firm of john mcshane broke ground on the job two weeks before christmas carried mr. mcshane is the man toward the right in this photo with his hands folded in front of him. i will give you a better picture of him. john mcshane was a legend in washington. he was known as the man whom else washington.
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by this time he had already built the bureau of printing the jefferson memorial and the pentagon which he put up in 14 months. he was a man who knew how to get things done but when it came to the white house job most of the bids for the job, this was by the way i'm talking to attorneys here, this was a cost-plus thee contract. i'm sure that means a lot to some of you. i had to look it up. mostly he was bidding on his profit for the job. most of the contractors put in bids of half a million, three-quarters of a million dollars. mcshane bid $100,000. it was impossible for him to make a profit on a bed that low and he didn't care. he had already made his fortune and his daughter who is still with us told me in an interview basically there was no way daddy wasn't going to get that job. so now things begin to move very quickly because john mcshane and his men have only 660 days
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to gut the house put in a new foundation and raise the steel skeleton inside. here we have the second floor a few days into the start of demolition and to help you appreciate what man can accomplish with sledgehammers when they are paid and told to enjoy themselves i thought we would do some before and during photographs. this is the entrance hall before and with sledgehammers. this is what they did to the blue room and this is what they did to the east room. they were good, weren't they? mcshane's men mauled the house down to the outer walls. two months into the job the white house look like this standing on the ground floor looking up at what used to be the first floor in the east room. five months into the job the house looked like this. truman wrote to his cousin ethel back in missouri around this time and he said, this is the
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summer of 1950. he said the old welding is nothing but a shell. there is not a thing in it from seller to -- and he was right. here's another question i get asked a lot. the white house had 1.3 million cubic feet of interior space and 66 rooms of lapin plaster and brick. nobody counted the beams in the wall studs but somebody estimated there was something like a million bricks that came out of this house. where did they all go? what happened to them? believe it or not debris, the bricks and the nails and all of that wound up in a corrugated steel warehouse in fort myer virginia they are on the of the big pilot was chopped up and fed into one of the strangest government programs in the country. there are a lot of strange government programs in our history. this was the official white house souvenir program and you could write in and they would send you a catalog and you could
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choose whatever souvenir you wanted and everything was free. all you had to do is pay for postage so if you wanted a brick it was just 1 dollar if you wanted bookends made of the actual stone from the house that was only $2. if you were willing to pay the shipping for 100 bucks they would send you enough white house -- to build a fireplace and quite a few people ordered it. some of these souvenirs are still floating around like in my apartment. on the left is a lucite paperweight that went for 50 cents and they gave you a nifty iron nail and a piece of the foundation plus an authentication in case your friends didn't believe you. on the right side is one of the bookends that was only $2. how about the rest of its? some of the boat breaks went to mt. vernon to help patch things up. camp david received plumbing and
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radiators which may still be there to this day. some of the stone won't up in georgetown to patch the walls in the chesapeake and ohio canal and they had so much stone left over that some of it was just simply left on the ground. figuring maybe we will need it later. and i got permission to show you this photo promising not to tell you where it's from. so back to the house. june of 1950. there are three jobs jobs in process. the demolition is just finishing up. you see some bricks still over here and now they are also bringing the foundations down 22 feet until it hits gravel level. see the spot here on the wall where the stone face gives way to smooth cement? that is the foundation going down. once they got it down they had to scoop out all of that earth,
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270,000 cubic feet of earth had to be taken out. and then finally since the decision was made to keep the cement third floor vows they had to build these temporary cones to hold the roof up and once they have those they brought in these lateral support teams that literally kept the white house's historic walls from caving in. so once they got done with that it was time for the structure of steel to go in. i didn't spend much time on that but i do want to show you this picture because i want you to look at the fitness of the steel beam and consider this was going into a three-story building. if you have ever seen louis hynes photograph of the construction of the empire state-building you seed teams about this deck. what on earth were they thinking? harry truman said this is going to be the last time the white house was ever going to be rebuilt and he was right. there were other things going on that led to these decisions
