tv Capital News Today CSPAN January 11, 2011 11:00pm-2:00am EST
legislature, by the way, on an education reform package which created a permanent interdistrict public to protect public school choice program. we approved 6 new charter schools in new jersey, a small first up, but with many more to come. and sen. the past of fiscal 2011 budget which restored some sense of fiscal sanity. it required spending cuts from every department of state government, but we closed that $11 billion budget gap without raising taxes on the people of new jersey. [applause] bus importantly we took action on the problem which the people of new jersey had been crying not for us to solve, the growth of their property taxes. we capped that growth at 2% per year. then we made the cap real by
limiting interest arbitration role -- interest arbitration awards to 2% as well. new jersey has gone from being a basket case to being a national model. the same newspapers that thought we were in deep trouble are now telling a very different story. one said, we have taken the first death in a very new direction. another now says, new jersey is setting a national example. so make no mistake -- other states are watching what we do here. will we turn back because the road is too hard? or will we press on because the future is too important? new jersey is getting recognized for taking on the tough issues that other politicians have refused to touch. we are showing other states that sometimes, to create real change, you've got to go all in and show little jersey attitude.
-- show a little jersey attitude. [applause] and this month, new governors are taking office across the country, republicans and democrats, using new jersey as the example of how they want to lead. the stakes are high. for example illinois has chosen a very different path benares. they are in the throes of debating a 75% increase in income tax rates. is that what we want for new jersey? no. new jersey intends to remain the leader, not only in turning around the national trend of out-of-control spending and taxes, but in finding the path to growth. on every one of these topics we
have more and bigger things to do. we need to balance the budget again. we need to put the unemployment insurance fund on a long-term sustainable path. we need much bigger and bolder education reform and we need steps to save our pension system. and we need to enact the entire tool kit which will help us stem the growth of property taxes. so have no doubt -- we are not turning back, not on my watch. [applause] before i turn to the future, to the task ahead, i want to make two comments. first, who would have thunk it?
if five or the senate president or the speaker had told you a year ago that by december we would have a 2% hard cap on property taxes and a 2% hard cap on interest arbitration awards, you would of sold all three of us we were crazy. here we are with both caps in law. [applause] how did this happen? people stood up for their principles on the one hand, but listened to the people who sent us here on the other. that is the model for the way forward. we must fight hard for what we believe in, but in the end, we must do the people's work. by second comment is to say to this legislature and to the public watching or listening today, thank you. we have not always agreed and we have not always gotten exactly what we wanted, but we have
achieved compromise and the people of new jersey are better off as a result. one year ago at my inauguration, i invited the senate president and the speaker to engage in a symbolic handshake of cooperation -- a commitment to worry less about who is getting credit and more about doing something worth getting credit for. today i want to thank these people both for using this last year of action to begin to restore the public's faith in bipartisan government. thank you both. the change we are working to achieve for new jersey is transformational. so far we have changed the terms
of the debate. you know a lot has changed when the people of the state vote down a record number of school budgets even though 70% of the money in school a elections was spent by the teachers union advocating even higher spending. you know the debate has changed when my friends across the aisle propose legislation and adopt legislation highlighting the need for tax cuts to stimulate economic growth. a year ago they were advocating tax increases. you know our direction has changed when the teachers union starts talking about tenure reform. and you know the world as change when we can come together and actually begin to reform the pension and benefit system in a nearly unanimous vote last march. so there can be no question -- the debate in trenton has changed. we have turned trenton upside down.
[applause] but now we cannot -- we must take the next set. we must make even bigger changes if new jersey is to be a place where families can choose to live and work and can afford to live and work. it is traditional in state of the state messages to provide a long list of initiatives for the year ahead, to touch on every plan for every department of state government. it will come as no shock to all of you that today i am going to break with that tradition. i want to highlight not the small things, but the major challenges that our state has ignored for too long and now we must confront now. for new jersey, it is time to do the big things. for this year, the biggest things fall in three categories. one, we must take to the course
of fiscal discipline. two, we must fix our pension and health benefit system in order save them. and three, we must reform our schools to make them the best in the neck -- in america. on these three, what is at stake is no less than the future of new jersey. you see, we are in a global competition, and you know we are in a competition among the states. if we cannot shed regulations, reduce spending, and hold the line on taxes, we cannot attract and create the jobs our citizens so desperately need. if we cannot make the promises of our pension system more realistic, there will be no pensions for those who have earned them. and if we cannot repair our schools, our people will not be ready for the jobs of the future. so our work, ladies and gentlemen, is far from finished. here is where we must go in
2011. on the big things, the things that really matter. first, we must continue the process of getting our fiscal house in order. we did achieve balance in fiscal year 2011, but our long-term deficit problem is far from solved. it took years, indeed decades, to build up, so it cannot be solved in one year. so let's be clear. we cannot continue to spend money we do not have. we cannot print money and we cannot run deficits. so we have to continue to make some very tough decisions about what we can afford and what we cannot. next month, i will present to you my budget for fiscal year 2012. i will guarantee you this, if it will be balanced, and it will not raise taxes. [applause]
now one order for that to be true, we need to better control our medicaid and health care costs. we need to continue to examine the amount and structure of municipal and school aid programs. and we need every department of state government to start from the bottom up and plan not what they want to cut from last year, but to advocate only what they absolutely must fund for this year. when i talk of controlling spending, i am doing it for a reason. i am not proposing to cut spending just for cutting s sake. i am fighting this fight because we have to be truthful about
what we cannot afford, whether it is health and pension benefits which are out of line with the rest of the country, or a tunnel which we simply cannot pay for. i am asking for shared sacrifice so that when we leave here, new jersey will be more fiscally sound than when we got here. i am asking for shared sacrifice in cutting what we do not need so that we can invest in what we absolutely do need. last week, former governor kean submitted the report of his commission on higher education in which he made clear that our system of colleges and universities are essential to our economic growth. governor kean was right and i thank him for his commissioner'' report. i also last week outlined needed plans for continuing to invest in new jersey's transportation infrastructure, which we need to be world-class for both jobs and competitiveness. but if we are to fund these investments in the future, we
have to control the costs in other programs. we need to make cuts in programs that have been shown not to work in order to make investments that will build a more productive tomorrow. some people say that getting spending under control and reforming the budget is the third rail of politics. i am here to tell you i am not afraid to touch it, in fact i embrace it, because it has been said, opportunity expands in proportion to ones courage. i am asking you to join me in cutting the popular in order to fund the necessary. and i will go further than that. it is one thing just to say no to higher taxes after decades of tax increases, 115 in the last 10 years alone. if new jersey is it truly become a home for growth, we need to reform the taxes we place on business and individuals and we need to begin to roll them back.
so any comprehensive tax reform, and by that i mean changes that are considered together, not in a piecemeal approach. in my budget next month, i will propose the initial installment of such a package. but let's be clear -- we will not put in place tax cuts that we cannot pay for. any economic incentive package that i will sign will be enacted in that context, and only in that context, the context of a constitutionally balanced budget. the second big issue we must tackle this year is our antiquated and unsustainable pension and benefit system. this cloud hangs over us and
almost every other state in the union. it is one of the reasons new jerseyans pay the highest property taxes in america. bill is 75% -- 3 out of $4 of our state's municipal and county budgets are driven by personnel and labor costs. but without the reform, pension and health care benefit costs will increase by more than 40% over the next four years. without reform, the unfunded liability of our pension system will grow, from $54 billion today to a staggering $183 billion within 30 years. without reform, the required annual pension contribution by the state will grow to over $13 billion annual over the same time period. but put that in perspective.
$13 billion a year. that is more than the state now spends each year on its entire system of public education. in pension and benefit costs. the choice is clear -- reform today or risk a disaster tomorrow. without reform, the beneficiaries of the system face a high risk of catastrophe which would place all of their benefits at risk. so again i am not proposing pension and benefit reforms just to be tight-fisted. i am proposing pension reform for the police officers who have served and the chair did for many years, but who may find nothing when they retire a decade from now. i am proposing pension reform for the firefighters who every day put their lives on the line to serve the public and have the right to expect that when the time comes, the public will serve them. i am proposing pension reform
for the teachers who put in the extra hours every day to help their students. we now must put in the extra hours to ensure the system is -- the system is solvent for them. the pension and benefit reforms have put forward are sensible and straightforward. we must modestly raise the retirement age in an era of longer life expectancy. we must curb the effect of cola's's in the time of low or no inflation. we must ensure a modest but acceptable contribution from employees toward their own retirement system. and finally, if we can make real reform a reality, the state must also began to make its pension contributions.
without reform, the problem we face is simple. benefits are too rich, contributions are too small, and the system is on a path to bankruptcy. a recent independent study found that the pension funds of 11 states will be out of money by 2020, just 9 years from today. new jersey is one of those states. that is an unacceptable outcome to me. so to every beneficiary of the system, i am fighting for your pension's existence. and for the member of the legislature, i say, please join me in doing so. now as a part of negotiation on interest arbitration, the leadership of the legislature promised to take up this necessary package of pension and benefit reforms. now's the time for us to finish what we started last march.
we should pass this package now. and if you do, i will immediately sign it into law. the third critical action item for this year, perhaps the biggest thing of all, is education reform. we cannot ask children and families stuck in chronically failing public schools to wait any longer. it is not acceptable that a child who is neglected in a new jersey school must accept it because of their zip code. we must give parents and children a choice to attend better schools. now why do i say this? let me tell you a story. at the years ago, as the united states attorney, i visited the robert trent academy in newark.
