tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN January 24, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EST
pro tempore on this day. signed, john a. boehner, speaker of the house of representatives. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the order of the house of january 5, 2011, the chair will now recognize members from lists submitted by the majority and minority leaders for morning hour debate. the chair will alternate recognition between the parties with each party limited to one hour and each member other than the majority and minority leaders and minority whip limited to five minutes each. but in no event shall debate continue beyond 1:50 p.m. the gentleman -- the chair recognizes the gentleman from oregon, mr. defazio, for five minutes. mr. defazio: by all accounts we are finally going to get
serious about the mountain of debt that's been built up over the last 10 years that we are going to leave for our kids and grandkids. nearly $14 trillion. a number that's hard to actually understand. i'm hopeful it will really be a serious discussion, but it can't be as long as the republican rules stand. the republicans have said that if you reduce income to the government, that that doesn't count. toward the debt or deficit. you have to borrow the money, probablery from china -- probably from china, and it goes on the debt for our kids and grandkids, but they don't count that because it's your money. we are giving it back to you. except of course we are still spending more than is coming in. now, i'm all for looking at the expenditure side. and there's a lot of places i'd like to cut.
republicans have put some of them off limits. we can't look anywhere in the pentagon who has -- is still acquiring through cost-plus contracts weapons that were designed to fight during the soviet era. those -- we are wasting a fair amount of money over there. it's well documented. the pentagon is the only agency of the federal government that can't be audited. every other agency is audited. most get good grades. pentagon say maybe within five years they'll have an accounting system that could be audited. come on, we are going to exempt them from scrutiny and review and cuts? the car in afghanistan, they have exempted that from cuts. they spent $200 billion this year on the wind down in iraq and war in afghanistan. but that's off the table. as far as republicans are concerned. and social security they say is off the table. that's good. medicare's off the table. they just added to the cost of
medicare with legislation they passed last week, but that doesn't count, either. that was exempt. so what's left? well, we are going to have, because of the tax cuts adopted in december, a $1.6 trillion, one-year deficit. now, if we were only going to get to a balanced budget this year with cuts, that would mean eliminating the entire government of the united states of america. we'd still make our social security payments and we wouldn't be able to exempt the pentagon, which they want to do, if we really want to get to $1.6 trillion. no more border patrol, no more homeland security, no more coast guard, no more postal service, no more centers for disease control. department of education, gone. they wouldn't care much about that. park service i guess, we'd probably sell the parks to the higher bidder. i don't know. you can't be serious and stand
here and say we are going to put this hand and tie it behind our back which is the revenue side. by the way, if we give millionaires and billionaires tax cuts and reduce our income, that doesn't count. if we allow corporations to continue to use overseas tax loopholes to avoid paying a responsible level of taxes here in the united states, that doesn't count. can't close any loopholes. that would be bad. nope. they just say we are going to do it in cuts. it's an impossible task. but i worry even though they say they have exempted social security that that's not really their game plan because for the first time this year we will borrow money to put into social security. never been done since the program was created. it's always been funded by its own tax. but this year the republicans cooked up an idea which president obama bought into lock, stock, and barrel to reduce the social security tax. under the guise of giving people back their money and putting people back to work.
every member of congress will get a $2,000 trach this year because of that one provision. every millionaire and billionaire will get over a $2,000 tax break. working people will get a tax break, too, and they can use it. but there are better ways to do it, less costly, and ways to do it without jeopardizing the future of social security. part of the borrowing this year, couple hundred billion dollars of that borrowing this year is going to be from china to the government will borrow to reinject into the social security trust fund. i father the republicans will say wait a minute we can't subsidize that social security thing. by the way you can't restore the taxes and run social security on its own income. so they are creating some impossible scenarios here. i'm hopeful the president will chart a better path. one that doesn't go after social security. social security didn't create until this year one penny of the debt of the united states. but this year it will create $200 billion of debt for the
united states. a very bad precedent set by a bipartisan problem. the republicans and president obama. and some few democrats. let's get real about the deficit. the speaker pro tempore: the chair recognizes the gentleman from oregon, mr. blumenauer. for five minutes. mr. blumenauer: thank you, madam speaker. as one who is firmly in the camp of not just supporting the benefits but the necessity of government regulation, i nonetheless welcome the president's recent op-ed in the "wall street journal" and his executive order to review the regulations we have in place. this is a unique opportunity to reframe at least part of the regulatory debate. to satisfy both sides and better serve the public.
the area of opportunity lies in creating a new generation of environmental protections that are performance based. pioneering efforts to protect the environment like the clean air act and the clean water act were regulatory based that worked well for their time. public health requirements, citizen expectations have evolved. subsequent efforts had become more difficult, expensive, and time consuming. having these agencies dictate specifics is not necessarily providing the most innovative, timely, nor cost-effective solutions. there is an alternate -- alternative to rules-based procedures, command and control rules process. such a model would give latitude to parties on how they
comply with the standards for protection as long as they met or exceeded the requirement. in oregon we were able some years ago in partnership with the e.p.a. and the state department of environmental quality to work with a major industrial presence in our community, intel, on a planned expansion where latitude was granted for air quality compliance. the company made an enforceable commitment to the requisite clean air and environmental regulations, but the environmental agent regulators did not micromanage how the company complies. the result? clean air with less cost and time. there are countless opportunities for this principle to save time, money, and create innovation and importantly the potential to reduce opposition to the regulatory process itself.
building trust and confidence, partnerships between the regulator and the regulated with more control, more flexibility, producing a cleaner, safer environment. this requires first and foremost an administration that can be trusted to act in good faith because too often regulatory reform is a tactic of those who are simply opposed to the regulation in its first instance. this approach will only invite fierce opposition to watered-down protection. the obama administration has established its environmental credentials and should be able to avoid or at least lay to rest that sort of concern. there are two other necessary elements. the standards must be clear and the parties must be both responsible and have the
capacity to be held accountable. nothing must allow the protection in question to be undercut. indeed it may be reasonable for performance-based approaches to require higher standards and environmental protection. and we certainly don't have to suspend current rules or regulations, just give an alternative path for compliance because -- that we can always fall back upon if people fall short. once it's clear that we can produce the environmental or other desired protections on a performance basis, perhaps we can tackle redundant regulatory processes. for instance, california has arguably more stringent environmental regulations than the united states government itself. can we figure out a way to apply that single more stringent standard rather than forcing individuals, government agencies to comply with both?
in sum, it's always helpful for an administration to make sure our efforts at government regulation are effective and relevant. by all means eliminate the unnecessary or the ineffective. what is more important, however, is to usher in a new era of performance-based protections to improve regulations, save money, and protect the public welfare. the speaker pro tempore: the chair -- the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio, mr. kucinich, for five minutes. mr. kucinich: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. kucinich: thank you. thank you, madam speaker. as we begin this great debate over what our priorities are,
it's worth reflecting on an article written nearly three years ago in the sunday times of london by nobel prize winning economist joseph stigleich and his associate. here's what they write. the bush administration was wrong about the benefits of the war, talking about the iraq war. and was wrong about the costs of the war. the president and his advisors expected a quick and expensive conflict. instead we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined. the cost of direct u.s. military operations not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in vietnam and more than double the cost of the korean war and the best case scenario these costs are projected to be 10 times the cost of the first gulf war. almost 1/3 more than the cost
of the vietnam war. and twice that of the first world war. the only war in our history that cost more was the second world war when 16.3 million u.s. troops fought in a complain lasting four years at a total cost in 2007 dollars after adjusting for inflation of about $5 trillion. they go on to write with virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the germans and japanese the dozen per troop in today's dollars was less than $14u7bd,000. that's in 2007 dollars. by contract the iraq war is costing upwards of $400,000 per troop. most americans have yet to feel these costs. this is written almost three years ago. the price in blood has been paid by our voluntary military and contractors. the price in treasure has in a sense been financed entirely by borrowing. taxes have not been raised to pay for it. taxes on the rich have fallen.
deficit spending givers the illusion that the laws of economics can be repealed. that we can't have both guns and butter but of course the laws are not repealed. the costs of the war are real even if they have been deferred possibly to another generation. that from joseph and linda almost three years ago. one of the biggest costs of our soaring debt, one. biggest causes of our soaring debt and economic insecurity ends up being pentagon spending. the budget for the pentagon consumes more than half our discretionary spending. we have seen countless stories of u.s. taxpayer dollars going unaccounted for in iraq and afghanistan. we have had countless high-profile hearings on contractor fraud and the lack of oversight at the department of defense. according to the friends committee on national legislation, 39% of our income tax dollars last year went to pentagon spending on past and current wars. . the iraq war
kept us from responding to the financial crisis, increasing debtedness meant the government had had far less room to maneuver. so what we have is the u.s. financing war on borrowed money. we must examine our connection between soaring debt and these two wars. the war in iraq and the war in afghanistan. between 2003 and 2008 the u.s. debt increased by almost $4 trillion, a quarter that have debt is directly attributed to the war in iraq. the cost of the war in afghanistan has been over $455 billion to date and the deadline for that keeps sliding past 2014. now, in the national priorities.org they talk about a sustainable defense. and they say, one report says that there's options for
reducing military spending, saving nearly $1 trillion over the next decade. withouted a verts -- adversely impacting u.s. national security interests. so we can have a strong defense but we're spending so much money we're undermining our ability to be able to provide for the american people here at home. and we have to start taking care of things here at home. what will we sacrifice? will we sacrifice the education of our children for these wars? will we sacrifice social security for these wars? will we sacrifice medicare or medicaid for these wars? will we sacrifice our infrastructure for these wars? or will we say the war in iraq was based on lies, let's bring these troops home? will we say that afghanistan is a hopeless, corrupt mess and it's time to bring our troops home? and then begin to use the resources of our country, those resources that are hard-earned taxpayers dollars, use those moneys for things here at home. let's have that debate as we
talk about cutting the budget. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. pursuant to clause 12-a of rule 1, the chair declares the house in rec >> that the house will be back at 2:00 and begin debate on a measure that would cut not discretionary fiscal spending to 2008 levels. right now, we take you to the white house. robert gibbs has starting his briefing. >> in the state of the union address -- i am sorry, in the lame duck session, you saw that whether it was on taxes, things like start, issues like food safety, don't ask, don't tell,
people put aside game playing and broad bipartisan majorities. the american people saw two groups sitting down at a table and figuring out how to solve their problems. because of that, people have burst -- reacted positively to the progress that has been made. not just the overall impact of it, but how we went about doing it. it is a pretty good road map on a whole host of issues as we move forward. >> this weekend, something about gun-control do we expect the president to talk about that? >> from a policy perspective, as i said last week, i do not doubt that as a result of the issues
of what happened in tucson there will be a number of proposals that this white house and congress will about the weight. we will wait until tomorrow to see what is in the state of the union. >> [inaudible] >> i do not have any outcome on that evaluation. >> can you tell us how much time the president has spent on the state of the union address? >> most, if not all, of the policy decisions have been well made. the president met with advisers just this morning to go through where it is. i anticipate, as for most of his speeches, -- he worked on it certainly this weekend. he worked on it last week. he will continue to make line
edits as late as probably tomorrow evening. we will be putting out a fuller list of who has been invited, who will be in the first lady's box. i think some of you have seen the report that daniel hernandez will be there. that is accurate. the family of christina taylor grain will -- green will be there as well. the doctor who took the president around when he visited tucson will also be there. >> well they specifically recognize those people --
>> in a larger sense, i think he will. i do not remember if he points directly to them. their presence, the presence of those that the president has met with, talked to, talked with threat his travels around the country in the past year will make up the box. we will have a longer list with some biographies later this afternoon. >> but you will repeat the themes from the tucson speech? >> the president, as he did in last year's state of the union, as he did in tucson, the university of michigan commencement speech, talk about working together, the need to have a debate that is appropriate to the size of the challenges that we face in the
country. >> would it be fair to say that this speech will be different from the other ones because of the long laundry list? how long will it be? >> i do not think you will see a laundry list of issues. >> does that mean that there will be little on the way of specifics? >> i do not think this is intended to be a speech -- one where he spends large chunks of time walking through the specific occupations. -- machinations. he will specifically speak tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. >> i am not speaking about the specifics, i am just asking if there will be specifics. >> if i give you the answer of that, you will curiously have a follow-up.
yes, when questioned do you have that i cannot answer? >> some senior officials have called the spending unnecessary. why is invest the necessary here? >> i am happy to play this shell game. i think you have heard the president say over the past two years, talk about why it is important to invest in our people, the work force. i would stay tuned for what those might be. >> in terms of cuts, might we hear much about spending tomorrow? >> the state of the union is tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. we should put it on an easel up here. you should expect a detailed budget when it is unveiled in february.
i realize the futility of this exercise on both ends. [laughter] actually, we just moved it to 9:05. stay tuned. it will be 9:30 by the time we are done. >> how many supreme court justices will be there? >> we have not received all of the rsvp's. >> the president talked overseas in november about the need for him to make a midcourse correction. has he done that, what is it? >> i think the president has spoken broadly on this.
there was a period hut of reflection after the alexian's -- elections, and we have seen with the swearing in of a new congress, rather than the white house and washington, both houses being controlled by democrats, there is now a split in government, a split in the responsibility to come up with the solutions for this country. >> but how has he changed? >> i think, through a whole series of decisions on people leaving office, leaving working in this white house, it is pretty safe to say, there is some aspect of a new the new
leadership, a new team here to deal with the challenges of that shared responsibility. >> has the president ideologically moved to the center? >> he is the same president we have had for more than two years. >> could you tell us about the event tonight with the freshmen members? how does the president expects to spend his time? >> i think he will mendelsohn. -- mingle some. not unlike other events, the president will probably take pictures with a lot of the incoming members and have an opportunity during that to talk to them. i am sure they will have plenty to tell the president. >> are there going to be more events along these lines?
there seem to be more in the beginning but then they seemed to tail off. >> whether it is meeting the freshman, lunch with new republican leadership, i think you will see the president, as tend anin the past, expan invitation to members of congress and sit down and focus on what we agree on. as i said earlier, the model of a lame duck session where people can have a civil conversation at the same table and making progress is what the american people are looking for. >> robert, any comments on the republicans choosing budget chairman paul ryan to deliver
the response? >> none that i can think of. >> in his speech last year, president obama said he wanted monthly by partisanship meetings. he has only had five in the past year. do you know why he has not had more? >> that goes back to laura's question. if you listen to what the president said in the first bipartisan meeting he had with republican leaders after the election, as he said, we did not do enough of that. again, i keep going back to it. what people saw at the end of last year, the ability of two sides -- not to agree on everything, because that is not going to happen -- but to make common ground on those things that we can agree on, any time
you have more meetings, more defense where you have that rational conversation -- events where you have that rational conversation is probably a good thing. >> you said major policy decisions have been nailed down. is that the same thing for major pledge items? >> my sense is they have been made. a lot of that stuff goes to the printer well ahead of time. you still print the budget? it is a question that many of us have posed for the last two years. >> plans for releasing excerpts or anything else tomorrow? >> i think you'll soon see an e-
mail with briefing plans. we will walk you through the speech pretty close to its delivery. i do not know about the prospect of the exurbs. that is largely dependent on what sections of the president is finished tinkering with. >> the president has often talked about not wanting to kick the can down the road, making tough choices. it sounds like you are lowering expectations, saying that he will talk about things in the abstract. >> i think i would be largely accused of taking your first 10
questions as being far less than specific. i hope that you will not be unhappy with my on satisfying answers. i typically try to maintain my confidence through the remainder of this briefing, having virtually nothing with which i can enlighten you on. >> [laughter] >> now is like a 1980's game show. pass. >> the republican meeting tomorrow. do you consider it important, more symbolic? >> i thought it was interesting idea. senator udall was one of the
primary catalysts behind the idea. i think the president would say, any time there is more collegiality, less acrimony, less partisanship, either during the speech, debates on these issues, and that is a good thing for the process. i think we have to be mindful of that, not just on the state of the union, but as we move forward through the year. you all have been up there. i have been there. it gets to be a bit of -- everybody on one side stands up and cheers -- i can only imagine what the people at home are
thinking watching this up and down. any time you are talking about something that is as sobering as the state of our union, to do that in an atmosphere where democrats and republicans are not divided by a central aisle, but sitting together, i think that is a good step. the progress that we make overall on that issue will be dependent on not just the steps that are taken to change where people sit tomorrow, but the atmosphere, a collegiality of that debate moving forward. i do not think anyone in this town expects to wake up and not have any differences. that is why we have a democracy, that is why we have the system we have. th is not to say, though, as we are having those debates and
discussions, we cannot look at what unites instead of divides us. i think you will hear the president talk about that tomorrow. >> do you have a firmer date on when the budget will be released? >> the weekend of the 14th. i do not know if it is the 14th or 15th. there had been some delay of track being held up through confirmation that moved -- jack held up through confirmation that moved that to the 14th. >> talking about transportation, workforce, all of that potentially means spending. will this include tax incentives? that has been a large part of the program.
