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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 10, 2014 5:00pm-7:01pm EDT

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january, 2001, and shall be entered together with a list of the votes on the journals of the senate and house of representatives. a god bless may god bless the united dates s -- states of america. >> more highlights from 35 years of house coverage on our facebook page. 35 years ago and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. >> the senate foreign relations committee look at the president's budget request for usaid. administrator rajiv shah testified on efforts to fight global poverty and hunger. this is an hour and half.
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>> you come at a time when usaid is making headlines for doing nothing more than the job you were appointed to do. that we say to the record, when it comes to the issue of cuba or your work in any closed society, i do not believe usaid's actions, as clearly articulated in your mission statement to promote "resilient democratic societies that are able to realize their potential," are in any way a cockamamie idea. i believe it is exactly what the people of cuba, iran, burma, belarus, north korea, and other authoritarian nations need to
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help them communicate with each other. to help them achieve the usaid's stated mission of a "free, peaceful, and self-reliant society with an effective, legitimate governmen." so i commend you for helping people have a less control platform to talk to each other, helping them find a way to connect and share their views. global internet freedom programs , u.s. international broadcasting, and support for human rights activists are all fundamental components of our country's long-standing efforts to remote democracy overseas. for more than 50 years, the united states has had an unwavering commitment to promote freedom of information in the world. differentn cuba is no than our efforts to promote freedom of expression and uncensored access to information in the ukraine, russia, belarus,
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iran, china, or north korea. it should be noticed that in the bill there is $76 billion set aside to promote global internet freedom and democracy in closed societies like cuba, where the regime allows no independent press and limits access to the internet. it also states that "with respect to the provision of assistance for democracy, human rights, and government activities, these programs shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country." it is common sense that we should not ask the government of ironic -- iran or egypt or china for permission to support advocates of free speech, human rights, or political pluralism or provide uncensored access to the internet or social media. juste end of the day,
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giving people the opportunity to communicate with the outside world and each other is, in my mind, a fundamental responsibility of any democracy. as bill gates said, "the internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow." and he is right. to go one step forward -- further, the town square will become more free and inclusive thanks to the efforts of organizations like usaid. let me close on this one point. i think it is dumb, dumb, and e ven dumber to suggest that there can be freedom and we should seek freedom of internet access and freedom of expression globally but that somehow the people of cuba do not deserve the same freedom. and i will finally say on this
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topic, there is only one entity responsible for the imprisonment of alan gross, and that is the cuban regime. it is not this government. it is not aid. it is the cuban regime. and i am tired of blaming ourselves when the entity that should be blamed as the regime that unlawfully holds an american in prison for doing nothing but having the jewish community in cuba be able to communicate with each other. it is pretty outrageous. reference to the overall priorities of the budget, we look forward to your perspective and how we can make certain that u.s. development and well, is alive and i look forward to looking at your priorities for the federal budget. i speak for all the members when
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i say how impressed i have been by your creativity and energy, which has been essential to usaid reform, and your agency's pursuit of international development priorities in ways that focus on best practices and results. as we have discussed on numerous occasions before, as i said to the secretary when i was here, i remain deeply concerned about the resources for the western hemisphere. they are insufficient to meet the challenges of the region, and its importance to our own prosperity, security, and shared interest in health and development. that is something we look forward to continuing to engage you on. while efforts to address the transnational criminal networks or pose the greatest threat to stability in the region, a long-term strategy that boost economic growth and consolidate the rule of law is fundamental, and in my view currently lacking. i believe we can do better in the hemisphere, and i think we
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can do better in the context of our international development priorities within the hemisphere. i look forward to an ongoing conversation about how we can get the best results, for foreign assistance, donors, ngo's, and taxpayers. now i would like to recognize senator corbin. >> thank you for those passionate comments. youshah, we appreciate being here and all the work you do around the world. my comments are going to be more brief. we look forward to your testimony. look, we appreciate you being here to go over your budget request for 2015. we appreciate the reforms you are trying to put in place around the world, but also within usaid itself. i think foreign aid is one of the most misunderstood concepts that the american people have sometimes, and the fact is we u.s. 1% of our overall
