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tv   Capital News Today  CSPAN  February 7, 2011 11:00pm-1:59am EST

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spokesman and repeat that the nile. >> i did not repeat that the nile. i repeated what the statement was that he had issued, saying that that had been asked and answered, and the president is doing the job he was elected to do. the good news is that they agreed with that over time. they said the press needs to find the off button >> how tough did it get for you? when you know something is happening legislatively or a scandal, where you have more information you want to pass on. and you are asked that question out there. >> i think that is something you learned to do over time because not only do you have to give accurate information, but you have to set up your answers so they don't track you down the line. -- trap you. i got trapped by one of my
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answers. when president clinton first came to the white house just a few months after we were there, president h. w. bush went back to kuwait to celebrate the second anniversary of the liberation and there was an assassination attempt on his life. and so, the fbi began to investigate. i started to give guidance prepared by the national security council. they would sort of set up guidance, particularly on these types of things. it was the fbi is investigating. the president will make a decision about how to proceed. and so, i would periodically get asked a question what is going on with the assassination attempt? the fbi investigation. i would give the guidance in exactly those words. and so, one day, on friday i was going through my briefing with the deputy for national security and he said nothing has changed. same guidance. you know,the president will look at the results when they come from the fbi. i got asked a question. which was random. i did not get asked that question every day. and announced to me the --
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unbeknownst to me, the president received the information they did before. he decided iraq was responsible for the assassination attempt and the united states would retaliate by bombing day agency in baghdad on saturday. this was friday. i did not know it. until the following day. then i realized i have now given them that guidance. oh, my gosh. i realized in hindsight what i should have said was when the president receives information from the fbi he will make a decision. and until then, i have nothing more to say. but i did not. i think it is an example of how you have to think five moves ahead of all the time because it is not only about what is happening today, but the future. i learned to do that much better. painful experience, and i think, probably, everybody. >> some things people don't realize is in many ways the press secretary acts like a reporter as well.
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i don't know the answers to everything. i get a question. i am, like, "i do not know." i will call somebody at the national security council that i trust. i might also ask the chief of staff to make sure i got the same answer. then you know those two have to talk. >> the most common question is that i think all of we get is who tells you what to say? no one tells you what to say. >> or everyone tells you what to say. >> it is of to the press -- up to the press secretary to be a reporter. >> what is the biggest mistake? >> that was it. >> i am sure you could put a montage together and it would be horrible. [laughter] >> funny you mention that. [laughter] >> it is a burnout job because you have the press banging on you to get me everything, don't tell me you don't know the answer.
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go get it. you have other times where you are not going to. especially after 9/11 a lot at it was the security-related. live briefings. it was covered by aljazeera whether the u.s. would move security forces on to the ground. in afghanistan before the first bullet was fired. yes, we have. we have pre deployed our troops. [laughter] >> but aljazeera wasn't the only one. you had plenty of the american media. >> in the american media there was a report that we capture the bad guy. the press secretary's regularly have to confront things on a background. the reporters write something truthful. reporters came into my office and said is it true we capture this guy in yemen? i said i cannot help you on that. i am sorry. he said, wait a minute. i am not asking for your name, just tell me yes or no. so we can write about it or not. i said i cannot help you. the press secretary's job is to
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help. they are angry. why can you not just steer me straight or wrong? i cannot even explain at the time but i can say it now. when we did capture a bad guy we did not want anybody to know. we wanted his cell phone to ring again. we wanted his satellite phone to ring again. we wanted to get another e-mail so we could chase it up the line. if i acknowledge anything, the trail could go cold. the line could have gone cold. this is where you are doing what you think is right that the press never thinks is right. >> i will give you an example of a mistake i made that was not substantive, it was tone. as we all know, there is a lot of pressure on the secretary. but there is a lot of pressure on everybody. i remember one time in particular embarrassing a reporter for asking a question that had already been asked. it was a question where -- they were behind by about five hours with the news.
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i embarrassed him on national television and it was really unfair. the easiest thing to do is to be sarcastic and try to be funny. the most important thing you can do is swallow that and save the funny moments for your deputies and give the reporters in the randy information they are seeking. -- give the reporters in the room the information they are seeking. i did call and apologize to the reporter but it does not take back the fact i did it. >> tone and substance are very important. very sensitive from the white house podium. i am reminded of a situation we encountered at cnn. after 9/11 we put together guidance as a result of the conversation you and i had. butwe understood we could be used as a vehicle for nefarious means. the obama -- osama bin laden tape, what is our responsibility?
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when he touches his left hand to signal another attack. where do we get guidance for that? we said we were going to be sensitive to issues that might imperil operations of national security. sensitive to it. it does not say what we are going to do, but we will try to tune it in. there was a time when we first deployed u.s. troops to lose pakistan -- to uzbekistan. was it is pakistan? was that the first place we ended up in? i think it was. -- is pakistan -- uzbekistan. we were approached and asked not to report that because it might jeopardize security. we chose not to report that. then if it leaks some other place and a pakistani news another network reported it in the u.s. so, a, what is your guidance to news organizations? and, b, how can you say i will not address that when it is going out through these other
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means? >> this is why that clash takes place. that is a great question. my standard was, whenever the president called me in the oval office and said were you the source i would give him a honest answer. you say you cannot lie to the press, and you cannot. you cannot lie to the president either. i said to you go with it. you go with it and the president sees it on cnn and ask are you the source of it? i am going to give him an honest answer. >> i would say no, the source was another organization. >> there was an editor that already was your source. >> it is a world of difference for someone in the name of the u.s. government and the president to confirm something than some murky report. >> you would rather live with that ever mention that comes from another source? >> i would rather make sure journalists working to keep the american public informed move towards the truth in a way that
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is not going to jeopardize people's lives. or harm our security. someone is getting ready to write something that is flat out wrong or going to move away from the truth, then you have an obligation to warn them against that. this gets back to your fundamental question. can press secretaries lai, the -- lie, the answer is no. the only press secretary that ever did that is jody powell who denied a rescue mission was underway to get the hostages out of iran, long before many students here were born. that was the test case. it has never been challenged sense because nobody has ever -- since because nobody has ever lied to the press corps. what gets you killed is when someone forgot to tell you something, which is why dana is right. we have to be reporters ourselves to get sources. to bust down the doors.
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to get the intermission -- information. it is hard work to stay on top of that. >> what is the day in the life of the press secretary? >> i don't think they ever sleep now. dan, i do not think he slipped the entire year's you're there -- dana, i do not think you slept all of the years you were there. i think it has changed a lot. you don't sleep as much as you like to. you have to have the papers read it for the first meetings. >> do you get phone calls in the middle of the night? >> there were five web sites when i left the white house. >> you are looking pretty good for 105. >> for all of us to remember the old fashion newspaper is, even when you are on the hill you know something will be in the paper thin next day where i have to open it up and find a story. then you are either happy or sad. now there is no element of surprise anymore.
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in fact, like, a "washington post"reports would not necessarily know they were beaten with a story by another paper. now, that happens at 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. >> back in the day when there was a bulldog edition of the papers what would happen is there would be something coming out that was a proprietary story. "the new york times" would have something. i would sit there and wade and -- and wait, and the fund would start to ring. there was no black berry. -- the phone would start to ring. that was a big deal. they could cram it-just in time for their deadline. >> how quaint, how question. -- quade. -- quaint. >>ari, if you had to some of the job of white house press secretary in one tweet, what would you say? 140 characters or less. >> ec, joyful, lots of sleet.
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-- lots of sleep. i would call it the most intellectually stimulating job. i would call it the best job i have ever had. >> one of the things that we studied in political communication and throughout our school is framing an issue and how agenda's for issues get set. issue and how agenda's for issues get set. i would like to ask you from your perspectives, who set the agenda? did you set the agenda from the podium? is it reporters who set the agenda? could you control it? did you try? >> all of the above. >> the press secretary rarely sets the agenda. the president certainly can. events outside of the white house, weather it is markets crashing --
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>> it is pretty rare. that is the exception. >> that is the precedent setting the agenda. -- that is the president setting the agenda. >> people in power tried to set an agenda. >> what worked best? >> anytime the president makes hard news. and the press assembly covers. my easiest briefings were when there was one big story going on. the new 30 minutes would be on that nasty topic. on a slow news day, my hardest. 15 or 20 questions, they always asked interesting questions. >> we used to say is it going to be a kitchen sink day? that was a lot hder.
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>> you tried to set an agenda. you try to move away from what was called suicide bombing. talk about that. >> where everyday lives are being taken as a palestinian suicide bombers were taking lives in israel. it was reaching an unparalleled proportions. it occurred to me one day if this is called suicide why are all these other people getting killed? i asked condoleezza rice what do you think? she said she will bounce it off the national security aiser. i did not bring the president into it. i call them homicide bombers. that seemed a more accurate description. >> how did that work? >> it caught people's attention. i think it worked well. a lot of people still use that phrase. >> do you think it worked well?
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>> i think changing the vocabulary on something like that is a way in which you can use that job to do things. there are rare opportunities to use the podium -- >> is there a danger of going too far? >> yes, the greatest danger associated with that job is the american people don't trust the information they have. they lost faith in the media. we know there faith in the established media has declined to all-time lows. they see to me -- they see to many people doing this political speak. they're looking for someone to help the mold with what really matters. that is the hardest part of this job. reconciling the political things you have to do to be a protagonist for the president's point of view and conveying simple factual information to
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the american public that the american public needs to hear. those roles are so much in conflict right now. >> how do you think brought gold -- barack obama and robert gibbs have done? >> what a surprise. the reason that president obama 's party lost 63 seats in november is not a message problem. he overreached his mandate. he enacted policies that the overwhelmingly majority of americans disagreed with. i do not see that as a communications issue. >> do you agree with that? >> no, not entirely.
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i think that the process of making leglation is compared to sausage making for a very good reasons. president clinton had some of the same problems. if you want to accomplish anything in washington, one of the ways to do it is legislatively. president obama came in and said, i want to do a couple of big things. i want to reform the financial system bred those are big things and they are legislative things. threpublicans have adopted a strategy of the just say no. could be president have done a better job of intervening? of course. i think he had a lot of political capital and he took it out and he spent it. >> he went into debt with it.
