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tv   Representative Mac Thornberry Remarks at the National Press Club  CSPAN  January 14, 2016 1:44am-2:51am EST

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>> go to house armed services chairman mac thornberry criticized president obama's state of the union address. from the national press club, this is an hour. >> welcome to the national press club. my name is john hughes. i'm an editor for bloomberg
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first news. i am the 108th president of the national press club. our speaker today is representative mac thornberry. he's the chairman of the house armed services committee. before i tell you more about him, i want to introduce this distinguished head table we have with us today. these head table members include guests of our speaker and they also include national press club members. i ask each person to stand when their name is announced and sta starting from the audience's right, carl, washington columnist from the "dallas morning news." tom, pentagon correspondent for usa today. ellen mitchell, reporter for inside the army. mark, director of publications
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institute for aerospace studies. captain miles miller, who is our speaker's defense fellow. casia, a bloomberg news reporter who is the incoming chair of the national press club speakers committee. skipping over our speaker for a moment, pat host, a reporter for defense daily and the speaker's committee member who organized today's lunch. thank you, pat. kevin, u.s. navy captain retired, a member of the national press club speakers committee and director of the navy league of the united states. jen, a reporter for defense news and co-chair of the national press club's young members committee. josh martin, chief of staff for our speaker. and bob simmons, house armed
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services committee staff director. [ applause ] >> i also want to welcome our live audience here in the elegant national press club ballroom. i want to welcome our viewers on c-span and listeners on public radio. you can also follow today's action on twitter. use #npclive. our speaker today is a texas republican who was first elected to the united states house of representatives in 1994. that was the year voters ended democrats '40-year run in the majority. representative thornberry was deputy secretary of state for legislative affairs in the reagan administration and he also has previously worked as a
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congressional chief of staff. in congress, he has been a member of the intelligence, budget, resources, and homeland security committees. and in 2011 and 2012, he chaired the task force on cybersecurity. thornberry's most prominent role however is as chairman of the house armed services committee. in beginning his second year in that job now, he plans to continue an effort he's already started to change the defense acquisitions process. his goal, which is shared his senate counterpart, john mccain, is to make weapons buying less wasteful and more agile and innovative. a 2015 gao report says it's not unusual for delivery time and cost to be underestimated by 20% to 50%.
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critics of the system say the competitive market forces of supply, demand, and price are missing when there's a single buyer, and that single buyer being the pentagon. and there aren't many incentives to deliver programs on time. some changes were included in the defense authorization legislation that was signed into law last year, but thornberry has said that that piece of legislation was just a first step. what are the next steps? let's hear that from our speaker. ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm national press club welcome to house armed services committee chairman, mac thornberry. [ applause ]
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>> well, thank you all for being here. i certainly appreciate this opportunity to think out loud with you a little bit about the threats that the country faces and about what congress and more particularly the house armed services committee intends to do about them in the coming year. last month at the library of congress, the new speaker paul ryan outlined his vision for rebuilding a confident america and that included an america that is respected and leads in the world. he specifically talked about making sure we have a military for the 21st century. as i have emphasized since i became chairman a year ago, the constitution puts that responsibility on congress' shoulders. too many of us tend to assume it is the executive branch's job to figure out what we need to do to
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defend the country and then they send the bill to congress and expect us to salute and write the check. it says it's congress' duty to raise and support, provide and maintain, make rules for the government in regulation of the military forces of the united states. and the men and women on our committee on both sides of the aisle take that responsibility very seriously. as a matter of fact, as many of y'all know, most of the issues we grapple with, we do so on a bipartisan basis. that doesn't mean everybody agrees with every judgment call, but by and large people try to find the right answer for the country. now some of the calls we have made in the last few years that disagreed with the administration proposals, things such as retaining an aircraft carrier, not retiring the a-10, keeping both the u2 and the
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global hawk when we have a severe isr shortage, those things in hindsight look pretty good. today we have to make those judgment calls in a very constrained budget environment and in the most complex, difficult national security environment the country has ever faced. just think for a moment about the headlines of the last couple weeks or so. escalating tensions in the middle east in saudi arabia lead to a greater chance of sectarian war. north korea tests another nuclear device while continuing to advance its missile programs. a british film crew comes back from raqqah with evidence that isis is vigorously pursuing chemical weapons, heat-seeking missiles, and remotely