like those in many charter schools, a slots in this charter school -- because it has been so successful, and because we do not have enough charter schools -- are limited. so the slots are allocated by lottery. near the end of my visit, i asked a mother of one of the students how she felt on the night her son was in the lottery. the way she framed the issue was so simple and in so many ways tragic. she told me, whether her son was chosen for the lottery meant the difference between him going to college or going to jail. that is what she believed. over 100,000 students just like that one are trapped in nearly 200 failing public schools in the state. this is an awful situation, it is obscene, it is unacceptable in new jersey, and we must change it now.
phfft we made some progress this year with the interdistrict choice bill, with the expansion of charter schools, and with mark zucker per's landmark $100 million gift to newark. i want to thank mark zuckerberg, and i look forward to continuing my work with mayor cory booker to reform newark schools. we've got a lot " -- we have got a lot of work to do, cory.
but we need to tell those children and their families, trapped in these failing schools, that we are coming. so before this legislature goes home for the political season, we need to give them more help toward improvement, more hope, and more choice. our commitment to these principles is why i have asked, and i am honored to have, my friend, former d.c. schools chancellor, michelle rhee in the chamber today. no one in america has been more clear that we must change our public education system from one that caters to the feelings of
adults to one that prepares our children for the 21st century. michelle, thanks for coming today, and i want you to count new jersey among those who like you are finally putting students first. thank you, michelle. we must expand the charter school program beyond the six we approved this year and the 73 operating in new jersey. that is a top priority. i am ready to work with you to attract the best charter school operators in america to new jersey. to increase our authorizing capacity so they can store more tour schools here. to implement the interdistrict school " choice law we passed last year. and to send help now to a children and their families in failing schools by finally
passing the bi-partisan opportunity scholarship act without any further delay. overall, statewide per pupil spending in new jersey is the highest in the nation, at over $17,600 per student. but our results in terms of achievement are not number one, and they are not uniformly excellent or in many cases even acceptable. in multiple categories and at multiple grade levels, the gap between at-risk students and those not at risk have not changed little in years, and it is way too high. now we must end the myth that more money equals better achievement. it is a failed legal theory, and
we can no longer waste our children's time or the public's money waiting for it to work. we're running out of time. we are running out of time. the time for real reform is now. here's what we have to do. first, we must empower principals. second, we must reform poor- performing public schools or we must close them. we must cut out classroom costs and focus our efforts on teachers and children. i propose that we reward the best teachers based on merit at the individual teacher level. i demand that layoffs, when they occur, be based on a merit system and not merely on
seniority. i am committed to improving the measurement and evaluation of teachers, and i have an expert task force of teachers, principals, and administrators working on that issue right now. and perhaps the most important step in that process is to give schools more power to remove underperforming teachers. the time for a national conversation on tenure is long past due. teaching that no longer be the only profession where you have no rewards for excellence and no consequences for failure. but new jersey lead the re again. the time to eliminate teacher tenure is now.
let's be frank. these issues are difficult. the process of cutting the budget, of being realistic about pension and health benefits, and of reforming our schools will get harder before the results make them seem easy. no doubt in the months ahead, we will have to fight. some might even say that i have been too ready for a fight. [laughter] that my approach has been too tough or too combative. i've heard that somewhere. but that is for reason. it is because the fight is important. it is vital. the reality is i will fight when it matters. it matters because i have seen what so many new jersey families are dealing with every day. for them this is not about politics. this is about their life.
i fight when the issues are big, when it matters the most. sometimes that means we will not agree. sometimes you will oppose my proposals and sometimes i will oppose yours. sometimes i might even be the one of your bills. but when i do so, rest assured it will be because i genuinely believe it is in the best interest of the people of new jersey. 150 years ago, after his election and before his inauguration, abraham lincoln spoke here in this building, in the statehouse in trenton. on that day, speaking to a legislature controlled by the other party, lincoln said this. it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly. and if i do my duty and do
right, you will sustain me, will you not? receive design them by the members of the legislature, the majority of whom do not agree me in -- i agree with me in political sentiments, i trust that i may have their assistance in piloting the ship of state through this voyage, surrounded by perils as it is. for if it should suffer attack now, there will be no pilot ever needed for another voyage. our challenges are different today, but our resolve and must be the same. then as now, what is at stake is our future. 22 years ago, another american leader spoke to his people. famously he was about big things. he focused on major change in the direction of the country. it was ronald reagan, one of my personal heroes come and on this day in 1989 he gave his farewell address to the nation. he talked about america standing
for freedom, not for the first time, but rediscovering it. let me tell you -- that is what is going on in new jersey right now. we are rediscovering it. we do not have to reinvent our state. we already have a diverse and highly educated work force, a phenomenal pace of infrastructure, and a state with physical beauty and tremendous talent. today we in new jersey must rediscover our strengths and put them to work on behalf of our people. reagan also pointed out in that speech that once you begin a great movement, there is no telling where it will in. in the last year, we have begun a new movement in new jersey, of movement back to our roots, back to economic dynamism and growth, back to pride in our state. now we cannot say today where it will lead and all they will come of it. but we know that the path of
change is better than the path of stagnation that we were on. i was determined when i took the oath of this office to give the people and nonsense but -- an honest assessment of our problems. to tell them the truth even if it was difficult and my proposed solutions or at times unpopular. and this day i ask that i be measured by the standard. i always did what i said i was going to do. [applause] i may not offer the easiest course, but i will be direct in sing which course i believe is best. our nation and our state face
major challenges ahead. but those of us entrusted to serve the public have the chance to stand up and fight for what really needs to be done at this critical time in our history. so today, we cannot turn back. we owe it to the people of new jersey to press on, to fight hard when it really matters and to work every die create a real hope for a brighter future. for president reagan spoke of america as a shining city on a hill. i believe new jersey can once again be a beacon, a national leader in everything from economic growth to education and a wonderful place to prosper, to run a business and raise the family. and my commitment to you today is to fight alongside each and every one of you to make it so. thank you. god bless new jersey, and god bless america.
this is half an hour. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> ladies and gentlemen, it's my privilege to present to you the lieutenant governor of the state of indiana becky skillman. [applause] >> members of the joint assembly pursuant to section 13 of the indiana constitution, the indiana general assembly is
assembly, hoosiers friends and neighbors, thank you yet again for the privilege of this podium. for most of us one of the strongest memories of our youth is that great schoolteacher, that magical man or woman that somehow reached us and stretched us and in the process left indelible recollections. for me one of those was bob watson still today mr. watson to me who introduced us to the mysteries of the periodic table in high school chemistry. in addition to mixing possessions that suddenly turn purple and terrifying pop quizes, mr. watson was famous for his aforisms that his student still smile and recite them decades later. and the most frequently applied of all watson's wisdom was,
good things comes to those who wait. patience is the essence of life. patience does not come easyly to a teenager or to adults for that matter. at the grocery store, the airport scanner or the b.m.v., none of us likes to wait. like all americans, hoosiers are waiting tonight for a national economic recovery. far too many are without work and even worse than their number is how long many have been waiting, waiting for that next job, waiting for the basic human fulfillment of knowing you're spanning on your own feet, providing for your family. the deep frustration of unemployed hoosiers is shared with us shared with public duty. the best effort for anyone's state to break free of recession's suffocating clutch are never adequate and we can't wait for better times. building one of the best job
climates in the country isn't enough. breaking the all-time record for new job commitments isn't enough. adding new jobs that twice the national average isn't enough. we did all those things in 2010. but it couldn't offset the terrible drag of a national economic ebb tide. we hoosiers don't like to wait when we can act. if we cannot overcome a nationwide job hemorrhage we can fight back better than others. again, in 2010 we broke all records for bridge building and road building. as the final installment of our 2008 property tax cuts took affect, hard-pressed hoosier home and business honers found an additional $6 million still in their bank accounts. tonight, because of our action,
indiana property taxes are the lowest anywhere in america. [applause] >> and thanks to a ringing 72% verdict by our fellow citizens who voted in referendum to protect those cuts and constitution are going to stay that way. [applause] >> and in the clearest example of hoosier resolve, we handled a $2 billion drop in state revenues as any family would, as any small business would. we decided what is most important, separated the must-dos from the nice-to-dos and match spending to income. across the country, state spending despite the recession is still up sharply the last
six years. but here, it is virtually flat, 1/3 the rate of inflation. elsewhere, state government payrolls have grown, but here, we have the nation's few estate employees per capita, fewer than we did in 1978. during this terrible recession, at least 35 states raise taxes, but indiana cut them. since 2004, the other 49 states added to their debt by 40%. we paid ours down by 40%. many state exhaust that any reserves they may have had and plunged into the red but our savings account remains strong and our credit triple a. what we did in 2008 and 2009 and 2010, we will do again this year. we will take the actions necessary to limit state spending to the funds available. we will protect struggling
taxpayers against the additional burden of higher taxes. we will continue improving our jobs climate by holding the line on taxes as our competitors take the easy way and let theirs rise. we say tonight, whatever course others may choose, here in indiana, we live within our means. we fut private sector ahead of government, the taxpayer ahead of everyone where and we will stay in the black whatever it takes. [applause] >> in two days, i will send a disassembly of a proposed project for the next bennium. i welcome your improvements so
long as they up hold our beliefs. number one, no tax increases. can i hear an amen to that? [applause] >> two, we must stay in the black at all times with positive reserves at a prudent level throughout the time period. three, the budget must come into structural balance meaning that no later than its second year annual revenues must exceed spending with no need of any use of our savings account. four, no gimmicks. we put an end to practices like rating teacher pension funds and shifting state deficits to our schools and universities by making them wait until the state had the cash to pay them. that's a form of waiting we should never impose again. and to hasten the return of an even stronger fiscal position, i again ask you to vote for
lasting spending discipline by enacting an automatic taxpayer refund. when the day comes again when state reserves exceed 10% of annual needs, it will be time to stop collecting taxes and leave them with the people they belong to. remember what the hoosier philosopher said. it's tainted money. taint yours and taint mine. [laughter] [applause] >> beyond some point, it is far better to leave dollars in the pockets of those who earned them than to let them burn a hole as they always do in the pockets of government. [applause] >> doing the people's business while living within the people's means is our fundamental duty and public
service. redrawing our legislative lines without gerrymandering and adjusting an unemployment system are other examples of duties we must meet this year. i know you'll do so head on. so we had a little election last november. it changed a few things like the seating arrangement until this chamber. one thing it didn't change at all, our common duty to take every action possible to make this a better state, a more progressive state, a standout in special and distinctive state. that election like all elections was not a victory for one side, it was an instruction to us all. it was not an endorsement of a political party. it was an assignment to everyone present. by it self-it established nothing -- itself it
accomplished nothing. together we must step through door together. helped by the nation's most respected expert as bipartisan task force of police, judges and others fashion to changes to see the lawbreakers are incarcerated in a greater way to their true danger in sofmente question be tougher and protect hoosiers more securely bi-while saving a billion -- while saving a billion dollars. let's seize this opportunity without waiting. [applause] >> two years ago the bipartisan commission led by two of indiana's most admired leaders presented to us a blueprint to bring indiana local government out of the pioneer days in which it was created and into
the modern. of their 27 proposal seven have been enacted. that leave as lot of work to do. and indiana is waiting. some of the changes are so obvious that our failure to make them is a daily embarrassment, that conflict of interest when double dipping county workers sit on city and county council interrogating the city councils and deciding their own salaries must end. the same goes for nepotism that leads to one or four employees with the politician who hired them. township government should not exist in most states made some sense on the indiana frontier. many township lines were laid out to accommodate the round trip distance a horse could travel in a day. we've come a little ways since then. today, over 4,000 politicians, few of them known to the voters they represent run over 1,000 different township governments.
