tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 24, 2015 7:34am-9:31am EDT
considered it as mr. womack said, just on honor to be here and have you here with us today. i would like to visit the topic of electronic case filing system i would post now i'm not familiar with the but if are going to electronic, that would mean it's the present, the physical document being received by the corporate you can elaborate on that if you like but was it is commercially available, or was this written exclusively for the supreme court, the software that we will be picketing to? >> -- pivoting. >> i can't answer that. the lawyers have available to them commercial systems for filing their briefs and so forth and so they're out there. there's some competition. as far as a courtside how does the court manage it i'm not
sure that there was outside contractors or not. >> we developed it all in house. >> that's helpful. justice breyer, i noted and was intrigue of your comments discussing her design and really the courts desire to get the work of the court court out to dinner can people and to engage them in this. is there a designated effort, a continued effort? to the extent you're familiar with come and by the way, i thought it would be some of your staff would actually go i see they are here with us but you see the two of you actually engaging the committee i think is laudable. i respect and appreciate that. you may not be dialed in on all of the nuance's of it at the effort to revisit the website to keep it fresh and perhaps use the term that is often being used now to develop an app for the supreme court, maybe there
is what managers need to be educated about it but this idea of engaging the american public i applaud you for this. it needs to be done because we only have a healthy republic if our fellow citizens are engaged and knowledgeable about what's taking place. could you comment on that just a little bit? you can run with it if you would like to come into one of you. >> it's my favorite topic. >> okay. >> but particularly hard for us. you a lease can say, we disagree with a lot of stuff in congress, but there are elections to resolve it. we have to say why should nine i'm elected people be making decisions to the unelected, that make decisions that affect you. have the time were divided half the time we are united. the decisions that might not be right and they affect you. they are important. why should you support an
institution like that? we have answers and so did james madison and so did alexander haviland, so does john marshall, okay? so there are answers. people are busy. will that take the time to listen. the annenberg foundation is a whole series of films in teaching devices. justice kennedy gave a speech about this years ago, which in part led to justice o'connor developing isotopes and i cynics -- i cynics have million of hits and shine to do the same thing. they are trying in boston at this moment in one week to open senator kennedy's institute and what that is is a model of the senate, and our little handheld computers which will make you, the senator, if your school kid and will then give you problems and you learn how the senate works. me that will go out over the internet to classrooms and they need one for the house.
>> outstanding. >> so gradually i think that it is possible to use the devices we have now to teach. as we have done go to texas and talk to a large number of school kids, and they get interested and they see that we have differences of opinion that are not personal, and they see the agreement is more important than the differences fabulous. and so there you see the enthusiasm in my voice. i think it's a great and necessary task. >> one of the things we found, congressman, is that the information revolution, and it put law professors back in. we used to rely on reduce it would take about a year or two
to come out. now we have terry within 24 48, 72 hours by experts in cybersecurity law, and criminal law, in constitutional law. and these are available first of all to the legal profession in the academy the second two people that are generally interested. there are blogs on the supreme court, and as i indicated blogs on different subjects your they're quite detailed quite interesting. my law clerks we them a lot. -- read to them a lot. the availability of information, and the interest of the citizens and the ability of a citizen is really increasing, remarkable because of the revolution. >> thank you. >> when the document educating the public the question always comes up people suggest that
maybe the court should televise oral arguments, that people could see first hand what goes on. and i know the court has historic we rejected that. i think it was justice sotomayor before she went on the bench but it would be a good two to televise oral arguments, and once she was on the bench she changed our mind -- her mind and do you sense any change can do think there will be a day when oral arguments will be on television? do you think that's a good or that's not good, in the context of education to folks? could you all comment on that? >> the question, don't think there will be a day sounds like we're more or less kind of times --
>> no, just a matter of history. today you would probably reject that. >> if you had english style debating debate and you had the topic and had to be either pro or con, you could make a lot of good arguments are totally in the courtroom. number one, it teaches. we teach. we teach what the constitution is. we teach. we are teachers. why don't we go on television? and it would be very good for lawyers are preparing, who haven't been forced before i want to see what the dynamic of an argument is. it's open. the public could see that we spend a lot of time on patent cases and railroad reorganization cases and so forth, and so that we have it technical commitment. and they could see we hope an argument that's rational and respectful. when we are in disagreement, our
institution, our institutional tradition is not to make our colleagues look bad. it's to make the institution look good. and hard about is the way the conduct or artemis. we are concerned that the presence of the tv camera, the knowledge that we're going to be on tv would affect the way that we behave. then it's an insidious enemy for me to think that one of my colleagues is asked a question just so that he or she could look good on tv. i don't want that dynamic. we would prefer the dynamic where we have a discussion which we're listening to each other, in which we are listening to counsel, and we think the television would detract from that. so you could make good arguments either way but we i think i
can speak for most of my colleagues, did not think television should be in the court room. we have audio available and the transcripts are available. the press does a very good job of covering this. the press has the advantage they know three four six months in advance with the issues are. they can prepare the background have pictures of the litigants and so forth and then there already to write the story depending on what we write. so we have good press coverage as well, but i think cameras in the courtroom are not a good idea. >> justice breyer, do you speak know, that's the problem. but by the way the oral arguments, like 2% most of what we take in and most of the decision-making is on the basis of written briefs at the first thing that the public saw that on television they would think that's the whole story. it's not. it's a tiny part.
the second thing they would think him it's true of human nature and it's a good thing think about human nature, we relate to people. we relate to the more than a word on paper or a statistic. that's nice. it's a good but in the two people who are having their case in the court there isn't like one is a good one in what is a bad one, and we are not deciding on the basis for them. we are deciding a rule of law that applies to 300 million people who are not in the courtroom. that's invisible on television. but then when you come down to it, i am fairly i guess impervious to making myself look ridiculous to get an answer to a question that i can best focus by giving some ridiculous example, and he knows that i do. he sang, all right, and the reports are used to it. but nontheless, i will do it. now, my friends in the press will tell me you see e.g. that
the first time that somebody takes that ridiculous thing out of context inflicted on the evening news particularly someone who is not one of our regulars and doesn't really understand what's going on. all of that kind of thing is the kind of thing, despite the good arguments the other way, that make us cautious, and that make us conservative with a small see, that we are trustees for an institution. we have a long existence before us and we sincerely hope will have a long existence after. and the worst thing any of us feels he or she could do it to hurt that institution. and that makes this awfully cautious. all that is the psychology and play. you say it eventually happened let's because generational growth that just unlike me and unlike him doesn't even know what it was like before things like that took place but i think
that's the best explanation, in my mind is we both -- >> thank you for that. i'm not one who calls for having to give courtroom but i know somebody who want to ask the question so i thought i would just ask a. let me ask you about the website just real quick. you mention all those hits you're getting and then when you had the health care arguments i understand there's just a lot of interest in that pic the website of the party will? did it have a christlike some of these other websites from time to time? >> we have occasional problems like anyone that does but there are not that many and they are few and far between. >> not necessary overloading? thank you. mr. bishop. >> thank you very much. thank you mr. chairman for asking the question that i
wanted to ask about transparency in the court and televising the proceedings, and i appreciate your answer very much. as in the past years are ranking member and i continue to be interested in the increase in the number of minorities that is selected for supporting court clerkships. those are prized possessions for youngsters coming out of law school. i know there's been an initiative to help. do you think those efforts are beginning to bear fruit at the district and appellate levels? are some of the efforts underway at the supreme court? >> i think they're beginning to bear fruit, and we are conscious of it. the district courts and the courts of appeal are a little bit more open in part because they are around the country and the take from local schools.
some of us tend to take from ivy league, ivy league schools. not that they are without their pool of minority, minority applicants, but we are conscious of it and it is important and it is a valid question. >> when i started on the court, i don't know the figures in the lower courts, i mean, in my own case it might admit i needed to look especially hard. i don't know. it's not a problem. i don't i think at least in my case, maybe. but it seems to me if it's at all typical. the problem has diminished significantly, really significantly. i can try to do some county but i can't in my head. i think of individual people.