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controlled vehicles. more evidence comes out about isis operatives who are already in the united states and in europe. china lands aircrafts on these islands it has constructed out of the south china sea. not to mention iran shooting missiles at u.s. navy vessels and then of course yesterday taking ten american sailors and their boats. if you look back just a few more weeks, we read about leaks about a russian nuclear torpedo that could devastate, of course, coastal areas. and about a iranian hackers infiltrating the control system of a small dam less than 20 miles from new york city at the same time they were attacking the websites of u.s. banks. and of course the fbi helping stop four attempts in the last
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five years by russian gangs to sell radioactive material to mideast extremists. who knows what the next two weeks or two months in 2016 are going to hold? the world is more dangerous today than it was in 2009. and despite the president's claim last night, that is not just hot air. that's the facts. that's reality. but it's also the reality that it's unlikely the obama administration is really going to do anything over the next year that's going to change that fact and probably not do anything that will abruptly change that trajectory. no president is irrelevant, but in many respects i think the country and the world are moving on. so all that means the next commander and chief, whoever he
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or she may be, is going to inherit a whale of a mess on their first day. we all follow the news cycle as it goes from crisis to crisis, but as charles hill writes in his book "grand strategies" those of us living through great historic events can barely even glimpse the significance of what's going on around them. i believe those who look back on the events of our time will find that we are living through historic times. the magnitude and the consequences of which we cannot fully appreciate. but the question is, is it historic in a good way or historic in a bad way. well, we know for sure is that the stakes are enormously high. nobody can take the place of the united states of america as the primary force of good for the
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world. sometimes there's a decline and sometimes it's a sudden decline. >> your policies are keeping us in a state of perpetual war. when are you going to speak out about the cozy relationship between the united states and repressive regimes like saudi arabia, egypt, and israel? are you going to call for an arms embargo against saudi arabia? saudi arabia is turning a blind eye while weapons, recruits, and money goes to isis. it's time to reevaluate the relationship between the united states and egypt, another oppressive regime. saudi arabia and egypt are both repressing their people and they're using american weapons. we can only blame ourselves for it being such a dangerous time. your policies are perpetuating
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endless war, sir. >> somehow don't you just think at the national press club that fits in in some ways. i kind of think so. [ applause ] >> i tell you. any of us in any of our businesses have to appreciate the first amendment. then again it's always nice to turn off the television and change the channel from time to time. my point is no country has stayed on top forever. we looked at the last 500 years of warfare and we found that many super powers failed to take advantage of revolutions and military affairs and it had a drastic effect. he writes the end can come with shocking suddenness, even after a long streak of good fortune. countries that have been able to
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take advantage have been history's winners. well, no country is better positioned to continue to be one of history's winners than the united states, but we also can't assume that it's always going to be so. we have to take deliberate decisions to ensure that we'll still be able to be this unique force for good in the world. and for congress, that means that we have to provide the funding and the capability and the authorities needed to be able to defend the country and to oversee the activities of the executive branch. i think there are two primary characteristics that describe the military capability that we need and they are strength and agility. we know from sports that you can't do with one and not the other. you have to have both. strength is crucial. churchill's insight in russia
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70 years ago has a wider application today, i think. he said from what i've seen of our russian friends and allies during the war i'm convinced there's nothing they admire more than strength. we cannot afford, if we can help it, he said, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength. there's a lot of people that think that's exactly what's going on in the world today, that we are offering temptations for a trial of strength. that's part of the reason the world is so chaotic. military strength requires both quantity and quality of capability. the obama administration, for example, argues that a ship today is more capable than a ship 20 years ago. generally that's true, but a ship can still only be at one place at one time. and we need enough of them to
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protect our interests and fulfill their missions all around the world. we do not have enough of them today, nor do we have enough airplanes or soldiers, et cetera. building a strong military requires money. last fall's budget agreement does not provide enough money for defense, but i agreed with those who believed that it was better to accept less than is required in order to be assured that it would be there after the budget brinksmanship of the obama years, budget stability, even if it is for two years, counts for a lot. i'm disturbed that the administration may not keep to the agreement in the budget it will send to congress in a few
