tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN October 29, 2015 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT
positive step, we also look forward to the day when birth limits are abandoned all together and the united states and our work around the world continues to oppose coercive birth limitation policies, including things like forced abortion and sterilization. so this is -- this would fall in the category of policies that are directly related to universal human rights and the kind of human rights that the president of the united states and this government advocates for around the world, including in our dealings with china. okay? jeff? >> can you give us an update on the president's deliberations about sending special forces to syria? >> jeff, i know there's been some reporting about this but a couple of things that i would say about this. the first is that i don't have any new announcements to make today. the second is that there are
maybe even as we speak u.s. military pilots flying in the skies over syria engaged in military operations against isil targets and other extremist targets inside of syria. those operations have been going on for more than a year now. the third thing i would point out is that there are -- there have been previous situations where the president has ordered u.s. military personnel to conduct operations on the ground inside of syria in at least one case that was related to an effort to rescue american citizens who are being held hostage inside of syria. in another situation, a more recent situation, u.s. operators carried out a mission against an isil leader and that mission resulted in taking that isil leader off the battlefield and
collecting important, valuable intelligence about isil. our approach to this all along has been to implement a strategy against isil that is focused on building the capacity of local forces to take the fight on the ground to isil in their own country. that is a critical part of our -- of the military component of our broader strategy and there are a variety of ways where we've tried to build up the capacity of those local forces. in some cases that was trying to take some of those fighters outside of the country and train them and equip them. and we've talked about the fact that that program didn't have the -- didn't produce the kind of results that we would like to see. but there have been at least a couple of situations where the united states has taken military action to resupply and reinforce those fighters on the ground to give them greater capability to take the fight to isil.
some of those american military pilots that i referred to earlier have carried out air strikes in support of on going operations on the ground and i think that's an indication of how central this is to our strategy and this has been a difficult part of our strategy. because at least in iraq where the situation is similarly difficult, at least we have an organized central government with whom we can work and -- that have command and control of security forces on the ground that we can support. obviously, that's not the situation inside of syria so it's more difficult but i do not envision a scenario any time soon where that basic strategy is going to change. ultimately, we'll be successful when we can succeed in building up the capacity of fighters on the ground inside of syria who can take the fight to isil inside their own country. the united states cannot unilaterally impose a military solution on the situation inside of syria. >> what is the president's
reaction been to the proposals that military commanders and others have made so far and when do you expect a decision on that next stage? >> i don't have any -- well, i'm not going to get into the back-and-forth that the president has with his national security team, including his military advisors, other than to say that the president's approach time and again here has been to look for ways that we can redouble our efforts in those areas where our strategy is yielding some progress. so, for example, we talk about this a couple of weeks ago when the president made a decision to expand our support to some of the opposition groups that are fighting isil in northern and northeastern syria. that grew out of an earlier operation to offer some support to fighters in that region of
the country where they used those weapons and materials to make important progress against isil and to drive isil out of a large swath of syria. and recognizing the success of those efforts, the president wanted to further intensify them. and so, the president has routinely given his instructions to his team to search for ways to intensify those elements of our strategy that are bearing fruit. but in terms of -- and so our military planners and the president's military advisors are always looking for ways to do precisely that. i don't have an update at this point in terms of timing of when any sort of changes along those lines will be announced if any. okay? jim? >> good afternoon, josh. a couple questions on russia if i could, please. so yesterday it appears as though russia may have flown near the carrier "uss ronald
reagan" off the korean peninsula. along with everything else that russia has been doing with ukraine and syria and our own relations at the worst point since the cold war and are we in a new cold war with russia? >> well, jim, about that specific incident, my colleagues at pacific command can give you more details of it. i was briefed earlier today and my understanding is that the "uss ronald reagan" was operating in international waters in sea of japan. they were involved in a military exercise with the -- with their military counterparts in south korea, close ally of the united states. so this russian -- these russian aircraft were intercepted first by korean military aircraft that were operating in the region. there were four f/a-18 fighters from carrier air wing 5 that were launched to intercept the bombers and the u.s. navy aircraft did escort the russian
aircraft until they departed the area where the carrier, the "uss ronald reagan" was operating. we have previously raised concerns about russian military aircraft essentially carrying out incursions on the sovereignty of other countries. we've raised concerns about this most recently in turkey, i believe, but including -- also in places like the baltic states. this was a little different. this is international waters and international airspace so we have regularly urged the russian military to make sure that their operations in this space were consistent with generally accepted international protocols and this is a particular situation that did not result in a significant confrontation for that reason.
but to go to your broader question about the relations between our two countries there's no doubt there are some vigorous disagreements between our two countries on issues like ukraine in syria most prominently. and i think we've been pretty candid about our concerns about russian behavior particularly with regard to those two countries. but the cold war, i'm certainly no historian, but the cold war was characterized by two international superpowers who were in a sort of global test that was backed by the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. the situation today is much different than that. russia is no longer a superpower. observed in the last couple of weeks the condition of russia's
economy is weak and further deteriorating. they are now the 15th largest economy in the world and they rank somewhere behind spain. and their economy is getting worse and russia is isolated in a significant way. not just from countries in europe but as they get further engaged in a sectarian quagmire inside of syria they're finding that the only friends they have there to fight in a difficult fight with them are as a floundering syrian government and the iranian regime. so russia does not have the same kind of influence around the globe that the soviet union once did. russia does not have the kind of economic power that the soviet union once was able to flex.
and clearly the relationship between our two countries has been significantly affected by that. in that time period, the influence of the united states has only increased and been enhanced. our economy continues to get stronger and that isn't just good for the american people, it also enhances our international influence, as well. >> are you saying they're not dangerous? >> i didn't say that. obviously, we're concerned about some of the activity that russia has been engaged in in both ukraine and in syria. and we believe that efforts to prop up the assad regime in particular will be both counterproductive and have already proven to be destabilizing and there's no doubt russia felt like they had to take this step in order to prop up the assad regime and the assad regime has already shown
itself to be a regime that's willing to use the military might of that country against its own citizens, it's despicable behavior we've seen from them and it's cost a lot of syrian lives. and the fact that russia is throwing in their lot and using their military capabilities to s only augment that use of force is something that we are quite concerned about. >> i guess what i'm trying to get at, josh, is that for the american people, people sitting at home, russia meddling in either ukraine or syria is one thing. flying over our carriers, engaging with our military, sounds like something totally different. are the russians becoming now a danger to the united states rather than just a pest in areas far away? >> right. well, the relationship between our two countries has -- is much different than it was during the cold war, and we've got significant concerns with russia's behavior, particularly the use of their military in
places like ukraine and in syria. and obviously, anywhere around the world where we need to take steps to ensure the safety and security of our men and women in uniform, we're going to take those steps. that was not a particularly threatening encounter. this was in international waters and once the u.s. military aircraft had been launched the russian military aircraft were escorted away. and so, i don't think this military situation that was recently reported reflects a change in the relationship between our two countries. what does reflect a change is the increasing international isolation of russians, further deterioration of the russian economy and i think the question for the russians will be can they contribute to a political effort to try to resolve the situation inside of syria. right now their military actions inside of syria. put that settlement out of
reach. the question is, is russia prepared to adjust their strategy and be more productive? and this is something that -- this is a proposition secretary kerry is testing in vienna right now. >> just one question on domestic. congressman ryan, the new speaker of the house, he was pro-immigration before. he supported the immigration reform bill is my understanding that was passed by the senate. yet, he has now said no immigration bill will pass as long as president obama is in office. he's been quoted as saying that. are you disappointed that he is not leading in an area where he has supported? >> yeah. well, we've made no effort to hide the deep level of disappointment here in the white house on the part of many republicans to put the perceived political interests of the republican party ahead of the best interests of the united states of america. now, i'm not quite sure why there are some republicans who
think that blocking immigration reform, something that has strong bipartisan support across the country, something that has a strong support of evangelical leaders, law enforcement leaders, labor leaders and even corporate leaders like the chamber of commerce just across the street here, why they believe that that's going to enhance their political standing. i don't think it does, but more importantly, it is a missed opportunity when it comes to taking a common sense step to reduce our deficit, taking a common sense step to grow our economy and taking a common sense step to deal with the millions of immigrants in this country that are currently living in the shadows. the fact is, a failed policy that is currently in place is not one that brings greater accountability to those individuals. the steps the president has implemented using his executive action did finally bring some badly needed accountability to this system and made sure that
we have an immigration system that is consistent with our values as a country. >> what does it say about his leadership, i guess is what i'm asking you, if he believes in something but says it won't go to a vote even though he has the power to do it? does that concern you? >> well, it's certainly disappointing and it was disappointing last year when house republicans effectively blocked a bipartisan piece of senate legislation that would have passed the house of representatives in bipartisan fashion if republican leaders had allowed it to come up for a vote. so, you know, i don't know that there's -- i don't know there that there's anybody around here that's surprised by this recent declaration from speaker ryan, but it certainly continues to be okay? 0. >> thanks, josh. defense secretary carter was peppered with questions about u.s. responsibility to defend american trained syrian rebels and i'm wondering how far the
president is willing to go to defend those rebels, particularly considering the possibility of russian attacks on their positions. >> well, we have indicated that the united states can be supportive of the effort of some moderate opposition fighters on the ground inside of syria. in fact, this is a central part of our military strategy inside of syria because there is no central government there with whom we can effectively coordinate, and therefore, no central military with whom we can effectively coordinate, the united states and our coalition partners need to find moderate syrian opposition fighters with whom we can work and this means there are a variety of ways this support can be provided by to them. there have been air drops that have been carried out on at least on a couple of occasions in northern and northeastern syria providing much-needed supplies and military equipment including some ammunition to
fighters in that country. this is a reflection of the desire of the president to intensify the strategy that had shown some progress so there are also steps that we can take when it comes to carrying out air strikes against isil targets in advance of the work of these fighters on the ground to soften up targets. make it a little easier. we have seen that with the support of air strikes that the performance of moderate syrian opposition fighters has improve so there is some level of coordination going on in that regard. ultimately, the president has been quite clear. the situation in syrian is not going to turn into another proxy war, or a proxy war between the united states and russia. this is not akin to other cold war conflicts we saw several decades ago.