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that's so happen to be happening around this time. two events on the global stage that were important and in august of 1949 the soviets exploded their first atomic bomb many years before we thought they would. we did not know yet the manhattan project had a mole in it so we called this joe one which was short for joseph stalin. it's a cute name but nobody was laughing. this test took us by surprise. it was also a bigger bomb than we had. her russia malless 15 kilotons and this was 52. the soviets were better on this than we were. then in june of 1950 the north koreans crossed the 38th peril peril -- parallel and they did it using soviet tanks which made it clear truman and the soviet union was willing to engage us by proxy. and so the commission and truman
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security men took a second look at those twos subbasement levels of the house, ones who are going to be used only for storage and then this memo shows up. and i'm not going to read the whole thing. you can scan it if you would like that there are two euphemisms i would like to call your attention to here. one of them is this is basically from admiral dennis in informing the commission part of the basement is now going to pass out of their control in order to create quote certain protective measures and quote protect its characteristics. what does that mean? well it means exact way what you think it means. it means a bomb shelter. this gets a little tricky because the bomb shelter is still a sensitive installation and we don't know much about it and we shouldn't. what i know is historical which i will share with you. we know from lorenzo winslow's
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notes in august of 1950 he was designing a shelter under the east terrace. that is what we are looking at here. the east terrace connected the mansion to the east wing. this also happened to be the location of the bomb shelter that fdr constructed during the second world war and it's a logical extension to believe they appropriated that an expanded it. one thing is clear, they are building something. now the chairman is sitting in the oval office in the west wing and the bomb shelters in the east wing what is he going to do? this is the new two level sub race that we are looking at and what they build for him was a steel reinforced concrete tunnel it would permit him to get from one weighing to the other. it was also accessible from the house above. this is what it looks like inside. the concrete is 2 feet thick.
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before a move on here i want to make one point very clear less people think i'm telling secrets that i shouldn't be telling. the bomb shelter was obsolete almost from the time it was built. as soon as the soviets tested a hydrogen bomb in 1953 moving from the kiloton to the megaton range the idea of a president sheltering in place became completely preposterous. the bombs were just too powerful. the other thing is truman never had any intention of using the shelter and he said so. he had told one of the security men and i'm quoting here, you have to go ahead with all these arrangements but i want to tell you one thing. if the situation ever develops i don't intend to leave the white house. i plan to be right here and as it turns out to my book i relate the story, there indeed was a false alarm and truman stayed upstairs. he didn't go down to the shelter. he believed if americans didn't have a shelter he shouldn't have
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one and i submit to you ladies and gentlemen we did not have presidents of that ilk anymore. [applause] so back upstairs, since mid-1950 this job started running seriously behind. i mentioned the korean war. wayzata problem? choked off the supply of labor and increase the cost of materials and that's going to be important. by early 1951 the interior masonry is starting to go up. this is lorenzo winslow's plan for the interior. this is complicated and i don't want to stultify you with it but this is the main floor. i just want to make two points. the layout of the walls was considered sacrosanct. when she stepped in at the white house if you were thomas jefferson by some miracle it would look familiar to you.
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he took the freer hand downstairs and upstairs in here on the second floor he moved walls around just a little bit to give all the bedrooms their own bathroom and also something the white house never had it for this time which was closets. as the manhattan rent regulator i can certainly understand. the house started looking like the house again. this is in 1951 that i mentioned the shortage of time and money and the problems it would cause and i want to explain that. i want to start with money. the commission had $5.4 million to work with. later they were given a little bit more money but we will stay away from that figure. for the demolition excavations cement steel and all that cost 1.2 million after that was done they had to pay an avalanche of bills, the roofing masonry roofing draftsmen insurance all
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of that and then came the electrical and mechanical systems. that was another $1.3 million so when it came time to actually finish the interior of the house so it looks like an executive's house, these bills were very problematic. parking floors for 74,500 marble and stone for 247,000 plaster 275,000, woodworks 417. these were 1959 numbers. why am i hitting you with these figures? at some point they had to bring in a decorator to do the wallpaper in the curtains in the finishing and upholstery and all of that other stuff and by that time that poor man entered the picture, this is him. his name is charles hi. he was a decorator furby altman and company. and be altman said we will do the decorating for free.