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weeks. the oco account would receive no less than $59 billion, with the exact amount to be decided depending on world events. well, that agreement was reached two weeks before paris terrorist attacks and the pace of our military operations is much greater than it was then. but rather than ask for more money to cover the cost of the accelerated level of operations, the administration may be considering it seems lowering the base amount and not asking for the increase oco. they do that. that cuts people. that cuts weapons. that cuts research. that cuts military capability. guaranteeing a minimum level of defense spending was the key to getting last year's defense budget. the terms were clear to
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everybody and everybody ought to stick to them. at the same time our committee will not relent in our continuing oversight of how our money is spent. waste and efficiency drain military strength and erode political support for it. so in addition to vigorous oversight, we put a high priority on reform, which i'll return to in just a moment. of course, what we spend the money on, what we buy, is crucial. that gets me to capabilities. we, of course, have to make sure the men and women engaged in today's fight have what they need, but we have to take steps to make sure we have what we need for the fights coming on ahead of us. i'm paying particular attention to the third offset efforts to cyber, to modernizing our nuclear deterrent, and to special operations. the president said last night that no nation dares attack us
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or our allies because they know that's the path to ruin. well, that's been true and it's been true for a long time. unfortunately, that's changing. our committee has spent more time over the last year on the issue of our eroding technological superiority than it has spent on any other issue. as you know, deputy secretary work and vice chairman silva are advancing a focused push known as the third offset to make sure that in the future no state is willing to take on america. i applaud their efforts, but no one should be under the illusion that a handful of technological breakthroughs, even if they come, are going to guarantee our dominant position for many years ahead. technology changes too quickly. information moves too fast. the threats are too diverse. and that means bigger change is
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required. obviously, cyber is the new domain of warfare where technology is not the problem, but organizations, authorities, people are the most crucial things. this doesn't just effect the military, but we have to be able to fight and win in cyberspace. so the committee will be pushing issues related to people, organizations, rules of engagement in that domain to try to make sure we close the gap between the threat and the policies we now have to employ. it may seem a little bit odd to put nuclear deterrent in some of the capabilities we need to think about for the future, but as events over the last week have shown nuclear know-how is spreading. our own nuclear deterrent is the foundation for all of our other
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defense efforts. our war efforts and delivery systems have all been neglected and are all ageing out about at the same time, but we have to put the resources as well as the focused effort and the will power into making sure that we have a nuclear deterrent that will continue to protect this country in the future, not just that nuclear deterrent that was designed for a different age. the world including our enemies has gotten a pretty good look at the enormous capability that our special operations forces brings. i have no doubt that we will continue to rely on them very heavily in the future, but there's a temptation and we've seen it in other nations to use soft forces for everything. one description of it it's kind of like taking a sharp knife and
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raking it across the concrete. you keep doing that and it's not so sharp anymore, so we'll be both supportive, but also protective of our soft capabilities because some of them are absolutely vital for the security of our nation. one of the areas where soft excels is in working with other security forces. we're also going to be examining ways to help strengthen that capability because undoubtedly we're going to be doing more of that in the future. while the u.s. has always needed a military strong enough to meet the current threats of the day, the current situation is unlike anything we have ever faced. we must have the military capability to protect us against this enormous array of threats that confront us as well as the unexpected. in studying the anatomy of failure in war, elliott cohen says there's three kinds of failure -- failure to learn,
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failure to anticipate, and failure to adapt. well, that means the united states has got to learn, anticipate, adapt faster than anybody else does, and that requires institutional agility. so reforms to help promote that sort of agility is at the forefront of what our committee is focused on. i group these things into three different categories -- people, acquisition, and organizations. the most important component of our defense is, of course, our people. we can never relax our efforts to make sure that our country continues to have the benefit of the very best people our nation can provide. last year we followed the recommendations of the military requirement and compensation commission and instituted a new retirement system for the military. most people thought it could not
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be done. this year under the able leadership of subcommittee chairman general dr. joe heck, we're going to be examining health care, which is a crucial part, of course, of all of our compensation as well as our well-being. year after year, the administration has proposed raising fees and co-pays on service members, but simply taking more money out of service members pockets is not reform. joe and his subcommittee are examining the whole military health care system, taking into account the recommendations of the commission, but also keeping in mind the primary purpose of the military's health care is to make sure we can fight and win the nation's wars.