so i think at the same time i think the russians understand the desire to deconflict their operations with ours and, you know, we've made quite clear to the russians about the importance of them doing that. it's important to the united states and our coalition partners because of the investment we've made there but it should be important to the russians because this is a coalition effort to support those opposition fighters and carrying out a sustained campaign against them would only further isolate the russians. but in some ways most importantly the russians themselves have acknowledged that a political solution inside of syria is the only way to resolve the violence in that country. the russians themselves say that they have made ending the violence in that country a top priority. the problem is their military
strategy is inconsistent with their stated political objective and that as russia continues to take strikes against the opposition inside of syria, they only further prop up the assad regime. they only make it easier for the assad regime to reach the conclusion that they don't have to engage in a discussion about a political transition inside of syria. and, in fact, what the russians are doing is further alienating the syrian opposition and in some cases even driving those opposition fighters into the arms of extremists. so that's why we have urged the russians to try to find a way to contribute constructively militarily and diplomatically and in terms of their constructive diplomatic contribution, secretary kerry is talking to them about that in vienna right now. okay? >> you forced me into it. >> okay. >> i have to --
>> i'm not sure what but i can't wait. >> you pushed me from my original question into a hypothetical which is essentially is the president comfortable with the idea of syrian rebels shooting down or shooting at the russians with american-provided by weapons? >> well, i don't think i would entertain that hypothetical. let me set out a couple things. let me restate -- i'll try to be constructive, though. let me restate proxy war policy here which is the president's been clear. the president said this himself that syria won't be another proxy war -- not going to be a proxy war between the united states and russia and is certainly not akin to those cold war conflicts we saw in a previous era. the second thing that's important to understand about these opposition fighters is that while they certainly are in some situations coordinating their efforts with our coalition so that they can be backed by air strikes, in some situations these moderate opposition fighters are benefitting from
equipment and ammunition being supplied by our coalition, but it's not a situation right now where those opposition fighters are being led by u.s. military personnel. they're not under the command and control of the united states military. and i just point that out because the opposition fighters themselves are going to make their own decisions about what's necessary to protect themselves. and that's just a fact. okay. laura? >> thank you. there was a detainee who was freed from guantanamo bay. when's the white house reaction? >> i can confirm there was a detainee at -- present at guantanamo that was repatriated to mauritania, that the united states coordinated with the
government of mauritania to ensure this transfer took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures. that brings to the number of detainees at guantanamo now to 113 and this is part of our ongoing strategy to eventually succeed in closing the prison at guantanamo bay. >> do you think that will happen? >> closing the prison? i can tell you the reason it hasn't happened is because congress has made a concerted effort to put obstacles in the way of our strategy to close the prison and, you know, it's -- many of you have reported on the fact that the administration is working with congress to if not remove those obstacles at least lower them so that we can make additional progress in closing the prison but there are -- i don't know if i have the statistics in front of me here but there are -- we've made important progress and we can get you the statistics in terms
of how much progress we've made in reducing the detainee population there. just this year we've reduced the detainee population from 127 to 113. the statistics over the course of the administration are more significant that that. but there obviously is more work to be done in this regard and rather than having congress impede our efforts we would welcome the contributions of members of congress to at least just get out of the way so we can get this important work done on behalf of the american people. >> i have another question. about the debate yesterday. former governor bush spoke about the french -- >> i hope you didn't take that personally, laura. i can vouch that you certainly work more than most members of congress. >> it's a big story in france. the french ambassador -- >> you guys are so sensitive! [ laughter ] >> look who's talking.
>> i bet you governor bush is just jealous. >> i was just curious to see what the president think about the french quality of life. [ laughter ] [ inaudible ] >> right? i haven't spoken to the president about this particular exchange during the debate but i do think the president has visited france on a number of occasions and had an opportunity to talk about the warm welcome he's received from the french people on a number of occasions and he certainly has enjoyed the many opportunities he's had to visit that country. >> does he like our quality of life? >> it certainly seems to be a quality of life that many french people have warmly embraced. as they should. ron? >> in vienna with iranians, is the administration particularly hopeful that something will really happen this time around?
is there any reason for more optimism? >> well, there are a couple different ways to answer that question. i -- let me start by acknowledging that this kind of -- the political transition that is the goal of these talks is something that we have been seeking for years now and some of you have covered this more closely than i have that these talks have started and stopped and started and stopped more times that i can count at this point. and each time they stop it seems like they have to start over from the beginning and in some cases backtrack even further so there's no irrational exuberance, if you will, to borrow a phrase, about the ability of the international community to coordinate their efforts in the near term on this.
but, you know, i guess i'm feeling philosophical today. the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, right? >> what about the iranian participation now? >> i'm sorry? >> what about the iranian participation now. what does the administration think that adds or subtracts from the process? >> well, i guess -- these talks were difficult before the iranians were involved and there has been a conclusion reached by the administration that this is something that the president discussed in his speech at the united nations earlier -- i guess it was last month by acknowledging, look. the iranians and russians, given the degree to which they have propped up the assad regime are going to need to be involved in this effort. and the reason far is simply that if the russians and iranians prop up the assad regime it's going to be very difficult for us to succeed in
carrying out a political transition here. now, the -- as mentioned earlier, the russian military strategy to prop up the assad regime is entirely inconsistent with the political goals that they've laid out because at the same time the russians themselves have acknowledged that the situation inside of syria won't be resolved without a political transition. so there's -- there's an inherent disconnect in what russia is doing inside of syria right now. and the only way to work through that is to try to engage them in this process with the other country that is are making a constructive opportunity to bring about the political transition inside of syria that's necessary to end or at least diminish the chaos seen in the country. that starts first and foremost with the terrible blood shed we've seen there. but it's also led to this terrible humanitarian crisis with millions of syrians fleeing their homes to escape violence, and in some cases they're fleeing to other countries in europe and they're dying as they do that.
so this is a significant situation and significant problem for the international community and the united states is playing the role that we often have in trying to bring the international community together to try to solve it. >> on the fight against isil, isis, whatever you want to call it, there is a lot going on about the mission that seems to be a little bit unclear and questions about whether the defense minister and the president on the same page and we have heard this debate ant combat or not combat. and you've used language like redoubling our efforts, looking for opportunities to -- where there might be more direct action by american troops. so, has this whole fight reached a turning point now? is there something really different now that the administration sees where there's an opportunity, perhaps in the final stretch of its time here or are we over interpreting this? overanalyzing this?