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>> he was willing to do that. who would have thought two months after the midterms, and he would be in the same political shape he w then. >> they called ronald reagan the great communicator. is barack obama a great communicator? >> i think he gives a good speech. i do not think that is the same as understanding your audience and understanding the moment and the ba -- and being able to deliver on that. >> i think the ability of the president to use the bully pulpit to help move a country in a direction is so different today than it was in ronald reagan's time because of the difference in the media and technology and the way in which -- -- the way in which we reach people. people want to have an emotional attachment to their president and know thathe president feels like a field and knows that the president understands what their lives are about. president obama is acquiring the
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art of doing that effectively. sometimes it was not prevalent in the first two years. there was a price paid for that. robert gibbs, who was instrumental the importance to the president, something that i am interested in my colleague's point of view, it is nearly impossible to be a decision maker and a key policy maker on behalf of the president and simultaneously do the job that we have to do. you almost have to be a fly on wall watching all of these actors play out their roles to watch the president makes deep -- watched the president make the decision. >> if you are a participant in the process, your colleagues know that you have a point of
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view. they want you to go out and do the briefing. i consciously and never tried to give the president my opinion on something. i gave him a point of view a couple of things privately, but not as part of the policy-making process. >> i totally agree with that. you simply do not have time. it is difficult to return all the phone calls. you have to be a hand holder to be a press secretary. >> do not be an adviser, ba press secretary. -- be it a pss secretary. >> it is beyond the credibility. you have to go back to those people, who were just on the other side of a big fight that was important to them, and they will not be as reliable.
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you need to be an honest broker in side. >> i want everyoneo -- i wanted to hear everybody's point of view. >> when i was press secretary, i had access to all meetings that i could manage. i've played that fly on the role to role. sometimes i was asked my opinion. i did have a sense -- you go down that road, this is what is going to happen. it does not mean that we cannot management. -- we cannot manage it. you had to deal with it. i go back to the state children's health insurance
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program. president bush vetoed that legislation twice. finally, we revealed the secret. [laughter] he wanted t -- he wanted the money to go to the poorest children first. we are crazy, right? we are going to veto it twice. >> nicely done. >> how about an example. when you go to the president, warning, warning, warning. when did you do that? >> i have a good one. >> you have the ear of the president to do this. george bush was the easiest. >> his dad had been vice president. he ran for governor. there is not a reporter that we had not tangled with. he had the highest tolerance for
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bad news. [laughter] >> clinton did, too. he did not have such a high tolerance for bad news. he would take it in any would blow off a little steam. >> we did not have that. >> there was one time when prident bush had done a press conference and he was in the briefing room. after he left, i followed him and we went into the oval office. ne said, that was good. i said, that world war ii comment is going to get a lot of press. about 3:00 in the aftnoon, i
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just wise to call and tell you that you're right. i love to hear. >> mindless mewhat similar. ---was somewhat similar. it was 2003, the war in iraq was winding down. all the sudden, the attack started up and we were losing a lot of our troops. the president was doing a news conference and he got ask about it. he said that if anybodyries to attack america's military, my message is, bring it on. we walked from the roosevelt room and i said, mr. peres -- mr. president, think of how bring it on is going to sound. he got indignant and he said, have so much faith in our military, if anybody wants to tangle with us, bring it on
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because you will lose. he was sending a message to our military about the fate he had in the military. i said mr. president, it did not come out that way. he healed. >> mr. it -- mrs. bush repeated what you said then that helps. >> a question from one of my colleagues. i love this question. why did the democratic press operations have so much more trouble controlling the party's message compared with republicans? >> i will take a crack at that. if you scratch any professional democrats or people who worked in the party, they came up the 1960's and 1970's through movement politics.
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they were late -- they were union organizers, feminist, environmentalist. they worked in a movement politics and believe that the press was going to be on their side. they were in the business of spking truth. republicans never had that fiction in mind. they started from a viewpoint that was more corporate, more fuel than public relations. it goes all the way back to nixon. it was more about mass communications. republicans were more adept at the skills, public relations from the beginning brayed democrats just mistakenly -- >> that is pretty plausible. bush had the advantage of watching all the mistakes made his father's administrations.
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there were a lot of powful individuals that fought against each other. they regularly linking against each other. bush watched that aa son and he made the decision that the people he hired would really be team players. i cannot tellou how many times i was in the oval office and it never leaked. the press loved the leaks. with our administration, white house is secretive. >> you are secretive and tight- lipped. >> congratulations. >> that is where we have the clash of priorities. when i covered the reagawhite house and the bush white house, some of it was disarray. it made it a little easier to
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take the story to the public. >> each was fighting for his o turf. that is what did it. >> you are not going to stop turf battles between heavyweights in the administrati. >> they seldom leaked in the bush administration. >> there is a myth that the republicans did not have message problems. if you look at the social security debate of 2005, that is not a cohesive message. >> is that the same problem that obama had at reelection time? that is debatable. when you take on these b issues, it is not necessarily --
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you will not have a cohesive message. >> lightning round. i want to go to a few questions. with regard to the television series the west wing, how realistic was tha >> one of the funny things about that, the creator of the show had been in washington. he read a script for the movie american president. he asked me if i would read his pilot and consult on the show. all of my friends in washington started calling me. hollywood never gets washington right. the show is going to be a disaster. the first show came on and i got calls from all of my friends.
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two weeks later, i got a story idea for you. it was a -- it felt like the clinton white house. it was written during the clinton years. the culture was right, in some ways. events move fast and it was a way to depict the constant motion of events. the one thing that was least realistic was there was about five people that made the decisions. the sense that most people better working hard trying to do the right thing every day. the fact that just when you think you have the answer to one question, another issue ces crashing over. the kind of gravity about what
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people face every day and sometimes the little things that when the day or knock you off your course. all those things were realistic credit it was the characters that people related to. there is a sense of idealism. there are a good patriotic americans, regardless of party. >> the panel represents two decades of media relations. what'd you think are the most salient chase it -- changes? this one touches on the technology issue. >> in some ways, we have fundamentally different jobs. reporter weiser, you've lost a lot of that senior level talents and broadcast media.
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this is coming down in a couple of hours. i am thinking of having the president do this. we could have a conversation. there is a more cooperative relationship than you think. d.c. is not as partisan as it is made out to be. on the technology side of things, at first, i resisted. >> how many followers do you have? >> i think it is 30,000 now. i have a long way to go. >> how many followers to you have?
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>> i will follow you. >> here is a very interesting question. 5.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions around the world. high-resolution remote sensing satellites generating enormous amounts of data. more satellite news network's every day. how has this changed what a white house press secretary can do to set national and international priorities? is the essence of government itself changing? >> ask mubarak. >> one of the challenges that we are going through right now is how do we slowdown the transfer of information so that people can actually get information and use it, get a coherent
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information and use it effectively to make decisions. all the competiti in the news business -- and this is based on speed. breaking news. something or other. every 30 seconds. we have got to slow that down so that people -- >> that is not going to happen. >> the spokesperson can slow it down. >> a can win the white house consciously says, you have to stop and get things right. one of the things that has eroded the confidence of the american people is all this misinformation that gets out there when there is a crisis. instantly, we had a congresswomen from arizona who
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was dead for two hours. wording how to slow down, at be thorough, it is something that both sides of this have to get better at. >> how is thishange in the nature of governance? >> it is changing the press more than governments. reporters have got to respond to . >> you do not think that it changes the nature of governance? and >> i think it has changed the press more than officials. you still have a higher obligation to get it right and figure it out. waseteran's day 2001, there a plane crashed on long island. it was two months after september 11. is this terrorism again? i was in a brief. i was coming in at 7:15
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i heard it on my car radio. i stayed down there with the president and i did not come up to greet until noon. that five hours -- they were furious with me. i made some enemies on the press that day because i would not briefs until i was ready to. i slowed dn. the press has to go live. is it terrorism? yes or no? >> if you get it wrong, an you have to correct it. >> the consequences of us getting a wrong is that we lose a job. we lose credibility. the consequences of you getting it wrongs you do a correction and you fix it. >> it is a little tougher than that sometimes. i also know that it does change
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the decision making function. and the role the people are playing. when you have pictures coming directly into the white house. i know that when the russian attacked, the white house was watching those pictures in real time. when you elevate that, put all that on steroids and attach to is part of it. look how difficult it is for the white house to sustain a narrative on the topic thewant to talk about. the president wants to talk about jobs, and egypt blows up. the president wants to sell his health care message ne has 15 seconds to get that message across. no matter how trivial, no matter how unimportant it might be.
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we have to spend two days on it. >> it takes us to another question. what skills to rely on most as your role as press secretary? >> it is not necessarily a scale -- skill, but a lot of it is gut instinct. in some ways, it is falling your gut and knowing when there'll be a big story or when is not. >> you had training. >> i had worked as a journalist. when i say how important it was
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to defend the press to the president, that comes from having that bit of training. an understanding what it means when a journalist would call and they would tell you, i have this story. i have to sources. then i have 30 seconds before is thing hits the airwaves. you would tell the chief of staff. he says has to sources, what am i supposed to do? a litt bit of training from that perspective. a lot of it was trial and error. i had a wonderful chief of staff on capitol hill. >> he just got a new job.
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>> what advice would you give a former journalist applying for a job in the white house press job? >> good luck. it will be a gre test. two years and he buys president's office. -- in the vice-president office. when you are a journalist, every skill you have is to cover the news. it is different than selling the news or promoting your boss. this will test him to see how quickly he can make that transition. he is smart, fast on his feet, a very good-looking. it is a great test. >> advice? >> i sort of disagree. i think a sense of humor will
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diffuse tense situations. >> if it is self-deprecating. >> correct. that is the most important thing. >> you escaped that day. >> you managed to preserve yourself some howl through that whole monica mess. >> thank you for reminding me. >> i try n to relive those ys. >> i do not think i could devote -- did away with some of those trips i did now. they would alle on youtube. someone would start calling me out. >> you set on live television,
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let's go on backgrounds. he tried to put the president on background. >> i remember that. >> it did not work. >> is special did not work with at present. >> do you have a comment about the recent news that aol is buying huffington post? >> no. >> fascinating. >> it is whatever. just three months ago, and newsweek was sold foa dollar. the overhead costs, the legacy costs, not being able to keep up. the new media at is taking the world by storm.