>> you could certainly have a debate about tax cuts and spending and what have you. i think the president broadly discussed both of those. >> speaking of tax cuts, those programs that are targeted for higher revenue -- generally speaking, in last year's state of the union, he said this commission would not just be a gimmick to say that we solve a problem. yet, two months later he has not said much about the recommendations. >> the exercise of the commission -- again, in the eyes of the president, members of that commission, -- they spoke
about and came to some conclusions on some tough issues. that process, from our standpoint, to the next point is part of the budget. i know it is not the most satisfying answer in the world, but i would wait until you see the budget next week. i think you are going to have a long and serious conversation over the next year or two years about how we get our fiscal house in order. as i said earlier in this briefing, this is not about whether or not we are going to do this, it is about how we are
going to do this. that is something you will hear and be taken up in the next months. >> starting tomorrow night? >> we should get together at 9:00 and listen. we have this weird thing about the president giving a speech. >> nancy pelosi and other democrats, as part of having a conversation include president obama getting his own party to have a serious conversation? >> i think the president would tell you one group in a party or one party alone is not going to come to a decision that will solve this problem. we did that get into this overnight. we did not get into this because of one set of ideas. it will take a lot of work to get out of. >> in terms of social security
reform, experts have talked about increasing benefits for for seniors and then means testing for older seniors. for capitol hill democrats, there is talk about a commission to cut sick -- social security. >> i am not going to get into the specifics of that. >> why is the president going to --[inaudible] >> because of green bay. it is a humbling experience. no, we are going to have more on this as we get closer to his activities. an extension of some of the visits he has done over the course of many months to talk
with folks in the country, to visit businesses and schools, hear about what is working and the expectations and hopes people have for continued progress, economically, brought the course of next year. again, you will see -- not as much highlights of that we have been involved in -- but there that we have been working on on a state and local level that are important to deal with the challenges you hear the president discussed. >> on competitiveness and jobs -- >> absolutely. >> thank you. >> back in 1996, the president
remarked on same-sex marriage. he wrote, i support same-sex marriage. has he backtracked on an earlier commitment that he has made? >> there are a whole host of things that i would point you to. i would reiterate what the president has said on that recently. >> do you dispute the accuracy of his question their response? >> i am happy to send you the several thousand clips that went around 2008 on a whole host of those issues. thank you, guys. >> there is a bill to kill the election.
where does the white house come down on this? >> the president believes -- certainly, if you look back on the decision the president was critical of a year ago, the concern about special interest money dictating the decision that are made at the ballot box are obviously something that is pretty concerning to him. i did not know who here has seen the specifics of the legislation, but obviously entering we have a fair campaign system is something that we support. >> robert -- >> maybe we should switch seats.
yes, ma'am. >> how many drafts are there? where is the president rehearsing for tomorrow night? >> i have not heard where he will go over the speech. >> not in the family theater? >> i am not sure he has ever done it in there. we get different editions of the speech. honestly, i do not know whether what has gone around is a full draft. this is something the president has spent a lot of time working on, writing down, thought about for quite a long time. >> going back to the issue we raised last week on gun- control, given that chicago and
washington, d.c. has a lot of violence, the president being a native of chicago, why has he not pushed issues of gun control more? is it because it is a complicated issue for democrats? >> first, we were talking about a series of, in some cases state, in some cases local issues in terms of the law governing the purchase of guns. there is no doubt, the gang violence that have resulted in the murders of kids in cities across the country are issues that are important to this administration, important to
this president, importantly, as you said, being from chicago. there are steps being taken by the department of justice to understand these localities. the president will be the first one to tell you that laws alone in any jurisdiction or governments are not going to ever fully stop what happens to young people -- i think he said in different speeches, have a hole in their heart, that lead them to do the types of things that lead them to kill kids their own age. these are issues that have to be met with responsibly, not simply at a state or local level, but at the kitchen table,
in churches, all over the country. >> yesterday, on "meet the press" house majority leader erich kantor said that he would reject further crazy talk. he said he would not. i am wondering if you think republican leaders ought to reject that kind of talk. >> i think rational people have come to the conclusion, many of them years ago, that the president was born in hawaii, is a citizen of the country. >> should citizens have -- republicans have a responsibility to clear that up? if it was sarah palin, for example? >> remember, there were
questions about the eligibility of the republican presidential nominees. president obama joint efforts to ensure efforts were taken -- joined efforts to ensure efforts were taken, where if there were any questions about that about your leadership -- again, rational people, many, when they first met him -- had no question about his citizenship. >> i asked you last week if the president was going to take out don't ask, don't tell from the speech. >> just wait until tomorrow. >> my follow up, the president
on his personal view on same-sex marriage -- i wanted to follow up if he has come to a different personal view -- >> as i said, i do not want to reiterate myself. it is something he thinks about. >> robert. jeffrey mdot is the head of the council on jobs. do we know any of the other members? >> we do not have a list of those other members. they will be comprised similarly to some brought makeup of what you have seen before.
those that have worked in government, business, those that have worked on the labor and union issues. the president wants a broad view point as we transition from the structure of focusing on the decision that have to be made immediately to prevent us from sliding from a recession to depression, now, after 12 months of pont -- positive job growth, how do we see that job growth not only continue but become greater, and how can we make decisions to put us on stronger footing for the long term? >> the teachers union put out some numbers and show that general electric is one of the biggest exporters of american jobs. with mr. mdot as the chairman of
the competitive council -- immelt as the chairman of the competitive council, does it contradict the message from the council? >> i do not think that it contradicts the message. we visited the birthplace of general electric. this company is bringing back jobs from overseas, back into upstate new york. as you walked around the floor of the factory, virtually every piece of equipment, a good measure of them, were being sent overseas. we are manufacturing them in
this country and then sending them overseas to support jobs. that in many ways, will be the challenge that we face. whether it is general electric, other companies, or other individuals that help to highlight that, the president will be talking about that. i know this is crazy. let's not yell. this includes youtube, lester. you do not get called on because you can yell the loudest. -- this includes you, too, lester. >> why did the democrats' proposal to break up seating at the state of the union come only this year after the democrats
became such a distinct minority in the house? >> read the first part again. >> why did the democrats' proposal to break up partisan seating at the state of the union -- >> a democratic conspiracy in which to combing the seating? >> this happen when the republican were in minority. >> i cannot speak to the republicans, but 52 minutes into this briefing, lester has uncovered the grand conspiracy of losing congress in order to come and go seats. if only we had thought about that earlier. >> how damaging is any leak of the speech to the peace process? >> as i understand news reports, and of which we have seen many, these are purported documents from another entity. i cannot speak to their
veracity. our focus continues to be on getting the two sides back to important, direct negotiations with our involvement in order to see progress. that is what the president has been focusing on, that is what people who work here and others, like george mitchell, have spent a lot of time in the region trying to do. i cannot speak to what is or what is not in the document. >> will the president speak in the state of the union about the rise of sectarian violence in the middle east? >> let's save that for the speech. >> will the president follow through next month about camp david, what would be accomplish
by doing that? >> i would go back to what laura and others have asked. mark as well. whether it is a bipartisan meeting in the cabinet room, a meeting in camp david, whenever these groups have a chance to sit down and get away from the partisan back and forth -- and again, speak directly to one another -- you have a better arm today -- opportunity to see where you agree on and how to move forward. we saw the basis for how we could get a lot done in december.
being able to spend time focusing on those issues that we all believe are important, those common solutions, i think, would to all of us well, and the american people to do that as well. >> in just over one hour, the house cavils back in four legislative work, their first day of work for the week. they will begin debate on the rule for a measure that would cut all discretionary non- security federal spending back to fiscal year 2008 levels. that is expected to get underway. the latest we hear is they will gavel and at 2:00 and debate this afternoon until about 5:00
eastern. there will be a vote sometime after 6:30. the state of the union tomorrow night. our coverage gets under way at 8:00 eastern with our previous program. then the speech at 9:00. we will follow that with the republican reaction of paul ryan of wisconsin. it is also on c-span2 as well. on to some 2012 presidential politics next. last week, rick santorum, said to be considering a 2012 run, spoke to the members of the taken republican club. his comments and questions from about 50 minutes.
i will make a few remarks and then get your thoughts and questions. thank you for having me. of all things on my reza may, these are the things that get the most reaction from the audience, the last thing on their resume. karen and i are raising seven amazing children. i had a question from a young lady in the back, why are you doing this? in large part, it is those seven children, and other children. we look at the state of this country. seven kids is a lot of responsibility. one of our gross has special needs, and she deserves a lot of special care. it allows me to think about why i am here. i think about what has been
happening in this country, particularly the past year, but inexorably the past dozen years, that we have seen this country -- our basic freedoms are winnowed away, centralized and taken by an ever increasingly powerful government in washington, d.c. i often think about the frog on the pot on the stove. if you gradually turn the heat sit there until itei boils to death. if you do it quickly, it will jump out. so in that sense, i want to thank barack obama, nancy pelosi, harry reid, for turning up the heat on that stove. [applause] and a lot of books, me
included, allow the temperature to rise and rise. that is what the tea party is all about. all of these organizations, people that have come alive, off of their couches -- i was going to say something else, but this is being recorded. off of their couches and into the streets. if you want to know the difference between what is happening in america and the rest of the world, looking at this march toward socialism -- just look at the protest. you have people in ireland, france, spain, protesting because government is taking something away from them. in this country, you have people protesting because government is trying to do too much. that is the essence between america. you all understand that.
you understand our dna in america is different from the dna in every other place in the world, certainly from those countries from which america was founded. the phrase in our founding document, the declaration of independence, sums up the heart of american exceptional dozen. at the heart of american exceptional is and is this phrase. we are endowed by our creator by certain unalienable rights. that phrase sums up america better than any other phrase. it is what makes us different. it is what makes us different from folks that we see as our allies, friends, even similar to us, but they are not. if you think about the founding documents and what our founders were trying to get across, it was revolutionary. remember, we came from a
continent where that was not true. we came from a continent where the belief was that god gave rights to the sovereign, the king, and then the king or the queen spread the wealth. in america, we did not believe that. we believe that every individual has rights given to them by god. the foundation of our country, the foundation of everything we believe it is a belief in god and a belief that god gives each of us writes that the government is due to respect -- rights that the government is due to respect and further protect. that was a revolutionary concept. people came to the country over the past 200 years. my father and grandfather included. they came to this country because of that, because of that promise of respecting the dignity of every human life,
respecting the dignity of their work and of their faith and of their stuff -- pursuit in helping to build stronger families and communities. that is the essence of america, and it is not what is going on or went on in your -- in europe. it is no surprise to me to see europe and the state it is. one of the thing you see some of the writers of the american left, they are angry about what is going on in america right now. they don't understand why america is not going the same direction as europe, why we resist socialism. what is socialism? socialism, but for another need, it is the same as a monarchy. it is the government taking care of you, the government getting the rights from god and spreading the ball from. in europe, they are used to that, used to being ruled, used
to being taken care of. we are, and we will. >> amen. [applause] >> so, it is that which i think has brought a lot of the -- out a lot of the woodwork and brought me to being here and traveling around the country to try to deliver the message that i hope will unify this country and bring us to a point where we are willing to stand up and say -- government, we can in fact do with less. and if you look at my record, i came to the congress in 1990. i won't say some what of america. i think by much estimation, america. midterm bush 41. it was not a good election year. george bush forgot how to read his lips, and if you were a
republican, you are not doing particularly well in 1990. you lost seats in the congress. but there were a handful of states as a pick -- we picked up. i ran against the incumbent democrat, subcommittee chairman on one of the most important committees. he had almost a million dollars which he spent. i spent about $200,000. i grew up in western pennsylvania -- and, by the way, any black and gold fans out here? just curious. a few? good. i grew up in western pennsylvania but i never lived in that county. i lived in a neighboring county. spent about five years in that district. i was frustrated with the person and i went out and ran and no one -- no one gave me a chance. on election night, when i won the election -- because i knocked on 20,000 doors and i stood up and talked about the government was getting too big, i talked about respect for human life and the importance of the
family, and we had a message that connected at that time and i was able to beat a 14-year democratic incumbent. that night it was reported that this man lost, but "the wall street journal" -- you know it has blurbs on the front column, "the wall street journal" called the republican congressional committee in washington, d.c., responsible for managing all the campaigns and they said we heard this congressman out in western pennsylvania won. can you tell us the name of the person who the them? -- beat them? i was completely off the radar screen. i came to washington with only one thing in mind. do the right thing for the country. i started out with a guy named john boehner and we formed a group called the gang of seven,
which might have heard of. a group that saw corruption in the house of representatives and we said, we are not going to stand with this. members of congress have bank accounts -- you were required -- i was told when i signed up, when i filled in my papers to become a member of congress, you had to have your paycheck deposited in the house bank. i said, why can't i have in my bank? it has to be in the house bank so you can write a check. i said, if that is the way it is. i was 32 years old. what did i know? six months later, there is a report from the general accounting office that says members of congress are writing bad checks on the bank accounts at the house bank and the taxpayers are covering it. i thought that was outrageous, and so did john and a few other of us -- actually five, and we went out and sets and the about. they ignored us, including my own leader. it -- this is not a problem. you are overblowing this.
no big deal. it turns out this report had been issued for 20 years. every two years they did a review of this and issued this report and the same thing happened. a group of freshmen held a press conference and said this has got to end, then they went away. we were not your typical group of freshmen. so we decided we were not going to let it go. for two years we stayed on this. and eventually, not only did we see the without doubt about the corruption of the house bank but also the house post office. it led to the indictment and conviction of the chairman of the ways and means committee, dan rostenkowski of chicago -- [applause] and other convictions. here was the interesting part. it was hard to stand up to a democratic majority who had been there for 40 years. i tell you what was harder -- to stand up against your own leadership. two of the members who were involved and ended up losing
their election, or retiring, who involved with this, were in the republican leadership and they put huge pressure on all of us to sort of back down. but we didn't back down. because it wasn't the right thing to do. two years later i had to get reelected. it was 1992. now, that is a redistricting year. two of our congressional seats were lost -- probably one of them to south carolina. because all of you folks from pittsburg moving down here. that is another story. you cost me my seat. i just want you to know that, those of you hear from pittsburgh. we lost one of them -- one of them was mine. mine was broken into three districts and i was put in with a 20-year incumbent and a 72 percent said of the credit district. talking about the steel valley of pittsburgh. it is tough. blue-collar, union tough.
72% democratic. i ended up running in 1992. george bush in my district that 29% of the vote when he was running for reelection and i got 60. i decided we -- what i came back, i got put on the ways and means committee and it just so happened that no one else was particularly interested in this subject area called welfare. and i was. i got a ranking member of a subcommittee that dealt with welfare reform. i ended up over a two-year period of time working and drafting a major overhaul of the welfare system that turned out to be included with the contract in a -- with america. i got reelected, i did this, and after that, in 1994 i decided to run for the united states
senate and it -- against the democratic incumbent who just beat a sitting attorney general of united states, dick thornburgh, and beat him badly, and also former two-term governor. no one thought he could be beaten. everybody wanted to run for an open governor's seat and i decided i was going to take on the incumbent democratic senator. we did. in 1994, i want. you say 1994 was a great year. it was a great year but only two democratic incumbent senators lost. we took a bunch of seats -- except to come open seats. i defeated a democratic incumbent again. defeated a democratic incumbent to win the house, to win the senate -- pretty good at beating democratic incumbents. [applause] came to the united states senate and we reform began. the first thing we did is we put term limits on committee chairmanship. term limits on our leaders.
we did all sorts of rules changes to make congress accountable and that led the fight on the floor of the united states senate as a freshman member -- at the end of my first year in office, to reform the welfare system. over a year i worked with the clinton administration and the house, to be able to craft a compromise to do something that has never been done in the history of america, which was to end a broad federal entitlement. welfare reform passed in 1996, and passed with 17 votes. we ended entitlements and got almost half of the democratic caucus to join us because of the way we work together to get it done. did we compromise? yes, we did. but it would compromise on principle? no, we didn't. that is the magic that has to be struck. because unless we are going to deal with this huge problem of federal entitlements confronting this country, we are not going to get the size of government
under control. we are not going to get our deficit under control. and you have someone who has actually done it, or to do it. i did not stop there. i went out and start working on social security. in 1997 i won on air force one to kansas city, missouri, with bill clinton and me. i was a republican representing our side talking about how we have to reform the social security system in this country. i come from a state has the second oldest per-capita population of seniors in the country. florida is first, pennsylvania is seconds. and i would say that our seniors rely on social security more because all of my rich seniors move to florida and south carolina, i might add. no offense. so the folks on pennsylvania rely on social security. here i was two years out of being elected to the united states senate and i am running around the country talking about changing the system. we did not succeed -- talking about a blue dress that came in
the way. but we did not succeed, but we actually made the case. during that time i kept saying go back and look of my speeches. i kept saying, there is one date in the future that will change everything. unless we do something by the state, reform of social security -- by this date, reform of social security will be fixed. we will have to do bad things, either raise taxes or cut benefits. this date in the future, it is we have to get it done by that date. you know what date i kept talking about it? january 2011. that is the first month that the baby boomers begin to retire. i said by that time, it is over. if we did not reform social security by then we will not be -- will not have the money to do what. now we are stuck, like ronald reagan was that in 1983 to try to fix social security. but we have to deal with social security.
first and foremost we have to repeal obamacare, the next big federal -- [applause] and we can't do that. the house of going to pass it this week or next. but is -- it is not going to pass in the senate. i think there might be democratic votes to repeal the. there will be a bipartisan vote to repeal it, but it will not pass. certainly not with this president. if we want to repeal a multibillion-dollar program and start on the process of fiscal sanity, then we have to elect a republican president in 2012 and republican senators so we have the margin to get it done. [applause] in addition, we have to decide about medicaid and medicare. all the programs have to be dealt with. if there are questions about that, i will take it. i probably talked log of but i want to conclude by saying, i am
-- probably talked longer enough but i want to conclude by saying i am optimistic about america because of what i talked about at the very beginning, our dna. all this cries that we will go to socialism -- it is not going to happen, folks. it is not going to happen. we are not them. we are different. and we saw that in the last election, and i believe we will see it again in 2012. and you folks here have a disproportionate impact on what is going to happen because you happen to be the first in the south primary states in the 2012 presidential election. you will see a lot of folks trooping through here talking about what they are going to do and what they have done. and it is going to be up to you -- it really is. i did not think there has been a republican nomination for president who has not won south carolina. is that true? >> 1980. >> of the county -- that is the other.
so, you folks have a huge, a huge impact in a sense, you are the key resource department for the country when it comes to president. and i know you do because obviously this is a good crowd today -- i know you take that responsibility seriously. but, please do. it is an opportunity that you have to do something great for your country. i know there are military folks here who think, well, to serve your country you have to put a uniform on. no, you don't. you have to put his citizenship hat on. you have to engage in the process. our country really is at a tipping point, crossroads, you name it. we are at the crossroads. and i am confident we will be successful because i am confident that i believe in you. but it won't happen unless we take that responsibility seriously. the bottom line is, between what they believe that we believe, is that they believe that they are smarter than everybody else. they believe they can plan
things out and tell everybody how to win their lives -- what the education system is going to look like, what health care system is going to look like, what financial system -- how to run an auto company, because they are smart people in washington and we out here are not that smart. our founders did not look at it that way and day where in many respects more aristocratic then those that we have in washington today. they believe in you. they believe in the power of the people, the god-given rights, given the proper ability, can do amazing things. one fact that you need to remember in terms of how exceptional america is. average life expectancy in 1776 was roughly the same as it was at the time of jesus christ. for 1800 years, yes, there have been developments and changes, but nothing much happened
because of how people who ruled, they were not free do you want freedom was given to people, once their inherent dignity was recognized and their rights were recognized, and 200-plus years, life expectancy doubles. not just here but in other places around the world. that is not just because, well, that is where technology was, it could happen anywhere. " really? did it happen in the muslim world question of no, it did not. it happened in the communist countries? no, it did not. it happens because of us. this is the gift your parents gave you. this is -- you are the stewards of this great inheritance. it is on your watch now and it is at risk. i pray that you do what they did and stand up and leave america
at least as great. thank you, god bless. i will be happy to take questions. [applause] >> assuming you might agree it is unavoidable not to raise the national debt ceiling, what strategy would you advise the republicans to take to deliver fiscal sanity while avoiding the government shut down black eye we got with clanton? >> really two issues. the government shut down with bill clinton was not a debt ceiling issue. the debt ceiling issue will come up -- the borrowing capacity will be at its next.
