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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 27, 2016 2:00am-4:01am EDT

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strengthens the rule of law, promotes democracy and human rights, advanced partnerships, and promotes prosperity and inclusive growth for all of its citizens. u.s. assistance is a critical tool that supports these goals. in our request for central america and mexico, we seek to address the underlying conditions driving migration from central america through mexico and to the united states. the request also includes increases to support colombia's implementation of an expected peace agreement marking the end of the hemisphere's longest running conflict. the request maintains support for key partnerships with peru, haiti and the caribbean. the fy-2017 foreign assistance request for strategy in central america continues to support for prosperity, governance and security. particularly for central
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america's northern triangltrian recognition of acute challenges these countries face. u.s. assistance through the strategy complements the investments northern triangle governments are making through their own development plan, the alliance for prosperity. they plan to spend $2.6 billion this year on their own plan. continued u.s. support will be vital to colombia's success as it seeks to implement a peace accord. our partnership with mexico remains an important priority for the united states, and includes a range of issues that benefit both countries, including trade and investment, energy and security. the merritt initiative continues to provide the framework for our bilateral security cooperation at both forward and state levels. our request also includes a central democracy assistance for cuba and venezuela, where the
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united states will continue to provide assistance that advances universal human rights and supports vibrant civil societies. promotions of democratic principals and human rights remains at the core of u.s. interests in cuba. our request for haiti continues investments in infrastructure, agriculture, economic growth, basic education and health, expanded governments, democracy activities and security. a sustained u.s. commitment is essential to build on the past gains of u.s. efforts in haiti and to build its capacity to respond to citizens' needs. improving security and development in the caribbean directly benefits u.s. interest. the caribbean base and security initiative complements caribbean efforts to reduce crime and violence, strengthen the rule of law and address the factors that put youth and marginalized
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communities at risk of insecurity. u.s. counter narcotics assistance complements investments made by the government of peru and maintains our strong partnership in eradication and alternative development to cultivation. i urge the u.s. congress to fully fund this request for the western hemisphere as it advances our national security and wisely invests our resources where they can have the most significant impact. i look forward to your questions. and senator kaine, i just wanted to point out there is a great group of students from richmond, virginia, here today at the hearing. >> can i ask, are they maggie walker students? congratulations on "we the people." . two of my boys went there. >> secretary malinowski. >> thank you senator rubio and
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senator boxer and kaine. it is a pleasure to be here. i will say a few words about our global programs to support people who are struggling for advances in democracy and human rights around the world. and i'll start by acknowledging that this is obviously not an easy time to be doing this kind of work. it is a time, as we can all see from the headlines, when authoritarian governments, beginning with big powers, like russia and china are striking out against freedom of expression association and the press. there is the horrible war in syria and the terror of isil and the mass migrations of refugees and the fear that all of this insecurity creates even in democratic countries with all of the impact on our politics that we have seen. now all of that should disturb us. i don't think it should surprise
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us. after all, freedom has advanced in waves over the last few decades. it has been followed by the advances in the internet and the global civil society which have allowed people in every closed society in the world to know exactly what they are missing and to connect with each other and with people around the world to build effective movements for social change. people often say to me that human rights is a soft issue. i think it is the hardest hard power issue there is. because its advance is a threat to some of the most dangerous people in the world. if your trying to steal an election or to stay in office for life or to profit from corruption, then, of course, you are going to be threatened by ngos and journalists who try to expose the abuse of power and you are going to fight back and fight hard and fight dirty and that is what we are facing in many parts of the world. but as i look around the world,
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i find that the good guys are still winning as many victories as they're losing. particularly when we're there to help them. just in the last year, look at the historic elections that took place in burma, in nigeria, in sri lanka and even in venezuela where the people haven't won but they were able to manifest their enormous desire for change through an election. so the lesson i take from that is that if we have patience and determination, if we stick with these efforts and with these programs, we are going to win more victories than the defeats that we face. an that is where the funding that you provide my bureau, drl, through our human rights and democracy fund comes in. it is not a lot of money. it is about $85 million this year. we like to think of it as our venture capital fund for freedom. we're using it to get news, knowledge and even entertainment into north korea. a effort that we know is
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changing minds and awakening expectations in the most closed society on earth. we're using it to support the legal activists and dissidents in multiple countries where they are being persecuted. and we're reforming political prisons so they could contribute to democracy there in burma and fight what threatens their democracy. we're using it to develop and deploy cutting-edge technologies that break through china's great fire wall and to protect activists in dozens of countries from cyber attacks and cyber intrusions. we're using it to help organizations defend freedom of expression in latin america. one of our programs recently supported a campaign that saved ecuador's number one freedom watch dog. we're keeping it alive in syria where groups have negotiated cease-fires, documents the crimes of the assad reg he'll and stood up to isil and
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al-nusrah. and we're using it to prevent atrocities, setting up early warning systems in the eastern congo so people there could call for help when they are threatened by armed groups and in nigeria to protect people from boko haram. we're using it to help women who have escaped isil captivity in northern iraq. we're using it to support organizations that try to build trust between muslim communities and the police in eastern kenya so they could unite against april shab ab. we're using it to get help to people who need it faster than i think any other agency in the u.s. government. our emergency grant programs could be small but life-saving amounts of money to ngos in as little as under 48 hours. we are using these to provide protection and assistance to bloggers and others who have been threatened in bangladesh, one of many examples.
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and to save the best for last, from a fiscal standpoint at least, let me say that we also use it to support the work of ngo's and journalists that expose corruption around the world. that has contributed to $3 billion in confiscation and fines and including over a billion dollars which is good investment for your drl funds. so i want to thank you for the strong support this committee and the congress has shown our programs over the years and i pledge to you that with continued support, we will continue to do work that i think not only does our country proud, but that makes us safer and more secure and stronger in the long run. thank you very much. >> thank you. secretary malinowski, my first question is on the issue of human rights an the president's visit last week to saudi arabia.
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there were two cases, do you know if either cases were raised in the meetings and what are we doing to pressure -- there was a bipartisan letter to make human rights a priority with his meeting during his meeting with the king. and was this raised and if not, what else are we doing with the two people that are jailed unjustly? >> these cases have been raised, including at the very highest levels more than once with the saudi government. and know that the president in his meeting with the king had an extensive conversation about human rights in saudi arabia. i think you may have seen some stories about how intensive that conversation was. we will -- i can pledge to you, continue to raise those cases and others both privately with the saudi government and publicly where appropriate until people who are unjustly detained for peaceful expression, as these individuals are, are
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released. >> recently the administration made its countries of particular concern designations and noticeably absent from the list was pakistan. a recent example of religious intolerance was a recent attack in la hor. what has to happen for a country to be designated a particular concern? >> there are a lot of tough calls. when the secretary makes these decisions, i think the -- the test is not simply whether there are significant abuses of religious freedom in a particular country, but whether we feel that there is a commitment within the government to try to do something about it and it is an evaluation that the secretary makes on case-by-case basis. we added a country this year. we added tajikstan, because after a lot of efforts with the country, we were not getting a
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sufficient or acceptable response from that government to our requests for action on certain issues. with respect to pakistan, the secretary made the judgment that the government is committed to trying to deal with this violence. >> the secretary recently made his recent -- well he made his genocide designation, what steps has the department taken to prioritize vulnerable communities like the ancient christian or as eaty communities in the cross hairs of isis. >> this has been a burning priority for many of us since this conflict with isil began. i was in northern iraq about a month ago. mr. chairman, i visited the main yizidi shrine a few miles north of the front line with isil. we are -- as i mentioned in my testimony, we have a lot of programs that we're funding to provide direct support, not just
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humanitarian assistance but psycho social support for people who have faced violence, escaped captivity on the part of isil. as you know, the first shots that we fired in this war to liberate territory in iraq from isil were fired to protect the yizidi people on mt. sin jar when they were surrounded by the terrorists. and i think this is something that we need to think about with particular focus in the next stage of the military campaign as it focuses more closely on mosul and the ninoah plane. i think many, many members of congress rightly urged us to look at the jengenocide determination to call what was happened to the yizidis and others by its name but using the terminology is the easy part but the important thing is we find a way to liberate these historical
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homelands of these people in a way that not only defeats isil and drives away the terrorists, but that enables these communities to go home with dignity and with security and frankly that is going to take resources and i think we're going to be working with you and reaching out to you to talk about what it is going to take to do this in the right way so those people can go home. >> well you say it takes resources. what additional budget resources are necessary --? >> i'm probably not the best person to ask what the total cost of the entire -- >> what kind of programs? >> it will require support in the short-term idps, for example as mosul is squeezed, there will be hundreds of thousands of people fleeing that city. there are 2 million people in mosul, as you know. those people need to be cared for somewhere by somebody. it is going to require stabilization funds after the liberation of that area for rebuilding, for restoring institutions of justice. it is going to require training
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and support for local security forces, including, i would say, some of the local security forces that communities, including the christian communities have been forming in that area. we are already beginning to work with those -- with those folks. but i think if you look at the various appeals, including the u.n. appeal just for the humanitarian support, you'll find that a lot more is needed. >> secretary palmieri, last year there were over 8600 documented political arrests in cuba. cuba remains the only country in the americas classified as not free by freedom house and groups such as human rights watch provide details on the ways basic rights and liberties are still not respected in cuba n. light of this, why would the administration request a reduction from the $20 million provided annually in recent years in funding to democracy assistance for the cuban people. >> thank you for the question, senator. thank you for the question,
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senator. the fy-17 request seeks to establish a sustainable level of democracy support in cuba. we believe the human rights situation there merits continued attention. and our assistance is designed to work with civil society -- independent civil society act, promote democratic values, human rights and advanced fundamental freedoms. the level of funding is one that we believe we can execute on the ground there. >> so you're saying that we don't think we can spend $20 million, we can't find programs to fund with the $20 million so that is why you are asking for less? it is very unusual for a government agency to ask for less. that is why i'm bringing up this point. why would we ask for less? >> we believe that is the sustainable level of programming that we could carry out inside of cuba. >> what does that mean --
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sustainable. the a. you could get funded in the future or sustainable, like that is as much as you could handle? >> it is a combination of the amount of money that we believe that can be absorbed inside of cuba at this time. >> that was not the feeling two years ago? is that a change in position? because a couple of years ago the funding was at $20 million. so what happened with the additional money appropriated in the past years? >> i'll have to get back to you on what happened to the previous funding, sir. >> well, my point is you're saying that you don't believe the island could sustain $20 million of spending on democracy programs, there is not enough programs to fund or that we could sustain $20 million so that is why you're asking for less but in past years there is more money. are you saying that money wasn't spent? >> sir -- >> if you are spending less this year than you were in the past, something that you are funding in the past isn't getting funded now, isn't that correct? >> um, i'm sorry, sir -- >> i can -- yes.
