tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN November 23, 2015 9:00am-7:01pm EST
. the regret is when the -- some examples have been when the cartoon is read opposite of its intent. it makes you question your delivery. sometimes somebody will on purpose misread it. they know what you're at, what you're about, but they will say, there's enough information here that it's ambiguous so i'm going to say that you're doing it backwards, you were going to say the other thing. those are just communications criticisms which make you question just exactly the method of presentation. generally speaking i don't think -- you know, you spend enough time thinking about what you're going to say and why you want to say that that somebody
being upset about it isn't going to make you want to change your mind, but sometimes misinterpretation gives awe moment -- you a moment of pause. >> i think timing also. "the new yorker" closes on friday and comes out on monday. in an issue that closed i did a joke about a beheading, and then over the weekend there was a beheading and on monday the magazine was inundated with outraged people, none of whom could understand that there was nothing that could be done about it, i had nothing to do with it. i sure wish i hadn't published that cartoon. >> one of the things about "the new yorker" cartoons, i would be interested in your comment, is, you know, in the -- maybe in the last ten years guns appear as joke items in the cartoons' images. >> i'm prepared for this. i thought about it when you mentioned it to me.
>> yeah. i would just like to say, i have never found one of them funny. it feels so heavy. >> let me ask you this, not to be defensive. when you watch tv and you see csi or whatever. there are guns in the movies and on television. what is it about cartoons that make that an issue for you? >> i don't know. it's just visceral. >> mm-hmm. >> okay. [ laughter ] >> i'm going to just show one of mine. and then i'm going to ask jen to take us through another one of hers. >> okay. this one is called advice conservatives never give themselves. you need to cut out the victim mentality. obama ruined my life. save the whites. stop the war on religion. men's rights now.
you should be more respectful of authority. you people are too angry. lighten up! when are you going to stop living in the past? get over it! and i did this right after the sandra bland incident, the woman who was stopped by police in texas and died in her jail cell just a couple of days later. and, you know, there was just so much reaction coming from people saying, oh, well, she shouldn't have sassed that cop. if you compare that to bundy, the right-wing response to the rancher grazing his cattle on federal lands and had an armed standoff. a lot of people thought he was a hero for standing up to authority. and so there seems to be a bit
of a double standard there. and this was also around the time of the -- when the confederate flag was being hotly debated. that was the impetus behind this cartoon. >> we're going to move to questions from the audience in one second. i want to show one more cartoon. it's not by any of us. it's by someone who is very much -- very published everywhere. you might notice that there are no conservatives on this panel. i wonder what your reaction is. do you think this cartoon is funny? it's by glen mccoy. i don't think anybody here is finding it particularly funny. so what does that say about the issue of maybe preaching to the choir? that your work is always directed towards people of, you know, a liberal persuasion. is that something that you think
about at all? >> first of all, i would say that fox news and, you know, rush limbaugh don't really worry about preaching to the choir very much. so i don't really worry about it. >> okay. >> and -- [ applause ] >> secondly, i think one philosophy of cartooning that i try to follow is do no harm, just like a doctor. and i feel like it's my responsibility to enlighten and to not add to the suffering and misrepresentation in the world. so i would say that this cartoon fails on those counts. >> i couldn't agree more. and just one more quick question. you guys have been watching the debates? >> mm-hmm. >> it's funny, i sort of missed the last two. even though i wanted to see them. but i forgot they were on, which goes to show you how -- how boringçó they've become. like, i just liked it when they were crazy, saying crazy stuff.
>> i only asked that because i don't want to leave this as the last image up there, so i'm going to put one of mine up. this one came to me -- this was the point when i thought of this cartoon, that i stopped watching the debates. on the other hand we could join forces and attack the media. all right. i am going to take questions from the audience. the microphones are on either side, so anybody have any questions? go to the microphones. why don't you go to the microphone to ask your question. >> i can't just shout? >> no. >> apparently not. >> because it's on youtube and c-span. >> we used some bad language. >> sorry. thanks. i was hoping you could just take your last question and take it on a little bit more seriously because the absence of a conservative on the panel is not
a problem but the absence of conservative viewpoints in good political cartooning, particularly in america, it seems to me, is very noticeable. i would love to hear a serious consideration of why is that. is it -- i take your point that fox and limbaugh don't apologize, but i would like to know why in political cartooning, as important as it is, where are they? >> there are a lot of really very good conservative cartoonists, including glen mccoy, whose image david showed. and i think he chose it because it was one of glen's not so great cartoons. he just wanted to show how bad -- >> how did you know? >> but -- and if you look at people -- always will come at me and say, well, there aren't ne cartoonists and they never give
prizes to the conservative cartoonists but the pulitzer prize has gone in the last ten or 15 years to several very conservative cartoonists. so it's just -- they don't appear perhaps in the "washington post." i don't know. you guys have a deficit situation. but they are out there, and they -- they do their work just like we do ours. >> i remember someone writing to me saying, if you did conservative cartoons you would make so much money. [ laughter ] >> i didn't know that. huh. yes. >> hi. i'm a librarian, so i have kind of a dorky librarian question, which is how do you all -- i am thinking especially the three of you who aren't -- tom, i know you're at "the post," so i am
guessing there is storage and preservation and archival stuff happening with your work. i'm curious how you keep track of your stuff and organize your stuff. like when you are asked to give david a cartoon about guns, like do you tag them? how did you find the ones about guns? or you just know. anyone who wants to answer, that would be great. >> nobody is interested in that question. [ laughter ] >> i can guarantee. >> nobody else is standing up to ask questions, so i am here. [ applause ] >> fair enough. no. mine just go into boxes. i -- the archival sophistication that you imagine at the "washington post," if it exists, they haven't told me about it. i feel bad about the situation because they're one match strike away from oblivion. at least i haven't like -- they're not water damaged yet.
>> i think that's an interesting question because i have never been asked it before. i would say i tag my blog posts on my own website with different tags for each cartoon. i do a search on my own website if someone asks me for a cartoon about guns. that's the only way i can remember. >> if they sit on your -- when they sit on your hard drive and there are certain titles and everything, it's pretty easy to remember. my originals are splayed across, like, boxes. again, i just moved. but it's a mess. like, it's all over the place. but i do have a few pieces in the library of congress. those will forever be protected. at least three or four of them. there you go. >> yes, you have a question over there? >> could you talk about striking a balance between an ambiguity
that provokes and having a crystal-clear message. how much do you want -- how oblique do you want to be? what do you want readers to have to figure out for themselves, and what do you want to tell them directly? >> i'll -- that's a great question for which there is not a good answer. but it's exactly what everybody on this stage deals with every single day is how to find that balance point between obvious and clever, because the humor -- the humor in a cartoon is right there. that's where it is is where it's not so obvious that it's, you know, hit them over the head. but it's not so obscure that the only people scratching their heads. it's just a matter of feel. it's the -- it's -- that's what it is. it's like -- it's like doing this and trying to divine where
that point is. and you're always missing with some people because not everybody -- not everybody -- not every reader is in the exact same place. some readers will find it a little too obvious. some will find it a little too puzzling. i bet nobody is going to argue with me about that. or maybe there are -- maybe yes, no? >> there's an interesting -- since i do different ones. i do a daily comic strip called "the night life" in the "washington post" on sundays. as a daily cartoonist, the one thing when i started it was, like, it's similar to the fact that there's a fictional characters doing -- mixing in with real stuff, a lah doons bury. the one thing i took from doonsbury is it's hard to look at stuff from the '80s or '90s because it's very about that time. when i went ahead to do the
dailies, i make references to stuff in obscure ways. so you know i am talking about the present, like now, but i -- i very rarely name the president. so you will -- so that will always stay fresh. because hopefully there will always be a president, you know. so i don't get -- i try not to get too specific. or i'll -- when i make reference to certain things, it -- it's always -- there is never anything specific because someone will open it and go, this is from, i think, 20 years ago, blah, blah, blah. so i try to be as sort of obscure with the daily. you can't do that a lot with a lot of editorial cartoons because there are certain things that sometimes you get -- you've got to drop. that's why i self-publish most of my books. and the ones that have the shortest shelf life are the
editorial cartoons. so i print the fewest of those. >> i think what tom said is also -- i mean, i think that striking that balance is how you get into people's heads with your work. if you hit them too hard over the head, it doesn't have the same impact as a kind of -- the subtlety can get people to think almost like they came up with the idea themselves in a way, which i think is a crucial way to communicate. >> the temptation to be didactic and just be an op-ed columnist is very strong. it would be so nice sometimes to just be able to say wat you mean. but that's the game is you have to make it a little more complicated. you have to bring a concept into the fold. and so, you know -- so that is the challenge of cartooning basically, the extra step. >> yeah. >> the other thing, a cartoon depends on a lot of people knowing exactly what you are talking about and have the same information that you do.
so if you -- if you saw a lot of my cartoons from philadelphia, you would have really no idea what they were about if you didn't happen to live there. but also, the difficulty now is that people get their news in so many different places. it's really hard to say what everybody knows because a lot of people just don't read the same way that they used to in the good old days when i was growing up. >> all right, sir. yes. >> hi. i was wondering how much work goes into a cartoon from the idea -- you know, you have -- this would be -- i saw the debate last night. i want to draw a cartoon about it and kind of like doing the sketching, playing around with the caption. how long does it take to get to the aha moment, this is what the cartoon is going to be? >> david was saying that he
heard that line and the image popped right into his head. for me often it's reading, and reading good vivid writing is really helpful, because that -- you just come across a phrase, and the image is right there. and those are the great days, when it just -- it comes up like that. >> there must be some days, though, when you guys really -- you want to make a cartoon about something and you have to sit there and really figure it out. >> unless it's as complicated as a tom toles' cartoon. that takes me all the way into the afternoon. >> yeah. it comes all different ways. sometimes it can be a sketch. sometimes you hear something. it's all different ways. i think -- i think the -- the toughest part is to kind of train yourself to be open all of
the time, constantly open all the time and taking in information and just sort of having a sketchbook there or having, you know, typing in information so you just remember it. if you put it down on paper, it makes room in your head for more stuff to come in. >> one other thing is, if you feel really clearly about the subject, it's often easier to do a cartoon. and i really admire cartoonists who have that -- it's like a direct pipeline to their viewpoint and they make it clear. and okay. now i'm going to have to give tom a compliment. but when the -- they were proposing the iraq war, tom is drawing in the vortex of the discussion and he was one of the really consistent voices saying the iraq war is going to be a
nightmare, don't do it. and nobody listened to him. again, back to my point about cartooning. he could have saved the world! >> okay. yeah. >> i was, you know -- something kind of -- stood out to me in the opening when the description about the charlie hebdo attacks and that they were a response to a religious figure without naming the religious figure. and so i just wondered if there is anything that's off limits when you are drawing cartoons or how do you kind of edit your work given certain sensitivities of your readers? >> that's another great question. not to say that all the questions have been perfect in every way. >> mine as well, right? >> this one is actually -- there is lively debate. and sometimes very heated debate amongst cartoonists on this very subject. there are -- i would say the spectrum runs from first amendment purists, which is is
the obvious and easiest, most facile and shallow -- [ laughter ] >> no. i mean, it's -- it's the place that cartoonists ought to start. any journalist ought to start with my natural ground zero is first amendment, absolutely. and in a way i am there, but as a functioning cartoonist i am not there. i feel like i ought to have and do have and would claim to have the right to say any damn thing i want to. but for me it's what do i want to say. and there are things that i do not want to say and if i see another cartoonist saying them, i am often extremely conflicted in my support for their right to say it and my vigorous
disagreement with the judgment that was shown in their saying it. and then i am left in a bad position, which got -- we got into all of us with the ""charlie hebdo" cartoons was do you have -- is it desirable for you to in some way reprint or support the prerireprinting of image that you personally thought was very ill-advised for a variety of reasons. i found myself in a real quagmire of trying to explain the subtleties of my position on that. but i -- i -- i mean, those cartoons in particular i -- you know, you say, okay. well, if you support free speech you have to support those cartoons and you have to support the reprinting of those
cartoons. and my answer to that is this. the history of political cartooning contains many, many very shameful, shameful chapters, and no, i don't support with a broad brush every single thing that has transpired under the rubric of political cartooning. just the two obvious examples is there have been viciously anti-semitic cartoons drawn that had real consequences, some extravagantly racist cartoons that had real consequences, bad consequences for real people in the real world. and i -- i can't just say, oh, anything goes and i support anything that any cartoonist does. i support the right to do it, but honest to god, i mean, there are things that i wouldn't do, and i am upset when some cartoonists have done things
that i think were in -- showing very bad judgment. >> i think you state the dilemma we all struggle with really, really well. >> the thing is, there are two separate moral questions here. there is the question of free speech, which is actually fairly -- it was simple and straightforward obviously. we should all be free to express an opinion no matter how vile, without repercussion, without being killed, persecuted by the government. there is also the question of representation, which is an important moral question, and it does have real-world consequences as well. and so, i think a lot of people are getting confused on this issue because they're mixing these two separate moral questions up and they're saying you can't have one without the other, or we only have to view things exclusively through the lens of free speech advocacy. i don't think the two of necessarily mutually exclusive. we can completely support the freedom of cartoonists to draw whatever they want.
at the same time, we can have a conversation about representation, what those cartoons mean because that's a part of free speech too. >> okay. we have time for two more questions. which side -- i'll go to that side and then you, sir. >> thank you. in a society now where we communicate more with texts and tweets and emojis and where people have a much, i guess, lower attention span now, how do you think political cartoonists -- how have political cartoons changed in ways of informing, you know, the public where people just don't have the attention span to read, you know, a 5,000-word expose' in the "new york times," for example.
>> our stuff is being seen by more people than ever and we're getting paid less for it than ever. so it's -- it's sort of a combination of the two where it's like, yeah, it's great, like i'm getting emails from people all over the world saying, yeah, i saw your strip, blah, blah, blah, and all this stuff. and -- but what's nice is we're starting to kind of catch up in the sense that there were so many more ways now for cartoonists to make up the lost revenue from the -- all the print media that's gone away. so i lost like probably 75% of my newspapers and stuff like that. but i made it up through art patron websites like patrion and through selling prints and coming -- i do a lot of shows where i go to schools and present my police brutality
slide show. so those type of things are totally enhanced by social media. so it's -- it's, again, the greatest thing that ever happened and the worst thing that ever happened at the same time. >> i would say back to like the community and people knowing about something. the -- the newspapers traditionally were -- editorial cartoons were traditionally newspaper based. and people just are not reading newspapers the way they used to. i mean, look at this audience. most of the people here who know and like cartoons are a certain age where you still might even think about subscribing to a newspaper. where my children would not. and they know that's how they got through college. so they wouldn't even buy my newspaper. [ laughter ] >> at any rate, i -- the
downside of it, yes, you get to -- you get your stuff out to a lot of different places, but it goes to places where people already agree with you or they like that subject. whereas, a broad-based newspaper got to people who did and didn't like your point of view. and again, how do we get a conversation started? you know, how do we go back and forth on issues if people are in their silos and not even seeing the same material. so i think, yes, we get out a lot, but we get out in a much narrower bandwidth a lot of times, and i think that that's not a great thing. >> okay. we have time for one more question. >> i just crossed out all my stuff because you covered most of it.
where do you get your ideas? [ applause ] >> i get mine on ebay. i don't know where the rest of them do. >> i don't think there has been a line in answer to that that hasn't been already said. >> to a certain extent, just to touch on one last little point, the speculative nature of cartoons, keith, you mentioned it and all of you touched on it. do you think that's driving the content that is being created now more or less? and how do you think that's affecting new cartoonists coming into the field? >> what do you mean by the speculative nature? >> if i draw a cartoon and i'm not syndicated, i have to try to sell it to somebody, especially if it's a political cartoon, it has a very short shelf life. so, am i going to try to build an audience by drawing things i think people want to see so that i can get my voice heard, or do you think -- i'm thinking of the young cartoonists out there
today trying to find a voice. is there audience going to find them through the internet and eventually they will find funding? or is this something that the marketplace is now moving in this direction so people are going to start drawing cartoons that they think they can sell? >> i'll just say i don't think cartoonists think that way. i think cartoonists think about being artists and creating what the voice inside them tells them to make. and i don't know about everyone else, but i don't think too much about my audience. and i think that's a dangerous way to go in terms of developing your own voice. >> i think it would be very hard to get started today. i started in the late '90s when alternative newspapers were a growing industry. and it seemed like there was real potential there. i started doing an op weekly strip and slowly managed to get
it into enough papers to support myself along with free-lance work on the side. and the great recession was very scary. fortunately there are some be websites that have begun paying for cartoons like daily kos and truth out and alternate. so they've kind of stepped into the void. but that path, that path that seemed well -- it never seemed all that clear, but it seemed like there was a path at least in the late '90s. now i really -- i don't know what i would say except to be very highly diversified. in addition to doing my weekly strip i also edit a comic section for the website fusion.net. and i do free-lance work. i have done graphic journalism work. it really is about being -- sounds like a cliche but it's about being extremely entrepreneurial and having lots of balls in the air, basically. >> yeah.
very similar with me too. i think we started around the same time. and it really is about diversifying. but i actually have more hope for anybody starting out now. i think, as long as you're doing a strip that you would like to see, that you want to read, there are seven -- how many people now? seven billion? >> a lot. >> yeah. there are a lot of people in this world. [ laughter ] >> and all you need to do is find the -- the 1,000. you have 1,000 fans. everybody here has 1,000 hard-core fans. and you just have to create what you -- you know, create your work, and you will find those 1,000 fans. you just have to convince those 1,000 fans to give you 75 bucks a year. [ laughter ] >> and you do that by providing them an opportunity to give you
money, by creating books or, you know, having a site for them to support or, you know, just different ways and different things. in addition to those thousand there will be peripheral folks who buy a book every once in a while or support you every once in a while. you just have to continually sort of -- yeah, it really is a hustle, a constant hustle. i have never had a steady like -- i have never had like a salaried gig yet. i have been in the industry for 20 years. and i have -- i'm raising two kids on this whacky cartooning thing that my dad is like, where are you making money? but it's -- it's there, and people -- when people see that you're doing something that you're passionate about and that they see some sort of truth or sincerity in it, they are
willing to support you. and so it's -- it's -- i say you go for it. one great example is -- there is a young lady who, she -- all she does is review sex toys with her husband. and she -- and she has gained this crazy following of people that -- and she makes tons of money for her strip. and she -- she gets free sex toys in the mail. and uses them and makes comics out of them. and i mean, seriously, that's like -- it's amazing. >> seriously? >> yeah. yeah. >> seriously? >> i will -- i will show you -- >> no. i -- [ laughter ] >> o. joy sex toy, right? >> yes. >> on that note, folks, i think
we have reached the end of the program. thank you all. [ applause ] all persons having business before the honorable supreme court of the united states draw attention. coming up on c-span's landmark cases we'll discuss brown versus board of education. separate but equal meant a six-block walk to the bus that would drive her a mile to the all-black school even though the all-white school was only a few blocks away. her father sued the school board. in their case along with four similar cases made it all the way to the supreme court. we'll examine this case and exploration tensions of the times, the personal stories of
the individuals involved, and the immediate and long-term impact of the decision. that's coming up on the next "landmark cases" live tonight on c-span, c-span 3 and c-span radio. for background on each case while you watch order your copy of the companion book, available for $8.95 plus shipping at cspan.org/landmarkcases. david skorten took over as head of the smithsonian earlier this year. wednesday night you can hear him talk about new exhibits, new technology, conversion works of art and other subjects. that event wednesday night at 9:00 eastern an c-span. the brooksings institution is hosting a discussion on what's next for france and europe following recent terrorist attacks. foreign policy experts will discuss why france appears to be
a prime target and how the international community should respond. that's live on c-span at 2:30 p.m. eastern. c-span has your coverage of the road to the white house 2016, where you'll find the candidates, the speeches, the debates and most importantly your questions. this year we're taking our road to the white house coverage into classrooms across the country with the student cam contest giving students the opportunity to discuss what important issues they want to hear the most from the candidates. follow c-span's student cam contest and coverage of road to the white house 2016 on tv, on the radio and online at c-span did the org. .org. next, democratic presidential candidate bernie sanders skwdiscusses his views democratic socialism and how it
can apply to americans' everyday lives. this is an hour and 40 minutes. thank you. wow! look at this. is there some excitement in this room today? thank you. thank you all for coming on behalf of the mccourt school of public policy, the institute of politics and public service and georgetown university. thank you all for being here. i'm going to try to be brief because i am guessing you're not here for me. a few years ago when the mccourt school of public policy became the first new school at georgetown in decades, it really came together behind a commitment to bring together the notions of the jesuit ideal of service for the common good and
evidence-based policy and bringing them together. part of that vision was to create an institute that looked at the practical side of politics, with a focus on engaging young people in public service. that vision here on campus was realized this semester with the creation of the institute of politics and public service, or gu politics as we like to call it. i want to thank mccourt school dean ed montgomery for your leadership in helping to establish it. [ applause ] >> and i am not just saying that because you're my boss and in the front row. look, at gu politics we believe that politics is actually a beautiful thing. it's how democracies settle their differences. most major movements in our nation's history were realized at least in part through a practical political element. when it's done right, it's how
we as a nation realized our dreams and our goals as a people. when it's done right. but it's not always done right. there is a real disconnect right now between people and their politics today. nowhere is that more evident than with young people, than with your generation. it's not that your generation is disengaged. i think those of you that were standing out there in the rain for hours this morning proved that point. but politics doesn't always speak to young people the way it used to or the way that it ought to. the goal at gu politics is to figure out ways to address that. we're here to do a couple of things. one, pull back the curtain, show you how politics is actually done from the people who actually do it and bring that political access that's in d.c. to you here on campus. but more importantly, we're here to engage you. look, i was in politics for 20 years before i came back to start this institute.
i can't teach people how to do politics. i'm one of the guys that broke it. there is a better way to do it, and we need to hear from you what it is. so we want to learn from you. it's in that spirit that we gather today. regardless of whether or not you agree with his politics, you have to give today's speaker a lot of credit. he has energized a tremendous number of americans with a message of engagement. economically, socially and politically. the speech that he is giving today has the potential to be one of those defining moments of the 2016 presidential campaign. the fact that he came here to georgetown to give it and to take your questions afterwards is a testament to his commitment to engagement. i am thrilled that he is here today. i am thrilled that you're here today with dialogues like this one maybe we can begin to reconnect people with the political system. as we like to say at gu
politics, public service is a good thing. politics can be too. with that, i would like to bring out the person who is going to introduce our speaker. [ laughter ] >> don't you guys just love this? >> a senior in the school of foreign service studying international political economy. a member of the gu politics student advisory board. aside from government politics and economics she is passionate about gender equality and economic empowerment. you can find her at the career center or on an aimless walk somewhere. join me in giving a warm welcome to shweta. [ applause ]
>> thank you for the introduction, moe, and thank you all for being here today. it is an absolute honor for me to be able to introduce our guest, 2016 presidential candidate senator bernie sanders. [ applause ] >> as mo mentioned, i am a senior in the school of foreign service and a student advisory board member for gu politics. i joined gu politics looking for a space on campus where i could meet other students as passionate about political engagement as i am from both sides of the aisle. standing here today, i can confidently say that i have found just that. gu politics is making conversations like the one we are going to have today possible, and i am proud to be a part of that. you might be skipping various
commitments or should be in class like i am supposed to be right now, but the fact that you have been waiting in line for hours and have filled the hall to the brim speaks to how engaged georgetown students truly are. you are here because you care about what is going on in the world outside of the front gates, and you want to be a part of that dialogue. that's amazing. and now i am honored to introduce senator bernie sanders. chaupz chau [ cheers and applause ] [ cheers and applause ]
[ cheers and applause ] >> we are so excited to have -- we are so excited to have with us today senator sanders, or bernie, as he is known to the people of vermont, and others who are feeling the bern. this is the point where i should ask you to turn your phone off, but i won't. as long as you keep it silent, we want you to continue the conversation by tweeting @gupolitics using the #bernie at gu. please help me welcome, without further ado, senator bernie sanders. [ cheers and applause ] >> thank you.
sno thank you all for being out on this beautiful day, and let me thank mo and shweta for that wonderful introduction. i think my message to you all today is a pretty simple one. and that is our country faces some enormous problems. and these problems are not going to be solved if people turn away from political struggle, if people throw up their hands in despair and say, i don't want to get involved. it's all crap. you are getting a great education here in georgetown, and i hope very much you learn -- use what you have learned here to fight to create a better world and to follow in the traditions of so many people for so many years who have struggled to create a more
democratic and just society. let me take you now back to the year 1937. in his inaugural address in the midst of the great depression, president franklin delano roosevelt looked out at the nation in the midst of this terrible depression, and this is what he saw and this is what he talked about in his inaugural. he saw tens of millions of people denied the basic necessities of life. he saw millions of families trying to live on incomes so meager that the pall of family disaster hung over them every single day. he saw millions of his fellow americans denied education, recreation and the opportunity
to better their lot and the lot of their children. he saw millions lacking the means to buy the products they needed and by their poverty, by their lack of disposable income, denying employment to many other millions, because when you don't have money to spend, you are not creating jobs for other people. he saw one-third of a nation ill-hadsil ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished. and he acted. against the ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called the economic royalists, roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put millions of americans back to
work, took them out of dire poverty, and restored their faith in government. he re-defined the relationship of the federal government to the people of our nation. he combatted cynicism, fear, and despair. he reinvigorated democracy. he transformed our country, and that is exactly what we have to do today. and by the way, almost everything he proposed, almost every program, every idea he introduced was called "socialist." [ cheers ] [ cheers and applause ]
>> i thought i would mention that just in passing. social security. which all of you know transformed life for senior citizens in this country, was defined by his opponents as "socialist." the concept of the minimum wage, that workers had to be paid at least a certain amount of money for their labor, was seen as a radical intrusion into the marketplace and was described as socialist. unemployment insurance. when you lose your job, you will have something to fall back upon. abolishing child labor, ending the fact that children of 8, 10, 12 years of age were working in factories or working in the fields.