we will not able to borrow money to be able to pay our bills and pay interest on our bonds. and it will be in default if we don't raise that ceiling. that cannot happen. i understand people saying, well, to send a message to everyone -- you don't send a message to every wide -- everybody by costing the american tax payers tens of billions of dollars in higher interest costs and a host of other things that would be a problem. i fit what you do is you make your point by attaching to that debt ceiling increase some spending cuts as a down payment on some of the other things we will need to do. , hisnk the president' recent conversion process is any near real -- i am not convinced of that. whether politics will dictate a different course, that is different. but as far as their ability to
be able to get spending cuts, this is their best opportunity, to tie it to the debt ceiling, do some reductions in discretionary spending and maybe even some of entitlement reforms and pass it on. it will be hard to get through the senate but i think the house -- as long as they don't go over reaching, as long as they come up with solid proposals that have broad support, i think they can get a debt ceiling increase and some spending cuts. what we are talking about with shutting down the government -- the real shutdown of the government could take place this fall. the federal government passed a fiscal year, october 1 to september 30. what happened in 1995 with
congress -- and i was in it, senate and the time, we wanted to cut spending and the president did not want to do it. he did not want to get rid of the midnight basketball programs and other things in the budget. we decided we would pass budgets that he would sign. it eventually he did sign it again and we ran -- did not sign it again and we ran out of money, because the appropriation bill had not passed -- not because we did not raise the debt ceiling, but because we did not fund the government. he went out to the american public and said, see, these folks are crazy. it came here with your ago. these revolutionary spirit -- these revolutionaries. he was able to paint big bridge and the like as fanatics that when not being responsible -- paint newt gingrich as fanatics. there are a group of house republicans, bless their hearts, that is going to pass a budget that is really tough. and this president will not want
to sign it. and i think there are an of house republicans -- i think -- to hold the line and force a showdown. and so, the president is going to have that -- to make that decision, whether he will sign he does -- something he does not want or that the government shut down but my experience being a teacher -- and if you look at what the president is doing -- try to pattern himself as bill clinton. experience being the teacher, i would not be surprised if the president would let that happen and they would be -- will be successful again unless in the next weeks and months that the conservative movement, the tea party movement, as well as members of congress, are out there talking about this eventuality. if you don't hear about this again until october, then we are going to lose. because the public is not going to understand what is going on. this has to be a drumbeat
starting now. i think what are helped by the fact that the debt ceiling increase is in play because we are talking about a similar scenario. this is maybe a dry run for what will happen in the fall, which may be a good thing for a spiffy the other positive is, this is not 1995. there is this thing called the internet, which al gore just invented back in 1995. it was not a great, big utility at that june -- at that point. we had rushed limbaugh, and now we have talk radio extraordinaire all over the place. so there are ways to get information out that didn't exist in 1995. that, to me, is the secret weapon that i think barack obama will miss if he thinks he can repeat it because in 1995, the mainstream media was on his side, that is why he won. now, it does not matter -- it helps a lot. don't get me wrong.
but it is not the determining factor. >> what is your stance on health care? the size of the fact going to cobra -- what about young children? kids that we are telling to go to college and get an education. they come out of college and it cannot find a job in their field. they are finding jobs but they are uninsured so they are paying a lot and a high deductible. they are told now they can go back onto our policies, as parents. some of these corporations say, no, you can't, you are grandfathered in. we will not be health coverage. >> talk about an important issue, health insurance. we used the term health care. i think we have to be very careful, talking about health policy, that we use the proper terms. one is health insurance. one is medical care. because there is a difference
between -- between not getting medical care and not getting health insurance. everybody in america, if they are in need of medical care, particularly of an urgent nature, gets medical care. and they get the best medical care in the world. the issue you bring up is an important one, which is health insurance. why do we have high health insurance rates? pretty easy -- because it costs a lot. why does it cost a lot? because we have a system in place that does not control costs. the system in place that does not control costs is to fold. number one, most of the money spent on medical care in this country is paid for by the government. medicare and medicaid. and the federal and state employees health-care benefits. so you have in a sense government-run health care that
is the biggest factor in health care. what do they do? do you think they run an efficient and wise allocation of health care resources known? do you think they said artificial caps and limits and arbitrary in the way manage it? yes, they do. as a result, the private sector system has to then managed not just their own risks but managed vis a vis the bulk of the medical care being paid for that is probably not being properly compensated. so, you've got the private sector trying to manage its own care, government regulations telling them how to do it and government intruding in the marketplace and tilting the whole playing field because providers are used to certain reimbursement rates and coverage is from the government. it is a hybrid system that is not working very well because the government has way too much power and influence. throw on top of that, what the
government did in the very beginning, which is -- price controls after world war ii. no other insurance is provided for your work place other than health insurance? because the government put wage and price controls after the war. and so companies could not give you wage increases of a started giving you benefit increases, which was a loophole. that is how employer-provided health care started. does it make any sense to have your health care tied to your health insurance tied to employment? no. i guess i say that to sort of -- to sort of lead a playing field out. why there is a health insurance acts as problem -- because with a system that is pretty dysfunctional. if you really want to solve the access problem you have to solve the cost problem. the problem with obamacare is he went out and talked about how health care was going to be
crashing every business and was going to be crushing the federal budget deficit, so what does he do? he had a $2 trillion entitlement and a government control of the private sector. i give you one example. there are hundreds of regulations that will be promulgated under obamacare. you probably heard of a couple. how many of you heard of a regulation promulgated two days before christmas, coincidentally, dealing with something called minimum loss ratios. raise your hand. 1, 2, 3, four, five, six. less than 1% of the people in this room -- about 1% of the people in this room. minimum loss ratios. it is huge. what does it do? the federal government went out and said it to private insurers, here is how much money you have to spend on men -- medical benefits as a percentage of the money you take in.
now, when bill clinton put his clinton-care plan together, he put it together and made a horrible mistake that barack obama was not going to repeat. here was a horrible mistake. it made his program cost trillions of dollars. and obamacare does not cost nearly as much as clinton desk care but much more expansive and worse. but by learning what clinton did wrong. what did do wrong? minimum loss ratios. really? that is what it was. [laughter] the congressional budget office, in looking at clinton care said that the clinton administration set the minimum loss ratio at 90%. what does that mean? every insurer has to pay out 90% of their premium dollars in medical benefits.
and by the way, the average is hiwhere from mid soon 60's 2 70's. they said 90. so the congressional budget office said, look, if you factor in the cost of marketing for the health insurance and paying the folks who salad and paying the full to administer the claims, there is -- paying the full two sell it, paying to administer, there is nothing less. -- left. in fact, all the private sector is, is working as a third-party administrator, if you will, for the government. so we will count all of the money insurance companies collect as federal revenues and all the expenditures ask -- as federal and expenditures. thus, the clinton health care program was trillions of dollars. what does the obama administration do? they were smart and they set it at 85.
but so, in essence, what will happen is there are substantive differences in insurance companies. everyone of the plant has to have 85% minimum -- plans. does it mean some will be more? insurance companies will make money charging what they're charging you now? no. what will they do? they will have to increase their premiums. premiums have already gone up and they will go up even more wanted is implemented. why? they cannot make it on these margins. the reason why -- it is a long answer, but talking about what we are going to do about it. the essence is what are you going to do about government interference in the marketplace, about reforming the system so we can have some real cost reduction. what works in america -- to
reduce costs. ladies and gentlemen, in health insurance, americans don't have any skin in the game. unless your skin in the game you are not going to control costs. the only way you're going to crunk strip -- control costs, and openly obamacare, the only way it controls costs this rationing care. i gave a speech at the state capitol on saturday. i talked about -- it was a pro- life speech. but i spent most of my time talking about obamacare and this great fight for the pro-life movement. because what obamacare will do, without question, it is rationed care. because of faults in the progressive movement, the folks on the left, -- the folks in the progressive movement, the folks on the left, they cannot look as an individual as something of value. a famous quote talking about
stolid's russia. socialists love people. russia. 's look at how obama talks. he divides you up into sections. he divides into your ethnic group or racial group for your gender group, or into your class. because that is how he sees you. he does not see you, he sees you as a former military. he sees you as a group that he can appeal to, he can pick off. he sees you as a means. i see you as an end, because you are you. because you are, as our founders said, you have rights. you are the end in this country, every individual is an end. that is a fundamental difference between them and us, is how they
look at you. and unless we fix health care, unless we fix health care by focusing'll -- you and on you, it is not going to work. it is an important issue. if i get another question on health care i will tell you some of the ideas we will put forward. >> what do you see as the ultimate solution of the problem of illegal immigration? >> this is probably -- i found it interesting that the president ran on illegal immigration, house and senate democrats ran on illegal immigration and the senate democrats never even brought up for a vote. at a super majority. they could pass any bill that won with democratic votes and never brought up until after the election when they could not pass any bill they wanted and then they blame the republicans for blocking. what does it tell you about what this issue is really about?
it is about politics. purely about politics. and it is tragic. because you have a group of people in america who are political pawns, being used again, as i mentioned before, by this president, to break into classes, to put one -- pit one group of americans against another. if you want to understand the psychology of immigration and every other issue you hear the president talk about, it will always be us versus them, the bad guys, the insurance companies, the employers who don't care about who they hire. on immigration, the basic bottom line is that we first and foremost how to -- have to secure the border. [applause] it is a national security issue. look at what is going on in mexico. mexico, if it was not such a big
country and had such wealth, it would be on the verge of teetering over. but it has a big enough economy that is probably going to be able to hold on, but it will be dysfunctional. certainly along the border. and from the standpoint of national security, the standpoint of fighting the drug wars, it is essential for us to have a secure border because that is where all of this crime and drugs is coming through. not to mention, the additional threat of terrorism. i always remind people that three-time it week i believe it is, there is commercial service between tehran and caracas, venezuela. and that plain, when it arrived in tehran, occasionally stops at a military base before it comes in to the civilian terminal. there is no question there are jihad is training camps in venezuela and other areas of central and south america. i don't know about you, but i am
not sure i can tell a spanish- speaking iranian from a spanish- speaking venezuelan when they crossed the border, or mexico. these are serious issues that a border -- the border security must address and we have had folks on frankly both sides of the aisle who, for opposite political reasons, refused to deal with it. but that has to be dealt with. on the issue of immigration generally, i mentioned before, my father was an immigrant. when he came to this country at the age of aids, he did not speak a word of english. -- age of 8, he could not speak english. he was put in school where they spoke english. when i was growing up my grandmother never spoke english, so when i got old enough to figure it out i asked my dad, why have not you taught us italians alike in speak to my grandmother? he said, because you are an american. if you don't need to speak italian. [applause]
and he used to tell me, the greatest gift america gave me is when i came here they taught me what it meant to be an american. that is first and foremost how to speak the language of america. [applause] so, what we need to do -- i am pro-immigration, pro-legal immigration. if it were not for immigration we will be declining in population. even with immigration, it is barely growing. american is i think the leased or second least densely populated western country in the world. there is plenty of room in america for more people will want to come here to be americans. who want to come here to raise their children and to learn what america is and to assimilate into our culture, and add to it -- add your perspective. but to buy into that document that all men are created equal,
that document that understand about freedom. most people who come to this country even today legally -- i would say most, probably all, come here not because they want government to give them something. they come here because they want the opportunity that all of us have had. from my perspective, one of the ways you could solve this problem is actually bringing more people live. who want to come here and work. we have a screwed up immigration system that says we have lotteries, with a family unification -- which means you bring people here who do not want to workers who want to come here because somebody else here is working. if it is a child or white, it is one thing. but if it is great and bessie, that is something else. -- great aunt bessie, that is something else. we have the focus on getting immigration right. if we are getting immigration right, i am not concerned that more mexicans want to come to this country. it is not bother me at all. i look at our neighbors in
europe. they have an immigration problem, too. but where do their immigrants come from? tunisia, turkey, algeria, libya -- need i go on? you get it? there is a difference. we are blessed. we have people who want to come here who buy into america. and i am ok. as long as they subscribe to the motto that is on our quince -- not just in god we trust, but e pluribus unum -- out of many, one. that is what has made america great and that is what we can do to solve this immigration issue. [applause] no questions on that side. there you go. making sure i am being fair. >> what are the chances that the department of education can be dismantled? [applause]
>> the question is what is it the chances department of education has been dismantled. i would say what we should do is focus on dismantling programs in the department of education and taking them one by one and show why these programs simply cannot and should not be done by the federal level. i am for a very radical concept in education. we have seven children. we have home schooled all our children up to a certain point and then they have gone to school but through grade school we homes will our kids. why? because we think there is a lot more to education than just book -- book learning. book learning is obviously important, we also believe that learning their faith is important, we also believe character development is important, we also think doing things in the community and being involved with people not just their own age is important. so we want to provide a different kind of education.
i can tell you, we were criticized and penalized, particularly in the state of pennsylvania, because teachers unions are very strong. they don't like that. what i believe we have to do -- and we are seeing -- the one good thing about no child left behind is a finally measured across the country and when we finally got the measurements we find out something that everyone can agree on -- our education system is not working very well. that is a good thing that came from no child left behind. the bad thing is all of the federal programs to try to fix. federal programs are not going to fix. we have to change the way we look at education. we developed education based on the progress of left wing model. government schools. it is a turn-of-the-century factory model. schools have not changed since the turn of the century factory model. we have unions and management
and buildings that everybody goes to and are stuck together and it is almost like building a model t, is how education works. guess what? we have changed. we figured out there are better ways to do this. the other thing that it does is it puts the experts in charge. even good, decent conservative people -- i suspect even people in this room -- have deferred to the experts in education when it came to the education of their children. that is foolish. you should listen to them -- don't defer to them. nobody knows your child, what's best for your child, better than you. and we have forgotten that in education. i believe in a system of education that is not child- based, not government-based, not school-based, classroom-based, it is parents-based.
why? because it is the parent's's obligation to educate your children. and the government should be there to help parents do what is best for their children. an ideal world for me is the superintendent of the school district sitting down with you as a parent at the end of the school year and saying, what can i do, what resources cannot deploy, how can we structure a system for your child to give them the best chance to learn? i have seven children, and they all learn differently. they are all different. if you put them in the same classroom, i will guarantee you they will not all do the same. my boys learn differently than my girls. and we have an education system -- let's be honest -- it is. toward -- geared toward girls? why? because you have to sit still and learn.
tell me if your boy of third grade can sit still and learn all day? again, it is the smart people who think they knew -- know best. but having been a home schooling parents and knowing it, and you did not have been the smartest person. you just have to love the child and do what is best for them. and you have to put them in an environment where they can thrive, not just by learning of this but they need to learn. but look out there. when you are hiring people, do you hire a person who has the best grades or view hire someone with the best character? and you can teach them things -- if they are good kids and a willing to learn. we for it. we get so focused on numbers and statistics, that that somehow is going to tell us how our kids are doing in some respects and we lose the fact that they are human beings, not machines. we need an education system that is human again. and we need parents involved in
that. are you going -- are there going to be some parents who are bad parents? yes, but darned few. we will lose a lot less children because parents did not do their job then we aren't losing right now under the system that we have. -- then we are losing right now. the dropout rate in some schools is over 50%. i think we are thinking too small we say eliminate the department of education. i think we need to look bigger. i think we need to look at how we can change the education system in the country to rain gauge parents and education of their children -- re-engage parents in the education of their children. >> in just under 15 minutes we expect the u.s. house to gavel back in to begin debate on the rule for a bill that would cut all discretionary non-security or defense battles -- federal spending to fiscal 2008 levels.
the house coming in at 2:00 p.m. eastern with a vote expected tuesday. the senate comes in tuesday as well. the first time in a couple of weeks for the senate. it will take up debate in consideration of possible worlds changes to the filibuster rule. live coverage of the senate on c-span2 and house on c-span. coverage on both networks tomorrow evening of the president's state of the union address. our c-span coverage, the preprogrammed gets underway at 8:00 tomorrow and the speech gets underway at 9:00. 2011 marks 30 years since the start of the ronald reagan presidency and 100 years since his birth in february of 1911. c-span viewers this morning commented on the reagan legacy as part of this morning's "washington journal." itter. on the front page of "usa today" this morning, the cover story is an interview with former president george h.w.
bush, who served with the ronald reagan. "recalling the private real genius man that he was." it begins, "when george bush first met ronald reagan, he instantly liked his political rival and partner." host: more on that interview in just a little bit. also in the "usa today" op-ed section, they're talking to several different government officials about their feelings regarding the reagan legacy.
the first is from president obama. "reagan saw we are all patriots ." "he recognize that each of us has power to shape our own destiny. he h faith in e american promise and the importance of reaffirming values like hard work and personal responsibility." host: we are talking about the reagan legacy 30 years later.
texas, our first call this morning on the "washington journal." craig on the line for independents. go ahead. caller: thank you for c-span. i'm a vietnam veteran. i was also stationed out of california. i knew reagan as a governor and as a president. like most presidents, there's a good, bad, and the ugly. the good parts were his wanting toecrease nuclear arms. the bad part was, when he took over, there was less than $1 trillion in debt. after reagan economics, we had $4.5 tllion debt. the dismantling of the manufacturing, and it started
about that time period -- like i said, there is good. i respect the man. i thought he was a decent american citizen. i do not rate him as high. he tried. host: illinois on the line for democrats. u are on the "washington journal." caller: i think he is the start of all the trouble. he tucked the unions away with the airline pilot people. he broke that union. he started ruining all the unions. he sent everything overseas. he put us in the hole we're in now. i think he is the worst president who has ever lived. he ruined america.