they are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars in reserves. some have eight years of spending needs stashed in the bank, yet they keep collecting taxes. some townships are a wash-in money while the township next door does not have enough to provide relief to its needy citizens. adjacent townships each buy expensive new fire trucks when one would suffice to cover them both. those suffering in township government are good people and well motivated. we thank them for their service. our problem lies not with those holding all these offices but with the antique system that keeps them there. i support the clear and simple recommendation of the shepherd recommendation that would remove this venerable and obsolete government to city and county officials. likewise -- [applause]
>> somewhere short of an amen. [laughter] >> likewise, our strange arrangement of a three-headed county executive should change. no business has three c.e.o.s. no football team has three head coaches. no military unit would think of having three co-equal commanding officers. we should join the rest of america and move into a single elected county commissioner working with a strengthened legislative branch, the county council to make decision-making, accountable implementation stwift -- swift and efficient. i look forward to constructive legislation in bringing reform about. the only outcome that's
unacceptable is no action at all. hoosiers have waited for decades for our governmental design to catch up. let's not keep them waiting any longer. in no realm is our opportunity longer than in the critical task of educating our children. the chance for achieving it is so enormous tonight that opportunity rises to the level of duty. advocates of change in education are accustomed to being misrepresented. if you challenge the fact that 42 cents of the education dollar are somehow spent outside the classroom, you must not respect school board. if you wonder why doubling spending didn't produce any gains in student achievement, you must be criticizing teachers. if your heartbreaks at the parade of young permanently handicap by a school that leads
them unprepared for the school of work combloust be anti-schools. so let's start by affirming once again that our call for major change in our system of education like that of president obama, his education secretary, so many others is rooted in a love for our schools, for those who run them and those who teach in them. but it is rooted most deepfully a love for the children whose very lives and futures depend on the quality of learning they either do or do not acquire while in our schools. nothing matters more than that. nothing compares to that. [applause]
>> some seek change on economic grounds. and they are right to wind and hold anna family supporting jobs. i have seen the future competition. every time i go abroad in search of new jobs for our state and the young people of japan, korea, taiwan, china let me tell you those kids are good. they ought to be. they're in school not 180 days, a year like here but 220, 210, 230 days a year. by the end of high school, they have benefited from two or three years more education than hoosier students. along the way they've taken harder classes. it won't be easy to win jobs away from them. it's not just tomorrow's jobs that are at stake. the quality of indiana education matters right now. we are courting a new business right behind taxes, the cost of
energy, reasonable regulation, transportation facilities, schools. what kind of school will my children and my workers children attend? the question we're always asked. sometimes in some places it -- the cost of jobs is no plan to wait. in 1999, indiana past a law that said schools must either improve the results or be taken over by new management. the little one who is entered first grade then full of hope and promise are 18 now. in the worst of our districts, half of them will not be graduating. god bless and keep them wherever they are and whatever life now holds for them, for those children we waited too long. and it's not just about the most failing of our schools. the last couple of years have seen some encouraging advances
after years of stagnation but the brute facts exist. only 1-3 of our children can pass the national math and reading exam. we trail behind most states and even more foreign countries on measures like excellence in math. at the recent rate of improvement, it will take 21 years for us to catch slow veen yeah and that's if slow veen yeah stands still. that's too long to wait. that's too much futures to lose. in every discussion, someone says this is very complicated. then someone says, well, these changes won't be perfect. and then you hear, the devil is in the details. it's all true. but we can no longer let complexity be an excuse for inaction, nor imperfection the enemy of the good. when it comes to our children's future, the real devil is not in the details, he's in the delay and 2011 is the year the
delay must end. [applause] >> we know what works. it starts with teacher quality. teacher quality has been found to be 20 times more important than any other factor including poverty in determining which kid succeeds. class size by comparison is virtually meaningless. put a great teacher in front of a large class and you can expect good results. put a poor teacher in front after a small class, do not expect the kids to learn. in those asian countries i mentioned, classrooms of 35
students are common and they're beating our sox off. we won't have done our duty here until every single indiana youngster has a good teacher every single year. today, 99% of indiana teachers are rated effective. if that were true, 99% not 1/3 of our students would be passing those national tests. today's teachers make more money not because their students learn more but just by living longer and putting another certificate on the wall. they're jobs are protected not by any record of great teaching but simply by seniority. we have seen teachers of the year laid off just because they weren't old enough. this must change. we have waited long enough. teachers should have tenure. but they should earn it but proving their ability to help kids learn. our best teachers should be
paid more, much more and ineffective teachers should be helped to improve or asked to move. today, the outstanding teacher that mr. watson whose kids are pushed and led to do their best is treated no better than the worst teacher in the school. that is wrong. for the sake of fairness and the sake of our children it simply has to end. we have waited long enough. [applause] >> we're beginning to hold our school leaders accountable for the only thing that really matters. did the children grow? did the children learn? starting this year schools will get their own grades in a form we can all understand, a to f. there be nowhere to hide behind jargon and gibberish.
it is only fair to give our school leadership the flexibility to deliver the results we now expect. already, i have ordered our board of education to peel away necessary requirements that don't contribute to learning. whatever their good intentions i am a supporter of preventing mosquito borne disease, but the local school board thinks time spent on these mandated courses interferes with the teaching of english or mathematics, is to be their right to eliminate them from a crowded school day. they go too far when they dictate the color of the teachers lounge or who can monitor res says or on what days the principle is allowed to hold a staff meeting.
we must free them from the handcuffs that reduce their ability to meet the higher expectations we need for achievement purd. lastly, we must begin to honor the parents of indiana. we must trust them, and respect we must trust the parent and have to decide when and how the children can receive the best education. offering. a significant fraction of our students complete, or could complete, their graduation requirements in well under 12 years. we should say to these diligent young people and their families, if you choose to finish in 11 years instead of 12 we will give you the money
we will give you the money we were going to spend what you cruise through 12th grade as long as you spend it on some form of further education. three out of four said they would like to have that option. let's empower them to defray the high cost of education through their own hard work by entrusting them with this new and innovative choice. another new kind of tochis has come to parents over the last couple of years. families are able to choose public schools outside the districts they preside in. schools have touted their graduation rates and higher test scores. this is a highly positive
development. i ask you to protect their families. indiana has lagged slightly behind in providing the option of charter schools. we must have more of them. they should receive their funding would other schools do. they mayor -- they should turn them over. it will enable the past a majority of children to attend the school of their choice. for families who cannot find the right traditional public school or the right public school and are not wealthy enough to move near one, justice requires that
we. [applause] outside the galleries of the most important guests of the evening. they are children and parents and children knew are waiting to charter private schools. they believe their futures will be brighter if they can make that choice. look at those bases. will you be the one to tell the parents "tough luck?" are you prepared to say we know
better than you do. for we will study a-- tell you that your child will attend that school. these children and their parents have waited long enough for a better chance in life. indiana has waited long enough for the kind of educational results that a great state must achieve. this is not about material matters. it is about human rights of every indiana family to make decisions for its children. it is the right for them to realize their full potential and life. will you join me in saying the waiting is over? change has come.
indiana intent to lead it. [applause] recent times have brought a frustrating string of "almost." he almost won the british open. the colts almost won the super bowl. butler almost won a national basketball championship events besides the disappointment of coming so close, the bad thing is knowing the man never get that close to victory and history again.