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budget on foreign assistance and foreign aid, foreign activities. i would like for you to herald some of those successes. i know you will do that today. it is also our responsibility you -- do have some healthy skepticism regarding programs. i appreciate what you are trying to do with food programs to make them more efficient, and i look forward to talking to you about that. there are other programs where we will be dealing 30% with local entities, and that is a much appreciated concept. on the other hand, i want to make sure we have results. thank you for being here today. i look forward to your questions and testimony, and thank you for your work. shah, the floor is yours. we will enter the full statement in the record without objection. summarize it in five minutes or so so members can have the
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opportunity to have a dialogue. >> thank you, chairman menendez and ranking member corker. i want to thank you specifically for your very strong leadership and your support for america's development programs around the world, ensuring they are a full reflection of our values. i want to thank all the members of the committee for your guidance, counsel, support, and oversight in these past years. i am honored to present the president's fiscal year budget request for usaid, which totals just above $20 million. ofs resource is a core part keeping our country safe and secure over the long term, and improving our own domestic prosperity as the world prospers with us. mission is to end extreme poverty and promote resilient democratic societies. our efforts over the last few years, with your support, have constituted a serious rebuilding
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of this agency. during my tenure we have hired more than 1100 staff, rebuild the capacity to manage budgets, protected priorities in food, education, water, and health, and expanded our partner base to include more local organizations, companies, faith-based institutions, universities, scientists, and students, in addition to our traditional ngo and contracting partners. we expanded capacity to evaluate all of our major programs. when i started, there were a few dozen even valuation's put forth every year. this year we will have nearly 280, with more than 50% of them used to make course corrections in how programs aren't limited -- are implemented, with all of them being open and publicly available. our efforts have constituted a new model of development that engages the private sector, science and technology, faith institutions, and others in new types of partnerships.
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and we believe that these partnerships are delivering results. president obama's feed the future program, represented with nearly $1 billion in this budget request, now reaches 7 million small-scale farmers in 19 countries. this year, 12.5 million children will no longer be hungry because they are in families that are beneficiaries of feed the future. and inestment is matched some cases exceeded by private sector partners who have committed $3.7 billion to this effort, and i want to thank the committee for its leadership in supporting incremental food aid reforms that will help us reach an additional 800,000 children in the context of disasters around the world this year. our efforts to support and save children's lives, especially children who die unnecessarily under the age of five, are supported in this budget with a $2.7 billion budget request. between 1990 and today, every year we save more than 5 million
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children from dying under the age of five. we set for ourselves a similar goal of saving 6 million kids a year by 2030, and mobilize the global community to work with us to achieve those goals. in education, water, energy, and many other sectors of the economy, we work in a results-oriented way, and i look forward to that discussion today. last week, i was in the philippines with secretary hegel, working with asean defense ministers on how we can coordinate humanitarian relief more effectively, helping them build the capacity to be great partners in dealing with disasters. the budget request includes more than $3 billion for disaster assistance in places like syria, central african republic, and south sudan. our investments in democracy, human rights, and governance are an important part of what we do all around the world. this past weekend, we noted with nome initial success a
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election in afghanistan that saw nearly 60% voter turnout and a large proportion, more than expected, of women. those efforts were supported by the united states and other international partners and led by afghan institutions themselves. our work in our own hemisphere is of particular importance, and while budgets have been tight and this budget does make trade-offs, we have now launched a u.s. global development lab that brings businesses, scientists, technologies, and businesses -- universities together. i believe in the latin american region in particular we are beginning to see interesting results. we closed an interesting leverage partnership in which we will spend $5.7 million to motivate local banks to commit $133 million to small-scale farmers and producers in agricultural land in colombia, peru, and guatemala. that kind of leverage and that kind of taylor's what is
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possible -- scale is what is possible if we do things in a more creative and effective way. let me close by saying thank you. i have the opportunity this year, and i was honored to deliver the speech at the national prayer breakfast. it reminded me that when we come together to serve the world's most vulnerable people, this is an issue that can cut across partisan divides, bring us together as a nation, and allow us to continue our proud heritage over past decades as the humanitarian's -- world' is humanitarian and global health leader. >> thank you. off with one concern i have, the western hemisphere. major accounts in the fiscal year 2015 budget for the western hemisphere will be cut. venezuela will be cut by 40%, even amidst -- 14% even amidst