i know that there are ongoing assessments. heard all the language. it feels like that the moment there's something that's different happening. and it's more aggressive and it involves more americans, involved in combat right now. >> yeah. let me start by saying that i have no doubt about the fact that the secretary of defense is on the same page as the commander in chief with this regard and i'm confident that if you had the opportunity to ask him that, he would tell you the same thing. as it relates to this moment in time i think you are right that the president has told his team that think need to be continually assessing our strategy inside of syria and looking for ways to intensify those elements of our strategy that seem to be yielding the most progress. and there are a couple of different ways where we have talked about here where we have done that. and what's also true is that given the deeper involvement by the russians and the iranians they now have an even greater stake than they did before in
trying to bring about the kind of political transition we all acknowledge is necessary. that as russia and iran get mired more deeply in the quagmire inside of syria, it becomes even more in their interest for the kind of political transition that even they acknowledge is necessary to occur. >> in the face of this increased russian and iranian involvement, is it fair to say the united states is amping up its game, too, militarily? >> well, i mean, there's -- again, at this point, there's no denying that the united states and coalition partners have made an important contribution to the joint effort to degrade and ultimately destroy isil. and that's required the united states to make a significant investment here. but it's far different than the kind of long-term, large scale,
ground combat mission that the united states was previously engaged in this iraq under the orders of president bush. the -- this president has a very different strategy. and is a strategy that involves significant risk for our men and women in uniform and why we owe them a debt of gratitude for their courageous service. but the kind of commitment that we're making is a different one and it reflects the recognition on the part of this president that the united states can't impose military solution on this problem. this is a solution that the international community will have to work together to bring about the kind of political transition inside of syria that's necessary. the u.s. can lead that effort but we certainly won't be in a position to do it alone. >> lastly, i haven't heard an assessment of the fight against isil. weeks and months past, you have given various statistics of territories taken back and so on
and so forth. is there -- and i don't want to oversimplify it by saying are we lo winning or losing but in the state of play is there evidence, concrete evidence, that the mission is successful, we're making progress because, again, it feels like that's not the case. >> yeah. well, ron, we have always resisted the urge, the understandable one, i think the american people have, to do a play by play of what's happening inside of iraq and syria. these kinds of military situations don't lend themselves to that very well. primarily because as the president himself has acknowledged there will be periods of progress and there will be times of setbecome and we certainly experienced both as recently in just the last couple of months. we have undertaken operations to even take out the number two leader in isil. that certainly reflects some important progress. but there have been areas inside of iraq, ramadi come the mind, that did represent a setback.
and, you know, the latest statistic i have seen on this one is than i was earlier this summer if you combine, according to to our assessments, if you combine the areas in iraq and syria where isil was previously able to -- that areas that were previously under isil control, populated areas, that now in about 20% to 25% of that combined area between circumstance and syria, isil is no longer able to freely operate. not just large swaths of the desert but populated area. and that's certainly represents progress and that progress is -- was yielded by the successful implementation of our military strategy on the ground. but we're not ready to unfurl any banners as a result of that progress. there's a lot more that needs to get done and there's a lot more that will be required to eventually complete the stated goal of degrading and destroying
isil. >> you mentioned the refugee crisis, the greek government was saying the other day that they were involved recently in a largest rescue operation of the year along the mediterranean and as you know there are awful harrowing scenes of children, families dying in the water, boats overturned and let alone what happens to them once they get inland. is the u.s. contemplating humanitarian efforts? i know there are other ways the united states is involved and contributing, but does the administration see that as such an acute crisis that there's a need for something more specific on the humanitarian level? >> well, the united states continues to be the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the syrian refugee crisis and this -- our contribution now is about $4.5 billion. and this is money that goes to trying to meet the needs of syrian refugees, both inside of syria, but also, to those countries that are affected by
the large influx of syrian migrants. the degree to which that money has flowed specifically to these places in greece where many syrians are landing, i'd refer you to the state department on that. maybe they'll give you some more granular detail of where that assistance is actually going at this point. okay? andrew? >> thanks. you played on the incident off the korean peninsula for obvious reasons. i'm wondering if you sought an explanation from the russians as to what they were doing. they must have known that this operation was taking place. have you summoned the ambassador or -- >> i'm not sure what sort of communication we have had with the russians since this incident took place. but i'd refer you to my colleagues at pacific command. they're taking most of the incoming questions on this and they may be able to give you a greater sense of whether there's military to military communication about this particular episode. you could also try the state department, too. i know sometimes they're involved in delivering the
messages when they need to be delivered. >> separate issue, the u.n. post today said it would hear brought by the philippines of the south china sea. i wonder if the u.s. plans to join with that body and will whether you welcome countries in the area taking it to the u.n. >> andrew, i'll have to follow up with you in terms of our specific pous which are on joining that organization. i don't know the answer to that question. this may be an appropriate time to repeat things i said before which is that the united states takes no position on competing sovereignty claims to land features in the south china sea rather what we have done is we have urged all countries with claims on territory in the south china sea to work through diplomacy to try to resolve those differences. and no country, including china,
should be trying to use their size or influence to try to resolve those confrontations militarily or through some other means. they should resolve them diplomat diplomatically. you know, i'll note that, you know, there's coverage of the recent u.s. military operation in the south china sea. the freedom of navigation operation we carried out and the fact is that freedom of navigation operations are not a challenge to the sovereignty of land features but in this case freedom of navigation operation was carried out consistent with what the president said when he was standing in the rose garden next to the chinese president and that's simply the principle gnat united states will fly, sail and operate anywhere that international law allows. >> so you wouldn't -- you would expect that those operations will continue then, this wasn't a one-off? >> for any future operations i'd
refer you to the department of defense. those operational decisions will be announced at that level but we certainly would as a policy matter that's set by the commander in chief reserve the right to carry out the operations in the future primarily because we believe in the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce and countries like china, ironically enough, have a stake in ensuring the free flow of commerce. they would be impacted if the free flow of commerce is interrupted in that part of the world. the reason sbits is interested here is because we're not making claims on those land features there but we certainly do have a financial interest and a broader strategic interest in ensuring that freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce continues unimpeded in the south china sea. >> sorry. parliaments voted to allow a third term.
i was wondering if you have a reaction to that given it sounds very much like the thing the president was talking about addressing the au and others. >> i haven't seen that specific news but what you just said about the president's remarks at the african union and is first thing that popped into my head, as well. i think the president was colorful in describing why it's important for leaders around the world to follow the basic constitutional requirements of the government and the people that they serve. okay. kevin? >> josh, thanks. i want to circle back on ron's question for just a second. it's question about language. you probably heard defense secretary carter yesterday describe the death of josh wheeler as in combat. is there any hesitance from where you stand on behalf of the administration to use another word that he died in combat? >> well, kevin, i think what the secretary of defense was quite
clear about is that the specific operation that he was involved in brought him into combat wi with -- in a very doing you situation in a dangerous part of the world. not the first time that american service members have been a part of a combat operation like that. as i mentioned earlier, the rescue mission, the attempt to rescue american hostages held by isil inside of syria. i mentioned earlier that u.s. military personnel had carlied out a raid against an isil leader in syria. >> right. >> and there certainly were that -- isil fighter that isil leader taken off the battlefield. i think that would be a clear indication that there's an exchange of fire there and i think it should be pointed that even as we speak we have u.s. military pilots potentially as we speak, we have u.s. military pilots operating in the skies over syria. carrying out military air
strikes against extremist targets on the ground. so we have been quite candid about the significant risk that our men and women in uniform face but what people need to understand is that while that particular operation, you know, brought master sergeant wheeler into a very dangerous situation the mission that our men and women in that region of the world have is quite different than the long-term, large-scale combat mission that they were given by president bush in 2003. but the situation now, while it continues to be dangerous, and while those men and women in uniform face a risk that we would certainly not downplay, there's no denying that the mission that they're carrying out is quite different. >> so, just so i'm clear, the mission may not be a combat mission but there will be instances potentially where they're in combat situations. is that accurate?