this cannot be the almost general assembly. we are in the final possession of a chance for historic greatness. indiana has waited long enough for local governments to fix this medill we have waited long enough for an education system known for accountable schools. our parents have waited blogged net to decide what is best for their children. one thing is certain. the rest of the world will not wait on us. other nations and states are forging ahead with the kind of reforms i have proposed here. indiana is a leader in the
fiscal integrity, transportation, and so many other respects now comes the chance to lead long term that may matter more than all of those. these are an unprecedented opportunity to make it so. it is more than a proposal. it is an assignment. our children are waiting. you are going to do great things. i cannot wait. god bless this assembly and of this great state. [applause]
them here on c-span, we have live coverage of a memorial service from tucson for those that were killed in saturday's shooting prevent her -- shooting. this is all available to you online and on social media networking sites. find our content any time thursday spam's video library. we take c-span on the road. it is "washington, your way. >> patrick leahy on his committee's priority.
he also commented on the arizona shooting. this is a little less than an hour. i want to welcome all of you here. senator leahy has been near a number of times. we have the biggest first amendment sign in the world. right out there with all 45 words of the first amendment. senator leahy is such a champion of the first amendment. he cannot go by pennsylvania avenue without looking at it. we appreciate you coming back here today, senator leahy.
in this very room, president obama held a town meeting. the week after next, the supreme court justice breyer is going to come here to talk about matters of the judiciary and public issues. it is a delight that the newsuem to serve as a place where the members of the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judiciary branch in come here and hold civilized discourse about public affairs, about the media, about the things that abydos, and the things that bring us together. it is in that light that the newseum is delighted to welcome senator leahy today. i am going to turn the program over to the dean of the georgetown university law center, welcome, bill. [applause]
>> it is a pleasure to be here. our speaker come at it become a tradition to begin each new congress with a report on the upcoming priorities of the senate judiciary committee which he chairs. the georgetown university law center has been proud to play a partner in role and chairman leahy's others and we are especially place and see is one of our most distinguished alumni not only did he earned a law degree in 1954, but 30 years later, we were pleased to recognize his service with an honorary degree. in the united states senate, patrick leahy offers a unique combination of experience, expertise, and currency in some of the most significant issues of our day. he is a blend of old school and
new school. now the second most senior member of the senate, he also continues to lead on cutting edge technology issues. as the "new york times" have dubbed him, for is enthusiasm of the internet. he has that passion for civil liberties, the devotion to the rule of law of a former prosecutor, and the enthusiasm for technology of a 16-year-old. [laughter] he is often held congress bridge the gap between security and privacy, taking the lead in writing checks and balances into such laws as the communication assistance for law enforcement act and the first and second patriot act. if patrick leahy was elected to the united states senate in 1974. he remains the only democrat ever elected to this office from vermont. at 34, he was the young this
united states senator ever to be elected from the green mountain state. a graduate of st. michael's college in vermont, he received his j.d. from georgetown university and served for eight years as state's attorney in a can county where he gained a national reputation, and in 1974, he was selected as one of three outstanding prosecutors in the united states. he has been a champion of an independent judiciary and open government and the public's right to know. the son of a month per earlier printing family, in 1996 he was installed as of freedom act hall of fame, and the is one of only two politicians ever offered an award. he has partnered with republican senator john corn and to offer several improvements, including their open government act, of
2007. he was also the lead sponsor of the protection act which addresses flaws in the capital punishment, and in 2004, he offered provisions of law to require dna testing and better access to competent legal counsel to ensure that innocent people are not executed. long known for his work on congressional oversight, he led the judiciary committee's 2007 investigation into the massive firings of u.s. attorneys and the political influence over a decision making. he is voted on the nomination of all current supreme court justices and he oversaw and chaired the hearings of the last three confirmations to the court, justice sotomayor, and justice kagan. he is also a member of this agriculture committee and his long cochaired in energize the work of the senate national guard office in its efforts to
modernize and adequately equip the modern national guard of today. he has three children and five grandchildren. his home is in middlesex, vt., where they live in the 19th century farmhouse in the midst of their farm. senator leahy. [applause] >> dean, thank you very much for the introduction. it's hard being away from the farmhouse, but charles, i thank you in your superb staff. hosting this discussion means a lot. you and i have worked together on these issues over the years. i must admit, when i started preparing this speech, press: and others in my office, we were talking about it, things change.
over the weekend. we can talk about the tragic events of these past week and for a moment. they call us to reflect on the parlance of our democracy, and our responsibilities as beneficiaries and stewards. as we enter this beautiful program today, many of us passed by these magnificent words of the first amendment. charleses' carve them into marble on the facade. their 74 feet high. congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or their right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. parents used to say that everything we needed in a
democracy is in there. it promises diversity, practice any religion or nine if you want, to speed can be protected by your government in your speech. that guarantees diversity. you guarantee diversity, you guarantee a democracy. the day before she was in the attack, congresswoman giffords, a member of the house of representatives, whose role was to recite these words on the house floor. in a free society, the society that we americans must always want our country to become a government should not and must not restrain free expression. but we learned this children, with freedom comes responsibility. couple flowering of democracy relies on the self restraint of each citizen, organization, and
group of citizens. the blog post and the twitter feed all have the power to inspire, to motivate, and to inform. but they also have the power to inflame and in sighcite. the seating rhetoric has gone too far. the demonizing of opponents, of government, of public servants, has gone too far. our politics have become incendiary. we all share the responsibility the temperature. that is a responsibility to keep our democracy thriving. the 535 members of the house and the senate have been at elected to represent more than 300
million americans from all walks of life. we have responsibilities within our borders, but we also have responsibilities outside our borders. as our nation charts its way into complex and often very dangerous world. it is time to stop polarizing and to work together on the substance of the many challenges we face as a nation. otherwise, our country, a blessed, bountiful, expansive nation, which survived a revolutionary war, a civil i cannot accept that. neither should anybody in this room. you know, i am the only
democrat elected to the senate in vermont history. i was introduced that way once shortly after i was elected. he carried every state except maine and vermont. shortly after that, franklin roosevelt came to vermont. my father told me the story. across the street from us was the national life insurance company. president roosevelt went by in an open car and my father was standing next to the president of the national and everybody
wore hats. the president went by and the head of the company took his hat off and held it direct my father turned the women said, i never thought i would see your -- you take your hat off for president roosevelt. he said, i tip my hat off to the president. think about that. we should show respect. the sheriff was in every man for this tragic moment. we need to work together for the good of the country and the american people. after oklahoma city, after the horrendous a tax of 9/11, we came together. we need to come together again. the tragedy is -- on common
ground. it is easy to appeal to resentments, distressed, and selfishness and hate. leaders should appeal to or better angels. one common ground remains elusive, we must respect the rights of others to express their own views and beliefs. one more thing -- we must not allow any assault on representatives of democracy to succeed in thwarting or meeting people's access to the elected representatives. i am committed to work with the new chairman as well as the president and the attorneys general as we face the problem confronting our nation. i look forward to working with the new ranking republican. we served together since he came
to the senate in 1981. we know the value of bipartisanship and civility. i began meeting with the senator last month. i will make sure they include those that are important to both of us. we have taken a keen interest in -- the first bill we considered last congress and one of the bills we signed into law by president obama was the recovery act. working together, we also strengthened and we made sure that taxpayers would be protected from fraud. in the new congress, we need to build on that progress. i will focus the first hearing
of this congress on fighting fraud. on our january 6 -- 26 tiering, we plan to learn more about the recovery of more than $3 billion of taxpayer dollars in fraud actions by the department of justice in the past fiscal year alone. that is our taxpayer -- tax dollars coming back into the treasury. the administration has been a partner and our crime-fighting efforts. we want to make sure that the new provisions are having the intended effect. i can tell you that these kind of investments will pay taxpayers back many times over. americans are worried about their budgets at home. we need to protect their investment. fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars -- these
difficult economic times, we need to continue that. of bipartisanship. we also have to talk about focusing on american jobs. last year, the senate judiciary committee unanimously supported bipartisan efforts to stop online criminals from stealing our nation's intellectual property. it cost the economy billions of dollars every year. barring -- our intellectual property based businesses are one of the most productive in our economy. they are part of our best sources of export dollars. we cannot stand by and see them ravaged. we cannot have americans consumers subjected. we will renew our efforts on
this this year. among our top priorities is the patent reform act. this bipartisan initiative to modernize our patent system has received considerable attention in the last several congresses. there are days i feel that i hold schedule revolves around that. we have been updating our antiquated pat and system will keep america -- patent system will keep america the forefront of innovation. it protects jobs. it does it without adding a sense -- a cent to our nation's deficit. he agrees that patent reform is sorely needed. again, this is something more democrats and republicans can work together, can help the country, and help lower the
tension. we work together over the years in confronting anti-competitive business concept, especially in agriculture. the last two years, the justice department has become more aggressive in protecting competition. competition -- this is a very interesting thing. we will build on that as we talk about the concentration and agricultural businesses. i hope congress will finally repealed the health insurance industry's exemption from antitrust laws. there was bipartisan support for that in the last congress. there is no place in our market for anti-competitive abuses.
repealing this antitrust is a good way to start. it is in the health-insurance market. there are many ways in which the committee can help our economic recovery. we can strengthen programs. it encourages foreign investment, spur is job creation. i would like to see foreign money come in here to create jobs in the united states more than american money going abroad and creating jobs in other countries. we will look at how we can move forward toward immigration proposals spurted ways to approve of the subprograms. -- ways to improve visa programs. there are some good economic science finally. democrats and republicans should
be working together on these measures. the american people expect us to work together. the american people expect us to make the country better. -- we have also seen the last decade encroach on america is privacy. there is no other decade in our history imperative of security, the proliferation databases, the spawning of interactive social media combined with earlier expectations about having the choice to be left alone. i will tell you a story. one of the few things i have kept -- is friend of my wall.