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we have spent slightly more than $15 million in the past. i think what -- what we face every time we make these requests, to be honest, is overall, as you well know, a diminishing pool of resources to do almost everything that we want to do around the world. the way i look at this, senator, rubio, i obviously, as the head of the democracy and human rights bureau, i always welcome as much spending as we can do in any country in the world that needs it. i've got, as i mentioned, about $85 million globally for every single country and continent in the world to spend on democracy and human rights programs. and i could probably spend more in every single country where we're doing this kind of work. cuba, at this point, i think next to iraq is the country that
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receives the most human rights and democracy support of any country in the world. and it merits it given the challenges, given the importance that this issue has to the united states. but i -- i sometimes look at it and say, gosh, i would love to have more. and sometimes i look at it and say, i would rather have more than $200,000 for a country in africa or a country in asia where that is all we've got to deal with these issues. so those are some of the choices i think -- >> so this is basically part of reallocation of resources to be spent somewhere else? within a limited budget. >> i think we have a very limited budget. i would say far too limited for democracy and governance around the world. you know the challenges we've had over all in maintaining an adequate level of democracy and governance in places that we care about greatly. cuba is one of them. so it is certainly not a re allocation away from supporting democracy and human rights. but we have hard choices to make
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within the limited amount of money that we have for that -- obviously i would love us to be able to do more in a lot of places. >> senator boxer. >> well, i would like to be able to do more. i watched you do it in the nonprofit sector and i think you could do it here as well. i want to get back to the zika virus. because i think this is a absolute threat to this country. so miss hogan, i'm going to direct this question to you. there is no doubt the zika virus is ai public health emergency. it is infected thousands of people in the western hemisphere including over 300 americans. it causes severe birth defects in newborns, including blaine damage and blindness. in adults it is linked to gillian bar syndrome, barre syndrome which could cause paralysis. in the last few months the world health organization described
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the zika threat as quote, one of alarming proportions. and earlier this month, an official from the center for disease control described the virus as, quote, scarier than we originally thought, unquote. we also have learned that zika is sexually transmitted. now, in our country, the most endangered americans are those who live in the gulf states. it is clear that these types of epidemics know no boundaries. so we have to respond quickly. in february the president requested a $1.9 million emergency supplemental for zika. a portion of this request would go to u.s. aid to help fight the spread of the virus within the western hemisphere. unfortunately, and sadly, andin eck plickablely, congress has not provided the administration with the funding it needs to
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respond to the outbreak. and those who oppose it are going to be held accountable. it is as simple as that. time makes a big difference in these kind of epidemics. the longer we wait, the more people get infected and the more lives are painfully effected forever. we have seen it. it is coming, as sure as i'm looking at you. and so i'm asking you with your limited funds is u said combatting the spread of the zika virus in the western hemisphere. and some of republican friends who support this and some of whoem don't, take the money from ebola. well swell. that is a whole other problem. and that is not the answer. so i want to know what you're doing with your limited funds and do you agree we have a great need for the funds the president asked for in. >> thank you for that question and we share your deep concern about the potential impact of
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zika in the region, including in the united states. as you know, in addition to the $1.8 billion supplemental that the president has requested, he's also sent forward a cn to repurpose $295 million from our ebola account to deal with the immediate needs. thus far, u.s. aid has conducted assessments around the region, particularly in those countries where health systems are weak and we have developed a strategy which we are ready to launch. our strategy would include social behavior change, communications, vector control, investing in new diagnostic techniques and investing in research and development. >> excuse me -- can we diagnose it? is it easy to find out if someone is carrying the virus? >> the cdc is the expert in this area. but i know that they can diagnose it. >> okay. >> to do it more rapidly and expensively is what we're hoping to bring about through a grant challenge that us aid just
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issued last week to the private sector for $30 million to invest in innovative technologies innovative approaches to do the kinds of things that i just mentioned in terms of diagnostics -- >> so to sum it up, you are doing everything you can with limited resources but it is a race against time. and mr. chairman, from my understanding, we have so much -- and i know you are supporting taking action on this. i'm so grateful to you. we don't even know how long the virus stays in your system. and since it is sexually transmitted, couples planning to have children, they better know the situation. whether the man is infected and can pass it on. it is very problematic. i raise it here because it is one of those unusual situations where there is a direct impact for americans that is going on in another part of the world. we've got to connect the dots. this isn't some foreign policy
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matter. this is a health emergency. and i'll be continuing to speak about it. mr. malinowski, over the last 14 years afghan women have made progress in education, health and political representation. i have been engaged in every time i can in meeting with the women. and while president ghani is a strang partner on women's issues, it is clear that women continue to face grave barriers, especially in regard to their legal rights. last year, for instance, a mob brutally killed a woman falsely accused of burning the koran. this happened in central kabul in broad daylight in the presence of security officials. disturbingly, the afghan supreme court vooe sently vacated the death sentences of four men charged with the murder and reduced the sentences of nine others. this is but one example of ways in which the afghan legal system continues to fail afghan women. how will the u.s. continue to
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work with afghanistan to bolster the legal rights of afghan women? >> well, thank you for that question. i'm sure i won't do justice to everything -- to every aspect of it or everything that we're doing. with respect to the afghan judiciary, one of the steps that president ghani intended to take was to appoint the first women or women to the afghan supreme court. when i saw him last, i urged him to do that. he said that he was committed to it. he has been unsuccessful. his appointments there have been blocked. >> well, wait a minute. where are they learning how to block appointments to the supreme court. >> their system i think is -- >> i'm only kidding. that was a bad joke. >> i was heading toward the same joke. >> okay, never mind. >> okay. so -- yeah, i'm resisting all kinds of ways of -- yeah. >> resist. >> at a lower level, but at a
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very important level, we've done a lot of work with local justices institutions in afghanistan through training and other assistance programs to help them implement the new violence against women law which has been one importance advance in that country. we have a program out of my bureau which supports sending talented young afghan women to a university in -- a university for women in bangladesh. we've established a really interesting and important program there. and the women who graduate from that program often then go back to afghanistan and enter government and enter the justice system. so at a grassroots level, just encouraging more and more women to take up positions in the justice system has been an important priority for our programming. >> thank you. >> senator gardner. >> thank you to all of the
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witnesses for your time and testimony today. thank you mr. chairman for holding this hearing. a couple of questions for you mr. malinowski. i want to start with north korea. the legislation passed and signed by the press a couple of months ago requires designation of human rights violations in north korea and investigation. out of curiosity how are those investigations going and do you have any intention of naming people under the legislation passed by congress and, if so, who and when? >> the -- we are working very hard on identifying people. i have often spoken publicly about this, i think one of the most important things that we can do for human rights in north korea is to send a message inside the system there to the mid-level people, to the camp commanders, to the people in the public security ministries who are responsible for the worst abuses, that guess what, we know who you are, we know your names and some day when there is change in the korean peninsula
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you are going to be on a list that you don't want to be on if you are associated with those abuses. figuring out who those people are is not easy for reasons i'm sure you'll understand. we're working with our partners, including with the south koreans to try to figure this out. we've made some progress. yes, we do intend to use the sanctions authority. in fact, as you know, the president's executive order before the legislation passed created a human rights sanctions authority for the same purpose. i can't tell you who. because we're not there yet. the when, hopefully as soon as possible. >> will you be looking at the highest level of government for the sanctions? >> we will be. we can look at individuals and also look at ministries. i'll tell you my preference in terms of effectiveness, because i don't want to just say, kim jong-un is a bad guy. we all know that. my preference would be to try to identify some of the people who are less well-known in order to send that message that actually
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we do know who they are and there may be some consequence in the future if they are associated for example with executions if the prison camp system and the rest. >> we did provide additional authorities under the legislation in order to communicate with the north korean people to find ways to build cheap and efficient and effective communication channels in order to get the message out about the atrocities of the kim jong-un regime and hopefully those authorities, chairman rubio was a critical part of that and will be utilized and helpful in getting the word out about the acts these people are carrying out. >> absolutely. and i'm grateful for that. we already have some very interesting and creative programming from old-fashioned methodology like radio broadcasting to newer ways of getting information to people in the north. there are about 3 million cell phone contracts, amazingly, in north korea right now. so people are communicating with each other and also with people outside of the country in surprising ways.