>> that is accurate. i think we have been quite clear about that and that certainly is an apt way to describe what our military pilot who is are flying over iraq and syria right now face. that certainly is true any time our military personnel undertake an operation to go after a high value target inside of iraq or in syria and it certainly is the case when we see that our military personnel, engaged in operation to try to rescue hostages. this is certainly the kind of operation that our search and rescue experts would be prepared to undertake if u.s. or coalition aircraft were shot down over syria. so, you know, i think this is part of the -- part of the risk that our men and women face in that region of the world and have since the president sent them over there. but again, you know, i keep going back to this because this is what the nature of the debate
about terminology stems from. which is, that the mission that our men and women in uniform are carrying out inside of iraq and syria is a train, advise and assist mission and that is because the president is convinced that the united states cannot impose military solution on the effort to degrade and ultimately destroy isil. it's going to require us building up the capacity of local forces in iraq that task is a little bit easier because we have local security force that is are operating under the command and control of the iraqi central government with whom we can partner, with whom we can support and we can offer them advice. and some assistance. in syria, the situation is a little bit more challenging because we can't rely on the government there and we have to rely on opposition forces but ultimately it's going to be the responsibility of fighters inside of iraq and syria on the ground to take the fight to isil. >> just a couple more. i want to ask you about iran at
the negotiation table. as in regards to syria, i'm just curious why. if they are creating so much havoc in the region, why if iran is partnering with the russians to supply the syrian government with weapons, why invite teheran to the table? >> well, i think, kevin, the most direct way to describe it to you is basically say -- what's a pretty accurate observation. given the fact that essentially the iranians propping up the assad regime, you might reasonably conclude that the iranians have a lot of influence over the assad regime. the assad regime for years is resisting a political transition and are the iranians willing to use their influence over the assad regime to compel them to engage in the discussion constructively in the discussion to enact a political transition
inside of syria. it's unclear right now whether they're willing to do that. it's certainly in their interest to do so. they have the capacity to do so because the assad regime relies on them almost for the very existence. how will they use the influence? again, that's a proposition that secretary kerry is testing out. it's unlikely that it will be clear right away whether or not they're willing to use that influence for -- to hasten this political transition. that continues to be up in the air but we'll see. to exclude iran and russia from these conversations, you know, would be a missed opportunity. >> is it your understanding that the transition out of power for assad is not up for discussion? as has been reported in some circles. >> i think when's been reported is whether or not there are preconditions for conversations. the position of the united states has not changed. and that is simply that
president assad lost legitimacy to lead syria and meshd go and that's not just because we're sickened by the grotesque way in which he's carried out acts of violence against innocent syrian civilians although that's part of it. what's also true is that he's lost the legitimacy to lead that country in the eyes of the syrian people. he's used the military power of syria to attack innocent syrian civilians. why would those innocent syrian civilians continue to support his governance of the country? they won't. he's lost legitimacy to lead the country and for the disagreements with countries like russia and iran, there is agreement about the importance of trying to protect the broader integrity of the syrian country, to protect the institutions of that country and to put in place a leadership that will do a better job of unifying that country so that extremist elements like isil can't proliferate there. so this is a tall order and i
don't think it's obvious right away whether or not the russians and the iranians are going to make a positive contribution to this political transition. but we're going to start talking to them to figure out if they're willing to do this. >> on gitmo, lastly, is it administration's desire to drive down below 100 the number of detainees in custody by the end of the year? >> i wouldn't set a benchmark like that other than to say the goal is to get the population at the prison of guantanamo bay down to zero and the only reason we haven't been able to do that is because we have run into objections from members of congress and this is one of those instances where, you know, there's bipartisan blame to go around. democrats and republicans have not been helpful to this effort and that's ironic because there's bipartisan agreement that closing the prison at guantanamo bay is clearly in the
best interest of the united states. this is somebody that president bush observed himself, as well. so, you know, we're hopeful that congress as i mentioned earlier at a minimum get out of the way to do the important work. okay? margaret? >> josh, thanks. is the white house position now that the u.s. is willing to work with teheran on crisis management in the middle east? >> i think the way that i would describe our policy right now is that we're willing to engage the iranians in a diplomatic level alongside other interested parties inside of syria to determine whether or not we can enact the kind of political transition inside of syria that everybody acknowledges is necessary. you've covered this difficult effort for a long time now. you probably have a better sense of how many times it's started and stopped. so, you know, the fact is that we're going the try this again. but i also wouldn't -- i think
we're realistic about this significance of the challenge of completing this successfully. we're also realistic about the degree to which the iranians can be an effective partner with the united states on anything. the fact is we have got grave concerns with iranian behavior and there are innocent american who is are being detained inside of iran. iran continues to support terrorist organizations around the world. iran continues to support hezbollah which is destabilize the broader region including of syria and to say nothing of the way that iran menaces the closest ally in the middle east, israel. so we have significant concerns with iran. the question really is, in this specific instance, do our interests align sufficiently to allow us to make the kind of progress that would benefit citizens in both of our countries? again, i don't -- that's not
something that's obvious right now and i'm not sure that's manager that will be obvious right away but secretary kerry is undertaking an effort to have these kinds of conversations to determine whether or not this is possible. this is possible. >> this is the first conversation since the nuclear deal. that deal hadn't been implemented yet. >> that's true. >> does this offer have a limit to just syria or would the u.s. engage with iran on other issues? >> well, i think i would just say it's the only thing we're engaging with them on right now is the situation in syria. the fact of the matter is our interest inside of syria, when it comes to the need for political transition, the desire to degrade and ultimately destroy isil and other extremists groups operating inside of syria, those are at least two areas where all of our
instances with iran where our interests come into vigorous conflict, the president and the secretary of state determined that it's in our interest to test whether or not our interests overlap sufficiently that the iranians can make it a constructive contribution to our effort. he made this clear back in september. and this is just a continuation of that effort. >> on guantanamo, 15 months left in office, you've still got 115 there is no at in a in terms of locations of guys that will remain behind bars? >> there is a plan to close the prison at guantanamo bay.
we have laid it out. there are detainees that have been cleared for transfer. there are detainees that can be prosecuted, and there are detainees that can't be safely released. and properly determining how to deal with each of these individuals is our strategy. now, there are elements of it that we're still putting together, and will eventually present to congress in an effort to try to convince them to stop making it harder for us to complete this critically important task. and that's something we're going to continue to work on and is involved scouting, locations inside the united states where these are facilities that are previously held dangerous people. and in some cases, they already are holding terrorists. and so the question is could those facilities be used to close the prison of guantanamo
bay? and essentially to transfer those individuals that can't be safely released or transferred anywhere else. >> all that takes time. retrofit those places, build new ones, so given that, is there a sense of urgency and does that extend to the president's willingness, possibly to use executive action to force some of these things to happen? >> well, there is a sense of urgely, and the president does believe that successfully closing the prison at guantanamo bay would be the best interest of our national secretary, we know that they continue to be a powerful recruiting tool for extremists, and the president is committed to doing this. and our strategy would be much more effective if it weren't being essentially sabotaged by the united states congress.
>> he's going to use all elements that he's identified. this would certainly be one of those priorities but there's no denying congress made this much more difficult. we're hopeful that we can find a way for, again, even if there are members of congress who don't really care about this or somehow don't want to be involved in this effort. we're not asking for them to be involved. we're mostly asking for them to a strategy that democrats and republicaning agree is in the best interest of the united states. >> does the u.s. owe this
individual an apology? >> i'm not aware of any plan to do that. >> can you guarantee that this individual will not return to the battlefield? >> john, as you know before these transfers can occur, the secretary of defense and other members of the president's national security team have to look closely at the background of this individual as well as the arrangements that are in place and the destination country to certify that appropriate measures have been taken to mitigate any risk that this individual may pose to national security. the secretary of defense had to certify that that was the case before this individual could be repay treuated. >> is there a guarantee that this individual will not return to the battlefield? >> again, the secretary of defense has to certify that sufficient steps have been taken to mitigate the risks that this individual posed to the national
security of the united states. and that's what the secretary of defense has certified. >> question, you mentioned an answer to numerous questions about guantanamo that there's bipartisan support for closing guantanamo, that's not a bipartisan majority, is it? >> what i'm referring to there is the support that was expressed by the bush administration for closing it. joe, nice to see you. >> thanks. >> how are you? >> i'm good. >> i'm doing fine. >> do you have any concerns about the budget deal unraveling and the senate given the fact that you have people on one hand on the republican side that are saying it doesn't reduce the debt, you have others saying it was crafted in secret behind closed doors in the white house? >> well, joe, when it comes to this congress we don't take anything for granted. i think that is a posture that has served us well over the past
few years. that said, we were gratified by the bipartisan support that this piece of legislation received in the united states house of representatives, and we remain reasonably confident that it was overseed in the united states of congress, or the united states senate as well. the thing that's important is that it represents, it reflects a compromise. democrats and republicans sat down at the negotiating table, they looked at the numbers and they made decisions based on their mutual assessment about what was in the best interest of the united states. and this meant avoiding another government shutdown, it meant ensuring that our national security and economic priorities were properly funded. and they put together a piece of legislation that i'm confident that nobody thinks is perfect. but, substantial bipartisan majority in the house did believe that it was in the best interest of the country and we're hopeful that a bipartisan majority in the senate will complete the same thing.