-- it is sprayed on my wall. it is a short piece on that profiled me. we live on a dirt road. the family has known me since i was a teenager. it is saturday morning, and at a state car drives up and sees the old farmer. he says, the senator live up this road? the farmer says, are you a relative of his? he said, no, i am not. are you a friend of this? not really. is he expecting you? never heard of him. [laughter] we believe in our privacy. in the digital age, a time darkened by the threat of terrorism, we face a difficult
challenge of protecting the nation's. we encourage american innovation and we respect privacy rights. the jury committee will continue to work to of state electronic communications privacy act. i want security agencies to have the tools needed to keep us safe from cyber threats. i also want to have federal privacy laws to keep pace with advancing technology. this is not an easy balance. i think it can be done. we will examine several emerging privacy issues and a growing concern to me and many americans. including the invasive full body screening and our airports. the tracking of americans activities online. i want to work with the obama administration with senators on both sides of the aisle to revisit the communications assistance to law enforcement act.
it bridges law enforcement needs with citizens' privacy rights. i remember writing that law in their early 1990's. we cannot even have imagined that it has changed. we have to update the law. we have to have the same consideration we had in the 1990's. balancing privacy rights as well as a legitimate need for law enforcement community to gather valuable court ordered surveillance information to keep the nation safe. the aftermath of 9/11, we passed the patriot act. i am pleased that attorney general walter agreed to implement the civil liberties oversight and reporting improvement i suggested. it is a good solid step forward.
we have to take the next step and extend certain provisions of that act that are slated to expire next month. there is another area in this annual reports. chief justice roberts recently wrote about the urgent need to fill the federal decency -- federal judiciary vacancies. they have reached historically high levels. that resulted overburdened courts. litigants' are unable to have their cases heard. i will try to work with the senator and the senate leadership of both parties to lower those vacancies. unfortunately, this is another instance where private -- partisanship has been a destructive influence. we need good and capable women and men to be willing to serve as judges.
to protect the rights of all americans and appalled blog -- and uphold a rule of law. we cannot to ask people to take on the public servants -- service of judge ben expose them to accumulating delays in the process. we can protect our national security and our constitutional liberties, but it takes care and foresight. this is not an area where we can use symbolism. we go to substance. do we want to be saved? do we want to protect ourselves? of course we do. let's be honest. it is going to take work to have that balance. at a time -- we need care and foresight. we continue to face the threat of terrorism and violence.
the american people expect us to do no less. the government of the people, by the people, for the people must be accountable to the people. we need a commitment to vigorous oversight and government transparency. when we can join together, republicans and democrats, -- a conservative republican from texas, he is joined with me over and over again to strengthen and expand the freedom of information act. we share the view that open government is not very democratic issue or a republican issue. it is an american value. we will continue our productive partnerships. i will reintroduce the act, a bill to establish a bipartisan commission and improve the implementation of.
we will do that later this year. you also have to do it by example. i will pledge that the proceedings of the committee will continue to be web cast, available to all americans in real time. like internet access to hearings and business meetings. i know it works. i get back to my office and there will be a call, what did you mean by that? the important thing is that it is open. it is a special honored to be at newseum on pennsylvania avenue. i am the son of this paper publishers. we drove down today and i thought how my parents would have loved the idea and the
reality of this great museum. i'd been mom and dad would have embraced the incidents -- indispensable work of free speech and a free press. do not ever stop. it is so easy to argue for censorship for just this one issue or just this one issue. no. open, free debate. i think the constitution project for their interest. review in the judiciary committee's priorities is becoming a tradition. i like this kind of traditions. just last week, members of the
congress were sworn in, pledging to uphold the constitution. with its new term comes a responsibility of governing. as john f. kennedy said, to govern is to choose. i served in the majority and minority. three democratic president and four republican presidents. i know that we can be productive. i worked with republican house chairman. i worked with the republican senate majority and republican president to extend the voting rights act. to enact the innocence protection act, which provides dna testing for those wrongfully convicted. i look forward to continuing
this tradition. this is a new year. this is a new congress. the year started in a very tragic and troubling way. every year is a year of promise for america. in our committee, we have a challenging agenda. we have the challenge with some of the most capable members. we pursue the goals and make good artist a more perfect union. i thank you for listening to me very sad -- to me. [applause] >> he will be glad to take some questions as time permits. he will take questions from the audience. many of you may have asked questions -- past questions to
the aisle. ok. questions from the press? >> thank you, senator. in the wake of the shooting at fort hood, there was a push by the president and others to withhold judgment about the man's botas and intentions until more was known. however, in the wake of the most recent shooting, there was no shortage of accusations that the two-party or talk-radio was behind motivating the individual. why is there the lack of caution on this particular incident? >> the president withheld judgment in the first situation.
it implied that he did not in this instance. the president has taken the same position on both. he has withheld judgment, as he should. i prosecuted lot of murder cases. i have arrested murderers. i withhold judgment until the evidence is in. the president has done this in both cases. president obama is right in doing that. it is a heinous crime, terrible crime. i want members of congress to be able to meet anywhere in this country with their constituents. this is part of our open government. the ability to petition congress, to speak to congress. i do not want that to change. let's find out what happens. let's not get a tragedy mixed up in politics. the president has not and i have not.
i am more interested in finding out what was the motivation of the person who has been arrested. my heart goes out to the families of those who love lost members, a nine-year-old girl, a husband who died protecting his wife, a super qualified member, a highly respected member of congress fighting for life. those are the things we should be concerned about. >> the first question from the audience, do you believe cyber security legislation will move ahead this session? >> thank you. i think cyber security legislation has to move ahead. we are losing billions of
dollars because of the fraud on the internet. a lot of it is from overseas. we pay -- are real questions of our security. so much of what we do is done via computers and internet. think about the heating systems when it is five below zero in the northeast or other parts of the country. think of the devastating consequences of a cyber attack. think of the billions and billions of dollars counterfeit goods are sold and many of them coming from overseas. people have lost life savings. people have had their bank accounts and their credit relent. -- relent.
-- ruined. my guess is that if we can -- i am working with governments and with industry, with users, consumers. i am trying to bring them all end to make sure that everybody is that the table. i can guarantee that if we read the most perfect bill this year and pass it, it a couple of years, we will have to revisit it. i want to write a bill that can be updated. the types of problems that we are seeing and the types of attacks is amazing. >> we have two more questions from the audience. the first concerns patent reform. you're a minute to the pop reform act was seen as a strong and widely acceptable compromise on a complicated issue.
you mentioned your conversations with their house colleagues. police star with a blank slate? >> -- will you start with a blank slate? >> when i began working on padded reform, i had hair. [laughter] i do not want to go back to a blank slate. we have done an enormous amount of work. we have brought an end -- we have brought in every state culture. -- stakeholder. we have had countless meetings with all the stakeholders. we have worked with the patent office and others. i think the bipartisan legislation we put together is a good step and it is a good place to begin. i will not start with a blank slate. i will work with both
republicans and democrats in both the house and senate to try to have a good solid bill or we can begin. if it comes to the floor of the senate, it will pass. i would like to do it now before we get tangled up next year with presidential elections and everything else. >> a few more questions. what do you anticipate the senate will do in reaction to disclosures by wikileaks? >> i wish i knew the answer. i know the justice department has already had subpoenas' out. we have been revealing what the law is. -- revealing what the law is. -- reviewing what the law is. i believe in an open government,
but i do not believe in putting good men and women in danger. we have had to bring people out of other countries where they were serving at great risk to their own lives, serving to protect your safety, my safety. they were very valuable in doing that and we have had to remove them from those countries because they had been exposed. we have seen people in some countries who have faced the death or have been killed because of that. that is not responsible. i will also ask the obvious question. i had lasted so many times in my office. what in heck do we have all this
material or a private to first- onto could download it cds? who made that can -- and of made that decision? -- who made that decision? >> what are the specific plans they considered to strengthen eb5? >> it is a program where investors are able to come from overseas, invest in businesses in the united states and they move forward in the immigration process doing it. that is the shorthand to it. it is being used in many places.
it has been used very effectively in my state. there been some questions whether it has been misused and other places. in most places, it has been used well. i think it should be made a permanent program, but with some very specific oversight. government and congressional oversight to make sure that it does best -- money comes in to the united states, creates jobs, americans are being hired for those jobs. frankly, as an american, i would wrapped -- much rather see money coming from outside this country coming in and creating jobs. >> we have three questions on the nomination process. the first is -- what did you schedule for nomination
hearings? when will mr. -- when will the atf nominee will likely have a hearing? >> especially those who went through the committee unanimously last year. they should not have to go through it again. i do not know how you ask someone. you put them through a humiliating to lead. i am urging all of us to back away from that. the president has gone across party lines. he has saw the advice of republican senators and democratic senators. we have to get away from that. i will put on the agenda very
quickly those two of already been confirmed. the president sent most of those names back to us. we senators are dependent on our staff. they do the work. we will get them through. there are so many vacancies. we had 85 district courts with vacancies. 16 circuit courts. first president bush's two years in office, the democrats were in charge for a year-and-a-half. in a year-and-a-half, we went through 100 of its judges.
i just happen to have these numbers here. [laughter] we were able to put through only about half of that, just over half of that. we have to get away from that. you have good men and women who are willing to serve. let them do that. be a judge is a prestigious office. it is a very hard working office. it does not come without risk. as we saw this weekend. >> the final to questions also concerned delays in the process. what can be done differently to speed up the confirmation process for judges? the delays in confirming federal judges to a tragic toll.
meetttended congresswoman's and greet. what will the senate judiciary committee to do -- due to honor his memory? >> that was a leading question. [laughter] i am going to both democratic and republican leadership and say, this is a new congress. what's that back. let's do something similar to what i did in my first two years. let's move judges through quickly.