>> in 2014 with 15% minority clerks on the supreme court. >> thank you. let me move to another subject area. i know that at previous hearings we've discussed the possibility of applying the judicial comments as code of judicial comment to the supreme court justices to make decisions more transparent for the public. currently the code of judicial conduct applies to all of the federal judges, whether it's advisor for supreme court justices. you have any thoughts or proposals for changes to that? since we last discussed the issue i think last year, do you believe the code of judicial conduct should apply to supreme court justices and that recusals should be more transparent? >> you prompted me to go back and do some research, but my
first response to question is that recusals are largely governed by statute and by principles that are not necessary part of the code of conduct. now, there's an argument that the reason for recusals should be more apparent. i'm not sure about that. in the rare cases when i refuse i never tell my colleagues, oh i'm refusing because my son works for this company and it's a very important case for my son. why should i say that? that's almost like lobbying. so in my view, the reason for recusals should never be discussed. it's obvious sometimes when company a is before the court at our public disclosure statement indicates that a judge owns
stock in companies day, so that's fairly obvious. >> one thing two things. one is we all have our access to the volumes of the judicial code of ethics and having been there for some time now, 20 years, i say i have not seen an instance of recusal by me or by anyone else what the judge does make sure it's consistent with the problem is consistent with the judicial code of ethics. its advisory compared to compulsory. compulsory doesn't make a difference in fact. why not? what is it i am nervous about? i'm nervous about this the supreme court is different from the court of appeals and district court. and that's true by the way with television also interestingly enough. why is it different here? because in the court of appeals if i recuse myself or in the
district court they can get another judge. judges are fungible. they are not in the supreme court. you can't get a substitute. and i wouldn't say there's any lawyer in the country who would do this but it is logically conceivable that a lawyer might sometimes think of the idea of bringing up an issue in order to have a panel that is more favorable. i know no such a lawyer but it is conceivable and, therefore, i think we have to be careful. because unlike those in the lower courts i can't think well, in case of doubt just recuse yourself, if it's a closed case. no, i have a duty to sit as well as a duty not to set. moreover i have a lot on my schedule. i have a lot to do as do you as do others. and tried to make this into some kind of the issue i would prefer not because i mean i would
think no is the entity i had to make those decisions. i will make them as best i can to i will do it according to the code of ethics and so far i've been able to do that i don't want it to become an issue, and all that leads me to say no, i don't have to get my answer if i don't want to but it is a personal decision. i will follow the code. that is the best way to run this institution. >> thank you. mr. womack. looking for insight, to the credit of the justices they get out in our country and they speak quite frequent around the country to different organizations. i know justice scalia has been in my district already wants this year. i think is coming back in another month for another presentation as a guest lecturer. in many cases you gentlemen are talking to law students and people that i spied some data may be sent where you sit.
what trends are you seeing in the medical community, i just and were having trouble finding private care physicians, just the generalist type family practice physician so most of them now are specializing because that's where a lot of the money is. but what trends are you seeing in our law schools right now with regard to the new lawyer as it were? is the legal community blessed with a pretty good crop of young, talented minds? on are there any trends there you can share with me that raise any concerns? >> i'm not sure. my own background was private practice in a small town which was immensely rewarding.
now the paradigm for most law students as they think of their career is a huge firm where they specialize and the idea of counseling a meeting with clients and taking individual cases one by one is no longer the paradigm that they look forward to. i sense a change in this. law schools are concerned about costs. there's a big argument whether there should be three years of law school maybe cut back to two years. which i would not applaud. i think that would be a bad idea but there is a real cost factor. i tried to kill students the law can be a men's or rewarding as an ethical undertaking not just a way to make a living -- to help students. i think these students are becoming conscious of that, i hope. >> justice breyer?
>> i don't have a lot of insight into the. you have to ask the dean of the law school. judging from my law clerks there is no deterioration. they are great. you and i hear the same complaints from the dean that justice kennedy does money. certain areas they price themselves out of the market and maybe that means you have fewer people who are applying. over all things like that adjust over time. specialization, major problem. major. so complicated. when my dad went to law school he studied contracts, torts he knows five subjects. now they have everything under the sun and that's because there is a demand for everything under the sun. so there we are. how do we do that? luckily i do not have the difficult job of being a dean of the law school. i have probably what is an
easier job. >> one of the things that happened in law schools they do have almost custom-made programs so that you can take your degree in law and astronomy, law and medicine law and of the press, law and music, law and the performing arts. and this is good. this enables other disciplines to influence what's being taught in law school but it's a complicated world. >> i mean as i said personally having our grandchildren, i mean, the cost of the stuff is amazing. what of the going to about that? i don't know. i don't know. it's a problem. >> finally, turn to i think i see this every year these two gentlemen are divorced but having a wife who is been a concord assisted at the state
level for 30 gosh i don't know, 34 35 years now i have a great amount of respect for the enterprise that these gentlemen represent. and once again it's a great honor to have you back before us again today, and i yield back. >> thank you. mr. rigell. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my final question i'm going to take us back just a little bit. justice kennedy, i was intrigued by your remarks early on, and you referenced i'm not sure if it's an organization or a process like a dinner that has been, actually had an impact perhaps on the staff for the court itself are those more around the court and i know anything about. but i do know where we are as a nation that in some ways we are off the track it is much caustic tone often has overtaken
the public's -- public square and it makes it difficult to discern and identify the facts and then to come to some common solutions for some of these challenges that we face as a country. so you seemed excited about it and i'd like you more about it civility is not weakness, and so i would like to more about it because you were really bullish on it. ..
do a better job. the attorneys are telling the judge how to do a better job. and it's been a remarkable influence for more civility in our profession. >> is this relatively recent development? has it been around decades and decades? >> i would say 30 years. i would say for 30 years but it's been, when, chief justice berger mentioned, i thought it was a good idea. it was visionary. it took off like a rocket. he was right. this whole idea of civility, we are judged around the world as the guardians and trustees of freedom. verdict of freedom is still out. people are looking at us. they're looking at our
democracy. looking at our civic discourse. they're looking at our commitment. to rationality and to progress. and, i am not sure they always see the right thing. >> share that. >> the athenians ancient athens they took an oath. the oath was they would participate in civic affairs in a rational way. so that athens will be more beautiful, more splendid and more free for our children than it is for us. and athens failed because they failed to obey that oath. it is instructive. >> been there for 20 years i probably attended awful lot of conferences of the court. we've had some pretty controversial cases. i will tell law students, whoever listens. in that time never once, heard a voice raised in anger in that
conference. i never once heard any judge in that conference say something mean or, denigrates of somebody else. it is highly professional. law students. we get along well personally. we disagree about things. so you want to win your case don't get emotional. >> why not. >> why not? you will lose it. people say how emotional you are. that is the law. that is lawyers. maybe it is actually works better when you treat people as individuals who have different ideas. okay, so that is the general the question how do you get that across? how do you get that across? if you're being practical. we have annenberg trying to do that through stories. we have civics we have the carnegie institute for education. we have the kennedy institute. we have probably dozens of others. you get behind them. what can you do with those films? get ken burns. say, ken burns why don't we
have a set of 10 films. the first is story of cherokee indians, contrary to law they're driven into georgia. out of the georgia into oklahoma doing that despite the supreme court. general eisenhower at the moment taking 1000 paratroopers from fort bragg, flying them into little rock so those black children could go into that white school. let's go through a few cases that illustrate very dramatically and visually, what it means to live in a society of 310 million different people, who helped stick together because they believe in a rule of law. and a rule of law means the opposite of the arbitrary. and you are part of that just as much as we are. so are they. you say yes. all right. so, there is a lot that can be said. there is a lot that can be done. i could not agree with you more
on importance of doing it. >> thank you both. my time expired. >> we tell people, congressman justice breyer, my colleagues, advance with students, the constitution doesn't belong to a bunch of lawyers and law professors. it is yours. it is yours. some of the great presidents were weren't lawyers. they were great guardians of the constitution. institutions have to remember this. institutions have, have their own visibility, their own reputation their own duty to inspire others. to believe in this system of democracy, three branches of government we have. and as my remarks indicated earlier, when we have disagreements, in difficult
cases, our mission is to make the court look good, knot -- not to make our colleagues look bad. >> thank you very much. i do appreciate the comments. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> it reminds me of what benjamin franklin supposedly said after the meetings were taking place that our country was getting started, i understand a lady asked him, said sir what have you given us? benjamin franklin said, i have given you a republic if you can keep it. here we are 200 years later. let me ask you a quick question. i've read justice kennedy from time to time, i don't know if it is still the case you had expressed some concern about the increasingly, politically charged issues now being heard and decided by the supreme court. is that, can you explain what that concern is? does justice buyer share that
concern? >> it is not, a novel or, new for justices to be concerned that they're making so many decisions that affecter -- affect a democracy and we think responsible, efficient responsive legislative, executive branch in the political system will alleviate some of that, pressure. we routinely decide cases of verying federal statutes. we say well, if this is wrong the congress will fix it. but then we hear that congress can't pass a bill one way or the other. that there is gridlock. and some people say well that should affect the way we interpret the statutes.