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the current crisis. haiti, colombia, guatemala, all cut. i think we underestimate the problems we face in our own time is there. -- hemisphere. we have enormous challenges in central america, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. governmentslenged in terms of meeting that challenge with rule of law issues. we have still in mexico some states that are relatively lawless near the frontier, border with the united states. we have the challenge of set ofla, and a growing circumstances there where civil society is under siege. basically, we have
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the government closing our missions. i see a wide range of issues, and i understand that some of these countries have sort of graduated, but by the same token, what happens is instead of looking for other investment opportunities in the hemisphere the money is sent to other parts of the world, and we have now seen year over year over year double-digit cuts that from my perspective our unsustainable. so, can you convince me that you will work with us, as the secretary said he would, to see how we change this dynamic? i think in our own hemisphere, our own front yard there are challenges that are both in our national interest on so many different questions, from interdiction to economic opportunity to health bordersues that know no when it comes to diseases. can you talk a little about
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that? >> yes. thank you, senator. i appreciate that point of view and agree with the central nature and importance of the region. while we have made tough trade-offs over the last many years as secretary kerry noted and president obama said, this region is of critical importance to our future, from a trade, immigration, and partnership perspective. as a result, we are trying to position our programs in such a way that, especially if countries get wealthier and move into middle income and middle and upper income status, our programs shifts to engaging more public-private partnerships, and we are doing more creative and technical partnerships in lieu of in some cases slightly lower resources. in particular i am proud of the fact our development credit authority has dramatically expanded the loan guarantees we provide to local banks, whether it is in el salvador we have
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allowed a bank to open $25 million of lending for small businesses, or in nicaragua, or in mexico, where i will be next week to meet with some of these partners. we are making real progress in helping to unlock local finance using credit guarantees in a highly leveraged way. i would like for us to do a lot more of that. science,rioritize technology, and innovation, we have a host of new and improved partnerships with businesses and research institutions throughout the region, one -- region. one is an innovative partnership with starbucks to help them reach 25,000 small-scale farmers farc-ombia, previously affected communities, so they can being -- bring better prices and build supply chains that enhance economic opportunity while supporting their own presence. we are trying to of all -- evolve into those partnerships,
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and the region can become a model for that new model of development will partnerships, especially in countries that are moving up in the income scale. >> i appreciate that. i welcome it. but we are also looking at some of the other challenges in the hemisphere, so we will continue to engage with you in that respect. in the ukraine, the language past by this committee and signed by the president asks state and aid to reprogram assistance to the ukraine, $50 million to be budgeted for the improvement of democratic governance, rule of law, and free elections, and $100 million for security assistance over the next three fiscal years. where are you in the process of reprogramming this assistance, and when would you expect it to get to ukraine? when do you believe the usaid mission director will sign a
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bilateral agreement with the ukrainian government that will transfer the $1 billion in loans? any sense of the timeline? >> i would appreciate the chance to come back to you on the specific question of the bilateral agreement, but our deputy and assistant administrator are actually in the ukraine right now, working with civil society groups and groups that are supporting the election process. i would note some of our partners were critical, documenting some of the human rights abuses that took place in the 45-day period during the protests. our economic portfolio is being restructured to support the forwardtation moving with the imf agreement so ukraine can get access to tens of billions of dollars of imf resources. we are helping them with technical support to change the fuel subsidy structure and the future of their energy security policy, and a number of other areas where that kind of economic and technical
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assistance has been requested. we have a proud and significant history of working in ukraine. we delivered very important results, and we look forward to continuing to do that at a higher level now, given some repositioning of resources and given the very strong support of the committee. .d.finally, i understand a.i lance to incentivize on budget funds from the accountability framework. that is an important initiative that deserves highlighting in a time constrained budget. will wed deliverables be emphasizing in discussions with the incoming afghan government? what are some of our goals? what are some of our challenges there? >> thank you for your leadership in supporting our programs in afghanistan.