>> observations about rand paul's threat to bill buster. >> not really. >> purely political, use of the filibuster as a political tool? >> look, the fill buster is a tool that's been used by members of the united states senate for centuries. and it, some people have found that the filibuster has made the process in the senate quite frustrating. but i know that there are also a dant defenders of the that tradition in the united states senate. i'll let those folks fight it out. >> couple of housekeeping. >> okay. >> when was the president notified of the problem with the blimp yesterday? >> i don't know when the president was told specifically about this. about this incident. but i'm sure he's aware of it. >> and the last one, does the president have any thoughts about law enforcement officers in schools given the incident that happened? >> well, this is obviously, you know, a policy that is on the front page of the newspapers
these days. and i need to be careful here because there is a civil rights investigation that's been opened by the department of justice into this particular incident. but, soly just say that as a general matter, you know, individual jurisdictions, including school districts across the country have to make assessments about what they believe is in the best interest of the safety of students and teachers and individuals and schools. and we certainly would leave it to those individual school districts to make those decisions. and you know, it's certainly understandable how those kinds of decisions would be determined based on the unique environment of the schools, based on the neighborhood, based on the size of the schools, and those kinds of things. >> in an urban school, you might have a huge problem with gangs or whatever, armed, but in rural school, it might not be so severe. >> well, again, i think each school district is administrators need school district in the best position to
assess what sort of security precautions need to be instituted in order to protect students and teachers. and we certainly would respect the right of individual districts to make those kinds of decisions. you know, i suspect that most of the administrators are doing that mindful of the big debate we're having right now. without criminal justice reform, without the relationship between police officers and communities they serve. okay. april. >> that was a decision made by the local sheriff. i'm going to reserve comment on it.
>> when president obama was spoke before law enforcement officials in chicago, he talked about criminal justice out of control? what is the next step? is he going to meet in this time maybe try to present something, because he's come out here again angrier each time he comes. is he now willing to lean in and do something, send something to the hill? >> after the terrible incident in newtown, the administration worked together to put together a legislative package of ideas sent up to capitol hill. the administration put together a couple dozen executive actions to be taken to close loopholes and put in place policies that would make it a little bit more difficult for those who shouldn't have guns who are getting them. and these are regulations that don't undermine law-abiding americans, but would have impact
on keeping guns out of those who shouldn't have them. the most significant step is the step that congress can take. that is closing the loophole. this is common sense, it is a step that is strongly supported bay majority of democrats, and gun holders. and the reason that it has such strong support is because people recognize that it would not undermine the basic constitutional rights of law-abiding americans, but it would make it a little bit harder for somebody who is a criminal, or for somebody who is the subject of domestic violence restraining order, for example, from getting a firearm.
>> do you think it's a time to sit down at the table and try to work something out since the nra is considered the biggest hurdle in getting anything passed when it comes to this? >> we haven't seen much willingness on the part of nra to be particularly constructive in this regard. and i think they weighed in pretty aggressively back in 2013 to block the successful passage of this common sense proposal. >> is it time for everyone for sit at the table since we continue to see this and this president becomes angry? >> i don't think we'll see constructive engagement in that kind of effort by the other side until the american people make it clear that this is a priority. until the american people make it clear that the way the americans vote on this issue will have a significant impact
on the way they vote in the next election. that's the only way that we'll see the change in gun safety laws that we'd like to see. once congress has been clear, until it's been made clear what -- to congress what the her people want. >> lastly, paul ryan. did the president watch the new speaker of the house and his statements and nancy pelosi introduce him and the swearing in? >> i don't know if he had the tv on when that was going on or not. >> is this white house encouraged by the willingness to pray for one another when it comes for honesty and working closely together to make things done, to make the house work? >> look, we obviously welcome
those kinds of steps and gestures. i certainly wouldn't question the motivation or authenticity of those kinds of promises. but i will say that i think the way that the house republican majority will be judged is by their actions. if we can see a house republican majority actually seeking to lead the country in a bipartisan fashion and make progress by taking action on some of the common sense policies that we detailed earlier in this briefing, that's the way we will see whether or not republicans can be a governing party. right now if you just took a look at their presidential candidate, you'd have serious doubts about that. and i know this is something that senator mcconnell has not said publicly, but we're all quite aware of the concern that he has given the electoral map
that senate republicans will face in 2016, that the pressure is on republicans right now to demonstrate that they can be trusted with running the country. and based on the actions we've seen from a lot of conservative republicans in the house of representatives, there is a lot of doubt about that. now, the good news is that we did see democrats and republicans come together on this budget bill. and that is i think an early indication that they can possibly work together. but now there is a new speaker in town and we'll have to see if that trend continues. >> and lastly, john boehner has finally come out saying that the holy spirit led him to make -- or had some portion of his decision to leave now. and paul ryan is talking about praying, each side praying for one another. and this all comes i guess a couple weeks after the pope. it the president have an epiphany as well is this because
we're seeing all these leaders just -- they're succumbing to the holy spirit. so did the president have some kind of epiphany with the pope here? was there a spiritual awakening? >> i think the president did it talk about this a month or so ago. i think major asked him about it. maybe the next news conference you get called on, you can ask him about it. >> u.s. pharmaceutical company is in talks with allergen and if they combine would be the largest tax aversion in history. obviously this is something that the president says is a priority to stop, but it's been 13 months now since he announced that there would be rules.
what is the slowdown and is there frustration about this potential merger on the part of the administration? >> well, i don't have a specific reaction to the proposed merger announced by a specific company. i won't comment on individual transactions like that. for an update on the process at the treasury department, i'd refer to you the treasury department. but the president i think more generally mass made quite clear that this is the kind of loophole that leaves a lot of americans shaking their head and wondering why we've seen republican this is congress work so hard to aggressively protect corporate loopholes that only benefit the wealthy and well connected. and not trying to look out for middle class families. research, investment in job training and education, those are the investments that will make a real difference for the middle class and that's money well spent. and money that is spent on tax giveaways for corporations is
not serving the american people well and frankly i'm surprised that republicans spent so much time at the debate last night defending those kinds of policies. that certainly is not consistent with the best interests of the united states. certainly not consistent with the best interests of the american middle class. and it certainly doesn't represent a coherent realistic vision for the future of the united states with a really strong economy. >> will it news today lead the president to ask for treasury to get the rules done? >> again, for an update on that process, i'd refer you to the treasury department. >> are we going to hear more on this, not the about the particular deal, but about the aversion rules in general? >> the president views this -- without speaking to any corporate announcement, the president's passion for closing
these kinds of loopholes has not changed. the president believes that kind of money is much better spent by investing in job training and research and development and education and infrastructure, the kinds of things that are critical to building the strong middle class in america. >> the ceo specifically blamed the u.s. tax code as a reason he's seeking this deal. do you have a response to a ceo complaining about the tax code? >> i don't. i haven't seen will his entire comments. >> speaker ryan also urged republicans and democrats to wipe the slate clean between them. is that something will be would be willing to engage in? >> yeah. i think the president has regularly made clear, at least tried to make it clear, that he's willing to work with republicans across the aisle to advance the country's interests.
this budget agreement i think is one example of that. there are white house officials involved in helping reach this agreement that is clearly in the best interests of the country. the administration did work closely with republicans over the summer to build a bipartisan majority for trade promotion authority legislation. chairman ryan played a part in building that passage. and if there are other areas where republicans are willing to work with the administration to advance the priorities of the country, the president is certainly eager to work on that. his only interest is get things done for the american people. >> does that mean we may have heard the last from the president likening the republicans to the grumpy cat? >> i think typically the president has described republican presidential candidates rather aptly as the grumpy cat.
we heard a lot of them talk last night bemoaning questions about the size of government, the tax rate, size of the deficit. the fact is those are all operations that have dramatically improved under the obama administration. there are fewer government employees under president obama than when he took off. the deficit has been cut by almost three quarters. and we've seen tax cuts for 98% of the american people protected and taxes go up on only about 2% of the wealthiest americans. so these are the kinds of policies that president obama has implemented, the kinds of policies that have strong support across the country, they're in the best interest of middle class families and the kinds of policies that have led to the longest sustained job growth that we've seen in american history. so i guess republican presidential candidates just need to turn that frown upside down.