the 40-hour work week, collective bargaining, the rights of workers to engage in negotiations with the union. strong banking regulations. deposit insurance. and job programs that put millions of people to work were all described in one way or another as "socialist." yet, as you all know, all of those programs and many more have become the fabric of our nation and, in fact, the foundation of our middle class. 30 years later, after roosevelt's speech, in the 1960s, president lyndon johnson fought for medicare and medicaid to provide health care to millions of senior citizens and
families with children, persons with disabilities, and some of the most vulnerable people in this country. today medicare does not seem no be such a terribly radical idea when someone gets old, they should have medical insurance. when it was proposed, once gain we heard right wing forces describe these programs as socialist and an american way of life. that was then. now is now you. today in the year 2015 and the wall street crash in 2008 that drove the country into the but the american people were clearly
more. tens of american families tend to lack the basic necessities of life while million more struggled today to provide a living of standard of living for their families. the other truth is that for the last 40 years, 40 years on the republican leadership and the democratic leadership, the great middle class of our country has been in decline and faith in our
political system is now extremely low. new technology increased work productivity and people work longer hours for lower wages and faith in our political system now extremely low. the very rich get rich er. almost everyone else gets poor er. super packs funded by billionaires by elections and cobrothers alone and then a few of their friends will spend more money on the election cycle than either the democratic or republican parties. ordinary people and working people and young people, don't vote. we have an economic political crisis in this country.
we need to create a culture. an entire culture that's pope francis has reminded us veterans and men and woman put the lives on the line to defend us and sleep out on the streets. today in america we are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. but few americans know that because so much of the new income and wealth is going to the people on top. in fact over the last 30 years,
there has been a massive redistribution of wealth and problem is it has gone in the wrong direction. in the last 30 years we have seen trillions of dollars flow from the hands of working families in the middle class to the top one tenth of one percent. a handful of people top one tenth of one percent that have seen the doubling of what they own in that period. doubling in as well as the
despite the fact that the the people are working so hard -- i go around the country and see a lot of working people. you can see the stress and exhaustion on the faces and working crazy hours and husbands hardly seeing wives and people do not have the quality time for their kid cans because they're working so hard just to bring in the income to survive. despite all of that and despite how people are are working so hard, 58 percent of all of new income generated today is going to the top one percent. today in america as the middle class continues to disappear, median family income is $4,100 less than it was in 1999. the median mail worker made over
$700 less than he did 42 years ago in inflation adjusted. do you know why people are angry? they're angry because they are working terribly hard and real inflation adjusted they're ea earning less and looking all over and saying what is that. why is that? it's not just mean. last year the same female median worker earned a thousand dollars less than they did in 2007 and 58 percent and what we are today and more than half of the older workers have zero requirement savings and think about that. and how am i going to retire.
since my wages gone down, i have had zero in the bank for retirement. you have people trying to survive on 12,000 or $13,000 a year on social security. from vermont to california older workers are scared to death and saying how am i going to retire with dignity? i want all of you and you can get the calculators out. not now, when you leave here and do some arithmetic and try to put yourself in a place of a senior citizen in my state of vermont where it's cold in the winter and trying to survive on $13,000 a year and tell me how you're going pay for the food that you need and heat your home and buy the medicine that you
need. you know what? you can't do it. today in america nearly 47 million people are living in poverty and over 20 percent of our children including 36 percent of african american kids are living in poverty. the highest rate of childhood move er werety of almost any nation on eitharth. what i want you to think about is why is it that in the wentiest country in the world and we're seeing millionaires and billionaires, we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth. today in america 29 million americans have no health insurance and even are underinsured with with
outrageous deduckabtiblededucti. they have a $5,000 or $8,000 one and cannot go. on top of that for a wide variety of reasons our people pay the highest prices in the the world for prescription drugs. doctors tell me all of the time that we prescribe something of medicine for the patients, they can not afford to fill that prescription. one out of five cannot afford to fill the prescriptions that the doctors write. what in sanity is that? today in america youth unemployment and under employment is over 35 percent for african american kids and it's over 50 percent. meanwhile we have more people in jail than any other country.
china, communist and four times our size we have more people in jail than in china and countless lives are are being destroyed as we spend $80 billion a year locking up the fellow americans. the bottom line is that today in america we not only have massive wealth and income in equality, but a power structure built around that in equality and that protects those who have the money. today a handful of super wealthy campaign con trick yut ers and
you're all familiar with the bill of rights and what he outlined was what he called a second bill of rights. this is in my view one of the more important features ever made by a president, but unfortunately it has not godden the attention that it deserves. so i am going and i quote we have come to a clear realization
of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and in dependence. necessity men and woman are not free men and woman. in other words, real freedom must include economic security, and that was roosevelts vision 70 years ago. it's my vision today. it is a vision that we have not yet achieved and it is time that we did.
in that speech he developed the economic rights are rights that he believed every american was entitled too. the right to a descent job and descent pay. the right to adequate food, clothing and time off from work. the right for every business large and small to function in anñi atmosphere free and have a descent home and health care. what he was stating and what martin luther king jr. state and
in terms and what i believe today is that true freedom does not occur without economic security and people are not free and when they're unable to feed their family. they are not truly free when they're unable to retire with dignity. they're not truly free when they are unemployed, underemployed or when they are exhausted by working 60, 70 hours a week. people are not truly free when they don't know how they're going to get medical help when they or a family member are sick. so let me take this opportunity and define for you what democratic socialism means to
spent $5 billion over a ten year period on lobbying and campaigning contributions. then ten years later after the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior led to their collapse and what the system enabled them to do and is to get bailed out by the united states government which provided millions of dollars to aide to wall street. nerd, wall street used the wealth and power to get congress to do their bidding for the deregulations, and then when wall street.
king jr. meant when he talked about socialism for the rich and individualism for everyone else. in my view it is time we had democratic socialism for working families. not just for wall street, billionaires and large corporations. it means that we should not be providing welfare for corporations. it means that we should not be are providing huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in the country or trade policies which boost corporate profits while they result in workers losing their jobs. it means that we create a government which works for all of the american people not just powerful special interest. it means economic rights must be
an essential part of what america stands for. among many other things, it means that health care should be a rights of all people not a privilege. and imagine in the united states all of us having health care as a right, but i hope all of you know this is not a radical idea. it's a conservative idea. it is an idea and a practice that exists in every other major
country on earth. not just in scan dah nav octavia. it exists in canada. i live 50 miles away from canada. not a radical idea to exist in france and germany and taiwan. all over the world the countries have made the determination that all of the people are entitled to health care and i believe the time is long over due. for the united states to join the rest of the world. med care for all single ones that i support would not guarantee health care for all
people and save middle class families and our entire nation because all of you should know that our health care system is by far the most expensive of any system on earth, but a medicare would improve the lives of all americans and bring about significant improvements in our economy. think about it, people that get sick will not have to worry on paying a deductible or making a copayment and when they're sick, they can go to the doctor and not end up in the emergency room at a much greater expense to the system. think about it. business owner will not have to spend enormous amounts of time worrying about how they're going to provide health care for their
free. is this a radical socialistic idea? i don't think so. it exists in many countries all over the world and you know what, used to exist in the united states of america. we had great universities like the university of california and university of new york tuition free. democratic socialism means that our government does everything it can to create a full employment economy. it makes far more sense to me to put millions of people back to work rebuilding our infrastructure than to have a real unemployment rate of almost ten percent. it's far smarter to invest in jobs and educational
opportuniti opportunities for young people that are unemployed and to lock them up and invest in jails and incarcerati incarceration. democratic socialism means that if somebody works 40 hours a week that person should not be living in poverty. that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage $15 an hour over the next several years. it means that we join the rest of the world and pass the very
strong paid family and medical league legislation now sitting in congress. i want you to think about this. i really want you to see what goes on in the country today. it's not only that every other major country. not talking about you are europe or others, virtually every country in the world and poor country and small country reach the conclusion that when a woman has a baby, she should not be forced to be separated from that newborn baby after a week or two and have to go back to work. making sure that moms and dads can stay home and get to love the babies, is a family value
that we should support. that is why i want and will fight to end the absurdity of the united states being one of the only countries on earth that does not guarantee at least three months of paid and family medical leave. democratic socialism to me means that we have government policy. strong government policy that does not allow the greed and profit erring of the industry to destroy our employment and our plan
planet. it means to me that we have a moral responsibility to combat the climate change and leave this planet healthy for the kids and our grandchildren. democratic socialism means that in a democratic civilized society, the wealthiest people and the largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes. yes, innovation and business success should be rewarded, but greed for the sake of greed is not something that public policy should support.
it is not acceptable to me that in the last period of time. last two years, 15 of the wealthiest people in this country. 15 people saw their wealth increased in this economy by $170 billion. got it. two years. 15 people $170 billion increased in their wealth. that's more wealth than owned by the 130 million americans. let us know forget what pope francis has stated, and i quote "we have created new idles and
the old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and dictatorship in the economy that's faceless and lacking any truly remain goal. "in other words, we have got to do better than that. i am not a political issue and not a economic issue but a cultural issue. we have got to stop to worship people that make billions and billions of dollars while we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any country. it's not acceptable to me that major corporations snatch their profits in the islands ask other tax havens to avoid paying $100 million a year in taxes. it's not acceptable that hedge fund managers pay a lower rate than nurses or truck drivers. it's not acceptable that billionaire families are able to
leave all of their wealth to their families without paying an estate tax. it's not acceptable that wall street is available to gamble trillions of dollars in the market without paying a nickel in taxes on that speculation. socialism to me does not mean that we create a nation of economic social justice and in sanity. of course it does mean that. it also means that we must create a vibrant democracy based on the principal of one person, one vote. it is extremely sad and i hope that all f you will pay a lot of attention to this issue. it's extremely sad that the united states, one of the oldest
stablest democracy in the world has one of the lowest voter turn out of any major country and that millions of young people and working people have given up on the political process entirely. in the last midterm election just a year ago, 63 percent of the american people did not vote and 80 percent of young people did not vote. clearly despietd the efforts of many governors that want to suppress and make it harder for people of color and old people to participate in the political system, our job together is to make it easier for people to
working class of the families that produce the working class have a descent standard of living and that the income should go up. not down. i do believe in other companies that thrive and invest in america and companies that create jobs here rather than companies that are shutting down and increasing the profits and longest labor aboard. i believe that most americans can pay lower taxes of hedge fund managers that make billions manipulating the margret place and finally started to pay the taxes that they should.
i don't believe in special treatment for the top one percent, but i do believe in equal treatment for african americans for those to have a right to proclaim and the moral principal that black lives matter. i despise appeals to nativism and prejudice and a lot of which we have been hearing in resent months, and i do proudly believe
in immigration reform that gives hispanics and others a pathway to citizenship and a better life. and let me tell you what i have heard. people can have honest agreements about immigration and anyone else. that's called democracy. people should not be using the political process to inject racism into the debate.
if donald trump and others want to open that door, our door is to shut that door and shut it tight. this country has gone too far and too many people have suffered and too many people have died for us to continue hearing racist words coming from mayor political leader. and i don't believe in some foreignism, but i do believe in
american idealism and one of the things that i did so far and on the country is seeing young people that are coming out and want to make this country better and want to use their intelligence in their energy and then the problems that we have. so i want to thank all of the young people here all over the country for their idealism, and do not become cynical. i am not running for president because it's my turn. not quit. i was born in a three and a half room apartment in a working class family in brooklyn, new york. i don't think -- i got brooklyn, vermont. i visited california. [ screaming ] . >> but the seriousness it is not
quit my turn. that's not why i am running for president. i am running for president in order for all of us to be able to live in a nation of hope and opportunity. not for some but for my seven grandchildren and all of you. nobody understood better than franklin roosevelt the connection between american strength at home and our ability to defend america and that's why he proposed a second bill of rights in 1944 and he said in that very same state of the union, and i quote again, "americans place in the world depends on large part on how fully these similar rights have been carried into practice for
all of our citizen. for unless there's security at home, there cannot be lasting peace in the world ". now i am not running for president to pursue the reckless adventures aboard, but to rebuild americas strength at home. i will never hesitate to defend the nation, but i will never send our sons and daughters to war under false pretension or pretensions about battles with no end in sight. and as we discuss the foreign policy, i know that all of you share with me your shock and your horror at what happened in
paris and you share with me the condolences for those that lost loved ones and the hopes and prayers and those wounded would recover and those same thoughts go out to the families for those that lost the loved ones and the russian flight that we believe was taken down by an isis bomb and also those that lost their lives to terrorist attacks in lebanon and elsewhere. to my mind it's clear that the united states must pursue policies that destroy the brutal isis regime and to create conditions that prevent extremist ideology from flourishing. we can not and should not do no alone.
toppling mohammed in 1953 and he was the president, cia and others and got rid of them to protect the british patrol interest and they came in a buttal dictator and thrown out and that's where we are in iran today. decisions have consequences and often unintended consequences. so whether it was the president in 1954, brazilian authority and chi chili president in 1993, this type of regime change and over throwing governments, we may not like often does not work and often makes a bad and difficult
decision even worse. these are lessons that we must learn. after world war ii in response to the fear and soviet aggression and european aggression the united states established the nato. an organization based on shared interest and goals and the notion of a collective defense against a common enemy. it is my belief that we must expand on these ideas and solidify our commitments to work together to combat the global threat of terror. we just create a new organization like nat oo to
confront the 21 est century. an organization that does collaboration to defeat the prize of violent extremism and to address the root causes and underlining the acts. we must work with our nato partners, and work to expand the coalition with russia and we must work with members of the arab league. let us be very clear and why the united states and other nations have the strength of the militaries and our political system s, the fight against isis is a struggle for the sole of islam and countering violent extremism and destroying isis must be done primarily by muslim nations with the strong support of their global partners.
the same sentences have been echoed by people like jordans king in a speech just sunday in which he said this terrorism is the greatest threat to our region, the gulf region and middle east and that muslims must lead the fight against it. he noted that confronting extremism is both a regional and international responsibility and
for were the ideology. let me congratulate the king not only for the wise remarks but the role that his small country is playing in attempts to address the horrific crisis. we must come together in a combative way to sale teal the borders that they're floating across and to share counter terrorism and sbrintelligence a to end support for exploiting
extremist. what does that mean? it means many many cases we must ask more from those countries in the gulf region. while jordan, turkey and egypt and lebanon have accepted the responsibility and taking them in, other countries have done nothing or very little. equally important and this is a point that may make some people uncomfortable, but it's a point that must be made. country in the region like said you and countries of enormous wealth and resources have contributed far were too little in the fight against isis.
that must change. the king is absolutely right when he says that the muslim nations must lead the fight against isis and that must include the wealthiest and you powerfulful nations who up to this point have done far too little. saudi arabia turns out to have the third largest defense button in the world and instead of fighting isis, they're focused more on a campaign to oust iran back and the rebels in yemen. and by the united states driving
and then driving out of iraq and that's has been a well known ka wait and people in ka kwat have been a source for fighting isis and other violent extremist. and then a number of facilities to host that event. 200 billion on hosting a soccer event and yet very little to fight isis. we're still and it's widely reported that the government has not been vigilante in steaming the flow of the financing and that the individual and organizations and fund money to the most extreme terrorist
groups in the region. all of this has got to change. in the region can no longer sit on the sidelines and expect the united states our young men and woman to do it for them. they have got to come up to the plate. as we develop a strongly coordinated effort, we need a commitment from the countries that the fight against isis takes precedence and the ideology differences that hamper the kind of cooperation that we desperately need. further er we all understand that the president of syria is a brutal dictator that's
slaughtered many of his own people. i am pleased that we saw diplomatdip la mats from all over the world and set a timetable for a syrian lead transition with an open and fair lead. this is the beginning of the effort to end the bloodshed and move to a political transition in syria. the diplomatic plan for the transition of power is a good step in a united front. our major priority must be to defeat isis. nations all over the world that share a common interest in protecting themselves against international terrorism must make the destruction of isis the highest priority. nations in the region must commit that instead of turning a blind eye, they will commit
their resources to prevent the free flow of the terrorist finances and fighters to syria and iraq. we need a commitment that they will counter the violent red rick that fuels the terrorism wherever that occurs in the borders. this is the model that we must pursue in order to address the global threats that we face. while individual nations obviously have the historic disputes, the united states and russia have very strong differences in opinion of the serious issues and they put it mildly and do not like each other. the time is now to do everything possible to put aside the differences and to a common goal to destroy isis. sadly as we have seen recently
no country is immune from tax by the violent organization called isis. thus we must work with the partners in europe and goufl gulf region and south east asia all along the way asking the hard questions whether they're actions are serving our unified purpose. the bottom line is that isis must be destroyed, but it cannot be defeated by the united states alone. a new and affective coalition must be formed with the muslim nations ledding the effort on the ground while the united states and other mayor forces provide the support they need. let me conclude by once again thanking all of you for being here today. all across this country there is a significant alien nation from
the political process. people look to washington and throw their hands up and say what in god's name is going on there? why aren't our senators and congressmen on there? why aren't our senators and congressmen paying attention to our needs? why aren't we developing a rational foreign policy rather than talking again about getting involved in a quack meyer in the middle east which could lead to perpetual warfare? let me conclude just by saying this. the problems that we face as a nation are very serious. there's a lot we've touched on. all of these problems were caused by bad human decisions and if we come together, if we
stand together, if we do not worry about whether we're gay or straight, born in america, not born in america, if we're male or female, and if we stand together and if we focus on how we can create sane foreign policy, how we can rebuild the middle class, how we can combat climate change, how we can create a nation in which we end racism and homophobia. if we are prepared to do that, if you as young people are prepared to engage in the political process, i have no doubt that there is nothing, nothing, nothing that together we cannot accomplish. thank you all very much. [ applause ]
>> all right. senator, again, we can't thank you enough for being here today, and we've -- the institute of politics and public service invited all the major presidential candidates. i think it's a testament to your vision that you were the first to accept our invitation. thank you for being here. [ applause ] it's clear you have a lot of friends in this room. let's get right to it.
we received a lot of questions from students as they were waiting in line in the rain this morning. you covered a lot of ground. not surprisingly sort of the questions and the questions are very good. i'm not editing any of these questions, i am going to group some of them together though where they were on a common theme. let's begin with the central premise, at least of the first part of your remarks, and that was a discussion of democratic socialism. i think your remarks, you did a very good job of describing what it means to you but as you know, senator, there's a lot of confusion around the word. robert france, a freshman from brooklyn who specifically asked me to shout out brooklyn right there asked, you know, why do you choose to identify as a socialist when it seems in your platforms you are more in the middle of the spectrum between capitalism and socialism while actual kayak, a freshman from
paris, france, in the school of foreign service says in france there's no problem with the word socialist. consider myself a socialist. i feel like the call from historical pressure forces you to call yourself a democratic socialist although i can't see the difference between these two. these two questions alone show the differences in how people view the word and you. i'm wondering if you could comment to that and maybe discuss that confusion and clarify it a little bit. >> i think the reason i have always throughout my political career, way back when i was mayor of burlington defined myself as a democratic socialist is that that in fact is my vision. my vision is not just making modest changes around the edge, it is transforming american society to make it into a much
more vibrant democracy. by the word socialism what is in that to mean is that it is imperative is that if we are serious about change, a lot of people want change, but at the end of the day real change does not take place unless we have the courage to take on the very powerful special interests that control our country. now that's my view. not everybody here may agree with me. certainly most people in congress would not, but i think at the end of the day what we have got to recognize is not just that we are experiencing mass income inequality and wealth, but a small number of people have extraordinary pow
jer and if we are going to be prepared to take them on and they can't run the government for their own interests, the real change that many of us want will never take place. so when i use the word socialist, some people aren't comfortable about it, i say it is imperative that we create a political revolution that millions of people get involved in the political process and that we create a government that works for all not just the few. [ applause ] >> staying on the topic for at least one more question. david alzate, a sophomore in the school of foreign service from keto, ecuador. margaret thatcher said socialists always run out of other people's money. my question is how will your policies promote wealth creation to ensure their long-term
sustainability rather than simply depend on the redistribution of existing wealth? >> well, for a start, david, given the fact that we are seeing trillions of dollars being transferred in the last 30 years from the newer class to the top 1/10 of 1%, we start from a position that there is already a lot of money out there. that is an important that has to be made. we are the wealthiest country in the history of the world and we should be doing a lot better for our working people. should not have 47 million people in poverty. how do you create wealth? wealth has to be created. one of the points that i made in my remarks, let me give you one example of it, i believe that we significantly strengthen our economy by having a medicare for all single payer system, which will free millions of people to get involved in creating
businesses and jobs that are trapped at work only because they get the health insurance that that employer is now providing. i think that if you have a trade policy not designed by corporate america to shut down plants in america and move abroad but a trade policy which works for the american worker, you can create over a period of years millions of decent paying jobs. i believe that when you raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, it's not only the right thing to do, but as roosevelt talked about in the 1930s, when you put money, dispose annual income into the hands of people today who have no disposable income, they will then take that money, spend it, and create jobs. so i think the policies that i am advocating will, in fact, create wealth, will strengthen the economy. these are diametrically opposed and opposite to this trickle down economic theory that says if we give tax breaks to
billionaires and wall street, somehow or another that will benefit the middle class and the poor. history has been very clear. that is a foolish doctrine. it hasn't worked. [ applause ] >> i think i'd probably be run off campus if i didn't move to this topic next. it's one that you touched on in your remarks. that is the cost of college tuition. julia freedman, a freshman from albuquerque, new mexico, asks under your plan to reduce the costs of college, will the tax on wall street speculation be sufficient to cover the cost of the plan? and zachary, a freshman in the business school from tallahassee writes, as many of us know, one of your main policies is to make all public universities tuition free. in the united states many of the greatest universities are
private universities, georgetown, so how do you plan to combat the prices of private universities? >> excellent questions. for a start, the answer to the first question is yes. the legislation i've introduced makes public colleges and universities tuition free. it addresses the millions of people paying very high interest rates on their student debt. i suspect some of you guys are going to be graduating here deeply in debt. i see at least one person there. i suspect there are many more, all right? so the -- what we do are two things, all right? public colleges and universities tuitioning, and then what we say is that it is a little bit crazy that today you have many people out there who are paying interest rates on their student debt of 6, 8, 10% when we can
refinance our homes at 3, 4%. it allows people to get the lowest possible interest rates on their debt that they can get. that will save people all over this country collectively many, many billions of dollars. now if you add those two features together, free tuition at public colleges and universities, substantially lowering interest rates, it is an expensive proposition. it costs about $70 billion a year. yes, it can be paid for by a tax on wall street speculation. second point about private universities. of course we know that georgetown and many other private universities do an extraordinary job and we're all proud of the quality of education they provide. our legislation includes substansu substantially increasing pell grants to ensure that working class and lower income families, middle class families can get the help they need if they choose to send their kids here to georgetown or harvard or
anyplace else. we also significantly increase work -- student work programs so that universities can have funds available to employ students on campus. so your point is well taken. our legislation makes private colleges and universities less expensive. [ applause ] >> let's move to the second portion of your speech. molly coyle, a junior in the college of arts and sciences from denver, asks with your strong beliefs in passivism, how will you address the recent and escalating violence in isis. does this entail opening borders to syrian and other refugees? peter abdou, a freshman in the college from bethesda asks, given recent attacks by isis worldwide, more generally how will you ensure the safety of
the american people? >> first of all, let me respond to the first question. i have a lot of respect to people who may be passivists. i am not a passivist. what, in fact, i voted for -- i voted against the very first gulf war which you had to vote on within the first month i was elected to congress. i think history will record that as the right vote. then in 2002 after listening to bush and chen be any, and donald rumsfeld, and listening carefully to what they had to say, i concluded they were not telling the truth, i voted against the war in iraq. [ applause ] but i did vote for the war in afghanistan because i thought that osama bin laden should be held accountable and i did vote for president clinton's effort to end the ethnic cleansing in
kosovo. so, no, i am not a passive vice. i think that war should be the last resort but we have the strongest military on earth and, of course, we should be prepared to use it when it is necessary. in terms of where we are right now, i think the main point that i try to make in my remarks is i think it would be a terrible mistake for many, many reasons for the united states virtually unilaterally to get involved in the war in syria or re-involved in the war in iraq. and the nightmare is that we send our troops in there in combat, they come back in caskets. we send more troops in, a plane gets shot down, we send more planes in and 20 or 30 years from now we're still talking about how we get out of the quagmire in that region of the world. i agree very, very strongly with
king abdullah who is absolutely right. what is going on there is a struggle for the soul of islam. there are millions and millions and millions of muslims who detest and are disgusted with what isis and other extremist groups are doing, but now they are going to have to get into the process. it is their troops that are going to have to be on the ground. we should be supportive, and i support president obama's efforts with airstrikes, with special forces, but the leadership must come from the muslim nations. in terms of how we protect our country, obviously we have got to be super vigilant against terrorist attacks. i know there's a lot of discussion about refugees. let me say a word on that. i am not happy to hear what i have heard in recent days about
people who are talking about going into or maybe closing down mosques in america. i'm not happy about hearing that we should close our borders to men, women, and children who have been displaced, driven out of their homes because of terrorism. now i believe that, yes, after thorough screening, which we have the capability of doing, working with the rest of the world we should accept refugees from that region. that's the moral thing to do and accepting refugees is what america has always done and i think it's improper to turn our back on those people now. [ applause ] >> the next couple of questions grouped together come from something that i think created a lot of buzz that you said in the debate.