that seems to me a wrong proposition. we have to assume that we have three fully functioning branches of government. government that are committed to proceed in good faith and with goodwill toward one another to resolve the problems of this republic. >> same thing. mr. bishop, you have another question. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i will hopefully be brief. i notice that the court's caseload is much lower compared to previous years. at the current range of cases is literally half of what it was 10 years ago. does the court have a target number of cases that you target each year? and let me just go back to another subject. you talked about the new crop of
young lawyers coming out of law school. when i went to law school i saw the law as an effective way of promoting social change. i came out of law school in 1971. i was a part of the civil rights movement and interpreting the civil rights acts of 1964. and so i'm very, very sensitive to the way that the law can be used to perfect social change and has been and the way the constitution has evolved. but there are reports from judges all across the country that the recession has not only caused a spike in the number of prosay litigants in -- prosay litigants. do you believe our justice system loose its effectiveness
when our citizens are unable to afford legal counsel in cases that involve family shelter and livelihood? perhaps you could give us some thoughts how the problem being remedied with resources allocated to pro bono or legal aid services. my major piece of litigation, civil right was on behalf of 6,000 african-american inmates in the georgia state prison system were in deseg rate gated system that was occupying same space as 4,000 white prisoners. it was a case decided down in the southern district of georgia back in the '70s, which resulted in a total change of the criminal justice criminal
justice housing system and the system as a whole. relieving overcrowding. so the pro say. i happened to be cooperates attorney from the naacp legal defense fund and i handled the case and as pro bono firm backed it up, so no charge to the litigants but there are not ma many of those kinds ever opportunities and there with the economic recession and with pro se litigants particularly in civil cases, how do we deal with that in terms of making sure that our justice system really is not turning on the capacity and the financial resources of the litigants? >> as to just number of case, the first part of your question, is there an optimal amount that we strive for?
we take the cases where we think our guidance is needed. as you know we wait for courts of appeals or state supreme courts to be in conflict. optimally we should have 100 case as year. when i first came we had 160 180. just far too many. the cases we do get now i think anecdotal ily, i haven't seen studies on it, are somewhat more difficult. patent cases with we had a case i think two terms ago on the patentability of dna. i also some about it to try to understand it, ended up justice thomas, wrote the opinion a very good opinion. so i think our cases are more technical. the 78 cases that we have last year exhausted us. but optimally i think we could handle about 100. we wait, we wait until our guidance is needed. on the broader question, of,
representation of civil cases, i saw some numbers in which the number of unrepresented parties in civil litigation is actually increasing because of some of the factors you mentioned. now the congress has enacted bankruptcy laws which are i think well-suited to the modern society. the bankruptcy law reform statutes are good. and, so i don't think there is any real problem in the bankruptcy area. our bankruptcy judges are just very, very good. so that system i think is working. but in the area of standard civil litigation i think there is a problem with unrepresented parties. and law schools can and probably should do more. they should focus again on the small cases not the big firm stuff. >> a couple of things. when the number of case, it is
not, there is a big decline beginning really in the late '80s. now, the way we select cases almost almost entirely, almost not completely, but almost entirely you look to see if the lower courts have come to different conclusions on the same question of federal law. now, they do or they don't. and if they do, we'll probably hear it. if they're not we probably won't. now there are other things. constitution, et cetera, but that is the main thing. i have not noticed any tendency whatsoever to try not to take cases. rather what sandra used to sit there, o'connor, we got to take cases. can't we take some more cases? and, so they're not the conflicts are less. now why? that, in my own explanation, which has no particular validity, is that you have seen in the '70s and '80s, what you saw from 1960s, when i was a law clerk, '60s, '70s,
'80s on, tremendous civil rights laws. statutes of kinds. civil rights the way first 10 amendments apply to the states. for a lawyer, every new statute or every major case is a new argument. pass statutes with 50,000 words you get 50,000 cases. now suddenly there has been in congress of kind of ingreased legislation and major statutes. those statutes are law. and they have many words. so we can predict whether i'm right or not because if i am right, then, there is a lag. you see there is a lag. five years seven years from now we will see the number of cases in the supreme court growing because those words will be capable of different definitions and judging will have reached different conclusions. i don't know if that's right. it's a theory.
on the representation, i did look at some numbers a few years ago. we're way behind in, compared say to england or to france and part of it is in england there is an appropriation. and, i don't know where it is on your list. and that's a problem. and in england, by the way where they had very good legal representation system for legal matters they're under budget pressure. the lawyers in the field are worried there are cuts and there are. in france they have a different idea which is sort of interesting. the bar itself provides a lot more free representation than here but there is a price to be paid. the price to be paid is that the individual lawyers and the bar will be ruthless in segregating the sheep from the goats. so if you go to a lawyer, you will get your free representation if you can't afford it, at the cost of having him and or her and his colleagues, going through your
case and making a ruthless decision about whether they think they can really win it. but the result of that, is the people they think they have a good shot, they will get the free representation. much more even than in england. >> well, thank you. i think it's important to recognize that the keg cans of the work that you dill -- significance of the work you all do is certainly not proportionate to the budget thaw submit every year. but, we do thank you for the work that you do to make sure that you are spending the money wisely. thank you for being here. i think we all appreciate your wisdom and insight. i always learn something. on a personal note, i want to thank you publicly. a couple years ago when we concluded most of the business i, was troubled by a quote that i had read in law school, that i
never know who i didn't know who the author of the statement. it always struck me as interesting because it went like this. versatility of circumstance often mocks the natural desire for definitiveness. i asked since we didn't have anything else to do i asked you two gentlemen who that and where. i think justice breyer said why don't you google it. and i said, i already did. but, when you think about that statement, i think bob dylan might have said it differently. he wrote a song called, things of change. i can understand that a little better. but the good news is that because of the cooperation of you two gentlemen i now know that felix frankfurter said that, he said that in a case called weiner versus u.s. or u.s. versus weiner. that was interesting because i think president eisenhower was the president. he wasn't supposed to do something but he did it anyway.
therefore felix frankfurter said, very tilt of circumstance often mocks natural desire. did what he wasn't supposed to do and justice frankfurter said it very well. things have changed. so i always learn something. we thank you so much. it is an honor for us to have you before us. thank you for the work that you do for this country and this meeting is now adjourned. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations].
>> homeland security secretary jeh johnson appears before a house appropriations subcommittee thursday, to discuss his department's 2016 budget request. we'll bring you that event live at 9:00 a.m. eastern on our companion network c-span3. thursday, energy secretary ernest moniz testifies before the senate energy committee about the administration's quadrennial energy review. the review looks at the development and implementation of policies governing energy resources and consumption. you can see the hearing live thursday at 9:30 a.m. eastern on our website c-span.org.
the senate is expected to take up defense spending next week and monday, freshman senator tom cotton called for a national defense to be congress's first priority. his remarks came during a discussion on national security hosted by the american action forum. this is an hour and 20 minutes. >> welcome everybody. good morning. my name is chris griffin. i'm the executive director at the for return policy initiative. it is my privilege to welcome you today to this event jointly hosted by the foreign policy initiative and the american
action forum. titled, will congress provide for the common defense? this is the second in a series of public briefings on how congress and the president can work together to provide our armed forces with the resources and authorities they require to keep our nation safe at a time of growing threats across the world. this morning we'll hear from senator tom cotton, and following his keynote i will hand off to rachel hoff with the action forum who will introduce and moderate a discussion with panel of experts featuring mackenzie eaglen, american enterprise institute. david adesnik the foreign policy initiative and douglas holtz-eakin. i welcome our keynote speaker today. senator tom cotton was raised on his family farm in arkansas. he attended harvard and heart slashed law school. after clerkship entered private practice. like all of us his life was
disrupted by attacks of september 11th, 2001. in response he left the law and joined the army to serve as an infantry officer. he was deto iraq where he served with the 101st airborne division and provincial reconstruction team in afghanistan. between his combat tours senator cotton served with the old guard at arlington national cemetery. after his military career, senator cotton served briefly in the private sector and was then elected to the u.s. house of representatives in 2012. last year he was elected to serve in the united states senate and now serves in the senate committees on banking, intelligence, and the armed services. where he is also the chairman of the arm services committee's subcommittee on air land. in his maiden speech on the senate into delivered last week, senator cotton warned, we have, quote, systematically underfunded our military, end quote. i look forward to the insights that he will offer on this most important of issues today and
ask you to please join me in welcoming senator tom cotton. [applause] >> good morning. thank you. chris, thanks very much for the kind introduction. thanks to fpi and to aaf for hosting me this morning for the very important work you do. as the senate prepares to debate and vote on a budget resolution this week, for next fiscal year i have a very simple message this morning. the world is growing ever more dangerous and defense spend something wholly inadequate to confront the danger. today the united states is engaged again in something of a grand experiment, of the kind we saw in the 1930s that allowed hitler to rise to power in nazi germany. as then, military strength is seen in many quarters as the cause of military adventurism. strength and confidence in the defense of our interests our alliances and liberty is not seem to deter aggression but to provoke it.
rather than confront our adversaries our president apologizes for our supposed transgressions. the president minimizes the threats we confront, and in the face of territory seized, weapons of mass destruction used and proliferated and innocents murdered. the concrete expression of this experiment is our collapsing defense budget. for years we have systematically underfunded our military marrying this philosophy of retreat with a misplaced understanding of our larger budgetary burdens. we have strained our fighting forces today to the breaking point. even as we have eaten away investments in our future forces. meanwhile, the long-term debt crisis hardly looks any better even as we asks troops to shoulder the burden of deficit reduction, rather than shouldering arms necessary to keep the peace. the result of this experiment should come as no surprise are little different than the results of the same experiment in the 1930s.