>> how would you characterize the phone call yesterday between the president and the new speaker? >> it was cordial. the president and speaker ryan had an opportunity to talk about the budget agreement itself. the president certainly wished him well on what was then the impending vote. you've seen the president interact with mr. ryan before. obviously the president invited mr. ryan over to the white house after the last election. and the president and then congressman ryan had an opportunity to talk about some budget issues when president went and spoke at the house republican conference shortly after being elected. so there are a number of opportunities that the president and speaker ryan have had to interact and the president certainly respects speaker ryan as somebody who has a conviction
about his world view. he's somebody who is willing to do his homework and that is worthy of some respect. that doesn't in any way minimize the significance differences between the two of them about when it comes to a governing policy, but we continue to be hopeful and we're ready to wipe the slate clean and find other where is we can work together. >> do you think there might be a joint golf game in the future? >> i don't know if the speaker plays golf or not, but if he's interested, something like that can be arranged. i'm not sure he would think that was funny. cheryl, the last one. >> this came in during the briefing. it locks like the senate is going to take up the budget agreement very, very late tonight. is there a particular deadline for the president to sign the agreement? i know november 3 is one deadline.
>> i don't know the particulars. the debt limit has been attached to this agreement because there's a lot of optimism that the budget agreement would pass both houses of congress. so we obviously would like to see that done so the president can sign it into law before the debt limit has been reached on november 3. >> and also unrelated, there's the legislation introduced on a two-year budget cycle. duds the white house have a position on a process rather than every year annual process? >> i would have to check with my omb colleagues, but off the top of my head, it certainly seems in one way to at least cut in half the budget showdowns that we have in this country. that would be one benefit of this proposal. but check with omb for a more robust analysis. thanks a lot, everybody. we'll see you tomorrow.
>> friday experts for the center of american progress and the new schools short center for economic policy analysis address retirement savings and tax reform. we'll take you there live at 9:30 a.m. eastern on c-span 2. then on c-span 3, group of policy makers from the federal reserve and other institutions discuss where interest rates should be when the economy is healthy. watch it live at 10:00 a.m. eastern. >> all persons having business before the honorable, the supreme court of the united states give their attention. >> this week on c-span's landmark cases, we'll discuss the case of schenck versus the united states. in 1917, the united states entered world war i. patriotism was high, and some
forms of the criticism of the government were a federal offense. charles schenck handed out and mailed leaflets against the draft. >> this is the flier that was produced by charles schenck in 1917. 50,000 copies were used, and the point was to encourage men who were liable for the draft not to register. the language of this flier is particularly fiery, it equates a description of slavery and called on every citizen of the united states to exist the description laws. >> he was arrested, tried, and found guilty under the espionage act. schenck appealed and the case went to the supreme court. find out how the court ruled, and freedom of speech our guests incluld thomas goldstein, and beverly gauge, professor of history at yale university. that's coming up on the next landmark cases, live, monday at
9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span 3, and c-span radio. for background on each case while you watch, order your copy of the landmark cases companion book. it's available for $8.95 plus shipping at cspan.org/cases. from the road to the white house on thursday, republican presidential candidate ben carson delivers remarks and takes questions from students during a town hall at colorado christian university. carson is in colorado following the republican debate at the university of colorado boulder wednesday. this is about 45 minutes. ♪ above the fruited plain >> thank you very, very much. candy and are absolutely delighted to be here at colorado
christian university. you know, a bas chon of morality in today's society, and sometimes it takes courage, quite frankly today to be someone who stands up for principle. it's very problematic in our society right now. and one of the reasons that i decided to get into this, against my intense desire to retire and to relax after 15,000 operations in 36 years of 12 to sf-hour days with lots of stress, but it does prepare you well for this, there's no question about that. but it was because i was afraid that we were starting to lose a part of who we were as americans. and part of that was our
freedom. our freedom to live as we wish, to live by our faith to live by our beliefs, to speak about what we to want speak about. but what has happened as people have been beaten down because see the vast majority of americans are logical people with common sense. but, they have come to discover that if you say certain things, that you're going to be polarized. you're going to be called names, you're going to get an irs audit, somebody's going to mess with your job. you know, you're going to be ostracized. well, here's the problem, that's exactly what the progressives want you to do because they don't care whether you agree with them or not, as long as you
sit down and shut up. that is the key. and it's time for people to stand up for what they believe in. that is what will save america. [ applause ] we must also recognize to live in this country, i mean, i've visited 57 countries at, you know, i enjoy going to other parts of the world and seeing soigts, but i've got to tell you, i am always delighted to be back here again and to put my feet on the ground here. and don't you find it kind of comical that you have so many people who like to criticize us and say how horrible we are, and how we created all these
problems. and yet, all these people are trying to get in here, and nobody's trying to get out. how does that make any sense? the fact of the matter is, it is a land of dreams. for me that dream of course was to be a doctor. and it was the only thing i ever wanted to do. even as a young child, skipped over policeman and fireman, went straight for doctor. i loved on television, dr. killdare, dr. casey, i mean, i even, i even like going to the doctor's office. i mean, i would gladly sacrifice a shot just so i could smell toez alcohol swabs. you know -- those alcohol swabs. you know. you know, you probably wouldn't have thought that i was going to be a doctor because i was not a particularly good student.
i was a horrible student. my mother recognized that the way out was through education. and she did everything she could to try to make our lives as good as she could. she worked very hard. two, three jobs at a time as a domestic cleaning other people's houses. doing whatever they didn't want to do. saving every penny, every dime. she would go to the goodwill and buy a pair trousers with a big hole in the knee, you know, before that was fashionable. [ laughter ] and she would buy patches on there and everybody would say, wow, where'd you get those expect i want a pair like that. and, you know, she would find these coupons, you know, sometimes we we could get into
the state fair free of charge. we would be so excited because we never had enough money to actually pay to get in there. but wow, we would actually be in there and see everybody, and it was exciting. never could ride any of the rides, but you know, you had to live vicariously watching other people. could never buy any popcorn, never tasted cotton candy until i was an adult, and it wasn't any good. but, you know, she did everything she could, you know, just to sort of soften the blow. and she was just so disturbed that i was doing so poorly in school. my brother was doing poorly too. so she prayed. and she asked god to give her the wisdom to know what to do to get her young sons to understand the importance of intellectual development so that they could control their own lives. and you know, that's the wonderful thing about god, you don't have to have a ph.d. to talk to him. you just have to have faith.
and she had the faith that he would give her the wisdom. and he did, in her opinion, my brother and i didn't think it was that wise. i mean, turning off the tv, what kind of wisdom is that? making us read two books a piece and submit to her written book reports, which she couldn't read, but we didn't know that. and she would put check marks and highlights. underlines, you know. and we would think she was reading them, but she wasn't. and i was outraged. i mean, here i am stuck in a house reading books. and everybody else is outside playing and having a good time. and my mother's friends would say, you can't make boys stay in the house reading books, they'll grow up and they'll hate you. and i would overhear them, i would say mother, you know they're right, you know. didn't matter. we still had to do it. but what a transformation.