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>> there is a real danger if we think that all information that we value ought to be freely available. if we do not value and pay for the content. >> the huntington post started as a liberal bloc. -- the huffington opposed started as a liberal bloc. -- blog. >> it is a proudly liberal organization. you look at -- this is the turn of the last century where in new york city there were 23 or 24 newspapers. we're backo an era where all news comes from a point of view. people did not expect anything else. the huffington post was established in 2005 and was
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profitable last year. that is pretty remarkable. >> can its aol? >> it has a good enough shot as anything. >> she is a creative -- she has created something. the other person who is running newsweek is tina brown. it is to be the other way. you take and on paper publication and you hitched a website to it. >> you had rupert murdoch announcing a new paper just for the ipad. he would not do that if he did not think he could make money. you have to be willing to pay for it. that will be $40 a year. >> every model under the sun is
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being tested. how do you make the news business profitable? >> you have had an incredible job. incredible view of history. an incredible opportunity to help shape it. as you look at our political process now, as you look in armenia and technology now, as you look at the nature of our civil discourse in this country, think about our students, many of whom would like to do what you have done. how do you define this moment in history? how should someone that is 21 years old lookit as look at how we -- look at how we are as a
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culture? i will let you take it wherever you wanted to go. it is a great weight to close the conversation. >> i am very optimistic about where we are going. we have a lot of dysfunction, bitterness, poisoned in the environment of our pitical culture. over time, i detect among young people a row pragmatism and desire to solve problems, a real hunger for real information that allows them to make cices and allow them to shape their own choices about the future. i think that will results in a new journalism with a new business models are affected. it will result in a new civil discourse that is really focused on solving problems.
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our generation has failed to -- in not answering honestly, how much government do we want? we're all celebrating ronald reagan's 100 anniversary, but it began when we made that faults bargain. you can cut taxes and not cut government it happened during his presidency. until we resolve that and get serious abt those fundamental questions, up we will be back into place for we can have a coherent governmt. the students here today are going to be much more courageous in addressing those questions. as a result, they will invent a new politics and a new journalism. >> talking to young people, it
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is more like asking them where are we as a culture. the things are changing so quickly and i think the tools are available and the view that is resulting from this technology age has totally transformed the world. what is happening in egypt is a facebook revolution. did never would've happened with a couple of facebook pas. organize, to plan meetings, to save january 25 is the day. that is just the beginning of pele organizing themselves. politics, we are in a bad pla, but the next generation is going to jump over where we have been to create a completely new model. the model of the white house press sretary -- we're not going to have another network --
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a generation of network news anchors. it is exciting time. it is fraught with danger. with all that energy and that democracy, it is on manageable by anybody. the repercussions of its are completely unpredictable. but it has pential to unleash innovation, new ways of thinking and new ways of creating wealth for the country. it is mind-boggling to think of the potential. it is a ry exciting time. >> i share the optimism. d.c. and politics is not as partisan as some people.
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we are showing that tonight. you can disagree on things and still be able to have a civil conversation. i got a chance to teach at gw last year and i really enjoyed that. i grew up in a ru environment -- rural environments and the internet has allowed to people all across the country to have a say in what is happening. that has made some people uncomfortable. people who never -- people from wyoming who are now online and participating and reading things in the did not have access to all this information.
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nobody is dropping off "the new york times at my grandfather's ranch in the middle of wyoming. now they can have access and they can participate. just a year ago, when scott brown won the election in massachusetts, at they were successful in getting small donations from people all over the country. it is a very interesting and exciting time. take advantage of being in d.c. and take the internship, the job, the one that does not sound very exciting. he starts in the credibility deficit. i took all of that -- i was able to handle that. always take the deputy job. i traveled on the weekends and
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all the holidays. i listen to so many young people who are so exhausted all the time. you have to take advantage of what is going on in washington. work vy hard and meet a lot of people. you find that all over the city. it is a wonderful place to be. tw is a fantastic place to have this experience. >> i started 22 years old on capitol hill, right out of college. if you like politics, died then. this is what makes art -- dive in. this is wh makes our country so great. there is also a lot of smart
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people who come together and work for a cause. as much as people will say tuftings or how bad things are, look around the world. we have settled their differences peacefully in this country. it is a noisy process, died in ve into it. it is right at your doorstep. capitol ll has more young people than anywhere else in positions of influence of power. u come to capitol hill and you can really move up fast and move up well if you are sharp, smart, a team player. the best town for ideas.
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so many people here are political communications majors. this is kind of like a rock concert. did better rock stars. that is my advice to you. [laughter] [applause] >> on that note, we are all privileged to have had a fascinating conversation here tonight. we've explored some of the cultal and journalistic and technological trendsetter altair. as well as some remarkable personal insights on the lives that you of lead. to our radio and television audiences on c-span and elsewhere, thank you for joining us. i have to see what our next convsation series on march 23.
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we will be talking to another pioneer of media. thank you for joining us this evening. [applause] [captioning performed national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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>> tomorrow, a house panel examines restrictions on federal funding of abortion. live coverage from the judiciary subcommittee on the constitution starts at 4:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2. and later, a town hall meeting with the party activists. speakers include rep michele bachmann of minnesota. >> every weekend, experience american history. it is 48 hours of people and events telling the american story.
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history bookshelf features the country's best known history writers of the last decade. they travel to the important battlefields that shake carries during the anniversary of the civil war. -- that shaped eras during the anniversary of the civil war. adjoin curators behind-the- scenes on "american artifacts." and focusing on american's policy and legacies. from administration officials and experts. on c-span 3 0 weekend, every weekend. >> coming up later on c-span, british prime minister david cameron talks about the need for political change in egypt and discusses the report on the release of the convicted bomber.
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president obama encouraged businesses to use profits to hire more workers. we will hear the president's remarks in a moment. we spoke about the president's speech. some have described a change in president obama's town at the chamber of commerce. what are they talking about? >> they are talking about the president's statements. he wants to move forward and revitalize the economy in a way that is going to increase exports and increase the amount of investment in manufacturing. one thing that the president talked about was the need for the business to work with government on social compact. divisions' business and government working together to restore the trust that he feels was lost to the economic recession.
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>> what does the president wants them to do? >> they talk a lot about infrastructure investment and manufacturing. he really wants to work with business to get $2 million of of the sideline. that is money that companies have because of rising profits. a lot of people on the right to have said that it is because of all the uncertainties that the obama administration has created in the economic environment. needless to say, the white house has said that they are willing to do what it takes to help get businesses involved in economic trade deals with foreign countries like india and china, colombia, but they are willing to do what it takes to get those things to happen and get the money of of the sideline. >> some people are writing that this speech can be a jfk moment.
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because the president is asking companies to put the country first. how would you characterize it? cautioned that is a very good description. the president mentioned jfk and one of the off-the-cuff moments in his speech. he veered off of his scripted marks a couple of times where he said this is what jfk was talking about. he used the same phrasology, as so he is really trying to frame it in a way that it is about a sense of shared purpose, and that is the new component of this message that we really have not seen before. the state of the union, it was certainly more articulate in this speech than it ever was before. >> why is the president doing this with the business community? >> over the last two years, a lot of people in the business
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community have said outright that they felt his administration is hostile to them. they felt there was a lot of blame thrown around in the early days of his administration, coming out of the economic recession, and there were disagreements that still exist, including the debate of the health care law, which involved the chamber of commerce. this is still replace potentially with something else, so it is not all flowers with obama and the business community. there is still a lot of profound disagreements between the two parties, but the administration wants to move to the center, and they perceive that people appreciate people who are willing to work with business leaders to create jobs and reduce the unemployment rate. >> abby phillip, from the
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politico. here is president obama now. this is 40 minutes. >> please welcome tom donohue, president and ceo of the u.s. chamber of commerce. [applause] >> thank you very much, and good morning, ladies and gentlemen. welcome to the chamber. i am pleased to officially welcome the 44th president of united states, barack obama. mr. president, your visit today continues a century-old tradition of presidents addressing the chamber, stretching all of the way back to william howard taft, who suggested the creation of this institution in 1912.
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and we are honored that you are here today to continue that tradition, and, by the way, you probably noticed that next year, we will have our 100th birthday. before you in this historic hall of flags, there are representatives across companies large and small, as well as members of our staff and our very distinguished board. they are here. they are here on behalf of 3 million businesses that make up the chamber of commerce federation. let me add, mr. president, that getting a seat here today was one of the hottest tickets in town. let me reform -- a limit reaffirm the commitment to working with you and your administration to advance our shared objectives. first and foremost, the compelling need to strengthen our free enterprise economy,
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create jobs, and put americans back to work. our focus is finding a common ground to ensure america's greatness in the 21st century. america works best when we work together. ladies and gentlemen, in that spirit of corp., it is my -- of cooperation, it is my pleasure and high privilege to present to you the president of the united states. [applause] >> thank you. thank you very much. thank you so much. thank you. thank you. thank you very much. please, have a seat. thank you, tom, for the gracious introduction.
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i want to make a few other acknowledgments, to the chamber board president, thank you for helping to organize this. there are some members of my administration i want to make sure are introduced. bill daley is here, my chief of staff. [applause] senior advisory, valerie jarrett. she has gotten tremendous advice from you. secretary ray lahood, our transportation secretary. ambassador ron kirk, working hard to get trade deals around the world. our small business administrator. karen mills. my director of and the national economic council, gene sperling is here. elizabeth littlefield.
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the overseas private investment corp. president. and i want to acknowledge a good friend, paul volcker, the outgoing chairman of the president' economic advisory board. thank you all for being here. [applause] tom, it is good to be here today at the chamber of commerce. i am here in the interest of being more neighborly. [laughter] i strolled over from across the street. and, look. maybe if we have brought over preferred cake when i first moved in, would have gone off to a better start. i will make up for it. the truth is this isn't the first time i have been to the chamber, or the first, we have exchanged ideas. i have sought advice from many of you. as we were grappling with the
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worst recession most of us of ever known. there were very difficult decisions. for many of you, that meant restructuring. plant closings things and layoffs. it meant a series of emergency measures that i would not have undertaken under normal circumstances. but they were necessary to stop our economic from falling off a cliff. on some issues like the recovery act, we found common cause. on other issues, we have had some strong disagreements. i am here today because i am convinced that we can and we must work together. whatever differences we may have. all of us share a deep abiding belief in this country. a belief in our people. a belief in the principles that have made the american economic the envy of the world.