>> ladies and gentlemen you're welcome to be here. >> [inaudible] >> as much as these fellow citizens support negotiations with iran, so do i support negotiations with iran. but negotiations, from peace of strength, where we, where we are dictating the terms of the negotiations. not, not circumstances of, just two days ago, two days ago, let me remind you, ayatollah khamenei whipped up the crowd in tehran to say death to america. two days ago, ayatollah khamenei in his annual speech whipped his crowd to a frenzy saying death to america. what was his response? yes, certainly death to america. this is not the man or the regime to whom we should ever make nuclear concessions. in fact --
[applause] in fact, in fact, the president's series of one-sided nuclear concessions is of a peace with his philosophy of retreat. that apologizes for american conduct, and actually undermines our efforts to stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon, rather than secures it. now, not just with iran but all around the world an alarm should be sounding in our ears. our enemies sensing weakness, hence opportunity have become stead little steadily more aggressive. or allies uncertain about our capabilities conclude they must look out for themselves. our military suffering from years of neglect seen its relative strength decline to historical levels. let's start with the enemy who attacked us on september 11th, radical islamists. during his last campaign the president was fond of saying
al qaeda is on the run. in a fashion, i suppose this was correct. al qaeda was and is running wild all around the world. it controls more territory now than before. this global network of islamic jihadists continues to plot attack against america and the west. they sewed seed conflict in states and maintain affiliates in africa, greater middle east and southeast asia. al qaeda in iraq was on the map when the president disregarded military's judgment and withdrew from iraq in 2011. given a chance to regroup al qaeda in iraq morphed into the is lame mick state which controls much of syria and iraq. islamic state cuts heads off americans, burns alive hostages from allied countries executes, christians and enslaves women and girls. they plot to attack us here at home, whether by foreign plot or recruiting a lone wolf in our
midst. the threat of islamic terrorism brings me to iran the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism. my objections to these nuclear negotiations are well-known and i don't have to rehearse them here. i will note know that the deal foreshadowed by the president allowing iran to have uranium enrichment capabilities and accepting any expiration date on an agreement. to quote prime minister benjamin netanyahu doesn't block iran's path to a bomb. it paves iran's path to a bomb. if you think as i do that the islamic state is dangerous a nuclear armed islamic republic is even more so. recall after all what iran already does without the bomb. iran is an outlaw regime that has been killing americans for 30 feel years from lebanon to saudi arabia, to iraq. unsurprisingly iran is only growing bolder and more aggressive as america retreats to the middle east. ayatollah khamenei did in fact just two days ago called for death to america just as in
recent months he tweeted why reasons israel should be eliminated. iranian-backed shiite militias control much of iraq, led by sulimani the commander of the quds force the man with blood of hundreds of american soldiers on his hands. iran continues to prop up bashar al-assad's outlaurent game in syria. iranian militants seized sanaa the capital of yemen. over the weekend we had to withdraw further troops from yemen. hezbollah remain's iran's cat's paw in lebanon. put simply, iran dominates or controls five capitals in its drive for regional hegemony. iran increased size and capability of its ballistic missile arsenal recently launching a new satellite. three weeks ago iran blew up a mock u.s. aircraft carrier in naval exercises and publicized it with great fan fair. iran does all these things without the bomb. just imagine what iran will do
with the bomb. imagine a united states further down the road of appeasement largely defenseless against this tyranny. but you don't have to imagine much. simply look to north korea. because of a naive and failed nuclear agreement that outlaw state acquired nuclear weapons. now, america's largely handcuffed watching as this rogue regime builds more bombs and missiles capable of striking the u.s. homeland and endangering our allies. regrettably, the results of this experiment with retreat can also be felt in other parts of the world. take for example the resurgence of russia within whom president obama con sill eighted and made one-sided concessions from the outset of his presidency. or china's military buildup which is directed quite clearly against the united states as china pursues an anti-access and aerial denial strategy to keep american forces outside of the so-called first island chain. therefore to expand china's hegemony in east asia.
while america retreated not only have our enemies been on the march, our allies, anxious for years about american resolve, now worry increasingly about american capabilities. with the enemy on their borders many have begun to conclude they have no choice but to take matters into their own hands, often in ways unhelpful to our interests and broader stability. we should never take our allies for granted but we also shouldn't take for granted vast influence our security guaranties give us with their behavior. this kind of influence has been essential for american security throughout the postwar period. it has begun to wane as our allies doubt our commitment and our capabilities. make no mistake our military capabilities have declined. today, defense spend something only 16% of all federal spending. historic low rifled only by the post-cold war period. to give some context during the cold war, defense spending
regularly accounted for 60% of all federal spending. but if we don't end experiment with retreat this president will leave office with a mere 12% of all federal dollars spent on defense. the picture is no prettier cast in light with the economy as a whole. in early cold war defense spend was approximately 9% of gross domestic product. today it sits at a paul city 3 1/2%. but our defense budget isn't just about numbers and arithmetic. it is about our ability to accomplish the mission of defending our country from all threats. the consequences of these cuts are real, concrete and immediate. as former secretary of defense leon panetta explained these cuts to defense spending put us on the path to the smallest army since world war ii, the smallest navy since world war i and the smallest air force ever. these impacts won't just be immediate. they will be felt long into the future. key problems once divested will be difficult to restart.
manufacturing competencies will be lost. skilled labor pool will shrink and defense manufacturing base will atrophy. today's weapons systems will age and begin to break down. our troops won't be able to train and their weapons equipment won't be ready for the fight. in short we will have a hollow force incapable of defending our national security. what is then to be done? our experiment with retreat must end. this congress must again recognize that our national security is the first priority of the government. and the military budget must reflect the threats we face, rather than the budget defining those threats. this week, the senate budget resolution will reflect a base defense budget of $523 billion. an emergency supplemental spending of $89 billion. while better than defend spending mandated by budget control act this is insufficient, given readiness crisis, shrinking size of our military and immediate need to modernize aircraft ships
vehicles, and so forth. the national defense panel a bipartisan group of eminent national security experts convened by congress unanimously recommended a $600 billion floor of the defense budget, not a ceiling. i agree that $611 billion is necessary and i agree it is also not sufficient. what then should our budget be next year? well, i will readily acknowledge that we can't be sure how much is needed above $611 billion. the national defense panel explained why. because of the highly constrained and unstable budget environment under which the department has been working the quadrennial defense review is not adequate as a comprehensive long-term, planning document. thus the panel recommends that congress should ask the department for such a plan which should be developed without undue emphasis on our current budgetary constraints. i endorse this recommendation. in the meantime though, even if
we can't specify a precise dollar amount, we can identify the critical needs on which to spend the additional money. first, our military does face a readiness crisis from budget cuts and a decade of war. we must act immediately to get our forces back in fighting shape, from long fire ranges, to flight time, and so forth. second, and related our military is shrinking rapidly to historically small levels. this decline must be reversed. end strengths of the army and marine corps, number of platforms in the air force and the navy. third, we must also increase research development and procurement funds to insure our military retains its historic technological advantage particularly as our adversaries gain more accessed to advanced, low-cost technologies. these critical priorities will no doubt be expensive. probably tens of billions of dollars more than the
611 billion baseline suggested by the national defense panel. because the massive cuts to our defense budget resulted in part from record deficits though, the question arises, can we afford all this? the answer is yes, without question and without doubt yes. the facts here we've seen are not disputable. the defense budget has been slashed by hundreds of billions of dollars over the last six years. the defense budget, as i said, is only 16% of all federal spending, historic low heading much lower if we don't act. using the broadest measure affordability and national priorities defense spending as percentage of our economy last year we only spent 3 1/2% of our national income on defense approaching historic lows and may surpass it by 2019. to provide some context when ronald reagan took office we spent 5% of our national income on defense. president reagan and congressional democrats considered that to be a