because as i started reading, particularly about people, of great accomplishment, i began to recognize an essential fact. and that is, the person who has the most to do with what happens to you in life is you. it's not somebody else. despite thing me ifivity around me, i could accomplish anything i wanted to, as long as i was focussed. as long as i was willing to put the effort behind it. it's what i call the can-do attitude. it is what propelled america to the pentacle of the world so fast. one of the things that really
impressed alexis when he came here in 1831 to study america, because the europeans were just fascinated, how could a fledgling nation like this barely 50 years old, already be competing with the powers of the world on almost every level? and he wanted to study it, but one of the things he looked at was education. and discovered that anybody, anybody finishing the second grade was completely literal. he could find a mountain man, the guy could read the newspaper, tell him how the government worked. it was truly amazing. and that was one of the things that propelled america so quickly. people knew how to do things. they knew how to build roads and structurally sound bridges and containment facilities and dams.
they knew how to invent things, to solve problems. that's how they were able to move from one ocean to the other ocean. and it is so important that we change that again. it is so important that we once again begin to emphasize education. and make it available. and i mean, all kinds of education. you know, we have incredible universities like this one. we also have a lot of professions that don't require a university. i was talking to a welding
entrepreneur. he was saying how much trouble he was finding, having finding people who could do welding. but you know, there's a whole host of things that we can be looking at. recognize that in this nation, we only have 330 million people. china and india have over a billion people each, and we have to compete with them on a global stage. that means we need to develop every single one of our people. we can't have a situation where 20% of the people who go to high school don't finish. we can't have a situation where we have 5% of the world's population and 25% of the
world's prisoners. you know, this is not helpful to us in the long run. and we've got to start thinking in a corporate manner. because for every one of those kids that we keep from going down that path of self-destruction, that's one less person that we have to be afraid of or protect our family from. one more tax paying productive member of society who my discover a new energy source or the cure for cancer. we can't afford to throw any of our people away. we have to develop every single one of them. and that's how -- [ applause ] that's how we become strong again. now, let's talk for a minute about something that bernie sanders likes to talk about a
lot. and hillary clinton likes to talk about a lot. the income gap. why do we have this growing income gap? now they would have you believe it's because of rich people. and how they are doing bad things to poor people. well, in a sense, they're right, but they're the rich people who are doing it. so that's the problem. [ applause ] because you look at all these regulations, i mean, it was never intended that the government would be in every aspect of our lives. but they are. and everything, every single federal regulation costs money. guess who gets to pay for that? the consumer. goods and services increases the
price. doesn't hurt a rich person when they go into the store and a bar of soap has gone up by ten cents, but it hurts a poor person. it hurts the middle class person when they come to their register and they have a cartful of things, every thing which has gone up some cents, that drastically reduces the buying power. and most people have no idea what's going on. and then you look at the accumulated debt, 18-plus trillion dollars. half of which has been accumulated just in the last seven years. think about what that does. it makes it very difficult to raise interest rates. the fed is caught between a rock and a hard place. you raise interest rates to a normal level with that kind of debt, the debt service on that is going to be astronomical.
we wouldn't be able to afford it. so you have to keep it suppressed down near zero. who does that hurt the most? poor people and middle class people. who used to be able to increase their earnings by putting a portion of them in a savings account, and watching it grow. that doesn't happen anymore. we're in a bond market. doesn't happen anymore. and not have any place to grow their money. that's devastating to the poor and the middle class and hour country. and yet, you go and ask them about it and they'll say, yeah, it's just a number. don't worry about it. is it just a number? $18 trillion. if you tried to pay that off at a rate of $10 million a day, 365 days a year, it would take you
over 5,000 years. that is what we are putting on the backs of the next generation. how can we even look at ourselves in the mirror? knowing that we are absolutely destroying their future? and the sad thing is, many of them don't even know we're destroying their future. and we've got to wake up the young people, all you young people, talk to your young people friends. make sure that they know what is going on. that their future is being compromised by greedy people in my generation who are selfish and only care about themselves. they only want what they can have, they want it now, and the heck with anybody else. those are not good people. they are not our friends. and we've got to start putting some pressure on them, and
letting them know that no, you will not stand for them to destroy your future because of their greed today. we simply cannot allow that to continue. but that's the good news. [ laughter ] it's actually much worse than that. the fiscal gap. if you don't know what that is, please, look it up when you go home. it's very important. every single american must understand what the fiscal gap is. it is the unfunded liabilities that we owe. social security, medicare, medicaid, all of those government agencies and departments, all of the money that we owe going to the future, some we call infinite horizon versus what we expect to collect from taxes and other revenue sources. those numbers should be pretty close together if you're fiscally responsible. if you're not, there's a gap. bring it forward to today's
dollars, it's known as the fiscal gap. right no it sits at over $200 trillion. somebody has to be responsible for it. i mean that is a number that is incomprehensible. and we just continue to multiply it. i mean, the recent deal between the president and congress to raise the debt ceiling, even more, it's just a number. eh, it doesn't mean anything. are you kidding me? the only reason that we can sustain the level of debt that we have is because we can print money. our currency is the reserve currency of the world. it's a title that generally goes with the number one economy in the world. which we have them, since the 1870s, until last year, now
we're in a struggle with china for that position. it looks like they've recently passed us up. we may not always be the reserve currency, that's the issue. if tomorrow we were not the reserve currency, and we couldn't print money, albeit irresponsibly as we are, our economy would collapse overnight. what happened in 1929 on wall street would be a walk in the park compared to what would happen to us. this is a warning. you know, before horrible things happen, usually there is a warning. this is the warning. it is imperative that we make sure that we all know what's going on. and that way when somebody comes along, a politician, and says, free college for everyone.
you know howle le tto evaluate and you know in a right now there is nothing free when you have that kind of debt, there is nothing that is free. and we're going to have to start doing things to reverse this. first of all, we have this gigantic bloated government. i would declare a moratorium on hiring. because we have 4.1 million federal employees. we do not need 4.1 federal employees. [ applause ] and i would just let them retire. they retire thousands of them every year, just don't replace them. you can shift people around. there's 645 federal agencies and sub-agencies, no one can convince there isn't fat in any every single one of them and i
would require a certain percentage of that to be cut out of every single one of them. that's going to reduce costs very significantly. and i would make sure that we have a taxation system that is fair. we have the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world, and even in the non-developed world, there are only two places that have taxes higher, chad and the uae. it is absurd. and what i would do is declare a tax holiday for six months so that we could repay treuate the over $2.1 trillion overseas that's not being brought back because the high corporate tax rate. let that come back here, without taxes, and the only requirement would be that 10% of it has to be used then enterprise zones to create jobs for unemployeed people and people on welfare.
you want to talk about a stimulus, that would be the biggest stimulus since fdr's great new deal, and it wouldn't cost the tax payers one penny. you know, that's the kind of thing -- [ applause ] that's the kind of low-hanging fruit that makes a difference and it also gets our businesses into the mindset of reaching out and investing in the people around us. and that's the way it used to be in america before the government decided that it would be the great savior and take care of everybody. you know, and, you know, the great society of johnson, we were going to eliminate poverty, $19 trillion later, we have ten times more people on food stamps, more poverty, welfare, crime, incarceration, out of wedlock births, everything that
was supposed to be better is not only worse, it's much worse. now i don't to want demonize the government, but they deserve it. [ laughter ] the fact of the matter is, they don't do a good job. the people who do a good job are us. and you know, i've spoken at lots of different programs, and including the save our youth program here in denver where individuals become mentors for students who are heading in the wrong direction. bring them into their own world, teach them things that they would never have known, and almost all of those kids graduate from high school. many of them go on to college and do very useful things where the trajectory was just the op sis direction.
a vision to prevail in our society. and what they have done is they have tried to convince people that were all each other's enemies. it's not trauz. we are not each other's enemies, the enemies are those who are trying to make us think we are enemies. that's the problem. [ applause ] and there's a reason we're called the united states of america. and not the divided states of america. and this nation, believe me, was designed for we the people and around we the people.