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america's success did not happen overnight and it did not happen by accident. it happened because the freedom that has allowed good ideas to flourish and it has allowed cabalism to thrive. it happened -- it has allowed capitalism to thrive. opportunity should be there for anybody who is willing to reach for it. it happens at every juncture in our history. not just once or twice but over and over again. we came together as one nation and did what was necessary to win the future. that is why i am confident that we will win the future again.
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that is the challenge we face today. we still have by far the world's largest and most vibrant economy. we have the most productive workers. the finest universities and the freest markets. the men and women in this room are living testimony that american industry is still the source of the most dynamic companies and the most ingenious entrepreneurs. but we also know that with the march of technology over the last few decades, the competition for jobs and businesses has grown fierce. the globalization of our economy means businesses cannot open up a shop and produce goods were ever an internet connection exists. -- businesses can now open up shop and produce goods where ever an internet connection exists. tasks that were done by hundreds of workers can now be done by even 10. it is profitable for global companies to aggressively pursue these markets and at times to
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set up facilities in these countries. these forces are as unstoppable as they are powerful. but combined with a brutal and devastating recession, these forces have shaken the faith of the american people. in the institutions of business and government. they see a widening chasm of wealth and opportunity. they wonder if the middle class rather than expand as it has for our lifetimes is in the
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midst of an exorable contraction. and we cannot ignore these concerns. we have to renew people's faith in the promise of this country that this is a place where you can make it if you try. we have to do this together. business and government, workers and ceo's, democrats and republicans. we know what it will take for america to win the future. we need to out-to build our competitors. we need an economy that is based not on all wheat consumed but will we make and will we sell around the world. we need to make america the best place on earth to do business. this is a job for all of us. as a government, we will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate and succeed. we will upgrade our transportation so you can move goods and information more quickly and more cheaply. we will invest in education so
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you can hire the most skilled, talented workers in the world. we will knock down barriers that make it difficult for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system. even as we make america the best place on earth to do business, businesses have a responsibility to america. i understand the challenges you face. i understand you are under incredible pressure to keep your margins up and to cut costs. i understand the pressures that are created by quarterly reports. i get it. but as we work with you to make america a better place to do business, i am hoping that all of you are thinking what you can do for america.
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ask yourself what you can do is to hire more american workers, what you can do to support the american economy and invest in this nation. that is what i want to talk about today. the responsibility we all have. the mutual responsibilities we'll have to secure the future we all share. as a country, we have a responsibility to encourage american innovation. companies like yours have always driven the discovery of new products and new ideas. you do it better than anybody. but what you also know is that it is not always profitable in the short term for you to invest in basic research. it is very expensive. the payoffs are not always clear and they are not always localize. government has traditionally helped invest in this kind of
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science. planting the seeds. that is why we are making investments today in the next generation of big ideas. biotechnology, information technology, and in clean energy technology. we are reforming our patent systems. steve case is heading up startup america to help entrepreneurs turn ideas into new businesses and new jobs. i have proposed a bigger tax credit for all the research and development your companies do in this country. i believe that is a priority. we also have a responsibility as a nation to provide our people with and our businesses with the fastest, most reliable way to move goods and information. the cost to business from outdated and inadequate infrastructure is enormous. that is what we have right now -- outdated, inadequate infrastructure pricked any of
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you who've been traveling to other countries, you know it. you see it. i want to put more people to work, rebuilding crumbling roads, rebuilding our bridges. i have proposed connecting 80% of the country with high-speed rail. getting high speed coverage in the reach of virtually all americans. you understand the importance of this. the fact is, the chamber of commerce and the afl-cio did not agree on a whole lot. tom donohoe and richard trumpke are not facebook friends. [laughter] maybe. i do not think you are.
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i did not check on this. [laughter] but they agreed on the need to build a 21st century infrastructure. i want to thank the chamber to make more investments and to do so in the most cost-effective way possible. with tax dollars that leverage private capital and with projects that are determined by what is best for the economy. not by politics. the third responsibility that we have as a nation, we want to invest in the skills of our young people. if we expect businesses to hire in america, america needs a pool of trained, talented workers that can out-compete anybody in the world. we are reforming k-12 education. we are training 100,000 new mathematics and science teachers. we are making college more affordable and revitalizing our
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recently, i visited g.e. schenectady, which partnered with a local community college. while students trained for jobs available at the nearby plant, they earn a paycheck and have tuition covered. as a result, young people can find work, ge can build skilled positions, and the region has become more attractive to business. it is a win for everybody. it is something we are trying to duplicate across the country. to make room for these investments in education, innovation, in infrastructure, government has a responsibility to cut spending we cannot afford. that is what a promise to veto -- why i promise to veto any bill larded up with your marks. that is what i propose we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.
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understand what this means. this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade and bring this spending down to the lowest share of our economy since eisenhower was president. domestic discretionary spending. that is a long time ago it is not going to reject a long time -- it is not going to be enough. ago. it is not going to be enough. we are going to have to do more. the driving force on our deficit is entitlement spending. that will require both parties to work together, because those are tough problems we will have to solve. i am eager to work with both parties and the chamber to take additional steps across the budget to put our nation on -- on a sounder fiscal footing. by stopping spending on things we do not need, we can make investments in the things we do need, the same with families do. if they have a fiscal problem,
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they have to tighten their belt. they do not stop paying for johnny to go to college. the cut out things they do not need. but they still make investments in things they need for the future. as a country, we have to make tough choices, but smart ones. in addition to making government more affordable, which are also making it more effective and more consumer-friendly. we are trying to run the government a little more like how you run your business, with better technology and faster services. in the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves competitive america. we want to start with the 12 different agencies that deal with america's exports. if we hope to help businesses sell more goods around the world, we should ensure we are all pulling in the same
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direction. frankly, with 12 different agencies in charge, nobody is in charge. we are going to fix that. as an example, we will make a government more responsive to the american people and american business. that brings me to the final responsibility of government, breaking down some of the barriers that stand in the wake of your success. as far as exports are concerned, that means opening new markets for goods. i will tell you i will go anywhere, anytime, to be a booster for american businesses, workers, and products. [applause] and i do not charge a commission. [laughter] we recently signed export deals with india and china which will support more than 250,000 jobs
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in the united states. we finalized a trade agreement with south korea that will support at least 70,000 jobs. it is a deal that has unprecedented support from business and labor, democrats and republicans. that is the kind of deal i will be looking for as we pursue trade agreements with panama and colombia. we have worked to bring russia into the international trading system. those are going to be our top priorities. we believe americans have the best products and businesses. we are out there selling. there is no reason we can't do better than we are doing now when it comes to our exports. another barrier i hear about from many of you is a burdensome corporate tax, with one of the highest rates in the world.
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you know how it goes. there are various loopholes and carpets build up over the years. some industries pay an average rate that is four or five times higher than others. companies are taxed heavily for making investments. companies are paid to use leverage. you have to many companies making decisions based on what their tax director says instead of what their factories produce. that puts our entire economy at a disadvantage. we need something smart,
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something simple, something fair. that is why i want to lower the corporate rate and eliminate these loopholes to pay for it, so it does not add a dime to our deficit. i am asking for your help in this fight. i think it can be done. we are trying to move outdated and unnecessary regulations. i have ordered a government-wide review. if there are rules needlessly stifling economic growth, we will fix them. we are cutting down on paper work that settles businesses with huge administrative costs. we are improving the way the fda evaluates medical devices, to get lifesaving treatments to market faster. and we have delayed greenhouse gas permiting rules. for biomass. i have also ordered agencies to find ways to make regulations more flexible for small business. we have turned a tangle of fuel economy regulations and pending lawsuits into a single standard that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, save consumers money at the pump, and give car companies the certainty they need. that is determined by the stakeholders' without the need for congressional legislation. ultimately, winning the future is not just about what the government can do "for you to succeed. it is also about what you can do
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to help america succeed. even as we eliminate burdensome regulations, businesses have to be responsible to recognize there are basic safeguards and standards that are necessary to protect the american people from harm or exploitation. not every regulation is bad. not every regulation is burdensome on business. a lot of the regulations that are out there are things that all of us welcome in our lives. few of us would want to live in a society without rules that keep our air and water clean. they give consumers the
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confidence to do everything from investing in financial markets to buying groceries. the fact is, when standards like these have been proposed in the past, proponents -- opponents have often warned there would be an assault on business and free enterprise. we look at the history in this country. early drug companies argued the fda would practically destroy the sale of remedies in the united states. that did not happen. auto executives predicted that having to install seat belts would bring the downfall of their industry. it did not happen. the president of the american bar association denounced child labor laws as a communist effort to nationalize children. that is a ". -- that is a quote. none of these things tend to pass.
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standards often spark competition and innovation. i was traveling, when i went up to penn state to look at clean energy hubs that have been set up. i was with steve chu, my secretary of energy. he won a nobel prize in physics. when you are in conversations with him, you catch about one out of every four things he says. [laughter] you start talking about energy efficiency and about refrigerators. he pointed out that the government set modest targets a couple of decades ago to start increasing efficiency over time. they were well thought through. they were not radical. companies competed to hit these markers. they hit them every time and then exceeded them. as a result, a typical fridge now costs half as much and uses
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a quarter of the energy it once did. and you do not have to defrost and chip that stuff, putting the warm water in the freezer and all that stuff. it saves families and businesses billions of dollars. regulations did not destroy the industry. it enhanced it and made our lives better. if they are smart, if that are well designed. that is our goal, is to work with you to think through how we design necessary regulations in a smart way, and get rid of regulations that have outlived their uselessness -- their usefulness or do not work. i also want to point out the perils of too much regulation are matched by the danger of too little. we saw that in the financial crisis, where the absence of sound rules of the road were not good for business. even if you were not in the financial sector, it was not good for business.
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that is why with the help of paul volcker, who is here today, we passed common-sense reforms. the same can be said of health insurance reform. we simply could not continue to accept a status quo that has made our entire economy less competitive. as we have paid more per person for health care than any other nation on earth, nobody is even close. and we could not accept a broken system where insurance companies could drop them because people got sick and families went into bankruptcy because of medical bills. i know that folks here have concerns about this law, and i understand it. if you are running a business right now and seeing escalating health-care costs, your instinct is, "if i have even more laws, that will increase my cost more." i understand that skepticism.