dangerously-low amount. that is the point from which they started the defense buildup. if we spent if we spent 5% of our national income on defense today, we would spend $885 billion on defense. furthermore, trying to balance the budget think defense cuts is both coupler productive and impossible. first, the threats we face eventually will catch up with us. as they did on 9/11, as they did in the late '70s. we'll have no choice but to increase our defense budget. when we do, it will cost more to achieve the same end state of readiness and modernization than it would have without the intervening cuts. this was the lesson we learned in the 1980s after severe cuts to defense in the 197's. in the last decade. second we need a healthy growing economy to generate government revenue necessary to fund our military and amount for
the budget. in our globalized world it depends heavily on world economy which requires global stability and order. who provides that stability and order? the united states military. i would suggest a better question to ask is, can we afford to continue our experiment with retreat? i would suggest the answer is we can not. imagine a world in which we continue our current trajectory, where america remains in retreat, our military loses even more of its edge. it is not a pretty picture. to stop this experiment, and turn around american retreat, we must once again show that america is willing and prepared to fight a war in the first place. only then, only when we demonstrate military strength and moral confidence in the defense of america's national security will we make war less likely in the first place. our enemies and our allies alike will and must know that aggressors will pay an
unspeakable price for challenging the united states. bringing about this future, by being prepared for war will no doubt take a lot of money. but i will leave you all with two questions. what could be a higher priority than a safe, and prosperous america, leading a stable and orderly world? and what better use of our precious taxpayer dollars. thank you all god bless you got bless the united states. [applause] >> thank you again senator cotton for joining us this morning for your insights. it is a pleasure to welcome rachel hoff from the american action forum to moderate our panel. thank you, rachel. >> thank you very much, chris. and, thank you very much chris and to senator cotton for those very impassioned and insightful
remarks. i like to welcome up our panel. very pleased to be joined by the distinguished panel to follow-up on the senator's remarks. to dive a little deeper into these questions of current military capacity and capabilities in order to meet rising national security threats. 's well as the defense budget question within the context of the broader fiscal year 2016 budget. we are joined by three expert who is eminently qualified to comment on these questions. douglas holtz-eakin to my right is the the president of the american action forum. previously served as director of the congressional budget office as well as senior economist to the president's council of economic advisors. next is david adesnik poll at this director at the foreign policy initiative. previously he was visiting fellow at the american enterprise institute and also served for two years as deputy director for joint data support in the u.s. department of defense. david also served as a research staff member at the institute
for defense analysis. mackenzie eaglen who will start us off fellow at american enterprise institute. worked on defense issues here in the senate and also house of representatives as well as pentagon with the secretary of defense and joint staff. mackenzie served as staff member on national defense panel whose recommendations senator cotton endorsed today. mackenzie, if you could start off the discussion, thank you so much. >> thanks for having me. welcome, everyone. i see some familiar faces out there. i'm not really sure where to start although we can pick up where senator cotton left off to talk about where the senate will go this week and house with budget resolutions opposed to what is required and what's needed. it's a long way from even the president's budget to i think the kinds of investments that senator cotton has outlined that are required that are very similar in line with the national defense panel. which we can speak more about in
q&a. i think the biggest question on the table or, put another way the elephant in the room is, okay $39 billion extra in overseas contingency operations or war spending to get the defense budgets in the neighborhood ballpark where president obama has them. or a billion over depending how you calculate it. how is that for defense? well, i'm here to say that as somebody who helped the national defense panel think through some of these issues, it is completely inadequate. it is not just bad budgeting and bad governing it's bad defense policy. 39 extra billion dollars in oco or war spending isn't the same defense budget as plussing up the base budget. i know that is hard. i get it, you have to rewrite the bca hey congress has done it twice already. we'll know they will do it again, with follow on-ryan-murray but will not do
it until they exhausted available option and they have gone through the long tortuous path to get there. there are two defense budgets. there is a base budget that invests in america's military. basically the size and structure and standing responsibilities, the daily global responsibilities in the military. the supplement spend something intended for emergencies. that is why it is called emergency supplement money. there are two defense budgets and buy presumably two different things. the second budget one for war spending and emergency spend something restricted over time in part because of congress. congress wanted to restrict use of those funds which i think is a good thing as a taxpayer. often years past, particularly when defense budgets were going up, it was christmas tree. the emergency war spending account became everybody's favorite place to stock every stuffing every stocking-stuffer you could imagine that had nothing to do with iraq or afghanistan or anything closely
related to intelligence or military operations in either place. so to think that even one that 39 billion is okay and that it is going to buy you the same kind of defense is completely flawed and inadequate. i know that it is something that policymakers really struggle with and they don't want to hear that they are two defense budgets and they buy two different things. and then two trying to get that discussion started what is required for the long-term defense, what is required for changes in the budget control act. why a base budget increase is more important than a one-term shot in the arm bandaid fix in the oco is i think the conversation that we might want to get into a little bit more up here later. but really quickly, why two defense budgets and why do they buy two different outcomes? well, the emergency spending money is mostly for supplemental. it is for consumables. for perishable items like the milk in your refrigerator or
bread on our counter, where you put it. this is short-term investments in things like readiness. there are different types of readiness. short, medium and long-term readiness. there is short and large-scale manuever type of readiness. for example, take readiness and whittle it down this kind of spending in the emergency bill doesn't buy you the same kind of invests and certainly doesn't buy you long term modernization and health of the force. so with that i will turn that cheery note over to david because i'm done talking. >> thanks. >> it's on. >> i'm on, great. i only have more depressing information to add. seems when fpi discusses the state of the world these days it is not your upper for the morning. but what i would like to do is expand on some of what senator cotton said about long-term trend in defense spending and why it is important to do that we here at fbi and af we talk a
lot about the national defense panel's recommendations for increasing defense spending and you get a lot of pushback when you talk about those things and it comes from a couple of directions. interestingly this advocacy for greater defend spence r spend something plank in the center of the political spectrum if you look more than 85 expert who is signed fbi's open letter to leaders of congress you saw a few notable democrats along a few notable republicans making case. we hear more from people on both sides. on one hend i even discussed this with veterans that consider themselves progress system they say no, how do you add more dollars to defense when there is not enough for education? isn't this country's real strength in economy and education? we need educated people for tomorrow? other side, look our debt, look our deficit. how can you advocate more spending when these are historically high levels. if you look at context that senator cotton began to talk about, you understand why those are not actually the case. so, for example, if you look at a choice between defense and education spending, in the very
constrained political environment, where we have sequestration caps that equally apply to defend and non-defend spending, one dollar for one is one dollar for the other but the fact we have sequestration because there has never been either political will or right answer that helps people take on entitlements which are almost entirely domestic spending. when you really look at it, when you hear senator cotton say 12 to is 7% from this year to the out to the next five years is consumed by defend spending that means 80% plus is non-defend spending overwhelmingly on increasing share that goes to entitlements. it really doesn't need to be a one for one tradeoff. it is really we have one part that is somewhat out of control and another is decreasing sharply. if you look at overseas contingency operation budget which mackenzie described quite well that peaked at $200 billion in real terms. should it be $50 billion that president proposed or some other people proposed or slightly
more. 57% there. we're reaping that dividend not having troops on the ground in iraq and afghanistan. the base budget fallen by 15% in real dollars as well so these are cuts across the board. sorry, then when it comes to driving the deficit really the same story. a lot of time with entitlements, those are the areas where you're getting more and more spending year after year. they're not brought under control by the bca. so senator cotton mentioned that we were at 5% of gdp in the reagan era in defend spending. if you go back a little further it was regularly five to 9% range in the early cold war and came down on glide path. we got close to the supplemental dollars in iraq and afghanistan to 5%. we're in a place to less than 4%. may to down to less than three if current projections hold. that is remarkable decrease historically. if you think there are three basic ways to look at size of defense budget the one is percentage much gdp of our