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although labor is free and all we will charge you for is the cost of materials which was a pretty good deal. they saw a marketing tie in pretty well too. but when charles hite who assumed he would be given a generous budget for the decorating met with the commission he was in for a cold water chat. he was told we have $210,000 last and that comes down to about $1590 per room. that's for everything, furniture rugs draperies lamps wallpaper everything and hi said quote i can spend $210,000 but altman's will not make a penny. it's not enough and it wasn't. when slopes remember one of the house restored to what it would look like in the early 1800's in the press office released this floor at a that declared the white house would be a
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recreation -- an american interpretation of the georgia -- the truth is most of this furniture was colonial reproduction pieces basically what you would find in a traveling salesman's hotel. i don't think you need to be an expert in the federal area to realize that is not exactly something that thomas jefferson would have done in his own hand. although some of the pieces were nice. the mantelpiece was nice. eleanor roosevelt said later mr. truman showed me around the white house which looked to me exactly like a sheraton hotel. jacqueline kennedy later said famously the true interior design of the white house was fairly statler. a handful of valuable pieces on the state floor were restored and put back leaving the state floor looking at least respectable. they had some chippendale's and they did their best.
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but overall the interior decoration was a bit of a disappointment and was not re-renovated until it was redecorated. i also mentioned the shortage of time and that leads us to the last portion. harry truman wanted to come back and live in the restored white house for at least a year but by the summer of 1951 he was realizing that wasn't terribly likely. so he said to j.d. webster the assistant osher quote i have been using a curry comb on the contractors to try to speed up a reconstruction. he leaned on them and said hurry it up. you would expect the president to say that. unfortunately that pressure and some other forces but that pressure instrumentally what exact very serious toll. remember i had mentioned all of this dutiful interior finishings, the panels the mahogany doors and how winslow
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had moved them all to this warehouse where they waited. as it turned out the woodworkers discovered making reproduction pieces was faster and cheaper and that is what they started to do. a lot of the historic cases were being marooned in this warehouse and not being put back into the white house. i want to be clear that some of the interiors were put back and i say original interiors more like 1902 teddy roosevelt interiors. this is the state dining room they got its original paneling back in the same happened with the red, the green and the blue grams but that was only four rooms out of 48 that had been dismantled. so what happened to all that other historic stuff? where did it go? it was given away and in some cases it was thrown away. this is the lord and state
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penitentiary in virginia that is now closed. this prison received the white house is ornamental ventilation grills. three crates of doorframes, 12 crates of windows and 22 crates of hardwood paneled doors. prisoners had nicer looking rooms than the president did. unfortunately it gets worse. much of what was left over was simply buried. it was buried in the fort myer military base just across the potomac. you can visit these days. i don't recommend visiting with a shovel. the pr guy tells me don't try digging. everything is now under 30 feet of topsoil but for the record if you drive in here and park and take a walk and you stand between the child development center in the softball field you will be standing where much of the white house was buried. mingled with the debris of the pentagon and dumped in a hole and covered up.
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now i don't want to end on a downer and the fact is despite the reproduction furniture and the loss of artifacts, the house was saved and much of the work that was done was truly first rate. the beautiful brocade wallcovering on the left. caldwell and company was still in business and they restored their chandeliers. truman returned to the house on march 27, 1952 and while his private feelings about the job were mixed. in his diary he said he himself could have done it faster and for less money -- just one of the things i love about harry truman but he was also a politician so his public persona was yea renovation. he was in a position next to this wonderful new invention called the television to be the first president who could give a televised tour.
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yes he did it before jackie did it. and he took americans on a tour of the white house that they had restored with their tax dollars. this is him talking to frank warr hoelzer of cbs. at this point in the tour they wandered into the blue room which i thought was fitting because that is kind of where all the trouble started in what truman is looking up that at this point is the chandelier. it is also where a lot of his trouble started. it is a pity that people at home couldn't see how beautiful the blue room was on their black-and-white television sets. but it looked like this. you might also notice they swapped out the chandelier and i doubt that was an accident. the one that they put in was much smaller and lighter. so i want to leave you with a
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closing thought. $5.4 million in 1949, assuming we believe the numbers on google, converts to a little over $51 million today and $51 million today is roughly the cost of a single seat 27 j. cargo plane for our government. given the history of the spending we have in this country i would argue that they actually got a pretty good deal. i got a good deal because you guys have been extremely patient with me and i want to thank you all for coming. i will take questions and if you have to go that's fine but thank you all for coming. [applause] i think we have a roving microphone.