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that suspicion. but the nonpartisan congressional watchdogs at the cbo estimates that health care tax credits will be worth nearly $40 billion for small businesses over the next decade, $40 billion directly to small businesses who are doing the right thing by their employees. and experts not just from the government, but also commissioned by the business roundtable, suggest health insurance reform could save large employers everywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per family -- $200,000 to $300 per family. your employees. that is your bottom line. i said this in the state of the union, and i will say it again here today. there will be incentives to improve patient safety and medical malpractice reforms. and i want to correct a flaw that has already placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on too many small businesses.
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i appreciate the chamber's help in doing that. but we have to recognize that some common-sense regulations often will make sense for your businesses, as well as your families and neighbors. your responsibility goes beyond recognizing the need for certain standards and safeguards. if we are fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits cannot just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. they have to be shared by american workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standards of living as well as your bottom line. we cannot go back to the kind of economy and culture that we saw in the years leading up to the recession, where growth and gains in productivity did not translate into rising incomes and opportunities for the middle class.
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that is not something we can legislate, but it is something we all have to take responsibility for thinking about. how do we make sure everybody has got a stake in trade, everybody has a stake in increasing exports, everybody has a stake in rising productivity? ordinary folks and see in their standards of living rise as well. that has been the american promise. that is what jfk meant when he said, "a rising tide lifts all boats." too many boats have been left behind, stuck in the mud. if we as a nation are going to invest in innovation, that innovation should lead to new jobs in manufacturing on our shores. the end result of tax breaks and investments cannot simply be
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that new breakthroughs and technologies are discovered in america, but the manufacturing takes place overseas. that too break the social compact. it makes people feel as if the game is fixed and they are not benefiting from the extraordinary discoveries that take place here. the key to our success has never been just developing new ideas. it has also been making new products. when intel pioneered the microchip, they put thousands to work building them in silicon valley. henry ford perfected the assembly line and puts a generation to work in the factories of detroit. that is how we built the largest middle-class in the world. those folks working in those plants go out and buy a ford, they buy a personal computer,
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and the economy grows for everyone. that is how we will create the basic knowledge and skills that propelled the next invention and the next ideas. right now, businesses across this country are proving that america can compete. caterpillar is opening a new plant to build excavators in texas that used to be shipped from japan. in tennessee, whirlpool is opening their first new u.s. factory in more than a decade. dow is building a new plant in michigan to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles. the company called gl-e -- geomagic decided to move their r&d to the united states. these companies are bringing jobs back to our shores. that is good for everybody. if i have one message, the message is now is the time to invest in america. [applause]
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now is the time to invest in america. [applause] today, american companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. i know many of you have told me you are waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of americans out of work demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like. we are in this together. many of your economists and sales people are forecasting a healthy increase in demand. i want to encourage you to get in the game. as part of the bipartisan textile we negotiated with the support of the chamber, businesses can immediately expense 100% of capital investments. as all of you know, investments made now will pay off as the economy rebounds. as you higher, you know that -- as you hire, you know that
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more americans working will mean more sales for your companies, more demand for your products and services. it will mean higher profits for your companies. we can create a virtuous circle. and if there is a reason that you do not share my confidence, if there is a reason you do not believe this is the time to get off the sidelines, to hire and invest, i want to know about it. i want to fix it. i have asked jeff from the heat -- jeff immelt to lead a new council of business exports -- experts. we will be holding our first meeting on the 21st, so you can -- on the 24th, so you can get e-mails in early with your thoughts about how we keep moving forward to create this virtuous cycle. together, i am confident we can
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win the competition for new jobs and industries. i know you share my enthusiasm. here is one thing i know. for all of the disagreement we may have sometimes on issues, i know you love this country. i know you want america to succeed just as badly as i do. so, yes, we will have some disagreements. we will see things differently as -- at times. but we are all americans. that spirit of patriotism and that sense of mutual regard and common obligation has carried us through for harder times than the ones we have just been through. now, i am reminded, toward the end of the 1930's, the middle of the depression, in the looming prospect of war, fdr, president roosevelt, realized he would need to form a new partnership with business if we were going to become what he would later call "the arsenal of democracy." as you can imagine, the relationship between the
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president and business leaders during the course of the depression had been rocky at times. it had grown somewhat fractured by the new deal. roosevelt reached out to businesses. business leaders answered the call to serve their country. after years of working at cross purposes, the result was one of the most productive collaborations between the public and private sectors in american history. some, like the head of gm, had not previously known the president, and if anything had seen him as an adversary. he gathered his family and explained he was going to head up what would become the war production board. he said to his family, "this country has been good to me, and i want to pay it back." i want to pay it back.
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and in the years that followed, automobile factors converted -- dr. is converted to making planes and tanks. a toy company made compasses. another maid grenade -- made grenade belts. a pinball machine maker turned out shells. 1941 would see the greatest expansion of manufacturing in the history of america. and not only did this help us win the war, it led to millions of new jobs and helped produce the great american middle class. we have faced hard times before. we have faced moments of tumult and moments of change. we know what to do. we know how to succeed. we are americans, and as we have done throughout our history, i have every confidence that once again we will rise to this occasion.
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we can come together. we can adapt. we can thrive in this changing economy. we need look no further than the innovative companies in this world. we can harness the potential of your people across this country. i think there is no stopping us. thank you, and may god bless the united states of america. [applause] ♪ ["hail to the chief" plays] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011]
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>> on tomorrow's "washington journal," but representative gerald connolly. after that, representative cassidy is a physician who still practices medicine in baton rouge. and then, alexander young on the stock market. "washington journal," each morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern. and later, more on the political unrest in egypt. we will hear from the founder of egyptian youth, live coverage from the hudson institute. the conservative political action conference, cpac. c-span will have coverage later this week. to see some of the past speakers, go to the c-span library. search and watch, clip and
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share, anytime. it is washington, your way. >> and british prime minister david cameron talks about the need for political change in egypt and discusses the report on the 2009 release of the convicted lockerbie bomber. last week, prime minister cameron met with leaders. from the british house of commons, this is 55 minutes. >> the statement of the prime minister. >> with permission, i would like to make a statement on last year's european -- last week's european council and the papers related to the release of al- megrahi, which was published at 1:00 p.m. today. taking the council first, three principal issues were discussed. first, the continuing efforts to tackle instability in the eurozone. second, the role of energy and innovation in a growth strategy for the you.
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-- the eu. third, egypt. let me take each of those in turn. first, the eurozone. eurozone members are looking at ways to resolve some of the underlying problems of the iraq crisis, including by strengthening economic coordination arrangements. my job is to protect britain's interests. it is in our interest that the eurozone sort out its problems. a strong and stable eurozone is in britain's interest. but there are three essentials for britain. first, we should retain our set our own monetary policy insecond, we should make sure we eurozone countries in future.
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eurozone council, we achieved that. third, while we should not prevent eurozone countries problems, we must make sure this does not compromise the single market, which is an important british success story in europe and should remain one of our key interests. there is a danger that in developing stronger coordination eurozone countries start properly part of the single market for all members. i make sure this was recognized at the council and received assurances to protect the singlethat will be available to members and makes that clear. next come energy policy. extending the single market for energy has been a long objective for all parties. could decrease the pressure on hostile builds -- household bills.
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cooperation with the rest of europe is firmly in our national interest. the e.u. needs a fully connected internal energy market. that should be completed by 2014. major efforts are needed to modernize and expand it europe's energy infrastructure and to connect networks across borders. this is something britain should strongly support as we planned for the offshore north sea supergrade. -- supergrid. this should be part of the growth strategy in europe. we will propose more before the next european council in march, which will be specifically discussing that. in egypt, i was determined the council should not produce one of its unclear statements. i think the declaration we agreed on is strong. the egyptian authorities should meet the aspirations of the egyptian people throughout
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reform, not oppression. transition is needed to a democratic government. the declaration is emphatic this transition should start now. the european council was clear this should involve the building blocks of free and open societies, such as freedom of assembly, rule of law, freedom of speech, and fair elections. there is also a strong case that the e.u. needs to look hard at its role in this region. we have spent billions of euros of taxpayer money in egypt and neighboring countries with carefully crafted association agreements and action plans. we have offered funds, access to our markets, and other assistance in exchange for the road to democracy and human rights. or ending a state of emergency that has lasted for 30 years.
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i believe it is time for europe to take a hard headed approach, where the traditions but -- conditions are real. we met with vice president suleiman, and we wanted him to say that this was urgent and real. finally, mr. speaker, let me talk about the release of the lockerbie bomber, al-megrahi. i thought that releasing him was a very bad decision. he was convicted of the biggest mass murder in british history and in my view should have died in jail. it was a bad decision, and the last government should have condemned it rather than going along with it. i commissioned this report last year. at the time, there is controversy around the decision.
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there was a congressional inquiry, and there were concerns being put forward quite forcibly in america and elsewhere about a whole release may have come about as a result of pressure by b.p. to pressure the scottish government to make this happen. i do not believe that is true, and this report shows is not true. it was a decision taken by the scottish government. a wrong decision, but their decision nonetheless. i thought it right that all of the government paperwork should be reexamined to examine whether it should be examined, and i asked them to do that. that is what has been done in order to address the concerns. he was asked to look at three specific areas. first, whether there was any evidence whether the government directly or indirectly pressured the scottish government. second, whether there was pressure placed on them by b.p.,
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and third, whether the libyans were told there are linkages between bp investment and the release of him, and report and all of the paperwork run into 140 pages, and it has been placed in the library of the house. this was stated independently by the cabinet secretary. he has, of course, consulted the ministers and the former prime minister. he was assisted by the former information commissioner, richard thomas, to provide an independent recommendation. his job was to advise the cabinet secretary, and these are consistent with the materials. he was also tossed with determining whether this was a fair and accurate chain of
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events, and he is content on both counts. the secretary concludes that the former government was clear, that his transfer was one for the scottish government alone to take. he finds that none of the materials he reviewed contradict anything contained within the statement to the house in october 2009. he makes the same finding with respect to the current secretary's letter and with regard to statements of the former prime minister. he notes that it was edit it that this is for the commercial interests, and there is the prison transfer agreement, which would x effectively exclude megrahi from it. he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. this was based on the assessment
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that u.k. interests would be damaged if he were to die on a u.k. j-lo predict a in a u.k. jail. the policy was therefore developed that the government would do all the it could while respecting the appeal " to the libyans for the scottish governments for the transfer or release on compassionate grounds while managing the risks faced by the u.k. one of the papers released today talks about, frankly, i believe
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this does tells us something that was not made clear at the time. >> hear, hear! >> we were not told about facilitating an appeal or contact. indeed, the cabinet secretaries report says that the policy was there for progressively devote that hmg should do all it could while assessing an appeal for his transfer were released on compassionate grounds as the best outcome for managing the risks paced by the u.k. -- or released on compassionate grounds as the best outcome for managing risks faced by the u.k. we have learned some new information, but i do not believe that these papers justified calls for a new inquiry. what they do provide is further evidence that this was, in my view, a flawed decision by the scottish, which we already knew, and they point to, i believe, some broader lessons.
