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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 20, 2013 4:00pm-6:01pm EST

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for those who are worried about waste, if you do not come to a decision, you cannot root out waste. whether in the pentagon or whatever program you believe is wasteful, you cannot get at it if you are not going through a budget process and an appropriations process and a process to reform the entitlements. i understand how the extremes on both sides have an opinion. i understand how the extremes on both sides have an opinion. but they have to be brought into the decision-making. they have to be part of moving forward if we are going to get the whole system working again. started an -- are why tea party started. guest: i am one of those a status and guys. -- i am one of those east that was meant -- i am one of those establishment guys. host: in 1991, would you be a
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tea party? guest: we reformed welfare and reduced capital gains. john boehner and i were the ones who were the contract even thou gh newt gingrich and the army -- even though newt gingrich gets all the credit. we were part of that reform. the difference is the difference between understanding the government has a role, let's make it work as best it can. as opposed to there is no role for government, tear it down. that is the difference i see that i find frustrating between the two sides. there is not much of a difference, neither side is communicating very well with each other. that is an intra-party issue.
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republicans calling other republicans names. i have never been accused of being an establishment guy. host: grover norquist, good for the republican party or not? guest: everyone is good for the party and has an agitation towards whatever you are trying to accomplish. when they are not good is when they take the ball and go home. and use it to raise money. that is what john boehner was saying. when all you are doing is trying to be different in order to send out any not last -- to send an email blast to your constituency saying there they go, send me $25. i have seen those letters. i smile when i do.
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they are not part of any process to fix anything, they are raising a lot of money to pad offices in washington. that is what john boehner was saying. be part of the process to fix things not to raise money. host: jeff, el paso, independent line. caller: good morning. mr. nussle, i am curious. are you still living in iowa or do you live in washington? guest: i live in washington. host: why do you ask? caller: as an independent former republican, not a member of the tea party i found your comment that characterized tea party republicans as antigovernment as opposed to being the small government republican your report -- you p purport to be.
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you remain in washington i do not live in iowa. -- and do not live in iowa. you are once -- you were once the dragon slayer and have become a dragon tender. this is why people have identification with the tea party. we have sent small government republicans who washington over and over again, only to see them grow and feed the monster taking away our freedom. you were offended at being called an establishment republican. when did it become offensive to be part of the establishment? when people like you sold us down the river. guest: i feel bad that that is your opinion. i respect it. there is no question that along the way we have all lost our
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way. we have lost our -- maybe some of the things you would suggest are the reasons why we got here in the first place. that happens to many parties along the way. you are wrong if you think i was disrespecting the tea party. i am not disrespecting them at all. i think it is good for the process regardless of people's opinion, for them to be involved. i have no problem with that. i am concerned about is when people are so mad, so angry that they see absolutely no possibility of reform, possibility of change, possibility of solution. that is what i see -- at least from the leadership. it is not true with you, probably. it is true with so many that i hear from. they are just against everything.
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at least to me, that is not a position. if that makes me east talisman i am proud -- if that makes me establishment, i am proud. be concerned if your position is just against everything and angry. that is not going to account was anything. -- to accomplish anything. host: this morning's "wall street journal," republicans are like auburn's football team -- lucky. last week, they reached a ajit compromise with democrats without causing excessive harper -- a budget compromise with democrats without causing excessive heartburn. guest: it takes skill.
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auburn did not just put a budget of in a rural folks -- of intramural folks on the field. if republicans can understand why they are a great team and why they are here. if it is just up to paul ryan and john boehner and dave camp a few others that are working hard to reform and work toward solutions. if it is just up to them, that is not enough to get to a point where the republicans are going to continue to be winners. if you are only going to be lucky, that is not good enough to carry the day. whether it is next november or beyond. no question that if you look at three months ago, people were talking about the end of the republican party. a day is an eternity in washington. there will be more twists and
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turns before next november and the midterm elections. host: when it comes to the national parties, the dnc, rnc how much do they matter to you as a member -- a former member of congress? do they matter? guest: they are weaker and weaker every day. that is part of the challenge. a lot of things are contributing to the breakdown of the process, if you will. part of it is the fact that the parties are completely irrelevant to a person running for government these days. for congress or for the senate. the leadership is very weak on both sides. the leaders do not have the kind of sway they used to to keep things together. the districts are very extreme because of gerrymandering and the redistricting, which has become very political.
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those kinds of things. money and media. you can listen to only what you want to hear on tv these days whether it is msnbc or fox. if that is all you listen to, you might agree and think that that is the only perspective. that is not the way ecb, think of is for c-span. it is true with money, you do not have to appeal within your own hometown to get reelected. you can go to a couple big donors or big centers within the country and receive resources for your little district back in iowa. those kinds of influences take away from the ability to be responsive to the constituents, like the folks who have been calling in frustrated. host: don florida -- california, republican. you are on with jim nussle. caller: good morning.
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mr. nussle is a shield for the one percent or's. when he came to congress in 1993, he promised to cut government, it grew to one point $6 trillion. all their good intentions turned into having an organization like the clinton global initiative for you can make a speech and get $500,000. they have a movie called "american hustle" about congressman getting their bread buttered on both sides. we have a guy that can save the deficit is going from $17 trillion to $18 trillion to $20 trillion 110% of our gross national product. as long as he gets his pay everything is fine. take the qe2 money going to wall
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street, put a penny for every $100 traded, that could generate income to pay for stuff so people can have guaranteed insurance -- host: i think we got the point. are you ever going to come back, you are getting beat up. guest: he has got a point. there is no question -- maybe in a calmer way there were times when republicans lost their way and when congress loses its way. you have got to hold their feet to the fire. i am proud i was part of the team that did balance the budget for the first time in almost as good generations. -- almost two generations. right after that, we lost our way. we had other challenges -- 9/11 and two wars. regardless of that, i think there are some positives. if you get involved in the process and are not just angry
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wings can come from that. i am positive about that. host: a couple comments on the budget via twitter. raising spending 60 billion dollars the next two years on a promise of deficit reduction in a decade. mr. nussle, tell us how you would pay for the last two war s. guest: great question. i do not know if that is the reason why president bush selected me or not. i was one of the ones -- i would like to take credit to say i was the one -- that raised hell with the administration about paying for the wars in the budget. we finally got that done. we finally got it as part of the budget. they wanted to do it off budget. as a republican budget chairman,
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even against a good friend like george w. bush, i thought that. -- i fought that. we were able to get that done. i am as frustrated as anyone by the direction of the budget. what he said about the $60 billion of increases upfront to be paid. that is what frustrates me too. i hope we can hold to that. i, too, find that laughable. host: tweets in. is that why you do not ask tough questions? afraid they will not show up again? sasha, that is your job. michigan democrats. caller: good morning. hopefully i can get a few comments. hope you are enjoying the season. to the constitution -- you
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mentioned about the tablets off the hill. if everybody would read those 10 tablets, the world would be a lot better. i think our founders did bring all that opinion of the constitution with that in mind. second you were within the bush administration. we are at where we are at, can't we get out of afghanistan? 2,000 citizens killed. that is part of the tablets. let's honor our neighbors. let's reduce the pay for government officials to say the budget and pass an amendment or whatever law so the government closes down, the next congress will not get paid. what do you think of somebody representing that?