we will have been heard in in committee and they will be confirmed their carry it if you have somebody who has been confirmed unanimously, the tradition has always been -- you take 10 minutes of debate equally divided and to roll call them. they go through unanimously. i want to get back to them. let's have a debate on them. and then vote. but vote yes, vote no, do not vote may be. >> we have time for two more questions from the press. >> you were the target of an attack in 2001. i am wondering if you could talk about whether that attack or
this one will change how you interact with constituents or other senators. >> i had an attack on myself shortly after 911. i received one of the deadly anthrax letters. people died because of letters addressed to me. i still wonder who sent it and why they sent it. i will wonder that for the rest of my life. for a period of time, the capitol police were superb, providing security. i felt i really did not need it. i felt totally safe in my state of vermont. it is this a this state in the nation. i know our local and state police in vermont have procedures for public meetings.
i am very satisfied with what they are. i will not go into the details for security reasons. the capital itself is very, very secure. when i think about what it was like at law school, all the doors were open. it is a little bit different today. i did not feel any worry being there. i would not want to see every member of congress walking around with security. we have the obvious ones. i have no problem with that. i would not want to see members of congress walking route with security. read it is not the kind of country we are. i've been -- it is not the kind of country we are. i have been to a totalitarian countries.
some of these countries, to visit and they are surprised that i drive to -- in my own car. i want to keep it that way. it would be a mistake if we put any more barriers. the one place we can be ourselves is that home. i want that to continue. the country is better off if we can. i would urge, i really would urge -- i urge this for the right and left. everytime you disagree with somebody in public office, stop attacking their motives and describing some sort of nefarious motive. we have good men and women across the political spectrum who represent people in this country across the political spectrum. there are no easy answers to the
problems facing america. there never have been. there were not any easy answers during the great depression. we had men and women who came together to stop the best interests possible to make this a better country. don't we owe that to our children and grandchildren? step back from the rhetoric. go to substance. start working together. this is a great and wonderful country. we are a beacon to the rest of the world. let's make sure that this began as a little broader than it has been. r than it has been. >> should there be more talk about gun control? >> there will be, but i do not know if it will change.
that is an easy answer. vermont has the lowest crime rates in the country. it doesn't have gun control. but i would not want those laws -- vermont laws to be in an urban area. we have to figure out what works best. thank you. i really appreciate you being here. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyri
>> in a few moments the final report of the commission looking into the gulf oil spill. chris chris the's state of the state address followed by an mitch daniels. on washington journal tomorrow we will discuss the arizona shooting with thomas mann and douglas brinkley. mike hands of indiana talks about his party -- mike hence -- pence talks about his party.
>> there is a new way to follow congress with c-span's congressional chronicle. track the time line and find a full video archive of each member. it is washington, your way. >> the commission investigating the gulf of mexico oil spill is calling for more funding and training and raising the liability cap caused by dangers in and will spilled. of a briefing last did a little more -- dangers of an oil spill. this briefing lasted a little bit more than an hour. >> president obama started a commission to talk about the disaster. we were given several charges.
vention is lacking. [captioning performed by i am very pleased we are submitting our report with a unanimous vote of the seven members. the seven members of the commission. >> we began our [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] this tragedy. i would like to recognize the distinguished service in extraordinary work of the commission's staff led by mr. richard lazarus and fred bartlett as the head of the investigative team. the staff, which was composed of scientists, lawyers, and more, performed under a very tight schedules and a great public service for which we as the
commission are extremely proud. i would like to give a brief overview of our report and some of its findings, and then i will turn the podium over to my colleague and code-share, mr. bill reilly, who will address the implications for the industry practices in the future of offshore drilling. there is a fundamental fact that the oil and gas off of our shores is an american asset. it belongs to the people of the united states of america, and thus the federal government has a dual role, it is a regulator for things such as safety into environmental protection, but it is also the land owner in a very real sense we own this property and have an obligation to respond when the public trust is abused. a fundamental finding of our six months of investigation is the
deep water rise in disaster did not have to happen. -- deepwater horizon disaster did not have to happen. that makes the enormous damage and the loss of lives even more tragic. for the past 20 years, there has been a rapid movement by the oil and gas industry to deeper and deeper, riskier and riskier areas of the gulf of mexico. this movement has generated a pundit revenues for the private companies and for the federal treasury. industry has been justifiably proud of technological advances, which have been frequently compared in sophistication to those of the space program. the federal government has
benefited by the increase in revenues. what happened during that 20 year period is that we became pulled into a sense of inevitable success, an illusion which massed the dramatic success in risk that accompanied the deepwater spill. on april 20, after a long time are rolling the dice, our luck ran out. our investigation found significant errors by three drilling companies, pp, halliburton -- bp, halliburton and transocean. these are described in detail in the chief counsel report.
they range from bill years to properly interpret warnings -- failures to interpret warnings, flaws of not being properly understood, and late stage design decisions. taken together, we conclude that these mistakes amounted to a significant failure of management. it is important to emphasize these errors, mistakes and management failures were not the product of a single rope company. we believe and unveiled a systemic failure within the oil and gas industry and with than the regulation by the federal government of that industry. how did such a situation come to pass? how can it be that such questionable practices could take place when the stakes were so high? i am sad to say that part of the answer is the fact that our
government let it happen, our regulators were consistently unmatched. the department of interior lack the expertise to successfully in force regulations. there was also an internal conflict of interest within the department of interiors old minerals management service. it was a service that have the responsibility for collecting revenues, the second-largest source of revenues into the federal government, second only to the income tax, and it had the responsibility of providing an effective management of safety and protection of the environment. those two conflicting responsibilities, as we heard from three former directors of mms consistently led to revenue trumping safety as a priority of
the department'. we recommend, therefore, that congress and the of ministration created independent safety administration within the department of interior with the ability to oversee all aspects of offshore drilling safety. we believe this agency should be headed by an individual with a background in both science and management who should serve a thick term in order to be inundated by a the ability to make decisions. we also recommend bringing our offshore drilling regulations into the 21st century. it is not asking too much that our perch in the united states be equivalent of the best practices and the world. they are not that today, and sadly the united states has one of the lesser records in terms
of the safety of its offshore drilling practices. the second piece of this modernization approach is called risc-based regulatory orientation. this requires all offshore drilling companies to demonstrate that they have thoroughly evaluated all the risks associated with drilling a particular well. macondothe realities of a cond is that it turned out to be a unusually risky area to drill, high pressures, many unknowns about the geology, and yet a company with one of the worst safety records received the least in there for the entitlement for access to that area.
april 20 was the consequence of the convergence of those unfortunate facts. our investigation is also demonstrating that science is not being given a significant seat at the table. actually i think that is a considerable understatement. it has been virtually shut out. we need proper consultation with those who have the expertise, scientists in and out of government, experts at agencies like nola and the coast guard -- these are the people that should play a major role in evaluating specific permit requests and operation of drilling rigs. it is disturbing to learn that the march 2010 decision to expand areas to additional drilling in the at the intake
and eastern gulf -- in the atlantic and eastern gulf were made without looking at the potential consequences. i will conclude my remarks by making a simple and obvious point that is often forgotten when we talk about offshore drilling, and that is again that these properties belong to all of us. they belong to the people of the united states of america. it is our government's responsibility to ensure that exploration and extraction incur in ways that are beneficial to the ccountry. drilling offshore is a privilege to be learned not a right to be exercise by private corporations. our recommendations offer a
path to that destination. much has changed in the months since the blowout. we have learned a great deal about how to contain spills at deepwater. industry has a new appreciation of the risks associated with deepwater drilling. the commission of plots all of these efforts -- applauds all of these efforts, but they are not enough. drilling offshore is inherently risky and we will never reduce the risk to 0, but as a nation we can take concrete steps that will mitigate the chances of another blowout and reduce the consequences should another even such as that occur. the commission believes that these steps are vitally necessary. without such response we will
continue to play safety for workers, the apartment and the region at an acceptable risk. if dramatic steps are not take and i am afraid that at some point another failure will occur and we will wonder why did the congress, why did the industry, why did the american people allow this to occur again. the people of the gulf have suffered so much that they deserve to know that their government and the industry are going to and are committed to the high standards of safety and protection of the environment. thank you. >> mr. reilly. >> thank you, bob. i want to first recognize that one of our distinguished
members is ill today and very unfortunately could not be with us. she understood in ways that none of us the rest of us probably here to the specific technologies and engineering realities that helped us explain what happened on april 20. i want to also emphasize, as bob just did, that this report is unanimous, came in under budget , and also on time. i understand that is the first time in the history of commissions that anybody has not asked for wartime. i was told by one member of congress that this is something we should advertise and take credit for and another one that said we set a terrible precedent for washington. i am very proud of the commissioners i served with. none more than my longtime friend, statesman, and co-chair, bob gramm. this has been an enormously satisfying enterprise.
the report has the quality it has and did get completed on time is a tribute to a marvelous interdisciplinary staff, as great as i have ever worked with recruited by prof. richard lazarus. senator gramm has characterized what happened on april 20. he has explained a proximate cause, the bad decisions, the blunders, the inexplicable -- inexplainable choices and the root cause as the president and his executive order directed us to do. the culture of complacency, government and the industry. i think the reality is that none of us were prepared for this. obviously government and certainly should have been. the early response to this spill
is evidence, and this commission is critical, even harsh about some of the faults in the early efforts to get a grip on the problem, identify the flow rate, to contain the following well. having said that, having visited the gulf, i have to say there is very impressive about the response of this. tens of thousands of people work day and night to try to clean it up. they may have incurred cost of time and energy into even health, but they did the job. after a slow start our government responded quite effectively to this spill. even in the case of finally determining the flow rate with ingenuity. make no mistake about it, despite allegations, this was not obama's katrina.