it's about climate change and its link to terror and terrorism. jonathan ayman, and bryce couch from texas both asked very similar questions. can you elaborate on the link between the two. >> absolutely. >> what's your plan to address both? >> absolutely. look, obviously, as i hope i made clear this afternoon, organizations like isis, terrorist organizations are a major threat. they have got to be destroyed, but if you look into the future, this is not bernie sanders, this is the cia, this is defense department, this is countries all over the world, this is what they are saying. if we do not get our act together, if there is more drought around the world, if there is more flooding, if there are more extreme weather disturbances, if sea levels continue to rise and flood
coastal regions, there will be a massive displacement of people. people need water. people need land to grow their crops, and if they do not have that land of water, they are going to migrate and they're going to be in competition with other peoples for limited natural resources. and when that happens, according to the cia, according to our own defense department that lays the groundwork for international conflict. so in my view it is not debatable. of course climate change is a major, major inducement to international -- international conflict and also to terrorism. for example, right now in syria as a result of a sustained drought people have left the rural areas, flooded into the cities causing more instability and becoming people who could
succumb to extremist propaganda, massive instability in syria. so what we have to do -- and, by the way, you know, when i was your age the challenge of my generation was civil rights. and all over this country, and i was involved when i was at the university of chicago, when young people stood up and said, you know what, we're going to end segregation in america, and those of us who were northern schools helped out financially our brothers and sisters fighting in the south who were getting their heads busted open and we did what we could where we were. my guess among many other issues that are out there, one of your great challenges today, continue the fight against racism and sexism and homophobia, but also understand that we are fighting for the future of the planet and if we do not move aggressively, i'm on the energy committee in the senate and the environmental committee, i talk to scientists
all over the world, and what they are telling us is we have a small window of opportunity to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. we need to take on the fossil fuel industry who are looking at short-term profits ahead of the future of this planet, and i hope you will be involved in our effort to transform that energy system. [ applause ] >> senator, i know you have to leave momentarily so i want to close with one last grouping here, and i think it's an important one because it gets very much at the whole notion of why our institute exists and one of the big points you brought up at the conclusion of your remarks, and that's how do we get this done? ari shapiro, a soft more in the school of foreign service asks
with the republican majority in both houses, would you be willing to compromise some of your ideals to get your most important plans passed? and kumail, a freshman from san francisco writes, my question is how do you plan on implementing your social programs given the immense opposition in congress? >> great questions. look, when you are in congress by definition you compromise every day, and you all should know that when i was in the house of representatives, i was there for 16 years, on certain years i ended up getting more amendments passed on the floor of the house than any other member of congress, because when there was an issue out there that i could work with republicans on, and they were in the majority, we put together a pretty good coalition. just two years ago i worked as chairman of the u.s. senate committee on veterans affairs. i worked with people like republicans like john mccain in the senate and people like congressman jeff miller over in
the house who's chairman of the veterans committee there to put together the most comprehensive veterans health care bill passed in recent memory. so, yes, i can compromise, but here is the point that i want to make. on many of the issues that i have talked about, virtually all of them, these are not radical extremist ideas. i am not coming before the american people and saying, look, i am this radical wild eyed socialist, crazy ideas, but listen to me, you know? that's not the issue. look at the issues. we want to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. raising the minimum wage, widely popular. i want to create 13 million jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. wildly popular. pay equity for women workers, wildly popular. making public -- there it is. popular idea. all right. making public colleges and universities tuition free and lowering student debt, widely
popular. combatting climate change, there are some republicans who still don't accept it, but most americans do. all right? asking the rich to start paying their fair share of tax, vast majority of americans think that that's right. so here's my point, here's my point. the real question is, sure, you've got to compromise. the really more important point is why is congress so far out of touch with where the american people are at? the republican agenda is among other things to cut social security, medicare, medicaid and give huge tax breaks to billionaires and to ignore the planetary crisis of climate change. how many people believe in that agenda? i don't know, 5%, 10%. surely a very small minority of people. so when i talk about the political revolution, when i talk about transforming american politics, what i am talking about is bringing in the voices
of millions and millions of people who have given up on the political process to have their views and their needs being heard by congress. when that happens, everything that i talked about will be passed. if that does not happen, virtually nothing will be passed. so what this campaign from my perspective is about, and i say this in every speech that i give, it's not just electing bernie sanders to be president. i surely would appreciate your support, but, very honestly, it is much more than that because no president, not bernie sanders or anybody else, can implement the kinds of changes we need in this country unless millions of people begin to stand up and fight back, and i think right here on college campuses all over this country we're beginning to see that fight back, we're beginning to see
that fight back among low-wage workers who are going out into the streets and saying, you know what, we can't make it on 8 or 9 bucks an hour. raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. we are beginning to see that movement develop, and i hope you will be part of that movement because if you are, we can, in fact, transform this country. thank you all very much. [ applause ] >> thank you. [ cheers and applause ]
cspan has your coverage of the road to the white house 2016 where you'll find the candidates, the speeches, the debates, and most importantly, your questions. this year we're taking our road to the white house coverage into classrooms across the country with our student cam contest giving students the opportunity to discuss what important issues they want to hear the most from the candidates. follow cspan student cam contest and road to the white house 2016 on tv, radio and online at cspan.org. tomorrow night journalist maziar bahari, his memoir about being detained in an iranian prison produced rose water. he has a discussion on his
experience. that's tuesday night at 8:00 eastern on cspan 2. all persons having business before the honorable the supreme court of the united states are admonished to draw near and give their attention. coming up on cspan's landmark cases, we'll discuss brown versus the board of education for topeka kansas third grader separate but equal meant a walk to the bus that would drive her a mile to the all black school even though the all white school was only a few blocks away. her father sued the school board. it made it to the supreme court. we'll examine the case, the personal stories of the individuals involved and the immediate and long-term impact of the decision. that's coming up on the next landmark cases, live tonight at 9:00 eastern on cspan, cspan 3 and cspan 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/landmarkcases. next, republican presidential candidate marco rubio gives his perspective on national and global security concerns. >> thank you very much indeed. welcome back. i hope you enjoyed your dinner. we move into the real meat of the evening now. seven years ago a 40-something first term senator with an inspiring life story was elected president of the united states running in a campaign from the other party who was a solid generation older than he was. we may get a chance to find out
whether history repeats itself in such close proximity. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage senator from florida and republican presidential candidate, marco rubio. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> thank you. good to see you again. milwaukee one week. twice in one week. thank you very much, indeed, for being here. i want to start with the news from paris and the atrocity that took place there on friday and the reaction to it. i was watching tv today and there on split screen was president hollande and president obama speaking at the g-20 meeting in turkey. president hollande was incredibly forceful. he said he declared war. he said france was at war. he declared this an act of war. enabled the french to take robust action to prosecute the war. french warplanes have been in action over the weekend.
he's called for a completely different approach to how we deal with this problem of radical islam. president obama by contrast essentially said we continue with the same strategy. we do what we're doing now. we're going to intensify the strategy and he saved most of his anismus for critics at home who have been criticizing him for not doing enough. on this issue whether or not what happened in france on friday requires a fundamental change and a fundamental strategic revision of what we're doing or whether or not we can continue to do what we're doing, where do you stand? >> it doesn't require fundamental change and it required it before the attack on friday. it's required it for the better part of a year and a half if not two years. i think the problem the president finds himself in is one of domestic politics. he ran for the presidency as part of his mandate he felt was to extract the united states from further entanglement in the middle east. he want to get us out of
afghanistan, out of iraq and did not reentangle you us. global affairs and history doesn't stop. the truth is as this issue has gotten worse and worse, it will take a more robust engagement to turn the corner on this conflict and the president won't make that commitment and, in fact, won't make that commitment as well. by and large from a strategic point of view the u.s. does not have a well-defined strategy and in the absence of an american strategy towards isis and jihadism in general, you won't be able to pull together a global coalition that's effective. only americans leadership can lead such a coalition. i think the president is constrained by not only his ideology but the political considerations of not wanting to reentangle us in another conflict.
the truth is, we're entangled in this conflict. the choice before us is do we confront it while it remains largely based in iraq, syria and libya or do we allow it to continue to expand the way it is now doing. >> if you were president in a year's time you could well be president elect, what would you do specifically? >> i know we can't do this but what i was talking about in 2012 and it was the argument this uprising was not caused by the united states. the syrian civil war was a function of disaffected sunnis rebelling against the assad regime. assad regime led to brutal force that led to this uprising. i said at the time annual the record is clear, if we do not find members of that up rising that we can work with, this conflict is going to create a vacuum and that vacuum will be filled by what it's all the filled by in the middle east, radical jihadists, particularly foreign fighters. that played out in libya.
it is my belief isis can only be defeated by sunnis themselves. they must be defeated by sunnis. i believe they will have to be the predominant force on the ground that defeats them militarily, but i believe that will only have the success if the united states pulls together a coalition to do so. in the short term i think it would require high-profile american special operations that target key nodes in the isis network that videotape all of this and publicize it. much of what isis is doing is a propaganda war. they use the propaganda to create an imagery of themselves as an invincible, unstoppable force and this is what is attracting and inspiring fighters all over the world to join their cause and also to obtain low action abroad. >> the president has authorized operations? >> they have authorized 50
special operations forces. they have an insufficient number. >> how far would you go? >> ultimately the numbers need to be set by the tacticians. their job is to come up with a strategy to carry this out and then tell us the numbers required to do so. >> much more than 50? >> i don't believe 50 is sufficient to carry out the operations. i also think we need to continue to increase our air strikes and that includes moving more of our basing of those aircraft not just to turkey but potentially to iraq if they'll allow us and they should allow us because the fact we have to travel these long distances means there are less strikes we can conduct. you need special operators on the ground in order to make those strikes more effective. in the process of doing all of this, i think we must begin to empower both sunni tribes in iraq and syria and in jordan, saudi arabia, egypt and ask more of them in providing of forces that will comprise the bulk of a ground force that ultimately drives isis from the role that they're now playing, but it has to be a predominantly sunni-led effort. the kurds can hold their territory and we should help them in that regard.
this is a complex issue. we're going to have an issue with the shia militias many in the control of the iranians. we have to anticipate that it will trigger attacks from the shia militia as well. we have to anticipate that. and ultimately i do not believe any of this is possible as long as assad or the assad regime remains in power. they are one of the primary irritants that have create this had sectarian strife that allowed isis to find fertile ground. their removal has to be a key component. that's why the presence of russians in syria further complicates this. >> you do stick with the strategy that assad has to go. >> absolutely. >> you saw what president hollande said today who called upon greater cooperation with russia. >> >> you defeat isis and assad is in power, you'll be dealing with al nusra. or some other sunni group that pushes back on how we control that nation. i'm not telling you syria will become canada anytime in our lifetime or the near future.
i am say that go there's greater stability necessary and, in particular, our primary national security interest is not to allow there to be any safe operating space from which these groups can grow. you see what's happening in libya largely under reported up to this point. libya has now become the primary space where they recruit and bring foreign fighters for training and export. perfectly positioned in libya to conduct operations in sinai, egypt and into europe as well. and i think libya is a growing problem in this regard. >> you would authorize more forces in the region, perhaps in syria as well as in iraq. >> and in libya. >> who is the principle enemy? is it assad or islamic state? >> i think they're interrelated in that assad and his treatment of sunnis in particular has served as one of the irritants that created a sunni instability. the isis forces have taken advantage of that and others as well, al nusra, too.
isis is the one now conducting these attacks. i think as long as there's an assad or assad regime in power, the irritant will be there that will lead to another radical sunni movement taking advantage of what's happening. again, it is not our job to put syria back together but we can most certainly ensure that there are at least elements on the ground that prevent the creation of these safe havens from which radical sunni elements can organize, coalesce, train, fundraise, attract fighters and ultimately conduct operations. >> the russians say that assad is the only plausible alternative to islamic state and that if you continue to try to topple assad, you're going to strengthen islamic state and get more and more attacks. >> i don't think assad has been successful at all in targeting the islamic state and neither have the russians for that matter. the russian conduct in the region, the vast majority have been against non-isis, non-jihadist elements. that's the outcome putin wants. putin wants to find himself in a situation after he's wiped out all the non-isis fighters on the ground that he can then turn to the world and say in syria there
are only two groups left, assad and isis. whose side are you on? i'm not sure he's wedded to assad personally but the regime, a pro-russian regime that allows him not just the land basing but the sea base as well and the geopolitical foothold that he's been in the middle east is a key component for that reason because this is multifaceted. it allows him to show his country and the world he is a power broker on par with the united states. it allows the world to be distracted from ukraine. you see no discussion of ukraine. it allows him internally in russia to appear as a strong global leader which he hopes nationalism covers up for the economic catastrophe that is the russian economy and the experience of the russian people. >> you reject the idea we make common cause against an enemy which is the islamic fundamentalism? this radical islam as you describe it? >> as long as the russian strategy is what it remains now. by and large the strategy up until this point has been to wipe out the non-isis fighters
and then force the world into it, assad and isis and i think that further complicates our ability to work with him. >> you called for a no-fly zone over syria. that -- that could potentially -- the president ridiculed that today and said most islamic state has no air capability and that assad has been using very limited air forces and that would run -- that would lead to a direct confrontation with the russians. the russians who are flying -- >> for the thousands killed by the barrel bombs dropped from both helicopters and airplanes, i'm not sure they would say it's limited primarily for two points. one is to allow refugees fleeing the conflict to find a place to go that doesn't involve the dangerous fraternity and the unstable journey into europe and the other is to allow a place where non-assad syrians can organize themselves as an alternative to assad long term but an effective fighting force, sunnis removing a sunni jihadist
movement. they need a safe operating space. the only people with a safe operating space is in libya. it's with the islamic state has been able to establish and one more point about isis because i want to be on the record about this. they are growing in influence in afghanistan. they are in an open competition for the taliban to track sunni fighters away and towards them. they are starting to percolate in pakistan, which is a dangerous development given that they are a nuclear arm state. designed for purposes of fostering sectarian strife. i think you'll see greater engagement on sinai and into egypt and they have as a clear goal targeting the kingdom in saudi arabia and in jordan. they're primely positioned to do that towards jordan. this is a group that is not contained and is growing in its capabilities in the region and has already shown growing in capabilities and external operations as well. >> just to be clear, russians
are flying many sorties and it could bring the united states into direct confrontation with the russians. you're comfortable with that. >> i think that we would be more than capable of discouraging the russians from conducting those attacks. that would be their choice. >> shoot down a russian? >> i don't think it would get to that point. that would be their choice. we have a superior military capability in that region, number one. number two, there's no excuse to be bombing a no-safe zone largely made up of refugees and non-assad rebels who are there for the purpose of reclaiming their country and defeating the islamic state if, in fact, russia's fight in the region is against isis, then they will have no reason to be flying over a no-fly zone because there won't be any isis fighters in the territory. >> what needs to be done here in the united states to deal with this threat? it's clear again friday showed how palpable this threat is and how real this threat is from potentially domestically most of these seem to have been french citizens, this issue of a migrant, too. what needs -- how vulnerable is the united states domestically
to this kind of attack and what would you do to deter it? >> we are vulnerable. what happened in paris could happen in a major american city at any moment at any time not that there's a specific threat i will share or know about, we know this is true that there is, in fact, elements that seek to strike us here in the homeland and have the capability to do so. it's a question whether they can carry it out and we have disrupted plots and the danger is multifaceted. it is external operators who could be sent here or have been sent here for a specific purpose and it's also lone actors. lone actors that gain tactical advice online about how to conduct an attack to inflict maximum casualties. you've seen efforts of that as well. intelligence programs are so important. i think it's a distinctive debate in the presidential race. two colleagues aspiring to the presidency, senator cruz in particular, have voted to weaken the u.s. intelligence programs just in the last month and a
half. and the weakening of our gathering capabilities leaves americans vulnerable and that is exactly what's happened. we have weakened through a combination of disclosures by a traitor, edward snowden, and, also, through the weakening in our own laws of important programs that now are being phased out and as a result will cost us the ability to gather actionable intelligence against elements operating in our territory. >> one issue is this issue of surveillance and some of the technology companies, apple in particular, have got -- have been very, very emphatic in making the point that they want to protect their users' privacy and that their privacy is important and as we know and probably will find out increasingly from france and elsewhere that there are all kinds of communications now that literally can't be accessed because of the changes made. would you force the technology companies to make that -- to make more of that information available? >> the number one obligation of the federal government is to
provide for the national security of the united states. if someone in the federal government is found abusing these programs and authorities, they should be fired and prosecuted for having done so. that said, we need to have real-time access to any actionable intelligence that will allow us to save american lives. the united states government has neither the confidence, the money, or the time to spy on every american. that's not happening. we need to have access to this information in order to save lives in an exigent circumstance. we need the cooperation of these companies but ultimately the authority of the united states may be necessary because at the end of the day the number one obligation of the federal government is to protect us from a threat unlike any we have ever faced. this is a unique threat. and when you mentioned about the technologies, you're talking about encryption which is now increasingly being used as these groups have improved their capability at communications security, they have gotten better at how they communicate with each other.
they have improved. they have learned both from the disclosures of snowden and others but also from failures in the past. they've learned from it and improved. we need to stay ahead of that. that guarantee we'll prevent every possible attack? it will not. sadly, no matter how good we get at intelligence gathering, this threat is so unique and multifaceted we will not be able to prevent every single one of them. i do believe that the weakening of the current programs have left us unnecessarily vulnerable to some of these attacks or the follow-up attacks in the networks that support those attacks. >> what about the issue of the syrian migrants? president said the u.s. will accept 10,000 syrian migrants. i think today as many as 11 state governors have come out and said they won't accept migrants in their own states. where do you stand on that? >> so this is a tough issue because it goes to the core of who we've always been as a people which is a nation that serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration to those fleeing oppression. the flip side we have to provide for our own national security and nothing can supersede that. my problem with the migrants is in the migrant situation it's not that we don't want to accept migrants, i'm not sure we can.
in fact, i'm increasingly convinced we can't at least at this stage in the process. you cannot accurately do a background check on 10,000 people. it's not like you can pick up the phone and call the syrian government and find out who somebody is, as if the documents that people are bringing from abroad are reliable in terms of what they're saying. in fact, often they're easily forged. it is not easy to conduct a background check on someone that's coming from that part of the world. and here's the problem. you allow 10,000 people in, 9,999 of them are innocent people fleeing oppression and one is a well-trained isis fighter. you have a huge problem on your hands. and that's the problem that we have with this program. it's not that we don't want to do it and it's not that we as a nation's heart doesn't break. what if we get one of them wrong, just one of them wrong? the consequences could be extraordinary, and that's why i think a better approach is to create these havens within the middle east where some of these are ancient communities present for over 2,000 years are being driven from their ancestral homelands and it would be much better to leave them in the
region in safety than drive hundreds of thousands of people permanently away from a region of the world where they have links that go back millennia. >> back to many of the other hot button issues in the presidential election campaign right now, immigration following on from that. a few years ago you were part of the so-called gang of eight, republicans and democrats who worked together in the senate to come up with a plan which got approved by the senate to allow citizenship for the 11 million or so illegal immigrants here in the united states. you've changed your view since then to some extent, in important respects to regard to citizenship versus permanent residency and you've been attacked by the likes of senator cruz in particular and others for having essentially supported amnesty in the past and have now changed your position. what -- where are you now and how do you respond to that charge? >> let me clarify a couple
points. first of all, everybody running for the nomination for the presidency on the republican side supports legalizing people here illegally. donald trump wants them to leave before he legalizes and then he's going to legalize them and bring them back in. everyone else has supported in the past or supports legalizing some people including senator cruz who not only sponsored an amendment but was still talking about support of it. if he is's changed his position, he has a right to. i think he should be asked whether he's changed his position. >> i'm talking -- no, beyond this, he wanted a 500% increase in the h 1 b program but beyond that, he also wanted to bring people out of the shadows and legalize them. just not grant them citizenship. if he has changed his position on that, he has a right to change his position. he should be asked to clarify what his position is today. in 2013 i endeavored to deal with immigration reform because i believe this country needs to deal with it and i felt at the time that we had an opportunity
to produce the best possible bill out of the senate in the hopes that the house would take it up and improve it even further and then offer the president a choice about immigration reform or not because the truth is the democrats had the majority of the house and the senate and the presidency for two years beginning in 2008 and did absolutely nothing on immigration. therefore, they have no standing to criticize republicans on it. what i learned from that experience is this. the american people have zero trust in the federal government to enforce the law. the american people recognize we need to deal with this issue. we need to fix what we have. we need to deal with the people that are already here in a responsible way but they're not willing to do it unless they can be assured this is never going to happen again and just passing a law that says we're going to enforce immigration law is not enough. they want to see it actually done. that was an extraordinary revelation. they want to see it in place and see it working before they get the political support to do anything else. the only thing i've changed it
to say, look, the only way we're going to move forward begins with proving to the american people that it's under control that illegal immigration into the united states has been substantially lowered to a level that people are comfortable with and we know what it takes to do that. not just more physical security on the border but employment verification system that's cost effective, that allows us access in real time to the names of those who are in the country illegally because they overstayed a visa, almost half the people illegally. i think as part of that the second step would need to be modernizing our legal immigration system, so it's more efficient and merit based so that the primary criteria that is allowing someone to immigrate here is what can they contribute economically, not because they have a relative living here. once we've done those two things, i think the american people will be very reasonable about what do you do with someone who has been here for ten years who isn't otherwise -- has not otherwise violated the law? and i think the process you come forward, if you can't pass the background check, you have to leave. if you pass the background
check, you have to learn english, start paying taxes, pay a fine and you get a work permit and that's all you're going to have for at least ten years is a work permit that you need to renew and at the end of the ten years i -- this is not a majority position in my party -- but i am personally open to allowing people to apply for a green card like anybody else would. a new merit-based process. others are saying leave them with the work permit. the best we can do is a work permit, it's better than what we have now. i personally am open to the idea of allowing people to apply for a green card after the ten-year period, but i just don't think you can do this all at once. i know you can't because it's been tried three or four times over the last decade and a half and each time is met with failure. there is no comprehensive approach to immigration reform that has a chance of passage anytime in the near future. >> you're striking a different tone both from the tone you struck a couple years ago and from the tone that was very striking in the debate last week we were at where governor bush
and governor kasich were emphatic in responding to ted cruz in saying it's inhumane -- also donald trump -- it's inhumane. this is not the american way. there are people here who have been here for many, many years. we're not going to send them away. we're not going to pull parents away from their children. they were very passionate about the humanitarian consequences here. you seem to be much more emphasis on enforcement. >> even then i was, too. my point was there is no right to illegally immigrate to any country in the world including the united states. do i understand the human aspect? yes. that's what makes this a difficult issue. you're dealing with human beings, some of whom have very compelling stories that will break your heart, others who are taking advantage of the system, and i see it all. immigration is not something i read about in a book. it's not a "front line" episode that i've watched on pbs. it's something that i've lived. my family are immigrants. every single one of my neighborhoods is an immigrant or a first generation american. i know every aspect of
immigration personally and i know the good, the bad and the ugly of this whole system. i believe that if we deal with people that are in this country illegally we do so because they have appealed to our compassion and also to our common sense and what's good to the country but there is no right to illegally immigrate to the united states. if we deal with this issue, we do so because it's in the best interests of america and i do think people will be reasonable. i also understand that we're not going to grant blanket amnesty. it's unfair and undermines our ability encouraging more people to come illegally in the future. if we can prove that illegal immigration is under control and we can modernize, most share my view and are willing to be realistic and responsible about what you do with those who have been here and can pass a background check. >> the economy, particularly taxes. they are all offering tax reform and tax reductions and, you
know, there's much less concern this time than there was compared with mitt romney in 2012 about revenue neutral. all offering tax plans that would even with some dynamic scoring would increase the deficit. let me ask you about your particular plan which puts much more -- you don't cut the top rates of personal taxes much. you just bring that top rate down to 35%. would you emphasize a massive expansion in child tax credit. i asked you about this last week. estimates of $150 billion for the expansion of tax credit. they become very hard -- and they're refundable, too. very hard to reduce. isn't this just another big entitlement program that you're
creating for low income families and children? >> tax policy is not an entitlement. tax policy can be reformed and changed as we're advocating we do now. i would argue a couple points in this regard. the first is you can't just look at the top rate in a vacuum because for example, we take all business income including that of pass through companies, many are paying on their personal rate that could be as high as 39.5% and we lower all income. both c corporations and pats throughs to a flat rate of 25%. we allow for immediate and full expensing in businesses. it does away with the loopholes that now exist in a tax code. i believe we now taxes on a worldwide system. these are dramatic changes. >> that would include repatriation -- >> $2 trillion of american corporate cash is overseas. the equivalent of the gdp of russia. i'm not saying we're going to get all of it back but we're
going to get a significant portion of it if we move to a territorial system of taxation. the issue on the personal side, you asked about the tax credit, and then i want to talk about the debt because it's related to the issue of revenue neutrality. i think that the tax credit i propose is not just pro family, it's pro-work. you can't get the tax credit if you don't work. you have to pay payroll tax in order to qualify, even for the refundable portion of it. so, number one, it's a pro-work tax. the other is it takes into account a very unique 21st century reality. and that is that it is expensive to raise a family in the 21st century. there are significant costs associated with raising children in the 21st century and for working families the tax code should reflect that by allowing people to keep more of their own money for things like saving for college. for things like paying for child care which at least 30 out of 50 states is as if not more expensive than going to college. for things like the fact that i know i'm raising four kids now, you can buy shoes for them in january and by march or april you have to get new shoes. these are real expenses that face working families. so it's a pro-family, and it's
also a pro-work endeavor that tries to reflect the tax code that reflects the reality of the 21st century life for a growing number of americans. on the issue of the debt, we need to understand the debt's importance is not just the dollar. if italy had a $5 trillion debt it would be a catastrophe. if america had a $5 trillion debt we wouldn't be talking about the debt because we have an $18 trillion economy gdp. our goal is to bring the debt down to a sustainable level as a percentage of the overall size of our economy. there will always be some level of government debt but it has to be a manageable level. how do you do that through a combination of two things? number one, dramatically grow your economy through robust growth which is what the business side of the plan tries to do in taxes along with regulatory reform because the growth comes from the business side of the tax code and the second thing is you must tackle entitlement programs. i'm from florida. there are a lot of people on medicare and social security in florida. that's not well known.