national income. what at that tells us given the size of our economy can we afford this much? at one point we're spending 10% now we're spending under four, what that tells us the overall growth of our economy far outpaced change in defense spending followed a up and down shape over past few years where there haven't been dramatic gains where our economy has grown tremendously. second way to look at things, is percentage of federal dollar, how much is spent on defense. early days of cold war almost entire federal budget. something unthinkable today. that is spending 1.$7 trillion every year on defense. no one is proposing that. what the national defense panel want as third of that in the base budget. add a little more if you added in oco. you see the constant downward trend. why? because domestic spending really entitlements moved and expanded to fill that gap tremendously. so i think it is really, when i talk to people, i try to add these historical contexts factors because sometimes they understand it is really a
different question we should be looking at. now how do we trade one for the other. how do we get really out of control spending areas under control so we can afford to spend what we need on certain areas of domestic spending we value whether more scientific research or education. of course on security spending as well. so i think i will leave it there and turn it over to doctor holtz-eakin who can tell us quite a lot on the broader economic context. >> thank you. i want to thank fbpi with joining with af for the event and appreciate the chance to be here. the larger budgetary dynamicses have been in play for some time. it has been utterly foreseeable the generation would age one time every year and get to the point we are now, get 10,000 new beneficiaries every day flowing into social security, flowing into medicare. we see rising spending on medicare medicaid, kiar, social security, the other pom points of he entitlements,
mandatory spending which are driving two things. number one they're driving enormous amount of projected debt in the night. if you roll the clock forward 10 years on autopilot as cbo projections do, we find that we're running a trillion dollar deficit. of that trillion dollar deficit $800 billion is interest on previous borrowing. we as a nation are getting to the point we're taking on new credit card to pay off interest on old credit card. extraordinarily dangerous financial position for the u.s. second thing it is doing, it is driving out of the budget, the kinds of things the founders would have recognized role of government. driving out invests in infrastructure and research on the non-defense side. it is driving out spending on national security. and those budgetary dynamics have been predictable and they have been in play for quite some time and they're really starting to show up right now. now, faced with budgetary crisis congress did what it often does how did we solve this last time? last time was the mid to late
'90s and the quote solution was, put caps on defense and non-defend spending. don't touch entitlement programs and pray that things break your way. well the problem is that unlike 20 years ago the baby boom is not 20 years from retirement. it is here. it is retiring now. those spends on -- demand on spending side are going up that will not solve the problem. number two, we solved it pretending peace dividend with fall of soviet union that turned out to be illusory. as senator cotton we weren't as safe as we thought. we went on procurement holiday which we had to make up in the early 2000s. budgetary gains were significant defense losses. we balanced budget by having dot-com bubble. we have had enough bubbles. we don't need to try this again. we need a new strategy. unfortunately they codified the basic problem in the bca. attacking the wrong part of the budget and put caps forced by
sequesters in lay and the -- in play and ultimate solution david pointed out is the trade. we need to spend more on defense and non-defense discretionary spending and take money out of mandatory spending to do it. that is the fundamental budgetary trade. needs to be undertaken every year. and increasingly large amounts that solves the debt problem which former admiral mullen identified as our number one national security threat. that solves the ability to develop the investments and readiness and weaponry and strategic capabilities that we need on the defense side. so it is unusual for me as the budget guy to be the ray of optimism in an event. so let me try. it this is a different moment than a lot of the moments i've witnessed on this discussion. in the past the only people who were ever in favor of entitlement reform were people like me, budget geeks that drew lines, said that would be bad. everyone else said no, we don't
want to touch it. want medicare as we know it. want social security as we know it. now it is changing. increasingly recognized number one we have done all but we don't have good programs. the social security program stays solvent in quotes promising to cut benefits 25% across the board in 25 years. disgraceful way to run a pension program. medicaid program runs deficit $300 million every year and doesn't deliver high quality care to seniors. there is recognition they have to be better programs in our own right. not just financial issue. there are advocates for changes to entitlement programs. they are in the defense community and non-defense community. i spoke to the non-defense discretionary spending coalition. it exists. that is the worst named coal in washington. need a better name. these are advocate force entitlement reform. there is recognition we need to get this done. that is the bottom politically
from grassroots. anyone runs for president in 2016. near as i can tell everyone is running. anyone here running? lots of people are unking are. advisors tell them you want to be govern in 2024. if we don't change something you're the president overseeing debt crisis and defense readiness crisis. and it is highly unwise for a president to surprise people with these changes. so the 'is 6 cycle will have foreshadow need to improve these programs to get the budget in order. that is top down politics have been missing recently. no leadership from the top to make big changes. so, i think there is a chance we can get this fixed. it is never simpler or easy. always sort of complicated in the united states. recognition of these budgetary dynamics is here. time to change the bca so we don't codify the wrong policy and get the wrong policy in place. >> thanks very much. a bit of a ray of optimism at the end which is unusual --
>> always go for economist when you need optimism. >> that's true. we'll turn to the audience for your questions here in a few minutes. let me start with david. you outlined several different ways to conceive of the defense budget percentage of gdp, share of the federal budget. another way the defense budget is often portrayed within the context of global defense spending. critics of increased domestic u.s. spending would often point out we spend more than any country in the world on defense. can you help provide context for u.s. defend spending but putting it in the context of global trends of defense spending? >> absolutely. glad to do so. that number you here is more correct, we spend more than the next seven eight nine countries combined. important things to consider. oh that must be evidence that we're spending too much. you ask what is the role america has in the world?
again senator cotton hit this head on. we're basically the guarantor of stability and expansion of freedom for more people. look how the world was before 1945, when there was no single dominant powers, you could have a major systemic war that left vast destruction in its wake, every 30 40, 70 years. kept recuring from napoleon go back further to the mid 17th century and world wars, one and two. hasn't been a sure thing but since 1945 there is one dominant power and second superpower causing a lot of trouble for next 40 years or so. with one dominant power can secure the expansion freedom. there is dramatic increase in the number of democracies. if we see ourselves playing in this role it has implications for defense. how much does china spend on defense? we don't exactly know. they're are relatively credible estimates considered to be the best. there is swedish think tank. the pentagon does some.
people think it is around $180 billion. around a third of u.s. defense spending. but china doesn't think about spending in order to achieve global stability. it is more about this is how we can push the u.s. and its allies back in one theater in east asia near our shores. we'll design an asymmetric strategy. we have the burden of going to meet that strategy. also important to realize we'll be playing away game. if it is march madness nfl you usually want to play a home game. in war you don't want to play away game because you don't know what will happen with war takes place there. they are with what allow us to project power pretty much to any corner of the globe and have a deal us with a crisis or threat there. and of course china's not the only region. whether it is iran and isis in the middle east. we are investing in ability to project power there so we can deal with their issues. we're threats they present or if you look at what vladmir putin is doing. of course he only spends a
fraction what we do. not like the soviet union which may have even outspent us. even now difficult know how much precisely they were spending. fact we have to look at obligations of nato. so it is really only the united states has this global role. and so even if you add up the value of next seven or eight or nine, however many other powers it is not really going to give you the right answer. that is not away to arrive at what you need. you have to take strategic approach. what are threats facing to stability and freedom in these different regions and what are the military forces we need to deal with those? one last note, it is worth observing, certain countries china, russia, have increased spending dramatically. in a decade it is almost double if not more. if you go back further they were starting a pretty low base. chinese increased five or six fold russia, fourfold, it is disturbing increasing their capability. it may mean we need to spend more. ultimately bigger question how much power they generate with
spending. it is spending efficiently. second, how much bang are we getting from our buck. one of the pessimistic notes sorry to break up the optimism train here, we've been getting less bang for the buck in the defense department. some of it is the fact we're prosperous economy. you have to pay highly qualified personnel more to be part of all-volunteer force. our person until costs rise over time as economy grows. . .