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and there are a lot of folks working on delivering content that will raise awareness, that will bring information to people in north korea about simple things like what life is like outside of the country. we fund some of that out of my bureau. and i think there is room for a lot more. >> china in the past has had a policy of returning north korea defectors to the regime. are you in conversation with china about changing that policy as, is china still intending to change that policy and how is that dialogue taking place? >> we've raised this many times with the chinese government and has other countries in the area. and there are some cases recently in which china has allowed people to move on who have sought ai'll -- asylum. there was some workers in beijing recently who managed to get themselves to south korea
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without objections from the chinese government. so we'll have to see but it is an important issue and one we continue to raise. >> thank you, mr. malinowski. the week -- the week after president obama visited -- i'll give you the quote from the news reports. the week after the u.s. president barack obama's visit things in cuba have returned to normal. more than 150 activists were arrested on saturday in demonstrations demanding the release of political prisoners. is that an accurate assessment and how many political prisoners are there today that we are aware of and has there been an increase or decrease in the number of the arrests since our policy change toward cuba? >> the big distinction here is between long-term political prisoners most of whom have been released and the short-term harassment often -- often violence that is inflicted on people who try to hold meetings, organize rallies, discussions to
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engage in the politics of the island. that has absolutely not let up. i think there were a couple of thousand of those short-term detentions in the first three months of this year. and i think it reflects both the highly repressive tendencies of this government which we know extremely well, but also i think their nervousness about the changes that are taking place in our relationship and the hemisphere. i think it was very interesting to see the reaction of the cuban government to president obama's visit after the fact. fidel castro basically left his bed to deliver a speech denouncing president obama. he said, we don't need any gifts from the empire. president obama's syrupy words
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about brotherhood and shared history were enough to give cubans a heart attack, he said. raul castro made similar statements. it seems like the only argument these guys have had for the last few years is the myth of american hostility towards cuba and we have completely destroyed that myth in the eyes of the cuban people and they've got nothing else. and i think they are extremely nervous andin secure as a result of that. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> senator kaine. >> thank you, mr. chair. and if i could, i will introduce you to the students here. maggie l. walker in richmond is a school for governmental and international studies. it is in the neighborhood where i live. it was a vacant and abandoned building when i got elected to the city council in 1994. and over the course of about seven years, we worked with governments in the region to build it into this high school that is commonly ranked as one of the 25 best public high
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schools in the united states and the students are here as part of a constitutional competition that they've been participating in. and i'm really happy to have them here. and with the schools focus on government and international studies, this is a good hearing to be at. i had the opportunity last week to ask some questions of both miss hogan and mr. palm your a with respect to the northern tie angle and i'm going to focus my questions to secretary malinowski today on human rights issues. yesterday i had a wonderful meeting with senators baldwin and senator coons with inspirational city council woman in istanbul, who is here. she founded the istanbul pride parade in 2003 and there were 30 marchers. by 2014 there were over 80,000 marchers and last year the turkish government used water cannons to shut the march down and disburst every after it had grown so large. she was here to talk about ways
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in which the united states could be helpful and when the senator asked her, tell us how we could help human rights in turkey, this was her answer. and i wanted all of to you hear this because it is about your colleague. she said the help that we've had that has enabled us to do what we have done is the united states. the support of the u.s. ambassador and the council in istanbul has enabled the lgbt community in turkey to not avoid persecution and hostility, as my story about the pride parade being disbursed suggested but they have been able to finally come out of the shadows to some degree and organize and she said there had been no greater friend. so when we asked what we could do to help. she said the main thing could you do to help is thank our diplomats and folks with the state department that have been our allies. talk to me about the work you are doing in your bowo with respect to -- bureau with respect to lgbt rights around
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the world. whether it is in turkey or russia or africa, we see serious challenges. talk about how we factor that in our diplomacy. >> of course. well, first of all, it is a heartening story and i will pass that on to ambassador bass, who is one of our best ambassadors on so many different scores. and know that he has been particularly principled in reaching out to the lgbt community and to the broaderlgb community and to the broader activist community in turkey which is facing a lot of challenges right now. i would say first of all, it begins with recognition of the legitimacy and dignity of people around the world who are working for the human rights of lgbt people and simply asserting their own rights to live in
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safety and in dignity and simply reaching out, meeting with these folks, as you mentioned, in turkey, an important part of it. other senior u.s. officials do as well. we're seen doing it, if that makes a difference. we provide material support to people who are on the front lines of the struggle. we have in our little dlr budget something called the global equality fund which we've now gotten other governments to contribute to as well. one of those emergency funds i mentioned in my opening statement. we can deliver $3,000 in 48 hours to someone who needs help for security, for travel, for basic support, for an ngo that's doing good work. sometimes for legal support. there have been successful legal challenges in various countries around the world to highly restrictive repressive anti-gay laws that we have provided some
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support to. and then just rhetorical level. we're very, very careful in public statements not to suggest this is about carving out special rights for special kinds of people. we're talking about simply basic human rights that everybody in the world enjoys, whether they're straight or lgbt. no one should be discriminated against. no one should be subject to violence. no one should be persecuted because of who they are and i think that message increasingly resonates in countries even where there's nervousness about the advance of this issue. >> we met, a number of us, in istanbul in early january, with her right in the heart of the city near the blue mosque about two days before the bombing there that occurred in early january. very wonderful advocate. she definitely connects the feelings of government persecution of the lgbt
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community about the worries that other religious minorities are feeling in turkey. this isn't a hearing about turkey. i would like to delve into that further in another moment. let me switch to another area within your bailwick and that is press freedom. we're seeing -- turkey is a good example. russia a good example. honduras. sadly, i've lived in honduras, a journalist at a radio station where i worked with the jesuit community there 38 years ago. a number of other journalists have been killed as well. i think the chair alluded to some freedom of press questions in his opening comments. this is so fundamental. again, if you see a government cracking down on a free press, you can bet they'll crack down on political opponents. they're going to be trying to engage in other authoritarian activity as much as we in politics sometimes rankle under a free press that is free and robust and challenging.
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we sure wouldn't trade it for anything else. tell us how the state department through your bureau tries to advance the notion of protecting freedom of the press around the world. >> well, first of all, when a government cracks down on free press, we speak out about it. and we talk to them about it in our high level diplomatic engagements. we've done it with turkey. we've done it with egypt where we have worked really, really hard to get journalists out of prison. we've done it in china. sometimes we're successful. sometimes we're less so. but journalists are purse cuted because they're doing effective hard hitting work and i think particularly at a time when the issue of anti-corruption is coming to the fore in many countries around the world, it's making a lot of governments that are corrupt nervous about the work of a free press that is uncovering their secrets, and oftentimes you will find that we
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are supporting that kind of work, not just rhetorically because we have an interest in accountable good governance and without a free press, measure not going to get one. more generally, we also have programs that are specifically designed to help train journalists in difficult environments to stay safe. programs in digital safety, physical safety, that, you know, obviously do not provide 100% protection but that i think are helpful to journalists facing real danger in the work they do. >> you asked about the lgbt community in istanbul. is that criminalized under turkish law? you're talking about government persecution. under what form? >> i will have to get back to you. i don't know if it's one of the countries where it's criminalized but i will get back to you on that.