there are a lot of people in florida on medicare and social security. my mother is one of them. >> we've seen them driving cars. >> my mother is one of them. he said that not me. my mother's one of them. she's 85 years old. i don't want anything that's bad for her. we still have time to save the programs in a way that brings long-term spending trends under control without disrupting anything for current beneficiaries. but we need a president and a public official that will be honest with people like me. i'm 44 years old. my medicare and social security is going to look different than my mother's one way or the other. it will be a program that's facing a crisis or it will be changed. i'll have to retire at 68 instead of 67. my benefits may not grow as fast. my medicare benefits could very well be the option of taking my medicare money and purchasing a private plan that i like better. these are not unreasonable changes and they begin to bring stability long term to a program that was designed when there were 16 workers for every retiree and now headed to two workers for every retiree. you have to do both.
you can't just do the tax plan. you must do entitlement reforms or you will never bring the debt under control and you will have an american debt crisis. that is an unavoidable outcome of the current trend line. >> i want to give the ceos a chance to ask you a question. two more topics -- >> i tried to filibuster but the clock is still going. >> you've answered lots of questions very directly. all the republican candidates have been critical of the federal reserve. we saw that again in the debate last week. very, very critical of the policies of the federal reserve and in particular of janet yellen. can i ask you outright if you're president in 2018 you'll get a chance to renominate janet yellen, would you? >> i would not. i'll tell you why. we've become fed obsessed. everything on the news today, what's the fed going to do? that's not the job. >> "the wall street journal" won't have anything to say. >> hopefully you'll have a debate about fiscal policy. the fed is no substitute for tax policies, regulatory policies, fiscal economic policies that create an environment that's conducive to economic growth. in fact, the fed oftentimes by trying to compensate for bad fiscal policy ends up making
policies that dramatically alter the economy in very negative ways. >> do you have somebody in mind? >> maybe someone in this room -- no, i don't. >> it's definitely not janet yellen. >> the notion of a fed that's overactive and believes it's its what my problem is, i believe that this has done harm to america. easy money has done harm to main street now. the access to easy money has allowed, as we were talking earlier, for a large number of companies to borrow zero interest and buy back shares and use it to goose up the stock market also used for mergers and acquisition, but it has made personal savings for individuals negative. it has, in many ways, a negative impact on the life of every day americans. and my problem is, that's why i'm a strong believer in some sort of rules-based fed policy, because at least it provides some level of certainty as opposed to this sort of inst
instincti instinctive, we are going to be in this room for a couple hours but it is not based on metrics you can predict. and the result is, maybe it's good for those covering financial needs, but it's an onslaught of whether interest rates will go up and the impact that is having on us and the uncertainty into the economy. we need a certain monetary policy to sort out the ebbs and flows of the economical cycle. but this is due to the robust cycle that can invest in the future. because we have economic policies that make us globally competitive visa ve the rest of the world. >> the president just concluded a deal with the transpacific partnership. a big trade deal, one of the biggest trade deals that's been signed in this region in a very long time. they published the details of
the deal a few weeks ago. but this will be a hugely important issue. every republican since herbert hoover has approved the trading measures. would you vote for the tpp? >> i support free trade and support atpp. whether this one, i'll have to support. we just literally got it a week ago thursday or friday. we have a 90-day review period. i want it to succeed and hope there's nothing something in there i can't be supportive of, but not that i expect it to be perfect. i believe it's important for a number of reasons. number one, 40% to 45% of global commerce is happening in this world. and i think the impact of the failure could be potentially catastrophic and plays perfectly into the hands of the chinese narrative in the asia pacific region, which is the power to decline and retreat and they are going to set the rules of the road, which will completely
unsettle everything that this world has arrived on since the end of the second world war that created an impressive era in global growth and prosperity. we are allowing the chinese, if this fails, to set the rules of the world for the fastest and most important region of the world in the 21st century. it is critical we have access to the emerging markets. we are a low terror country at the end of the day. no one benefits from the non-tariff barriers. the ability to export services, manufacture goods and agriculture, to develop economies like japan as an example could be a net positive to the business climate. it has to be structured in a way that is right and fair, but that's why i need to review the deal. but in general, i do believe we need not just a transpacific partnership but one to allow america to continue to be an influence. >> hillary clinton came out against it. >> she useded to be for it.
>> i know. >> she came out and is catering to labor constituents in her own party and other voices that have forced her far to the left on a lot of the issues. i supported fast-track authority because i believe it is important to include this negotiation. like anything else, it is an extensive deal that's complex and want to understand the details before i become a champion of this particular deal. but i do believe we need a free trade deal with asia-pacific nations and pacific-rim nations, including many in the western hemisphere that are a part of it. i think it is important from the geopolitical perspective and the economic -- >> it sounds like you're inclined to support it. >> i want to support it. it has to be a good deal. >> questions from the audience. anybody. there's a microphone, which john is going to circulate. you have a few minutes with the man who may be the next president of the united states. >> it's so much easier to answer when they are not 90 seconds. >> over there, i think i see tim over there. >> can i apologize, first of
all, you've had one brit interviewing you and now have another brit asking a question. we're taking over. tim montgomery from "the times" of london. president obama said he would like britain to stay part of the european union. and i wonder whether you have a view yourself. it's a big issue for many of us and we wonder whether america would accept open borders with its neighbors as britain currently has with other judges from other countries deciding your laws. and some of us would perhaps like an american president to be more open to the possibility that an independent britain would be freed from part of the super state and might actually be a better allie for your country. >> part of being a strong allie, particularly of britain and the u.k. is for us to respect sovereignty and its right to make its own decisions about what is in the right proper interest. it's a vibrant democratic
country that has leaders to make the decisions and are held accountable by their electorate. so i don't think it is proper for an american president or an american presidential candidate to tell the u.k. what is right for them anymore it would be right for the u.k. to tell us they wanted us to sign nafta or some other agreement. so i would just say in that realm, the respect of what the u.k. makes, they have a right to make it and they have a right to support the decision of the u.k. leaders and they will continue to be our best friend in the world and one of our strongest alliances either way. but ultimately that's something the leaders of the country need to make about what is right for their future. and either way it won't change the nature of our relationship. >> one or two more questions. over there, we have companies that represent many millions of employees here as i'm sure there are concerns of many. >> just tell me about syria for
a minute. the outcome with the russians coming in looks like the bu bulkinization of syrians. >> let me make headlines, what the heck. if you look at it, it is bulkinized. you have an enclave in the area near damascus. you have a massive sunni population that straddles the border. kurds up north, both in syria and in iraq. you have a shea majority in the central part of the country like baghdad and the central part of the nation. you have christian community that is have been driven from different regions but still have a substantial part of the population. and you have artificial lines that were driven, that were drawn without any thought process to all of this. now, ideally, the nation state
elements would remain in place, but it is extremely difficult to envision how that will happen in the future. and some of that is touched upon by the comments i have given here today, and that's the need to work more closely with the sunni allies in the region because they must be the ones to defeat isis. but that will drive, in some respects, a potential wedge with some of the shia groups that are largely sponsored from tehran. so i think the region is largely bulcanized and was a before the invasion of iraq. some of these elements already existed on the ground. so that's why i eluded to, i don't think you'll see syria turn into canada in time in the near future. our national security interest is not insuring nation states reform. that we would love to see that stability come because it would be good for the people of that region, but our national security interest is insuring that in the process of all that instability that i just outlined, there is not created vacuums. safe operating spaces for
radical jihadist groups with external desires and external ambitions to organize. and that's what's happened. this whole instability that i've just described and you eluded to created vacuums and spaces that have been filled and whether they have been able to create the safehavens from which they operate. in the absence of safehavens, these terrorist groups cannot conduct the external attacks we now see. al qaeda needed these in afghanistan to conduct 9/11, and now they need them in iraq and libya to conduct the attacks we see them conducting. and it's in the national security interests of the united states in the west to prevent those safehavens from taking root. beyond that, the best way to prevent them is to have nation states that govern their territory. but the challenges to that after all that's happened will be extremely difficult given the polarization. >> one more question and then we have to wrap up. yes, over here. yes. >> yeah, i'm nick pinchuck and am not from overseas.
i'm from kenosha, wisconsin. >> what part of australia is that in? [ laughter ] >> hard to say. look, i would say over the past several literations of past presidents, we have seen the limits of political capital and the difficulty of accomplishing things in washington. so if you were elected president, what would be the two or three things you would want to establish for sure. the highest priority things. >> i think that's an excellent question. in fact, that's one of the things i point to quite often. presidents take office with a limited amount of political capital and there's no interest on that political capital. you spend it or lose it and have to prioritize quickly that you need to do that quickly. so quickly on obamacare and
frank-dodd and a slew of other things, in my mind, there are two major threats to the country. one is national security. rebuilding, giving our nation a clear foreign policy of moral clarity to leave our allies trusting in us and the adversaries respecting us. later the secretary of state will share how catastrophic this defense sequester is to the viability of our national strength in the country. it's the most important thing the federal government does. and the other priority is everything possible to insure that america fulfills its potential in the 21st century economy. we are now engaged, not just in an evolving economy, but what we face now is not the economic downturn but a massive restructuring of the essence of the economy and is changing faster than aver. it is an economy global and therefore requires us to compete on a global level. that's why the second priority would be an agenda to allow us to tackle tax reform and some form to make us more
competitive. regulatory reform to make us more competitive. the fullo utilization of these things, rebuild national security and rebuild our national economic competitiveness. i would add a third one but i'm probably out of capital. we must modernize higher education in the united states. it has to be faster and easier and cheaper to access. that includes a renewed focus on career training, some of the best jobs of the 21st century require more than high school but less than four years of college. it involves alternatives to more competency-based learning to allow people to get credit for what they have learned on their own through work experience. that's why i proposed alternative crediting models to open up space for that. and alternatives to the traditional student loan, including the student investment plan to allow graduate students to go to investment groups to
pay for their studies instead of taking out loans. and more information like right to know before you go. that says that before you take out a student loan, schools will be required to tell you how much somebody makes when they graduate from that school with that degree. so that's a lot of political capital, but these are the essential issues before our country to confront in the next presidency. >> ladies and gentlemen, you all know the senate has a busy schedule to take him over the country over the next six months. so please join me in thanking him for taking the time. >> thank you. >> i appreciate it. >> thank you. [ applause ] next, a focus on human rights with the senate hearing on human trafficking followed by a look at conditions of detainees at guantanamo bay. david skorton took over as head of the smithsonian earlier this year. on wednesday night you can hear him talk about new exhibits, technology, controversial works of art and other subjects.
that event on the future of the smithsonian wednesday night at 9:00 eastern on c-span. the brookings institution is hosting a discussion on what is next for france and europe following recent terrorist attacks. foreign policy experts will discuss why france appears to be a prime target and how the international community should respond. that's live on c-span at 2:30 p.m. eastern. c-span has your coverage of the road to the white house 2016. where you find the candidates, the speeches, the debates and most importantly your questions. this year we're taking our road to the white house coverage into classrooms across the country with our student cam contest giving students the opportunity to discuss what important issues they want to hear the most from the candidates. follow c-span student cam contest and road to the white
house coverage 2016 on tv, on the radio and online at cspan.org. next on c-span 3 we focus on human rights and human trafficking, specifically on minors. they are seeking further information on backpage.com, an online marketplace linked to child sex trafficking. this hearing is an hour and 35 minutes. senator mccaskill and i have called this hearing to address
the difficult but really important subject of sex trafficking. over the past several months the city has conducted a bipartisan investigation into how sex traffickers increasingly use the internet to advance their trade and evade detection. the name of this investigation is very straightforward. we want to understand how lawmakers, law enforcement, even private businesses can more effectively combat the serious crime that thrives online in this black market. as co-chair of the senate caucus to end human trafficking and maybe more importantly is someone who represents the state has experienced some abhorrent sex trafficking networks, and maybe most importantly as a father, this is an issue i feel strongly about and have worked on over a number of years. i have spent time with those dedicated to fighting this crime and those victimized by it. for victims, the toll of sex trafficking is measures in
childho childhoods stolen and has accounting for lots of dollars. it's a problem that i believe congress should pay more attention to. precise data is hard to come by because this market exists in the shadows, but experts say there are as many as 27 million victims of human trafficking last year, including 4.5 million people trapped in sexual exploitation. in the united states, about eight of every ten suspected incidents of trafficking involve sex trafficking, 80%. that's the sale of minors or for sale of adults for commercial sex. sex traffickers prey on the vulnerable. more than half of the sex trafficking victims are minors and the problem appears to be getting worse. over the last five years the leading authority on child exploitation, the national center for missing and exploited children that we'll hear from later today reported an 846% increase in reports of suspected
child sex trafficking. the increase is, quote, directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to sell children for sex. that's what this hearing is all about. traffickers have found refuge in new customer website that is special in advertising so-called ordinary prostitution. and lawful escort businesses. a business called backpage.com is the market leader in that industry. with the annual revenues in excess of $130 million last year, with a look and layout similar to craigslist.com, backpage has a special niche. according to one industry analyst, in 2013 eight out of every ten dollars spent on commercial advertising goes to backpage. eight out of ten dollars. some of the advertising is legal. much of it is illegal.
a federal court in chicago noted that packpage's adult seices section overwhelmingly contains advertisement for prostitution including the prostitution of minors, end quote. the public record indicates backpage sits at the center of the online black market for sex trafficking. the national center says that backpage is linked to 71% of all suspected sex trafficking reports that it sees from the general public through cyber online. think about that, 71% of all the suspected child sex trafficking reports that the center gets are related to backpage. according to a leading anti-trafficking organization called share hope international, service providers working with sex trafficking victims have reported between 80% to 100% of their clients have been sold on packpage.com, end quote. it's easy to see why the
national association of attorneys general described backpage as a hub of human trafficking, especially the trafficking of minors. we'll hear more about that today. a resend study of press accounts reveals that scores of serious crimes are linked to backpage. sheer hope international has more than 400 cases of children being trafficked using backpage across the state. on this record, psi saw a compelling need to better understand the business practices of backpage.com. especially the use of sex traffickers on their site. that seems very reasonable and thought it would be simple enough because backpage holds itself out as a "critical allie" against human trafficking. the company has stated it, quote, leads the industry in its
review and screening of advertisements for illegal activity. a process it called moderation. backpage's top lawyer has described its moderation process as the key tool for disrupting and eventually ending human trafficking via the worldwide web. but backpage refused to turn over documents about this key moderation process that it touts as well as other aspects of its business. specifically, the company refused to supply a subpoena on july 7th says it have overbroad. senator mccaskill and i agreed to withdraw the subpoena. we targeted a new subpoena to accommodate some of backpage's concerns but the company refused to apply. defiance of a congressional subpoena is rare and it's serious. backpage has tried to excuse its noncompliance based on a sweep of unconstitutional privilege. the company's argument is vague but summed up this way, backpage says the first amendment to the constitution shields it from
this investigation of advertising by sex traffickers because it also publishes some lawful advertisements that are protected speech. it's an interesting argument. it has no support in law or logic. in a detailed ruling on behalf of the subcommittee, senator mccaskill and i discussed why we think this is without merit. and we explained that psi is taking this protection of personal interests here. and we have made that ruling publicly available today on psi's website. and i encourage you to take a look at it. after overruling the backpage objections, we awarded the ceo to produce the documents we asked for by last thursday. that day came and went without no response. then we informed psi that they would not comply. but at the same time backpage made a show of producing cherry-picked documents favorable to the company along with a 16,000 page of document
that is the subcommittee does not need or is not seeking. we don't think backpage's response to this subpoena has been in good faith. it's fine to have legal disagreements with us about constitutional privileges or the appropriate requests. we treat these objections very seriously. but backpage has done more than just raise illegal objection to producing certain documents. just last week backpage's lawyers told psi the company had not bothered to look for the documents responsed to by the up is. had not bothered to look for the documents responsive to the subpoena. which means backpage does not even know what all it is refusing to produce, much less why the documents should be protected by the first amendment. psi was disapoint beppointed by
nonno compliance, noncompliance but are not deterred. the report reveals that backpage had practice of editing advertisements by deleting words and images before publication. this is important because changing the appearance of a published ad obviously does not change the advertised transaction. the staff report finds that in some cases the editing practices likely served to conceal evidence of the legality of the underlying transaction. that finding raises some very serious questions. we want to know more about the purpose and effect of these editing practices, which is why we issued a subpoena for documents to tell us whether and how backpage's deletes, texts or images could alert law enforcement about a crime being advertised. when that failed, the subcommittee tried to take the testimony of two backpage
employees and to charge them with moderation practices. but they refused to testify on the grounds it might incriminate them. nevertheless, we continue to seek documents from backpage to allow us to understand this and other aspects of its screening process. in a moment senator mccaskill will describe other finding in greater detail. at the close of today's hearing, we will address the next steps the subcommittee plans to enforce the subpoena that backpage has violated. i'm grateful to our ranking member, senator mccaskill and her staff for their shoulder-to-shoulder work on this bipartisan investigation and i would like to turn to her for her opening statement. >> thank you, chairman portman for holding this hearing and thank you for the strong working relationship we have on this committee. four months ago a 15-year-old girl walked into cardinal glenn children's hospital in st. louis, missouri, and asked for help. along with four other girls between the ages of 12 and 18, she had been sold for sex at
truck stops across missouri, florida, texas and new mexico for almost two months. she was lucky to be alive. according to her police report, another girl traveling with her during those months had died in her arms. the 15-year-old girl who walked into cardinal glennon like the majority of children who were sold for sex in the united states today was trafficked using backpage.com. throughout the subcommittee's investigation, we have received information indicating that backpage has built a hugely successful business in part by posting advertisements of children and other victims of human trafficking on its website. and despite knowing that its website has hosted advertisements of children being sold for sex, backpage has apparently signaled to its moderators that those ads should remain on the site.
in april, 2012, for example, backpage initially told its outside moderators they should, quote, fail, end quote, or remove as containing references to certain sex acts in words, including, quote, school girl, unquote, quote, teen, unquote, quote human trafficking, unquote, and quote y-u-n-g, end quote. two days later backpage reversed that policy. the employee responsible for moderation issued clarifications regarding the banned words. he said they should no longer delete words with young or misspellings of young. those deletions were capturing too much volume, he explained. because there were too many legitimate uses of the word to warrant a removal every time.
instead of deleting advertisements for services with young, the backpage employee instructed moderators to send the ads to him for additional review. we don't know how many, if any ads were removed following that additional review. we do know that backpage instructed its moderators to be very cautious about deleting ads. according to the manager of the moderators, quote, the definition of underage is anyone under the age of 18, but for the purposes of making reports, we ere on the side of caution and try to report anyone that looks under the age of 21, end quote. importantly, guidance from backpage emphasized in all capital letters, if in doubt about underage, the process should now be to accept the ad. if in doubt about underage, the process for now should be to
accept the ad. and, quote, only delete if you are really very sure a person -- only delete if you are really very sure that a person is underage. only delete if you really very sure a person is underage. that was all in all caps. the result of backpage's guidance, of course, is the site contains numerous advertisements for sexual advertisements with children. the national center for missing and exploited children are, for example, reports that 71% of the child's sex trafficking reports it receives involve ads posted on backpage. according to shared hope international, service providers working with child sex trafficking victims reported between 80% and 100% of their
clients had been bought and sold on backpage.com. we have also learned that backpage has failed to preserve information that would help law enforcement and other entities locate victims and put pumps and traffickers in jail. backpage also failed to implement other free widely available technologies that have helped law enforcement build cases against suspected sex traffickers. moreover, backpage representatives and third party consultants up formed the subcommittee that backpage moderators edit and delete content in ads that may conceal evidence of illegal activity from law enforcement. the subcommittee has also found that backpage's business model has been highly profitable. based on information obtained by the subcommittee, backpage had net revenue of $135 million in 2014. and is expected to net more than $153 million this year.
nearly all of it profit. the company's fair market value taking into account its lack of marketability is approximately $430 million. as a former sex crimes prosecutor, i know that behind these cold financial statistics are survivors traumatized from abuse and degradation. and families suffering through years of terror and uncertainty concerning the fate of their loved ones. today i hope to hear from our first witnesses about the impact of backpage on the efforts of law enforcement officials and advocacy groups to curb sex trafficking the united states. i'm confident that their testimony will make clear the importance of subcommittee efforts to press backpage for information on its operations and procedures. i also hope that we will at some future date finally have the opportunity to question backpage ceo carl ferrar,
c-a-r-l-f-e-r-r-e-r, carl ferrer, who received a subpoena to appear before the subcommittee today but has refused to attend. i have many questions for him. i thank the witnesses for being here today and i look forward to their testimony. >> thank you, senator mccaskill and thank you for your partnership in this investigation. senator mccaskill mentioned the staff report without any objection in order to become part of the record. with this we're going to turn to our first panel of witnesses and have an opportunity for members to ask questions. we are pleased to be joined by yoda sores is, she is senior vice president of the center for exploited children. for over 30 years she has provided valuable services to law enforcement and the criminal
justice community with the limit of limiting child exploitation and reuniting families. they have recovered over 200,000 missing children including assisting with the rescue of a missing child in cleveland, ohio, just earlier this month. we appreciate what you do. i'm also honored to have with us today the founder, john walsh, who is with us in the room this morning. who has been a good at visor to me and to the subcommittee. we're also pleased to be joined by darwin roberts. darwin is a deputy attorney general with the washington state attorney general's office where he super vises the criminal justice division among other units. and he also is the lead office for the human trafficking issues. he is trying to combat child trafficking. the polaris project gave washington the highest ranking for its anti-trafficking efforts last year from 2005 to 2013, mr.
roberts also served as the assistant u.s. attorney. i appreciate you both being here this morning and we look forward to your testimony. without objection, we'll make part of the record the written testimony submitted by brant cook, the director of the ohio attorney general for crimes against children's initiative. ohio is also at the forefront of the issue under the leadership of former senator mike dewine. and we'll try to make part of the record the testimony of the chief district attorney for manhattan who has also been engaged in thissish snu the s s subcommittee. at this time, please stand and raise your right hand. do you wear that the testimony you're about to give before this subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> i do. >> i do. >> let the record reflect the witnesses answer in the affirmative. all your written testimony will be presenteded in the record in
its entirety. try to limit the oral testimony to five minutes. miss sores, we'll hear from you first. >> thank you. chairman portman, ranking member mccaskill and ranking members of the committee, i'm pleaseded to be here for the national center for missing and exploited children. thank you for your efforts to exploit the crime of child sex trafficking and potential solutions to combat this horrible crime. i'm joined today by the co-founder, john walsh, and the incoming ceo john clark, former director of the u.s. marshalls, who are here with me to underscore the support for the committee's work and our dedication to preventing child sex trafficking and assisting survivors and their families. we're here to talk about the online lucrative sale of america's children for sex. which in our experience occurs most prominently on the website backpage.com.