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enjoy the seasonnd new year. guest: i would not wait for the next congress for them not to get paid. i would apply that to the people who shut down the government in the first place, across the board. my only point about the constitution was that -- different from the tablets you are talking about that when brett nice from the bible -- different from the tablets you are talking about that we recognize from the bible. it was derived from a process of compromise. understanding the needs of our nation. it has evolved over that time. it has adapted to many changes within our country. that was my only point, many believe we should just follow the constitution and not compromise. the constitution itself was a compromise, that was my only
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point. i understand what you are saying. the founding fathers did adhere to that as much as they could have only possibly do. host: this congress, both house and senate, has been called the do-nothing congress, least productive congress. what is your take? guest: it is hard to argue with that on both sides. particularly if you came into this -- i come in as an optimist. if i was an optimist -- if i was not an optimist, i would not be here. i believe our tax code needs to be reformed. if you are for that, so far this seems to be unproductive. if you are there because you believe the growing that -- growing debt, we have got to
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bend the growth curve. you are going to be disappointed so far. you could go on and on about the disappointments or how nothing was done. i hope, i am going to take the optimistic view even though i guarantee you none of the callers i have heard would take this, this is a good first step. let's build on the step patty murray and paul ryan were able to agree on. let's build on that and keep the conversation going. do not take this rate -- this break for christmas and new year's and come back and take your positions again. we have a big debt ceiling coming up to deal with. i hope this is a good first step for the congress to deal with this next debt ceiling in a responsive and responsible way. a way that does not get us to another brink like we have a couple times in recent past.
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host: if you are an congress and could privately counsel john boehner. what would be your counsel with regard to the 30 plus votes on health care the republicans have taken? guest: you could have gotten the symbolism with 10 or 15. how many do you need to prove whatever you are trying to prove . you really do not like obamacare . 15, 20 50, whatever. we have got the point. the point also is, according to anyone who has watched "schoolhouse rock," the president has to sign a bill. if he says he is not going to sign it, you do not have enough to override that decision on his part saturday morning cartoons will tell you you are not going to get your bill put into law. we have got to start educating
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the public as to how self-government works. not just be against it for the sake of being against it. what can you actually do about it. i do not think that is symbolism by passing another anti-obamacare bill. host: steve from new york on our independent line. caller: hello gentlemen. mr. nussle, do you think the ryan-murray bill will bode well for the crisis in disability and social security. it will prevent a stalemate and massive cuts 21%. i need that money. guest: u.n. there are many -- you and many people rely on those programs. there are many who are in a situation where the government has been there as a safety net. there are vulnerable people who are hanging in the balance.
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for two reasons. it is not just what congress does or does not do with regard to the disability programs. it is the programs themselves. they are invented in a very different time, they are not dealing with some of the changes of circumstances that people find themselves in. they are not adapting, whether it is new technology or new pact us is, best practices -- some of which are coming from state and local governments that are doing a much better job of dealing with some of the vulnerable people in society. let alone the private sector, churches and others that are doing good work. that is what needs to change. when the process is broken, that cannot happen. that is a long way of saying i am concerned about those programs were both of those reasons. not just because they ran out of money, but because when the process is broken, congress does not step in to change them and
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reform them and make them more effective for people such as yourself. host: lisa, philadelphia, the last caller for jim nussle. caller: one thing -- he said people are angry. i don't know if you are aware of the wastebook $30 billion worth of waste. in my opinion, i believe that is where congress should have started. the cousin of the incompetence and inability -- because of the incompetence and inability of congress, they have made the budget off the backs of our military who have made a career to serve and protect the u.s. i will point out the fact that congress and our representatives are not supposed to the career politicians. if they want to make a difference, they would have lead by example and cut the benefits there first before they cut those who serve our country. guest: wow.
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great point. i do not think there was a question there. lisa makes an excellent point. tom coburn put that book out. many put out different examples of waste. there is one that the budget itself puts out. the idea that i helped write. there are many different examples of books or pages or outlines of reforms or waste that could be used, could be candidates for offsetting some of the spending that you point out. all of them should be considered candidates. i point out one thing. i -- this is controversial -- one person's waste is another person's special interest. important programs. that is why congress has to compromise to rupees out -- yoroto root these out.
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tom coburn put out a great book. but each of these items has a constituency, some of which is even watching that would violently disagree with and march on washington in order to maintain. it is not quite as simple as here is the list, everybody agrees, let's pass it. there is usually more to it. host: this tweet. dems will not consider changes to social security. do you consider them extreme? guest: anyone who says nothing can be changed, yes. that is just as extreme. i am typically asked about the tea party because i am a republican. no one cares about my opinion on democrats because they assume my answer. it is not true. i have worked with many good democrats across the aisle, some of my favorite people -- i am not going to mention names -- i
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will mention one. i enjoyed working with turley rangle -- charlie wrangel. he is a war hero. he and i disagree on just about everything. i know he got in trouble i am not speaking about that. he is a good guy and i enjoyed working with them. we could find common ground. even though we came from different districts and perspectives, he was someone i could talk to. that is what is missing right now. there is an inability or an unwillingness to sit down at the table -- let me end with this. i loved the last budget agreement it was decided 45 minutes after the pizza arrived. they rolled in the pizza and everyone came out and had an
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agreement. we should have more pizza. maybe beer, wine. if they broke bread together and had a chance to have a glass of beer together. that sounds silly and is kind of a stupid remark. people are probably saying it is. get to know these people, they are not evil. they care about america. if they found that out, there is a good chance they could find common ground easier and more often. host: charlie rangel just announced he is running for a 23rd term. guest: amazing. i could not do it. i admire his stamina. host: jim nussle, former chair of the house budget committee, former directo
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>> president obama held a news conference earlier today at the white house in advance of he and his family going to hawaii. we will show you the entire news conference at 8:00 p.m. eastern time here on c-span. at today's briefing, the president was asked if this was his worst year. here is his response. >> despite all the data points you cited in your opening statement, when you look back on this year, the domestic agenda you outline health-care rollout obviously has huge problems. has this been the worst year of your presidency when you take this altogether? >> i have to tell you really,
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that's not how i think about it. i have now been in office five years -- close to five years. i was running for president to two years before that. for those of you who covered me during that time, we have had ups, and we have had downs. i think this room has probably recorded at least 15 near-death experiences. what i have been focused on each and every day is -- are we moving the ball from helping the american people families, have more opportunity, have a little more security to feel as if if they work hard, they can get ahead? if i look at this past year, there are areas where there have obviously been some frustrations, where i was congress had moved more aggressively. you know, not passing background checks in the wake of newtown is
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something that i continue to believe was a mistake. but i also look at because of the debate that occurred all the work that has been done at state levels to increase gun safety and to make sure we do not see tragedies like that happen again. there's a lot of opus on legislative activities at the congressional level -- a lot of focus on legislative activity at the congressional level but even when congress does not move on things they should move on, there are a whole bunch of things we are still doing. we do not always get attention for it but the program we announced where we will be initiating wireless capacity in every classroom in america will make a huge difference for kids all across this country and for teachers. and manufacturing hub that we set up in youngstown is something that i talked about during the state of the union.
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it will create innovation and connect universities manufacturers, job training to help create a renaissance, build on the renaissance we are seeing and manufacturing. when it comes to energy, this year will be the first year in a very long time where we are producing more oil and natural gas here in this country then we are importing. that is a big deal. i understand the point you are getting at, which is that a lot of our legislative initiatives in congress have not moved forward as rapidly as i would like. i completely understand that, which means that i will keep at it, and if you look, for example, at immigration reform, probably the biggest thing that i have wanted to get done this year, we saw progress.