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>> thank you very much. let me thank all our witnesses for the extraordinary work they do every day on behalf of human rights. mr. malinowski. the russian media has been trying to rewrite history as what happened with sergei mignitski. the united states, the administration has used its inherit authority to grant certain types of sanctions against those who perpetrated those crimes in russia and has also used the authority under the law that was passed. can you just comment as to the basis for imposing those sanctions as it relates to the allegations that has been made by the russian press? >> one thing i've learned about our sanctions programs in this
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job is how high the bar is for our lawyers, our investigators, the folks who determine whether a particular individual meets the criteria that congress has laid out for application of a particular sanction and i can tell you in the migniski case, we relied on multiple sources of information in making these determinations. it's reviewed by many people in the united states government who have to be confident that the information is credible before we put somebody's name on that list. the justice department is involved. the treasury department is involved, in addition to the state department. we are very, very confident that the people who are on that list deserve to be on that list based on hard evidence. >> i thank you for that. there's been several people who
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have been sanctioned as a result of it. there's been congressional involvement working with the administration on this issue. and it's clear, the information we have received, the type of conduct that they perpetrated in russia to a person who was trying to bring to the attention of the authorities a corruption situation and, in fact, became a victim, arrested, tortured, and lost his life. i thank you for clarifying that point. i want to move on to a tragic situation. asser beigen. we're s azerbaijan. a increase in the number of political prisoners in that country. those who differ with the government. one of these cases. a political prisoner, radio free europe reporter. currently serving a 7 1/2-year
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sentence in aazerbaijan. she has been a tireless reporter on corruption in the country. we believe she was targeted for her work. could you just commenten p as to what diplomatic tools we have available in order to raise this issue? >> well, i would say, first of all, we have called and we'll continue to call for the release of kadija. we're very well aware of her case. in the last several weeks, we have engaged very intensively with the government of azerbaijan on human rights issues. it has i think contributed to actions by the government of azerbaijan to release a number of people who we consider to be political prisoners, including
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intagamalivive, an internationally recognized human rights lawyer. the chairman of their election monitoring and democratic studies center. we've seen some i think very positive steps by the government of azerbaijan in response to our engagement. that we would certainly agree with you, the good news we've seen is not yet enough. there are still others in detention who should not be, including kadija. and we very strongly believe that releasing the remaining political prisoners and more broadly expanding freedom of expression and freedom of the press in azerbaijan would be good for that country's future and good for our relationship with azerbaijan. >> lastly, let me raise the tragic death we saw in
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bangladesh a few days ago of the u.s. aid employee, zho asmanle. who founded the bangladesh first lgbt magazine. that murder is still being investigated from the point of view of responsibility. we know that an isil-related group claimed responsibility. but this is just outrageous. i would hope that the administration will keep a bright spotlight on this tragic death and make sure that we have full accountability as to who are responsibility. and that we hold the government to do everything possible not only to hold the perpetrators responsible but to protect the civil society, civil society in bangladesh has challenged. clearly this murder will have an impact on the country.
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>> we're outraged by it. this one chits particularly close. we will do everything we can to encourage the government of bangladesh to investigate this and bring the perpetrators to justice. we will support them in doing so. as i mentioned, in my opening remarks, we also can use and are using some of our emergency assistance programs to provide support in getting people who are threatened, still threatened in bangladesh to safety if they want to avail themselves of that kind of support. >> thank you. i thank all the panelists for their commitment to these issues. senator markmarkey. >> thank you. we have a fentanyl epidemic in the united states.
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sources say it's clear china and mexico are the principal means by which fentonanyl is coming io the united states. the number of deaths has escalated. new addition to that plague being fentanyl as a killer in our country. what is our government saying to mexico about the importation of fentanyl? it comes up right from mexico and it winds up in florence, massachusetts, where people died. but that's the story for most of our country. what is it that we are telling the mexicans about this importation of fentanyl? >> thank you for the question. actually, it's the state department that has the lead on that dialogue, so i would ask my colleague from the state department to respond. >> mr. palmieri. >> senator, thank you. we are engaged with mexico to
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improve counternarcotics interdiction and to improve their ability to eradicate poppate cultivation inside mexico. as well as strengthen our border and law enforcement cooperation to prevent those kinds of drugs -- >> but what about -- are you talking specifically about fentanyl? fentanyl is the new addition. it's like a chemical concoction put together. what are you saying about fentanyl specifically to the mexicans? it's a killer. >> we have a broad-based conversation with mexico on counternarcotics. our law enforcement agencies are engaged with mexico across a full range of drug trafficking that emnates from mexico into the united states. >> no, i'm asking, are you having specific conversations about fentanyl with them? it's much more deadly than
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heroin or anything that has ever been seen before. what are you saying to them about this one specific new addition to the opoid death spiral that too many families in america have now fallen? >> we are pressing the mexican government to do all it can to prevent illegal narcotics from entering the united states and to work collaboratively with our law enforcement agencies and fentanyl is definitely one of those substances that we are focused on, sir. >> well, i would just urge you as strongly as i can to elevate fentanyl to the top priority which you have. it has the potential to kill tens of thousands, tens of thousands of americans over the next several years and the route
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in is through mexico. so this is something that i just urge you to elevate, to the level of intense dialogue between our two countries. so they know we mean business on that issue. it is of critical concern. not just in urban america but in every city and town in our country, fentanyl is coming. fentanyl is the new drug that is killing people and we've got to stop it and the mexicans must be our aggressive partner in this. on human rights in mexico, the security forces have been implicated in repeated serious human rights violations, including extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture and the government has made little progress investigating or prosecuting those responsible for abuses.
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what is happening in mexico defies belief. in december of 2014, 43 students disappeared in mexico. that was nearly two years ago. at the time, i wrote a letter urging the secretary of state to do everything possible to support the mexican government by making additional investigative and forensic resources available. my letter also urged assistance to the mexican government in its efforts to bring all those responsible to justice and to ensure positive postmortem identifications that allow families to begin their grieving and healing process. this, the mexican government, has not done. in 2015, an interdisciplinary group of experts appointed by the human rights went to mexico to work the case and worked for a year to uncover the truth but then the mexican government refused to extend their mandate, prematurely ending their work.
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they released their final report and found serious abuses and inconsistencies in the mexican government's investigation. the report throws the government's version of events into serious question and suggests the government did not seek to discover the extent of official culpability for these crimes. last friday, "the new york times" reported that the group of experts has endured carefully orchestrated attacks in the mexican news media. a refusal by the government to turn over documents or grant interviews with essential figures, and even a retaliatory criminal investigation into one of the officials who appointed them. what is our government doing to persuade the mexican government to allow the group of experts to continue its investigation and what will we do now in response to their report? >> senator, we did take note of
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the april 24th report of the independent experts from the interamerican commission on human rights. we commend the commission's work. we do urge mexico to consider the reports and respond to the report's recommendations. specifically to provide assistance to the families and the victims. to bring the perpetrators to justice. and to evaluate the suggested actions to address the forced disappearances associated with that action. >> what additional actions can we take in order to press upon the mexican government how serious we are about this issue? >> well, we do have an ongoing human rights dialogue with the mexican government. this is a topic that has been raised at many different levels. that will continue to be raised directly with the government,
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sir. >> i think we've got obviously a huge problem here. 27,000 mexicans have disappeared over the last ten years that the government has done little to investigate. and i think that this is just an escalating problem inside their country and i think it's up to the united states since they are our partner on so many other issues to use every bit of leverage we have to let them know we are dead serious about this issue and it just cannot be allowed to continue. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. we are going to wrap up. i just have one more question. there's been a significant uptick in the number of cuban migrants for example from october of last year to february, just five-month period, 18,500 cuban arrived at the texas laredo field office. we're getting similar reports from the coast guard. what's more concerning is the number of people we talked about
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this briefly last week at another hearing, coming in i think through ecuador, panama and costa rica. if you read the press reports, some of these governments, their body language or attitude is we're going to put them on a plane and fly them as close as possible to the u.s. border. this is a major developing issue here. much of the surge has occurred since the deal. what is driving this new migration? what is driving this new migration? what is our position to these countries talking about moving these people? their attitude is our job is to facilitate them, get them to the u.s. which is where they want to go. third what is the best way to stop this? >> thank you for that question, senator. the engagement with the countries in the region focus is on encouraging them to ensure safe legal and orderly migration. much of this migration is documented as it passes through
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the central american region. there's no question that earlier this year costa rica and panama worked with the government of mexico and did airlift almost 8,000 cuban migrants from both countries to the northern part of mexico where they crossed into the united states. costa rica took the step of making clear that after that backlog was addressed that they were going to be more aggressive in enforcing immigration laws and returning people to their last point of origin. we now see in additional ba aaag of these migrants in panama and there's now, at least as reported in the press, talk of another possible airlift between panama and mexico. we continue to urge the countries to enforce their
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migration laws, to strengthen their border patrols and to address undocumented and irregular my combinatiigration g people to their last point of origin. >> have we pronounced ourselves against these airlifts? i mean, you're -- have we pronounced ourselves against these airlifts? because the minute word gets out if you can get into this country, they're going to put you on a plane and fly you to the u.s. border so you can get in, you're encouraging more people to do this. have we said to them do not airlift people? we have significant potential leverage with these countries. >> we have worked with all three countries to ensure they are going to strengthen their border patrols and put in place better america mechanisms. >> that's future. what about the current backlog? >> we have encouraged the countries and the region
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themselves to figure out the best solution to this surge of migration. we believe the best solution is stronger enforcement -- >> we have not told them not to do the airlift? >> we have not told them not to do the airlift? >> what is driving this? cuba's been repressive for 60 years. what's the difference now? is the fear the cuban adjustment act is going to go away that's driving people to try to get in here before it goes away? >> we have no plans to change the cuban adjustment act at this time, senator. there continues to be a large migration flow out of cuba. it reflects the difficult economic and human rights conditions in the country. >> but -- and i understand that the administration has no plans to advocate for a change in the cuban adjustment act, which was an act of congress. my question is, is there fear? what i hear is people in cuba think the cuban adjustment act
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might go away. so they're trying to get into the u.s. before that happens. is that -- >> i don't know -- i can't comment directly on the individual motivations of these cuban migrants, but i do -- i can make clear that the administration is not entertaining any idea of a change to the cuban adjustment act. so that shouldn't be a factor in their decision calculus. >> okay. all right. well, want to thank all of you for being here today. i appreciate you participating in this. i think it was informative. i'm pleased as well we have so many members attend and ask great questions. we thank you for the work you do on behalf of our country. i wanted to end by noting that the record will remain open until the close of business on thursday april 28th and with that the hearing is adjourned. >> thank you.