every year in the united states thousands of children are sold for sex and repeatedly rapped. child sex trafficking victims are boys, transgender children and girls. we see victims as young as 11 years old with an average age of 15. many of these children are moved constantly from city to city, sold for sex up to ten times a day and tattooed by their traffickers, literally branded for life. child sex trafficking is the rape of a child in exchange for something of value. buying, selling or facilitating the sale of a child for sex is always illegal. child sex trafficking is not prostitution and it has no relation to legal sexual activities between consenting adults. when we talk about child sex trafficking, we are talking about illegal activity not protected by the first
amendment. technology has fundamentally changed how children are trafficked. today an adult can shop from their home, office or hotel room, even on a cell phone to buy a child for sex. there are advertising websites, notably backpage, that are online marketplaces to buy and sell sexual experiences. some may be legal but most are not. milk we operate the hotline for child exploitation. since 1998 we received over 45,000 reports relating to suspected child sex trafficking. a majority of these reports involve ads posted on backpage. in our experience, child sex trafficking often begins with a missing child. so far this year more than 1800 missing child cases reporting have involved possible child sex
trafficking. because there are so many child sex trafficking ads on backpage, our staff searched backpage first when a missing child is at risk for being trafficked. at mickmick we work with online companies to make sure their websites aren't misused to harm children. we met with backpage at their request after they started voluntarily reporting some ads to us in 2010. during this time backpage publicly represented it wanted to do everything possible to stop child sexual exploitation on its website. at our last meeting in 2013, backpage was frustrated with mickmick for not promoting efforts to curb sex trafficking. we have not met with backpage again because they are more interested in publicly trying to claim a partnership with
mickmick on the issues rather than the sale of children on their websites. during our meetings with backpage, we represented steps they could take to reduce the possibility of children sold for sex on their website. backpage declined to adopt most of these recommended measures. here are just two examples, backpage does not consistently remove ads reported to mickmick. even when the family member of the child is reporting it begging for asis the answer. here's a report and what what mom and dad wrote to backpage. your website has ads featuring our 16-year-old daughter posing as an escort. she's being pumped out by her old boyfriend and she is underage. i have e-mailed the ad multiple times using your website but have gotten no response. for god's sake, she's only 16. we raise this issue repeatedly during our meetings with
backpage but were never told why some remain live on the site after being reported. backpage also has more stringent rules to post an ad to sell a pet or motorcycle or boat. for these ads you are required to support at verified phone number. even if back page says their site is used for repeated service, they have not taken down these ads. they have reported some of the adds to mickmick but not take up any measures to prevent sex trafficking that they have created. there's no reason to believe suspected child sex trafficking ads on backpage have decreased. however, backpage's number of reports this year has slunk to less than half the number of reports nms 2013. the same year we had our last
meeting and the same year mickmick filed a brief in support of childhood victims against the lawsuit against backpage. before it closed, i would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts, many here in the room today, and the attorneys working on civil court cases in massachusetts and washington to end the devastating online business of selling children for sex on websites like backpage. mr. chairman and other members, i thank you for the chance to share this information regarding second trafficking and backpage and am happy to answer your questions. >> thank you. and now i would like to hear from you, mr. roberts. >> thank you. i'm appearing on behalf of bob ferguson who appreciates the invitation and regrets he was not able to come here in person. i'm proud to be here representing washington state, which has been recognized as a
leader among the states in fighting human trafficking at the state level. we were the first state to make it a crime to commit human trafficking at the state level and, of course, our state definition of human trafficking matches the federal in that the use of force, fraud or coercers for commercial sex ads is human trafficking. and the commercial sexual abuse of a minor is any use of a minor in a commercial sex act. because minors are recognized as not being able to consent legally to engage in any sort of sexual encounter with an adult. while we appreciate the chairman's credit to the attorney general's office for the work we have done, i would be remiss if i didn't emphasize we have an entire community of folks doing really good work in washington state. and if it weren't for everyone, all of our partners in law
enforcement, the nonprofit community and other government agencie agencies, we wouldn't be close to where we are today. washington has had the experience of becoming involved in litigation with backpage.com in the course of our efforts to prevent the use of the internet for human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. in 2012 a law was passed to criminally punish anyone using the internet who knowingly causes directly or indirectly to be publicly dismayed any commercial for a sex act to take place in the state of washington, and that includes the depiction of a minor. backpage.com led a channel to this law before it could be implemented the. the attorney general's office attempted to defend the law in
court but the u.s. district court in seattle ruled that the law would be adjoined on the grounds that it was unconstitutionally vague under the first amendment and also likely pre-empted by the communications decency act. simultaneously with this ruling by the district court, a lawsuit was filed in washington superior court in pierce county, tacoma, alleging that backpage, in fact, had done more than just the site that hosted the posting of ads as they claimed in order to invoke their immunity under the communications decency act. in that case, several minors who allege they were prostituted using backpage.com sued that alleging backpage had essentially, by several means
including making themselves a market leader, in other words, the go-to site for online prostitution ads, by using terms like escorts, euphemisms widely recognized as being -- telling consumers that prostitution is the kind of service that they could purchase on this website. and by using what the plaintiffs term to sham efforts at self policing to allegedly try to keep ads for underaged individuals off the site. that by doing this, backpage.com had moved beyond the mirror facilitation or posting of the ads. and, in fact, was the early contributing to the use of its site to sell minors for sex.
our attorney general's office filed an amicus brief when the cases went to the washington supreme court. and on the posture of the backpage's initial motion to dismiss, we argue that, in fact, the plaintiff should be allowed to conduct discovery to determine if backpage was the early contributing as the plaintiffs allege. the washington supreme court this fall ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and that case is now proceeding to discovery. we are aware in the course of this litigation and others, backpage.com has repeatedly asserted that law enforcement is best helped if backpage remains open as a website for the posting of adult services and ads and works with law enforcement as they put it to try to prevent minors from being trafficked using their site. these commitments sound positive
as stated by backpage but the washington state attorney general's office and others is not at all certain whether these commitments are at all sufficient to do the kind of work necessary to prevent individuals from being trafficked on the site. during this entire period as backpage has said this, there have been repeated numerous instances of children being trafficked on backpage as just cited. so the question for the attorney general's office is, what is backpage doing? what are their goals? how effective are their techniques? are they doing everything they can? is there more they could be doing? what are the costs relative to the significant revenues that the subcommittee cited they are making off these adds? for all of those reasons, the washington state attorney general's office hopes that
backpage will respond to the subpoena and shed more light on how exactly it claims to be working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors. thank you. i'd be happy to answer any questions at all. >> thank you, mr. roberts. appreciate both of your testimony. we'll go as many rounds as necessary to get to the questions answered. you can see in in our report, miss sores, we'll start with you. i have deep concern with editing
advertisements, and we have had in our report, as you'll see, evidence of that. let me ask you first, how prevalent are advertisements for sexual exploitations for minors on badge backpage.com in your experience? >> mr. chairman, as i testify, backpage is the first place that makes searches when we have a missing child case where there's suspicious of a child trafficked. that's because even though the child may have a trafficking ad on another site, they will always have another trafficking ad on backpage if they are being trafficked. so between that and then the numbers of reports that we received, as i mentioned, over 45,000 with a predominant number of those from the public or otherwise reported on backpage ads, it is clear to us that backpage is the primary marketplace online for these ads. >> you said over 70% of all
suspected sex trafficking reports it receives, that you receive on your cyber tipline are related to backpage. >> from the public, that's correct. >> amazing. on the subject of underaged victims, i want to turn your attention to one of the many e-mails our investigation uncovered. this is from a company that backpage used to outsource screening their advertisements. backpage calls it moderation. in the e-mail, they instruct moderators for editing the ads including how to handle ads for victims underage, they instruct moderators and i have this here, you can find it in the appendix to the report on page 122. page 122 the apen doux the report. the e-mail instructs moderators if they are in doubt about underage, the process should be to accept the ad. the process should be to accept the ad if you're in doubt. it also should only delete ads
if they are certain the person is under age. it seems to be there's a bias there, but let me ask you, does it sound like instructions a company would give if it was concerned about everything it could do to keep kids off the internet? >> no. absolutely not. if a company really has a sincere interest in trying to deter and remove child sexual exploitation including child sex trafficking content from its website, then it will undertake a number of preventive measures early on and it also will deal with ads such as ads that likely will be picturing children or minors. it will not allow that content up and will report that content as well. it will not take -- i will just glancing at this scene, this is similar to what backpage told us regarding their process for children that quote/unquote might appear to be young. >> as we talked about backpage's
editing the ads before they publish them, one of the obvious concerns i see here is when you ed it the ad and change the wording, you are not changing the underlying transaction. you don't change the potential for the underlying crime being committed. i have a few questions for you. to start, were you aware that backpage moderators edited ads in this manner? >> we had previous conversations with backpage requiring the editing of ads pertaining to photographs. we do not recall any discussions about the moderators actually editing text of the ads. we have been told by backpage when an ad came in often with multiple photographs, if there was a photograph they deemed to be a vital of their terms of service, containing nudity, for instance, or graphic sexual activity, that ad would be pulled and the ad would move forward into the posting process. >> so let's assume that the evidence we have uncovered is accurate and there is this kind of editing, what concern does
that practice give you? >> it's incredibly troubling, mr. chairman, as you noted on a number of grounds. one is that it definitely confiscates the illegal intent of that ad. if somebody is posting an ad and saying, this is a 15-year-old or providing other information, that is a minor who is being sold for a sex act. and backpage merely strips the age component out or whatever the other indices is of going public. it could very much create concerns about, is backpage still in its publisher category or now shifting into the coming creator of the ads as well. >> my time is coming to an end. but i also think it makes it harder for you to find the kids, harder to rescue children. when you don't have the full ad, when you have the edited version including the original ad that exists prior to editing that
could help you, it makes it more difficult to rescue the kids, is that accurate? >> that's absolutely correct. if we were able to receive all the photographs and texts, the additional information, whether it is a photo that might include the face of the child, which could obviously benefit the identification of that child or other information such as a phone number or an e-mail address that is in the original ad that may have been stripped by the backpage moderator, that information is crucial for law enforcement to rescue that child and also to pursue the individual that is selling that child for sex. >> thank you. senator mccaskill. >> can you explain, miss sores, and it defies logic, can you explain your testimony that there's more stringent posting rules for selling a motorcycle than selling a 12-year-old? >> i have no explanation for
that, senator. when we met with backpage, it's the reality of how you go about posting an ad currently. during our meetings between 2010 and 2013 with backpage, we asked for some form of know your customer. at least know who the individual is in that ad. knowing the high incidents of child sex trafficking adds on that website, we pointed out the fact they were able to do this on other ad sections, such as pets and motor vehicles. and we did ask why they could not incorporate that element into the escort ads as well and never received a satisfactory answer. >> what was their answer? what excuse did they have? >> they often would say they would look into it and discuss it at the next meeting. it would be re-raised at the next meeting and be as if it was the first time we were raising the issue, there was never a satisfactory response. >> so the sex ads are the only place they don't require verification. >> i have not looked at all the
other ad categories. we have done, obviously, a lot of deep research on the escort as themselves and noted variations between ads, but there are many categories of items for sale. apartments for rent, jobs, et cetera. so i can't answer that with specificity. >> have you all done the math and maybe the staff is busy working on this, what percentage of the ads on backpage are sex-related versus the other kinds of advertisement that they pretend they are interested in? >> we have not. i know other groups have done research on the ads on backpage. nicknick when we receive an exploitation report, we go to backpage for that report. similarly, when we have a child missing case where the child is trafficked, we go to backpage for that child. >> it appears that they are engaging in -- of course we are trying to find out, that's what this is about, we are trying to find out the facts, but it
appear that is this is a very important part of their business model. because i don't think anyone could say this isn't high risk, so if you're engaging in high risk activity it's usually because it has a great deal of impact on the bottom line. let me ask you, mr. roberts, as i said, this hearing is not about reaching conclusions about backpage, about what they have or haven't done, instead it's about affirming the legitimacy of this investigation. and the legitimacy of the questions that we're asking and that we demand answers to. as the united states senate. in fact, in your brief that you filed with the supreme court of washington, both in your brief and the amika's brief, you
explain the same information that we're seeking. you stress the records of backpage's ad screeners and protocols for recreating an ad and rejecting ads offering children and flagging and banning repeat offenders. can you explain why it's so critical for the anti-trafficking efforts of backpage to produce this kind of material? and why our efforts to get this material is so essential and why we should spare no procedural effort to get at these facts? >> absolutely, senator. and thank you, again, for making this effort. without understanding what's going on, we can't understand whether they're putting in sufficient effort to solve the problem. and again, because backpage continually invokes their own efforts to block children from being advertised on their site as the reason they should be
allowed to continue operating freely in this area, even as they litigate vigorously to protect themselves from laws and lawsuits that might hold them accountable, that attempt to hold them accountable for having trafficked children on their website. they invoke these protections. so we need to know precisely what the protections are, what are they doing? how significant are they relative to the overall volume of backpage's business? i think it's important for regulators and members of the public to assess how much is backpage putting into compliance. i mean, if this is a tremendously profitable business for them, what's an appropriate amount for them to spend trying to keep children from being sold for sex? >> they're claiming protection under the law while refusing to
give the people who represent the law the facts that would, in fact, support their claim. >> right. >> they are saying, you know, you should trust us. we are not gonna give you any information. has back page ever produced the documents the national association of attorneys general requested of them in 2011 and 2012? has that information ever been produced? >> i don't believe so, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator mccain. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i want to thank all members for the involvement in this really distasteful issue, but one of tran seine dense important. i would like to thank the senator for her significant involvement in this unsavory unpleasant aspect of america that seems to have grown over
time with the ability to use technology. and mr. chairman, i have been a member of this subcommittee for many years. i have never known of a witness to refuse a subpoena. and i'm sure that you will take the necessary action to ensure that that is not done with impunity and i applaud you for your actions. this is all about money, isn't it, mr. roberts? 80% of their revenue for back page can be directly derived from their commercial sex advertising? we are talking about money, respect we? >> it appears so, senator. >> and we -- this is the most egregious example of that but goes on with other websites around the country, this just happens to be the most egregious. in fact, two federal courts have reached the conclusion that they
are in violation of law. what do we need to do about the whole situation, which is, to some degree, the result of increased technology and means of communication? what do we need to do? >> it's a very complicated question, sir. i can tell you about some of the efforts that are taking place. the king county prosecuting attorney's office, which is the prosecuting attorney for seattle, the largest office in the state of washington, is doing some real cutting-edge work in this area. >> what about the u.s. attorney general? >> i -- it's been a couple of years since i was with the justice department, sir. i know that, at least in washington state, the department of -- but we -- >> but we don't know of any federal active engagement, do you? >> i'm sorry -- >> do you know of any? >> no, sir, i don't. >> so you don't know of any
priority with the attorney general of the united states? >> i'm not aware of any tilt. >> you know, mr. chairman, maybe one of the results of this hearing could be to increase the priority of this issue with -- since it is a national issue. please proceed, mr. roberts. >> senator, i was just going to mention that the -- our local prosecuting attorney's office is working on a project that seeks to inhibit the online demand for persons seeking sex, particularly with minors, by placing targeted advertisements online, in the same way that back page apparently seeks to become the first search result when someone searches for an adult services-type ad online. the prosecuting attorney's office is placing ads that ask people, do you really want to be
buying sex, and try to expose them to some of the negative effects that take place when they participate in the commercial sex economy. describing that, women often respect there willingly, that there's a great deal of exploitation, violence, harm, trauma that comes from these efforts. and that's been supported, in part, by grants from private sources and we believe it's got some potential to hopefully make some impact. >> so, the fact that this has such a devastating effect is the hook really that we should lead to every attempt being made to stop this evil. >> yes, sir. >> i thank you, mr. chairman, and i hope that maybe which could, all of us in this committee maybe send a message to the united states attorney general that we need some
priority on this issue. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank the witness. >> thank you, senator, mccain and good point. senator highcamp. >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member for this very important hearing and in the halls of congress, we frequently represent some of -- and talk about some of the most powerful people in america what we are going to do with the large banks, what we are going to do, and today, we are talking about the most vulnerable people in america, small children, basically being exploited, being captured, and being sold as sex slaves. what could be more horrific than that? and we are told by an organization like backpage.com that they are doing everything, they are trying as hard as they can to prevent this horrible thing from happening to children. i think today we are saying you need to try harder and if you were truly trying to as hard as
what you could, if you truly cared, you would be in this room with us, talking about how we could, in fact, attack this problem. they are not in this room because they aren't in this fight with the rest of us. they respect here to protect children. they are here to make money, as senator mccain talked about, and i want to just kind of tell you what we are seeing in north dakota, because a lot of people think that this is something that's removed, it's a city issue, it's something that big cities experience, but in north dakota, this issue has hit us and it has hit us hard, because backpage.com allows it to be invisible. invisible. there is nobody walk the street corners. it's invisible. and so just yesterday, to give you a sense of where we are, just yesterday, 69 new ads for escorts, and i put that in quote, posted on back page in
north dakota alone. 69. and i want to tell you a story. earlier this year, 14-year-old las vegas runaway was rescued from traffickers in minot. after her mother saw e-mails in her inbox, e-mail inbox basically advertising her, answering an ad that had been posted on backpage.com. last summer, right across from fargo, north dakota, and morehead, minneapolis, the local law enforcement officials responded to a posting on backpage.com and found a 13-year-old runaway from minneapolis who had been trafficked for sex. now, are we to assume that these are the only minors whoever appeared in north dakota on backpage.com? well, you would have to be quite naive and foolish to assume that's the facts. and you would be quite foolish
and naive to believe we have a partner in solving this at pack page.com. we don't have a partner there we have somebody who is, i believe, not participating in solving this problem, but, in fact, capitalizing and becoming filthy rich. and i use the word filthy honestly. filthy rich on backpage.com. so, one of the issues that i want to explore in the time that i have left is basically the issue of meta data, because we have talked a little bit about, you know, scrubbing the ads, rewriting the ads, but it's my understanding that meta data is also being scrubbed off these ads, which then eliminates some opportunity for actually tracing back to the source where these ads are, and this is a question for either one of you to explain how meta data is being treated on black page.com as it relates
to escorts advertising. >> senator, your understanding is correct. when there is a back page ad reported, there is not meta data in back of that ad. a meta data, like an ip address or other types of electronic data information is incredibly relevant and important as far as identifying a location, geographic location and other types of information that maybe the person end in the to connecting the individual who took that photograph with the actual photograph and the location of that individual. without that information, it is often very difficult for nick mick, certainly for law enforcement, to start to connect that child to that photo. >> do you see meta data being removed from an advertisement for motor board, for a car or anything else on back page? do they take the meta data off those ads? >> we don't see those ad photos
in the same way, so that would be a difficult question for me to answer. >> it kk important for prosecutions. >> i think we understand how important it is. would there be any legit malt purpose for removing melt ta data from the advertisement? commercial purpose? >> it is storage intensive, so there is an investment that might be required of servers. >> and storage is so expensive these days, right? >> getting cheaper. >> yeah. it's very cheap. and so i'm -- let's not pretend that this is about storage. quite honestly. i know i'm out of time. i want to give a shoutout to a great partner who has been -- put her reputation and has been a great partner to the national center for missing and exploited people and that's senator mccain's wife, cindy mccain, who has been absolutely a champion
and i think has done more to raise the issue of back page than almost anyone else in this country. and so, she is a great partner to have and a fierce champion for children in this country. and even though she is not at this dais, definitely here with us today as we address this issue. >> thank you, senator, she was here in the form of her husband and when i asked senator mccain whether he could come by today, he immediately said, of course i'm going to come, because of cindy. and she has been great at raising awareness for this issue. i have spoken with her at conferences and she is -- she has spent a lot of time and effort as well as internationally here in this country for issue. senator langford. >> thanks for your work. thanks for what you're doing. as a dad of two daughters this is important to me, as well as it is important to everyone else on this dais as it is important to the nation. this is an issue that has to be
con granted. this is a dark spot in our country that we have to be both be able to shine a light on and to deal with in the days ahead. so i appreciate what you're doing because i can only imagine it's very difficult, hard work. so just from us to you, thank you, for what you're doing for a lot of families around the country. what is the cost of one of these ads on a back page? how much is a child worth nowadays to run on an ad? >> senator, back page rigorously calibrates its ads according to the geographic location. so in some large cities, like manhattan in new york, an ad can go for upwards of $18 or more, boston, miami, et cetera, in a smaller town, they will calibrate lower to satisfy the customer there to a few dollars. >> so, a child ad could be a few dollars or it could be $18 or
$20. >> to purchase the ad, right. >> to the purchase the ad. to put this up to be able to get the service online? >> that's correct. >> so, back page obviously not the first that's dealt with this. other locations have. other websites have. give me an an example of other websites a hound they dealt with this and responded once they learned child sex trafficking is happeningen their site. how have other entities responded? >> most entities deal with this issue, as we know, most everything can go on the internet. >> correct. >> so everyone is subjected to this threat, however, what a responsible corporate entity does is it takes tremendous preventative measures so it has real moderation. it has real review. >> so, give me an example of that. what does real moderation look like, what have other sites done to say we want to make sure this doesn't happen here so they are going to do this. what are they doing? >> they often use hashing technologies or other types of technologies, such as photo dna, sway microsoft product and it enables someone to take
basically a digital fingerprint of an image so that they as they get new ads can screen new photographs, if they get a hit of an ad they snow a trafficked child, it immediately comes out, doesn't get posted. it reduce the moderation costs as well, much faster, more efficient. they also have well-trained moderation staffs. the sort of instructions being provided to the moderators that the chairman went over are not the type of instructions that again are responsible companies with professional moderators utilize. >> how expensive is that software? is that millions of dollars to be able to purchase a software like that? >> no, it's not. >> so, give me a ballpark figure. >> hashing technology generally is a very low cost to no cost. there's some costs to implement, of course, into a company's systems. the photo dna product is provided at no cost. >> okay. >> senator in your response to the relative cost, you might be interested to know, our local law enforcement has been known
for placing sting ads on sites including back page that appear to be advertisements for young persons. who could be bought for sex n response to the ads that might cost $18 or so, law enforcement sees literally hundreds of potential responses within a few hours of it being posted, which will give you the impression why it is so lucrative for the posters. >> knowing that and washington state, you have been at it for a while, how do you measure success, how do you achieve progress because we are seeing this? what metrics are you looking for? >> well, it's difficult to measure in part because we don't have great statistics as to what's going on. that's one of the things we as a state have been manufacture sizing, we need to better study what the scope of the trafficking problem is. >> well, my greatest concern is
our study is we believe we had 300 to 500 minors being trafficked for sex on an annual basis in the greater seattle area. if we could improve upon those numbers you shall next time we take a survey, we know we are making process. the meantime, we just have to intercept as many child victims as law enforcement has the resources to do. we wish we had more resources. >> so you're bailing water at this point on a ship that's taking on a lot of water and you're bailing and basically staying afloat, that becomes the key. so, you're -- i assume, as you mentioned before, you had a lot of partners working on this, non-profits, churches, other agencies. the question from senator mccain about the u.s. attorney and the department of justice, i would hope that they are stepping in full force on this as well, though it sounded like it was unknown what role they are playing at this point. we can ask them and obviously, they can tell us what they are
doing in this, but are there partners that are missing? industry obviously has to be one of the partners, asking back page, that should up a responsible corporate citizen to take on something that is clearly illegal away from their business model. what partners are you missing? >> industry is improving quite a bit, sir. there's been efforts in the hospitality industry to train staff members on recognition of trafficking situations. we definitely would like to see better responses from organizations like backpage. in the seattle area, a very strong presence led by the local u.s. attorney's office and there has been grant funding by the department of justice for that effort. the washington coalition against trafficking and the washington anti-trafficking response network both have significant federal funding and significant participation from federal law enforcement, including the fbi and homeland security investigations. so, we feel that the federal government and the justice
department are a valuable partner in the state of washington. >> good. as they should be in this area especially. thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> senator. >> thank you, chairman. i wanted to ask ms. souras, about the communications decency act and as i understand it, backpage is trying to hide behind this act and i want to understand, as i look at -- as we -- as we -- i'm very glad, by the way, that chairman and ranking member are doing this investigation 'cause i think it's incredibly important, but i want to understand how under that particular act, backpage can rely on that act to shield itself from the activities that, in my view, seem to be very clearly facilitating trafficking
in children and other illegal activities. so, you're a launch i wanted to get your thoughts on this. >> thank you, senator. you're correct. back page has really used the cda as a flag, as a shield against the current lawsuits and threats of prosecution that may have arisen from time to time. their basic argument under the cda is they are a mere publish per, they are a bulletin board someone might up in the supermarket. they are not responsible for the note cards that people put on that bulletin board selling certain items. that seems very unrealistic when we are thinking that the item for sale here is a human being and potentially a child. but that is a basic comp pope nent under the language of the cda which is a fairly old statute, was created really to engender growth and encourage growth of the internet and serves a tremendously important purpose in that regard, but did seek to protect internet providers from let's say rampant
defamation suits and things of that sort, because there was so much public content going on to some of these sites. so backpage takes advantage of that and says we are a mere publisher, we just provide the mechanism, we are not responsible for what people put on. that's why some of this information that i understand is coming out of the committee's investigation regarding the editing you of ads is crucial and i think will be an area that many attorneys and prosecutors will be focusing on after this hearing. >> in other words, information that they, themselves, maybe editing ads, therefore, quite aware of the content of the fact that what they are posting is involving the illegal solicitation and horrific solicitation of children and other illegal activities, other trafficking activities that are against the law. >> absolutely, and crossing that boundary between the mere publisher and participation in that ad through their editing.