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>> am i on? you mentioned at the beginning of your talk that truman wanted to keep it secret and he instructed his commission to were the first to members. why? >> the question is why did truman keep the disastrous results that were uncovered by the architects and engineers a secret from the public which is something i should've explained. he was running for re-election at the time that these terrible problems for coming to light and the fear was that if the public found out the state that the white house was in they would blame it on harry truman and it's important to understand the context. harry truman and his own mother-in-law still referred to him as a dirt farmer. this was while he was president. he was up in agrarian
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background. he was from missouri and the east coast establishment. many of them turned their noses up at him and so did many people in the country. margaret later wrote him -- and her books and is confronted this several times preach he said of the public and had found out about the condition the white house was and it would have become a metaphor for the truman administration itself, rotten to the course core so they'll kept the secret. the wonder of this is that in some ways you could say that they kept the secret at their own physical expense and their own peril because there were so many scaffolding was erected inside the house at that time the place was is in such dire shape really the family should have been moved out sooner. the fact that it was concealed from the public was a political decision. anyone else? >> what happened to that
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chandelier? >> what happened to the pen taleek? i have been looking for to pop up on ebay. [laughter] i wrote to the white house curator and asked him and i just want to thank the white house curator for his patience if he ever sees this. apparently the chandelier was never put back in the house even though they had plenty of chandeliers that they circulate as needed. every time you have the new first family they redecorate as they wish. it's like a museum where you only see part of the collection on the wall at any given time and the rest is in storage. the same thing with the white house. the chandelier was put into storage and never brought back out. i'm assured that it's been kept safe that is still in fine shape and has its crystals but it's never been debris hung inside the house.
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[inaudible] >> this would be the time to put it back. given the thickness of those beams that you saw they could put more than one up there now. you know that chandelier remember was from the 1902 renovation which is significant because mckim who was doing the decorating of the time, you know he had a neoclassical aesthetic which just so happen to agree with what winslow had in mind in 1948 and 1949 because the federal, the american georgian. mcafee will also has a strong affinity for neoclassicism but that might have translated to say a fluted column. that chandelier was way over the top. i wish i had found that as a quote. obviously that is what they thought, it was too much.
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speak in your research did you have access to the white house or ask permission to access the white house? >> it's a great question. if you want to see the white house these days you can pay a lot of money to go on a tour or you can write to your congressperson. i wrote to my congressperson but i couldn't arrange a time that was actually convenient and reasonable because i had a job and then i realized in some ways there really wasn't all that important for me to go. i say that for two reasons, actually three. one, my folks took me when i was little. two, they only take you to the old ground-floor and then they take you to this date flora naturally as they say to everybody the two most interesting spaces in any house
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or the basement and attic which were to places they weren't going to take me so i thought i'm not going to get to see the bings and curious about them they sure as hell weren't going to take me to the shelter. i thought well maybe i don't need to and finally it's important to remember with every first family that comes in there even though they tend to leave the state floors relatively alone compared to the family quarters upstairs, but the state floor has changed very much since this time. so i was afraid of seeing the way the house would have looked as the obamas had done it and having that as a mental picture because i really needed to discipline myself and not go past 1950. in some ways it was important for me not to see the white house. anyone else? see how was the support in congress for the funding? >> you know what, by today's standards bipartisan, yes.