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washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up wednesday morning, washington journal will spotlight real clear politics, political news and polling website created in 2000. our guests include the co-founder of real clear media group and the executive editor of real clear media group. both join us to discuss how real clear politics got started and its mission. they'll also talk about the role of the media. also joining us, rebecca bird, national political reporter for real clear politics. she'll review primary results. she'll also talk about what's ahead for campaign 2016.
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and the senior elections analyst for real clear politics will be on to talk about the latest polls and how the public can be smarter consumers about polls. be sure to watch washington journal beginning live at 7:00 a.m. eastern wednesday morning. join the discussion. wednesday, the house armed services committee considers the 2017 defense authorization bill. will review subcommittee reports, debate and vote on amendments to the legislation. starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span 3. ahead of this year's white house correspondents dinner saturday, the washington hilton executive chef discuss planning and preparations for the annual event. he talked about staffing, security, contingency plans and his biggest worries about the night of the dinner. this is 15 minutes.
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>> this is the executive chef at the washington hilton. you have 2600 plus people coming over for dinner. >> organized chaos at its finest. it really is. it's an honor firm and foremost. it's also a lot of fun. it's opportunity for us to really prepare unusual foods for a large amount of people. >> when you say unusual, what do you mean? >> once we do a taste test with the white house correspondents dinner, the decision usually is made that evening. and then our work begins for the following year. >> and when do you do the taste test? at what point during the year? >> it's usually three months. roughly three months prior to the function itself. it depends on their schedule and
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our schedule. but we always work it out. >> chef andre, you have 23,000 square feet of kitchen. the largest in washington, d.c. the largest kitchen in d.c. does it get crowded on the night of the correspondents dinner? >> it gets very crowded. >> who's in here? >> well, we have a lot of celebrities that walk through the back of the house. but at the same time, we've got so many cooks and people working that evening. whether it be from a management team or all the team members. you're looking at roughly 400 people that are here to assist on that evening. >> does that include surfers? >> that includes servers. >> how many people are on the floor? >> you've got about 200 servers on the floor. and another 200 people back here.
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it's actually organized chaos at its finest. >> where are you that evening? >> running around. we're just talking about how many steps i do. and the white house correspondents dinner is definitely the most. 24,000 steps that day. because i'm all over the place. whether it be in the pastry shop, butcher shop, preparation of cold food. on the hot side, working on hors d'oeuvres. making sure secret service is okay. making sure that we're ready for them to inspect our kitchen. working backwards on a time line to feed that many people. how many time do we need for the stake steaks to go in and actually cook so there's a lot that gones into it. >> there's a lot of high-profile
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people that come to the hilton on a regular basis. so you're probably used to that part. where do you source your food? is that a secret? are the secret service involved? >> as far as the food goes, we have primary purveyors that we source most of the food through. as soon as the tasting is over, i actually set down, and that's when the ordering of the food takes place. so it took place three months ago. because we wanted to make sure there's the correct aging on the beef for the dinner that night. produce comes anywhere from california, meat usually from colorado or idaho, somewhere in that area. vegetables, again, florida, california, majority of it. there's a lot that gones into it though. >> what about the secret
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service? are they participating, keeping an eye on everything going on that night? >> they do. the thing with secret service, they kind of take our lead. at the same time, we take their lead. meaning that we know our employees, who should be here, who should not be here. so as far as, you know, working together, we really work well together. as far as overseeing the production of the food, they will walk around, inspect things, check on products, et cetera. when it comes time to actually serve in the dinner, the president's dinner is usually picked out of the 2,700 we've produced that night. >> so he's eating the same food, it's a random -- >> correct. they randomly select from the starter desserts as well as the
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entree. >> how far are we from the ballroom? >> right now, about 40 yards from the ballroom. >> so are the servers taking the food from this area, from this kitchen, bringing it out into the ballroom? >> yeah. the kitchen actually backs up to the ballroom so it's only about ten yards away from the entrance to the ballroom which makes it convenient but also efficient. >> chef andre, your employees here, to work at the washington hilton, because of the high-profile events that go on here, do they have to be especially checked, background checks? >> i honestly couldn't answer that question. however, i do know that everybody that walks in to the kitchen, once we turn it over, to secret service, everybody is checked. once going through the secret service line.
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>> what about special orders? a lot of people have food allergies, et ceteras, gluten frees? >> in my 11 years here, or my 12, this is actually my 12th dinner, we've had a lot of special requests. and it's challenging that night because you're trying to take care of so many people. and when somebody comes across and says, oh, i only eat things that are dark shade. okay. right now, my brain is not working. what's a dark shade? what do you mean by that? i've got somebody else that needs their food pureed. i've got a special vegan diet. i would say there's probably 100 to 150 special requests that evening. and it presents a challenge but we do the best we can. >> what if you are one of the guests in the 1,000-plus rooms
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here at the washington hilton? you want a grilled cheese and a bowl of onion soup, are you going to get it that night? >> they will. we'll have our restaurant staff, restaurant kitchen, and room service appropriately staffed. we'll have six cooks up there and three pantry persons up there. room service will have a staff of 15 that evening. whether it's room service or a la carte or, you know, the people that like to watch. they'll be able to order bar food, whatever they want. >> that's all done in a separate kitchen? >> yes. which is up one floor. it's right off the lobby. there's tdl restaurant.
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>>ed ed iin the 12 years you'v doing this dinner, has anything gone wrong you can tell us about? >> we've had a lot go wrong. parent of part of my job and my staen assistant's job is to look into the future what possibilities are there to go wrong? we think backwards, okay, what happens if we break 50 plates? what happens if we forget to light a hot box? so we kind of backtrack through the whole menu to make sure that we try and minimize those. we have had things like all of a sudden an oven got tired. >> got tired? >> yeah. it's a nice way of putting it. where, you know, we put a french onion soup in the oven and the oven wasn't working. and that's when you have to use
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the resources in the kitchens to produce the food. what we did was we used the pastry ovens. so we're able to minimize any exposure. >> it's very crowded in that ballroom. what's the advice you give to the servers to get through? >> be patient, that's the biggest thing. from my standpoint, i don't see what goes on once they enter the ballroom. because i'm so busy back here. we'll keep working until 11:00 at night, 12:00 at night. whether it be up in the restaurant or room service orders or there's after parties that go on. so from a kitchen standpoint, we're not closing down.