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this year we're going to build on those reforms. my plan is to again introduce a standalone acquisition reform bill, solicit feedback and comments on it, adjust it as is appropriate, and then fold that into the annual defense authorization bill. one goal i have this year is to encourage more experimentation and prototyping. the clear conclusion is that experimentation was at the heart of every success. it encourages innovative thinki thinking not just in developing the technology, but how you use it.
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it reduces the odds that you're going to spend a lot of money on a program of record that you then have to cancel and have it all wasted. if you couple that with open architectur architectures, it helps you upgrade your systems as you go along at a lower cost. one of our nation's leading industrial design firms has as its motto fail often in order to succeed sooner because they believe that enlightened trial and error is the key to success. i think that's right and thing history bears that out when it comes to military innovation. today it's hard to get money for experimentation without being attached to a program of record. programs of record seem to be -- because they hardly ever get started. i want to look for ways to foster prototyping both in the
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technology and their application and ensure that only mature technology goes into production. to do that, a cultural shift is needed not only at dod but within the congress. we have to accept our even expect regular small failures in order to have greater success. if every experiment is a success, we're not learning very much. another key area of reform is organizational. we have to make sure that the organizational structure in the pentagon and around the world fit into today's world. while most everybody agrees that the goldwater nickels reform of 30 years ago were a success, i think most people agree that it's time to take a new look at some of those reforms and not be afraid to make improvements where it seems appropriate. last year we made a start at
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requiring the department to reduce the number of bureaucratic layers that not only cost money but slow decision making. the first step in dealing with a sluggish bureaucracy simplification, but i have to tell you we have a long way to go. the tyranny of consensus has come to dominate the pentagon. if you're trying to get everybody to consensus, it's going to take a long time to make a decision. the defense business board says about half of all uniformed personnel serve on staffs that spend most of their time going to meetings and responding to tasks from the hundreds of offices throughout dod, including 17 independent agencies, 9 combat and commands, and 250 joint task forces. needless to say we've got a lot of simplifying to do. again, looking back over 500
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years of military history, boots says having an efficient bureaucracy is the key determinant of whether a country fully takes advantage of a military revolution. i don't know about y'all, but that makes me a little nervous. i think history tells us a couple of other things as well. one is that necessary reforms have to come from congress. some change can come from within dod, but much of the change that's required has to be required by the legislative branch of government. secondly, we can't fix dod persi personnel, acquisitions, organizations in a single bill or even in a single congress and i don't think we should try. we should take measured steps, listening carefully to everybody involved in the system, especially to the end-user who are the war fighters, and then
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take further steps. we will not get everything done this year that needs to be done, but at the same time we're not going to be sidetracked by all the voices who say, oh, there's no use trying. it's just too hard. it's just too complicated. too big a mess. don't worry about it. we are going to fulfill our responsibilities under the constitution. if i may, let me just address a few more issues that have to do with our country's security. in addition to building our military, it's congress's responsibility to declare war and use military force, authorize the use of military force. as you know, speaker ryan wants to see if there are the votes in the house to pass an amuf against isis. both sessions on both sides of the aisle are under way.