>> you provide some context for us in terms of these reserve funds, have they been used historically? on often they're included and not funded and is there any reason to believe this year may be different? >> so it is such a joy to see people pay attention to the budget resolution, it never happens. for those who don't follow this -- and i recommend that be everyone in this room -- [laughter] the budget resolution is not a law. it is passed as an agreement between the house and the senate on how it will conduct budgetary operations for the year. it often includes as it does this year both an allocation for spending on defense and this adheres to the cap in the bca, and then other mechanisms should you wish to raise that allocation. and the mechanism in play this year is a deficit-neutral reserve fund. what that says in english is suppose they pass a defense appropriations bill that comes in above the allocation of $499
billion, then the budget chairman can stand up and say i invoke the deficit-neutral reserve fund. you can spend $525 billion as long as we get $26 billion somewhere so it's deficit neutral. it allows the congress to break its own budget, and in the process it avoids having a point of order against proceeding to the appropriations bill. so it's a procedural mechanism that gets taken out of the way, allows you to go forward with the defense bill. those have been around a long time. when we passed the prescription drug bill back in 2003, there was a reserve fund budget chairman invoked it. all of this, it's important to remember, is very nice, but it doesn't change the law. the fundamental problem is we have a budget control act that says no matter how much you appropriate, we are going to cut it back to 499 unless we change the budget control act. and for that purpose the budget resolution sets the debate up, but it doesn't solve the problem. we need to pass appropriations
bills and pass changes to the budget control act that give greater funding. >> thanks. and, mackenzie picking up on this question provided no change -- if there is no change in law, no change to bca, but congress does appropriate funding for the p pentagon through a deficit-neutral reserve fund or oco, what are these consequences for military and pentagon particularly in terms of planning? >> well, the first consequence is what's going to happen on the floor when there's a dissent appropriations bill. -- defense appropriations bill. we've already seen in the recent past and boy if anything is predictable, it's these congresses in the last six years. and they -- well, i should actually it's already been outlined, they like to take ideas off the shelf from 0 years ago -- 20 years ago. this group is a highly predictable one. what we've already seen in recent congresses are members
banding together on the left and the right to strip oco money that wasn't requested by the pentagon. you've heard this line before, good friends have written this story a thousand times. the pentagon didn't ask for it and, therefore it becomes a justifiable discussion about does that these more money, and if not we're going to vote to take it out. chris van hollen congressman from maryland, nick mulvaney have banded together many times to do this. they took $3.5 billion out, congress agreed to it. that's exactly what's going to happen this time. so the $39 billion in extra oco money is an allowable amount. it's the ceiling. that's not what's going to get appropriated for defense. and there will be pair and legitimate arguments -- fair and legitimate arguments to take that money away. congress itself said no to the f-22s and the emergency spending bill. the pentagon is going to want to
put a lot of hardware and equipment into modernization programs into the oco, and that's not going to be a majority-supportable proposition by most members of congress. first problem is what's going to happen on the floor, and the pentagon's going to start losing a lot of this money. once it starts losing, it's going to take us back to the last four years of this wild swing at defense planning. there's no fiscal subpoenaty for the department, and -- certainty, and that alone is one of the most inefficient things you can do for program managerrings. there's internal decision making that begun is justifiable -- again is justifiable but incredibly wasteful for taxpayers. if they're looking out and watching the debate and they don't know what's going to happen, program managers hoard their cash. they understand there's a likelihood they're going to have to cough some up at thened of the year whether t a continuing raze pollution that starts the year -- resolution that starts the year. it's definitely not going to be
the number we're talking about week for defense it will be a number lore. that's a fact. if you're a better person and go to vegas, you can tell them mackenzie sent you. when that number is finally appropriated and the president signs that into law whenever that is -- and it could be 2016 when that happens -- it will be a number lower than the total amount we're talking about this week. so that creates all these wild inefficiencies contracts are held awards are delayed or deferred or simply not granted altogether in anticipation of the chaos and uncertainty on capitol hill. that's a second consequence. and the third is even when the money is approved, you can buy some more readiness, but there's a debate about how much more readiness certain components and certain services need at certain times, particularly right now. for the readiness crisis broadly speaking in the department there are pockets of incredibly high readiness at dod and that's good. that's great. i don't think anybody has a problem with that. but you can only pour so much money into readiness without
overspending must be and wasting it. -- overspending money and wasting it. most of the readiness challenges right now are in large scale maneuver, longer-term readness. certain army, you know, brigade level training can't get through the national training center. we don't have another national training center. you're not going to build one, so more money isn't going to solve that problem. so the third consequence is what you can buy with that money. and what is needed is modernization and some readiness, and what you can't spend a lot of this money on is modernization. >> let me sneak in one more question for doug before opening it up to the audience. you spoke about the context of -- or how defense spending might play a role in the 2016 presidential -- fixing these long-term problems might play a role in the 2016 presidential conversation, so one of the pieces of doug's bio i negative
neglected to mention was he served as policy director for john mccain's 2008 presidential campaign. so asking more of a political question to close out my questions here, how do you speculate not just fixing these long-term problems and the question of entitlement looking forward to 2024, but how might the conversation around sequestrationing and defense spending issue play out among the 2016 candidates? on both sides of the aisle? >> so my, my reasoning on this comes from really two pieces. number one, it's always better to figure out people have to do than what they want to do. and we have to fix this. i mean the numbers are overwhelming in terms of the accumulation of debt, the financial instability of the federal budget. the if you just stay on autopilot for another 8-10 years. so, you know politicians have correctly stayed away from these programs because everyone's seen the ad about granny getting thrown off the cliff and she's quite durable. she comes back every election,
but, you know that's got to change. and anyone who does the arithmetic knows that and knows that it's a very bad idea to surprise people with big changes, so they're going to have to start laying the groundwork. i don't think you're going to see big, detailed proposals in '16, but as you move from '16 to '18 to '20, we need to make it more sustainable, same with social security, all those things. the second piece is if you look at the polling on the ground right now people are scared about our security. period. i mean, the more than public understands -- the more than public understands this is a dangerous world, and if you sort of ask all the questions that the fiscal hawks favor about controlling spending, deficits down, they 100% agree with that. projecting american values around the globe and securing our national interests around the globe they support all that. if you pit them head to head,
the defense hawks beat the fiscal hawks on the ground in the polling. the presidential candidates are going to know this. they're going to poll all the time, so they're going to acknowledge the fiscal problem but they're going to talk about the need for a stronger defense budget and better national security. >> so turning to all of you, we've got about 30 minutes to talk only of your questions. three quick add viewly points -- advisory point, please do be sure to wait for the microphone to reach you for the benefit of our c-span friends watching at home identify yourself before asking a question and be sure that that is, in fact, a question. so we've got a couple right up front here. we'll start out just in the front row here. >> colin clark, breaking defense. so i don't think there's anybody around here who would disagree
that something's got to be done. so far nothing really has been. as you guys look over the next couple of months, what are the appropriators going to do? >> i'll start. they've been broadcasting it loud and clear, and i'm sure you know that, they are going to appropriate to caps, period, for defense. 599, 051, $499 billion for the base budget. that is a certainty. the authorizers are a different story. that will be, that will be interesting. i believe both chairmen are leaning towards marking towards the president's budget request of there are 535 billion base budget defense spending 051 again. now, the question is so what will they do with oco right? at what amount. it seems as if both chambers are going to coalesce around the 39 million in allowable funds no reserve funds roared which is
trouble -- required which is troubling because this is pretty much all debt financed anyway when you're talking emergency spending money, and the half of it they were trying to make offset allowable is going to be taken away. so will they mark up to, well that's 51 plus 39 $90 billion for emergency supplemental for the defense department. a couple of things regarding that. one, 51 billion that the president requested for oco was too low anyway so it will be higher. we know the president's emergency supplemental for defense is too low. of last time around the pent gone was asked -- pentagon was asked about summertime saying hey, things have changed ebola, isis crimea, etc. the same thing is going to happen again. so the first question is how much does the defense department come back and say is actually needed? it's higher than the 51 billion they've asked for, but we don't know the exact number.
probably in the 60s range. i don't think if that's low or mid 60s. i think that money will be easily, will easily flow to the department. but then the other question, so then you have an extra, you know you still have 25, 30 billion that you can play with that's allowable again under the budget resolution for the overseas contingency operations account. the question then is what does pentagon leadership do? that's something that's being discussed by the civilian leadership at the defense department right now. how do we react to what congress is possibly going to let us do? it's possible that pentagon leadership says we're not going to want that extra money. and then that's going to change everything up here. because congress is going to want to hand the department money. it's not the kind of money we need. that will change the dynamic, and that will keep the number a lot lower. it'll keep it closer to 70 billion total in oco. i don't think we're going to get
anywhere near 90 billion, there just aren't things to spend it on that aren't need 3. >> i guess just one note, you don't have to do a political trade of one for one of plussing up domestic discretionary. you have the advantage oco is in effect, you can sort of put money there, and basically the cap will rise along with it, and you act as if you have that more money, and you don't have to have any sort of trade-off. even though oc is not meant to be long-term modernization fund it's sort of if you say black is white and white is black the appropriators and the administration, then white can be black in the case of oco and it can be used for anything. but i think once you get away from just the people that need to put together a budget resolution that tallies in the right way, you'll have problems. mackenzie explained how there's a potential for a democrat-republic coalition and
if the pentagon says they don't need it, it's especially problematic. the administration can say we don't want it, we don't really consider this oco. i think dr. holtz-eakin could speak to it better than i can, but if omb doesn't say something is oco they don't have to go along with it and that may even be a bargaining tag tick because, obviously -- tactic because, obviously, the administration does not want oco a way to plus up the defense budget without having to bargain with democrats for additional domestic discretionary spending. we will come to points in the road procedurally where the democrats will have their say just as minorities have had their say in other situations and they also control the administration. >> sorry, rachel, i left that point out. one last thing on david's point, i believe the president regardless of what the oco does