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i'll be here by 5:00 in the morning that morning. only because the anxiety's setting in. you know, i start going through my check list and, you know, double-checking everything that i've done up to that point to make sure i'm ready. it's a long day but at the same time, it's a lot of fun. so getting back to your original question with the servers, that day, we'll feed roughly 1,500 employees in our cafeteria also. so although a lot of people only see the white house correspondents dinner, you've got all the people that have been here all day, housekeepers working hard to turn the rooms over, the bellman, the doorman, all the people working in the restaurant. because restaurant will do probably 3,000 people that day, so if you take all of that, there's a lot more that goes into it than just the white house correspondents dinner. it's actually planning for the
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cafeteria, how can we expedite service, how can we make sure we're able to feed all those employees that are working the white house correspondents dinner. >> 12 years. that means george w. bush and barack obama have been you were two presidents. have you had the chance to meet either one of them? >> no, unfortunately. i hope one day i get a picture with one of the presidents. i think that would be nice. so no, i don't get to meet them. i have seen mrs. obama walk through the kitchen quickly a couple of times, but -- >> on her way to this event or to other events? >> to other events. but that's it. >> what's your biggest worry? >> failure. >> what kind of failure? >> just anything. that i didn't think of something that could go wrong and does go wrong. when you're feeding -- again, it is a high-profile group. every group here, i would say
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half of them are high profile. from a chef's standpoint, you're concerned from, you know, last week, two weeks ago, the groups coming in, maybe get a little less sleep with white house correspondents dinner. but it's a -- you know, i don't stress over it. you didn't know i was 90 so -- i just -- walk through the process, every process, every step that we do that day, i go over it 20, 30 times in my head prior to the function even happening. and that way i'm ready. >> in the creative process, when you say, okay, for the taste test, let's try this, do you -- does this stretch your wings as a chef a little bit? do you get to play a little bit in coming up with the menu?
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>> coming up, the first five years i did it, it was kind of mechanical, so to speak. as a chef, i didn't, you know, push myself to be a little more creative. and i think this year i think people will be very pleased or more pleased maybe than they have been in the past with the creativity that we've put forth. i'm learning. i'm also learning as a chef. i've been doing this for 40 years and every day i walk in here, i learn something new. not a lot of people can say that, but as a chef, you take what you learn every day and you push yourself to learn something new every day. the next day, we're going to try it for 400. we're going to try something different for 1,200 people. and then you get up to the 2,700 people or the 2,000 people and europe trying to be unique and
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different and that's when, you know, you know as a chef that you're doing your job right. >> this is president obama's last year in office, his last white house correspondents dinner. anything to mark that occasion? from your perspective? >> from my perspective, it really is an honor. i'm a military brat. for me, i was raised with respecting the position no matter who it was, democrat or republican. for me, it's really an honor to be here, to be part of the white house correspondents dinner, to be known as the chef that, you know, helped produce this meal, it truly is. >> now, chef andre, your client is not the white house necessarily in this case, your client is the white house correspondents association. >> correct. and shame on me for referring to
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the president. but, you know, i guess i get a litt little, you know, excited that he's here. but the white house correspondents dinner, you know, they're nice people that are on the committee. they want to do the best for the group, the organization. and my job's to make their job a little bit easier. so as a chef, even when i do the menus, what can i do, how can i do it, you know, to make their decisionmaking process a little bit easier. >> this dinner's being held on april 30th, 2016. when will planning for 2017 begin? >> the day after. in all sincerity. what we do as a hotel is we get together, we discuss what went well, what didn't go well what we need to do, whether it be from, you know, we didn't have
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somebody station the in a certain area of the hotel to direct people. or did i not staff enough people in the restaurant kitchen for the business we had for room service or the bar or the restaurant? we go over everything the day after. the day after that, we actually start planning for '17's dinner. so it's nonstop. >> the executive chef here at the washington hilton. on american history tv on c-span 3. >> therefore this committee has undertaken such an investigation. its purpose is not to impair the fbi's legitimate law enforcement but rather to evaluate domestic intelligence accord to the standards of the constitution and the statutes of our land. >> over 40 years ago, a senate
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select committee chaired by frank church, democrat from idaho, was convened to investigate the intelligence activities of the fbi and cia. over the next five weeks, we'll look at portions of the 1975 televised hearings saturday night at 10:00 eastern. the commission questions about illegally stored biological weapons. >> i cannot explain why that quantity was developed except that this was a collaboration that we were engaged in with the united states army and we did develop this particular weapon you might say as a possible -- for possible use. >> on the civil war at 6:00. >> in 1860, the united states was 70 year old. it was not old enough to have wisdom. the lead family at that time had been living in virginia 225 years. i do not think lee thought over
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the decision he mate that april evening. i think that devotion to duty came forth in 1861. his primary duty was to his family. his family had been virginians for over two centuries. the old dominion was lee's birth right. >> historian talks about general robert e. lee, his ties to virginia. sunday morning at 10:00 on road to the white house rewind, the film a private decision chronicles the 1968 presidential race from the first primaries in new hampshire and president johnson's surprise withdrawal through the assassination of robert f. kennedy. at 8:00 on the presidency. >> he was one as a result of that because i think one's ability as the head of the united states, chief of the armed forces of the leading power in the world and very much the leading power in the free world is to think responsibly
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about what one can achieve and to try and define one's policies and to try and understand geopolitics in that light. >> the origins of the cold war and focuses on dwight d. eisenhower as a military man and president. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule, go to c-span.org. next, white house council of economic advisers chair jason furman on the decision to weigh in on the fcc's plan to create a competitive market for set top boxes. the hour long event hosted by the christian science monitor. >> okay. we're going to start and have
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some people join us in progress. thanks for coming. i'm dave cook from from "the monitor." our guest today is jason furman. his last visit here was february 2015. we appreciate his coming back. his first association with the council was in 1996 during the clinton administration we he was still a graduate student at harvard and hired as a staff economist at the council. since then he served as senior adviser to the chief economist at the world bank, as special assistant to president clinton for economic policy at the national economic council, and senior fellow and economic studies and director of the hamilton project at brookings. along the way he earned three degrees. including a doctorate from harvard and one from the london school of economics. he's been a visiting scholar at nyu's wagner graduate school of public service and a visitor lecturer at yale and columbia. in 2008, he was the director for
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president. earlier in the obama administration, our guest was principal deputy director of the national economic council before being named to his current post in june of 2013. and with that, we'll leave behind biography and move to this morning's mechanics. as always, we're on the record here. please, no live blogging or tweeting, in short, no filing of any kind while the breakfast is under way to give us time to actually listen to what our guest says. there's no embargo when the session ends, promptly at 10:00, or 9:59. to help you resist that relentless selfie urge, we'll e-mail several pictures to all the reporters here as soon as the breakfast ends and as regular attendees know, if you'd like to ask a question, please do the traditional thing and send me a subtle, nonthreatening signal, and i'll happily call on one and all. i'll start with giving our guest the opportunity for an opening if we wishes. thanks again for doing that. >> great. thanks for organizing it. thanks for everyone who's here. and we just start out briefly by
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saying we've now seen 73 straight months of private sector job growth, which is the longest streak of job growth we ever had in this country. more than 12 million jobs added by american businesses. but we still need to do more to make sure that more americans are seeing the benefit of the economy, building on the wage gains we've already seen, to see even larger wage gains. in the state of the union, the president began by talking about his economic strategy and talked about the three parts of his economic strategy. the first focused on expanding education and training. the second talked about improving public programs to help people find jobs, help people move from job to job with things like wage insurance and reformed unemployment insurance. and the third part of the strategy he outlined in the state of the union was to make sure that the economy was
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operating on a set of rules of the road. rules of the road that worked for consumers, worked for small businesses and worked for workers. rather than being set up for the large companies. this last week, we took an important step to flesh out that third part of the economic agenda, as outlined in the state of the union. when the president issued an executive order instructing all the agencies to go and look at what they could do to inject more competition into the economy. together with that order, the president weighed in on a proceeding at the fcc and asked the fcc to open up set-top boxes. something we all have sitting in our living room. 99% of us use the cable box that
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we rent from our cable company. people pay an average of $230 a year. after four years, you've paid $1,000 and you have still just rented, don't own it. the price of cable boxes have gone up while the components have gotten cheaper. that's why we asked the fcc to open up boxes so you can buy your own, have greater diversity and choice which we think would lead to innovation. that's just an example. we've done many things like this before. whether it's cell phone unlocking. requiring airlines to free up slots at airports for competitors. or improving competition in defense procurement and agencies will have 60 days to report back with additional ideas along these lines. and the reason we think this is important is because of a range of evidence that the council of economic advisers collected and issued a brief last week by a
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number of different measures, there's less competition in the economy today than there was several decades ago. there's fewer new firms entering. the average firm size is larger. the average market share of firms is larger. the rate of return on capital relative to the safe rate of return is rising. for some firms, rates of return are persistently very high and all of those can both get in the way of efficiency and innovation, for example, set-top boxes, the type of competition you'd like to see to make those boxes better and can also produce greater inequality by raising the prices for consumers or disadvantaging workers. so, happy to talk about, you know, this general set of policies and ideas around competition, what the status is, what we can do about it but obviously anything on the economy more broadly. >> let me start by giving you a chance to respond to critics of the cable decision -- the cable
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industry, the national cable and telecommunications association. i'm not schilling for c-span, you know. but says the white house has injected, quote, politics and inflammatory rhetoric into a regulatory proceeding by what is supposed to be an independent agency and the executive producer of "walking dead," reading "variety" which of course something a guy from the monitor does every morning. says if the fcc goes along with the white house, it will make piracy as easy and as dangerous in the living room as it is on laptops and mobile devices. >> the law makes it very clear that the administration can comment on fcc proceedings. there's a procedure for that which is filing a comment through ntia. that is the procedure that