>> so you mentioned the cda and they are using it as a shield. obviously, we have talked today, as i understand your testimony, that that other providers aren't -- certainliment are using tus -- centerly aren't using the cda in the way backpage is and making sure there aren't these horrific illegal ads on that irsites. is that true? >> that's correct. >> there is a huge contrast there do you think we as a committee as we look this issue need to revisit or look at the cda and how it is being used in light of the current state of the internet, given that it is an older statute and given that we have this backpage using this statute in a way obviously, posting these ads of trafficking of children, which is just appalling. >> i know there has been tremendous discussion on the hill, in the senate and the house, regarding the cda,
especially with a focus on anti-trafficking measures. ncmec has been very involved in speaking with a number of members and their staffs regarding -- regarding the cda and how is it that it could be, let's say brought up to date a little bit or altered a bit that that unique sites like backpage who are not going to undertake the usual corporate protections, you know, could not see that as, you know, defense for them. >> i'm a strong proponent of obviously all the internet and the entrepreneurship and great things we have seen from it, but i can't believe that when the cda was enacted that the lawmakers who passed it could have envisioned a website like backpage and really they are using this as a shield for the disgusting types of illegal activity being posted there. so, i hope that we will look at that issue as well as a committee to make sure that they can't use this statute in an improper way as a shield.
thank you. >> we will take another round of questions. you are not getting the cooperation that you certainly sought, which is unfortunately what the experience has been of this subcommittee and lack of corporation. you did testify that over the course of three years, you worked with backpage regarding child sex trafficking on its website and provided them with a number of specific is recommendations of how they could utilize their available technology, but do it in a way that would reduce child sexual exploitation. i think you have mentioned a couple of those today but i would like you to tell us
specifically what recommendations did you make that backpage chose not to adopt? >> certainly the most egregious one is the one i mentioned, which is that they do not remove an ad even after they have reported it for child sex trafficking. and even if a parent has written in and said, this is my child in this ad. so, that certain slit most egregious. also, their failure to really introduce any one of a variety of know your customer or the verification models. we are all on the internet and we know if we go to even a cooking site for a recipe or to make a purchase, we often will be required to authenticate ourselves in some way, put in an e-mail or a mobile number and get a text, verify back that we are who we are and then we can proceed to use that content on the internet. very simple mechanisms using for very innocuous content. as the senator mentioned, this is very high-risk content when you're talking about escort ads
and its proclivity for misuse in traffic and especially if child sex trafficking. so, one thing we recommended was validation of a telephone number, a mobile number, an e-mail address of some sort. they have not been that, to our knowledge. also, the capture and reporting through the cyber tip line of the ip address. again, when you do not have the melt ta data, an ip address is crucial to try to locate the geographic location of that'd a, especially for a trafficking crime when a child is moved from city to city. ip addresses could enable you to better track where that child is being trafficked. you know, again, as i mentioned before, the use of a variety of different types of hashing technologies, photo dna or other commercial hashing technologies but really utilizing and not simply hashing your photographs and keeping the hashes dormant. you must utilize the hashes if you are going to have a successful prevention mechanism to screen your ads, to try to prevent content that you know has been reported as child sex
trafficking from ever going up. so a moderator is never seeing that ad and making the call, is it really too young or not in the words of the backpage managers. it can have an e-mail address, important meta daters. traffickers are marketing various girls or boys on the website for trafficking, by capturing ads -- that information from one ad and using it to screen through the other ads on the system, backpage would be able to link ads that might all be connected to one trafficker. another suggestion that ncmec made which backpage, to our edge no, has n -- knowledge has told us they have not adopted and told us they would adopt. those are the primary ones. >> all that goes toward your being able to rescue these kids,
all of us being able to rescue our children. they also go to law enforcement and being able to prosecute these case. >> absolutely. >> and i -- the first example you used of them not pulling ads, early, you said that a mother finally sent them an e-mail saying, for god's sake, she's only 16. so, for all of us who are parents, grandparents, think about that. "for god's sake, she is only 16," yet they refused to pull the ad. and with regard to finding these children, again, you all have been very helpful to us in ohio. we appreciate that and we have worked with you on legislation in helping finding exploited children and missing children. but think about that. not being able to provide that information to law enforcement means you can't find many children who otherwise could be able to be found. and the -- again, the heartbreak
of knowing that that information is out there somewhere and yet, a supposedly legitimate commercial concern won't provide you the information, or provide it to law enforcement to be able to find your child, to me, this is -- this is what this hearing's really all about. it's about these kids and about this practice that keeps you from doing your job at the national center, but also keeps so many parents, grandparents, from being able to save their children and rescue their -- their children. with that, senator mccaskill. >> mr. roberts, could you briefly outline for the record why you believe backpage operates outside the immunity of the communications decency act? >> well, senator, i don't have enough information yet to definitively say one way or the other, but the concern that we
expressed in our amicus brief is obviously that they are exceeding the bounds of the exemption. in other words, by actually participating in drafting the ads, by making themselves a go-to location for sites -- for ads advertising prostitution, among such sites, and by crafting essentially the message that's being sent to try to keep it so that it doesn't involve -- or doesn't appear to involve -- >> children. >> -- child trafficking, exactly. >> so their engagement in editing and shaping the content is at this point, because we -- we are all hitting walls in terms of getting good information from backpage is the reason. so assuming that we eventually,
through legal process he ies ge information, i'm assuming this is the kind of factual scenario that could, in fact, lay an adequate foundation for rico. would you agree with that? >> i think that's possibility. >> um, 'cause this is an enterprise. this is not one activity. this is an enterprise of activity. i want to give a shoutout to the -- to you and your colleagues and literally hundreds and hundreds of prosecutors across the country that are prosecuting these cases against traffickers, against pimps and against customers. i -- i appreciate the comments of senator mccain but i know for a fact that there are many u.s. attorneys offices that are actively engaged in a cooperative fashion with local law enforcement in bringing these case. the case i referenced in my
opening statement was, in fact, filed by a u.s. attorney's office against the two traffickers that were taking these young girls from truck stop to truck stop. by the way, the truck stops -- these -- these pimps that take these girls from truck to truck are called lot lizards, for the record, which is -- is distasteful as the underlying practice of pimping these young women out. one of the things that's interesting to me is how many stings go on for backpage. it is the go-to place for law enforce tomorrow place sting ads and there are literally thousands of cases moving through the grinch now where customers have been caught in stings. have you-all tried at ncmec ever to place an ad in the section of backpage saying, to people who are interested in escorts and sex, you should know this site
is the number one location for sting activity and you have a high likelihood of being prosecuted? has anybody ever tried to place that ad? because it seems to me that we have got two problems here. we have got the backpage problem. we have got the criminal element of traffickers problem. and then we have the demand problem. and the fact that too many people believe that they can do this in anonymity, that they can try to access young children through the internet. and what efforts have you been privy to, ms. souros, of the various organizations that are trying to do good in this area over informing would-be customers that the chances that they are responding to an ad that has a law enforcement officer on the other side go dramatically up when they think that they are going to be successful at being anonymous? >> thank you, senator. i'm certainly aware that some of my non-profit colleagues at other organizations do engage in that kind of advocacy or attempt
to on backpage. it is my understanding that some of the organizations that have tried to place messages such as you just detailed, those ads have been blocked from the escort section or removed at some point. so it is very difficult for a nonprofit organization to place an advocacy message or a public awareness message for a potential buyer on backpage. that is my understanding. >> well, then we need to make sure that as we try get information from backpage, we include that question. how many times have you blocked an ad informing would-be customers that there's a likelihood that the ad you may be responding to may, in fact, be law enforcement? >> absolutely. i'm happy to refer the committee to some of those non-profits. >> that would be terrific. 'cause factually, i think as a prosecutor, that would be very important to a case i was trying to bring. >> and senator, placing ads of that type is one of the efforts that the king county prosecuting attorney's office, however, i believe they have been focusing on purchasing ad results from search engines, like google and
microsoft. >> right. i know there's lots of different avenues to try to get at this incredible problem. um, well, thank you. i think you-all have made a very powerful case as to why it is important that we be tenacious and refuse to give up. and let me just say, for the record, that i know how dedicated the chairman is to this issue. i know how dedicated i am to this issue. i know how dedicated senator height camp is to this issue and if backpage thinks they are going to go guy yetly into the night rrks they are sadly mistaken. >> i want to give another shoutout to truckers against trafficking, they are working to deal with kind of a culture that
needs to change within that subset. they are doing terrific work in addressing the demand problem. and we know even as reprehensible as what all of this is, there will -- as long as there is a demand, we are going to find the nextity ter ray the next generation and so we need to be on top of that as well. senator ayotte and the ranking chairman and member, as we look kind of going forward, we are looking at things that we can do today. i want to talk about a couple of ideas that could add to, you know, add to the effort here, legislatively. and i think ms. souras in your testimony, you mentioned the fact that current federal law requires entities defined as electronic service providers
report apparent instances of child pornography that they are being made aware of. so, that's federal law. but the same requirement doesn't exist for apparent instances of child sex trafficking. why do you think that is? do you think it would make a difference if that law were changed to include child sex trafficking? and has this issue ever been raised before congress and has there been a broader discussion? is this -- is this an additional tool that we could be using and looking the? >> at ncmec, we think this could be a tremendous additional tool. historically, it was not in the initial statutory requirement that you referenced. perhaps for a number of reasons, perhaps the focus was not so much on online trafficking instances as it was on child pornography at that time. it has done woundors to address the problem. and it is somewhat more
is anything that -- more that we can do or you think of, i hope that you will reach out either to the committee or individual members who have been working on these issues. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i think what we have been able to find today are very specific ways in which to deal with the online issue and ms. s souras, your issues of asking backpage to do, prevention, law enforcement, prosecutions, there are also other things that can and should be do -- done with regard to sex trafficking. we did pass legislation as you know here in congress that was signed into law earlier this year. you were very involved with that and worked with us on some of the missing children issues, who are the most vulnerable to trafficking, but also the demand side issue.
we were able to make some progress at the federal level for the first time in 15 years. and then finally, able to change some of the federal -- the bias in the legislation to say that these young women and men, girls, boys who are involved in this are indeed victims and should not be treated as criminals but rather as victims so we can deal with their trauma, which as you said earlier, is long-term, sometimes life long. and so this is an opportunity for us not to just talk about backpage, obvious disappointment all of us have but their inability to be here today but also their unwillingness to cooperate more generally with this issue but also a chance to talk about efforts we can take going forward to combat sex trafficking and to try to put an end to sex trafficking in this country. so, we thank you very much, both of you, for your testimony this morning, mr. roberts, thank you for your hard work. i know you will keep it up nationally, working with all the attorneys general.
and ms. soroas, john walsh here and john clark here from the national center, thank you for your leadership on this and to all the groups who are out there in the trenches working on this issue every day and particular shoutout to those who are embracing these victims and helping them to get through this trauma, having met with
point. >> well, i -- the laws in this country should apply to everyone. and we should take all steps necessary to make sure that we fulfill our obligations under the law and under the law, the senate is entitled to ask witnesses to appear never it and to appear before them and answer questions and provide information. so, i think it's important that we be steadfast in our resolve to get the information that we need in order to make sure that the public policy in this country is effective when it
comes to children's -- children being victims. this isn't an exercise in having a hearing, this is an exercise in making sure that we have done everything in the law to protect children it is not any more complicated than that and any witness to refuses to answer the lawful requirement of testimony and providing information must be held accountable for that. and so, we will be careful and cautious about using the procedures available to us but we will use them to ensure that this effort is robust and informed and that ultimately, the result is that more children and more families feel the comfort that their government is doing everything it can under the law to protect them.
>> thank you, ranking member. and as you see, we are partners in this effort, and we will not be deterred. i would also like to thank the chairman of this committee, the full committee, homeland security, governmental affairs chair and ranking member for their help, senator johnson and senator carper have not just supported our efforts this morning, they have released a joint statement which commends efforts in this regard and i would now like that statement to be made part of the record. they are supporting us, not just on the important work we are doing to combat human trafficking but also with regard to any actions we might take with regard to backpage and their unwillingness to cooperate. we began this bipartisan investigation with a very simple goal, better informing congress about the issue of sex
trafficking, how to combat it through smart reforms, including legislative actions. we will not be deterred from that inquiry. if backpage fails to change course and comply with the subcommittee's subpoena, the appropriate next step is to pursue contempt proceedings. this is a step the senate has not taken in 20 years. as i said earlier, this is extraordinary. and psi has not taken for more than 30 years but regrettably, backpage's contact, their conduct has invited this very unusual action. when dealing with the party acting in good faith, we would be inclined to pursue what's known as civil con at the time. that involves the resolution authorizing the senate legal counsel to bring a civil lawsuit to compel backpage to comply but i think i speak for senator mccaskill and myself where it says this case appears to be more serious than a good faith disagreement. it's not about questions of
privilege. as i noted, backpage's lawyers have told psi that the company has not even bothered to search for and identify the documents responsive to the subpoena. and with no lawful excuse, the company's ceo has defaulted on his obligation to appear before the subcommittee today. these are not actions of a party acting in good faith. he could have come. he could have pleaded the fifth. he chose not even to come. rather, it's evidence of willful defiance of the senate's process. for those reasons, after consulting with our staff and senate legal counsel, senator mccaskill and i believe this case may justify a referral to the department of justice for criminal contempt. we will consider the appropriate course in the next few days. again, i would like to thank the witnesses and my colleagues for their participation today, for this very important hearing. the hearing ared will remain open for 15 days for in i additional comments or questions from any of the subcommittee members and with that, this
on capitol hill, lawmakers are out for the thanksgiving holiday break, returning next monday. the house monday at 2:00 eastern working on energy legislation during the week and the senate back monday at 3:00 eastern working on the nomination for the next administrator of usaid. congress faces deadlines on december 4th to provide more funding for highway and mass transit programs and december 11th to fund the federal government. c-span has the best access to congress, with live coverage of the house on c-span and the senate on c-span2. over thanksgiving, watch our conversations with six freshmen members of congress, thursday at 10 a.m. eastern. congressman buddy carter, republican from georgia and the only pharmacist serving in congress. at 10:30, representative donald norcross, new jersey democrat and long-time union electrician.
friday at 10 a.m. eastern, representative mark dissan yeah, a california democrat and former restaurant owner. at 1030, congressman mark walker, republican from north carolina and a baptist minister in his first elected office. and saturday morning at 10 eastern, it's congresswoman mimi walters, former state senator who interned in d.c. as a college student. at 10:30, congressman seth mouton, a massachusetts democrat, harvard graduate and a marine who served four tours in iraq. your best access to congress is on c-span, c-span radio and c-span.org. all persons having business before the honorable the supreme court of the united states are admonished to draw near and give their attention. >> coming up on c-span's landmark cases, we will discuss brown versus the board of education for topeka kansas third grader linda brown, separate but equal meant a
six-block walk to the bus that would drive her a mile to the all-black school even though the all-white school was blocks away. her father sued the school board and her case and four similar other cases made it all the way to the supreme court. we will examine this case and explore racial tensions at the times, the personal stories of the individuals involved and the immediate and long-term impact of the decision. that's coming up on the next landmark cases. live tonight at 9 eastern on c-span, c-span3 and c-span radio. and 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 c-span.org/landmark cases. have the human rights of detainees at guantanamo bay been violated? next on c-span, learn about findings reported since the opening of the detention facility, including treatment, living conditions and more. this program is 40 minutes.
>> good morning. i would like to welcome you all here to this event, the press conference to present the report on the human rights situation of guantanamo detainees that's been produced by the osc office for democratic institutions and human rights, or odir. with us today to present the report, its findings and recommendations, are omer fisher, the deputy head of the human rights department, and lucille singler, who is odir advisor on anti-terrorism issues and has been involved in the production of the report from the very beginning. now i hope you had an opportunity to pick up the press release on the way in. and on your way out, the report in hard copy will be available
on the table that you used for the sign-in. and after the initial presentations here, there will be time for questions from the media if such questions there are. so with no further ado, i'll hand the floor now to omer fisher. >> thank you, tom, and good morning from me as well. thank you, everybody, for being here today at this presentation of our report on human rights situation at guantanamo detainees. as tom mentioned, we all work for the office of odihr, the main body or organization for security and cooperation in europe, the osc, as you may know is an international governmental organization. we work on security, democracy and human rights. we have 57 participating states in europe, the former soviet union and in north america, the united states is one of them. you may have heard more about
the osc recently, perhaps in connection with our work in ukraine, our office is indeed quite active there. but our job and mandate is to work on human rights to the extent that we can cover them across the 57 participating states and to assist participating states in meeting their oec commitments. and one way to do this is to monitor the implementation of these commitments. it is part of this work that we, over the past years, we have engaged with the u.s. authorities on the issue of guantanamo. we have followed developments there closely. we have also repeatedly, in a call to close the detention facility. the report we presented today is in some way the culmination of these efforts. we think it is coming at a fairly good time when discussions in the u.s. about the future of the detention facility are ongoing, perhaps gaining momentum. and the report covers a range of issues, the treatment of detainees, detention,
proceedings before the military commissions as well as challenges related to the closure of guantanamo and to ensuring accountability for past human rights violations. now, i should say that i mentioned engagement with the authorities. engaging on this topic with the u.s. authorities we have had open discussions. we are very thankful for that. in some cases, these were frank discussions. certainly, we didn't agree on everything. and certainly one thing we do regret is having been unable to visit the guantanamo detention facility and interview in private the detainees held there. this is standard practice whenever carrying out human rights monitoring at detention facilities, but we were not able to do this. so the report and the fact-finding are based on the many meetings and conversations
we had with u.s. officials, with lawyers, with nongovernmental organizations and five former guantanamo detainees. we did try to send through their lawyers written questions to current guantanamo detainees. we only received replies from one of them, and these replies were, in fact, entirely redacted by the authorities when we received them. so our fact-finding did suffer some limitations, but these were largely not of our own making. i would also like to thank those who spent time with us to share the information they had for this report. and i see some in the room today. thank you for that report. lucille will talk more in detail about the content of the report. i would just like to highlight some of our key messages and recommendations.
greater appalachia have counties where close to 20% to have population is on disability. that is an astonishing figure. one in five residents on disability in these places. that also means that disability is the largest source of income in those counties. on the other hand, other counties in arkansas, particularly the fastest growing ones have rates of disability well below the national average. the evidence is pretty clear. there's an inverse relationship between the rate of disability usage and population growth, which most economists would agree is a good proxy for economic vitality. sadly our 20 counties with the highest rates of social security disability suffered a population decline of more than 2% in the last four years alone, while the rest of my state grew by more than 2%. by contrast, the 20 counties in arkansas with the lowest rates
of social security disability usage have boomed with population growth of more than 4% over the same time. this correlation is too striking to ignore. the same trend is also true nationwide. buchanan county, virginia with 22% of the population on social security disability had more than a 4% decline in its population in four years. mcdowell, west virginia, with a 21% rate of social security disability saw more than an 8% decline in its population. the fastest growing counties in the country, in places like north dakota, texas and northern virginia have less than 2% of their population on disability, or about one-tenth the rate of the declining population counties. it's hard to say what came first
or caused the other. population declined or increased disability usage. or maybe economic stagnation caused both. regardless, there seems to be at least at the county and regional level, something like a disability tipping point. when a county hits a certain level of disability usage, disability becomes a norm. it becomes an acceptable way of life and income to a good paying job. as opposed to a last resort safety program to deal with catastrophic injury and illness. after a certain point when disability keeps climbing, employers will struggle to find employees or begin or continue to move out of the area. population continues to fall in a downward spiral kicks in driving once thriving communities into further decline. not only that, but once this kind of spiral begins, communities could begin to suffer other social plagues as well, such as heroin or meth addiction and associated crime.
an urgent policy goal therefore should be to stop the tipping points from being reached. there's nothing compassionate about accepting these disability rates usage. after all, they will receive poverty level checks for the rest of their lives. those who can work but are instead on disability will likely never again receive a paycheck, never enjoy working with others, making friends at work, developing new skills and achieving the fulfillment that comes with the dignity of work. these tipping points, along with the general increase in the number of disability recipients have also endangered the program's financial health, including medicare benefits for recipients, the program now costs more than $200 billion per year. or the equivalent of about half of all nondefense discretionary spending.
in turn, the financial uncertainty around the disability programs puts at risk the genuinely and permanently disabled who depend on the program. i'm introducing legislation to address this challenge. it will have three main parts. first, social security will distinguish between those who are genuinely and permanently disabled and those who are disabled but expected to recover. today the system treats a paraplegic the same as someone with a severely broken leg who's expected to recover in a year. those who are expected to be recover will be categorized as likely or potential to recover. second, it will allow beneficiaries in the category to earn an income while in the program through a benefit offset. these beneficiaries can take time for rehabilitation and then gradually rejoin the work force. with the offset they won't be at risk for losing their benefits as they begin to earn more money on the path back to full-time work.
further this offset can improve the program's integrity. because the judges can review the status. third, my legislation will also set timelines for these individuals to exit the program and return to work. if the recovery goes more slowly than expected and they're not yet ready to return to work, they can reapply. but they're no longer disabled, we must help them leave the program and return to the workforce. the past years have shown this approach is necessary if we want to increase the number of beneficiaries returning to the workforce. social security's ticket to work program, for instance, has operated for more than 16 years. there are also dozens of other resources available to beneficiaries from countless federal agencies, yet, after billions of dollars of studies, pilots and other programs, the return to work rate has dropped to nearly zero.
i believe that our challenge is not a lack of good intentions or lack of federal programs. our challenge is a lack of expectations and a lack of incentives for those who can recover. my legislation attempt to fix this. these reforms won't solve all of the problems of social security disability, but they will address one of the most urgent crises in the program and the one perhaps most corrosive to affected communities. thank you all for your interest in this issue, for your outstanding work on the topic and for allowing me to address you today. now we will turn to the real experts on the panel. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you so much, senator cotton. i would ask the panelists please now to join us to continue the discussion right now. we're joined by a distinguished
group who i'm going to introduce as soon as i can find my notes. we have three speakers today who will discuss their proposals for transitional benefits for disabled individuals who might return to work, as senator cotton talked about. also for a private disability insurance option to increase the scope of the program, and a flat disability insurance benefit to make it more sustainable and more fair for those who are lower income to start with. our first speaker will be romina boccia. she's the deputy director of the thomas a. rowe institute for economic policy studies. and the grover m. herman research fellow. romina focuses on federal spending and the national debt, including social security and disability insurance.
prior to joining the heritage foundation, romina served as an associate at the charles koch institute and as a policy analyst at the independent women's forum. kim hildred currently serves as president of hildred consulting. prior to her current role, kim served as 17 years as the staff director on the committee of ways and means on the subcommittee on social security. there she assisted committee republicans in the development and passage of legislation to strengthen social security, retirement survivors and disability programs. as well as in the oversight of these programs. her prior service also includes three years deciding social security disability claims for the states of kansas and wisconsin. followed by ten years of increasingly responsible positions in managing social security disability programs in the chicago and philadelphia regions. and our final panelist is rachel
greszler, she's at the center of data analysis at the heritage foundation. in her current role, rachel focuses on social security, disability insurance, tax and pension policies. prior to joining the heritage foundation, rachel spent seven years as a senior economist on the staff of the joint economic committee where she focused on similar issues. so let's start with romina. >> thank you, terry. the bipartisan budget deal that passed last week did one thing right. it prevented automatic benefit cuts for disability beneficiaries. but it failed to make substantial reforms to make the program work better for the beneficiaries that it serves and also for the taxpayers who fund it. it only included very minor changes to deter fraud and reduce overpayments in the disability program.
beyond that it only included one demonstration project to test out a reform propose that some believe will increase work participation among disability program beneficiaries. my remarks today will explore this demonstration project in greater depth and in particular i will try to answer the following questions. is this policy change so promising that it was worth congress putting all of its eggs into that one basket in the budget deal? and among all of the policy options available for which congress could have authorized demonstration projects, was this the best one that congress could have chosen? and the answer to both of these is a flat-out no.
demonstration projects exist to test and measure the effect of potential program changes. i'm sorry to tell you, but the demonstration project that congress chose is among the least promising. that is, if we're trying to accomplish -- if what we're trying to accomplish is to focus the program on those who need it the most and to reduce program costs as we do that. the demonstration project authorizes another variant of a so-called benefit offset policy. the idea behind it is to let disability beneficiaries work more without losing their benefits. this policy will likely increase entry into the disability program by individuals who can do some work, and it will discourage those already on the program from leaving the rolls. that is if that is the only change that is adopted. one might say, hey, let's not fault them. maybe it will work. the thing is that this proposal has been tried in different variations here in the u.s. and in other nations. because the u.s. is not alone in struggling under the weight of growing disability program spending and also the accompanying reduction in labor
force participation that occurs when individuals leave the labor market to join the disability rolls. most people agree that society does have a proper role in providing benefits for those who cannot provide for themselves. however, poor program design of the disability program ends up discouraging labor force participation among individuals who might otherwise work. and this is what program reforms should effectively address. now before i get into details, i'd like to draw your attention to a story in this sunday's washington post about a young man named paul that illustrates this program, this problem very effectively. are we able to pull up the slide? anyways, you can always find it online in the post as well. paul is 34. and in the picture in the post, he's shown with his rock-climbing gear, and i've
actually seen paul at the rock climbing gym where i go as well. and the story is about paul, who used to work at the outdoor outfitter, rei for about five years, but he lost his health insurance coverage when his hours got cut back. now paul has a rare condition that requires him to take costly endocrine system drugs to manage his condition. so the post writes about paul, and i quote here. so, instead of going out and trying to support himself with another job, paul took the safer option, applying for social security disability insurance and medicaid. now in order to qualify for disability benefits, applicants are required to prove that they are unable to earn more than $1,100 about a month from working. this earnings test is called the
substantial gainful activity level. the story in the post goes on to describe how paul, shortly after being admitted to the disability program got another job offer in d.c. that would have paid him enough to get him over that earnings test threshold, but then he risked losing his free medical and government cash benefits. so, i was very saddened yesterday, as i was having my sunday coffee to read about a young man who's holding back his professional career so can he maintain valuable benefits. this is a human tragedy. it is a tragedy of lost potential. some have suggested that lawmakers should eliminate the earnings test or smooth out this benefits cash cliff by allowing individuals to work indefinitely for higher earnings while maintaining their disability benefits, because there are already a lot of programs on the books that allow individuals to test out their ability to work at these higher levels.