that's why we have the problems we have now. thank you. host: throughout theorning, we will be showing you some video we have in our archives. if you would like to see some of that video of ronald reagan, you can go to our web site, c- span.org. c-span.org is our web site address. go to that site and you can find plenty of video of our 40th president, ronald reagan. silver spring, maryland. anne on the line for democrats. you are on the "washington journal." caller: i think ronald reagan was an extremely corruptive person. his own biographer called him a liar. he deregulated things in the
worst ways. he even deregulated old age funds -- old age homes. it has been totally disastrous for our country. he redistributive the wealth, but he distributed it upward in a way that has been exceedingly corruptive influence. the problems we have now, not just the budgetary problems in terms of the money the government owes, but why we owe it and how we owe it. he should be totally condemned. host: we will leave it there. one of our twitterers has sent us this message. >> reagan defeated the soviets,
thanks to the economy, and inspired a nation's resurgence with his communication skills." boehner writes about a man who shaped our times. "from its very first moment, the presidency was a call to arms. he declaregovernment is not the solution to our problem. government is the problem. it struck a chord with a small town, small business people." host: we are talking about the reagan legacy. marino valley, california, on the line for republicans. mike, you are on the "washington
journal." caller: reagan is one of the press -- is one of the best presidents we've ever had. he does not issue the budgets. he just amidst them. he was able to basically bankrupt the soviet union, which is one reason why it fell. i went to europe. i was ready to defend myself as a republican. i found that in 1980, people were happy that president reagan was in office. they felt there was a change coming. he did help the united states win the cold war. though the budget did increase, it was a mutual thing between
the replicans, the democrats, and president reagan. he did a lot to bring self- confidence, assurance, and pride back to the united states. i think we owe him quite a debt. host: mike, are you old enough to remember president reagan when he was governor? caller: i turned 18 in 1976. host: ok, so the answer to that would be no. caller: i remember him as governor, but not his actions and so forth. host: let's move on to annapolis, maryland. ed, on the line for independents. what do you think is the reagan legacy 30 years later? caller: his legacy is -- most of the intelligent republicans,
which i was one of bore he played his games -- the bipartisan bickering that we have now is a full legacy of him. i watch what he did in california and it was very, very disturbing. thank you. host: one of the earlier callers talked about reagan and talking to reagan in the post-vietnam era. in "usa today" this morning, there's an article by john mccain, who talks about an unshakable faith in america. he talked about when he came back from vietnam and what reagan meant to him. he said, "our country has a long and honorable history. a lost war or any other calamity should not destroy our
confidence or weaken our purpose." host: back to the phones. lookout mountain, georgia a, on the line for independents. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i hope i do not lose my signal. host: you are doing fine. caller: my comments on the reagan administration are as much a comment on the 1980's as it is on the man. i have lived in france for nine and a half years. i returned to the united states to my hometown of washington, d.c. in 1982. it i recently opened my own business on 18th street nw
washington. one day i was startled and afraid because of tanks and all kinds of artillery. it was literally parade of artillery and tanks coming up 18th street. i was in my shop and i was afraid. it turned out to be an arms bazaar heading to one of the major hotels. i knew there were amecan arms dealers living in france. some were very wealthy. they were essentially selling arms to the middle east. host: what does this have to do with ronald reagan? caller: ronald reagan had a policy of free rein to selling arms to the middle east. i believe that we knew at that time.
there was no oversight, not on >> "washington journal," live very day at 7:00 a.m. eastern. believe this now as the u.s. house is deviling in for a legislative work. -- gavelling in for legislative work. this lawmaking chamber with a reflection on your holy word and prayerful petition. this representative government, lord, is ladened with great expectations and innumerable problems. so in the early hours we seek your light and inspiration to seattle priorities and shape proper means to achieve common goals of legislation.
in this information age surrounded by media opinions, kindly lead us to the essential truth on all the issues. in the evening before we take our rest, lord, help each member find the time for grateful prayer to renew love and loyalty. lest we be consumed by work or become tepid due to debate and criticism, renew us in our commitments to be faithful both in love and service. in the beginning and in the end of each passing day may we draw closer to you now and forever. amen. the speaker: the chair has examined the journal of the last day's proceedings and announces to the house his approval thereof. pursuant to clause 1 of rule 1, the journal stands approved.
the pledge of allegiance will be led by the gentleman from indiana, mr. young. mr. young: i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the speaker: the chair will entertain one-minute requests. for what purpose does the gentleman from south carolina rise? mr. wilson: i ask permission to address the house for one minute. revise and extend my remarks. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. wilson: mr. speaker, this week i was startled to read a brief by corey hutchins that the national labor relations board announced plans to sue south carolina and three other states because voters approved ballot amendments in november. in south carolina more than 85% of voters chose yes on an amendment to give employees the
constitutional vote by secret ballot on union representation. this threat is an insult to the voters of the palmetto state and it is an insult to the sacred right of secret ballot. sadly this is an underhanded admission by the administration that union bosses want to deny congress its right to stop card check which has forced unionization of workers. it's an admission workers know that today union leaders are focused on their own personal enrichment than the rights of workers. fortunately south carolina is a rate to work state where workers are protected. new jobs are created. and we respect the votes of all citizens. i commend the efforts of south carolina representative eric bedingfield and senate majority leader for sponsoring the amendment. in conclusion, god bless our troops. we will never forget spetch and the global war on -- september 11 and the global war on terrorism. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from indiana rise? >> mr. speaker, i ask unanimous
consent to address the house for one minute. revise and extend my remarks to remember an american hero. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. young: i rise today to honor private first class zachary salmon, an army cavalry scout with first battalion, first brigade combat team, 101st airborne division. on january 12 of this year, he was killed in action in afghanistan. after insurgents attacked his unit. this past friday he was laid to rest in lawrenceburg, indiana. just 21 years old, pfc salmon enlisted in the army three years ago as a way to provide for his then new-born son, noah, whom he adored. while he never had the honor of meeting him in person, i learned at his wake this past friday that he exhibited all the best qualities of or men and women in uniform. a patriotic sense of duty. a strong desire to help others, and a keen awareness of his weighty responsibilities as a man in uniform. known to his friends as fish,
he also had a bright sense of humor and a huge heart. in addition to his son, noah, p.f.c. salmon leaves behind his mother and father, stepfather, his brother, and two sisters. we all owe a debt today to him for making the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country. thank you p.f.c. salmon, may god watch over you, little noah, and the rest of your family. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from tennessee seek recognition? >> request permission to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. duncan: mr. speaker, later today we will vote on a resolution to reduce federal nonsecurity spending to the 2008 level or in some cases less. this is a very good first step that we follow through and abide by this resolution. however we need to make sure that these cuts are real and not simply cuts that will be reinstated later in an end of the year omnibus spending bill.
more importantly i want to add my voice to the growing chorus that is saying loud and clear that nothing should be left off the table. there is waste in every federal department and agency and the waste in the defense and homeland security departments is huge. no department should be given a free pass and made exempt from cost savings and belt tightening. we have a national debt of over $14 trillion, a mind-boggling, incomprehensible figure. even "the washington post," which is usually supported every federal spendling program imaginable, editorialized recently quote, it's time to stop worrying about the deficit and start panicking about the debt. the fiscal situation was serious before the recession. it is now dire. mr. speaker, i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? mr. burgess: permission to
address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mr. burgess: today i want to talk about legislation that i will reintroduce that will put a pause on the environmental protection agency's action in moving forward for a waiver of the increase of the amount of ethanol in gasoline. currently it contains 10% ethanol blend. in october this past year the e.p.a. granted a waiver for the allowable amount of ethanol to be increased to 15%. i question their decision to move forward with a waiver. i was wholly dissatisfied with the response they gave in a briefing last fall. they deferred to the department of energy's research. does the e.p.a. not employ its own scientists and experts? is it the e.p.a.'s position that it is incapable of doing its own research? mr. speaker, we are all aware of the problem that occurred in 2008 with food to fuel diversion and the resultant increase in pricing commodities. i don't believe the e.p.a. has done its due diligence. certainly they haven't provided information that would disprove any fears about the use of it
causing mechanical failures and fires, particularly in smaller engines. my bill will allow for a pause and allow for more assurances to be made that the increase will be safe. the security of the public's well-being should be paramount in this issue. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from virginia seek recognition? without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. wolf: thank you, mr. speaker. last week the tom lantos human rights commission held a hearing on christian minorities in iraq and egypt. in the wake of devastating attacks in both countries, it is clear that religious minorities in the middle east are facing a serious threat that must be addressed. this recent spate of violence has driven many christians and other religious minorities to flea the -- flee the land they have inhabited for centuries to emigrate to the west. if the international community fails to speak out, the
prospects for religious pluralism and tolerance in the region are bleak. president reagan once said the u.s. constitution is a covenant that we have made not only with ourselves but with all of mankind. i believe the united states has an obligation to speak out for the voiceless around the world. this week i will introduce with other members a bill which would require the administration to appoint a special envoy for religious minorities in the middle east and south central asia in order to make this issue a foreign policy priority. i ask my colleagues to join me and yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? >> request permission to address the house for one minute. revise and extend. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i rise today to recognize the middletown community foundation and to honor one of my constituents from bucks county, pennsylvania, mr.ed to brook. each year the middle town community foundation honors a local resident with the humanitarian of the year award.
the middletown community foundation is a nonprofit organization created to improve the quality of life for individuals who live and work in my hometown of middle town township funks county. mr. fitzpatrick: this year it is the humanitarian award being presented to mr. todd brook. todd and his family have been generous and enthusiastic supporters of their community for decades and his award from the middletown community foundation is fitting. todd's business achievements alone have been impressive with his deeredship sustaining hundreds of jobs. his contributions to the community have gone beyond his leadership in the business community. the time allotted to this speech today is insufficient to list all todd's achievements and contributions in this regard. just a few recipients of todd's again rossity have been the high school choir, aloha bowl parade, bristol township, truman high school, united way, and countless others. mr. speaker, during the month
we are honored to serve, we hopor the service of martin luther king, i'm reminded of the great civil right leader's quote that anyone can be great because anyone can serve. by this measure and countless others todd is truly great and i'm proud to honor him today. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? >> to address the house for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. pitts: thank you, mr. speaker. most states including my own state of pennsylvania are facing significant bunt problems this fiscal year. --budget problems this fiscal year. it ream sem blesisland. unfortunately the federal government is adding fuel to the fire with new medicaid mandates that could cost the states billions of dollars. obamacare burdens the states in two ways. first, it requires them to enroll millions more beneficiaries while the federal government will at first pay for the benefits of these new enrollees, the states will gradually have to start picking up the tab. second, the federal government will only help cover the cost of benefits.
not the administrative costs associated with these new enrollees. since some states will be forced to nearly double their medicaid rolls, this will certainly hit their budgets hard. we can't forget 49 out of 50 states are required to balance their budgets every year. they will face the grim choice of discontinuing their medicaid program, raising taxes, or slashing other government services. we talked a lot about obamacare bankrupting the federal government, but we can't forget it could drive states over the cliff at the same time. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to clause 12-a to rule 1, the house will stand in recess subject to the call of the chair.
year. the secretary general will start with introductory remarks, then will take a few questions, and that we will move seamlessly to the press reception so that you can have more free-flowing exchange over a glass. first things first, the secretary general. >> thank you, and first of all, may i wish you all and happy new year. i think the last time i saw so many of you was that the lisbon summit, where we set out nato's agenda for the next decade. building on that summit, i am determined to keep the momentum and turn the lisbon agenda and action. before we meet at the next summit in 2012, and the united states. keyave 3 te
priorities for this year. first, paving the way for a sustainable transition in afghanistan. secondly, moving ahead with a nato reform. thirdly, engaging more effectively with alliance partners. first, on afghanistan, this spring we will see any stage of our engagement in afghanistan -- an ew stage of our engagement in afghanistan with the announcement of the first provinces where afghan security forces are ready to take the lead. in 2010, we got the strategy and resources right. now we have to build on those get transition to
afghan security right. last year we made hard-core changes on the ground. now we need to re-enter the those changes are doable -- ensure that this changes are doable. there are now over to order to be 6000 -- 256,000 trained soldiers and police, the biggest growth and industry of afghan security forces. this is not just about quantity, but also quality. we have tripled the number of army leadership schools, and we have launched an intensive literacy campaign. it is just the start of a long
judicial process. we have already seen the results. recently, afghan soldiers made up over 60% of forces involved in our toughest operations in kandahar. most critically, this means continuing our work on training and educating the afghan security forces. this is a key priority. more than ever, this is our ticket to a successful transition process. let me stress that i do not expect 2011 to be easy. we will continue to drive deep into insurgent territory, and we
expect continued violence as the enemy fights back. but i'm certain that victory will be determined not by the insurgents, but by the people of afghanistan. the decisions on transition will be taken by the afghan government in consultation with nato-led coalition forces. these consultations are well under way, and, as anticipated, in lisbon, we can expect decisions on where and when this process will begin this spring. now, moving to my second point, and nato reform, the decisions
taken on the addition of the lisbon summit, including implementation, command structure, and a package of the most critical capabilities. these reforms will improve our defense capabilities and ensure that nato is making the most efficient use of resources. at the lisbon summit, we have agreed to reduce the number of agencies to three. in march, will -- i will present options for the new agency structure. our aim is that implementation of agency reform can be completed within the next two years. at the lisbon summit we also
agreed on the framework for a new nato command structure, a command structure that would be leaner, more efficient, and more affordable. we are now working out the details, including the geographical locations of the commands, which defense minister will approve, no later than june of this year -- which defense ministers will prove no later than june of this year. on the third point, partnerships, this year will be an important year for partnerships. as decided at the lisbon summit, nato intends to further deepen and expand its partnerships with partners and organizations with whom we share common security concerns and can cooperate for
the benefits of international security. we will work to consolidate the relations we have by putting more emphasis on political and security consultations relevant for our missions and for our partners by focusing cooperation on support a democratic and defense reforms, capacity building, and the operations we undertake. we are not alone in facing emergent security challenges such as terrorism, proliferation, energy or privacy, and neither can we deal with them effectively on our own. we will seek to develop a dialogue with countries such as
china and india and other key actors around the world. we will also give priority to further developing our valuable cooperation, not least of course, the united nations and the european union. all in all, no doubt that 2011 will be a challenging year, but i believe that challenges make us stronger. with that, i am ready to take your questions. >> before you do, please don't forget to introduce yourself and your organization. >> secretary general, in a few days, there will be a meeting
between nato and russian heads of state, general headquarters, and do you intend to discuss anti-missile defense systems? is there prospect partnership in this area? the second question -- i did not understand that russia is a partner of nato in development of the anti-missile defense system. is russia participating in the demonstration in germany? >> first of all, we have a regular dialogue with russia on missile defense. i would expect missile defense to be an issue -- an item on our
agenda -- in all the meetings we have between nato and russia. it is a gradual process. you will recall that we decided at our summit in lisbon to initiate what we call a joint analysis as to how we can implement practical cooperation on territorial missile defense. we are about to start that analysis. furthermore, we decided to start practical cooperation on theater missile defense. we had such practical cooperation until early 2008. in lisbon we decided to assume practical cooperation, including joint exercises.
we will ensure a high degree of transparency in that process with russia. >> reuters. secretary, i wanted to ask about his book is then -- about his pakistan. there's been considerable controversy about -- uzbekistan. there's been considerable controversy in brussels about the leader. can you say to extended the invitation and why it is important for nato to have a dialogue with uzbekistan, despite the controversy over human rights? >> i will have a meeting with the uzbek this afternoon. i find it quite natural to have this meeting.
uzbekistan is one of our partner countries, and within our partnerships, we have a continuous dialogue with our partners, including a dialogue on democracy and human rights. and that will also be one of the topics for discussion this afternoon. furthermore, in addition to the fact that uzbekistan is a nato partner, we also share interests with regards to the developments in afghanistan. uzbekistan is a neighboring country, and we cooperate with the central asian countries as regards our operation in afghanistan and among other elements and that cooperation,
we agreed on a transit facility through uzbekistan in 2009. these are among the reasons i will have a meeting with the uzbek president this afternoon. >> bloomberg. you voiced concern about the impact of defense cuts especially in europe on alliance operations and burden sharing. has anything happened since lisbon to change your view? what impact will the cuts in european defense budgets have on operations in afghanistan? >> first of all, the developments in this band has not changed my position -- . in lis -- in lisbon has not changed my position. on the contrary, i think it is of utmost importance to stress
the need for coordinated adaptation of defense budgets. i fully realize that defense budgets must adapt as other government budgets adapt to periods of economic austerity. but it is of utmost importance that we follow the cause i said at the summit at lisbon that we cut fat while at the same time build money. the approach is to invest in the most critical capabilities to reform our structures and our systems with a view to making our armed forces more deployable, while at the same time reducing overheads and investments in a stationary,
non-deployable facilities. my position is exactly the same, and, of course, this will be a y consultations and discussions with allied nations during 2011. >> dpa. secretary general, on afghanistan, he repeated that transition should be -- you repeated the transition should begin in the spring. given the tensions and afghanistan between the parliament and the president and the difficulty of even getting parliament to open, how confident are you that afghans can guarantee the political stability that would be needed to have any effect? >> first of all, let me stress the time the opening of the afghan parliament.
i believe it was four months ago that millions of afghan voters cast their vote, and date deserve -- they deserve a strong political leadership in their country. i think time is ripe for an opening of the afghan parliament debt that is my first remark. secondly, i have confidence in the afghan authorities. i would expect them to live up to the necessary conditions for transition. the transition process is part of the vision that president karzai himself outlined last year. the road that we agree on at the lisbon summit to start transition at the beginning of
2011 and oakleigh see complete by the end of 2014 -- hopefully see a complete by the end of 2014 is consistent with the vision of president karzai. i have discussed this on several occasions, and i feel confident that the afghan government and afghan authorities will step up to the plate and ensure that the transition can take place in a successful manner. >> taken a lot of questions from the center, so we will go to the left their -- >> 29 ngos cent to nato had a report in november on casualties in afghanistan, asking protection from air strikes and, on the other side, to protect also of grave risk of abuses by
security forces. do you think that situation is better now? and on kosovo, it do you think that french troops will withdraw and american troops would go on the north? >> first of all, in afghanistan, let me stress that the issue of civilian casualties as a matter strong concerns to rest. -- a matter strong concern to us. we have done our best to minimize the number of civilian casualties. actually, we have succeeded in producing -- in reducing our, so to speak, share of civilian casualties.