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it passed the senate with a strong bipartisan vote. there are indications in the house that even though it did not get completed this year thomas there is a commitment on the part of the speaker to try to move forward legislation early next year -- even though it did not get completed this year there is a commitment on the part of the speaker to try to move forward legislation early next year. >> it is not just your legislative agenda. when you talk to americans, they seem to have lost confidence in you, trust in you. your credibility has taken a hit. obviously, your health care law was a big part of that. you you understand the public has changed their view of you? >> i guess what i'm saying if you measure this by polls, mind have gone up and down a lot through the course of my career -- mine have gone up and down a lot. if i were interested in pulling i would not have run for president. i was polling at 70% when i was
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in the senate. i took this job for the american people, and i knew and continue to know there will be ups and downs in it. you are right -- the health-care website problems were a source of great frustration. i think in the last press conference, i adequately discussed my frustrations on those. on the other hand, since that time i now have a couple million people -- may be more -- who will have health care on january 1. and that is a big deal. that's why i ran for this office. as long as i've got an opportunity every single day to make sure that in ways large and small i'm creating greater opportunity for people, more kids are able to go to school get the education they need, more families are able to stabilize their finances, you know, the housing market is continuing to improve, people feel like their wages maybe art
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inching up a little bit -- if those things are happening, i will take it. i've said before i have run my last political race. at this point, my goal every single day is just to make sure that i can look back and say we are delivering something. not everything because this is a long haul. >> that a portion of president obama's briefing at the white house earlier today. again, we will have today's news conference in its entirety tonight at 8:00 eastern here on c-span. >> as a moderate in the privacy debate and in the privacy world i have come to a troubling conclusion -- the data broker industry as it is today does not have constraints and does not have a shame. it will sell any information
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about any person regardless of sensitivity for 7.9 since a name which is the price of a list of rape sufferers which was recently sold -- for 7.9 cents a name. lists of rape sufferers, victims of domestic violence, police officers' home addresses people who suffer from genetic illnesses, complete with names home addresses ethnicities gender, and many other factors -- this is what is being sold and circulated today. it is a far cry from visiting a website and seeing an ad. what it is is sale of personally identifiable information and highly identifiable information
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of americans. >> the senate commerce committee looks into data mining saturday morning at 10:00 eastern. on "book tv," an argument that without a strong middle class the u.s. is heading for an economic implosion that will make the great depression seem tame. saturday night at 8:45. on "american history tv," by august 1945, it was already becoming clear at a struggle for global dominance had begun from world war ii cold war. >> i was a donor to martha's table, like so many of your viewers. michael and i would do the annual consideration of the things that we care about because they were important as we grew up, the issues we cared about because they match our
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broader beliefs, but also the players in our community that we saw doing work every day, and martha's table delivered hot meals to the little park outside the bill and melinda gates foundation d.c. offices. i would see that van every night and see the lines of people there every night, and i knew that it was volunteer-driven. 10,000 volunteers, 80 hard- working staff, and that they had enormous influence in the community that they were serving that was a great brand. i thought, "why would i not join that organization? see if i can put my skills to work that also see if i can understand better why we have this issue -- persistent child poverty." why do we have so many children that are not graduating high school going on to college and being able to attach to careers the way that i was able to? >> the president and ceo of martha's table on leading the
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washington-d.c. -- the washington, d.c.-based nonprofit. >> c-span -- we bring public affairs invents from washington directly to you, putting you in the room at congressional hearings, white house advance, briefings, and conference, and offering complete gavel to gavel coverage of the u.s. house also as -- all as a public service. created by the cable industry 30 years ago and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. now you can watch us in hd. >> and everything earlier today, navy secretary ray mabus said it is fair to say that more disclosures will be made in the investigation into naval contractor gdma. the scandal named after the singapore-based contractor broke in september. u.s. prosecutors allege glenn francis allegedly swapped
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hostages and luxury travel in exchange for classified information. secretary mabus also reviewed how contracting is handled in light of a recent scandal on port service contracts. this is about half an hour. >> good morning. first, i want to apologize for my voice. i have caught something, and people have suggested it is because i stood out for six hours in the freezing rain at army navy, but i'm pretty sure that was not the reason it happened. as john kirby said, i'm going to make a few remarks and then take questions. he noted that the admiral and mr. branch are here if you want to go into greater detail at greater length. prevention, identification, and action against fraud against the government has been a focus of
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mine since i first entered public service in mississippi as state auditor, and i have continued putting an action. lately, our efforts to go after contracting fraud have produced some headlines. while we are obviously not pleased about the conduct of those involved in the case, i do believe that the discovery of the allegations are indications that our efforts are working. i have not spoken publicly about this case before and i am still restricted in what i can say now because of the ongoing prosecution because -- by the united states attorney in san diego. i want to say the office has done a tremendous job with a difficult case, and i want to
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express my thanks on behalf of the navy for their work and for their support of what navy and its eis -- and ncis has done. it's important that the people know the role may be played in discovering suspicious activity, in developing the case, and in working closely with other agencies to address it. the naval criminal investigative service along with the defense criminal investigative service and the defense contract auditing agency did and is doing incredibly impressive work to ferret out the alleged fraud and corruption carried out by gdma. yes, allegations against naval personnel as well. ncis opened this investigation in may 2010 against gdma based on suspicious claims and invoices the company submitted to the navy, claims that insurance processes navy had set
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up help to reveal during this investigation, ncis uncovered critical evidence that directed one of their own agents to the suspicious activity, and ncis deliberately planted bogus information in reports in order to protect this investigation and did so without any leaks outside the investigation. information gathered during this investigation was eventually turned over to government prosecutors and led to recent charges filed in federal court. according to the u.s. attorney's office, shortly after ncis filed a false report to mislead the agents suspected of involvement this report said that the investigations against gdma and its owner, leonard francis, were
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about to be closed, he traveled from singapore to san diego for a meeting with navy officials which allowed law enforcement officials to arrest him. i was briefed for several months before this case became public. by necessity, the number of people who knew of the investigation was kept very small. throughout this time, i repeatedly instructed ncis agents to take the investigation wherever it led. although the criminal investigation was and is being conducted independently by law enforcement, i understand that they have pulled no punches and will continue to pursue any and all leads. and it was ncis that announced the first arrest in this case. this occurred on september 16. the day of the washington navy yard shootings.
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some have questioned why gdma won a contract after the investigation was opened, and i think the answer is straightforward. first, information about the investigation was restricted with few exceptions to prevent leaks. as i have noted, even that precaution was not enough for a time because an ncis agent was actively obstructing the investigation by helping leonard francis avoid ejection. second, contracting officers certainly were not told because that could have compromised the investigation. finally, if the navy suspends the company's ability to compete for contracts or refuses to award a contract to a low bidder, we are required by federal law to give that contractor a reason. in this case, a notification would have tipped off gdma that
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something was wrong. this is a very serious case, and it is a serious issue. i am making sure that navy leaders everywhere understand how deeply concerned i am about it, and i have already spoken with a chief of naval operations our fleet commanders, and our component commanders reiterating these points. but i think the public discussion today sometimes misses the fact that the concerns were first raised by people inside the navy, that the navy acted on these suspicions by building a case against the company, its own, and implicated navy officials and that the navy partnered with government prosecutors and assist in the current prosecution. without the navy and navy actions, there would almost
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certainly be no story today. the conduct and behavior alleged to have occurred - in this case is absolutely incompatible with the standards we require of our officers and civilians. it's as a result of this investigation criminal prosecutors decide not to pursue criminal charges but instead refer cases to the navy for disposition, i am announcing that those cases case is will be reviewed and resolved through a consolidated disposition authority. this cda will be a four-star admiral and a team of professionals, all of whom will be fully vetted to have had no part in this case. this cda will ensure that allegations are substantiated individuals will be held appropriately accountable. i want to talk briefly about efforts this department has taken to prevent or act against
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contract fraud. soon after i took office i made several changes to our acquisition procedures to crack down on companies and individuals who attempt to defraud the government. some examples -- we have dramatically increased suspension and department proceedings to address conduct and poor performance by navy contractors. since 2000 nine, navy has suspended 254 contractors and d bart 400 -- d bart -- debarred 400. more than 120 of these were for periods longer than the three- year default period where situations warranted. to improve accountability, we now require navy commands to refer termination sport default to our acquisition integrity office, which in fiscal year 2013 resulted in the referral of about 11 contract terminations.