but over time, individuals are expected to leave the rolls. some say this is discouraging individuals from trying to earn at higher levels. now fiscal conservatives who are proponents of this policy believe that more individuals like paul might, once they earn substantial amounts above this earning threshold leave the rolls. they are hope this will this reduce cost over time. the smoothing out and the budget deal includes one variation of it. but existing research suggests that a benefit offset would likely increase program costs by encouraging more individuals like paul who have marginal work capacity to enter the disability program. it is effectively a benefit expansion. and it would also discourage others from leaving the rolls. a national benefit offset
program is on the other hand expected to increase the earnings and disposable income of disability beneficiaries while increasing program costs at the same time as the program expands beyond its statutorially targeted population, which is individuals who are unable to work at those levels of income. the social security administration began a similar project as was authorized in the recent budget deal in 2009. and the researchers concluded that adopting this as a national policy would most likely increase program costs. a benefit offset policy encourages people like paul to accept higher earning positions or to work more hours by it's is inadequate to fix the problems in the social security program. it might increase some work force participation by those on the rolls but it is unlikely to reduce the number of individuals who are on the rolls if this
were the only policy clang that congress were likely to adopt. now, in combination with other reforms that will more likely to result in program savings and effectively return people to work, a benefit offset can improve the welfare of individuals with disabilities, and i was very encouraged to hear senator cotton speak about just such a proposal. because one of the big issues with current program design is that it sets no clear expectation that individuals with marginal or temporary disabilities return to work. and by returning to work, i don't mean increased labor force participation by those who are on the disability rolls but supporting yourself through work. other nations, notably germany, which is where i'm from, norway, and the uk, have built in incentives for those to return to work to focus on accommodations and highlighting benefits for certain populations.
in 2014, then senator tom coburn introduced a bill that would have introduced time-limited benefits when recovery is expected for those on the rolls, and i'm grad to hear that senator cotton is picking up that mantle. this bill also would establish pilot projects to test early intervention efforts to help work-capable individuals like paul with disabilities to return to work before ever entering the disability program. and i look forward to hearing from my colleagues more about some of those promising reforms. >> thank you, romina. kim?
so, to start, our paper addresses essentially a small subset of new beneficiaries who the social security administration currently identifies as expected to medically improve after a benefit award is made. today there are about 3% of beneficiaries that are expected to medically improve. examples of medical improvement include nose in catastrophic accident or those who had major author rasic surgery, or major abdominal surgeries. in other words, those with impairments arising out of conditions that respond well to medical and/or rehabilitative treatment. these beneficiaries today are not provided with medical supports or employment services
that would facilitate their return to work. and so, and should their benefits be ceased for a continuing disability review as well. nor are they required to pursue rebuihabilitative or medical services to facilitate return to work upon their benefit award. in contrast, when congress first considered adding a disability insurance component to the social security program, many contemplated a system of transitional benefits coupled with vocational services, designed to help people get back onto their feet and into the workforce. so essentially, our paper encourages lawmakers to revisit the link between rehabilitation services and disability and consider creating transitional benefits for the small subset of new beneficiaries whose disability is not in question, but who have conditions expected to improve. the social security administration would administer a compassionate system of transitional benefits with employment supports with the
goal of employment, financial independence and better quality of life. so, as i mentioned in terms of the problem, beneficiaries with conditions that are expected to improve are not encouraged to work, nor are they provided with employment supports they need to return to work. continuing disability review backlogs, which had reached 1.3 million by the end of fiscal year 2013, harm beneficiaries, according to a report by the bipartisan social security advisory board. and this happens by delaying return to work efforts, which become more difficult with time, potentially creating a misimpression that eligibility is permanent, regardless of disability status, and preventing the social security administration from taking timely action to discontinue payments to beneficiaries who are no longer eligible, causing a misuse of program resources. beyond backlogs, there are other problems facing the continuing disability review process.
if the decision supporting the initial disability finding is vague, decision-makers may not be able to determine medical improvement. in addition, beneficiaries face significant problems, employment challenges, given the length of time that they wait for an award. in addition to the length of time before continuing disability review occurs. and should they be ceased when a continuing disability review occurs, they are not offered services to help them reenter the labor market. our paper also references experts who have highlighted the need for beneficiaries to receive assistance to return them to employment and the value of work and increasing the number, and the increasing number of oecd countries that have implemented time-limited or temporary payments. so, briefly, our proposal for transitional benefits would change the dynamic of disability by ensuring that beneficiaries
have access to supports and services that will aid them in medical and work recovery. sending a clear message through a fixed length benefit award that temporary financial support is needed while a beneficiary is recuperating, while also signaling the expectation that they will be returning to work. allowing transitional beneficiaries to earn income without limits during the benefit period. and finally, maintaining the beneficiary's ability to file a new application at the end of the transitional benefit period should they still believe they are unable to work. so, under the proposal, disability determination services examiners, these ddss are 100% federally funded state agencies who make those disability decisions at the initial and reconsideration level. and administrative law judges would first determine, as they do now, whether the claimant meets the statutory definition of disability. they would use an analytics model to determine whether the medical condition is expected to improve.
if so, transitional benefits would be awarded for a two- or three-year period, specified by the predictive model, with the decision-maker having the ability and discretion to expand the traditional period of up to the maximum three-year traditional term. as soon as practicable, contact information of individuals receiving transitional benefits would be sent to their local community work incentive coordinator under the current law, which would be modified to prioritize services to transitional beneficiaries, including a direct referral to a ticket to work service provider. under a modified ticket to work program, and as the senate are mentioned, that's a current law program under the social security administration, they would provide customized services to increase medical or functional recovery, if necessary, in order to achieve employment. and, as mentioned previously, there will be no cap on earned income during the transitional
benefit period to encourage work. okay. so, the paper further addresses a number of implementation issues. regarding the use of predictive modeling, it points to ssa's with predictive modeling in the continuing disability review process, determining which matured diary cases should undergo a full medical review. it also points to the needs to update the guidelines to determine these diary assignments. the instructions for the examiners who set the diaries for when people will have a disability review, they have not been updated since the 1990s. so we point to the need for that to happen. and finally, that an expert panel will be convened periodically to update the medical criteria used by ssa decision-makers to determine medical improvement. regarding appeals, we propose making the decision to award
transitional benefits non- appealable to avoid undercutting the goal of encouraging beneficiaries to take the steps needed to reenter the workforce instead of waiting for the appeals process to unfold. and we point to examples where congress has precluded appeals and analogous context in the past. and as to supports, we provide further details regarding the expedited and tailored services through existing return to work programs and a study regarding amending the rehabilitation act. as to required compliance, transitional beneficiaries would be required to follow prescribed treatment and take advantage of return to work services if needed to facilitate a workforce reattachment. ssa would also be required to notify transitional beneficiaries six months in advance of their benefits ending so they may take any needed action. here we go. the paper also required that we
would, all of the authors were asked to specify statutory changes that would be needed under the proposal. so we included a list of those statutory changes as illustrated here. i jumped ahead. there i am. okay. so you can see that those are just spelling out some of the changes that would be required. and also asked us to identify some potential intermediate steps that could be utilized by lawmakers. so the paper includes certain intermediate steps. for example, a study to identify a baseline date to to inform a well-designed beneficial benefit program, a congressionally authorized testing of all elements of the transitional benefit program through a pilot in a few states or a region, which could be expanded if preliminary results are positive. and the paper also includes
options for demonstration projects through federal interagency agreements or state innovation or experimentation with state, ddr, dds partners and that could be funded through nonprofit foundations or social impact bonds. finally we were asked to address some of the questions or concerns that people may have about the proposal in the paper. including those for example who may oppose the concept of time-limiting benefits. and while we believe that establishing transitional benefits for the small subset of beneficiaries whose conditions are expected to improve, combined with the employment support services, is not only compassionate solution that better serve these individuals, but is also consistent with congress' intention that some disabilities would be temporary, since the definition of disability does specify that the disability must last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
and we defend the use of predictive analytics as a probablistic approach that would ensure more consistent outcomes nationally, and the senator spoke to some of the inconsistencies that we see across the nation. we acknowledge the transitional disability concept would impose greater administrative burdens. as more applications might be processed due to those transitional beneficiaries who believe they might so be disabled. however, we explain why we believe these burdens would be manageable. and although the costs are somewhat speculative, we explain why we believe the increasing administrative costs could be eclipsed to the tryst fund. we discussed why additional funding would not solve issues addressed by the paper including the fact that the transitional term, unlike the uncertain prospect of a cdr reenforces that they should be able to return to work and provide supports that enable them to do so.
so in conclusion, the average ssdi benefit is $13,980 a year, only slightly higher than what constitutes the poverty threshold. for an individual living alone. we believe individuals with disabilities deserve better outcomes that are consistent with americans with disables act, namely inclusion of individuals living with disabilities in all aspects of life, particularly employment. studies have indicated that age, health, and time on the rolls are characteristics associated with beneficiary work-related activity and employment success. and we believe limiting time on the rolls for a small subset of these beneficiaris who have a high likelihood of medical improvement, coupled with supports and services aimed at improving health and increasing employment re-entry, will facilitate better economic outcomes and overall improved quality of life. thank you. >> thank you, kim. rachel? >> i'm going to discuss two big-picture reforms here.
the first is an optional private disability component within the current ssdi system. and the second is a flat benefit. i'm going to start with three statistics. there are over 20 million working-age people with disabilities in the united states today. about 11 million people are on the disability insurance rolls, and yet, 75% of people with disabilities, that 20 million figure, would like to be working in some capacity. but very few of them are. only 30% are employed. so what this says is that there are actually more people with disabilities than are currently on the system. but yet, there are more people overall that want to be working and that aren't able to, and so a lot of those who are receiving ssdi benefits would like to work, but they're not able to. and the current system is impeding them from doing so. this first chart here shows the percent of the population, the working-age population that has been on ssdi since its inception
in 1956. it started at less than one half of a percent of the population, and now we're at over 5% of all people working age receiving it. so why are so many people receiving benefits when we see that life expectancies are increasing, there are medical innovations that are allowing people to recover from whatever disability they have to get them back into the workforce, there are workplace accommodations, and our jobs are a lot more sedentary than they used to be. it's not that there are a bunch of manufacturing and physical labor jobs, but there are a lot of jobs that can be found today that require only minimal work -- minimal physical effort. so why have the rolls been increasing, despite that? a study by the federal reserve looked at the change in beneficiaries between 1980 and 2013. they were able to account for about half of that rise in the rolls. they attributed that rise to three factors. first an increase in social
security retirement age. so people ages 65-67 will now be on disability as opposed to social security if they become disabled at that age. second, there's the aging of the population. the baby boomers are reaching older ages where they're more likely to become disabled. and third, we've seen a rapid rise in women's labor force participation. so as they were not eligible for ssdi before, they are now. yet, that leaves about half of the rise, which is equivalent to 3 million people per year, or $42 billion in spending that's unaccounted for. now there are a lot of problems within the ssdi system. but we can categorize them into two things. first there are too many people that are getting on the rolls to begin with. and second, too few people are ever leaving the rolls. the proposal i'm suggesting here is an optional private insurance system. this would address both of those components. private disability insurance exists today for about one third
of workers. now it's a totally different structure than the ssdi system. it's the same product. it's disability insurance, but the incentives are entirely different and entirely different because of the financial incentives that are there. private disability insurance have to provide a product to employers and disabled individuals appreciate and that is valuable to them, but they also have to provide it at a low cost. and they do it through a very efficient and effective determination process. as you can see on the first chart here, the average wait time for that initial decision from a private disability insurance provider is 41 days. almost nobody goes beyond the initial decision. it's not like ssdi where everybody appeals. most people have that decision within 41 days. in that time period, they're assigned a caseworker who is meeting with the individual, who is asking who's the individual's doctor, meeting with them if needed. meeting with the employer and
trying to figure out what kind of medical help do they need, what type of workplace accommodation would allow them to get back to the job, or do they need a different education because they can no longer perform the job they were doing before. now on the other hand, the social security system, individuals sit and wait for five months without working before they can apply to receive benefits. after that, they wait about 100 days for an initial determination. most people are denied at that stage, and then they go on to appeal it to an administrative law judge. that process takes 556 days on average. during that time, individuals are losing whatever link they had to the workforce. they're losing their skills and education. and they're beginning to believe that they really cannot work. the second component of the private disability that is more effective and efficient is the determination process. the second graph just kind of gives one glimpse of that. we've seen in the ssdi system
that now 63% of all claims that are approved are for mental and musculoskeletal disorders. now those illegitimate disorders but the more subjective ones that are harder to diagnose. on the other hand, in the private market, you see that only 35% of those claims are for the muscular and mental disorders. so, in addition to providing more workplace accommodations and having the goal of getting people back to work as opposed to just approving them, because that's easier than denying and continuing to pay benefits, because that's easier than going through a cbr, as we heard, there are more than a million people waiting to have their so in addition to that, the private market is not only providing higher benefits but at a lower cost. the first chart here shows the level of benefit the individuals would receive by income levels.
as you go to the right, that's higher income individuals. and the light blue bars represent what they would receive from ssdi currently. the dark blue bars are what they would receive from private disability insurance. ssdi replaces on average 44% of worker's income whereas the private system replaces 60%. it's doing a higher benefit at a lower cost. costing about $245 per year as opposed to $867 per year in ssdi taxes. it's hard to do an apples to apples comparison with these two because if an individual is on private disability and then get on ssdi, there's an offset. but even after accounting for those things, i did an analysis that showed that the private market could continue to pay their 60% replacement rate for half of the cost of what individuals are currently paying in payroll taxes. so the proposal here would be to
allow employers, if they wanted to, to offer a qualified private disability insurance that would be at least equal to what ssdi provides now. employers who choose to offer this would receive a payroll tax credit, a portion of the current 1.8% on the employer themselves. they would receive the credit, allow them the funds to purchase the private disability insurance. individuals who have an employer that goes through this private system would first apply through the private system. they might still be in their job and having trouble, and they would be able to apply without having to sit there for five months and wait another 500 or so days to get a determination. they would have access to all those return-to-work supports and rehabilitative efforts, and after the initial decision, they would, if they were determined to be disabled, they would receive those benefits for the first two to three years. and after that time, if they were still disabled, they would be transitioned to the ssdi
system, because there's no reason to continue on a private system if at that point they've been determined to be continually disabled after two to three years. it's more efficient probably to let ssdi continue to pay their check, but we've had the benefit of that initial determination going through the more efficient private sector, the individual having support along the way and all the efforts that try to get them back to work. and then when they're determined not, able they would transition over. this has the benefit to the individual who has more support along the way. it's an advantage to the employer who could reduce their overall employment costs and it's also an advantage to the ssdi system. because the private employers, the payroll tax credit would be less than what it is costing ssdi itself to provide those benefits. and they would also have a reduction in their rolls as a result. the second proposal i'd like to talk about gets at the original intent of social security. as terry said, this is a nearly
60-year old program. when it was originally set up it was to ensure the people who become disabled are not destitute and living in possibility. and yet, as we see here, social security provides the largest benefits to the people who have the highest pre-disability incomes. the graph to the left there shows that somebody with the highest income would be making -- receiving $2800 per month in ssdi benefits, whereas a minimum wageworker is going to be receiving only $866 per month. as a result of this, we see that nearly 2 million people who receive ssdi benefits are living in poverty. that wasn't the intent of the program, it was to prevent poverty among the disabled. so those who are below poverty are either without enough income or turning to other government programs that are having an additional cost. if we were to implement an anti-poverty, flat benefit, equal for everybody who goes
into the system, this would be an increase in benefits for about 35% of the population and a reduction for about 65%. now we wouldn't propose to change benefits for anybody currently on the rolls, but, going forward, and this is something that actually could be implemented relatively quickly, those in the future would receive this flat benefit. the reason we could do it today or start it a year from now is that disability is not like social security where individuals plan to retire and they know they're going to need that money some day. disability is an unplanned event. so to the extent that an individual wants to ensure that they're going to have a certain level of income if they become disabled, they can go out tomorrow and purchase disability insurance in the private market that will ensure that level of income. and this is getting at the proper role of the disability insurance system. it is that anti-poverty benefit. and anything beyond that is left up to individuals to decide, do i need 50% of my income? do i need 100%? what is it that i need, and the government does not need to
dictate that and set it at a certain percent, but the individuals can go out and purchase whatever additional amount they would need. in addition to restoring social security disability insurance program to its original intent, this proposal would go beyond solving social security's shortfalls. over the next ten years it would solve about two-thirds of the shortfall, and that's only because we would grandfather anybody in the current system. the graph shows the light blue lines are social security shortfall in billions of dollars. the dark blue lines are the savings that would be accumulated as a result of implementing this flat benefit. as you can see, beginning in 2023, the savings exceed the shortfall. that is, you're going to have money left over from the shortfall, and we could take that money and reduce the payroll tax if self, give money back to individuals, more after tax take-home pay would allow hem to purchase private
disability insurance to bring them up to whatever level they believe they need if they become disabled. so, in short, these two proposals get at the two components. they address the problems inherent in the current system through the private option and look at returning social security to its original intent and bringing about the financial savings that we need to keep the program solvent. i think we'll turn to questions now? >> yeah. thank you, rachel. now it's your turn. while you're formulating your questions, i'm going to start with one of my own, and that's just ask our panelists, they've described a program that is manifestly broken in many ways. it has a terrible incentive structure, provides inequitable benefits. the bureaucratic inefficiencies in running the program are terrible. it discourages people who are
currently disabled from returning to work through punitive measures. as senator cotton said, it provides incentives that lure people into long-term dependency that effectively makes them wards of the state for their entire remaining lives. and we've heard some very innovative and it sounds like reasonable proposals for reforms to the program, and i would just ask our panelists, briefly, what are the politics of this? is this something that really is amenable to bipartisan action? or is this going to be another one of those failed debates in washington where the two parties talk past each other and nothing actually ever gets done to fix what is clearly a broken program? romina? >> i'll take a first stab at
this. i think in many ways it's interwoven with the social security benefits in general where one party stands on the position that no matter what, no benefit cuts, and they define benefit cuts in all sorts of interesting ways. so many of these proposals that would return people to work, some people would say that this is a benefit cut, that they are due this benefit for the rest of their lives and we should not put anytime limits or anything that could potentially do any harm to individuals, even when what we're really trying to do is to help them be independent. the other issue, i think, is that disability is a much, much smaller program than social security retirement program and is much less understood. it is highly complex. and lawmakers, many lawmakers don't understand it very well. and so they fear getting involved with the program. they might make a mistake. there are only a few that have
shown leadership and willingness to learn about the program and really lead on these issues. with the reallocation of money from the retirement trust fund to the diszk(u+hárust fund, it takes urgency to fix the issue in terms of legislative action off the table, but what we should now stress is are the costs and the potential benefits to the individuals currently in the program and those joining the rolls now, if we were to make the program work better for these individuals. and the taxpayer, and not rely on the next legislative opportunity which will be seven years down the road and could very likely not be seized either. >> i think the recent budget deal just shows that this is a politically difficult topic. lawmakers showed behind closed doors, they negotiated a few small changes and came out and said, look, we've done some things to solve social security, we're paying for it, but really all they did was kick the can
down the road, steal the money from social security, and make programs worse off down the road. the same thing is going to happen come 2022, when disability is running out of money again, and there so far has not been the initiative to do any real reform on this rather than to try and merge the two programs and the further that we push them back the more likely we are to see a tax increase and nothing that's going to change the problems that exist within it. >> i would agree. the challenges, complexity, lack of urgency now with the new budget deal that's passed for sure, and there's not, there's not a coming together of parties or even constituents to try to tackle some of these very difficult challenges that the program faced. not only in terms of long-term, you know, having benefits, full benefits, be paid, but also in terms of one of the other challenges that we have is the
statute really is, really doesn't say very much in terms of defining disability. a huge amount of responsibility is placed on the social security administration to develop the supporting policies, to update the policies, and really, to maintain the program. and, you know, as we know, that's particularly challenging for the social security administration. so we have all these competing factors to that makes for this cocktail that in my view ultimately hurts people with disabilities. >> thank you. questions from the audience? one right here. if you could just wait for the microphone and then please identify yourself and state your question.
we have a microphone down here? in the front? thank you, astrid. this gentleman right here. >> yeah, i wondered if you could talk about senator cotton, his proposal and why lawmakers are so hesitant to take positions on this type of issue. >> thank you. panelists? >> kim, you probably know it best. >> well, i think the, what we know, essentially, is the description that the senator just gave today. it's not been introduced yet, so we still -- we don't have the details of the proposal, so his commentary, really, i think speaks for itself in terms of the principles that he has. and so we'll see when the legislation is actually proposed. but i think another challenge, it's very difficult, rarely do we find true leadership in terms of members of congress who really want to stake out a claim for this position.
oftentimes the -- some of the individuals receiving benefits and their advocates are, can be very resistant, as my fellow panelist said, they can be resistant to change and be very afraid of change. so it can be a very scary thing. any changes to them. and that also makes, you know, our representatives and senators a little bit hesitant to take on these very complex, very big challenges. at the end of the day, i think if members can find bipartisan partners, i think that will also help tremendously, and i think we're starting to see a little bit more of that behind the scenes, this budget deal was probably one of more minimalist approach certainly, but i think all of this discussion is helpful to helping the members understand the challenges the program faces and maybe we can some of them working together. >> i think another challenge is historical experience. congress did phase in reforms
the 1980s that strengthened the continuing disability review process, and the social security administration was encouraged to identify more individuals who were no longer eligible to receive those cash benefits, and the cash benefits were terminated. and there was huge backlash, and congress received many, many, many phone calls from constituents who had been relying on those benefits, even if their medical condition made them no longer eligible, but they had no other sources of income, and when you have a constituent calling saying that they can't pay their mortgage anymore, that has a certain impact on a member of congress. and i think that has a lot to do with it as well. how many other economic opportunities are there for these individuals? and this is, i think, one of the issues that the program does act for too many individuals as a long-term unemployment or early retirement program, and there are lots of incentives in the program that should be changed to not abuse the program in that way, because, in the end, a
benefit that goes to someone who is not truly eligible is, that's money that's not available for an individual who truly cannot work. >> and i think these proposals, transitional benefit and telling certain people that they are expected to return to work, it's, it incites fear in those on the rolls now. i've had phone calls from people who say i've read this, i'm terrified. are they going to up my review and take my benefits away? but that's a result of the current system. that's when i was talking about five months of waiting before you can apply, and then another two years before you get benefits. and then you sit on the rolls for a couple years. by that point, individuals believe they are disabled and that they cannot do any work. if you start at the beginning with the transitional benefit, and you say here's system you go through, and it looks more like a private disability insurer, where they're working with the doctors, seeing what kind of workplace support you can have, what type of medical corrections might allow people to perform
jobs or a new type of job through education and training, that's an entirely different system and there doesn't need to be the fear in that system because people are there working along the way showing them how they can get back to work as opposed to receiving a phone call one day saying hey, you're done, your benefits are up. so, if we can shift to that structure there doesn't need to be the fear there. >> one of the major issues is, when you face a long-term fiscal overhang like we do in this disability program or the social security system overall, you can make rather modest reforms now, and the problem of the system and the deafness that has afflicted us all, you can make rather modest reforms now, or can you make very radical and punitive reforms later. and so it's very distressing when the congress just kicks the can down the road and just opts in effect to do nothing for the
next seven years. that to me, seems like a very strong abdication of responsibility. we have a question in the back? >> question for you, kim. you said that about 3% of the current ssdi respondents are categorized as expected to have improvement and you also proposed other reforms. overhauling the modification. what do you think the percentage would be at the end of that overhaul? >> you know, it's difficult to tell, because the combination of the criteria not being updated for examiners to make the right decisions, we also know that the quality review is very limited of these decisions, if any, so essentially, unless an individual is clearly expected to medically improve, those are the kinds of people that the examiners are going to give that diary type of category.
everyone else, there's a medical improvement not expected. those get a seven-year diary. and then there's a very large cohort in the middle called medical improvement possible. so one of the reasons, too, why we believe that the predictive analytics is important is that they'll use the data itself to show what are the types of impairments that really do result in medical improvement and those predictive analytics continue to use the data on an ongoing basis to ensure that not only do we have a process that's much more accurate in terms of diaries, but also a process that's much more fair and consistent across the country, because we've seen some of the challenges that the program has faced, especially when as my colleagues have said, there's a lot of judgment in certain times of impairments, when one is establishing their functional capacity, their capacity that they still may have even with their disability.
those functional capacities are determined by individual examiners, they're determined by administrative law judges and the examiners may have feedback from a physician, they may not. there really is a lot of subjectivity there. so i think the more that we can have the data and the actual experience of individuals to drive accuracy of the diary designations, i think definitely, we would see a larger population expected to medically improve. but make no mistake about it, the program really is an important program for those who are not expected to live a long period of time because of their very severe impairment. so we're talking about those who do have those conditions that have expected to improve and what are the kinds of supports that they're getting. right now they're getting nothing under the current program. most often their continuing disability reviews are delayed. and all of a sudden they get a letter saying, guess what, now we're going to review your claim.