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it is clear that the last government did badly underestimate, in fact, failed even seriously to consider except as an issue to be managed the reaction both in britain and in the united states of the release united al- megrahi, let alone those who have lost loved ones. insufficient consideration was given to the most basic question of all. was it really right for the british government to facilitate an appeal by the libyans to the scottish government in the case on an individual who was convicted of murdering 270 people, including 43 british citizens and 190 americans and 90 other nationalities? that, for me, is the biggest lesson of this entire affair. let me repeat, for my part, i believed it was wrong. the lockerbie bomber is to day
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living in liberty. this only serves to underline that. mr. speaker, i give this to the house. >> hear, hear! >> i want to thank him for his response. i believe the egyptian people are continuing to show enormous courage and consistency in their desire for fundamental and lasting change, and we support the call, as i said last week, for a clear and credible and transparent transition to power. condemning any attacks on peaceful demonstrators, urging the authorities to allow the people of egypt to continue to exercise their right to free and peaceful protests. on the transition, since the prime minister spoke to vice president suleiman today, can he update us on the talks
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involving the vice president and tell us whether he thinks these can potentially laid the ground for the transition? also, the latest thinking of the european union and our allies on the difficult role of president mubarak during the transition. on the nature of the transition itself, does the prime minister agree with me that must include not just the provision of free and fair elections but other democratic structures? from the free press two divergent political parties to an independent judiciary? updating the house on the steps he has taken since last week to ensure the safety of british nationals in egypt during the current turbulence. let me turn to the other matters discussed at the european council last friday. on energy policy, we welcome the conclusion of the internal markets of gas and electricity and the grade. we also welcome the plan for the improvement of europe's energy infrastructure. this will make us more
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resilience in the face of potential supply disruptions, as we saw in 2008, 2009, in the dispute between russia and ukraine. let me also talk about how this relates at home to europe. there are the conclusions of the renewable energy. there is the implementation of a crucial part of his renewable energy strategy, which was to come into force in april of this year but has now been delayed. can the prime minister tell us what it will be? and then with energy investments, across europe, can i ask the prime minister about the progress with the drina investment bank? he is committed to build on our plan, " and he planned to be a full-fledged bank, as many have argued it should be. on the wider economy, including the euro zone, i welcome the council's conclusion.
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can i ask what conversations took place? there are the prospects for european growth next year. the conclusion at the summit, they say that the overall economic outlook is improving. i have to say, mr. speaker, it will not feel that way to many families in the u.k. >> hear, hear! >> i wonder if the prime minister shares this, and whether this is coming too far and unifest.-- and too fast. causing problems with growth and unemployment. let me turn to the case to mr. al-megrahi. the lockerbie bombing was a terrible atrocity, destroying hundreds of lives and scarring the families left behind. the cabinet secretary's report into his release, we will study them in detail. there are three significant conclusions to the report, it
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which pertains to vote al- megrahi's the eventual release. first, you can government was -- the uk government was worried about the impact on british interests of al-megrahi dying in jail. precisely as the foreign secretary said in 2009, october. the 12th. the report makes clear that there is no evidence that, and i quote, "u.k. interests played a part in al-megrahi's released on compassionate grounds." indeed, sir gus concludes, and come again, i quote, they made it evident not communicating. -- and, again, i quote. sir gus concludes, al-megrahi's release was a decision that the scott this minister's -- the scottish ministers could and did make. so the message of today's report is that his release was not influenced by the u.k. government.
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the prime minister can say whether or not he agrees with that. the bombing of pan am flight 103 must live in the memory of this country and the united states. we must take all steps to assure it does not happen again. >> hear, hear! >> the prime minister. >> on egypt, i think he is right. i do believe, no one can ever be certain with every statement made with the eu, but i think actually on this issue, saying the egyptian government must choose reform rather than oppression, as i think the behavior of the army in egypt has been encouraging in that regard -- the answer would be good enough to lead to transition. i think it is an extremely difficult question to answer. the point i was making to vice president suleiman that the more they can do to demonstrate that they are, for example, bringing some opposition leaders into a transitional government,
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the more they can convince people they are trying to reform and change and deal with the constitutional issues, so our advice has been to try to get our advice has been to try to get ahead of those rather than make a series of incremental steps. i think he is right to say that the transition is not just about the date of the election, but building blocks of democracy, as i mentioned. those that wanted to leave have been able to leave. we should keep travel advice under review. on energy, there is a vital to initiative being taken. one of the things you can do is published structural reform plans with implementation.
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i am sure he will do that. on the economy, he mentioned the issue of sitting around the counsel table and talking about budgets. the overwhelming impression i have is that we have talked at quite length regarding reports about greece, portugal, and spain. i see what they have had to cut. you see the difficulties there in. do not go back into the danger zone where those countries still are. i have said it out as best as i could in my statement, it is clear to me that those that think there is some sort of conspiracy between the peak, the british government and the scots to release him, it is not right. there was a scottish decision by the scottish government. i think we have learned something today in terms of what
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we were told in this house by the ministers. we were able to look at what was said in this house and what we have seen in these papers. i think they have agreed with me. we were not given a complete picture. i think they agree with me. >> is it not the case, i ask the prime minister that the the documents released today that
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there was a meeting between the counterparts to send details. does this not confirm that the previous government was up to its neck in this business? it was different to see the release him and the shared responsibility of the scottish government's for one of the foolish and decision. >> we bring the perspective to this issue. we were told by the last government what they did not want -- we were not told what they did want. that comes over over and over again.
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in the end, he was convicted of the largest mass murder in british history. that should come to thought when they made those memos and those speeches. >> i fully understand his concern and many colleagues on both sides of the house about the release. having read the cabinet secretaries report, which i have here, it was wrong of him to have quotations from the cabinet of secretary, implying that they were indeed the conclusion. as my friend spelled out in the opposition, -- nothing in the
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material the rival foreign secretary told his house on the 12 of october or anything that at any time on this issue. there are continued assumptions made. he has finally admitted that pressure from bp on the scottish government, that we acted properly at all times and at no stage did we ever suggest to the scottish government what decision they should pursue. let me read in the very next sentence. it amounted to explaining in
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fashion terms the president transfer and reforming the scottish government. there was no legal barrier -- nothing in contradiction as to what was set at the time. >> let me make a couple of points. there is nothing in this report that contradicts what they did say. it is what was not in that statement. when you look at what is in -- because when you look at what is in the report, it is very clear that there were all sorts of things accommodation plans, that we were not made aware of, and in terms of the conclusion, and i do not want in any way to misquote sir gus, but i would just read it up for the house.
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"policy is developed that hmg should do all that it could to facilitate an appeal by the libyans to the scottish government for al-megrahi's release or on compassionate grounds." they will be able to make up their minds, on what we were told was a full and complete fiction. -- picture. everyone can make up their mind. and i am sure that is what a reasonable person will come to. >> mr. speaker, the emphasis in these matters has always been on mr. al-megrahi's condition, but it seems to me there was more to take into account. first was the crime, and the consequences of the crime, and third the sentence imposed by the court. had they taken proper account of these factors, then i doubt very much that they would have reached the conclusion which it
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did, and if i may put the word liberally, wrote the government. -- the government. there are the consequences of the crime and the sentence imposed, then he surely would have found those, which far outweighed any issue of compassion. >> i think the gentleman put it extremely clearly. the fact is that while al- megrahi was allowed to go home and die with his relatives, that was a luxury he did not afford to anyone on that yet, and you have to take into account the nature of the crime when you look at action. when we get away from all of these details and just stand back and think about the big picture, as i say, the lesson to be drawn, i think, you have to keep focusing on the picture, which is the he is crime, the lives that were taken, the
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families that were wrecked, and someone has to take the consequences for that. >> this does not any way oblige the members. mr. ben crenshaw. -- bradshaw. >> what discussions were there at the eu council lending added urgency to the middle east peace process? what is he doing to break that impasse? but this added urgency " to the peace process, and what did the prime minister do to personally do that? >> i did have discussions with their nests -- baroness ashton, and i had a meeting with secretary clinton. there are concerns that instability in egypt will make progress more difficult. there is progress on the peace process that will be made more difficult, but we should keep the pressure up, and it means pressure on both sides, pressure on israel to make progress on issues like settlement, but pressure also on the palestinians to return to meaningful talks. britain will play a very key role in this, and i commend the baroness' actions.
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>> this is lamentable historically. we are way down the list compared to our european partners. will the prime minister do more to make sure that the u.k. plays a leading role in helping british companies to increase trade with countries like tunisia and egypt to support democracy there? >> well, he makes, if i may say, a good point, and we will be going to to mischa later today. we do want to have a good trading relationships with these countries -- we will be going to to mischa -- to tunisia. we should have had a line about what was and what was not appropriate.