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next if there is an illegal gratuity or bribery under government contract, there is a special statute to terminate those contracts and assess punitive damages regardless of whether criminal conviction has occurred. in 2011, i directed a change to establish the tail procedures for cases involving this type of criminal activity. gdma may be the first case to use those new procedures. finally, as an example, i have also provided detailed guidance to assist contracting officers to determine whether a contract award is appropriate and to do so beyond checking just to see if a contractor has been suspended or debarred. the government accountability office grated navy as having one of the top acquisition fraud programs in government -- graded
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navy as having one of the top acquisition fraud programs in government, but it is also apparent that we need to do even more to prevent fraud and corruption in our contracting process. so i am announcing a series of additional initiatives. first, i directed the assistant secretary of navy for research, acquisition, and development to review acquisition strategies for husbanding and similar contracts worldwide. we now have the preliminary results of this review, and based on those, we are taking some immediate steps. the so-called red team of experts from across the fleet and from naval supply assistance has been formed to scrutinize the process from end to end and recommend changes to correct deficiencies in those procedures and provide maximum effective oversight of the process. when their work is done, and based on that work the assistant secretary will issue a revised acquisition strategy
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that will be used on all husbanding contracts globally. second, we will further standardize requirements, further standardize contract vehicles, further standardized administration and increase oversight of husbanding contracts and contractors. one way we will do this is to increase the use of firm fixed price line items and minimize the use and improve the oversight of underpriced line items. third, we will remove pay functions to husbanding service providers and provide better guidance on requirements and more contracting support to ship co's went overseas. fourth, we will incorporate standardize processes. a final report is due in june of next year to identify
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improvements in internal controls. we will also continue implementing reforms we have already made, and we will keep looking for additional ways to strengthen provisions. as long as we are aggressively pursuing allegations in the gdma investigation, i expect we will continue to see headlines resulting from the discovery and disposition of these cases. the navy has a long tradition of transparency when we uncover allegations and misconduct, particularly against high- ranking officers. because not only can the spotlight act as a deterrent, but mostly because it is the right and to do. i would rather get that headlines -- get bad headlines than let that people get away. brought -- but fraud prevention is only part of the problem. i want to briefly mention we are also radically changing the way we manage contracts which
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consume an increasing percentage of our top line. in closing, i want to stress three points. first, the navy is a leader in combating procurement fraud, and we are seeing the results as the allegations in gdma demonstrate but the job is not done. second, we will continue, as we have done since i came into this office, to identify ways to protect our acquisition processes against those who would criminally or otherwise take dollars away from our war fighters and those war fighters' ability to protect our nation. last, i think it is vital that we do not let the alleged conduct, and criminal behavior of a few stain the reputation of the navy sailors who are ethical, honorable, and who strive everyday to keep our navy the strongest, most credible force on the seas.
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i am very proud of them and their families, and as long as i am secretary i will continue to do everything i can to preserve the integrity of the institution we serve and we love. >> ok, folks, if you could just identify yourself before you ask your question. >> to questions. you alluded to it in your statement -- do you expect further arrests of serving u.s. navy officers in this case? second, you mentioned that since 2009, you have suspended 250 and debarred 400 contractors. i assume those were cases where it is not just a billing dispute but the navy feels it is ripped off. that is a large number. is the navy such a soft target? >> one, i think it is better to say that there would be more
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disclosures coming in gdma. what kind of disclosures those are, i'm not at liberty to say, but i certainly do not think we have seen the end of it. second, i think that the numbers that i have put out there actually speak to the opposite conclusion, that we go after them. we have set up procedures to try to prevent fraud, but any time you've got this kind of money there are going to be people trying to steal it, people trying to defraud the government . you can do two things, and i think we have done both of those things. first is you can set up procedures to try to prevent it. but that is always a race because every time you set up a rule, someone tries to figure
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out a way around it, but the second one is to hold people accountable. to go after them very aggressively and that is not just for defrauding government. that is also for not performing or signing a contract and just not performing on that. i see that as an example of the transparency that we need because we publish these things when we do these. these suspensions and these debarments. we are actively looking at everything we do to make sure taxpayer money is being used well. >> great. mr. secretary, one striking case -- maybe the public is not surprised at a contractor might try to take advantage of the government, but there have been 16 navy officers implicated one way or another in this case, plus a senior ncis agent.
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how much of this is a contracting problem and how much is an ethics problem with senior officers in the navy? >> i think at least part of it is a contracting issue and is making sure that we do that, but i also think that -- i'm going to go back to what i said -- it is very important to note that people inside the navy were the first people to raise the suspicions. people inside the navy went after this case and don't this case, and when naval personnel were involved -- people inside the navy went after this case and built this case, and when naval personnel were involved, we announced it. we do that all the time. i have spoken to our fleet commanders and component commanders to make sure that they are personally interested, but this not only goes against
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all the ethics rules that we have -- these few people that are alleged to have done these things -- this goes against everything you should have learned at home. everything that -- i mean, everybody knows it's wrong to take a bride -- bribe. everybody knows it is wrong to get paid to give a contract. that's why i said the thing i did at the end. we have a third of our fleet to ploy today -- deployed today all over the world. we have navy officers contracting for those ships to go into port. the vast, vast majority are doing it honestly, honorably. i do not want the actions of a few who -- not just ethics, it's
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in some cases -- i mean, it's criminal -- to tarnish the actions of the many. we are not going to stop. i told ncis when i was being briefed on this case -- the one consistent rain i told them every single time we met was "take this investigation where it leads. it doesn't matter. take it wherever it leads." >> you noted that any time you have got this amount of money involved there might be problems. do you have an estimate -- how much money are we talking about with gdma? how much may have been defrauded? >> i cannot say because it is in prosecution right now. >> mr. secretary, when you step back from the bribery and you
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look at the whole husbanding process, can you talk about why the navy in the way it structures these contracts and polices them seems to leave itself open for fraud? and why the supply guy on the ship is reluctant to go and deal with these husbanding agents to try to negotiate deals on the fly to try to get a ship out of four? >> number one, there are rules we have to follow. for example because one employee leaves one company and goes to another one, it does not mean we can take action against that second company. if we do, or if we say we are going to pull all the contracts
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and start over, a couple of things are going to happen. one, we are going to be sued real asked -- fast, and they are probably going to win. it's like if we had taken this contract away from gdma before the investigation was finished and did not have enough evidence to prove it. gdma would have gotten the contract back. second, we are global, and we do have a lot of these contracts out there. i think right now, there are 14 regional contracts that were all done by did -- by bid. that is the thing i will keep going back to -- is the tripwires that we have set up the procedures that we have set up are the things that are leading to these discoveries.