not we the government. the government is there to facilitate, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for us. citizen statesmen, not career politicians. that's what it was designed for. [ applause ] and i love it when people come up to me and say, but, but, but, you've never been elected to any public office. you can't possibly know how to do anything. well, let me tell you something, the ark was built by amateurs, the titanic was built by professionals. [ applause ] and i'm going to open it up for a few questions in a moment, but, just in closing, you know,
we live in a very dangerous world right now. and we need a government that understands that. not one that won't even mention the name of our enemies, of people like the global jihadist who want to destroy us. but we cannot engage in destroying ourselves. we have to have unity, and we must use our collective strength the way we have in the past. and we must be able to think proactively, understand that we are very vulnerable. our electric grid, you know, can be attacked so easily. and then that would put us in a very vulnerable position, cyber security is vital. we have to, you know, ramp up very quickly. particularly in defensive capabilities. and we must be willing to use
our cyber offensive capabilities. i mean, if somebody hits us with a cyber attack, we have to hit them back so hard that they will not recover in a year. you know. [ applause ] and i'm a nice guy. [ lot offer laughter ] peace comes through strength, and also -- [ applause ] we must stop listening to the secular progressives who are trying to kick god out of our country. we are a judeo christian foundation. [ applause ] and they say you can't talk about god in public. somehow we got to sanitize all of that. well, aye got a good suggestion for them, take your wallet out
and look at all of that money. it all says in god we trust. so sense you don't like god, just give me your money. [ applause ] but if we're willing to stand up for what we believe like those who proceeded us stood up, can you imagine what we can do in our nation? we can do the same thing that they did. they didn't like what king george iii was doing, they would have town meetings. and they would get everybody together, they even invited the loyalists and said what kind of country do you want to have? what do you want to pass on your children? what are you willing to fight for? what are you willing to die for? and now it's our turn. and now we have to ask ourselves that question. and it's not about being
all right. now, a question. >> all right. so last night during the cnbc debate, there was a particular moderator that was quite harsh on you regarding your economic and fiscal policy and all the numbers, would you mind going in a little bit more specifics regarding your economic policy? >> sure. we were talking about my taxation program, and they said no way, the numbers don't add up. well, they add up perfectly fine. you know, our federal budget right around $3.5 trillion. that's a big federal budget. you're talking about a gdp of around $18 trillion. if you tax that at a 15% rate, that yields $2.7 trillion. so you're only $800 billion away
from parody. and we still haven't taxed capital gains at 15%, or corporate profits at 15%. that will make up a lot of the difference, but in addition to that, think about this, there is so much waste in our system, it is mind boggling. and one of the -- by not increasing the federal hiring and by requiring every division of the government to cut their budget by 2 to 3%, you are going to cut nb÷e enormous amount of waste out. now, the way i would do it is i would tell the leaders of each department, you're required to cut this out, and if if you cut
it out in a way that hurts the populous, which is what happened the last time with the sequester, they look for the most painful things they could do, so they could say, see, we can't cut any we can't cut any money out. i would tell them that if they do that, they're gone immediately. the other thing that i would do is i would get the most powerful economic engine the world's ever known rolling again by getting rid of useless regulations, and by that i mean doing a cross benefit analysis on every single one of them. and if the benefit is not greater than the cost, zippo, it's gone. okay? and also utilizing our natural
resources. i would use the eps, change its mission and probably change a lot of its personnel. they would work with business, with industry, with agriculture to find the cleanest, most environmental friendly wastes to do things rather than how to suppress and harass people. that's going to get us moving a lot further a lot faster. these are simple things, but they will work very well. >> thank you, dr. carson. i just wanted to ask you from having a very unique set of experiences, what would be your prescription to america for improving our physical health, particularly since we are a nation that has skyrocketing health care costs and, quite frankly, why are they so expensive? >> okay. well, first of all i would try
to put health kcare back in the hands of the people. you know, i -- [ applause ] as everybody knows, i don't like the so-called affordable care act. and the reason i don't like it, it's not because it doesn't work and not bus it's not affordable, but the reason i don't like it is because this is a country that is supposed to be of, for, and by the people. and the government is supposed to be here to fa sill at this time life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. but with the affordable care act the government comes along and says we don't care what you the people think. this is what we're doing. we're shofing it down your throat and if you don't like it, too bad.
that is ampithetical to the conversations accept of this nation. that's why i railed against it so hard. we cannot allow the government to control our lives like that. so what i have proposed instead is a health savings account system. people get them from the day that are born. they keep them until they die. they can pass th on when they die to their family. and we pay for it with the very same dollars that we pay for traditional health care with. we spend twice as much per capita on health care as many other countries. so we have a lot of money in the system. it's just used in a very inefficient way. and you give people the ability to shift money in their hsa, among family members, so, you know, your mom could give it to you, your wife, your daughter, your uncle, your cousin,
anybody. it gives you enormous flexibility to cover almost anything that comes up, except for catastrophic things. and you have catastrophic insurance for that, which is much cheaper because the only thing coming out of it is real catastrophic health issues. how often do those occur? not very often. it's like the homeowner's policy with a big deductible versus the homeowner's policy where you want every scratch covered. two complete different animals. it makes a huge difference. also because the relationship now is between you and health care system it brings clarity and transparen parnparency and . all of those are the kinds of things that are not going to be seen in a massive bureaucratic system like what we have now. now, that takes care of 75% of the people. it doesn't take care of the indigent. what are we going to do about them? how do we take care of them now?
medicaid, annual medicaid budget, 4 to $500 billion a year. how many people participate? about 80 million, which is way too many. but that's another issue that can be taken care of by fixing the economy. and giving them opportunities. but let's deal with what we have. 80 million to 400 billion, 5,000. $5,000, each man, woman, and child per year. what could you buy with that? a boutique practice that rip people buy. typically $2,000 to $3,000 a year. and then you've still got thousands left over to buy your catastrophic insurance which is much cheaper now because of the way the system works. some people say it will never work because poor people are not capable of managing their own heat car health care. you can't give them control of a health savings account. well, you know, people in washington always say things
like that so they can be in control. they think everybody is just luke they are. but anyway -- but the fact of the matter is they said that about food stamps, too, and people learned very quickly tou to learn food stamps and think would learn how to use a health savings account, too. when mr. jones had a diabetic ulcer quickly, not to go to the emergency room which is five teams more than the clinic. he's going to go to the clinic. at the clinic they say now let's get your diabetes fixed so you're not back here. a whole other society. plus, we're teaching mr. jones the whole concept of personal responsibility versus dependency. that's what we have to do. okay. >> thank you, dr. carson. i'm a citizen that tries to live by the law, con ens shusly.
and do anything illegal. that frightens me. i don't want to do anything illegal, whether it's local, state, and especially federal. but it's provoking to me to hear constantly on the news that states are breaking federal laws, politicians breaking federal laws. there's illegality in immigration. why is there not action against these illegalities when we the average citizen would pay tooth and nail for breaking the law. >> good question. and i've been told that has to be the last question, just for those who are standing. well, first of all, you know, we are a nation of raws laws, or a least we used to be before we had an justice department and executive branch that decided that it wants to pick and choose the laws that it wants to enforce. you know, i was flabbergasted,
my wife and i, when we went down to arizona border with mexico a few months ago and saw what was going on there. i mean, was there a fence? yeah. but i mean, it's the kind of fence when i was a kid, i don't think it would even slow me down. it was ridiculous. and there weren't any border guards. why have border guards if they're not on the border. you know, they were like 70 miles inland. that doesn't do any good. there was one place where there was a big hole cut in the fence. and appeared to be a couple of strings of barbed wire. and you know, the camera men who were with us, they canted ' wan shoot from the mexican side so they just went through right there, you know. and they were not athletic people. i mean, that's how easy it is to get across the border. that's just crazy. and so that is -- that is --
those are laws that we do need to enforce. you know, if you look at yuma county in arizona, they were able to cut the illegal immigration traffic by 97%. how do they do it? they had a fence, a double fence with asphalt road in between so there was quick access. they actually had border guards on the border, imagine that, and -- and they prosecuted first-time aoffenders rather thn the catch and release program we have today. that was not with utilizing sensory technology and drones surveillance and things like that. 97%. that program was largely gutted and for some reason the doj just didn't seem to want to have that going on. and now we have basically a
highway of illegal drug trafficking as well as people trafficking. we have people coming here from multiple other countries. i mean, it's ridiculous. so i believe it is possible to seal the border within one year. and i do believe that -- [ applause ] and i believe that if you turn off the spigot that dispenses the goodies there won't be any reason for anybody to try to come over here. and then i believe that we do have to deal with the millions and millions of people who are here already. i think if they have a pristine record and they would like to stay, they have to register within a defined period of time. i would like it six months. they have to pay a back tax penalty. they have to