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for 2% to 3% of the total cost of the war, we have delivered tremendous and important results that create the basis of a more stable and secure society going into the future. internationalf an conference effort in tokyo a year and a half ago to bring together all the international partners and create a set of conditions that the afghan government would have to meet in order to receive the full amount of committed development assistance, not just from the united states but from the u k, australia, japan, all the international partners speaking with one voice. benchmarks include anticorruption activities that are clear and transparent and effective, the conduct of free and fair elections, peaceful transition of power. they include collecting more customs revenue and using domestic collection of revenue to replace developmental assistance over the long term. we have seen a 360% increase on the benchmark, and seven or
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eight other critical ones, including protecting women's and girls'base our rights, and access to education for young girls in particular. are -- our committee meets twice a year to assess performance, and we intend to make shared determinations after an assessment conducted with the new government. >> senator corker? >> thank you. again, thank you for being here. you and i talked a great deal about the food for peace program, and i know it has been partially implemented. ue tol know that de parochial interest we are really not delivering food aid in the way we need to as a country. the goal is to alleviate suffering for people who are starving and malnourished. i wonder if you could talk a little about that, and what you would like to see fully happen relative to our food programs. >> thank you, senator, and thank you for your leadership on this critical issue. america has through food for
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peace, which usaid implements, over 50 years serve more than 3 billion people providing food assistance when they need it. nearly every other country that provides food assistance, every country that provides food assistance has made a shift to purchasing food locally so they can buy and deliver in the most efficient way. >> that empowers those local countries to be far more self-sufficient over the long haul, is that correct? >> it absolutely does. >> it raises the standard of living. >> yes. >> how many more people could be served if we would move fully to this kind of program, which i think anybody would say from the standpoint of what we are trying to do makes more sense than what we are now doing, shipping to placescts overseas and never building up the independence we would like to see happen over time areas how many more people would be served? callss budget proposal
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for 25% likability in the program, and that correlates to 2 million additional children who would receive food at times of crisis. those are kids and women and men inside of syria, in oman, leba non, central african republic, south sudan, and afghanistan. >> and if we didn't fully, how anymore people would be served -- how many more people would be served? >> i have not made a 100% estimate -- >> we think it is 7 million to 9 million more people each year who would be served if we moved away from the constraints we now have by ensuring that instead o -- helping the local economies, which is what this is all about. we also have preferred shippers. could you tell us about that? >> well, the way the shipping contracting system works relies core partners.
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they have been important partners over the course of the program, and the evident's -- president's proposal maintains an important role for american farmers, food producers, and shippers. we are simply asking for a little additional flexibility so we can meet the needs of beneficiaries at a time when humanitarian caseloads are higher than they have ever been and are budgeted under constraint. >> another program you have underway is usaid 4. we asked for a gao study on that. this is along similar lines in many ways. your goal is to contract 30% of activities at the local level. one of the concerns we have, though, is right now the way you are tracking that is you are tracking how much money you are spending but not tracking how -- outcomes as i understand it, to see that even though the money are we gettingg, the same result? this is a different kind of effort in the food aid program.
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this is contracting with people to carry out the work usaid is underway with. could you talk to us a little bit about that, and do you have similar concerns we are only measuring money out, not measuring results? >> well, i would reframe that a little bit, senator. i think usaid forward is intended to cover a range of reforms that allow us to be a better and more efficient partner, allow us to be more efficient, and critically allow us to be better at reporting on core results. so, that is a package of reforms that includes a number of things to move us in that direction, and i think we have proven we have been able to do that. i will say i believe the gao review is focused specifically on the shift to including more local ngo's and local institutions. i would have hoped they would broaden the analysis, because if you brought in the analysis you will find that, unlike a few years ago, today i can say here
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and say we are reaching 7 million farmers through our agricultural efforts. our child survival programs are saving millions of lives a year, and that ability to quantify and report on those results is also a part of usaid forward. our progress in moving to local institutions is, as designed, incremental. i think we are doing this at a pace that is responsible. but the ultimate goal is to build enough institutional capacity locally so that american aid and assistance is not needed over the very long run. we want to build that self-sufficiency so that we don't have to be there forever. >> one of the important things that we do as a nation is trade capacity building. these are along the lines, as most people would like to see, making sure we are doing on a daily basis everything we can to empower countries that we are
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working with to be sustainable on their own and not be aidndent upon a forever -- forever from the united states. we want on a website to determine who is in charge of trade capacity building. there are 24 u.s. agencies involved, and i would ask you, which one really is ultimately responsible for building trade capacity in countries we are dealing with? >> well, first i think this is a critically important issue. we commit nearly $200 million a year as a victory to trade capacity building, but frankly far more than that if you look at agricultural trade support in regions in africa and elsewhere. michael froman, the u.s. trade ambassador, and i are cohosting discussions with a number of partners to understand how we can together optimize intimidation -- implementation of the new agreements that provide a framework for intercountry trade.