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again, i would rather have some of the headlines that i get the cause -- because we are actively doing these things and pursuing these than not be here today because there is no story. because you or i or anybody else does not know about these things that are going on. >> can you talk a little bit more -- you mentioned in your remarks changes in the contracting, in the husbanding changes in the supply officer role. and a lot of that was recommended in the 2007 study that we referenced this morning. the idea that you have a certain number of fixed items and if the ship shows up and the husbanding guides do not have
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appropriate supplies but can give others for way more money somebody is really monitoring that and it is not the kind of centralized ordering you see in the commercial shipping world. can you talk about how vulnerable that made you and how you might change the basic approach in the contracting? >> number one, i do think there were gaps gaps in the contracting. we did set up, several years ago, a standardized list of fixed-price line items. and the estimate was that an priced line items should account for about one percent -- 1% of contracts, because ships need the same thing going into port over and over again.
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one of the things that you just pointed out is that sometimes the husbanding agent would come in and say, we don't have that. we don't have whatever it is that is a fixed line item. we have got this, but it costs more. we did not have the centralized ability to tell the contracting officer on the ship, don't do this. it has allowed us to chase down overpayments in a lot of these cases. but that is one of the reasons we are doing much more in terms of centralization in these contracts, and in the way that we are going to centralize the oversight to not put the commanding officer or the supply officer in these things.
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i will give you another very simple example. one of the things that these husbanding agents do is take waste off ships, particularly wastewater off ships. and one of the things that we were noticing after i came in here was that there was often a big dispute between what the contractor said they had taken off and what the ceo --'s -- what the c.o. thought they were taking off. so we put in flowmeters worldwide. it is not a very stunning thing to do, but now we know how much that is done. one of the ways you find out about and quite this is you see
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aberration, and you take action to correct it. and that is why i think we have done a lot, but i think we have still got a good bit more to do in doing these things. because we are worldwide. we are operating everywhere in the world. and we have got to have a more centralized, more standard procedure, so that we don't put commanding officers, supply officers on ships, in the position of having to make these decisions on the fly, as you put it. >> we have got time for just one more. >> secretary the navy has been out and about, doing these kind of things, for over 200 years. we have been dependent on overseas resupply and that kind of thing. it seems troubling that it has ran into these kind of problems.
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is there any system -- do you have a system -- should you have had a system to screen the husbanding agents, so that when somebody came in with a lower bid, you can disqualify them because of the failure to perform in the past, or any other problems with them? >> a little history. before 1999, there were scores of husbanding agents that we would contract with around the world. and that got to be such a problem because of performance issues, because of fraud issues, because of all sorts of things, that the navy in 1999 went to this regional approach, so we would have fewer husbanding agents to deal with, so that there would be, hopefully competition among companies big enough to do these things, and so that we would begin to have a
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history of how companies did. because while the smaller companies in one part may be here one day and not here the next. and we set up procedures. and i strengthened those procedures to do exactly what you said. before i came into this office the only thing a contracting officer had to look to do was see whether somebody had been suspended or debarred. now, they have to go a lot deeper to see if this person has performed, has performed adequately, has performed on time has had any sort of questions raised about him. now, in the case of -- i will go back to gdm may -- gdma.
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if during this investigation, a contracting officer had asked those questions, nothing would have come up, as we were holding the information coming out of that investigation closely because we wanted to make sure that we did the investigation right, so that we made sure that we followed it to wherever it went, to make sure that we did not just and one contract, but if there was a systemic problem with a company or an individual that we addressed that more globally, more universally. thank you. >> as a moderate in the privacy debate, and in the privacy world, i have come to a troubling conclusion. the data broker industry, as it is today, does not have constraints, and does not have shame. it will sell any information
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about any person, regardless of the sensitivity, 47.9 cents a name. --for 7.9 cents a name, which is the price of a list of rape sufferers which was recently sold. lists of rate sufferers, victims of domestic violence, police officers' home addresses people who suffer from genetic illnesses, complete with names home addresses ethnicities gender, and many other factors -- this is what is being sold and circulated today. it is a far cry from visiting a website and seeing an ad. what it is is a sale of the personally identifiable information and highly sensitive information of americans.
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>> this weekend on c-span your medical history, income lifestyle. the senate commerce committee looks into data mining. on c-span two, thom hartmann argues that without a small middle class -- a strong middle class, the u.s. is heading for an economic lotion -- implosion that will make the great depression seem tame. and on american history tv, by august 1945, it was already becoming clear that a struggle for global dominance had begun. from world war ii cold war sunday at 7:30 p.m. eastern. >> i was a donor to martha's table, like so many of your viewers. michael and i would do the annual consideration of the things that we care about because they were important to us as we grew up, issues we cared about because they match
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our broader beliefs but also the players in our community that we saw doing good work every day. martha's table delivered hot meals to the little park outside of the bill and melinda gates foundation d.c. offices mcpherson square. i would see that man every night, and would see the lines of people there every night. and i knew it was a volunteer driven, 10,000 volunteers, just 80 hard-working staff and that they had an enormous influence on the community they were serving. it was a great brand. i thought, why wouldn't i join that organization? see if i can put my skills to work, but also see if i can understand better -- why do we have this issue, persistent child poverty? why do we have so many children that are not graduating high school, going on to college, and being able to attach to careers the way i was able to? asked the president and ceo of martha's table on leaving the
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washington dc -- leading the washington dc-based nonprofit. >> president obama held a year- end news conference today at the white house. the president said "we screwed up in the rollout of the health care law." he also promised a review of nsa surveillance programs, and said no new sanctions on iran should be passed while talks on its nuclear program continue. later today, the obamas head to hawaii for business vacation. >> i know you are eager to skip town and spend time with your families. not surprisingly, i am too. but you know what they say. it is the most wonderful press conference of the year, right now. i am eager to take your questions. first, i want to say a few words about our economy. in 2013, our businesses created another 2 million jobs. adding up to more than 8 million
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in just over the past 45 months. this morning we learned that over the summer our economy grew at its strongest pace in nearly two years. the unemployment rate has steadily fallen to its lowest point in i've years. our fiscal situation is firmer, with deficits that are now less than half of what they were when i took office. for the first time in nearly two decades, we produce more oil at home then we buy from the rest of the world. and our all of the above strategy for new american energy means lower energy costs. the affordable care act has helped keep cap -- keep health care costs growing at their slowest rate in 50 years. that means bigger paychecks and bigger savings for businesses. and for all the challenges we have had and all the challenges that we have been working on
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diligently in dealing with both the aca and the website these past couple months, more than half a million americans have enrolled through healthcare.gov in the first three weeks of december alone. in california, a state operating its own marketplace more than 15,000 americans are enrolling every single day. and in the federal website, tens of thousands are enrolling every single day. since october 1, more than one million americans have selected new health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces. all told, millions of americans despite the problems with the website, are now poised to be covered by quality affordable health care insurance come new year's day. this holiday season, there are mothers, fathers, entrepreneurs, and workers who have something new to celebrate, the security of knowing that when the unexpected or misfortune