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previous administrations have used on numerous occasions and this administration has used on numerous occasions. we had a very serious policy conversation about this issue. thought that it was an issue that mattered a lot to consumers and also to innovation and economic growth more broadly. and wanted to share those views and did it in a fully transparent way. we think this is important both because of this particular case. again, i -- it is a fact that the typical household over four years is going to spend about $1,000, not get the improvements in their cable set-top box that we see in, you know, lots of other areas of our technological economy. and won't even own the box at the end of that process. and it's a fact that incumbent
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industries want to defend the tieing of that product to the tieing of the delivery of the cable service when in reality those are two very different products. we wanted to weigh in on that. also wanted to use it as an example of steps that we'd love to see other agencies coming up with that would similarly have tangible, easy to understand benefits for consumers and the economy more broadly. >> do you have a list, sir, or an example or two that you could give us? as you say, you see it as an example in the blog post that you -- you called it the cable thing a mascot for other initiatives. are there examples that you can cite of where you expect to see other pro-competitive decisions taken before the end of the obama administration? >> i don't have forward-looking examples because the agencies are working actively on this
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right now and it's something we'd obviously talk to them about even before the president signed his executive order. in terms of some of the past ones, a good example is cell phone unlocking. whether than having your cell phone tied exclusively to a given carrier, letting you unlock it and use it with different carriers. there was a we the people petition where tens of thousands of americans asked us to something about it. we studied the issue. came out in favor of it. ultimately that required legislation which we championed as well as actions by the fcc and others and now it's easier for you to move your cell phone to a different carriers. that helps if you change, helps you get a better deal, even if you don't change, just the threat you might do it helps restrain prices. airline slots is another one. airlines sitting on slots in airports they weren't using it and using it to foreclose on other airlines being able to compete effectively. d.o.t. required them to give up
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those slots, let other airlines use it and that created more competition in air travel. so those are two of the types of examples that we'd like to see more of going forward. >> i'm going to do one more then we're going to go to howard snyder of reuters to start around the table. do you think tpp is dead, sir? the most likely democratic candidate says i don't believe it's going to meet the high bar i've set. the most likely republican candidate says it was a deal that was designed for china to come in as they always do through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone. >> i do not believe that at all, in fact, i think tpp is very important to our economy. in fact, every year that we delay tpp costs us nearly $100 billion in present value at the foregone benefits that we would
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get from that agreement. the support for it is growing. trade associations, business groups representing businesses from large to small, have consistently come out for it. every week, new groups come out for it. the authority to negotiate that agreement was passed on a bipartisan basis in congress last year. and we hear from a number in congress that understand the importance of getting it done this year. so we're going to continue doing that. it continues to be economically something that we know a majority of members of congress, you know, are in principle open to doing. >> we're going to go to howard snyder from reuters and greg from "usa today." howard? >> two things, labor market oriented and one more real economy. the recent uptick in labor force participation sort of given some confidence that janet yellen's vision of the labor market is fundamentally accurate.
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i'm wondering in your opinion how much farther you think that might go given the demographic drag on participation generally that you've documented. and secondly, i'm interested in your thoughts about the slow sort of tepid growth of the recovery and whether or not that's -- there's a potential upside there to the extent it's being caused by a, you know, the stronger financial regulations that are being put in place and second, the sort of prudential saving that seems to be going on among corporations and households. mortgage rates. people are paying off their mortgages. companies are saving and it seems that that's got the potential to lessen the reliance on external finance in the next recession and perhaps make it shallower, a bit of a buffer. >> those are two great questions. in answer to your first one, it's been really encouraging to see the increase in labor force participation rate. in fact, it's increasing at the fastest rate that it has in over
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30 years. but the underlying demographics as you noted in your question still mean that a larger and larger fraction of our population is going to be over the age of 65. when you do the arithmetic around it, that is about a .3 decline per year in the participation rate just from the aging of the population. above and beyond that, there had been a longstanding many decade downward trend in the participation rate even conditional on age which would take it down a little bit more. i think there's a little bit more space for cyclical recovery in the labor force participation rate. i think it's been especially encouraging to see some of the broader healing in the economy in terms of long-term unemployed and labor force participation and discouraged workers, but i think ultimately, you know,
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we're almost there in terms of the cyclical healing then we'll be left with the demographic trend in that regard. in answer to your second question, i don't think that financial reform has played a big role in recent growth rates. i think it has helped put our economy in a stronger and more sustainable position with $700 billion more in bank capital than we had in 2008. when people go through all the different concerns about the global economy, you know, i think it's encourages that the united states banking system is not on anyone's list and for good reason because we've undertaken reforms that put it in much better shape than it's been in for a long time. but the productivity growth slowdown is something you've seen across a range of economies. some of which did reform their financial systems and some of which didn't.
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so i think something else is going on than financial reform. i think the de-leveraging you referred to of the high savings rates at the corporate level and the individual level was a particularly good and important thing in the first couple years of the recovery but we're now in a position where if you look at households, their interest payments as a shared disposable income is the lowest it's been on record. you look at corporations. they have extremely healthy balance sheets. i think that's all encouraging but it would also be encouraging to continue to see more consumer spending which we have seen over the last year or two but also more business investment which we haven't seen as much of over the last year or two. >> gone too far? >> what? >> it's gone too far? >> i think on the business side there's definitely room for expanded investment beyond and what we've seen. >> greg of "usa today." >> i have a question on two different topics. the first is actually on criminal justice.
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you're participating in an event i guess at the white house next week on this. an op-ped yesterday i think with douglas. you made the case there are economic consequences to criminal justice reform. you certainly laid out the fiscal sort of cost to the taxpayer of this but can you make the case for how criminal justice reform would actually affect the broader economy? >> yeah. so we've gotten involved in criminal justice, precisely because there's a very important economic angle on it. there's many others that are important, too, in terms of values and what type of society we'd want to be but we focus narrowly on the economics and the economics is something that i think there is broad bipartisan agreement on. so doug and i used to spend 2008 debating when he was doing economic policy for the mccain campaign and i was doing it for the obama campaign. i don't think there was a single
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line in the op-ed that we wrote together that the two of us had to argue about. and the event next week, it is at the white house and it's co-hosted by the american enterprise institute which is a right of center think tank and the brennan center at nyu which is a more progressive organization and the speakers will include, again, doug, but also people like arthur brooks and dan lobe from one side of it and you'll be hearing the business and economic case. the issue that a range of researchers found is that, first of all, you know, first of all, making sentences increasingly longer has rapidly diminishing returns in terms of deterring aim careen in terms of keeping someone off the street from committing crimes because older people are much less likely to commit those crimes. at the same time, it can have
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substantial collateral damage. reducing the skills someone has and thus the ability to get a job when they come out which can actually lead to more recidivism and more crime. having a devastating impact on the family of the person, on their children and their economic mobility and economic future. and if you just do without even counting those collateral benefits, council of economic advisers is shortly going to be coming out with a report on this topic and the report finds that if you increase spend -- among other things if you increase spending on incarceration by $10 billion a year would result to net benefits to society that range from negative $8 billion to positive $1 billion. in contrast, increased spending on police, increased wages including through a higher minimum wage, increased education, all have positive net
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benefits in terms of just their impact on crime reduction. >> but can you give me a percent of gdp that criminal justice -- can you measure what the benefits of this would be? >> i can't give you -- i don't have a bottom line percent of gdp but can do very rigorously -- we do cost benefit all the time. when we do regulatory and other budget analysis and we worked out very carefully if you spend an extra $10 billion in this area, you end up most likely worse off, not better off in terms of the cost of it. the other thing i'd note is you look at the percentage of men between the age of 25 and 54 in our country who aren't in the labor force. you know, they're not in a job and not looking for a job. in the 1950s, it was 3% of men 25 to 54 weren't in the labor force. now it's 12% of men. it's increased fourfold. it's increased much more in the united states than almost any other advanced economy. you ask what makes us different from the other advanced
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economies, it's mass incarceration in the united states of a top you don't see in any of the other ocd countries, and appears to have played a role in the fact that a large fraction of the people who could be contributing productively to our economy are not doing so today. >> and then on competition, there's also proposal before the fcc by broadcasters to open up some spectrum for them to do 40 tv and interactives and those kinds of things. it sounds a little bit like what you're trying to accomplish with the set top box proposal. why not -- would the administration weigh in on that? the broader question of that is, would, in adopting these pro-competitive policies do you risk picking winners and losers in picking one industry or technology over another? >> so that's not something we've weighed in on although we have played a role in spectrum policy
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including championing the legislation that created two-sided spectrum auctions that is going to happen this year which is going to buy up spectrum from broadcasters who willingly relinquish it and sell it to people who place a higher value on it mostly in mobile broadband. we did weigh in on the rules for the spectrum options to make sure they were consistent with promoting competition. and competition policy is precisely the opposite of picking winners and losers. it's about creating a set of rules such that there's competition and then the winners in set top boxes will be picked by consumers. they'll be what the set top boxes that consumers want to use that have made themselves cheaper or better in some way. as opposed to the current system where the rules essentially ordain who those winners are.