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i've always believed we should pass an amuf on isis while at the same time i understand the difficulties in doing so. one of those challenges is that 75% of the house was not on office on the morning of 9/11, but those of us who were here will never forget that morning. another challenge is that many republicans are reluctant to authorize this president to use force when there is so little confidence around the country that he has a plan or the willingness to actually accomplish his stated goal to degrade and destroy isis. now democrats seem to share that concern because they are asking for more restrictions on an amuf than republicans want. look, i do not want to tie our service members' hands when we send them into battle. what congress does or does not do will have consequences that
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last beyond this administration, so we need to find a way to do the right thing even if it's not politically easy. speaking of tying people's hands, i've served on the house intelligence committee for more than ten years and continue to sit in on their briefings as well as the briefings that our committee receives. i have no doubt that at exactly the time we face more diverse terrorists and other kinds of threats than at any time in our history we know less about what our adversaries are up to. we certainly know less than what we did at the beginning of the obama administration. part of the reason is the evolution of technology. part of the reason is the leaks that have told everybody, including our adversaries, what we do and how we do it, but part
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of the reason is the way we tie our own hands. for example, ppd-28, presidential decision 28, gives foreign intelligence targets basically the same rights american citizens have overriding the instructions the ic has gotten from every other president since ronald reagan. we're asking more of our intelligence professionals more than we have ever asked them to do before, but we're asking them to do it with one hand tied behind their back. it is unlikely the obama administration will do anything over the year that will significantly improve the per perilous situation that we find around the world. i do not mean to disparage the many good people in the administration that are trying to do what they can every day to
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keep the country protected. i believe secretary carter work among them, but the direction comes out of the white house. the white house imposes rules of engagement upon our men and women fighting in iraq, now syria, and in afghanistan. those rules of engagement make it harder for them to accomplish their mission and in some cases it increases the danger to their lives. in addition to that there is an unprecedented degree of micromanagement from national security council staffers not only of the top management at dod but of the men and women who are serving out in the field. i'd refer you to the books and comments of the last three secretaries of defense and others who have left the obama administration just to get a feel for how pervasive and detrimental this practice is. too often decisions are driven by political considerations, not
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security considerations. this unprecedented overreach endangers our people, complicates our commissimission compromises our national security. congress chartered the national security council in 1947. from time to time over the years it has adjusted it. well, it may be time to look at it again. i said earlier that the united states is a unique force for good in the world. if we do not have the ability to continue to be that force for good or if we're unwilling to play that role, somebody else will fill the vacuum. that seems to be part of what's happening around the world today. i suggested that we live in historic times, but we don't know yet if it is historic in a good way or historic in a bad way. i think we take for granted the
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world which the united states help build after world war ii and the benefits that that has provided to us and to mankind. too many of us assume that human progress just inevitably marches forward, but as robert kagan argues "in the world america made" the current liberal order will last only as long as those who built it retain the capacity to defend it. in the end, he says, the decision is in the hands of the americans. decline is a choice. i think that's right. it is in our hands. it depends on the choices we make. and for the sake of ourselves, our children, and those around the world, i pray that we are able to answer history's call in fulfilling the obligations that it has placed on the united
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states of america and do so in a way that will make us proud. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, mr. chairman. on behalf of the national press club i apologize for that earlier interruption. as i was escorting the protester out of the room, she did not show her national press club membership card, so i don't think she's a member of the club either. have several questions about russia. could you comment on the russian navy's growing presence in the mediterranean and overflights around our coasts and can we expect any provisions in the national defense act for 2017 in response to perceptions of the russian threat?