however, we have identified gaps that lead us to recommend important recommendations to the congress, administration come into industry. to congress we say, it is time to exercise serious oversight over the department of the interior and the bureau of oceans management that has succeeded mms. oversight that has not been characterized by a previous congressional responses and attention to that agency. we recommend as a first priority the resources be allocated by the congress to ensure that this agency is capable, is a match for the people they are inspecting and regulating every day. they have not been. they have been overmatched. they have been under resource, underfunded, and undertrained.
they're going to have to get resources from the congress. they will have to have a compensation system that allows more recruitment of able people, who unlike so many to reveal to us in the course of the investigation, did not understand key technologies like centralizes and-t negative touch sensors. we did a lot of questions about whether congress will pay a lot of attention to west. one congressman was paying a lot of attention yesterday when i briefed him based on the verbatim speech that later came from him. we can take some encouragement from that i think. the fact that the building operation at interior, now under way in quite effectively so, is
going to take time points to an important reason why industry, which cannot wait, needs to pick up its own game. one thing is the chemical industry. when the nuclear industry after a three-mile island established the institute for nuclear power operations. there are other examples. the oil and gas industry, which may not have been a high risk industry when it is in shallow waters, have you so after this incident here yen we have identified and documented as
systemic problem in this industry. that observes -- that deserves observation. i am aware and heard from ceos of companies who dislike, who are revolted by the idea of being painted with the same brush, companies that had exemplary records for safety and environmental protection. i fully understand that. we do not say those companies have been remiss. what we say is that the likelihood of those that drill are at risk because of this result. in order to believe this is not a systemic problem, one has to believe that halliburton would only has supplied faulty cement to bp.
irrespective of whether industry except our analysis that this is a systemic problem, but halliburton and transmission are operating in all of the world's ocean for all of the oil and gas industry, even if you do not accept that, it seems to be indisputable that the solution of the problem must be industrywide. industry has to stop thinking that it is sufficient to have a state of the art best practice safety and management system and that is the end of the story. several companies, quite outstanding companies, presented their safety and management systems to the staff, meetings at which i was present. chevron, exxon mobil, shell. at the conclusion of the meeting i do not think it occurred to any of us to ask what are they doing, what should be done now?
nevertheless, i asked the question how did you manage the risk that your rigs might all be shut down in the gulf? to that they have no question. going forward they need such a question. therefore assayed the institute, which is entirely manned by industry, which enforces best practice, which evaluates, audits the performance of various companies is what we recommend. i strongly encourage the most exemplary practitioners of good safety, the internment of protection, to leave the rest of the industry, which i know is a complicated industry and more complicated one than the nuclear industry. it is also technologically capable of well-financed industry to follow that course. i guess one of the real tragedies but also the opportunities presented by this
experience, and a tragedy like this does openness to be open to new directions, is the poor of the gulf of mexico. we have long known that the resources are a profound resource. louisiana has something like 30 percent of all of the country's wetlands. there silently eroding away. they are disappearing because of sea level rise, but also dredging, and generations of oil and gas activity. for a long time we have known what needs to be done there. there are many projects, many that are authorized, that are standing by for support. for the first time in my career as a conservationist, we have the prospect of serious money to do what needs to be done. if the fines and penalties that are to be assessed under the clean water act are deployed,
80% at least, to the restoration, the country owes that to the gulf and a very much hope congress will agree to appropriate the funds and direct them to the gulf. finally, the problems that we confront in energy in the oil and gas industry are like so many environmental problems, we cannot solve them alone at the country even. the gulf of mexico is shared to a very large degree with mexico. cuba has also expressed interest in possibly drilling 14 wells, some of them 50 miles off the coast of florida. i have already opened conversation with the mexicans, as has secretary salazar about their need to enter an agreement with the united states. one hopes to but can be drawn into this conversation as well so that all of us practice the same level.
-- one hopes cuba can be drawn into this conversation as well so that all of this practice the same level. the same with arctic. it is a punishing environment. it is beset by whether the like of which one does not see in the gulf, except maybe in the occasion ever hurricane. it will acquire special care and attention and the kind of regulations that are effective in the gulf will not be acceptable in the arctic. russia, canada, norway, denmark has already begun last summer to drill two wells, -- all will want to develop those resources and so will the united states. we recommend the state department engage those countries and a common standard -- in a common standard going forward. those are some of the highlights of our
recommendations. they are by no means all of them. we believe if these recommendations are followed and that if the course we have set out is taken, we will go a long way toward restoring the faith of the country in a vital enterprise. thank you. >> questions? >> as you pointed out, mr. reilly, the oil and gas industry, when it operated in shallow waters was not the ticket rate a high-risk industry. some in the energy industry have complained that the reason they are drilling of 5,000 feet is the government has barred drilling in shallow waters. with the commission recommend or
did you discuss the possibility of getting the shallow waters open so they do not have to go into deeper waters? >> we understand fully that the notices to lease is five and six are recurring some attention and the certification of equipment. there are necessarily some adjustments that will take time before full resumption of drilling ochres and shallow waters, as well as in the deep waters. senator gramm and i have been critical of the moratorium, which we thought was excessive and last a toed too long. that aside, the real reason we are in deep water is because that is where the oil is. if you look at debt reserves that are estimated to exist, they're not only in the deep water, they are in the deeper and deeper water. we are where now plans to go down 10,000 feet. to the extent that oil and gas is in deep water, that is where
the industry will go. not just here but in brazil and other parts of the world as well. alaska is shallow water. 140 feet or so. that presents its own set of problems. fundamentally this is a hopeful message. we believe this is a problem that can be managed, and in the interest of everyone to manage it. >> sir? >> matt clover with cns news. you said this was an interesting wide problem. do you have any evidence that you could share with us that the same mistakes are being made right now? are they being made in u.s. waters and where are they being made? >> the commission did that document these problems and other places. we are perfectly aware of blowout preventers that did not work in other environments. i would cite just once a cystic
-- a statistic. the fatality rate for 100 million hours worked in the united states is five in united states water in the gulf. in the north sea and in europe it is one. that needs an explanation and points for problem. i think it points to a system- wide problem. sir? >> as early as last week jack girard, the president of the american petroleum institute said that he felt the american people believed macondo was an isolated incident. as you know, there is significant resistance on the part of industry to create the safety institute europe called for. on the government side, congress last year tried to pass an oil
spill legislation that contained a lot of the things you a call for. that legislation went nowhere. what are you when to do to make sure your report, as the row as it is come is not ignored by congress and industry? >> well, we're want to make a lot of noise. we're testifying on the 26 and january in the morning. -- 26 of january in the morning. we suggest there will be more attention to the kind of thing we have suggested, a more detailed research. we do not say really what we do not know here. we know this is a systemic problem given the pervasiveness of the contractors, the right manager, owner, the largest in the world, halliburton, which is operating virtually everywhere servicing the oil and gas industry. the only thing i would say is i do not think one should assume
that industry will not support a safety institute based upon the private conversations i have had, they are seriously deliberating on the possibility. i have every hope and expectation that they will in fact establish one. >> all the way over here. john beckman with energy daily. a week or so ago the interior recently relaxed and are meant to reduce for a number of of offshore crude water drillers that had already had their operations permitted prior to the drill. what was your response to that? >> immediately after the all of the companies i am aware of step down. investigated, inspected each of the companies,
certainly the 33 that were shut down. the exploratory rigs down seven or nine violations. i think one can have confidence decisionssecretary's are defense will and wont to go ahead on those rigs. >> one of the underlying themes of our report is particularity. we are recommending that drilling on specific sites be evaluated in terms of riskiness. it was our feeling that rather than throw a blanket over 33 that were affected by the moratorium that it should be a evaluated on the company by company, rig by rig. when a company and its mechanics were shown to be in compliance
with the higher standards that have now been established, they should not be held back because there were others that had failed to comply with the new standards, and i believe that is the essentially -- that is essentially the policy the administration has concurred with. >> hi. i am with the "fiscal times." you have talked about funding and compensation. can you tell me where the funding is coming from and where, if you have a time when or specifics on how quickly you want this established? >> one of the areas where i think the funding should come from is the lease itself. what is special about offshore drilling as compared to on shore, where much of the drilling takes place on
privately owned land, all of the land in the gulf of mexico is public land that belongs to the people of the united states or to the people that belong to the five gulf states. we believe it is appropriate that in the decision to allow a company to have access to the publicly and, there should also be a provision requiring the company to pay a fee significant to cover the regulation as it executes that lease. this is not a new concept. in fact, but offshore industry is almost an allied air. regulatedmajor reg industry pay for the regulation through some sort of sfee.