according to statistics from the united nations, more than 17% of civilian casualties' are caused by the insurgents, caused by the enemies of afghanistan, because they don't care about civilian casualties. we do, and we had issued directives with it the aim to diminish the number of civilian casualties. unfortunately, during 2010, we saw an increase in violence in general. unfortunately, it also led to an increase in the overall number of civilian casualties. we shouldn't be surprised that we see more violence in afghanistan taking into consideration what we have sent in more soldiers. more soldiers mean more fighting. we are attacking the taliban heartland, and they fight back? of course.
this is the reason why we have seen reports of more fighting. but it is actually a part of our strategy to clear areas in afghanistan to provide the basis for the afghan government to deliver basic services to the afghan people. we are in afghanistan to protect the civilian population, so we strongly regret the civilian casualties and we will continue to do all we can to diminish the number of civilian casualties. on kosovo, we will in a gradual process reduce our military presence in kosovo from what is called gate 3 to date two. i would expect that gate 2 level
to be reached around a first of march. gate 2 level represents about five dozen soldiers, compared to -- 5000 soldiers, compared to 83 level of 10,000. as part of this adaptation, we will also see a reduction in the number of french troops as well as a reduction in the number of troops from other countries. >> we only have time for a few more questions, a couple more questions. the people who had their hands up the longest -- >> can you give us some more information about the exercise and germany concerning missile defense -- who is taking part, what is the name, are they showing feature capacities and -- canities, - or just you give us some more details? >> no, i am not in position to
give you more details right away. maybe afterwards we can provide you with a more detailed, a technical briefing. >> tomorrow, russia and france will sign a final contract on -- [unintelligible] that is been a deep concern of several nato member states for a long time, and still is. how concerned are you that that particular deal will not drive for their security issues, especially concerning georgia? >> first, on the mistrial issue, as i said before, we consider it a bilateral arrangement
between france and russia. we take it for granted that this trade arrangement will take place in full accordance with all international rules and regulations. we also take it for granted that russia will not in any way use this military equipment against any nato ally or any neighbor. >> could you give a bit of information about the cooperation you have plans with the eu at this year -- what new areas to you have a plan? i understand cyber defense is one. and could you just clarify it,
the missile defense -- what will you be presenting to defense ministers in march? i did not understand when you mentioned it before. >> what we are going to discuss that the nato meeting in march -- it is a nato bench minister'' meeting. we will discuss command and control and confrontation mechanisms as regards our missile defense system. how could we imagine these mechanisms to be implemented within the nato-based missile defense system? that is the eye on the agenda for -- item on the agenda for defense ministers meeting in march. let me stress that also come in that respect, we will ensure will transparency -- let me stress that also, and that
respect, we will he ensure full transparency with russia so that the russians will be informed of our considerations and that respect. >> good afternoon. coming back to president karimoff's visit to nato, the public opinion that reading will think that you're saying hello to a president has been qualified this morning by human rights watch as one of the worst human rights offenders in the world. you are receiving one of the worst human rights offenders and the world, at the same time you are asking public opinion to support the side of nato in afghanistan, to support democracy. >> let me stress that it is a
very important part of our partnership program to have a dialogue with our partners on human rights, at democratic principles, and broader reforms of societies. this is the reason why this issue -- these issues will also be subject to discussion in the meeting this afternoon with the uzbek president. but let me repeat that two reasons why i accepted the request for a meeting -- firstly, uzbekistan is a partner, and like other partners, we are prepared to meet to continue this dialogue.
the second reason is that, actually, we share interest in seeing progress in afghanistan, and to that end, we have a transit facility through is pakistan which plays an important role for our operation in afghanistan, and honestly speaking, i keep in mind the interest of our soldiers in afghanistan. we owe it to them that we do our utmost to ensure the weekend provide -- to ensure that we can provide the necessary equipment for their operations in afghanistan. i, based on experience that it would be possible for me to strike the right balance, it to discuss human rights and
democracy at the same time, practice cooperation on transit facilities and other elements of practical corp. the committee the benefit to operations in afghanistan -- practical cooperation that can be to the benefit of operations of afghanistan. >> i ask you to turn after carries and recording equipment. obviously, the secretary general will be staying here so that you have the opportunity to speak to him on a more formal basis. thank you. >> the u.s. house will start legislative work sometime this afternoon when they begin consideration of the rule for a measure that would cut all not discretionary -- discretionary spending to 2008ense spe
levels. we expect them later this afternoon with a procedural vote later this evening. we will have live coverage on c- span one and a devil back in. the state of the union tomorrow night -- they gavel back in. the state of the union tomorrow night on suspended and a bit on that bombing at moscow's busiest airport, setting off an enormous explosion. maybe up to 170 injured. dmitry medvedev, president of russia, said in a televised remarks that the blast was an act of terrorism and has asked police to track down the perpetrators. 31 dead in that, so for 170 injured. also, just let you know as well, we will gavel -- when the h
ouse gavels back in, we will have coverage of the u.s. house. early today, you heard from an inspector general who is resigning that role in february. today, he testified on a number of programs in the reconstruction effort in afghanistan, and he also discussed cost overruns and in this project. his testimony ran an hour and 40 minutes. >> good morning. welcome. i am the co-chairman of the commission on wartime contacting in iraq and afghanistan. my fellow co-chair, christopher shays, in afghanistan to gather
information on another matter of interest to this commission. the other members mark clark kent ervin -- are clogged and ervin -- clark kent ervin and others. for most americans, this is a matter that is quite literally out of sight, out of mind, but it is a huge issue involving almost 20 billion taxpayer dollars and in just the past three years. just as quickly, construction contracts also involve support for u.s. and allied troops. the future of the battered country of afghanistan. and america's image and the rest of the world. untimely report construction has impact on users. too often, adverse impacts are felt by american soldiers and marines and airmen, who find themselves jammed into cramped
and inadequately protected quarters. the afghan people have also been ill served at times by the construction projects in their country. these issues go beyond delays and cost overruns, and i just unacceptable. we will be probing them today. the construction we are talking lead includes electrical power facilities, schools, hospitals, prisons, and facilities for the afghanistan national army and police. construction is also undertaken to support our troops and our coalition partners. these projects include bear, headquarters, a facilities, air fields, and dining facilities, literally all that is needed to sustain our forces in theater. most of the construction is sponsored and directed by the department of state, the u.s. agency for international development, and the department of defense. the dod effort largely flows
through the u.s. army corps of engineers and the air force center for engineering and the environment, or what is referred to as afcee. it is merely performed by contractors or -- mainly performed by contractors or usaid. we are the construction partly because the mandate from congress -- we are looking a construction partly because the mandate from congress requires a with a good support and stabilization of operations. we also doing so in this public setting because there are definitely problems, recurring problems that need to be addressed. there are lots of talented and dedicated people working on these construction projects in afghanistan, and they do much good work. that needs to be said. but there are also many problems that occur over and over, year after year, involving both government and contractor
personnel. when you have recurring problems of the same type, that is nature's way of telling you that your structures, the system, or staff needed reengineering. the commission on wartime contacting has taken a careful look at efforts in afghanistan. we have concentrated on many of the larger projects such as the $300 million kabul power plant that may be too complicated and costly for afghans to run migone american involvement declines. but there are smaller projects that also need attention. the main reason for paying attention to construction projects is the large potential for ways. police can result from products that are poorly planned -- waste can result from rogers that are poorly planned. and it can occur for projects that are unneeded or
unsustainable. one of the challenges in diagnosing a waste and proposing reforms is that it is not always clear where the money goes. an audit released in october by the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction found that dod, state, and usaid were unable to report how much is spent on contacting -- how much was spent on contacting in afghanistan. the specter -- special inspector general said that nearly $18 billion was obligated by the three agencies for work from fiscal years 2007 through 2009. that raises questions about
contract management and critical contract oversight. we look forward to hearing more about these issues when the inspector general testified today. the commission has developed many questions on its own that we will explore today. we have walked the grounds as a commission and as members of the commission and as staff who have served projects throughout afghanistan. we talked to federal employees and/or contact representatives. after an effort that started last spring and included two trips to afghanistan to look specifically at construction, what have we found? in large part, disappointment. while we did see some very well orun projects, there were too many examples of projects that were not going so well. to many came in over budget and behind schedule. the amount of waste in our construction efforts quickly
rises to a staggering proportions. trying to build clinics, schools, and other projects in a war zone complicate an already daunting management challenge. in addition, timing is critical. the military describes a contingency mission in simple , hold andsecure build. if the build phase is launched before the secure phase is complete, it is a recipe for failure. it increases costs and delays and is simply unfair to contractors and employees. politics that can block or delay shipments to landlocked afghanistan tmake matters worse. we have observed problems and waste even behind the wire projects. an example from my own experience sits in here. i was talking to the contract
and officer representative who was overseeing construction of a direct on a base in afghanistan. this fellow was an engineer, but he freely told me that his expertise was blowing things up, not building them. he was a loyal american trying to do his duty, but he was no more qualified to oversee construction of electrical control, water, or sanitation systems and then we are on the dais. this was weakness and oversight, one that invites waste, and can cause of death. other weaknesses occur in planning and solicitation of contracts and management. they are occurring, avoidable, and unacceptable. the commission has devoted a great deal of attention to improved outcomes and identify lessons that can help in future contingencies. we have assembled a three panels of expert witnesses to help us probe issues involving
construction contracts and grants. panel one is a one-witness panel. to witness is a major general from the united states marine corps, retired, who was appointed special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction in june of 2008. general fields will be leaving government service shortly after a career spanning some 40 years. on behalf of the commission, sir, i thank you for that long span of dedicated service to our country, i thank you for taking the time to participate in our hearing. panel two comprises a federal officials with responsibilities for construction, contract management, and oversight. they are a deputy commanding general of military and international operations for the u.s. army corps of engineers, a principal to be assistant
secretary international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, u.s. department of state, the united states air force deputy director airforce center for engineering and the environment, and j. alexander thier -- if i said that wrong, i will correct myself when you come out -- deputy administrator, afghan task force. only in government, and i am a government person,, get titles so long that sometimes i forget the name of the person i'm talking to. but we respect and appreciate all of you on the federal panel. panel 3 it comprises construction contractors with projects in afghanistan, a critical part of this hearing. president of government, environmental, and nuclear division, ph: no, the executive vice president of amec, earth
and environmental inc, and the president of the was parcher group inc. also appearing is director of the region's office for project services. and linneysaid's partner for a project. united nations has made him available to provide information today without prejudice to the status privileges and immunities enjoyed by the u.n. we appreciate his participation and that of all the witnesses i have named. before we would start, i would remind us all the commissions like ours are typically created to study problems and proposed improvements. this inevitably leads to more bogus on shortcomings and
failures on the outset -- more focus on shortcomings and failures on the outset that successes. both sides of the court are important. our mission from congress was to identify lessons learned in iraq and afghanistan to point the way to better outcomes now in the future. we will be calling out good efforts, best practices, and notable successes by both government and contractors in that part of our final report in july. that is only up operates. we don't intend to shortchange anyone -- only approrpiate. we don't intend to charge anyone were credit is due -- to shortchange anyone were credit is due. the full text of statements will be entered into the record and posted on the commission's website. we ask witnesses to submit within 15 days responses to any questions for the record and any additional information they may offer to provide. if the witness for our first
panel, general fields, will rise and raise his right hand, i will swear you in. general fields, do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you give up in this hearing is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? >> i do, sir. >> thank you, sir. please be seated thank you, general fields. let the record show that the witness answered in the affirmative. >> thank you very much. chairman, various members of the commission, i am very pleased to be here to discuss the work to address results of the construction work and facilities carried out in afghanistan. as the commission, i am confident, nose, over $56 billion since 2002 has been invested in afghanistan or appropriated therefore in the reconstruction of the country,
in the interest of afghanistan and the people of the united states. about $29 billion of this fund or these appropriations has been made available for the afghanistan security forces, with the intent to build a force to a level of stability to defeat insurgents and to provide security for the nation of afghanistan. there is also a trained, equipped, and basing component to this funding. this reconstruction element of afghanistan in terms of the afghanistan security forces is largely under the management and supervision of the combined security training command of afghanistan. that command service under the auspices of the command of u.s. forces afghanistan.
facility is a critical component of the reconstruction of the afghanistan security forces or the building of the afghanistan security forces. since 2005, $11.4 billion has been made available or is intended for the security forces infrastructure. much of this money has come by way of operations since 2005 -- by way of operations since 2005 to 2010, and will also $7 billion of the money is appropriated or will have been appropriated between 20 to one in 2012. and -- between 2010 and 2012.
and 10 of the audits have been focused on addressing infrastructure projects. they have essentially covered the afghanistan national army,, pants for the afghanistan national police, -- compounds for the afghanistan national police, and the reconstruction effort under the emergency response program. ily to provide immediate assistance to the population of afghanistan. we have over 90 investigations under way involving infrastructure. they can be categorized in areas of bribery, country fraud, faulty construction, and substandard material. our work in general has identified numerous problems. and we have reflected these problems in the 34 audits that we have conducted and certainly
in the 10 that focus prmarily on inrastructure and the afghanistan national security forces. so there is insufficient planning, inadequate contract management, and lack of faulty assurance. in general. but certainly lack of quality assurance and oersight in the areas where the threat to security is greatest. in reference to the afghanistan national army facilities construction, our audits have raised serious issues overall. but many of these issues were raised last year and prompted us to conduct a contract auit or a more focused audit on the reconstruction areas involving the afghanistan national security forces to etermine whether or not plans were sufficiently in place to address
the long term future of the build up oftheafghanistan security forces with emphasis on the infrastructure that underpins the force. and the other issue of maintenance, whether or not there are -- there is sufficient capabilityput in place even by the u.s. or the international community or by the afghans to ense that the united states investment in ifrastructure, relating to the security forces is not wasted. we discovered that there is not a long term construction plan for the afghanistan security forces. we feel that the lack of this plan could result in buildings that are inadequate in order to meet the long term or short term needs of the security forces. we conclude that the $11.4 billion is at risk if these matters are not promptly
addressed. we feel there is still some time to address the issues in as much as the $11.4 billion that i earlier referenced has not been spent. some of it needs to be appropriated. therefore, it's time to address the planning, maintenance, and sustainability issues that we need to address to ensure the american taxpayer dollar is not wasted. some $800 million has already been provided for the u.s. by the u.s. for maintenance of the completed facilities in afghanistan. and this $800 million covers a period of five years. cstc-a has informed us, it might be year 2025 before the international community, including the united states will be able to disengage from providing this maintenance and such maintenance being taen over by the afghans.
we are issuing a report this year on our assessment and audit of 69 projects. those projects represent $58 million of taxpayer money obligated between 2008 and 2010. the 69 projects that we audited represent 91% of the $58 million. they include matters relating to roads, dams, canals, and bridges. we found that 27 of these 69 projects valued at $49 million are at risk of failing. we recommended to u.s. forces afghanistan to improve cerp oversight, promote sustainment, establish better planning cry -- criteria and assess whether the
projects have met or are meeting the intended purpose. in closing, our work, mr. chairman and commissioners, point to three principal areas of concern. the first is lack of a comprehensive plan for building infrastructure in support of the afghanistan security forces. secondly, numerou delays have come about which may not keep pace with the intended goals for building the force. in other words, delays will negatively impact the intended goals and maybe preclude the united states from contributing fully it's share to establishing the force as designed by the expected time frame. the apparent inability of the afghan government to sustain these facilities is another of
the major concerns. i have generally summarized in broad terms some ma yo -- major issues that need to be addressed in order forthe taxpayers dollar not to be wated in afghanistan. i look forward to further questions and comments as appropriate on these matters. thank you very much. >> thank you, general fields. the process we're going to use is each commission is going to ve a limited period of time to gage in a dialogue. before i start, i'd like to thank you, again, for your service. and i -- in fact, i'd like to lead in with a question. you know, you were asked to and up a robust organization from scratch. you know, there was nothing in place. can you talk about what that first year -- and that was
summer of two years ago, two and a half. can you talk a little bit about what the first year was like in terms of trying to bring in staff and build momentum? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i'm delighted to talk about that. because at have been one of my and sigar's greatest challengings, -- challenges to construct the organization from scratch with only legislation at the time that i was appointed to this position, no funding by which to build the organization rapidly as i believed the congress andthe people of the united states intended and expected. so there was no funding for sigar untilbasically october of 2008. when i took this position and had my dialogue with the senior leadership within the government, the implementers,
along with the department, i determined along with my colleagues, the few that i had at the time, we needed about $23.2 billion in order to build the organization rapidly and to declare it ready within one year. which meant to me by one october of fiscal year 2009. that money did not come rapidly at all. even though bythe end of the fiscal year 2009, i did have the funding that i recently requested, but it did not arrive in time for me to impact the organization to the extent that i wanted. so our numbers were few. and unfortunately, our products were few at that point in time. i really expected a -- with my interpretation of the legislation that there would have been more support without compensation if you will by the various agencies mentioned in the legislation.