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>> well, two things are happening. one is despite the economic concerns that people have about russia and some of them are clearly real, but despite their economic problems they are putting a priority on defense. and so they are building significant new capability that, as i mentioned, erodes the technological superiority we have enjoyed. some of the stuff they're building is designed for us. so that's one thing that's happening. the other thing that's happening is they're being much more aggressive about its use. and there are those who believe that they sense a u.s. retreat from the world and they want to step forward to take advantage of it and to reoccupy the place that believe they have enjoyed in the past. so the tactical use of where you
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fly your ships and planes, obviously that's up to the military and the commander and chief. the capability to deal with what russia is doing, that's on our shoulders. we'll have provisions as far as developing capabilities not necessarily to match them eye for eye, but to have the capability that is needed to deal with the threats that putin presents. just one brief example. every year russia continues to crank out new nuclear weapons with different characteristics. meanwhile we haven't cranked out a new nuclear weapon since 1989 roughly. so that's just one example of the difference. >> on isis, do you support sending u.s. ground combat troops to iraq and syria? and would you like to see an
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isis specific authorization for the use of military force and do you think congress should pass one in 2016? >> well, as i mentioned, i think we should vote and pass an authorization for the use of military force against isis. as y'all know, what we are doing is relying on the aumf that passed a few days after 9/11 and that specifically is tied to those who committed the attacks of september 11, 2001, and those who harbored them. well, isis didn't exist then. so what the administration has to do is to try to draw a link that this is a successor regime. the problem is in afghanistan today isis is fighting the taliban and al qaeda, so it's a little hard to see how they're the same thing that we authorized the use of military
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force. i think we have to have a new aumf. i do not think it makes sense to send 100,000 ground troops into iraq or syria or anything like the invasion force we had in iraq before, but -- i don't know if you saw yesterday. we had three former officials in the obama administration all testify. all said isis is a strategic and lethal threat to the united states, not hot air, and we need to be doing much more, especially to reduce their caliphate because towns will
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come and go in iraq and syria, but they are growing in other countries, libya, afghanistan among them. so we do have to have special operations people much more restrictive -- i mean much more vigorous air campaign. one note came out in our testimony yesterday. the early days of the afghanistan campaign after 9/11 had roughly eight times the number of aircraft that we have in iraq and syria now. just to kind of give you a femafeel for the different level of effort. we need to clearly be more serious about it. all the rules of engagement are handicapping the efforts we are making and as a result of that, many of our allies, who want to do more, who are able to do more, don't trust that the u.s. is going to lead, so they're
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holding back. as you know, king abdull ah has been in town for the past few days and met with our session on this fight. i believe the u.s. must do more. it is not a choice between 100,000 troops or tying our military's hands. there are many options in between. i invite you to go look at the testimony we received yesterday from former obama administration officials to give you the outline of some of that. >> have a couple questions on iran. can you tell us anything beyond the limited information we have received so far about the iranian sailors? and also do you see -- i'm sorry the u.s. sailors that were detained in iran. and do you see any benefit in the nuclear deal that was negotiated between iran and the united states? any benefit at all?
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>> well, i don't know any more details at this point about the sailors who were taken. obviously it's something we have asked the pentagon to brief us on and we will of course follow up with that. any benefit at all to the iran nuclear deal, well, of course with iran gives up nuclear material that's a benefit. the question has always been what does it cost. do the costs outweigh whatever benefit there is? so part of the question, have they done this for good or is this a temporary measure to get sanctions relieved? has this effected any other activities? they've had two missile tests in violation with their agreement with the u.n. since the agreement was reached and we haven't done anything about it. you see this aggressive action
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in the persian gulf. they're continuing their activities in yemen and hezbollah. none of that has slowed up at all. as you may know just before i came here, i voted on a further sanctions measure in the house, which passed, related to the missile tests in violation of their agreements. and i think one of the big frustrations that many people on both sides of the aisle have is for this administration the goal has been get the nuclear agreement at all costs. you have to see the whole picture. not just focus on one treaty that you hope becomes your legacy. >> some questions on the new island bases in the south china sea by china. does the navy have what it needs to counter the threat in the south china sea? how far should the united states
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go in protecting allies in that region? >> we do not have what we need because we don't have enough ships. that's part of what i was talking about. we don't have enough ships to be everywhere we need to be. there's portions of the year we were not able to have a carrier in the persian gulf. pacific is huge. we have lots of things to pay attention to. we do not have enough ships. i think it's very important to continue to have on a more aggressive schedule ships and planes to reemphasize the point that these are international waters. these are not owned by the chinese, but the other key point for me is that lots of countries in that region, some are allies of ours, some not so sure, are looking to see what we do. they're trying to decide, okay,