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>> we're going to go next to sheryl from "bloomberg." >> the competition executive order, when that first came out, i had trouble with some of the business groups getting a read on that, whether that was going to be good for them or not. the order seemed to indicate that some regulations might be eliminated but then it also sounded like a lot of agencies were going to be doing some rule makings. so in terms of the regulatory outlook for businesses, what should they -- how should they read this executive order? >> this executive order will be good for the economy and a lot of things that are good for the economy are, you know, good for existing businesses. in some cases, you're trying to do something that might take away from market power of an incumbent business and create opportunities for new competitors and for small businesses. that will be good for the small
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businesses, it will be good for the new competitor. i think ultimately that competition leads to more innovation by, you know, all businesses as well. >> so do you anticipate a lot of new regulations this year? >> you know, in some cases we anticipate -- yeah, we anticipate a number of actions to come out of this and as i said, we had -- the nec led a process that involved talking to a number of the agencies before this executive order was issued. so we have some ideas as to what might be coming. some of that work had already begun and it's certainly intensified since the order. i wouldn't describe it as regulations. in some cases, cell phone unlocking was in a way getting rid of -- i put these under the heading of more regulation, but whatever steps you can take to
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create more competition. in fact, sometimes, if you look at, one we have encouraged states to look a hard look at but not something we have a federal nexus at, occupational licenses. 5% of occupations you used to need a license, a doctor or lawyer. now it's up to 25%. that makes it harder to move across states and harder to move between jobs and can disadvantage consumers. that would be an example of where we think you should be getting rid of those regulations to create more competition. sometimes incumbents can use their power to create a barrier to entry. another example would be local land use restrictions is a regulation that we'd like to see less of. we think if you had less of it, you'd have more mobility or competition. this isn't more regulation or less. this is more competition. >> we're going to go next to alexa from "real clear politics." >> jason, as you know, the speaker and his conference are going to put forward an issues
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agenda which they hope to do before the fall. and part of it is going to be tax reform. there's a pent up interest on both sides of the aisle. i wanted to ask you, do you think that the effort that the speaker is making is going to be helpful to the debate about tax reform which will be engaged next year and beyond? or do you see it as mostly political, you know, trying to provide some specifics to the candidates. how do you look at the effort that they've made? >> i think it's always good we people put out policy ideas and are specific about those policy ideas. in some cases, those policy ideas help advance, you know, an issue. in some cases, they clarify a choice and help sharpen a debate, so, you know, so that you can have that debate in the legislative process and decide. i'm obviously not privy to the
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details he's going to release but i think anything that continues a conversation on a substantive policy level is important. on business tax reform, chairman camp had put out his proposal i guess about a year and a half ago and i thought that was very helpful and constructive for the debate. it had a number of good elements. it had a number of problematic elements. and, you know, just even at a technical level, it helped address a number of issues. on tax reform in general, i think the big question is, are we addressing a genuine economic problem we have in this country which is a tax rate for businesses that's too high, combined with businesses able to take advantage of too many loopholes. or are we trying to cut taxes for high income individuals and raise their after-tax incomes and potentially do that at the expense of the deficit? if it's the former which is about our competitiveness and
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creating a level playing field businesses can succeed on, i think that's something promising for the future. if it's a way to cut taxes for high income individuals and raise the deficit, i don't think that's going anywhere this year or beyond. >> just to follow up on, just because i'm curious, you know everyone in the clinton campaign on the economic side, policy people. how often do you talk to them? how often do they consult you or seek the information that the cea has put together? >> you know, in my problem, i have nothing to do with the campaign, but, you know, certainly enjoyed going to a wedding this past weekend of my former chief of staff -- >> schumer. >> -- i don't remember at that wedding talking about a whole lot of economic policy issues. >> so you don't talk to them. they're not consulting you? >> i have friends. i have ongoing conversations with friends.
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>> and you try to be helpful. >> i don't -- i really have spent a lot of time on campaigns in the past and i'm completely thrilled not to be on one now. >> we're going to go to angela keen from "bloomberg" next. angela? >> go back to the biggest economic picture. there's been obviously a lot of good news in the labor market. you talked about some of the downsize wages and employment, but overall a lot of good numbers. but at the same time we see some very concerning trends in manufacturing and housing. what would you say, if you were to write the story, turn the tables, you're the one writing the lead, how do you see things right now? >> the u.s. has been the biggest success story of any of the economies in the world in rebounding from the financial crisis. and our growth continues to be
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considered by people around the world as one of the bright spots in the global economy. the unemployment rate has consistently come in below expectations. it's been accompanied by a broader healing in labor markets. wages are up at the fastest they've been since the financial crisis. i think the biggest concern that i face is the impact the rest of the world will have on the u.s. economy. trade is subtracting. you know, the slowdown in our exports to the rest of the world which is a function of slower growth in the rest of the world is taking about three-quarters of a point off of our growth rate right now. so this isn't enough to have a massive change on the u.s. economy, but it is a, you know, persistent drag on the economy. you know, a sector like housing i actually think is one of the bright spots in the economy. an area where you have a lot of potential. you're certainly right in the
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last month you saw housing starts and permits fall but over the last year starts and permits are both up so it's a volatile series. i wouldn't look from month to month. i'd look over a period of like a year. we're still building less than the number of houses i would expect us, that we need as a country demographically. so housing i think is actually a bright spot in the economy. manufacturing is facing a challenge. that is very much a function of it's an industry that disproportionately relies on exports and when the rest of the world is weaker, you have a harder time exporting. manufacturing, again, big picture has rebounded to a sizable extent in the economy. sectors like autos have been particularly successful in part because of the actions we've taken but until we see stronger growth around the world, it's going to be hard for american manufacturers. >> one other topic. social security. you mentioned you see it as having a relatively strong future.
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there was a no-labels lunch yesterday that some people around this table were at, huntsman and lieberman spoke and one of their many targets for the next administration is social security. they have a plan to address this same crisis. they're looking at the numbers you're looking at and see it very differently. how do you address that? >> i didn't see what they did yesterday so i can't comment on that but social security has sufficient resources to pay full benefits for decades to come and thereafter to pay about three-quarters of benefits. it has certainly been this administration's view that it's better to act sooner rather than later to deal with it. we put out a set of bipartisan principles for dealing with social security years ago and it's something the president would have been happy to have done. it's not the most urgent issue facing the country. there's getting the economy to recover, getting productivity
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growth up, getting the labor force participation rate up. getting inequality down. all of these are, you know, much more urgent and pressing issues. also we'd say when you're dealing with social security, i don't think you want to frame it, you know, solely in terms of solvency and green eye shades. i think you want to look at what we're trying to accomplish which is we've been enormously successful at reducing poverty among the elderly but you still have higher poverty rates for the old old, people over the age of about 65, for single women. you have a lot of aspects of the program that were based around, you know, patterns of work and family that have long since passed. i think when you think about social security, you really want to make sure you're thinking about how it can better serve
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fundamental goals like poverty, retirement and security and fit into the modern framework of work and family, not just, you know, maniacally focus on solvency. >> mr. lane from the hill? >> i know in the city address the president said he'd like to work on some sort solve anti-poverty measure, that would be an area of bipartisan agreement or work between him and speaker ryan and actively sought out and pointed him out and said this is something we can work on together. i just want to know has there been any work between them on this? have they been engaged at all? if there's any sort of groundwork being laid to move on something? >> the president certainly highlighted that he and the speaker have the same proposal to expand the earned income tax credit for workers without qualifying children either because they don't have children or because they're noncustodial parents. this would help address a perversity in our system that
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right now you can be in poverty and we actually tax you deeper into poverty. instead, the tax code for people without qualifying children should do what it does for people with children which is if you're in poverty, help lift you out of poverty rather than push you deeper into it. it is a commonsensical idea. that the president proposed a number of years ago. the speaker adopted that proposal on something we could work together on. i -- we certainly have conversations with the speaker's office about a very wide range of policy issues. we're always looking for ways to cooperate. but i think, you know, at some point, you know, they're going to need to decide -- legislation on tax issues gets an initiated in the house of representatives and so they're going to need to decide is this something they want to initiate, is this something they want to initiate in a manner that's not paid for by doing damage elsewhere to

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