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strikes, hardship no longer has to. you add that all up, and it means we head into next year with an economy that is stronger than it was when we started the year. more americans are finding work and experiencing a positive paycheck. we are positioned for new growth and new jobs. i firmly believe that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for america. as i outlined in detail earlier this month we know there is a lot more we are going to have to do to restore opportunity and broad-based both for everyone in america. that is going to require some action. earlier this week, the first time in years, both parties in both houses of congress came together to pass a budget that unwinds some of the damaging sequester cuts that have created headwinds for our economy. it clears the path for businesses and for investments that we need to strengthen our
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middle class, like education and scientific research. it means the american people will not be exposed to the threat of another reckless shutdown every few months. that is a good thing. it is probably too early to declare an outbreak of bipartisanship, but it is also fair to say we are not committed to endless gridlock. there are areas where we can work together. i believe work should begin with something republicans in congress should have done before leaving town this week, and that is restoring the temporary insurance that helps folks when they are looking for a job. because congress did not act more than one million of their constituents will lose a vital economic lifeline at christmas time, leaving a lot of job seekers without any source of income at all. i think we are a better come -- a better country than that. we do not abandon each other when times are tough. keep in mind unemployment insurance only goes to folks who
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are actively looking for work -- a mom who needs help feeding her kids when she sends out her resumes, or a dad who needs help dainty rent while working part- time and learning the skills he needs for that new job. when congress comes back to work their first order of business should be making this right. i know a bipartisan group is working on a three-month extension of this insurance. they should pass it. i will sign it right away. let me repeat. i think 2014 needs to be a year of action. we have work to do to help more americans are in the skills and education they need to do these jobs, and to make sure those jobs offer wages and benefits that let families build a little bit of financial security. we still have the task of finishing the fix on our broken and the grayson system. we have got to build on the progress we have been staking the made over these last five years with respect to our
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economy, and offer the middle- class and those looking to join the middle class a better opportunity. and that is going to be where i focus all of my efforts in the year ahead. let me conclude by saying just as we are strengthening our position here at home, we are also standing up for our interests around the world. this year, we have demonstrated that with clear right principled diplomacy, we can pursue new paths to a world that is more secure, a future where iran does not build a nuclear weapon, where serious chemical weapons stockpiles are destroyed. but the end of next year, the war in afghanistan will be over, just as we ended our war in iraq. we will continue to bring our troops home. as always, we will remain vigilant to protect our homeland and our personnel overseas from terrorist attacks. a lot of our men and women in
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uniform are still overseas. a lot are spending their christmas far away from their families and friends, still in harms way. for them and their families back home, we want to thank you. your country stands united in supporting you and being grateful for your service and your sacrifice. we will keep you in our thoughts and in our prayers during this season of hope. before i wish a merry christmas to all and to all a good night i will take some questions. jay prepared a list of who is naughty and nice, so we will see who made it. julie must be nice. >> thank you, mr. president. despite all the data points you cited in your opening statement when you look back this year, very little of the domestic agenda you outlined in your inaugural address has been achieved. health-care rollout obviously had problems, and your ratings
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with the public are near historic lows for you. has this been the worst year of your presidency? >> i have to tell you, julie that is not how i think about it. i have now been in office close to five years. i was running for president for two years before that. for those of you who covered me during that time, we have had ups and downs. i think this room has probably reported at least 15 near death experiences. and what i have been focused on each and every day is, are we moving the ball in helping the american people, families, have more opportunity, have more security to feel as if, if they work hard, they can get ahead?
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and if i look at this past year, there are areas where there have obviously been frustrations, where i wish congress had moved more aggressively. not passing background checks in the aftermath of newtown was something i continue to believe is a mistake. but because of the debate that occurred, work has been done at state levels to ensure we do not see tragedies like that happen again. there is a lot of focus on legislative activity at the congressional level. even when congress does not move on things they should move on there are a whole bunch of things we are still doing. we do not always get attention. but the connect program we announced, initiating wireless in every classroom in america.
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it will make a huge difference for kids across this country and for teachers. a manufacturing hub that we set up in youngstown, something i talked about during the state of the union, is going to create innovation and connect universities, manufacturers, job training, to build on the renaissance we are seeing in manufacturing. when it comes to energy, this year is going to be the first year in a very long time we are producing more oil and natural gas here in this country then we are importing. that is a big deal. i understand the point you are getting at, which is that a lot of our legislative initiatives have not moved forward as
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quickly as we might like. i understand that. which means i am going to keep at it. if you look at immigration reform, probably the biggest thing i wanted to get done this year, we saw progress. it passed the senate with a strong bipartisan vote. there are indications in the house that even though it did not get completed this year, that there is a commitment on the part of the speaker to try to move forward legislation early next year. the fact that it is not hit the timeline that i prefer is obviously frustrating, but it is not something i end up brooding a lot about. >> it is not just your legislative agenda. when you talk to americans, they seem to have lost confidence in you, trust in you. your credibility has taken a hit. obviously, the health care law was a big part of that. do you understand the public has changed their view in some way of you this year? >> if you are measuring this by
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polls, my polls have gone up and down a lot through the course of my career. if i was interested in polling i would not have run for president. i was polling at 70% in the u.s. senate. i took this job to deliver for the american people, and i knew and will continue to know there will be ups and downs. you are right. the website problems were a source of great frustration, i think. in the last press conference, i adequately discussed by frustrations on those. on the other hand, since that time, i now have a couple million people, maybe more, who are going to have on january 1. and that is a big deal. that is why i ran for this office. as long as i have got an opportunity every single day to make sure that in ways large and small i am creating greater opportunity for more people
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more kids are able to go to school, get the education they need, more families are able to stabilize their finances, the housing market is continuing to improve, people feel like their wages are may be inching up a little bit -- if those things are happening, i will take it. i have said before, i have run my last political race. at this point, my goal every single day is just to make sure i can look back and say we are delivering something. not everything, because this is a long haul. >> thank you, mr. president. one of the most significant events of this year was the revelation of surveillance by the national security agency. as you review how to rein in the national security agency, a federal judge says that for example the government failed to cite a single incidents in which
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the use of metadata stopped an attack. are you able to identify
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this obviously differs from rulings on the fisa court. the question we have to ask is, can we accomplish the same goals that this program is intended to accomplish? is there confidence the nsa is doing what it is supposed to? i have confidence the nsa is not engaging in domestic surveillance. as technologies change, people can start running algorithms that map out what people are downloading on a daily basis. we may have to refine this further to give people more confidence. and we have to provide more confidence to the international community.
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in some ways, what has been more challenging is that we have a lot of laws and checks and balances and safeguards on us when it comes to the nsa. we have less legal constraint. but i think part of what has been interesting about this whole strategy is recognizing that in the virtual world some of these boundaries do not matter anymore. in the values that we have got as americans are ones that we have to be willing to apply beyond our borders, i think more assiduously than we have done in the past. >> mr. president, i want to follow-up on that merry christmas.