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how is this going to go. is the u.s. going to step back and let china do what it wants to? these potential allies may be very interested in working with us to help push back on china all around their borders, but they need leadership from the united states. i think if there is a big question in the world today it's whether the united states can lead or will lead. >> the additional resources for the military, questioner wants to know where are those resources going to come from. how do you take on the budget restrictions involved in building a larger military? and one questioner says you were dismissive in your remarks about president obama's statements about the current strength of the u.s. military in the state of the union speech last night. was the president wrong when he said the u.s. spends more on
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defense how do you get the additional money for defense in the president's comment that is it's already so robust. >> the president is not wrong to say that we spend more than anybody else. we pay our people. not everybody pays their people. we have costs that other countries do not have. so, we have to, if we're to fulfill our responsibleties to say more. i'm not disz missive of the president's comment that is we have the best military in the world. my point is that our superiority is eroding. and we've got lots of testimony and evidence to support that. i will tell you the one comment that got groans across the chamber last night was when he said this notion that our
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enemies are not growing stronger is hot air. and that provoked a lot. i think that is empirically not true. that is certainly not true. our enemies have grown stronger. again, i refer to the testimony we received yesterday as an example. russia is stronger militarily and in the world. china, we talked about just going down north korea, iran, et cetera. they are stronger. and the president seems to want to dismiss all of that. you know, no, don't pay attention to all of that stuff that's happening. it's not real. it is real. that's the rule. where do we get more money. there's only one way, really, in the long term, in the bigger picture, to deal with the budget issues that face the country. and that is reform of entitlements. at 60, roughly two-thirds of the federal budget is spent on mandatory spending programs.
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we are down to about 15, 16% of the federal budget is spent on defense today. that's all it is. we were about 50% in john kennedy administration. now we're about 15%. meanwhile, two-thirds of the money is spent on mandatory acts to happen. a lot of people thought, oh, a new retirement system in the military, that's never going to work, you shouldn't try. you're just going to make people mad. what we did was we grandfathered people in who we'd made promtss to. there's a group in the middle that can make a choice. you can -- if you're in the military under -- for a fewer number of years, i think it's under 12, you can choose to go to the new system or you can stay in the old system. it's up to you. if you sign up tormorrow, you have to be in the new system. that's the way we did it. make sure we keep our promises. now why would some sort of
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template like that not be appropriate for other sorts of entitlement reform. >> one last point. i think the first job of the federal government is to defend the country. so i think the first dollar that comes out of your pocket ought to be for defense. and everything else, mandatory spending and everything else, is after that. and in the dangerous world that we live in today, defense of our homeland, protecting our lives and our liberties, is more essential than ever.
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about where they think they had excess bases and in what sort of categories do they have them. because what's been happening since 2005, which was the last time we had a brac brown, there was a study before that that said we had 25% excess infrastructure. well, they've been trotting out that figure based on that 10-year-old strud day ever since. so i'm not saying we won't do another brac, but i am saying if we're going to do it, we're going to do it on better data
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than what's out numbers for a number of ways. secondly, i'll have to check with gao. but the last time i checked last year, the 2005 round of brac had not yet broken even. in other words, ten years later, it still cost the taxpayer more money than it saved. people say oh, that was an unusual situation. my point is, we don't have any extra money laying around. once we give it away, especially if it's a training range or a flying range or something, we'll give it back. so we better be darn sure. if so, we'll look at it. >> cyber becoming such a major
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threat, this questioner wants to know how you will seek to build out cyber personnel, via legislation. >> when we go through our people reforms, as part of the reform effort i mentioned, one of the key questions that i and other members ask is, okay, what if we want to get somebody into cyber command and can we do that? do we have the authorities to do it? we're not going to match them on pay. but at least is it not an embarrassment? can we take somebody from silicon valley for a while and then they go back into the private sector and then can they come back? those are the kinds of questions we've got to ask ourselves inorder to attract the cyber
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talent we need. they are the three best in the world. i have no doubt about it. but i also worry when i see the staple of the chinese trying to deal with it on our side. it's the policies and the organization on how we fight and win so that responsibility is on our shoulders and we have a lot of work to do in that area. >> before i asked the final question or two, i have some housekeeping. the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists and we fight for a free press war.