they've had no supports up to that point, and if they're ceased, they're provided no supports at that moment, and we don't believe that that's very compassionate. >> and i think we have time for one more question. so right here in the front. okay. we have time for two more questions. we'll start here in the front, and then we'll come back to you. >> elliot young with the institute to reduce spending. so just a question for our panelists. given what we've seen with the recent efforts to replenish the highway trust fund and the way people talk about tax increases versus trying to find ways to reallocate spending, how do you see sort of a long-term effort to smooth out changes in ssdi? i feel like there are a lot of similarities between the sort of concentrated benefits of
disbursed costs and just instituting another tax increase that may be more politically salient even if that's not best in the long term. how do you see this playing out? and what are the ways that we can perhaps put something on our representatives, sort of light that fire that might push them towards doing the right thing rather than the easy thing? >> romina, you want to take that one? >> the longer we wait, the more likely it will be some type of tax increase fix because you're going to get to a point where the shortfall is imminent and any policy reforms that you can possibly adopt, unless you're willing to cut benefits abruptly and steeply, which seems very unfair, and nobody really wants to do, you're going to have to raise taxes or take the money from somewhere else. right now, the money is being
taken from somewhere else. but in the end, it is, you could see it as just another portion of the tax increase that is to come, because if you're thinking about the last reform effort in social security that was in the '80s, there was a massive tax increase, and there were some small reforms. small reforms that, in today's environment, i would actually consider big reforms, like raising the retirement age that probably are small reforms considering the vastness of the problem, but since we haven't had any reform at all in today's context, these would be big reforms. so we need leadership in the congress. presidential leadership can do a lot on those kinds of programs. beyond that, with no legislative urgency, i don't see how we going to get all the interests to come together. you sort of have to face a worse scenario in order to agree to
changes that will ultimately make us better off. >> on the positive side, i would just point to the administrative changes. as kim mentioned, a lot of changes and the way the program is structured and functions is determined by ssa, and there are a lot of things that can be done there to increase the efficiency of it, to appropriately determine who is disabled, who is still disabled, and that would go a long way in reducing the cost. >> i would just add that i think a very fundamental question is social security essentially is self-financed. workers pay taxes to get disability benefits, survivor benefits, retirement eventually. so the question is, is social security in the future going to remain simply self-financed? or, are there other outside income like general revenues, for example, i'm not suggesting that at all, but i mean these are some of the very clear choices that members are going to have to really think about, especially
given the challenges of medicare, tax reform. these are very large questions that really face them and the american people. so i think that's a very important kind of first question. and everyone pays into social security, everybody gets something out of it. how about if people start getting less and less out of it? then are we going to continue to have public support for the programs? these are tough, tough questions, but they're questions that are going to have to be answered, and quite honestly, as we've said, the sooner the better. >> thank you. and now for the final, final question. >> i didn't know if anyone could speak to what the senator mentioned about the regional usage of the benefits, you know, is there a reason for that? or, you know, i just thought that was an interesting point, but i didn't know if there was a cause. >> she's asking about the difference in the regional usage of disability benefits. i'm not an expert on that but i've looked at 6 some statistics of the people with disabilities who are employed.
and it ranges from over 50% in the dakotas to over 25% in places like louisiana and west virginia. and i think part of that is cultural and the communities that develop. and oftentimes when a parent is on disability insurance they can get a child on ssi or child di benefits, and my guess is that a lot of the cause of that is the community in which they live and people see that others are able to get on ssdi benefits and how they're able to get on them, and it just encourages that. >> it can also be a signal that there is fraud going on. that has certainly happened in some communities where lawyers, disability lawyers, have partnered up with physicians, and there have been kickbacks, and doing that kind of statistical analysis, sometimes can reveal these sorts of fraud schemes. but i think a lot of it is what other economic opportunities are available in this community, and
when there are few, then disability becomes a substitute for earned income. >> just briefly, the congress, or in the law in the statute, in order to determine disability, one has to consider age, education and work experience. how those are implemented by the social security administration is through the so-called medical vocational rules. these rules have been in effect since the '70s. efforts to update them have not been successful in the past. social security has embarked on an effort to begin that updating process, but that's a piece of the social security program that's out there that can cause, you know, differences in award rates, depending upon, again, age, education, work experience of individuals, and so, you know, it's always important to try to keep those rules as current as possible. >> thank you very much.
please join me in thanking our panel for the discussion today. [ applause ] join us tonight from c-span's landmark cases series, brown versus board of education of topeka, kansas, focuses on the test that lawyers for brown used on segregation of african-american children. watch live 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3 and on c-span.
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c-span.org. the lexington institute recently hosted a forum on ways to improve acquisition management at the defense department. from earlier this month, this runs 2:40. >> ladies and gentlemen, get your attention please. thank you all very much for joining us. my name is merrick carey. we appreciate everybody taking time from their schedules today. we have a great roster of speakers. we appreciate them being so willing to help us out. this is part of our series of on forums on capitol hill on defense acquisition reform. it's become a very important, focused, and intense effort in recent months, thanks to the ndaa and other developments out there.
we're glad to have such a great group of speakers and such a good audience. if you don't mind, please turn your cellphones on to silence for the remainder of the forum. please keep your side conversations to a minimum, that would be most helpful. we're going to do a series of back-to-back ten-minute speeches from our subject matter experts. our goal to get you a lot of very good information quickly on this subject. i think you'll like to forum, if you haven't been to one of ours before. we'll just go boom, boom, boom, right through the speeches with a lot of great information. first speaker today is phil jasper from rockwell collins. also an executive officer of the company. he has multi-decade experience in bomber, helicopter, and other important aviation programs. we are glad to have you here and look forward to your remarks.
>> thanks, mac, for the introduction, although the multi-decade part, i'm not sure, makes me feel a little bit old. again, thanks also for the privilege of being a part of this event. i'm here because i believe defense acquisition reform is ultimately all about working together to help the war fighter and to keep our countries safe. while we may have differing viewpoints on how to improve the system, i think we can all agree that when people's lives are on the line, they should have access to cutting edge, affordable, effective technology. for decades we've been working together to improve defense acquisition. some of you may say that we've seen little success. but i would like to think that we've been moving in the right direction. however, i am concerned that we're starting to move backward. to explain why, i would like to share with you a case study about our company. if you worked with my company a few decades ago, you quickly learned that rockwell collins
was split into two completely separate, different businesses. largely due to the imposition of government-unique terms and conditions, audits, cost accounting, and other costly tracking and reporting requirements. one business served the government customers and the other business served the commercial customers. this separation included duplicating all functions and establishing separate production, research and development, engineering, and administrative functions. the reality was the cost of compliance with government-unique terms was such a burden, that it couldn't be supported in the commercial marketplace. the result was that our company wasn't efficient, our military products were unique and expensive, and our dod customers were not getting the latest, most innovative commercial technology they needed to be successful. but in the 1990s, that all changed due to the enactment of
the federal acquisitions streamlining act, the federal acquisition reform act and other initiatives. through these reforms, the federal government reached out to the commercial industry and was able to reduce the barriers to enable them to provide their innovative and cutting edge products and technologies. from our perspective, the reforms enabled rockwell collins to leverage our commercial innovations and eliminate overhead redundancies, which in turn reduced costs. under the newly created f.a.r. part 12, we brought forward our technology in which our businesses invested heavily. we were also able to streamline our operations so that our corporate and share owner goals could be achieved, while satisfying our d.o.d.'s customer needs for affordable and effective technology. the advantages have been profound for our government customers. for example, using commercially available technology, our
precision lightweight gps receiver, or plugger, saved the d.o.d. over $300 million. over the past decade, rockwell collins has invested $200 million to build and support 17 gps product lines. these receivers are all of a type available in the commercial marketplace, and yet still meet the government's security and unique military environmental requirements. the use of commercial-based technologies on the kc-135 global air traffic management upgrade program enabled the air force to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars of company-funded commercial investment and resulted in completing the upgrade in less than half the time of previous programs. we saved the d.o.d. more than $160 million in development costs for the common avionics architecture system, an open architecture system that was incorporated in the blackhawk
and chinook helicopter fleets. the displays on the tanker are state of the art because they were first developed commercially for the boeing 787 and then modified for military use. secretary carter has made it clear that the gap between the defense and commercial marketplace must be bridged. as you can see from the examples i just mentioned, we understand both worlds and are in a great position to provide more innovative commercial technology to the war fighter. and this is why we've been a longtime advocate of commercial f.a.r. part 12 contracts. we have seen and have experienced the mutual benefits. our military customers save on expenses for development. they don't have to worry about managing obsolescence costs. and they have access to the latest commercially developed technologies in a more timely manner. our company can leverage our commercial investments and innovations and eliminate redundancies.
but the problem for commercial companies like rockwell collins is that acquisition processes and regulations are ever-changing and are often in direct conflict with providing commercial technology to the government. despite the rhetoric of breaking down barriers to commercial companies, it feels like the acquisition system is resisting allowing companies such as ours to provide modified commercial technology to the department of defense. for example, a decade ago, we received a commercial item determination for our commercial displays with slight modifications to be used on a military helicopter program. that is precisely what f.a.r. part 12 envisioned, to facilitate d.o.d.'s access to innovative commercial technology that could be slightly modified to enable the war fighter to use it. in the case of our displays, that meant doing things like
ruggedizing the box or enabling filters for use with military night vision systems. in the acquisition world, these are referred to as commercial items of a type. they're not exactly the same as the commercial product, but they're pretty close. now, even though we have been providing those displays for more than ten years as a commercial item, last year the government challenged that determination. it took nine months to successfully resolve that challenge, to reaffirm that they are indeed commercial items. but there's more. just earlier this month, the government has again challenged the commercial position of those displays. here we go again. this is not a good formula for the long-term success for either party, and it's certainly not a formula to entice commercial companies to want to do more
business with the d.o.d. and ultimately, it's not good for our war fighters, because it delays our ability to deliver the technology they need in a timely manner. while i'm encouraged by the direction of secretary carter and the legislative improvements in the fy-'16 ndaa, there are roadblocks that still exist and are preventing greater success in providing commercial technology. now is the time to take steps to remove those roadblocks. and i see four steps that should be taken immediately. first, regulations and interpretations around what products and services are commercial items are getting more restrictive, not less. and that needs to change immediately. the commercial item procurement reforms in the recently-passed national defense authorization act are a good start. that act clearly recognizes the value of commercial of-a-type products and the fact that prior
commercial item determinations should be allowed to be carried forward. second, to ensure consistent alignment with rule interpretation and leadership expectations, the d.o.d. and the defense acquisition university must train contracting officers on what commercial items are, how commercial business cases are established, and how to acquire and value commercial items. in the example i highlighted previously, well-meaning individuals are focused on comparing sales of the exact same item in the commercial market. but, by definition, there often aren't sales of the same item because it's been slightly modified for military use. rather, the proper comparison is with the price of similar items in the marketplace. understanding and appreciating that distinction, which the law recognizes and provides for, is
important and simply a matter of effective training. it is not enough to rely on centers of excellence. we must train the acquisition workforce. third, we need greater dialogue between industry and the government around intellectual property protection. in many cases, the current approach creates big barriers, when we invest, take all the risk, then have to give our i.p. away to our competitors. this is an area the defense business board has identified as needing improvement. and i hope industry and the d.o.d. can focus on i.p. protection in collaboration with one another over the next year. and finally, the broader discussion needs to shift towards the value of commercial item procurements and away from restricting the profit level contractors make. look, the industry wants to ensure the taxpayer is getting
value for their dollar as much as the government does. at the same time, commercial businesses invest huge sums of money over long periods of time in the name of technical innovation. money over long periods of time in the name of technical innovation. they, along with their shareholders, expect to receive a reasonable return on that investment. focusing on profit level instead of value and price ignores the substantial investments that have been made as well as the other tangible benefits of commercial procurement, such as the costs and risks of obsolescence, which are expenses borne by the contractor and not the taxpayer. focusing on profit level also ignores the fact that the vast majority of commercial items are fixed price arrangements. commercial companies are generally not in the cost plus business where taxpayers bear the risks of overruns.
under fixed price contracts, the commercial company bears the risks. it is in their best interests to control costs, become more efficient, and deliver on time. those are the four areas that i believe we should work on in the coming year. now, while there are areas that i just highlighted where we need continued improvement, we have made great progress since the passage of the fasa in 1994. but by continuing to eliminate the barriers that stand in our way, we can better access commercial technologies and provide our war fighters the capability they need to keep our nation safe. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, phil. our next speaker is former senator jim talent from missouri. while in the senate he was in the senate armed services committee and the chairman of the sea power subcommittee of
that panel. he's also been a key adviser to governor romney on his two presidential campaigns. welcome, sir, thank you very much for coming. >> thank you, mac. i appreciate the opportunity to be here. and thanks to everybody here who works in this field, which i assume is just about everybody here. you know, these are difficult times for the united states. and i think there are more difficult times coming up. but one of our great strengths is america's innovative and productive capability which has expressed itself through partnerships between the federal government and defense industrial base. and you're the people who make that partnership go. and i appreciate that. and the chance to talk about acquisition and learn about acquisition from others here today. this is one of these substantiates where the challenge is to say something
without trying to say everything in ten minutes. so i'm going to kind of take an overview about where i see the problem is and why i believe the latest steps that the congress is taking, that many of you all are taking, are good steps and are the beginning of the path out. so when you focus on the proud -- and i'm going to focus on the external source of the problem, and then the internal one. most people don't focus on the external. so i do try and talk about it. the external problem, and the reason for many of our acquisition issues, is 20 years of inadequate and unstable funding for procurement modernization. it's gotten a lot worse under the sequester. but it goes back to the '90s. i remember it vividly because i was a kid congressman at the time. we were closing the force, first with the bush base force and the bottom-up review, cut it 40%.
you could argue that was too much in some areas. that was also the time when we took the procurement holiday and cut procurement and modernization. i say "we." some of us screamed bloody murder. my first speech i ever gave on the house floor was about this. we cut procurement much more. so examples, helicopter procurement went down 90%. shipbuilding by two thirds. fighters for the air force by 80%. and i say this -- you know, i talk to lay people on this subject, i say, what would happen if ups just decided to stop buying trucks for a few years. you would end up with a huge capital bow wave. the longer it took you to deal with it, the further you push it out to the future, the bigger it would be when you final do deal with it.
that's what we were dealing with. it was exacerbated by the replacing of inventory at much higher rates. that's caused issues with the acquisition process. it weakens the industrial base, there were a lot of consolidations, fewer competitors, harder to hold down prices. it's had an impact on the human capital in the defense industrial base. there was one year joe lieberman and i put money in the budget just to allow the shipyards to sustain the human capital so that they could design the next submarine, if and when we got around to design the next submarine, because we didn't want those people to go away, it's very hard to reconstitute. you try and stuff as much into the few platforms that you can build. and i think it's contributed to and exacerbated interservice rivalries over the years. so part of the solution is i think a sufficient and stable funding like going into the future, which is one of the reasons why the last independent
panel strongly recommended returning at least to the gates budget baseline that secretary gates proposed before he left office in the spring of 2011. i think it's going to take more than that going forward. now, internal problems. a lot of people have written about this. i really got into this from a different perspective than my congressional service when i served on the first independent panel. that was the perry hadley panel in 2010. we studied this extensively, reported on it, and those who had dealt with this in the past and worked with it, you know, concluded that the major problem was, and this is not going to surprise any of you, we said the fundamental reason for the continued underperformance in acquisition activities is fragmentation of authority and accountability for performance. and it went on to make a number of recommendations. i still believe that that's true. you need a tight chain of command where people know, they
have authority commensurate with the responsibility, and that allows you to hold them accountable for performance. that's why i liked what the ndaa is doing. i think it's pursuing the right line and the right principle, and it's trying to do so in real but modest ways. so i like the redefinition and reinforcing of the authority of the chiefs and the secretaries going forward. we have slipped into a situation where it's too much like having two bureaucracies in the department trying to do the same thing. and that's always a mistake. oversight is one thing. supplanting execution is another. and i think it makes sense that the services, who are, after all, constituted for that purpose, should be the ones going forward who have the responsibility and therefore the accountability. it comes down to, this would
appeal very much to me if i had still been in the senate. if you think the chiefs and the secretaries aren't doing the job, the answer is not to create a competing bureaucracy which will try to do it at the same time they're doing it. the answer is to work with them, help them, and if that doesn't work, get people to do the job. so clear responsibility, clear authority, and then clear accountability i think is the path forward. i liked the features of the bill providing for alternative pathways at the discretion of the secretary. i do think the chiefs tend to be focused by the nature of their job either on the here and now, on satisfying the immediate needs of the combatant commanders, or on envisioning what the next generation, what the future 10, 12, 15, 20 years is going to look like for their services. and there is a tendency to give a little short shrift to the programs that you want to design and build in an intermediate time frame. it makes sense for the secretary to have some discretion to assign management for those programs to other agencies, or entities, not that he has to do it. i like the provision in the bill
that emphasizes regrowing the acquisition capabilities. we have to consider in the future beefing it up so that we can recapitalize the services when we get an adequate top line to do it and real purpose and will both in the executive and the legislative branch, to do it. and that has to come. we're at the point where we have to recapitalize these inventories going forward. i'm deeply concerned, as we said, in the second independent panel, that we're going to very quickly have a force that's at high risk of not being able to carry out the national military strategy. i'll just conclude with one other point that i always try to emphasize to my colleagues about, that i think we have to avoid, as we go through this
process, unrealistic expectations that are inevitably going to be disappointing. i used to have this conversation with senator coburn all the time, he was a good friend of mine. my issue with the department was primarily defense funding and tom's was primarily defense waste. as any of you who know tom know that, he was very effective, a great senator, and a good friend. and i conceded the points that he was making. but i always tried to tell him that you have to consider the context. the department is a part of government, okay? and so it is going to respond to legal dynamics, which the last speaker talked about, policy dynamics, and yes, some political dynamics, and bureaucratic dynamics, which means it is never going to operate the way a well-run private business operates. it can and often does operate better than the rest of the
government. but a plan that assumes it's going to run like a free market entity in a highly competitive part of the economy that's very well managed is a plan that is designed to fail, and all we're going to get is a lot of disappointment. i like what you all are talking about. i like what the senate is done, and the house. we're going to move step by step forward, making it better one step at a time. i think that will work. and i appreciate you all working with the congress on it. we do need to continue promoting -- the last speaker was right about this -- an atmosphere of partnership and teamwork whenever possible, rather than an adversarial atmosphere or a hostile one. and i think we can get this job done. i did that in ten minutes. that's not bad, given my background. so thank you all very much. [ applause ] >> our next speaker is dr.
michael hanlon of the brookings institute, a senior fellow. michael is a long time friend of ours and has been a featured speaker at a number of our hill events. we always appreciate him coming out. michael is also a lecturer at princeton university and johns hopkins university. thank you so much. >> good afternoon, everyone. it's an honor to be part of this great lexington institute event. i'll try to do my remarks in seven minutes. and i just really want to try to drive home a couple of central points that ultimately get to this issue of which kinds of technologies within the broader department of defense portfolio should we be trying to acquire in fundamentally different ways than we have been. the way i'll begin is by telling an story about an event we had at brookings in the spring where i asked the same question to the
undersecretary and to bill lynn, who had been deputy secretary of defense. the question was how good of a grade would you give to american defense acquisition policy and process today. and secretary kendall, who was just putting out better buying power 3.0 at that time and obviously has been a big advocate for improvement and therefore hardly complacent about this issue, said, when we go to war we have by far the best stuff in the world, i say we deserve a b plus, maybe a little better. i asked the same question to bill lynn a little later in the setting, in the forum. bill said, i don't disagree with undersecretary kendall, but i think that i would make that grade for specific.
for major platforms, traditional systems, i think we do buy those pretty well, and yes, there are some overruns and inefficiencies and we have all these bureaucratic issues to content with, but nonetheless we do pretty well. but anything touched by moore's law, we tend to do less well, and i'll give that a c minus. we convened another discussion group in october. this one was off the record, everyone was speaking freely, just as secretary kendall and lynn had been earlier in public. but nonetheless, the consensus there was that if we're going to look for certain areas to take bill lynn's idea and push it one step further, which areas of defense technology should we be trying to bring in new players? and should we be wondering if the whole system of highly regulated acquisition is perhaps too onerous? there's a lot of room for reform, even within traditional platforms, but this group emphasized that information
technology systems, autonomous systems, robotics, unmanned systems, these were the areas that were probably most promising, because they tend to have a high content of cyber technology and software, and because they're relatively less expensive in terms of the platforms, the engines, the metal. in other words, these were areas where the traditional defense base, the industrial base is doing a pretty good job, and it's hard for new entrants to compete anyway, where is in the areas of information technology and robotics and autonomous systems, we all know it's hard to actually draw some clear lines. there's a lot of cyber infrastructure inside the biggest ships and planes. and there are some pretty important issues with engines and structure and metal inside of drones. so it's not as if you can neatly divide the world into these categories.
this is what i would submit to you today. if we're looking for new entrants, and this is one particular element of the broader acquisition debate we're having this afternoon, so i'm not trying to cover the whole landscape, but if one question before the jury this moment is, which kinds of procedures do we need to fundamentally revamp and look for new ways of doing business, it's probably true that in general in the areas of smaller robotics and information technology, we have the most to benefit from encouraging new entrants. using some of the other kinds of authorities, using some of the models we learned in the wars with, lets say, the joint ied defeat organization that built the mrab and other things, some of these less formal acquisition probably applied best in certain technology-specific domains. the last point, since i'm trying to hit this one specific area and then leave to others to address the broader subject. i had a colleague last year and we did a very nice study on acquisition reform which you can find at our website, brookings.edu and he went on to silicon valley. we know a lot of very good defense firms are not
in silicon valley and are doing very well without the help of silicon valley, at least not in a direct sense. but nonetheless, we know that in some of these areas that i've been discussing today we would like to see new entrants, smaller firms, high tech firms, complement the existing industrial base. there's sometimes this sense that silicon valley doesn't want to interact with washington, they got frustrated by it, they find it bureaucratic, burdensome, they don't like the whole edward snowden revelations, privacy issues are hurting their ability to sell technology. what jason found is in fact a lot of firms in silicon valley are as patriotic as the next guy and who would like to get into this business, not necessarily because they want to make a ton of money, because in contrast with traditional defense platforms, the kinds of information systems you'll sell to the defense department are probably be gonna be at a smaller scale than what the commercial marketplace is
offering, it's patriotism and the kekal technical challenge. these are the areas we have to work harder to reach out. ash carter is doing a good job in this regard. we've just got to keep at it. it's going to take a while. i'll finish on the happier note that as much as all the reform ideas we're talking about today are necessary, i still come back to secretary kendall's thought that at least for most tradition platforms, i think i would agree with this, the current base is doing a pretty good job. and so we should begin from a premise that the system is sort of three-fourths strong, one-quarter broken, instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water. i'm not suggesting the people here are trying to do the latter, but sometimes the conversations, the tones of broader national dialogues trend in a direction that suggests that the system is fundamentally broken. there are a lot of problems, a lot of issues, we need three hours today. i'll now defer to others for the other issues. but overall we're doing pretty well. let's try to get those new
entrants in, especially in areas of i.t. and robotics. thank you. [ applause ] our next speaker is john etherton, president and owner of of etherton and associates. he was a staffer on the senate armed services committee, also a former vice president of the legislative affairs at the aerospace industries association and a long time acquisition reform activist and advocate. great to see you, john. thank you for coming. >> thank you, mac. we strive for an acquisition process that produces value for all the parties involved in it. both the government and industry must understand and work with knowledge of the other's imperatives and the political and business environment in
which they make decisions. industry seems to have a much better sense of the government's operations and objectives than the government has of the environment in which industry has to operate. over the years of working on the industry side of this divide, i have been repeatedly impressed by the range of complex factors that go into producing shareholder value, rather than merely focusing on single elements like contract profit. i believe a deeper appreciation on the part of the government of industry's imperatives could lead to a pentagon customer better able to use incentives to get its products and services in a most effective manner while attracting a much broader segment of the private sector to the national security business. once again we point to timely decisionmaking, predictability in functioning business terms and conditions, especially around the treatment of intellectual property, transparent yet flexible methods of determining value. these are the essential features
of a well-functioning process, yet they seem over and over again to kind of elude our grasp. the degree of consensus among reasonable people that you could get in a room about what a more effective acquisition process should look like has been repeatedly amazing to me, every time we have a study on the topic. given our long experience with the power of this intractable equilibrium that seems to persist in the current system, and this was very well described by paul francis over at gao, the real question is how do we start toward a different outcome. ultimately, in my view, we need to get beyond clever problem statements, colorful band-aids, and a lot of vigorous hand waving to identify and go after the root causes of the dysfunction in the current acquisition process. in my opinion there are several very, very difficult things we need to take a look at. first start with the budget process, including the congressional budget office, the authorizers, omb, the dod
comptroller, and other agency financial managers. we need to be looking at this process with all of these folks in a comprehensive fashion for objective consideration of major changes that probably would upset a lot of very heavy rice bowls. in my opinion, the current budget and resource allocation process probably drives more stakeholder behavior in the current acquisition system than any other single factor. we also are in a situation, and others have already commented on this, where the oversight community