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this is absolutely what we're trying to put together. >> the prime minister with president of the united states and other foreign leaders. it is interesting, why it over the past 25 or 30 years have they been says stymied over what has been happening in that country, including the authoritarian rule, the denial of liberty, things taking place in prisons? these are the sorts of questions that should be asked. >> i think the honorable gentleman makes a good point. as i said in my statement, the eu does have leverage in terms of the aid it gives, and it should be tougher in asking for conditions in return for that aid. i just do not accept that there is, on the one hand, a regime, or on the other, standing up for the tough man, the dictator. we must be encouraging these countries not necessarily to have free elections just like that at the flick of a switch
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but to put in place the building blocks for generally free countries and open societies that will actually make sure they have lasting democracies when they reach that goal. >> there was the report by sir gus o'donnell about the release of al-megrahi, and that is bad enough, but there is the impression created by the last government. >> i think it is for ministers themselves to explain what they said and what they did not say, and, clearly, they can rely on the report on being contradicted. they have to ask themselves the question, given that i was receiving memos about a game plan of facilitating contacts, given that i was signing off on those memos, should i really have said to the house of commons and elsewhere that it was not just that we did not want this man to die in a scottish jail, that we acting with the libyans to secure his release?
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i think they should have said something more along those lines. in a sense, asking what is there in terms of what we should of been told in terms of when those questions were asked. >> mr. speaker, when it comes to our foreign policy, i hope i can persuade the prime minister to adopt some of this liberalism but in return note -- liberalism when it comes to russia. the united states congress is now considering banning some from the united states of america. will the prime minister consider doing the same? , or will he make sure that those are expressed to the minister when he comes next week?
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>> i think he makes a good point, and i would be glad to say that i am glad that that liberalism is catching on. that is the approach we have taken with russia, and we do raise questions, including the ones he race, when we hold meetings with president veddas and others. -- president medvedev and others. >> thank you, mr. speaker. there are several key figures in egypt to have made pledges to have a referendum on bill longstanding peace treaty with israel. would my right honorable friend, talking about an earlier answer he gave, agree that one of the key factors in determining whether or not we get a good outcome in egypt will be whether or not. government pension is willing to stop building more settlements and be serious about coming to the peace table? >> he makes a good point, but we should also be clear with
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the opposition figures in egypt that we see progress on the peace process is absolutely vital for the prosperity in that region, and, frankly, again, we should be making sure that just as this is in return for those things that we care about, we will be standing by agreements. >> mr. roberts. >> i am grateful for a copy of the statement. there has long been a different view taken on compassionate release. the scottish government or the international observers, like nelson mandela, but what is new is that these official u.k. documents prove that in the autumn of 2008, u.k. ministers, supporters, mr al-megrahi being released, they were saying one thing in public and another in private.
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is that not hypocrisy? >> i have made my view clear, and i tried to state it in a column and reasonable way, because i do not believe that there was a conspiracy -- i try to stay in a calm and reasonable way. i see the scottish mp's nodding. i think they should look back and think, should i have done more? >> i welcome the strong position of support for the egyptian people, particularly with regard to the transition to democracy. however, building the new structures should not be rushed. could i ask the prime minister about the expertise and organizations that the westminster foundation for democracy and another group, both of which have expertise in democracy and are working in egypt?
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>> i think the lady makes a good point. what i would make about transition starting now is because the egyptians say there are all sorts of problems amending the constitution, doing it quickly. because of that, what can they do to build confidence with people on the streets of cairo that they are genuinely changing? that is what we need to look at. we need visible, clear and irreversible signs of what their intentions are. that would make a difference. there are a couple of statements that we have heard today. killers were let out for the greater good of peace and stability. can you say something about
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tunisia? they are looking to europe for help. can we see what we can do with economic and political and investment to bring its more manageable and closer to europe? he makes a very good point. we are talking about putting in place the building blocks of a free and open society. one of the problems in this country is the massive level of corruption. it has entered the country so much. going back to the issue of libya and northern ireland, everybody has to hold their nose and talk to people they do not want to talk to and deal with people they do not want to deal with. >> dr., it is important that we
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do nothing to talk up the prospect of wider instability in africa. i share my dismay at the forensic reports of the western press about this unstable country like egypt and tunisia, and compared with countries like morocco. >> we shall not treat every country or assumed that they are all the same. i would make this point. genuine stability should be based on the progress of realization of a more open society and the building blocks of civil society that we recognize. we cannot pretend that mere conservatives can solve this problem just by holding an election. there are some things that we
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should progressively be trying to achieve elsewhere. >> the prime minister referred to the work of one person and that he had discussions with hillary clinton. in that context, what is his understanding of the united states attitude to the changes going on in egypt. is it u.s. policy to support the fact that the president's mubarak should stay, or should there be an early transition? >> the u.s. and the u.k. are aligned on this. i spoke with president obama over the weekend. we want transition, we want it to be real, and to start now. it should include some of the things we are discussing today, like dates for a roadmap for
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elections. making sure they deal with some of the abuses of the past. i do not think the way he put his words was a full reflection of the u.s. government review. that has been made clear. >> given his important speech on the weekend, does he not agree with me that the last facilitation of the release of mr. megrahi gave the wrong idea to certain people around the globe? will he take steps to ensure the united kingdom is never faced with this kind of decision again? >> when this happened, i think a very bad message was sent about what we stand for in the u.k., and our views in terms to a response to such crime.
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i do not think enough thought was given to that. in the end, it was the most precious of all judgments a minister should make. >> he should have spent the rest of his natural life in prison. such decisions -- it must us -- it must not obscure from the central fact that this was a decision taken after action had arctic been taken by scottish government ministers. there was no cover-up or conspiracy, just a bad decision by them. >> i think there is a right to judgment about the release of mr. megrahi . they would put certain things
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like facilitating direct contacts between the libyans and scottish executives. that was a submission that was agreed to by the minister. it is a message about facilitating contacts and including the foreign minister. that is an issue that needs to be addressed. >> one-fifth of the egyptian population are christians. would you agree that human rights needs to be at the center of any dialogue regarding the future of egypt? what is central is the treatment of minorities such as christians in the weeks and months to come. >> that is a good point. when you consider how much money
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is put into a country like egypt, something like 500 million euros over the last few years, that is something we should be insisting on. >> the members of the euro zone will be comfortable in dealing with states regarding the euro in the future. 60% of ever traders went to the european union. many treat it as an outcast. it must cover immigration. >> i do not entirely agree with the gentleman. 44% of our trade is with euros own members. -- zone members. but if this is the case, count
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me out. >> we have a prime minister that goes to europe now and puts britain's interest first. can the prime minister clarify one point? is there a mechanism to bail out the your some countries? will we not to join the mechanism that will help bail out the euro? >> it is a complicated answer. we are still at risk before the european financial mechanism that was set off at that time, used in part to help out. we are at risk of that happening again. what we have achieved in terms of the treaty change that has been proposed for the future is to make sure that the u.k. cannot be pulled into a future mechanism to do those things.
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that is the position we have managed to secure. in europe, you have secured these things, and you have to make sure you continue to for the future. >> thanks, mr. speaker. europe has to take a different approach on the conditions in which we get the money. the european union continues to insist on certain things. an answer was not given. >> what we discussed was a specific declaration on egypt. i made sure that in that declaration, there was some language about association agreements that were entered into, to make sure they were real and tangible. it seems importance and looking at the conclusion that we
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reached, we recognize that we agreed to that case. >> did the eu council take note of the fact that morocco has not suffered from the outbreaks of a civil rest? do we need to do more to help this country and the region if we encourage other regions in the area to deal with these referendums over the future of the western sahara? >> he makes an extremely good point. we are looking at all of the things that help and encourage stability and peace, rather than strife. the declaration on egypt said the basis for the eu's relationship with egypt must be the principle set out in the agreements and the commitments made. that statement is important for
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the future. >> what were the discussions about how important this country is and the talks between the foreign secretary? is he satisfied with the measures put forth by the president? is is not the case that the stability of yemen is vital in that area? if the government falls, al qaeda will be the winner. >> yemen is vital to the security of that region and our world, as it has been al qaeda activity in that part of the arabian peninsula. yemen was mentioned. in terms of the action that have been taken, we want to see it in detail and put in place. i think there is something of a
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wake-up call regarding the problems the country faces. we need to work with them. the foreign secretary's have had meetings. we need to help the country with its reform program, not just to become stable but to deal with the cancer of al qaeda that is in their country. >> thanks, mr. speaker. do you believe it is a coincidence that despite numerous assurances by the government that one person remains in prison until he dies? they released mr. biggs on compassionate grounds. >> i think the gentlemen is going into a territory where i should not go. people released from prison on the brink of killing over --
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they last for a very long time. >> in the morning, our papers are filled about of the stories of the predicament of the british plight. [unintelligible] newspapers are filled with bankers bonuses. what do you think about the state of the banking system across europe and the bank bonuses are still being paid out at this level? >> pullen we discussed is at the heart of this -- we did discuss what is at the heart of this. we are having a serious conversation with the banks where we try to sort out what is happening at the scene. i want to see a smaller bonus pool than last year.
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>> we all know the truth of it. if mr. megrahi had come from a different country, he would still be imprisoned. can the prime minister say sorry and articulate the view that never again will we appease murderous dictator is? >> i would say to all those who lost loved ones in that appalling, terrorist act, that we are profoundly sorry for their lost -- a loss. if i were to say that i was not able to spend christmas at home with my loved ones -- i think they speak with -- for everyone. when there is a crime committed with that, it is not some sense
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of retribution touched -- just to say that person should not be released from prison. they committed a life sentence on all of those families. not to understand that, i think is to fail. >> will the prime minister recognize and address the legitimate concerns of the weakness of the policies in the u.k. and small businesses can properly apply for and get jobs? we have provided specific grants
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to ports to update their structure so that large manufacturers can come here and provide offshore wind. i have spoken personally to countries willing to do that in parts of the uk. we will go on supporting the growth of this important sector. >> the prime minister highlighted the something significance. many administrations take it publicly. the focus should be on the victim of this. what effect has the prime minister made about the effect of the relationship? >> it is extremely good. i think it will go on being good. i think they have been grateful for the strong views the government has taken about the events surrounding the release of mr. megrahi .
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we want to have good relations not just with america but with other countries. you have to have some clear lines in your mind about what is going to be part of that a relationship, and what is not. >> i am fortunate enough to work briefly with one of the victims of the lockerbie bombing. i am sure the families of these victims would be interested to read the report we received today. the ministers are meeting with these families to explain the policies that are coming to light today. >> a number of a victim families will be interested in the report. some will have meetings with the
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government or others. not all of the victim families take the same view about mr. megrahi and what happened, and if he is irresponsible. he had an appeal, which was squashed. on that basis, a decision was made and it was a wrong decision. >> the former justice secretary has contemplated the merits of offering the scottish government support. it was clear that it was a government policy not to put any pressure on the scottish. >> it is not my job to try to defend him.