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you made a statement on june 17. he said you had already reformed many of these surveillance programs. you said you had scrubbed them thoroughly. you also said you may have to rebalance some. we can complain about big brother and a potential program run amok. you said, i think we struck the right balance. that was only six months ago. now, you are saying that changes have to be made. my question is, were you not fully read in on these programs and others outside of the ones you talked about? were there others that suggest there were abuses? is this another example of what
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judy was saying, this question of credibility with the american people? >> hold on a second. i think it is important to note that when it comes to the right balance on surveillance, these are a series of judgment calls we are making every single day. we have a whole bunch of folks whose job it is to make sure the american people are protected. that is a hard job. if something slips, the question that is coming from you the next day at a press conference is, esther president, why didn't you catch that? why did the intelligence people allow that to slip? isn't there a way we could find out about these terrorist attacks? so the point is not that my assessment of the 215 program has changed, in terms of technically how it works. what is absolutely clear to me is that, given the public debate that has taken place over the
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last several months, that this is only going to work if the american people have confidence. part of the challenge is because of the manner in which these disclosures took place, in drips and grabs often shaded in a particular way and because of some of the constraints we have had in terms of declassifying information and getting it out there, that that trust in how many safeguards exist and how these programs are run has been diminished, so what is going to be important is to build that back up. and i take that into account in weighing how we structure these programs. let me be very specific on the 215 program. some of the same information the intelligence community feels is required to keep people safe can be obtained by having the
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private phone companies keep these records longer, and to create some mechanism where they can be accessed in an effective fashion. that might cost more. there might have to be different checks on how those requests are made. there may be technological solutions that have to be found to do that. and the question we are asking ourselves now is does that make sense not only because of the fact that there are concerns about potential abuse down the road by metadata being kept by the government rather than private companies? also, does it make sense to do it because people right now are concerned that maybe their phone
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calls are being listened to even if they are not? we have to factor that in. i point is that the environment has changed in ways that i think require us to take that into account. but the analysis has always been periodically looking at what we are doing, and asking are we doing this in the right way? are we keeping the american people safe, and being true to our civil liberties, our privacy, and our values? if there is another terror -- >> if there is another terror attack, everyone will be second- guessing you in the oval office. you put it on your back. you have arsenal regrets? the public statements you have made to reassure the public -- your director of national intelligence, james clapper, got a question from a democrat, and
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he denied it. >> you are conflating, first of all, me and mr. clapper. what i am saying is this. yes, these are tough problems that i am glad to have the privilege of tackling. your initial question was whether the statements i made six months ago are ones that i don't stand by. statements i made then are entirely consistent with the statements that i make now which is that we believed that we had scrubbed these programs and struck an appropriate balance. and there had not been evidence and there continues not to be evidence that the particular program had been abused in how it was used. it was a useful tool working with other tools of the intelligence community to ensure
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that if we have a thread on a potential terrorist threat that that can be followed effectively. what i have also said, though, is in light of the disclosures that have taken place, it is clear that whatever benefits the configuration of this particular program may have, may be outweighed by the concerns that people have on its potential abuse. if that's the case, there may be another way of skinning the cat. so we just keep on going at this stuff and saying can we do this better, can we do this more effectively? i think the panel's recommendations are consistent with that. so if you had a chance to read the overall recommendations, what they were very clear about is, we need this intelligence. we can't unilaterally disarm. there are ways we can do it potentially that gives people greater assurance that there are checks and balances, there is sufficient oversight, sufficient transparency, programs like 215 could be redesigned in way that is give you the same information
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when you need it without creating these potentials for abuse, and that's exactly what he we should be doing is to evaluate all these things in a very clear, specific way. and moving forward on changes. that's what i intend to do. >> you have no regrets. >> john croft. >> thank you, mr. president. it's been a tough year. you may not want to call it the worst year of your presidency, but it's clearly been a tough year. the polls have gone up and down but they are on a low point right now. what i'm asking you, you acknowledged the difficulties with the health care rollout. when you look back and you look at the decisions that you have made and what you did, what you didn't do for you personally what do you think has been your biggest mistake? >> with respect to health care specifically or just general? >> the whole thing.
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>> well, there's no doubt that when it came to the health care rollout even though i was meeting every other week or every three weeks with folks and emphasizing how important it was that consumers had a good experience, an easy experience in getting the information they need and knowing what the choices and options were for them, to be able to get high quality, affordable health care. the fact is it didn't happen in the first month. first six weeks in a way that was at all acceptable. since i'm in charge obviously we screwed it up. part of it as i have said before had to do with how i.t. procurement generally is done and almost predates this year. part of it obviously has to do with the fact that there were not clear enough lines of authority in terms of who was in charge of technology and
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cracking the whip on the whole bunch of contractors. so there were a whole bunch of things that we have been taking a look at and i'm going to be making appropriate adjustments once we get through this year and we have gotten through the initial surge of people who have been signing up. but having said all that, the bottom line also is that we've got several million people are going to have health care that works. it's not that i don't engage in a lot of self-reflex here -self- reflection here, i promise i beat myself up even worse than you or ed henry does, on any given day, but i've also got to wake up in the morning and make sure that i do better the next day. and that we keep moving forward. and when i look at the landscape
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for next year, what i say to myself is, we're poised to do really good things. the economy is stronger than it has been in a very long time. our next challenge is to make sure everybody benefits from that, not just a few folks. and there's still too many people who haven't seen a raise and are still feeling financially insecure. we can get immigration reform done. we've got a concept that has bipartisan support. let's see if we can break through the politics on this. i think that hopefully folks have learned their lesson in terms of brinksmanship coming out of the government shutdown. there have been times where i thought about were there other ways i could have prevented that those three, four weeks that
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hampered the economy and hurt individual families or not getting a paycheck during that time? absolutely, but i also think that in some ways given the pattern that we have been going through with house republicans for a while, we might have needed just a little bit of a bracing sort of recognition that this is not what the american people think is acceptable. they want us to try to solve problems. and be practical even if we can't get everything done. the end of the year is always a good time to reflect and see what you can do better next year. that's how i intend to approach it. i'm sure that i will have even better ideas after a couple of days of sleep and sun. >> thank you, mr. president. on the debt ceiling your treasury secretary has estimated that the u.s. government will lose its ability to pay its bills come late february or early march.
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house budget committee chairman, paul ryan, said the republicans are going to decide what it is they can accomplish on this debt limit fight. willing to negotiate with house republicans on the debt ceiling. >> you know the answer to this question. not only are we going to negotiate -- we are not going to negotiate for congress to pay bills that it's accrued. i want to emphasize the positive as we enter into this holiday season. i think congressman ryan and senator murray did a good job in trying to narrow the differences and actually pass a budget that i can sign. it's not everything that i would like, obviously. it buys back part of these across-the-board cuts, the so- called see quester, but not all of -- sequester, but not all of them, we are still underfunding research, we are still underfunding education, we are
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still underfunding transportation and other initiatives that would create jobs right now, but it was an honest conversation. they operated in good faith. and given how far apart the parties have been on fiscal issues, they should take pride in what they did. i actually called them after they struck the deal and i said congratulations and i hope that creates a good pattern for next year. where we work on at least the things we agree to even if we agree to disagree on some of the other big-ticket items. i think immigration potentially falls in that category where let's -- here's an area where we've got bipartisan agreement. there are a few differences here and there, but the truth of the matter is that the senate bill has the main components of comprehensive immigration reform that would boost our economy would boost our economy, give us an opportunity to attract more investment and high-skilled
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workers who are doing great things in places like silicon valley and around the country. so let's go and get that done. now, i can't imagine that having seen this possible daylight breaking when it comes to cooperation in congress that folks are thinking actually about plunging us back into the kinds of brinksmanship and governance by crisis that has done us so much harm over the past few years. to repeat the debt ceiling is raised simply to pay bills that we have already accrued. it is not something that is a negotiating tool. it's not leveraged the responsibility of congress. it's part of doing their job.
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i expect them to do their job, although i'm happy to talk to them about any of the issues they actually want to get done. if congressman ryan's interested in tax reform, let's go. i've got some proposals on it. if he's interested in any issue out there, i'm willing to have a constructive conversation of the sort that he we just had in resolving the budget issues, but i've got to assume folks aren't crazy enough to start that thing all over again. >> quickly on a more personal note, what is your new year's resolution? >> my new year's resolution is to be nicer to the white house press corps. absolutely. >> thank you. greg leggett, the head of the n.s.a. task force on edward snowden, he was told quote we
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are having a conversation about granting edward snowden, to what degree were you pleased he floated this trial balloon. what do you say to americans sir, after possibly being alerted to john leon's decision earlier this week reading the panel recommendations, believe edward snowden set in motion something that is proper and just in this country about the scope of surveillance and should not be considered by this government a criminal? >> i've got to be careful here, major, because mr. snowden is under indictment. he's been charged with crimes and that's the province of the attorney general and ultimately a judge and jury. i can't weigh in specifically on this case at this point. i'll make -- i'll try to see if i can get at the spirit of the question even if i can't talk about the specifics.