but i later found that in large measure for me to have been supported or he organization sigar to have been supported by these agencies, there was a fee in general required. had i not had to do that, i feel that we would have gotten the organization off to a much quicker start. >> let me explore that a little bit. you said there was a fee. i'll talk about this commission becausewe had a good experience. and so i'd like you to larify what you were set with. we received support from numerous organizations within the department of defense and the department of state. it is never timely enough, and it was timely, and it was funded by those organization. we funded the travel, you know, and the facilities and computers and things like that. and so from a staffing viewpoint, we were augmented by individuals that, you know, we
never put in a senior management position, but they certainly were strong management individuals that an analyst that supported us. and so probably within three or four months we had that in place. and you are saying at you had to pay for -- from these agencies that were identified in the legislation on a reimbursable basis? >> that is generally correct, sir. and what would have much more of an advantage to sigar if i could have received that help without reimbursement to those respective agencies. that would have heavenned the organization to move more quickly through this period where funds and support of the organization were minimum at best. >> okay. have you mntioned and were keen on the, you know, the opportunities for reimbursement
of funds or for preventing the waste of funds is in the waste and abuse part of fraud, waste, and abuse. when you have you have 90 active investigations, and you codn't stand up the first year, you've really started up a significant number. and you outline that they cover a we variety of areas. i want to -- i have to ask you, i'll make a statement, investigations often take a life of their own. and they take a long time because of due process. do you have the staff to execute those? and are any of those languaging because of the limitation or resources >> at this time, sir, given the fact that we were basically fully funded for fiscal year 2010, and for that amount of money that i was unable to
expand during fiscal year 2009 because it came late in the year, i was ble to roll some of the money over into the subsequent fiscal year. i have been funded for no less than the past year, year and a half. i feel that while our staff is -- continues to grow both on the audit sde as well as the investigation side, i do have sufficient forces right now to accomplish the basic mission. however, we are growing this organization to 132 during this fiscal year and we hope to enter fiscal year 2012 at a staff -- wi the staff of 180 full time employees and if the congress so approves, our budget for 2012 will be 44.4 million. >> so you are saying that -- i'm
hearing you say that while you were challenged with the piece, we're using -- starting an organization absolutely candid from strap, that it kes a period of time, and i will appreciate that. >> yes, sir. >> that in the present mode, you are being supported in terms of the resource needs that you have. going back to these 90 investigations, when might we start to see -- realizing there's due process, public disclosure? there's a lot of alleged wrongdoing. and typically out of that at a point where an organization accepted it for investigation, there's a basis for risk that they, in fact, has been wrongdoing. when might we start seeing
outcomes of ose investigations in terms of indictments or plea bargains or those kinds of things that occur? : >> i would say that they are modest results right now, about six million in terms of money that we could directly associate with an investigation of which we have been a part. but we do feel, though, that some of the investigation that we have underway right now are about to reach maturity, and i
feel that the investment that we have thus far made in the investigators that we have been able to hire will reap the intended benefit, sir. >> i'm, again, hearing you say that in the near term we should expect to start seeing the outcomes of an aggressive investigative effort. >> i would like to say that, sir. and let me seize a moment, mr. chairman, to acknowledge the deputy inspector general for sigar that i was privileged to hire back in november of this year who has come to us th 20 years of experience in the fbi and about 15 years of experience directly relating to ig work associated with the department of energy, essentially all of which a senior leadship position. he came from department of energy to sigar to bring that talent and experience to bear
ponzi forward, and i -- upon si far, and i wnt the chairman and commissioners to know that it's certainly already having an impact on the organization. so that also contributes to my optimism, sir, that these matters will be taken care of. >> thank you, general. my time has expired. commissioner ervin, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. like the chairman, general, i want to start by commending you for your 34 years of service to the nation and the military and for your years of service as the first inspector general of sigar. having been an inspector general twice d one of those times having been an inspector general at a new organization, starting one from scratch like you, the department of homeland security, i'm particularly aware of and sensitive to and sympathetic to the challenges you faced in your job. building on that line of inquestion si regarding what happened at the beginning, i want you to expand on that a little bit. begin the legislation creating sigar -- given the legislation
creating sigar and the urgency of the war effort and the length of time that passed from the inception of the war in 2001 to the creation of sigar and the amount of money as you noted in your testimony that we have been spending inafghanistan, why do you think you got so little support at the inception to do your job? >> well, sir, i think there are many reasons why the support was not there. and i will only specate that what i'm about to say was the real reason or were the real reasons for the lack of support. first off, there are mixed emotions within the federal community even among the inspectors general themselves about the efficacy of the concept of a special inspector general. i thi that as a concept, if you will, contributed adversely to the more rapid standup of
sigar or the level of suort that might otherwise have been given to the organization. the other is we waited too long to address or to focus on oversight for reconstruction in afghanistan. it would havbeen much better had sigar the advantage that my counterpart had having been stood up early in the process and bringing, as i understand it, into si gear the inspector general for iraq reconstruction funds at the onset. and what i'm led to believe were no funds at that time. that was a considerable advantage. plus, there was a nucleus from the provisional authority that existed before we stood up an embassy in iraq. and so that nucleus of oversight
agency also was good enough upon which to begin to build a longstanding and much more robust inspector general organization. so i think all of those matters came to bear on this. the, i want to also quickly say, commissioner, that while on t one side the ig community, some of them, may not wish to have supported a special inspector genera but i think that idea is borne out of the fact that we do already have existing inspectors general within the department of state, department of defense and usaid whose job it is to oversee some of the very measures that sigar is overseeing. but the one thing that sigar's legislation brought to bear upon the oversight community is the ability to look across agencies. >> let me build -- thank you for that answer, and let me build on
it by asking your opinion as to the notion of figuring that we're going to have contingencies in the future. i think that's likely to speculate on. wouldn't it makeense for there to be a standing inspector general for reconstruction not tied to any specific contingency, but a standing inspector generalhat would be available the next time the united states government has a contingency with the necessary resources in terms of money, in terms of staff, in terms of experience and expertise so that the next time we have such a contingency, the inspector general can hit the ground running? what's your view of that? >> yes, sir. i have discussed this issue with my distinguished counterpart, mr. stuart boeing, and it has some value because it would preclude having to stand up a sigir or another sigar or in the case of the troubled asset
recovery program and so forth. but the other part of it is whether or not the american people -- not a e question for me to answer, this is a policy question -- but are the american people willing to put in place such an entity which suggests that we will have future emergencies of the magnitude of iraq and afghanistan to which the american people will be inclined, if not expected to provide tax money in support of these efforts. so that is the downside of this organization. but i would say, sir, in the general there is value to having a body or an entity like this in place. >> absent that, that's not going to happen anytime soon, but absent that for the foreseeable future, do you have any advice for your successor about how we can make things better with regard to afghan reconstruction
and the management, ongoing of sigar? >> yes, sir, i do have advice in that regard. first off, i want to reiterate that mr. richardson, the deputy inspector general currently of sigar, comes well equipped to deal with matters in be reference to the inspector general community, so that's very much an advantage to him. also the work that we have done, those 34 orders to which i earlier referred, the six formal inspections that we have conducted, the over 100 recommendations that we have made, i think he will benefit from those by following up with the appropriate entities, the implementers with it the department of state -- be it the department of state, defense or usaid and certainly with the congress to insure these matters are appropriately addressed. i think if they are, i think he
will have a much smoother ride than i have had in this capacity, sir. >> thank you. just a couple of other questions for me. i just wanted you to talk generally about the sweep of development since you took this job now that you're leaving. do you think the things that we're focused on today in this hearing, the importance of cost controls and sustained ability in host nation buy-in and support for projects and taking past performance into consideration as a key foundation of accountability, are these things, generally speaking -- and feel free to give some examples -- are these things getting better in afghanistan, or are we basically where we were at the inception of sigar in this regard? >> sir, i'm not confident that there is evidence that we are getting better of it at the implementation level, at the bottom line. i would say at the taccal level which is really where the work is being accomplished. however, given the president's or this administration's focus on the new strategy in this
addressing afghanistan which emphasizes certain elements to include reconsuction elements such as shoring up agriculture in afghanistan but also focusing more on involving the afghans in the reconstruction of their own country which, also, has a focus on contract elements to it, i think these are all good matters, sir, that will ultimately help to improve reconstruction in afghanistan. my most significant recommendation, however, would be that while we were inclined to do something very quickly following the 9/11 matters, and i have used this phrase before and i don't mean it condescendingly to folks who are a lot smarter than i am in addressing these issues, but i believe back in 2002 when we
commenced our effort in this afghanistan, we began to kind of throw stufup on the wall hoping that much of it would stick in order to, perhaps, build upon and arrive at largely where we currently are in reference to reconstruction in this afghanistan. i would say we should do a better job on the front end, take that extra moment to plan better. consider the environment, consider resources, consider limitaons. >> thank you very much, general. my time's expired. >> thank you, commissioner. commissioner green, please. >> thank you. general fields, as someone who also spent a considerable time in government both in uniform and as a civilian, let me echo the appreciation that others have expressed for your four decades of service, 34 as a marine. i guess you're still a marine, aren't yousome. >> once a marine, always a
marine, sir. >> but i think we all appreciate that service very much. i also want to thank you for your very frank and informative opening statement, some of which you orally presented and other that will be entered in the record. you have raised many issues that are of concern to this commission. projects, even though we've been in country for we can argue the time frame, nine years or whatever, projects that are duplicative, not always culturally sensitive. i even understand we're still trying to figure out in some cases how to build latrines. projects that en't needed or wanted by the local governments,
and certainly, projects that are not sustainable. and you highlight several times in your testimony the issue of support about and sustainability. with that in mind, what is your sense of the degree to which the afghan government, either the national government or local provincial governments, are consulted on projects both before we undertake them and during the implementation of the project? >> thank you very much, sir. i appreciate your complements regarding my service, sir, and i wish to thank you, sir, for your service, and i wish to thank this commission for what you've done to make reconstruction during wartime a better place, so to speak. sir, sustainability is one of
the critical issues involving reconstruction in afghanistan. i've made my first trip to afghanistan in this capacity the third week of september of 2008. and the very thing that i was first hit with, about right here, coming from the afghans at all leadership levels from administer traitors in kabul to the provincial governors to the people that i might otherwise are met in my visits to over 15 of the provincial reconstruction teams representing about 17 provinces out there. have not done a good job. of including the afghans in the reconstruction of their country. they have brought this to my anticipation every time- attention every time i have had the privilege to visit afghanistan. it's a reoccurring story, and it's the same l kind of feedback -- same kind of
feedback i get at all levels ggesting there must be some script which i'm confident is not the case, but iet this everywhere i go. so it is a serious problem. i do not believe, sir, that we have done a very good job at all of including the afghans in consulting the afghans before, during, nor after their, these projects have been instituted. now, let me add a bit of perspective to this. earlier i said that we have done a poor job early on of planning, and this is certainly the case, and it's still the case ven the audits that we have conducted. however, i have seen evidence, sir, of improvement in this regard. i am acquainted with what the corpses of engineers, for example, as an organization is doing to include the afghans in the reconstruction efforts for which they are responsible, for
which the corps of engineers is responsible. they are including in their contracting more emphasis on not st the involvement of the afghans, but also the sustainment of the projects that are being put in place. >> thank you very much. as chairman thibault mentioned in his openi stateme, there's a lot of good work that is being done in afghanistan as well as iraq, for that matter. and i certainly don't call into question the dedication or the focus of those good people be there government folks in uniform or civilian or contractors that are working in afghanistan, nor do i call into question those who will serve there in the future. but i'm concerned in the current
budget climate that we are facing in this country, how confident are you that the resources will be there for the u.s. and t international communy for that matter to continue to provide this kind of support? how will we sustain these programs? and if i can use, very briefly, iraq as an example, once the troops are gone, the focus is off. and at some point troops will leave afghanistan. and whether you accept the fact that let's use o&m operations and maintenance funding is good
through 2014 as one of our other witnesses has indicated, 2015 as you, general fields, have indicated in your testimony or 2025 that cystic ca has layed out there, how confident are you that this country will have the will to continue to provide the kind of support that will be needed to put peop in country whether they be contractors or government people to provide the necessary oversight and contract support that will be needed? >> thank you, sir. first, let me address your question from the standpoint of the inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction. then i would like to address it from the standpoint of a citizen and taxpayer of the united states of america. first, i wish to applaud the government of the united states
and the american taxpayer for thus far having been willing to invest this level of funding for reconsuction in afghanistan. i reiterate, over $56 billion and if curnt appropriation requests are answered by congress, this figure could reach very quickly as much as $71 billion. so there has not been a paucity of contribution by themerican taxpayer thus far in this conflict with l of the debate that underpins reconstruction in afghanistan. in -- so that's good news. but there's an expectatio and i've often offered this in the context of of my leadership of sigar. that while we are providing oversight of funding for afghanistan, we are also providing and somewhat assuring that there will be the confidence among the american
people to further this tremenus investment to its ultimate objective. to maintain that level of confidence, the america taxpayer has to be assured that the funds that are being made available or have been available are being used for the purposes for which the congress appropriated them. and there is doubt in my mind, doubt in the minds ofmy auditors and my investigators that this is, in fact, the case. and so i am concerned from the standpoint of sigar that we are not taking full advantage of this opportunity in afghanistan. as an american taxpayer, while i have always been willing to pay my taxes commensurate with the needs of the united states of america, i will continue to do that. and i having been in this capacity, i understand what we're up against, and i have
probably better, a bett appreciation for this in the dynamics that underpin it than the person in middle america. and so it's that person in middle america that we have to convincehat this effort is worthwhile and must continue to be supported by the american taxpayer. that is a part of my job as sigar is a part of, i think, the federal government. but i think that the american people right now from my senses are becoming a bit wary with this investment in afghanistan. >> thank you, sir. my time is up. >> thank you, commsioner. commissioner tiefer, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to start by a tribute about this hearing to the chairman, to you, mr. thibault. this hearing, more than the
usual hearing, tis hearing would not andcould not have occurred without him because he has led multiplenspection trips into afghanistan. not just to the capital, but o lord knows where, all around where the construction sites are to bring back the information that we needed for this hearing. and so the value of what he has brought back from those trips is not just what he will say and do in this hearing, but what we all are sharing and doing in this hearing. i could not do what he does, but i can build on it anyway. mr. fields, i'm going to go from the macro picture of some of the previous questions to one of your best audits. it's mentioned in your prepared testimony, it's the one about the kabul, the kabul power plant. what's been nicknamed out there the white elephant of kabul.
and to take half of the title it says that sustainability, sustainabity remains a key challenge. now, i'm going to ask y about that in connection not only with the kabul power plant, but with -- which was a diesel-generating power plant -- but with the decision to do another diesel-generator power plant in kandahar city as part of the kandahar power initiative. what is the long-term sustainability power, excuse me, sustainability problem of these diesel power plants, and what kind of burdens or irritations, call them what you will, does it put on the karzai government? what's the basis on which you said, and i think you said rightly, sustainability for this kind of a plant is a big challenge? >> thank you, sir.
first, i just must reiterate that the issue of sustainability we have found to occur largely throughout the overall reconstruction effort. but especially in infrastructure which would include buildings, roads -- >> excuse me, general, is your microphone on? >> yes, it is. >> okay. maybe you could sneak up a little. >> i can certainly do that, sir. >> thank you. >> let me just reiterate what i just said, that the sustainability is an issue that permeates the whole of the reconsuction effort, but especially in infrastructure; buildings, roads, bridges, dams and matters like that specifically in reference to the energy sector, we, we are inclined to show, shore this element up because it is one of the four top issues that are brought to my attention by everybody from president karzai
to the children that i have met in afghanistan, that they want electricity, they wa agriculture, they want education, and they want roads. those are the four top reconstruction issues for afghanistan. so we rightfully have addressed the issue of providing energy or helping the afghans to improve their energy situation. the kabul power plant and the use of generators fueled by diesel or various and sundry other variations thereof, that's an issue for many reasons, but let me just address two of them. one, diesel is hard to find and to resource these generators. i'veeen to the kabul power plant. it's an amazing plant. i presume that some of the commissioners may have been there as well. i'm impressed by the layout of it. giant generators and so forth. so from that standpoint, it is
impressive. but that only goes so far. because once the contracts end that currently provide maintenance, to whom will the afghans turn for that support? secondly, there is an issue of the capability of the afghan government to fund the fuel, the very fuel that is necessy to support these generators. so we have discovered as a result of our audit work and we also have an ongoing investigation associated with this kabul power plant th these two deciencies put this incredible investment, over $300 million in kabul power plant alone, at considerable risk. >> let me follow up -- that's very beneficial, and i, as i understand the kind of figures about the diesel versus other matters, it's costing 22 cents a
kilowatt hour for diesel el in kabul power plant, and so it's not being used mainly for the welcome trick power of kabul -- electric power of kabul because they have six ce transmission from uzbekistan. i won't ask you what that investigation is that you're doing, but i'm sorely tempted to ask. i won't, but i'm tempted. a second question is the delays. the other part of your audit about the kabul power plant was that, the title was contract delays led to cost overruns for the kabul power plant, delays. now, that was a blackened beach construction project. they supervised it anyway even if subcontractors did the actual work. and the new diesel powerlant for the industrial park in kandahar is, again, this time
sole sourced as a blackened beach plant. what is -- do they have problems working with aid to meet their deadlines? is this delay problem that you singled out -- and i think rightly so for the power plant -- is this likely to be another problem with aid and their sole source contractor, blackened beach? >> sir, we are aware of this most recent sole source at the tune of something like $280 million or a figure -- >> that's right. >> yes, sir. pretty close there. this is being examined. we, i don't have the details that you're asking for at this time, sir, but i'm confident as a result of what we are doing looking into the sole source initiative as well as we continue the audits of other similar kinds of investments by
way of usaid, some of your questions i'm confident, sir, will be answered. but we do, as i mention in my earlie statement, acknowledge that these are delays in d as a result of poor planning, inadequate expertise, substandard materials and so forth, all come to jeopardize finishing these projects on time and within appropriate budget. >> i'm not going to take much time because i'm coming to the end of it, but i want to confirm because i think this is a dramatic sign of sad substantive action but dramatic auditing action, you're going to have an investigation for the kabul power plant, and you're looking into the kandahar sole source power initiative, am i right on that? >> that is correct, sir. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, commissioner. commissioner henke, please. >> generalields, good morning. thank you for your dedicated
service both in and out of of uniform. r, i've got a couple of things i want to highlight from your testimony which i think is really remarkable, and i thank you for being so clear in your written and spoken word. the last paragraph of your teimony says -- and you mentioned this in your opening -- you have three major concerns. number one, there's no comprehensive plan. number two, your wds, the projects are seriously behind schedule making it doubtful that the construction efforts will keep pace with recruitment and training, so we may be building forces fasterhan we can put them in barracks, simply. and number three, the sustainment issue. we're building something so large the afghan government won't be able to pay for it. their entire revenue this year is on the order of a billion dollars, and we're spending billions to build something that will cost billions to sustain. the bottom line of your statement, i think, is really
remarkable, and i want to make sure it does not go unnoticed. these issues, your testimony, these issues place the entire u.s. investment, the entire u.s. investment of $11.4 billion in ansf facilities, constructio at risk so every bit of it is as rating -- risk. is that correct, sir? >> that is correct, sir. and i wish to amplify further what i have previously said. the entire 11.4 is at risk for many reasons, the three principle reasons that you pointed out. i would wish to hone in on the lack of a plan as a part of that. because if there is no plan that we are pursuing, in other words, we aregoing somewhere, but we don't know where wee going -- >> right. >> -- and then we will not know when we have arrived. and part and parcel to that, of
course, is a maintenance plan. so if this maintenance plan isn't a part of the reconstruction effort, what level of assurance does the american taxpayer have that these facilities into which we are spending millions of dollars needless to say will be maintained? that is where the principle problem lies, for sure. >> i also want to take it to a different point that setting the dollars aside, building amsf forces is important why? because it's the way we can hand off security to the afghan government and and leave, is that your judgment, sir? >> sir, that's a policy issue, but, yes, sir, my understanding of it is that the, we are investing most of the reconstruction funding in the establisent of a substantial and strong afghanistan security force, police and army in order to be able to hand off what we e currently providing by way
of our own forces in afghanistan. >> right. so building amsf is the single most important reason to bringing u.s. forces home, and can the single most important -- and the single most important challenge, it seems, to building facilities is a consistent theme in your testimony just to quote a couple of part if i may. security issues prevented the corpses of engineers from regularly visit ago site to provide quality control. another quote, different audit you did, u.s. army corps attributed the lack of project oversight in part to security concerns. another quote, this time related to cp money and prts, i believe, and a road project: security has also been a factor in conducting the necessary oversight. so it seems to me, sir, that the number one reason, the overarching reason why it's tough in afghanistan is because of the security situation, is that accurate? >> it is certainly a major
contributing factor, sir. um, while security is important, i would also, again, reiterate that the lack of a sustainment component to each of the reconstruction initiatives is contributing as well. but, yes, sir, there are cases where there are projects that are underway, they are being overseen by hired afghans who in some cases according to some of our audit work may not have the necessary skills to provide the kind of oversight necessary. >> right. >> and be -- feedback to plementing the agency. so those are certainly significant issues, sir. >> is it accurate to say, general, that the key of the problem is security and that we're trying to build things in a place where the enemy is trying to blow them up and to kill us while we're doing it? is that the basic reason?