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he decided to make contact and then not to. that is one of the great conspiracies. some families felt this may have happened. it is easy to see why they may have thought this would have happened. i do not think that is what the evidence stacked up for. it was a scottish physician. this report highlights issues about what we were discussing. >> greece is responsible for the a part of the eu's border. the problem for the u.k. is that they could claim asylum and end up in britain, and we cannot send them back to greece. how can we get creeks to secure
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their part? >> we did not discuss the eu immigration decision. greece and italy are often the door in which the a,. we need to make sure we are able to return people. britain and france are extremely good. one of the reasons we should not have a common immigration policy is i do not want us to be dependent on decisions made regarding other countries. >> you are watching public affairs programming on c-span. up next, the u.s. ambassador to testify about the current situation in iraq. later, a list of immigration policies and the role of highly skilled workers.
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] 1] tomorrow, live coverage on the constitution starting at 4:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. later a town hall meeting with congress and the party activists. it includes when paul. this is at 7:00 p.m. eastern. the conservative political economic conference has been held annually for 30 years. we will have information on this gathering. for more on the coverage of this, go to the c-span video library. you can watch it any time, washington your way. >> the u.s. ambassadors to iraq
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and the u.s. forces commander testifying about the situation in iraq. the senate armed services committee is two hours and 20 minutes. >> before we begin, i want to extend a warm welcome to the newest members of the armed forces committee. gillibrand, and beheading bran
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others on the minority side. we welcome back senator john cornyn, who is rejoined the committee after a brief hiatus. this committee the has a tradition of bipartisanship. it is a long tradition. it is based on our common desire to provide our men and women in uniform and their families to support that they need and the support they deserve. that goal makes the work of this committee truly rewarding. senator reid and i returned from visiting iraq. one of my main impressions is that the team of an ambassador
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is providing strong leadership needed to manage the critical transition over the coming year leading up to the december 2011 deadline for withdrawal the the the of all u.s. military forces from iraq. a deadline set by president bush and a prime minister in the november 2011 -- two dozen a security agreement they entered into. i believe that new gentlemen are the rights people to lead that transition. let me thank he both for your service and for the services of the men and women that you surf. last december, after eight months of discussions among iraq's political leaders, those leaders agreed to form a national unity government. the agreement was only partial.
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iraq still awaits the nominations by the prime minister for the key cabinet positions of the ministers of interior and ministers of national security, as well as the resolution issues relating to the powers of the national council on higher priorities to be headed by the prime minister. there was training of the iraqi police. the u.s. embassy in baghdad anticipates they will have
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15,000-20,000 personnel under its authority, including consulates, embassy branch offices, five offices of security cooperation locations. this will include thousands of state to permit contractors to provide perimeter and movement security as u.s. military forces depart. with this transition is successful will depend on whether the state department has provided the resources it needs to take on and sustain those responsibilities. congress will need to do its part to insure that the state department has whatever it needs to do what it can to help secure the gains in iraq that have come at great sacrifice to american lives. the the significant security challenges remain in iraq.
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2009ences' were down from levels. terrorist groups continue to have the capacity to carry out high-profile attacks that killed and dozens and wounded hundreds of iraqis. iran remains a highly negative influence providing support to extremist groups. the instability is another security challenge arising from the unsolved a situation and the boundary dispute in the north. u.s. forces in iraq has worked closely with the government of iraq and encourage security forces to reduce tensions and facilitated the integration of these. our goal is to leave behind an iraq that is stable. during our trip, the security forces have made progress and are capable of dealing with internal security threats to the
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iraqi people. their leading those operations. we also heard that it will be some high -- time before the iraqi security forces can provide for iraqi defense. the commission is focused on training the training programs as the mission is transferred to the iraqi ministry of defense. u.s. forces continue to work with the ministries of defense in iraq with the goal of building their minimal essential capabilities. iraq will continue to need a support in building its capabilities to meet internal and external threats for years to come. i am concerned by the latest report by the special inspector general for iraq reconstruction. the development of iraqi security forces is at a press
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from a logistics capacity, corruption within the ministry of defense, and the failure to plan appropriately for the sustainment of infrastructure and equipment. there is a report cited from the dot office, which warns that problems of iraq's capability to achieve and sustain readiness levels for the iraqi security forces, saying this could result in a downward spiral of operational readiness. it would put iraq stability and security at risk. i am interested in getting your professional military opinion on whether you agree with those assessments. one major question is what security relationship united states and iraq will have once
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the security agreement expires in december. it is unclear whether the government will seek any type of continuing u.s. presence after december, given the terms of the security agreement that provides that all of our troops will be removed by this. iraq needs to engage sooner rather than later on behalf of the united states, if a such a request is going to be forthcoming. the government of iraq needs to understand that the days of american taxpayers. the cost of developing the iraqi security forces are ending. iraq has significant oil revenue, which will continue to increase. according to the latest report and the special report, the efforts to attract foreign investors continued to bear fruit.
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the the the oil fields are making better than expected progress. we should work with the government of iraq to make available the equipment and training it needs for long-term security. iraq should not expect american taxpayers to bear the cost of its security needs. an important issue for the government in iraq remains for the security of christian and other religious minorities. during our visit, we met with leaders of christian communities, which have suffered from suicide attacks, kidnappings, and other intimidation by violent extremist forces. these communities live in fear. a large numbers of christians have fled the country or uploaded to say for regions in northern iraq. the leaders we met explained with pride how iraq has been home to some of the earliest
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christian communities. iraqi christians do not want to leave their country in order to feel safe. iraq had a long tradition of religious tolerance. on our visit, we urge the government of iraq to act with great urgency to provide the security necessary to preserve these ancient christian and other religious minority communities and to protect those religious minorities. we know from our conversations in iraq and here that you will continue to keep the safety of the various religious minority communities in iraq has one of your top priorities in new discussion with the government of iraq. we look forward to hearing from the businesses this morning. we thank you both for your services. >> thanks. let me join you in taking this
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opportunity to welcome the six new members of our committee. i am confident that the work of this body will be enriched -- enriched and enhanced by their contributions. our work has been bipartisan. it has been an honor for me to serve with the u.s. chairman of this committee. bipartisan is not avoid of compassion when we occasionally disagree on an issue. i want to thank our distinguished witnesses for joining us today. i have known the ambassadors for many years. on behalf of this committee, we thank you for your service. we are in deep gratitude for your service felt by the american people and representatives. i am happy to have the chance to focus on iraq.
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it would of been unthinkable a couple of years ago to think that we have reached a point where most americans and some in washington would be forgetting about iraq. that point has largely come. it is true that many of the critical indicators in iraq are encouraging the. despite attacks on christian communities, over all levels of violence have been relatively low. iraq is increasingly bringing in its vast oil and gas resources. the country had a successful democratic election last year. a new government is now mostly
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formed in baghdad. demonstrations take place for democracy across the middle east and i do not think he will see those demonstrations in iraq. the iraqi people had a chance to express their political will. despite the progress, there are serious questions about the the what our nation -- what will our nation can play in the success of iraq. 2011 will be one of the most consequential years in iraq and their partnership. it will shape whether the country continues to emerge as a secured, self sustaining democratic partner of the united states, or whether it tragically stumbles, sliding back into civil conflict and violence and of authoritarian rule. this decision will be made by iraq is. after sacrificing hundreds of
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billions of america's taxpaying dollars and over 4000 american lives, the united states has an enormous stake in the success of iraq. we still maintain a significant capacity to influence them for better or for worse. should the press unravel and the moment of opportunity is squandered, no one should think that the american people will be for giving in holding their leaders accountable for the failure. all u.s. troops will leave iraq by the end of this year. we are approaching a decisive transition. i have real concerns about whether the proposed civilian- led mission that will take the lead was never troops are gone is sufficient to support iraqi
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needs and u.s. interests, not because ever civilians are not capable professions -- professionals. but it is because of the challenges they face. we are asking the state department to take on the mission of the u.s. military on a scale never contemplated before amidst fragile security conditions. many of the tasks performed by u.s. troops will transition at great cost to civilians and contractors. some tasks will cease to be performed at all. many will be hard to maintain for security reasons. many tasks will be massively scale back or ended. no one should interpret my comments today for a lack of support for iraq for continued
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u.s. involvement there. failure is not an option in iraq. we must be prepared to bear the cost to insure success, including the cost of our civilian operations in developing programs. it will be substantial however this transition plays out. congress cannot shortchange this mission now. we need a more forward-looking strategy. the new iraqi administration will govern the country for the next quarter years. how can we set a -- set them down a path of more success? we need a common plan that consistently it into our shared goal. iraq needs to govern itself and generate its own wealth and sustain its own development with less and less u.s. assistance. having established the optimal ends we seek as well as the u.s. presence in programs required to
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achieve them, how can we build a bipartisan support in congress to sustain a robust commitment to a rack, especially one that will be a civilian-led mission? these are questions we are considering today and the months ahead. a look forward to discussing these issues with our witnesses. i like to point out that there is a complacent iraq inhabited by refugees. it has been under the protection of american troops. i am concerned about the welfare and will pairing of the security of these people. i hope we can -- well-being of the security of these people. i hope we can address this. i thank you, mr. chairman. thanks very much.
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>> distinguished members of the armed services committee, i thank you for the opportunity to testify with my colleague this moment. i am fortunate to be partnered with him in one of the more professional diplomatic things i have ever seen. i also would like to thank you for your support to our men and women in uniform serving in iraq and their families here at home. i would like to spend a few minutes to give you my assessment on the current security environment and the capabilities of the iraqi security forces and outline what the forces are focused on for the remainder of the year.
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the security environment has been steadily improving over the past few years. during the delay in government formation from march to december 2010, it was very encouraging to us that while iraq was being served, the iraqi security forces remain a-political and performed admiral believe -- and admirably. our work is paying off. the security environment is the best it has been since 2003. security incidents in 2010 were 25% lower from those in a previous year. that trend has continued following government formation.


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