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the club visits our site and to learn about programs or to make a sdoe nation, visit the web site of the journalism stoout, that's the national press club news maker tomorrow, january 14th at 10:00 a.m. former senators will disclose their new book, crisis point why we must. we can overcome our broken politics in washington and across america. that's next tuesday, january 19 at 6:00 p.m. and, on saturday, january 23rd at 6:30 p.m. the national press club will
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inaugurate its 109th pred. this is the final lunch. i am moderating as president. i want to thank all of the board for the past year and i want to thank visitors and viewers for their interest in these events. this past year. thank you very much. i would now like to present you with the official mug of the national press club. very much cherished and special. and you will enjoy that for years to come. >> thank you. thank you very much.
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so final question, mr. chairman? i know you're dying to talk about it. one questioner says do you support fellow texan senator cruz's bid and if he is unsuccessful, is donald truch your second choice? >> i tell my staff they could not put any questions in that. and i think they did. i have not decided who i'm going to support. i have two criteria, one, which republican has the best chance to win. number two, who would be the best commander in chief. as i mentioned, i think they're going to inhibit a whale of mess on the first day in office. things are now just starting to get a little more serious. and we'll see as the voters begin to actually go to the polls, rather than talk to the
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polsters how that shakes out. [ applause ] >> one more question, mr. chairman. on the left side, if it was a president clinton coming to secede, would there be a different dynamic in defense? or do you think the dynamic would remain much the same it is now. >> i think there would be some difference. i think secretary clinton, over her career, has shown herself to be for stronger terms when it comes to national security. and i think she has the benefit of seeing all the chaos that the obama administration is leaving us with. so i think it would.
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talk to democrats and the obama administration approach to congress has been very dismissive. president bill clinton's day and surely, bill clinton would learn from that. so it would be different. how big that difference would be? well, we can talk about that later. >> how about a round of applause for our speaker. [ applause ] >> i'd also like our national press club staff including the journalism institute and broadcast center for today's event. again, go to that web site, thank you. [ applause ] >> on the next washington
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journal, matthew lee of the associated press, on the implementation of the iran nuclear deal, the discussion about president obama's economic record with larry michelle of the economic policy institute and bloom best of your recollection report er led u.s. chamber of commerce 2016 business address, we'll bring it to you live starting at 9:30 eastern on our companion network, c-span2. >> this weekend, the c-span city's tour explores the history
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and literary. on booktv, the logbooks. learn about the atlantic slave trade through the logbooks of connecticut slave ships and the significance they had in helping the slave trade. we had this extraordinary opportunity to see day by day. as the son of an aristocrat from new london. >> the author talks about the impact on the abolitionist movement with the popular 19th century singing group. in his book, "singing for freedom." >> throughout this moment of 1842, seeing frederick douglas
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and, perhaps, hearing him speak, they decide to take that step and they will actually peril form at the american antislavery society meeting in 1843 to perform in boston a little before that. into antislavery singing. and they do it bring kwoontly. >> show moved in with her husband and he was about 10 years older than her and he was retired. she moved in with her oldest children, twin girls or adult daughters. they were in their 30s. stowe was in her 60s and her husband, cal was in his 70s.
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she was world famous. now she's in her 60s. and she's still supporting the family. >> finally, we'll tour the mark twain house with his wife and children while they live in this home from 1874 to 1891. >> looking into harvard with his young wife and their new family. and he came to the city, fell in love with it, really, and just was tickled to death. wrote letters back to his own family, you know, mothers and brothers. came to the library and this was a very special spot. for instance, the paintings across the top of the walls here. and the knickknacks on the mantle, they would ask for a story. and the rule was he had to begin with the cat in the rough painting on the very end.
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from there, he had to continue across the mantle and incorporate each and every knickknack. and he could not go over and he could not piece out. and then that would satisfy. >> watch c-span's cities tour saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's "book tv." c-span city's tour with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> president obama followed up his final state of the union address.


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