>> that, i would say, sir, is the basic reason. but i want to also say, and i understand that i have been privileged to serve in the capacity of inspector general, and so i, when i make a request for something, folks tend to abide by it. and probably sometimes including taking certain risks that they might otherwise not have taken. but i want to say that there is only one occasion, maybe at best two occasions involving the same provinceo which i have not been permitted to go at the time that i was in afghanistan, and that province is kanduz. it was turned down because of security. i never argue with embassy or u.s. forces, afghanistan in that regard. >> uh-huh. so you as the inspector general have been told it's too hot to go there, is that it? >> only in that particular case. but i've gone to other hot places, if you will.
>> uh-huh. >> i've been all over helmand province, for example, probably the most hot province of the 34 provinces of afghanistan. but i've also been up to pa jack key dam and physically examined that situaon up there in the midst of a highly-insecure enronment. so what i'm suggesting, commissioner, sir, is that this is war, and sometimes we have to pushhe envelope in order to insu that the oversight is being provided so that the american taxpayer dollar is not wasted. and i'm not
the bottom line is for in the people there generally understand that. from the time we have left, i want to take up a point of your testimony at found interesting. the point is to build 884 facilities. through 2012 with the money already provided. 133 of them are finished. 78 are in progress, and 673 have not been started. 76% of the projects in the current plan as it is, 76% of the projects have not been started.
what you take from that? sir, that information i just want to reiterate is accurate based on our recent audit of infrastructure relating to the security forces and the extent to which a plan is or is not place in support thereof. that audit will be published by the end of this month, of january. and that's a problem. we, it appears almost impossible, and nothing is really impossible if we bring resources to bear upon things appropriately, but it appears questionable no less that we in a relatively short period of time, in about two years or less, will have built the magnitude of infrastructure, 884 facilities, with only 133 of those facilities in place as we speak. >> tw okay. thank you, sir. i'm out of time. >> thank you, commissioner.
commissioner schinasi, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i'd like to start by saying thank you, general fields, for the work of your agency because you've brought to light many, many be issues that until we get them fixed will continue to waste taxpayer dollars and also challenge the success of the mission in afghanistan overall. i'd like to talk a little bit about the commander's emergency response projects, the cerp program as it's known. you spend some time in your testimony in the overall work that thegency has done on cerp, but i would like to turn particularly to a review that you completed last march on the province, the toaj bridge, and the title of this report is construction is near complete. i would think that's the glass half full argument, 80% complete. if you don't have a complete
bridge, it's not going to do you much good getting across it. the reason i thought that screw was interesting is because -- view was interesting is because it brings up so many issues we see on the requirement side. the afghan ministry was not involved in setting up the requirements for this project, but even more telling, i think, what you found was that the provincial reconstruction team, the prt team there, the lead didn't support this project, and it went forward anyway. problems in execution, poor quality, don't know if concrete's going to hold up, test procedures weren't sufficient to tell us whroornt we actually would have a bridge by the time we got finished. and, again, the issue of sustainability that my colleagues have raised were not sure -- we're not sure that the bridge will be sustainable. so i guess my first question having finished this audit in march 2010, i just wonder if that bridge has been completed, if you know the status of that project. >> um, i'm not sure of the status of the project. i will tell you that our
involvement with the toaj bridge in farah province began really with an inspection, short of the specifications of a bona fide audit. but we took interest in it becausit was a cerp project, for one, value of which, i think, was at o about a million dollars or slightly -- >> little bit more than that. >> slightly more than a million dollars. we turned it into a contract audit. and so those results that you are reviewing as a part of our march report were associated with the fact that we, ultimately, conducted a contract audit of the tojg bring. i'm not sure of the current status, but i will certainly be willing to find out and let you know. >> the recommendations that you made sound very familiar or; establish accountability, insure necessary quality control, you know, address deficiencies in
the documentation. i mean, it continues to amaze me that audit after audit after audit you continue to find the same problems no matter what the size of the project or the location in afghanistan. but i'd like to turn to your statement. one of the things that i think was interesting to me is the fact that the u.s. forces afghanistan disagreed with yr findings that large-scale prects in the cerp program pose any management risks. were you surprised? most of the, most of the audits that i've read of yours have the agency agreeing with your recommendations, and in most cases agreeing to take the actions that are necessary to fix, fix the problems that you've uncovered. yet in this case it seemed that the military was disagreeing with your contention that there are risks in large-scale management programs. >> we will still stick to our
story that they are at risk for a number of reasons. one of the reasons is that because it's a cerp project and the cost in many cases tend to be high, but the oversight of the project oftentimeses -- particularly when it's one that costs quite a bit of money, let's say over $500,000, the supervision of the project is normally handed off to, handed off by an outgoing prt, for example, and handed to the incoming prt, and that handoff we have discovered precipitates lack of continuity of effort. oftentimes the incoming prt coander doesn't see the value in the initiative that his predecessor may have seen, and in some cases have turned off
projects or have not necessarily provided the level of supervision that would be necessary for the project to reach its full maturity commensurate with the investment. so we'll stick by our guns in our, in terms of our assessment of such projects. we did note many our cerp -- in our cerp audit, our initial cerp audit that of all cerp money, 67 % of the money was being spent on 3% of the projects. that 3% of the projects represented projects $500,000 or more. and we did not feel and still do not feel that such initiatives are commensurate with the congress' intent of the use of such funds. >> let me ask you on our second panel we're going to have representatives of the army building agency, the air force building agency, state department building agency, the
usaid building agency. is there any reason to have yet another group of individuals who are not schooledn building techniques to even have projects of this size in afghanistan? >> is there a need for cerp -- is there a need for cerp to be doing construction projects? >> well, as a former active-duty military officer and privileged to haveeen a combat veteran and so forth, i feel -- i don't want to get in between the commanders' perspeive on the ground. i still value that. and even in my capacity as inspector general i must take in consideration the needs of the operational commander. but at the same time i must take in consideration the extent to which there is the capability within the realm of the commander who might implement or put in place a cerp project for the benefit of a near-term,
tactical gain, if you will, that there still needs to be that level of oversight so that the american taxpayer dollar is not wasted. and, therefore, there should be limitations on the extent to which this money can be used for projects that might otherwise be implemented by a more longstanding and resourced organization such as usaid. >> i think that when the cerp program was with originally put in place, it was envisioned that it would be used for projects of about $10,000 with limit, maybe, at $900,000 -- $100,000. and you note in your statement that the 2011 national defense authorization act has put some limits on cerp funding, but they limit individual projects to a maximum of $20 million. that seems to me to be a far cry from the $100,000 limit that you're referring to with the commanders' needs from an
operational imperative. would you see is that limit sufficient, or would you look for even lower limits given the kind of ris that you've talked about in managing these large projects? >> well, first off, i'm very pleased to see that the authorization act of 2011 has taken into consideration some of the issues that we have brought to the attention of the congress by way of our audit work. i ackwledge the fact that while we reported in previous cerp audits the concern about projects that exceed $500,000 but certainly acknowledge that the sec take of -- secretary of defense and the congress now must do certain things, the congress to oversee the extend to which these projects are being put in place at various amounts of money. $5 million, the secretary of
defense must, you know, notify the congress if that's underway, and there'a $20 million maximum for any individualerp project. so if all those things are, i would say, good, and i'm confident they've gone through appropriate examination by our civilian and military leaders. and it probably suggests the maturing of the reconstruction effort in afghanistan. and so i will not, for e moment and not ever, actually, debate thevery cat si of those -- efficacy of those decisions. >> thank you. my time isp. >> thank you, commissioner. what we're going to do here is if anyone has a final question, we'll follow the order. and then say thank you. one of the things that i think that's important, general, is to reinforce your statement -- and several up here have done this about the criticality of who's going to pay for the
sustainment. and commissioner henke brought outhat the revenue available, a billion dollars or so, so, obviously, the govnment of afanistan is not. and so then you get into the question of everyone tosses out or discusses because it's been mentioned as a, as a highest-level priority by the president that maybe 2014 is an end year. and i carry a slide around with me that is a 10, november, of last year from you say cstc-a, but now i'm told to call it the national training mission. it's the same organization. and this slide shows sustainment pushing for 2015 and016, $5 billion a year. total cost that they've put into their pipeline of $5.7, 5.7. and the slide also says which
talks to the cost impact that i don't think people understand is that it says and i'm going to quote this, 2003 to 2009 it was six yea for their mission, $20.5 billion to build and sustain the 200,000 soldier and police force, afghan force. and then it says 2010 and 2011, and an interest withing choice of words, it says two years and $20.8 to sustain. so it was 20.5 for '03-'09, and now in the current year and just completed year, two years and $20.8 to sustain, and then it says and regenerate. the 200,000 work force. which, you know, when we inquired about i and this was presented, that that loosely said or probably fairly accurately said as you had to go find some of the people and retrain themnd all that. so all of that money to build
and construct and to train. and they say to build and sustain and also to build and sustain an additional 105,000. so my point is, is this is just a training mission. and it, you know, to look at the chart for '15 and '16, 2015, 5.be 7 and 5.7 for the total of which which the significant majority is sustainment, it begs the question, are we really aware of just what we're committing to by building that force? and i offer that and the last -- and i'm just sharing that. and the last thing that i wanted to ask is you said you had 100 recommendations. what kind of pushback have you had by agencies that say, well, that's great, but -- or what have you found by agencies either pushback directly or
pushback thatis in the tomorrow of they haven't done anything with it? >> yes, sir. first, i will say that in general the agencies have been receptive to our recommendations. i would say that about 90% of our recommendations have been accepted by the respective agency or agencies. but the extent to which everything that we have offered as a remedy for certain problems may not have been put in place yet. but i'm not prepared to say that they will not be put in place at any point in time. i'm inclined to say that they will be put in place at some point in time. for example, we've recommended that we need a centralized database for contracting in afghanistan. or contracting overall. but specifically, when it relates to contingency
operations such as those of which afghanistan is characteristic. to my knowledge, no such system has thus far been put in place. >> thank you. that's, to my knowledge, no such system has been put in place also. commissioner green? commissioner, you're fine? i'm sorry, commissioner ervin? >> i just had one -- i don't know if it's quick or not, general, but i don't have much time. i want to take advantage of your being here to ask a series of overarching policy questions. that's what i did in the first round, and i want to do that to some degree here. in your judgment, has the united states government -- and by that, of course, i mean specifically dod and state aid, that's r charter here -- have we become overly reliant on contractors? i think everybody would acknowledge there's a roleor them to play, but have we defaulted to them all too often? what'sour judgment about that? is there organic policy that ought to be grown in government so we're not dependent on
contractors as we are and will be inhe future if action isn't taken now? >> well, first, i must agree that we are very dependent upon contracting. >> and, sir, could you just, again, speak a little bit more -- >> thank you. let me say again that i believe that we are, we have become very dependent upon contractors. and i'm not suggesting that that is all bad. we have to examine, you know, the risk, if you will, or the capacity, what capacity exists within the federal structure and what capacity must we tap into in order to bring about a certain capability or end that we are, that we're looking for. so i'm -- we're going to be involved with contractors, i think, for the duration. so i won't argue that we have too many contractors or too little. i believe that the jury is still out in that regard. what i will argue, though, is that we don't have enough
trained folks within the federal establishment to provide the oversight of the very contractors that we are bringing aboard. and something that has come to my mind here recently is it should be axiomatic that a part of the training regiment of our leaders both on the civil side and in the hill tear ranks -- military ranks should be contract training. and that's something that i never had, really, as an officer. and i have had contractors under my charge, but of course i've had trained contractor expertise to assist me in that regard. but i think we need more depth and breadth of contract training as a basic element of the curriculum that's provided to our officers and our staff ncos. >> and let me ask just one other question that's a logical follow up to that.
do you have any particular ncern about private security contractors? >> the -- first off, i have benefited from prate security contracts as a part of the many visits i've made to afghanistan. they've all served me well, so i have not an issue in that regard. but if there, if i were to suggest an issue, it would only be that we need to insure tt the private security contractors work within the confines of the contract under which they are hired and that they work and serve in a manner that respects the sovereignty of the nation in which they are providing such support. >> thank you, general. >> thanks, commissioner. commissioner tiefer, please. you're okay, right? >> i, i only wish to join my voices with those of my fellow
commissioners in expressing gratitude to you for your service. before you became sigar, the public knew the scandals of wartime contracting in iraq but not afghanistan. afghanistan was a small blip on the screen as to that issue. you have been leading national educator about this. i know young people like the students i teach government contracting law to at the university of baltimore law school, they read in the news a short version of your reports, and they learn real-life lessons that in the classroom are impossible toteach, and i commend you for how you have brought to light the persistence in afghanistan of contracting
waste, fraud and abuse. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. tiefer. i'm pleased that this worand maybe my contribution to it is having an impact across the board in afghanistan, but there is an impact, sir, over which you have significant influence to build up and raise up younger folks who might take these positions and bring intellect to bear upon improving how it is we do this work. you know, commissioner and commissioners, when i look at this picture over here, this is a bridge in the province of kundar. it's not one that i've personally visited. i have been in the province of kunar, and i have crossed this very river that this bridge is supposed to span. and, no, that is not the way the bridge is supposed to look. it is crumbling.
it was, basically, handed off from the standpoint of its warranty during august of -- july, rather, of 2010. poorly built. this is an example of poorly-built trues in afghanistan -- structures in afghanistan. as i understand it, it's still under investigation by my investigators and perhaps my auditors as well. poor construction, likely substitute, inferior material used in the bridge. so we need to correct these matterfor the benefit of the american taxpayer and certainly for the people of afghanistan. >> you good, charles? >> oh,eah. >> thank you, commissioner. and, you know, i've been sitting there thinking, genal fields, the whole time don't forget to ask him about that bridge, so thank you so much for bringing that out because i'm sitting there now saying how would i
like to be someone traveling and what kind of transportation -- maybe you could do it by holding on to the guardrail as you're traveling up. commissioner henke, sir. >> general fields, just a couple of brief questions, if i might. does afghanistan have now an effective rule of law system? .. >> the amount we are spending on reconstruction alone is about $16 billion. we are spending a lot of money to shore up the government of afghanistan. it also involves soldiers and so
forth, but we are not there yet. >> you have made a number of trips to afghanistan. how many times of the cutbacks -- how many times have you traveled there? >> in this capacity, i have been to afghanistan about eight times. >> when you are there, there are times when you are behind the wire and outside the wire, on base or off of base. you, i am sure, state at camp eggers and various forward operating basis. is that correct? sir, is that correct? >> i have stayed in kabul, and overnight several other places in afghanistan. >> is there a clear distinction between being behind the wire and outside the wire in terms of your security? >> if your question, sir, is
related to the presynodal if you will and the concern about security, once one leaves the base, for example, yes, sir, there's a considerable difference being between inside the compound, and exiting the gate no matter under what circumstances. >> it seems to me, when you are going out the wire, you are going into a place where there is no effective rule of law. inside the base, you are not safe, but you are safer. there's an effective rule of law, you are an american u.s. -- american citizen on a u.s. base. as the issue as it reates to afghanistan sovereignty, and president karzai's decree to restrict or constrain private contractors. does isupport or undermine the legacy of the afghan government? >> sir, i would say that the
answer to that question is often times in the eye of the beholder. but i feel that it is as much as we are spending $29 billion on shoring up the afghanistan national army, and afghanistan national police, one might conclude that this investment should already have yilded some level of capability within the security structure of afghanistan to provide some of this security that we are seekinghrough other means. such as, you know, the contract community. and in terms of the, you know, the sovereignty of the government, i know these matters involving president karzai's intento eliminate private -- the pses in afghanistan, they are still on a debate. and i want to comment only to
the extent to say that, yes, we do need to have a secure environment within which to conduct this reconstruction. to the extent to which the afghan government and other resources in afghanistan, afghanistan can provide this support, i think we should tap into the extent that the capability exists. >> so relying more on afghan forces would support -- would have the added benefits of supporting the legitimacy of the afghan government. >> my answer, sir, would be more in the context of building capacity. as long as we are providing a capacity, external to afghanistan in the support of the reconstruction effort, we are doing very little t build that very capacity in afghanistan. so i think we should begin to lean mo on the afghans for matters like this. this is also a part of the president's strategy, include
the afghans to the maximum extent possible. the afghans would wish to take over the whole of the security element. and my visit to one providence, panshir, they say let me handle security for my area. i can do it. 's a mujahideen i think we should give some consideration. >> thank you. >> i think anyone who has spent any time looking at acquisition processrecognizes pretty quickly to those who have responsibility for mission success don't see the value of solid acquisition process in that mission's success. and so i'm of the opinion that if we can just get across the idea that money wasted is really an opportunity lost to get mission success that we need see some turn around in the way the
agencies and the u.s. government as a whole treats the whole issue of contracting. i guess my question to you with your marine corps officer hat on in the fast -- past, nd now the staff trying to figur out whether the u.s. government is getting the intended outcomes. have you seen a change in the field in the time that you have been in the position either by military commanders or the civilian program officials that there really is the understanding that money wasted is really a lost opportunity for mission success? and if not, would you have any advise as to how to really drive home that lesson? >> in an answer to the part of your question, dealing with whether or not the attitude, if you will, by senior leaders is changing or has changed
regding the best benefit that might be reaped from the investment, i would say that in the two year, two and a half years basically that i've been in this capacity, i am beginning to see some change in that regard. but i tend to address matters like this in three dimensions. the first being at the strategic level, then the operational level, then the tactical level. and it's really at the tactical level where the matters begin to take root and have the affect on the people of afghanistan and the mission that we have -- that we have undertaken. i would say at the strategic level, this is the change in attitude. i think the strategy that we executing is an example of that. and i believe that the mechanisms that have been put in place, both by the u.s. ambassador to afghanistan, as well as general petraeus suggest that attention is being turned to these ve issues. so these strategic mechanisms
that are in place, policies and so forth, directing and guiding the contracts and the effort, i think ar all leading towards that end. >> what will it take to get through the strategic level through the operation and tactical level to where you say it hits? >> exactly. first it will take some time for these matters to trickle down to the execution level. but i think increased training, increased leadership, stronger leadership at all levels, and i feel though that we have enough policies in place. we need tone sure that the policies that are in place are, in fact, implemented by those responsible. >> how about some constrains on the resource side? >> well, i think that if we don't do a better job of cleaning up our act when it comes to oversight in afghanistan, making better use
of the resources that the congress has very generously provided and the ameican people, of course, confidence will be lost. an that will be a disadvantage, commissioner, to the outcome of this tremendous effort. >> thank you, general fields. >> well, general fields. i want to thank you for leading off our panel. i want to wish you the very best. i hear february 4th isyour last d. so, you know, it was terrific that you were willing to come up in here that environment and be so candid when obviously you have a lot of work ahead in the next short period in the couple of weeks. and it was good to hear that you have so much confidence in your leadership that you've build there going forward. so thank you, and for all of us, when you walk ou of this door for the job that you've done, this marine in front of us should hold his high head.