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but what's interesting is that it was very difficult to get the funding out as congress is the short answers you can imagine. congress first funded the initial round of inspections. $50,000, let this was a congress that didn't like harry truman very much for a whole variety of reasons that there is no time to get into. they weren't generally friendly to him and they warned geek or to fork over this money that they did fork over $50,000 for the initial inspection and truman deliberately sent one of the inspectors up to capitol hill to testify on what they had fond. i forget the gentleman's name but i have the transcript and he testified that the white house is staying up through force of habit alone and he basically scared the hell out of them. he scared the funding out of them and if only it were that
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simple today but yeah so they were rather antagonistic about it in there were even instances of congressman who toured the house. winslow brought tours through the house and showed them. look at these? , look at the walls. even then there were congressman he did not want to spend a dime on this house which gives pause. >> you know whether the roosevelts new -- [inaudible] >> i think fdr treated the knowledge of the white house more or less the way he treated the knowledge of his own health which was basically he didn't want to know. i found a report that had come to fdr that warned him that the house was a fire trap and had done nothing about it. and so they were aware of it though. we know this because there is also and i threw this in the
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book because i couldn't keep it out. when the trumans were it blair house getting ready to move into the white house in 1945 and eleanor was packing up and moving out, all the moving vans were loaded and eleanor went across the street to the warehouse to pay a visit to besson margaret truman basically to say hey have a good time over there and by the way the place is invested with rats. i just figured i would tell you and she left. [laughter] she didn't mean that metaphorically. there is an entire rack history with the white house. rats in force. i don't mean the random rats. i mean like union rat. go all the way back at least to the harrison administration and there were reports of theodore roosevelt in the family dining room with his sons having dinner. they would have to put their forks and knives down to chase
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the rats out of the room so the problems with the house were understood. the other answer to your question is fdr loved old houses and truman did to matt. he had grown up on a farm so wood frame houses that creaked, it's probable that they thought you know not a big deal. the stairway creaks a little bit the answer to your question is yes they didn't know to it degree but they certainly didn't know was this bad. >> i remember when jacqueline kennedy came into the white house and she was horrified by the furnishings and the eisenhower's had boxes from sears. >> the eisenhower's made of worse than the trumans. i don't want to make personal judgments here. >> they went back again so does
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each president have residential rooms? >> yes. usually what we see or what i saw at this time and i don't know how they do it today. i would assume it's an analogous arrangement, the newspeople run a story that the first lady is redecorating. what that means is that they hire a decorator who comes in with drawings and swatches and says pick one that you like. then they try to harmonize it and they make it and the first lady gets the credit. that happened with bess truman although i did find one interesting thing. they lived in an apartment building on connecticut avenue at the time that harry was vice president and i found some things inside of their apartments. they had these garish floral curtains these big bombastic flowers and then i saw the pictures of the curtains in the
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white house and they were the same flowers. obviously that was his touch. so they are given a considerable degree of latitude but the important thing to give mrs. kennedy her do, first of all bess truman, her family had money but she came from a relatively upper middle-class merchant class background. mrs. eisenhower was a military wife so these women would not have come off park avenue or new york into the white house and so they had provincial tastes and they tended to bring them with them but jacqueline kennedy was fancy and she also did something and it baffled me why the commission didn't do this but they had almost no money for decorating and wealthy cultured people were writing and saying we will give you things.
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would you like this secretary, this chest of drawers and with only a few exceptions the commission said no. i have not really been able to answer that question to my satisfaction. they said they would want things accumulating and get they took the entire second floor out to look like the park hyatt and they could've done better. that is really what mrs. kennedy did. her dream was to playing the private sector to give what i presume to be gifts that were tax-deductible to the white house and in imbued them with his wonderful sense of patriotism and furnish the steakhouse with the things that belonged in it. in some cases they were able to bring back pieces that had been there before. we owe a lot to her. as far as what we owed to the trumans, we owe it to them that the place didn't fall down. the decorating, not quite so much.