he's going to do that. so i think that's why we know we're going to start this fiscal year with a continuing resolution unfortunately. >> the outlines of the deal are pretty clear and the tools, i think, are there to get it done. so you'll spend more on base budget on defense and you'll exceed the caps. the price will be more nondefense spending, president will demand it democrats will demand it. that's no big deal in the senate because you, all that you have is you exceed the allocations is a 16-vote point of order against the will. you need -- against the bill. you get the money if that deal gets struck. and then the deficits are dealt with by reducing mandatory spending, and they in both budget resolutions have included reck silluation instructions to all the committees, but you can always exceed the reconciliation instructions. litter it with the capabilities to get mandatory spending
reductions to offset through the senate on simple majorities. and reconciliation's only useful if the president wants to sign. so, you know otherwise there's just a long and time-consuming way to get a veto. but that means that you have to get a deal. you have to get presidential leadership that says i want this you want that and i will sign the offset to make sure that we maintain our deal with the american public on deficits. we haven't seen this white house successfully pull that off in any setting so far. but it's on the table if they want to get there. and that's the right policy argument. presidential lineup would make it a better -- presidential leadership would make it a better political argument. >> yes, sir. >> peter humphrey former diplomat and current analyst. my concern is the pentagon doesn't seem to be getting it on the future of swarmed warfare. imagine dozens of cruise missiles instead of another overpriced f-22 imagine hundreds of drones instead of an
f-22. imagine if we lose an aircraft carrier. what can we -- what can the congressional budgeteers due to compel the pentagon to buy a thousand millenium falcons instead of another death star? [laughter] >> it's definitely of part of the discussion and the debate in the policy making community, is the resurrection, i would argue, of mass -- [inaudible] base warfare of the future. and where numbers just matter again. it's not just about the extraordinary capability that the u.s. could bring to bear but, frankly, how many of what type of -- how much capacity do we have. normally when people use the term "capacity" in washington they're talking about army end strength actually, it can apply across the fleets and services and units and capabilities. there is an appreciation that that's the kind of thinking that's required. these budgets don't generally
support it even if it's a lower cost item. you look at how starting back in 2013 this is not just the budget control act cuts, but the sequestration and sequestration level spending that has hit the pentagon modified since. the hardest hit spending has been not just in modernization specifically in procurement, but all of the minor procurement programs. so we typically tend to think of the major high profile programs, and they certainly have taken some reductions. but really it's the 60% of that spending on all of the little things that the defense department wants to buy has taken the hardest hit. it's really the death by a thousand cuts story. so as this debate continues and we see this play out for the fiscal year '16 pentagon leadership has already said the plurality of reductions that will happen when we don't get
the president's request for defense will again come out of this same account, and it'll probably happen in a similar way budgetarily. as has happened in recent years. so right now it's important to have the discussion but i don't think there's going to be much action on that kind of a recommendation until there's more fiscal certainty for the department. it's definitely something in the conversation leading up to 2016, however. >> i think that's a great look at the political dynamics. i guess i would add that part of the question is built around the idea of is it possible for congress to exercise that kind of intellectual leadership on major dock tribal technological questions that deal with future threats. in, i'm not especially optimistic. it's part of the system that the preponderate gone is much larger it has people who have entire centers. i don't think congress is that inclined to challenge fundamentally the kind of strategy and technology and weapons systems that defense department proposes. so the most effective channel for reform may be within, you
know, the schoolhouse and the different services or the defense intellectual community. i think, you know congress clearly does say we don't like certain things but it's often at the margins. it's not a major rethink. we don't want this plane we do want that plane. it's too early to cut the a10. of course, there's room more something striking. what if an aircraft carrier was sunk although would that require a war with china for that to happen? there's certainly the possibility of dramatic events to change thinking but that might act through the defense department and through the military before congress sort of stepped up to the plate. >> i'm not a defense expert, but my experience in agencies across the government is congress is much more likely to cement adherence to the past and to -- than to change things for the future. and, you know, all of those members have districted and they have something from the past, and they don't want to change it. that's a more common dynamic than really forcing an agency to
change the way it does business. >> other questions in yes, sir. >> yes, i have a question about foreign propaganda. isil has videos, for example they have videos where they're executing some assad regime members as well as, i believe videos executing russian intelligence agents. and i believe that's, that's for the western media. it's not more those mar countries. for those particular countries. so my question is given russia's case in syria, for example they sponsor the assad regime and once they took over -- [inaudible] they became a superpower because russia with the ukraine is a superpower. they have better terms of going through the turkish straits than we do. we can only have a token presence in the black sea. and the syrian ports are the first ports they come to, so they can expand their navy with that. so we have this supposed conflict between assad and isil as well as the iran/iraq conflicts.
and i think the shooting down of the malaysian air could be an article v offense certainly if afghanistan was -- i think that's the only time article v has come into effect. but the afghanistan war was due to shooting down september 11th aircraft. so i think the shooting down of the malaysian air would be just as much an article v offense. so how do you maintain a balance and dispassionately plan your defense budget when there's all this propaganda that's designed to provoke rage and passion which you have to put aside? >> want to go first? >> [inaudible] laugh. >> no, i'm glad to. well, i mean, yeah. a lot of the propaganda is targeting the west. i'm not sure how much of an impact it has on our defense planning and spending. some people might say that the decision to sort of brutally execute a number of american journalists is an e educate ifive provocation and has led to
us taking more action. on the other hand, i think there was a strong case we were ignoring the threat, and they did us the favor in some ways of alerting the american public to just how i grave it was. it is a group that sees no limits on its brutality and its ambition down the road is to eventually attack the american homeland. so in some ways it provided an emotional complement to what was already a strong rational case for dealing with the threat. in terms of balancing between regions, you know sort of the administration proposed a few years ago as part of its current strategy sill nominal hi in place -- still nominally in place the pivot to asia. europe was spreading security to other regions that we could afford to do less in the middle east while having it be quote-unquote, priority and we could put more into asia. and part of the challenge is we can't actually trade off one region less, one region more. they each have the potential for these major threats, and whether
it's the national defense panel or other groups considering this, you have to have a force structure and a force large enough and with the appropriate technology to deal with threats in all of them. and, of course, yes, that does mean the defense budget is going to go hire, but we tried to make the point before not approaching anywhere like the cold war or even the reagan levels. 27% of the budget was for defense in his last year in office. if we went back up to the low 20s or around the same percentage of gdp there was, we could handle all three of these theaters. i'm less concerned about having our balance distorted by propaganda. except for the chinese the chinese are trying to have the opposite propaganda. they realize the smartest kind is the one that lulls us and leads us to believe there isn't a threat whereas the other regions tend to have propaganda that provokes an american response. >> i'll just make a comment because i appreciate your point about sort of emotional reactions and what congressional, you know, emotional actions and
congressional reactions which, i mean, this town has become too good at just managing crises as opposed to solving problems, and i don't think we should expect much different unfortunately for the next two years. however, there's a growing recognition that there is a problem, and doing this i think, has been identified already. senator cotton in his keynote mentioned this. there will come a moment where we'll spend more and i guess what i would say is not just this congress or this administration, there is no spigot that's turning back on for defense regardless of the threat and that's its own problem, but also it's a challenge. let's pretend it's actually going to change something and it did. a couple of things. one, there's an increasing conventional wisdom in town that the pentagon can deal with anything and everything, and it's just going to have to deal with what it's got and, of course, that's smaller older and less capable. so that's not actually -- and as that happens, we're dialing down
the strategies, so we're actually dialing down our objectives globally which is its own challenge. but i don't see any threat that's going to cause some sort of windfall in defense spending for the next two years. it's not coming. this is about a discussion for beyond 2016. so when it's time ore build, if that's what's agreed upon by the left and the right in washington then what -- where do we put those investments where do we spend any extra money? again here washington is just not -- doesn't have a good proven track record particularly if it's in response to crisis. if 9/11 happened again knowing what we know now, i don't want a dni, i don't want a new entire security intelligence apparatus, i don't want a new department of homeland security. there's so many things wrong with the dollars we just poured into security after 9/11 and so much inefficiency that i'd argue we're not prepared even if there was a crisis that turned it back on, but it won't. >> next question here from
jordan. >> thank you, special operations headquarters. my question is a little bit larger and broader. our partners and allies watch our budget debates they actively watch our congressional engagements, and they see the dysfunction that we portray. yet on the flipside, we have our national leaders criticizing nato members, criticizing partners and allies that they don't spend enough or don't spend accurately. i guess my question would be what advice can you give those partners and allies not only to spend more -- which granted, i think they do need to spend more -- but how do they spend better? it's not just pouring more dollars into it, david said, but what should those dollars go towards? >> sure. fair point. it's manager we've had de-- it's something we've had defense secretaries of both parties preaching for many years now. it's a good one. i don't think the message was
sinking in until now when our friends and partners are charging the hill they turn around, and we're not there. so really it's only a function of reality at this point. we can talk until we're blue in the face, and it wasn't going to be enough until they realize our smaller military really, true hi can't do everything that -- truly can't do everything that it had promised in the past in some cases probably overpromised. that's, obviously, a whole worrisome promise as an american for other reasons, but it is really truly what it is. we have, we have declining capacity and capability and it can logical superiority -- technological superiority, so it's now a function of naked self-interests, and i think we have to have those adult conversations with our friends and allies just like the panel has said. we need those adult considerations in washington and america about entitlement. completely unaffordable. david and i are never going to see a penny of social security, and if you're under 40, you're
never going to either. let's all have the adult conversations, and i think that's one of them. >> i'm probably willing to think i'm get half, 50% of the benefits? >> nah. >> no? >> let me -- oh, a question right here. >> good morning to everyone, my name is joanne chase, i wanted to thank senator cotton and every member of this panel. i have a question. you mentioned something to the effect that no matter what the interest we had in increasing this budget, the will was not there within our congress. is that correct? >> the will -- >> to raise the budget and vote on increasing. >> oh, right now. i don't think the will is there in general in washington. as we've seen recent threats emerge like islamic state, like the annexation of crimea by russia, like china's aggression in the south china s