thank you, sir. >> thank you, chairman, thank you, commissioners, thank you for everything that you he done to help me in this path. this is my second privileged opportunity to testify for this commission. i have enjoyed this and learned from it as i have the one in the past. thank you for your effort. and i think you have certainly made a difference. that's my assessment of what you've done, mr. chairman and members of the commission. >> we're going to take about a five minute break while we swap out panels. [inaudible conversations] >> you can see all of today's mission on wartime contract in meeting on our website. we are waiting for the u.s. house to begin their legislative week. there will begin consideration
of the rule of the resolution that would reduce non-security spending for the fiscal year to fiscal year 2008 levels. white house coverage when they come back again. just a reminder about the state of the union. that is tomorrow. the president speaks at 9:00. our coverage gets under way at 8:00 p.m. eastern. coverage is both here on c-span and on c-span 2. a state department spokesman said the u.s. would have a hard time supporting of the non if the new government was controlled by hezbollah -- supporting lead the non -- supporting lebanon if the new government was controlled by hezbollah. this is about half an hour. >> [laughter]
can't do better than that. former buffalo goalie. [laughter] good afternoon and welcome to the department of state. just a couple of items before taking questions. the secretary has arrived in mexico and is meeting with foreign minister espinoza and will travel to mexico city today for a meeting with president calderon. she will reinforce u.s.? -- u.s.-mexico cooperation against transnational organized crime, as well as regional issues. we obviously condemn the terrorism we saw today in russia. we stand with the people of
russia at this moment of sorrow and offer our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of those injured and killed. we will continue to work with russia and the international community to combat violent extremism against peace-loving people everywhere. we have offered support to the russian government, if need be, to help bring the perpetrators to justice. our assistant secretary has already met with the tunizian foreign minister. he will meet with civil society advocates to convey our support. he will be helping with
tunizia's democratic transition, while recognizing they initiated the process and will lead it. tunizia charts the course forward to greater political and social freedom, transparent and timely elections, and addressing the underlying political and economic weaknesses that led to the recent unrest. the assistant secretary for eastern asia civic affairs is income -- is in hawaii today, leading a delegation in a series of meetings on civic island issues, including bilateral coordination meetings with the asian development bank and a trilateral security dialogue with australia and japan. we will also hold collateral conversations -- trilateral conversations with australia and new zealand. we will work together with
pacific island countries to enhance security and prosperity in the region. we will pledge support for steps that will hasten the restoration of democratic institutions and the rule of law in fiji. assistant secretary campbell will also participate in a state of the pacific dialogue to discuss key issues. >> is the crossing the pacific? >> that is a very good question. i do not think so. >> do you know who he is meeting with from these other countries? >> his counterparts. >> new zealand, australia, and japan? >> in different combinations. i do think there are representatives coming in from a broad range of countries,
including island countries in the region. >> the help you are offering the russians -- what kind of help specifically? >> we just said if they need any help with the ongoing investigation, we have expertise. russia does as well. i have no indication at this point. i am not confident about whether the russian federation has responded yet. >> you mentioned a violent extremism. they apparently have a terrorism investigation ongoing. would you use the word terrorism at this point? >> obviously, it is investigation. i do not know that i would draw a significant distinction between the two. we use the term violent
extremism. others use the term terrorism. >> about tunizia -- how long is the secretary going to stay? will he go anywhere else in the region? >> he will be back here on wednesday. >> it is today and tomorrow? >> i think there is a conference later this week on iraq that he will participate in. right now, his plans are to travel to tunizia and back. >> is there any message about the viability of a tunizian government that includes members of the foreign governments -- the former government's party? >> secretary clinton has had conversations with the prime minister and foreign minister prior to this. our ambassador in tunizia is in continued touch with the interim government. what jeff is trying to do is just assess where they are in
the process, and how the united states can be helpful. >> a lot of people called for the ousting of the foreign minister. >> i believe the foreign minister is a holdover, yes. what is the question? >> the question is -- is he a member of the party? >> i will defer to the interim government. i know there have been some resignations from the party of former president ben ali. but as to the status of individuals in key positions, this is a matter for the government. it is important for the government to continue to open up a dialogue with and respond to the aspirations of its people. >> you have been talking about helping tunizia transition to
democracy. how will you do that? >> clearly, the direction that tunizia is beginning preparations for will be vitally important. we have some expertise. i think part of what the secretary will evaluate is to what extent we might be helpful in providing some of the support through ngo's. we have worked with a number of countries around the world to help their selections, where obviously there is not a history of free and fair elections. >> tunizia, egypt, left in the levant, stop in beirut? >> sure. >> these support this government and recognize it? on the street, people are asking for the prime minister to step
down. today, there were clashes. >> we support the transition that is under way. we hope that this transition will be peaceful. we understand that the tunisian civil society has questions about the nature of the government. clearly, after decades of mistrust, there are questions people continue to raise. the government is trying to be responsive. we know this is hard, and we know that the government will at times have missteps along the way. obviously, we are conscious of the fact that an independent television station was briefly shut down yesterday. we have expressed our concern to the government about that. the government has reversed its action after a few hours.
this is a government that is trying hard to respond to the aspirations of its people. we are encouraged by steps that have been taken so far. there is a lot of work to be done. we are prepared to help tunisia along this path. beginning a dialogue with civil society, releasing prisoners, opening up space for free media coverage of ongoing events -- these are positive steps. but the government has to continue to respond to the demand of the people. we will see where that goes. >> was that message on a tv station directly conveyed by assistant secretary felton? >> it has been conveyed from the embassy to the government. >> how big a blow is it that the next prime minister looks like
he is going to be hezbollah- supported? >> there is a constitutional process playing itself out. ultimately, the makeup of the future government of lebanon is a lebanese decision. we are monitoring the situation closely and will wait to hear back who is offered formally the opportunity to form a government, and what composition is in that government. >> is there anything statutory that will be triggered by a has blood-lead government? -- by a hezbollah-led
government? there are some reports that unnamed u.s. diplomats have been going around saying that if a hezbollah-backed person becomes prime minister, that you will sever economic aid. is that correct? >> we will reserve judgment until a government is formed. our view of has a lot is well known. we have great concerns about a government within which hezbollah plays a leading role. it is hard for us to imagine any government being a true representative of all of lebanon if that government is prepared to take steps back from the ongoing work of the tribunal. we will look at the election and
the implications in terms of policies that we feel are vital to the future of lebanon. we continue to want to see a government that continues to serve the interests of the people of lebanon, and not the government of other countries. we want to see a government in london on that will continue to support the work of the tribunal. but we will reserve judgment. >> without asking you in a way where you will say you will reserve judgment -- is it legal for the administration to provide funding to a government that is led or dominated by a group that you called a terrorist organization? >> that would be difficult for the united states to do. the larger the role played by it
has a lot in the government, the more problematic our relationship will be. we have stated concerns. >> the government has two ministers from hezbollah. it seems that are not likely to get more than two. are you more focused on the role of hezbollah or the process itself? it seems the process is democratic and institutional. >> we will wait to see what the government looks like, who is involved in that government, what the policies of that government will be. then we will evaluate what the impact on our relationship will be. all the same, we have great concerns about hezbollah.
we see it as a terrorist organization. that is problematic for the relationship between the united states and lebanon. >> some people are saying this is an iranian coup by hezbollah. >> we want a government to emerge in lebanon that will serve the interests of the people of lebanon. we want to see a government that will continue to support the work of the tribunal. we are going to wait and see as this constitutional process unfolds. >> any talks with other leaders? >> we continue to monitor the situation in lebanon very closely. we have had recent conversations with government officials and will continue to engage across the full spectrum as a goes
through its constitutional process >> is the -- >> hold on. >> there has been a call for the date of anger by the members of the coalition, which may develop into a flash point. are you counting them against any -- counseling them against any activity? >> there is a process here. every indication is that the government is following the constitutional process. we do not want to see any faction of any kind of resort to violence. >> the vision of the new prime minister -- >> i cannot say. not to my knowledge.
our ambassador has been closely monitoring events and meeting with various officials across the political spectrum as we continue to watch what is unfolding. >> this is a technical point. you were asked whether you recognized the government and did not respond with the usual line we have heard for many years, that the u.s. does not recognize governments, it recognized states. has that changed? >> we have diplomatic relations with tunisia and lebanon. >> has always been we do not recognize governments. -- the line has always been "we do not recognize governments. we recognize states."
>> that is correct. >> does this kill off any life that might have been left in the peace process? >> not at all. these are not u.s. documents, and we cannot vouch for their veracity. we do not plan to comment on any particular document. >> none of this change is our understanding of what is at stake and what needs to be done. we continue to believe this is both possible and necessary. we continue to work to engage the parties as we have done throughout this process. we have had contact with both israelis and palestinians. for about 24 hours, we have had contact with a number of leaders in the region. first and foremost, we have an
important quartet meeting coming up at the end of next week. we are working through the details of the quartet meeting. we have been able to get perspective on the possible implications of this. we do not deny that this will at least for a time make the situation more difficult than it already was. we are clear eyed about this. we always recognize this would be a great challenge, but this does not change our overall position. >> to the best of your knowledge, can you confirm that there has been a change in a plan? >> we talked to mr. arafat yesterday. i will take the question as to what his future troubles --
>> do you deny this will for a time of the situation more difficult than it already was? is this tantamount to confirming the work accurate? these things have just been created. why shouldn't make anything more difficult? -- should it make anything more difficult? >> to pursue peace in the middle east is one level of substantive challenge. we know what the core issues are. we have been involved in many discussions with israelis and palestinians for a number of years on these issues. at a second level, this is a political challenge. regardless of whether one document is accurate and one document is not, one document represents a past position and
one document represents the current position -- obviously, we are evaluating the political reaction to what has come forward in the last 24 hours and what is likely to come forward in the coming days. it does not change our understanding of the challenge. it does not change our determination to continue to engage with the parties. and we can continue to move towards a framework agreement. >> will senator mitchell be over there any time soon? >> senator mitchell has been on the phone for the last several hours with several leaders. he has been in talks with the israelis as well. a lot of our focus is on plans for the quartet meeting next week and how we can use that meeting to continue to move the
parties. >> can you describe his current role as unique from dennis ross's role? i understand he has recently been to visit the parties in the region. >> george mitchell remains the special envoy. he is our chief negotiator. dennis ross is in charge of regional policy within the national security staff. his discussions are more focused on security, which is important to prevention, and helps encourage both sides to reach agreement. on that, i will defer to the white house. >> in a meeting with newspaper editors in cairo, it was said that if the palestinian state
does not function as well as promised in the speech before the general assembly with president obama, that there will be an alternative. the you have any idea what he is talking about? he has promised to have an option beyond the realm of what is being discussed politically. >> we support current palestinian efforts to create strong institutions and put the people in a position to govern. should the ongoing discussions lead to negotiations that lead to a framework agreement, we have been key supporters of the work that prime minister iowa -- fayyad has done within the palestinian territories.
we have also made clear that we believe strongly that the best and only way to fundamentally resolve the core issues, reach an agreement, is through negotiation, not through unilateral statements and actions by one side or the other. >> the palestinians put a lot on the table. but it seems no matter what concessions the palestinian authority presents two different israeli governments, the israeli position is still the same. they are not ready to get to a deal. is it time for your administration to put some pressure on israel? are you aware of the national security council new evaluation that netanyahu actually will not work with obama on the peace process? >> i will go back to what i said at the start.
we believe that a framework agreement remains possible and necessary. it is why we are undeterred and are redoubling our efforts in the coming days leading up to the quartet meeting. we continue to engage the parties. we continue to work with them on the substance. we continue to try to find ways to narrow the gaps that do exist between the two. it remains our objective to help the parties -- from work agreement. >> on the issue of the national security council? >> george mitchell and the secretary have both made clear that we believe that both sides remain committed to reach an agreement. we do understand that this remains a challenging path. nevertheless, we will pursue this path. >> is there a resolution condemning the supplements, in accordance with the american position? would that be helpful or not? >> we do not think that would be
helpful. we do not think that is the right way to resolve these issues. >> i wonder if you have any comment on the report about the gulf flotilla -- gaza flotilla, if you agree with the turks that it was a joke without any credibility? >> the secretaries panel is the primary forum for the international community to review the incident. we do believe the conclusion of the first part of the two-part commission report is an important step. we understand the second half will be released in the coming months. this is a process that will be continuing under the auspices of the u.n. secretary-general. >> do you still think as you did back when the incidents the report deals with took place that the israelis had the means
and the intent to conduct an impartial investigation into their own -- >> yes, we do. but there is more work to be done, both on the israeli part and on the secretary general's panel. >> i am a little bit confused. which one do you consider to be more viable, the secretary general's report or the israeli panel? >> i do not believe it is an either/or proposition. we have support of the effort by israel. there has been -- we think this is an independent report, and credible and impartial and a transparent investigation that has been undertaken by israel. it will contribute to a broader process that continues to the
secretary general. i do not think that is an either/or proposition. >> regarding the republic of india, where terrorism is concerned -- have you heard if they need any u.s. help? >> we have ongoing counter- terrorism operations with india. we share a concern about terrorism both in the region and around the world. i cannot point to any specific particular action we have done in recent days. we do have full cooperation between india and the united states. >> in connection with the moscow bombing -- as far as every
country's tourism and bombing has been concerned, the russian president and chinese president were in town last week. we have not seen any terrorist activities in china. have you discussed with the chinese president here what the global community can learn from china, so they can be terrorism- free? >> i am not sure china would agree with your definition. this is a global challenge. last week at the state department, we had a first meeting of the global counter- terrorism for a room that -- counter-terrorism forum. we are comparing notes in terms of best practices, and sharing
information that we think can help the variety of countries that confront this challenge. >> the indian embassy in washington has said it has raised a query with the state department about the granting of diplomatic immunity to a union officer in india, regarding a case which has been filed against him here in the u.s.. can you comment on the status of the query, as well as what the state department's view is on whether he should be given immunity? >> we are following closely a civil complaint, involving the minister. this is still a legal process that is unfolding. it is unclear whether any live action against the minister, and what its content might be -- they have until february 9 to
file an amended complaint. at the state department, we have not made any determinations. >> in india, at the secretary level -- >> i cannot say the secretary has been involved in this. >> would say it de-nuclearize asian -- denuclearization is the only u.s.-north korea issue? >> it is not true. the korean peninsula is a regional and global concern. there is a six-party process that was put in place to deal with these issues. it involves more than the united states and north korea. so by definition, this is something that is of broad international concern and needs
to be resolved internationally, not just bilaterally. >> but the north koreans refuse to talk except in military high- level talks. >> we understand very much what north korea would like to do. but it has to resolve these issues through the mechanism that has been put in place. >> [unintelligible] >> no meetings. >> secondly, last week, the department issued a travel alert on nepal, saying it is party to terrorist organizations and urging travelers not to have contact with them. then the secretary issued a statement that he talked with their leaders. if there is a terrorist intervention, why are you talking to them? >> i would not say so. first of all, we did welcome
over the weekend the clear progress where there is an agreement in nepal to transfer control of maoist forces to a special commission. this is an important step in the peace process. now, nepal needs to move forward with the rest of the process, which includes a new constitution and formation of the government. that was a major step that we welcome. >> in afghanistan, a senior journalist in afghanistan was attacked with acid last week. the journalist and the person who attacked him both say it was at the behest of iran and they had triggered the attacker to attack him. >> i do not have an answer on that. >> in ivory coast, you have tweeted the fact that you back organizeds ban on
sports for a month. what is your rationale on that? have you had any communication with them? does your backing for this imply any sort of formal banning of u.s. imports to ivory coast? >> we do support president ouattara's call for a month-long ban on coca exports. our embassy is in touch with relevant players on this. we are looking -- we are working closely with the e.u.. there sanctions have a great to do not -- a great deal to do not only with the export of cocoa. but it is part of our strategy to deny laurent gbagbo the