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yes. >> yes, before they started rebuilding, how serious was the idea that they should just knock it down and build another? >> yeah. if you didn't hear her question it was how serious were they about tearing the house down? on paper, entirely serious. they debated this. i found a transcript that indicated for a wild they tossed the idea of moving the white house out to the suburbs. i don't know if they would have put them in the split-level ranch house or something. i hope not. i found one note that said they wanted to build a magnificent warble palace in maryland or something. really the key question is this. there was clarence kannon who wanted the house demolished but
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there were not too many people who thought that the how should simply be raised. there were some. his point was look if it is in this bad a shape and truman was a victim of his own good argument and made the case look for places about to fall down. there were some politicians who said for heavens sakes don't let it fall on anyone, knock it down. the real question wasn't so much whether they should absolutely raze the place as it was or whether they should keep the houses a museum and have the president live elsewhere or whether they should go for the big fix. ultimately when the commission quoted there was only one member that voted not to go with the renovation plan. i try to deal with this in the book. it was kind of a forgone conclusion because sherman remember also had an enormous amount of weight that he carried
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with the commission. there were six people on the up there were a lot of consultants that he had a hand in everything. he had very heavy influence and in he wanted the place renovated and so more than likely it would have been in any case but what i found really disturbing was notwithstanding the fact that the probability was low that they would tear the place down i was disturbed by the fact that it was finished. i think it's important to remember that this was 1948. we lost penn station in this city in 1963. it took us a really long time to learn that we needed to take care of what we had and of course to this day there is a question about -- i get asked this. could they have done this in a way that would have been more sensitive to the historical
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integrity of what was in the house and there was our very difficult question to answer. the british had burned the house down and send the right in the book some of the burned timber was put right back in when they rebuilt it. the heat from the fire had weakened the brick so badly that the bureau of standards determined they had only about 40% of their strength left. i believe that was the figure so they couldn't really believe those walls in place and they certainly couldn't leave those floors in place. this is the slippery slope of frustration. as eight aluise huxtable has written far more eloquently than i could put it you don't really restore anything. you replace it. when they say well this wallpaper is of the period well it is of the period but it's new wallpaper. what are you going to do? you can't have the president living in a ruin for the sake of keeping it.
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it's one thing to keep the acropolis has a ruin but nobody lives there so these were very difficult questions that they were grappling with and they were doing it at a time when the understanding of what preservation meant was in its embryonic phase. at that time preservatpreservat ion meant keep the outside of the building and you are good. today, if you are familiar with their landmark in process here in new york you know that some buildings are only landmarked on the outside and some have interior landmark being in some buildings have maybe only the lobby is landmarked. say like the osborne apartments up on 57th street. that amazing mosaic lobby as part of the landmark. if you are fortunate enough to have an apartment there landmarks aren't going to tell you can replace your kitchen sink. where does restoration and then renovation began? these are difficult questions
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and remember these guys were russian. truman was looking across the street ambler house and he was cranky. i remember sister mcshane john mcshane's daughter who became aimed nun told me, she said truman was very difficult man. the president is pounding his fist and saying finish my house you would finish the house. >> what inspired you to do a project like this? >> i'm crazy. the first look i committed was the fdr funeral train book and because the roosevelt administration overlaps with the truman administration i had an opportunity -- i had to do some truman research
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because truman was on board fdr's funeral trains. i don't remember exactly where i saw it if it was a library or a book. it kind of avoids me now but i remember coming across a photo of the inside of the gutted house with just the beams and the bulldozer driving around inside and i didn't give it much thought. i first thought it was a parking garage. or a warehouse or something and then i went back and read the caption that said white house 1950 and i thought what? i hadn't heard about that. i was fairly well read on historical topics the least american ones. i thought really nobody else knew about this either and i figured somebody must have written about this but nobody had so i did it.
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>> how is your view of truman changed? >> how did my view of truman change? it's funny, i developed a deeper understanding of him and the weird thing was even as i learned about some of his strong arm tactics, some things about him that i didn't necessarily like very much on a personal level i actually came away respecting the man even more and i will tell you why. because this man was not only not groomed for the presidency at all. he had met with at dr. something like i don't know six or eight times and these were just in formal meetings. fdr shared nothing with truman. he was a consensus candidate. he could get them ratified at the can mention fdr figures
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truman is popular in the senate and when i have to ratify the peace treaty in world war ii truman will do it for me so guess what harry, you were on the ticket. he didn't let truman into the tent on anything so you have a man who basically had to crash learn the most difficult office in the world in about two weeks which he did. and then amid that he is president at the birth of the cold war at the collapse of europe as the soviets started grabbing what were the eastern states and taking them over at the start of public governments and despite that enormous pressure roughly as old as fdr was putting in 18 hour days and when he got home he still cared about what was going on with the white house. he was interested. he wanted to see the reports. he was instrumental in picking out the paint colors.