we think that should be the case with the oil and gas industry, and believed the lease is one of the means of doing so. in doing so in a way that would ensure a sustained it, predictable source of funds for regulation so that the kinds of competencies can be met. >> over here. we have one. >> "washington post." can you talk about how the lack of subpoena power may have affected the ability to look into accountability high up as some of these companies? >> terry garcia. we were able to through the very able efforts of archie cancel to chief cancel able to
ascertain the answers to the questions the president asked. that does not mean there were people we did not interview, but we were able to obtain the information that was necessary for us to do our work. i want to follow up on something that the senator and bill had said about the question of whether this was an industry- wide issue. what was not in doubt and what is not disputed is that the industry was not prepared for this. what is not in doubt is that industrywide research and development efforts had not been undertaken to address this sort of event. what was very clear was there was an utter lack of ability when this occurred for the industry to effectively respond
and then to contain this event. it was industrywide in that sense. >> sir. >> gentleman, one of your recommendations deals with the liability of offshore oil spills saying that 75 million is totally inadequate. to you have a range in mind? why did you not say lift the cap all together as some in congress have proposed? >> we looked at the question of liability and the recommendation is that the cap be lifted. we did not recommend that it be lifted to and unlimited liability. we could not reach an agreement on that. we did identify the ad to be lifted in the per incident. this is also the recommendation that the of magician has made, and it is really of to congress to address this. it is really one of the things
that does require congressional action. just to put a point on one of the earlier questions, there are many recommendations in this report that can be enacted by the administration. the agencies to have authority. as we call on congress to act and called on industry to act as well, there are actions that can be taken by the federal government using agency authority to strengthen oversight and regulation and we're calling on the administration to do that as well. >> thank you. libby casey with the alaska public radio. i was wondering if you could elaborate more about arctic. should there be a moratorium until oil spills in icy water can be cleaned up with proven technology? >> the commission is not asking for a moratorium in alaska. recognizing that there are very important questions still ahead for us to be answered through
additional research and investment in the arctic specific technology. we feel that research that has a specific time when it and focus research that will help answer questions for the private sector and public sector is really what is required. another very important recommendation of the commission as it relates to arctic development is we are asking congress to fund the coast guard so that they are adequately prepared for god forbid an oil spill, but also search and rescue. as ice retreats and we see more and more traffic in the arctic, it is essential but the coast guard, and for that matter, the navy, at the essence necessary to be able to respond in the arctic. for us to be able to move forward with oil and gas development and in the other
development, we need to be prepared as a nation. a number of studies have indicated that the coast guard does not have adequate capabilities to be able to respond appropriately and arctic. there are a number of things, additional research in terms of the environment, the international protocols that bill mentioned earlier with other arctic nations, additional investment in the coast guard, and i would add something we have not talked a whole lot about of this point, empowering local people to be part of the decision making process. after the exxon valdez oil spill regional citizens' advisory committees were created in alaska. our commission recommends doing something very similar in the gulf of mexico to empower the people to be active participants in the planning of oil and gas development, in reacting to proposals, reviewing a oil spill response plans, in training so that if there is this bill they are able to be part of the work force and a better prepared way.
we recommend the same thing for the arctic. we think all of these things will better position the united states to be able to take advantage of the resources of the arctic, but we do not feel as though we should sit back and wait indefinitely for that to happen. we're challenging congress to put funding into both the research and the capabilities for the coast guard and other agencies so that we can move forward. >> yes, sir. >> randy showstack. i would appreciate if you could explain or elaborate on why science has not had a significant lead at the table and way made -- what may be the relationship between that and the initial difficulties in determining oil flow rates and other problems. >> the lack of understanding of basic environmental processes in
the gulf of mexico was striking as a result of this incident. for example, there were lots of confusion about whether there were submerged deepwater plumes of oil. there was a lack of understanding of where those plumes were going and what the effects may be. the science can answer these questions. some of the first results of science that have been conducted on this have been very revealing a very -- a number of very important publications. it should be done in advance so that we understand operating environment in a comprehensive way. in the past investments in science related to support the offshore development program have been oriented towards completing the minimum, identify potentially sensitive environments for development of environmental impact statements,
rather than comprehensively and distending the effect of oil and gas that might be released into the system. our recommendations are still up the scientific research community, elevate it so that it can bring the fruits of the research to bear on the environmental assessments to support the leasing decisions. and as part of that process to involve other very important powerful science agencies, both to bring theusgs best science to bear on this environmental decision making. the second area where science will be very important is, as mr. wright the indicated, we recommend doing substantial investments of the penalties of the clean water act violations to go to the environmental
restoration. these restoration assessments can only be effective if they are guided by the best science to directed to the priorities of restoring brazilians to the system and making sure that we're using the best methods to assess the outcome. in both of those areas in terms of the assessment of the risk going forward, with respect to oil and gas development, as well as the investments in restoration we think a solid scientific program is essential. >> down here. >> russell from "corporate crime reporter." nowhere in your report to question whether a crime was committed. i am wondering if you believe
there should be increased resources to criminals and in our mental enforcement to help detour -- deter this type of behavior? >> when we first met with the president and he gave us the assignment, there was an understanding that our purpose was to develop the factual record upon which this event occurred, that it would be for others, specifically the department of justice, to determine if those facts constituted a criminal act, and if so, for what specific purpose? we did not undertake the issue of attempting to determine criminal liability. i will leave it to the readers of the reports of of whether they believe they can find it in our factual program.
nor did we look specifically at the question of the resources necessary to reach a judgment as to whether a crime had been committed. >> all the way back there. >> amy harder with "national journal." you said you did not recommend unlimited liability. i understand that oil spill liability trust fund already does that. two questions. why did you not recommend an unlimited liability removing the cap entirely, and you did -- did you consider the concept where companies producing in the gulf would pay into that? >> we do recommend a significant increase in liability. we frankly are sensitive to what we do not know. we know that canada has a much lower liability maximum.
$35 million. the united kingdom that has one that is not much more. we do not really know how the insurance company would address issues of liability were we to propose some kind of straightforward insurance pool. we have a lot of sympathy for the fact that there are 185 independent operators in the gulf. the truth is we did not have time to get in to conversation with the insurance industry. we assume, though we do not know, that some kind of insurance pool can deal with the special problems of the independence. we have been clear in meetings with them that on one hand we respect what they do, have a concern to ensure that they continue to be operating competitive for all the economic and cultural reasons that they represent, but it is also unreasonable to expect they can inflict billions of dollars of
damages that that bill will not be sent to the public. some kind of compromise has to be worked out on that, and our position on this one is close to the administration in that we recommend a significant increase in the liability cap, without specifying exactly what it should be. >> if i can supplement what bill has said, the question that there should be a single member that covers all instances, if there is one thing we have learned is that there is a dramatic difference in the risks and consequences of that risk the deeper and deeper you drill into more dangerous high you're pressured or geologically challenging areas. -- or higher pressured or geologically challenging areas.
it could be dramatically different for well-known as shallow waters, as opposed to the unknown of the old toward deep into which we are about to commence operations. that at raises the issue ba the state the case as a new mode of regulation, i do not expect that will become familiar very rapidly in this country where it has not been the practice before, though a couple of companies to already use it in the gulf and is required to use in the north sea. what that says is on the foundation of prescriptive regulations come each company goes beyond that to assess those dangers and threats that are inherent in a specific well information or rig design situation. the advantage of that is a put a lot of initiative on the industry to focus specifically,
not just to get the box is checked for compliance, specifically on a given place with its given challenges. one thing we hope it will do is avoid the prescriptions, which may be perfectly applicable today and the year after that, but the given -- but given the rate that this industry progress is, become obsolete in three to five years. the state the case would guard against that. we're recommending the interior department promote the in the industry can operate and do that in our own waters as well. >> what are the top priorities for congress that you will be recommended when you testify? >> i think the top priority is to first of all give resources to the interior department to enable it to provide oversight job that has.
secondly, to ensure that the majority of the clean water act penalties go to the gulf restoration, which i think is a top priority of ours. third, to lift the liability cap and really address that issue so that any future spill that happens in u.s. waters the public is protected. >> one question -- >> you are? >> [inaudible] one of the proposals was calling for more time to assess the applications. there is argument of about whether they can do that with existing authority or whether they can extend the 30 day window they currently operate under. i am wondering if there has been a determination reached about whether this is is an existing authority? >> our position is that congress has to act. and that the clock starts
running once the application is complete. >> yesk si, sir. >> jonathan tyler from "the tribune." how do you square that with the finding that the disaster was a result of systemic problems that could repeat? >> the way i would swear it is that the companies that have not been implicated in this specific spill and that had been carefully inspected by mms immediately following the spill were judged to be in compliance with all known requirements and to have had an exemplary safety records are ready. over here. edward falker with "energy guardian."
the they determine it was inherently unsafe formation and should not have gone as far as it did? that at some point they should have abandoned the macondo well? >> i do not think we did conclude that. i know that is not the opinion of the industry. tom? >> as the well was drilled, operator recognized that there were inherent dangers to go further in drilling the well. so they stopped short of their ultimate target and decided to complete the well there then at that point. there is every reason to think in terms of the investigation that the well could have been completed and abandon safely at that point. there were, however, a chain of mistakes, errors in judgment made, as they went about that process. each of which could have been
easily prevented. i think our assessment of the investigative team was that this will could have been completed and abandon safely and came back and produced at some future time. there is, however, a recognition that as one trills the well even with the best geological reconnaissance information available, that the company will find unusual risks and challenges as they go deeper down the well. part of that is the safety case is to assess that in advance and a comprehensive way, while other than being surprised as one goes down and drilled the well. -- rather than being surprise as one goes down and drills the well. ith the "l.a. times." there is a serious and
regulatory sentiment in congress. i was wondering if you could tell us, given the priorities that you have that you will present to congress, what kind of reaction you have gone so far privately from members of congress to the recommendations that you are making? we will obviously ask them ourselves today but i wanted to get insight from you given this time it on where you expect to push back? >> i would say the answer is that as there are 535 members in congress, there are close to that in terms of their response to your question. i believe this issue and the searing impact at the deepwater horizon has had on a conscious of americans is such that it will override an ideological preference for less government, less government intrusion, less government cost.
what makes that level of optimism i think credible is the fact that members of congress understand that this is not just a typical example of government regulating of private enterprise. this is government regulating land of that the government and the people of the united states own, and that it must be treated as we are stewards of public assets, and valuable public assets, the gulf of mexico. and that recognition will cause, in spite of the reticence to accept additional regulation, this to be an exception. second, as has been said, we think a substantial amount of the recommendations that we are proposing can be adopted without congressional action, that is