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i said before and i believe that this is an important conversation that we needed to have. i have also said before that the way in which these disclosures happen have been damaging to the united states and damaging to our intelligence capabilities. and i think that there was a way for us to have this conversation without that damage. i'll give you just one specific example. the fact of the matter is that the united states for all our warts is a country that abides by rule of law, that cares deeply about prifecy, that cares
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about civil liberties, that cares about our constitution, and we have country who actually do the things that mr. snowden said he's worried about very explicitly, engaging in surveillance of their own citizens, targeting political dissidents, targeting and suppressing the press. who somehow are able to sit on the sidelines and act as if it's the united states that has problems when it comes to surveillance and intelligence operations. and that's a pretty distorted view of what's going on out there. so i think that as important and as necessary as this debate has been, it is also important to keep in mind that this has done unnecessary damage to u.s. intelligence capabilities and u.s. diplomacy. but i will leave it up to the courts and the attorney general
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to weigh in publicly on the specifics of mr. snoweden's case. >> if i could follow up, mr. leggitt is setting in motion -- if there was ever to be a conversation on amnesty or plea- bargain. >> i think that's true, major. i guess what i'm saying is -- >> you would never consider it? >> what i'm saying is there is a difference between mr. leggitt saying something and the president of the united states saying something. >> thank you, mr. president. merry christmas and happy new year. you talk about the issues of health care and the website rollout, but there have been other issues, misinformation about people keeping their policies, extended deadlines postponements, we have a new waiver that h.h.s. announced last night.
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how do you expect americans to have confidence and certainty in this law if you keep changing it? this one here, this new waiver last night, you could argue you might as well have delayed the mandate. >> that's not true because what we are talking about is a very specific population that received cancellation notices from insurance companies. the majority of them are either keeping their old plan because the grandfather clause has been extended further, or they are finding a better deal in the marketplace with better insurance for cheaper costs, but there may still be a subset, a significantly smaller subset than some of the numbers that have been advertised, that are still looking for options or still concerned about what they
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are going to be doing next year. and we just wanted to make sure that the hardship provision that was already existing in the law would also potentially apply to somebody who had problems during this transition period. so that's the specifics of this latest change. you're making a broader point that i think is fair, and i think in a big project like this that what we are constantly doing is looking at it that this is working the way it is supposed to and if there are adjustments that can be made to smooth out the transition. we should make them. they do not go to the court of the law. first of all the core of the law is for the 85% of the population, all they have been getting pre-preventive care, better consumer protections, the ability to keep their kids on their insurance plans until they're 26, thousand dollar or $500 discounts on medicare. 85% of the population, whether they know it or not over the last three years, have benefited from a whole set of the provisions of the law.
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by the way, if you were to be repealed, you would be taking away all those benefits from full to already -- folks who are already enjoying them. what we are doing is creating a marketplace where they can buy insurance and we can provide them tax credits to help them afford it. the basic structure of that law is working, despite all the problems, despite the website problems, the messaging problems despite all that, it is working. again, you do not have to take my word for it. we have got a couple million people who are going to have health insurance just in the first three months, the spite the fact that the first month
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and a half was lost because of problems with the website, and about as bad a bunch of publicity as you could imagine. and yet, you still got 2 million people who signed up. or more. so what that means is that the demand is there. and as i said before, the product is good. in putting something like this together, there are going to be all kinds of problems that crop up, some of which may have been unanticipated. what we are trying to do is respond to them in a commonsense way. and we are going to continue to try to do that.
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but that does not negate the fact that, you know, a year from now or two years from now, when we look at, we are going to be able to say that even more people have health insurance and that is not a bad thing. that is a good thing. that is part of the reason i pushed so hard to get this law done in the first place. and, you know, i have said before this is a messy process. i think sometimes when i say that, people say, it is real messy. and b, isn't the fact it has been so messy some indication there are more fundamental problems with the law? i guess what i would say to that, chuck, is, when you try to do something this big, affecting this many people, it is going to be hard. and every instance, whether it is social security, medicare the prescription drug plan under president bush -- there has not been an instance where you tried
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to really have an impact on the american people's lives and well-being, particularly in the health care arena, where you do not end up having some of these challenges. the question is going to be, ultimately, do we make good decisions trying to help as many people as possible in as efficient a way as possible? and i think that is what we are doing. >> 72 hours ago, you made this change, where people are buying a junk-type policy you are trying to get people away from. quick keep in mind, first of all, that the majority of folks are going to have different options. this is essentially a additionalnet -- additional net in case folks may have slipped through the cracks. we expect it is going to be a relatively small number. these are folks who want insurance, and the vast majority of them have good options.
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in a state like north carolina the overwhelming majority have kept their own plans. the ones they had previously. but we thought, and continue to think, it makes sense that as we are transitioning to a system in which insurance standards are higher, people do not have unpleasant surprises because they thought they had insurance until they hit a limit, and next thing you know, they owe $300,000 for a hospital visit, that as we transition to higher standards, better insurance, that we also address folks who get caught in that transition and the unintended consequences. i will be honest -- that was the original intent of the grandfather clause in the law. obviously, the problem was it did not catch enough people. and we learned from that, and we are trying not to repeat those mistakes. >> and the enforcement, going forward. >> bill mattingly?
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>> what was the message you were trying to send with not only your decision not to attend the sochi games, but with the people you named to the delegation? >> first of all, i have not attended olympics in the past. i suspect that many attending the olympics, particularly at a time when we have all the other stuff people have been talking about is going to be tough although i would love to do it. i will be going to a lot of olympic games post-presidency. the delegation speaks for itself, outstanding americans, outstanding athletes, people who will represent us extraordinarily well. and the fact that we have got folks like billie jean king or brian boitano, world class athletes everyone acknowledges
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for their excellence and their character, who also happen to be members of the lgbt community -- you should take that for what it is worth. when it comes to the olympics and athletic performers, we do not make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation. we judge people on how they perform, both on the court and off the court, on the field and off the field. and that is a value that i think is at the heart of not just america, but american sports. i am going to just roll down these last few real quickly. ari shapiro, last day at the white house. he deserves a question. >> senator max baucus was widely seen as the best hope for a large-scale deal to overhaul the tax code.
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what is your decision to nominate him as ambassador for china say to your hopes for a major tax overhaul? >> it says max baucus will be an outstanding ambassador to china, and i would like a swift confirmation. the expectation and hope is that if both senate democrats, or if democrats and republicans in the house and the senate, are serious about tax reform, it is not going to depend on one guy. it is going to depend on all of us working together. and my office is ready, willing, and eager to engage both parties in a conversation about how we can simple fight the tax code, make it fairer, make it work to create more jobs and do right by middle-class americans. jackie comes? >> thank you, mr. president. how do you say it in hawaii? >> mele kalikimaka. >> i would like to ask you what your reaction was to the
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nonpartisan truth telling group politifact when it said the lie of the year was your statement that if you like your health care plan you can keep it? related to the health care problems we have seen over the past year, the fallout from that seems to be making democrats particularly in the senate a little rambunctious and independent of you, evidenced most clearly in the debate over iran sanctions. . .

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