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they decided to paint the state dining room this green. it's like a moss green. there was a huge process across back-and-forth pennsylvania avenue with paint samples. what kind of guy has time for that and truman had time for it. he cared about it. he might've been a little ham-handed in terms of what he got and perhaps somebody from i don't want to say culture background. truman was extraordinarily well read but he's mike has perhaps found it more refined house. i don't know if we would have gotten it better one and structurally i think he's the reason we don't have to worry about the place since then and we haven't. does that answer your question? >> if that's all the questions
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thanks mr. klara. >> thank you. [applause] >> if you want to be on her e-mail list there is a pad and pen in the back. thank you all for coming. while visiting tallahassee florida with our cable partner comcast book tv talks with christopher daniels about his book somali piracy and terrorism in africa. >> it the time not very many people i've talked about somalia and in particular no one talked about the connections between piracy and terrorism so that is why i decided to write the book.
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piracy and terrorism are simple manic. terrorism is more man based in political peso at the time al-shabaab is a major factor in somalia. what they do is they have suicide attacks where they assassinate politicians and basically prevent the government from being formed in somali. with the pirates they aren't necessarily involved in the policy. they are doing it for economic reasons. where they come together is that both stem from the same problem and that problem is the fact that somebody hasn't had an government for 20 years. what they have in somali is what we call a power-sharing agreement. they don't fully they don't bully up a government elected by the people. it's basically a group of elders in somali who came together and selected the committee and that is the government. if you look at the reports there are all types of corruption. a lot of people have ties to
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terrorist organizations and pirating groups. they are not a legitimate government. it's a way to wash everyone's hand. the majority is not involved in piracy or terrorism but the overwhelming -- the thing about terrorism is no one walks around the t-shirt. the fact that you have to live in that constant fear and you never know when the guys coming with a suicide bomb or a guy will pull out of gun. when i went to somalia for a visit one of the guys i was talking to said look he has heard of a situation where someone was listening to music and someone from al-shabaab stabbed him in the neck for listening to what they called western music so is that constant fear and not knowing that make society very unstable. all of these terrorist organizations are internationally connected to al qaeda in several organizations so they not only make attacks against somalia but also the
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united states and several other places. in addition to that people from america have left american travel to somalia and gotten involved in al-shabaab. what makes everyone nervous is there's a possibility at some point the people who were training in these training camps in somalia would come back and attached to america and that is why to global threat. not everyone can get involved. in addition to that terrorism is in the southern part of the country. it's not strictly regional so this geographically speaking in the northeastern part of the country is where you see the majority of the piracy going on because there is a big port there. in the southern part of the countries where you see a lot of al-shabaab at to be going on. like i was saying terrorists have political goals. they want to be close to the capital and pirates have
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economic goals so they want to be close to the ports. pirates can be a lot of different people but generally speaking they're young men who have very few options. not all of them are poor people. people see look this is a way to make money. piracy is a viable way to make money because you go out and an attack cost three or $4000 to launch an attack. sometimes they make two or $3 million. peace -- people recruited crew. they try to mix people who are inexperienced and experienced. they have someone called a jumper the first person to board the ship. that's the most experienced person who has been there before and that's a person who makes the most money. they go out one of two ways. they go out on the mother ship in small fishing votes but within those small fishing votes are little votes.
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when they see it big ship coming they shootout of the mother ship and quickly run up on the bigger ship in their steamboats and start firing. where they are close enough that the ship has to slow down they board the ship and hijack it. they have machine guns. most ships aren't manned by people who are arms. a lot of insurance companies have guns on ships because they don't want crewmembers killing people. they get their guns from within the country. you have to remember somalia has been a civil war for decades and guns have been pumped inside of the country consistently ever since the cold war. williams of dollars per year so there are plenty of guns in the country. basically they have funders who invest in them by then their votes and their guns and the food that they need.
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they are able to make attacks 800 nautical miles from the coast which is a long way. you can't get anywhere near the coast and be 100% safe. generally speaking most people stay about 200 or so nautical miles away because that is their exclusive economic zone. the pirates have to be 1000 not akel miles away from somalia but the problem is the way the area is shaped is very difficult to be that far away and still be efficient in terms of gas and fuel efficiency within the shipping vessels. there are two or three main stories. the biggest one is there was a serious oil tanker. it had $100 million worth of oil. ..
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there was a big shipment of weapons going to south sudan and they hijacked that so it was a bunch of high artillery weapons. people were concerned that they were going to take these weapons and send them to al-shabaab so now you have weapons and that's what made people start paying attention to


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