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president obama launched trade africa based on some extraordinarily strong and independently validated results that showed that for every dollar we generated in trade capacity and trade transit we were developing $40 in value through east african trade hubs. we work in close coordination. usaid probably provides most of the financing. >> i think the concern is, and again, you are one of the most reform-minded leaders of this organization we have ever had, and we applaud those efforts, but i think the concern is that there is not really one person or small group of people that is driving this. as you mentioned, it is incredibly important, and there is so much we can do without much money to really empower these countries to be involved in trade. if it goes on forever, versus what we are doing relative to a. -- aid,. .
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maybe you will not answer this today in this setting, but there is a way you could work with us to help figure out who actually is in charge and responsible and accountable for these activities, so that it has a focus that gets us to a place we all like to go? >> we absolutely would like to work with you. i will say, the way it currently works, usaid provides -- takes responsibility for implementation of the programs and ensuring they are well-designed. the u.s. trade representative kirk leads the negotiations -- trade representative leads the negotiations. it is critical that we work closely together. i can report to you with a high degree of confidence that the partnership has never been closer. >> thank you very much. i appreciate hearing, mr. chairman. >> administrator shah, thank you very much for your leadership. development assistance is a critical part of our national security interest, and the obama
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administration has made it clear our national budget includes development assistance programs. you are less than 1% of the federal budget, and a very small fraction of the total national security budget. it is very, very important. i want to a knowledge the budget support for east asia pacific, the subcommittee i have the opportunity to chair. as i told you, you are working under a very tough budget. overall budget growth is very much reduced, and you had to make tough decisions. i particularly appreciate the priority that has been given to east asia and the pacific, consistent with the president's rebalance to asia, from the philippines and disaster assistance funds to burma, democratic institutions.
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your trade capacity improvement in laos . many countries are benefiting directly from what you are doing in east asia and the pacific. the initiative secretary clinton initiated, affecting the environment and health and infrastructure, is a major in itiative that we can be very proud of. having said that, we went to make sure the aid is done in the most efficient way. that is why the food aid programs you are initiating are very valuable improvements so we can reach more people and leverage our dollars further than we do today. you started the global development lab. i want to talk a few moments about that. using science and technology, innovation and development, to leverage the moneys that we make available through our academic centers that have expertise in this area that are already
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engaged in the countries we are engaged in, as well as private companies that also want markets in these countries and are prepared to make investments. if we work in a coordinated way, we can get a much more effective result and achieve our development assistance objectives in a more efficient and hopefully a shorter time period. can you share with the committee how this program, where you are using existing resources, how you anticipate it operating as you launch the development lab? >> thank you, senator, for your leadership on so many issues related to our work and for your personal commitment to food aid reform and the u.s. global developer and lab -- development lab. we are excited to have lunch the u.s. global development lab. in my time in this role, we have increased spending on science
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and technology, research and development, from about 100 $30 million previously to just over $600 million this year, and we have done that entirely through programmatic trade-offs where we are making tough choices to move money into this area. what this has allowed us to do is create development innovation laboratories on college campuses across this country, and we are seeing groups of students and faculty and researchers create new technologies like new ways to allow babies to breathe through low-cost continuous airway pressure devices that came from rice university, the pratt puch, from the duke school informationl -- engineering. women can take that, go to their homes, and when they give birth a qantas before and one the child after and prevent the transmission of aids from a mother to a child without being in an assisted medical
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environment. those reduce the cost of saving mothers' lives. >> also improves the customer would do in direct health services in these countries, dealing with babies that are affected. >> that is exactly right. we have also found that companies across the country and the world have been eager to partner with us. walmart has joined and is working with us to reach farmers throughout sub-saharan africa. and procter & gamble are providing packets of material that allow us to purify water in places like burma. those, butnating also helping us reach hard-to-reach communities where too many children die just because the water is impure and has micro organism's in it. these public-private partnerships, coupled with a real professional science and technology capacity, will allow
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usaid and u.s. development efforts around the world to have a darpa-like capability to create new technologies, deploy them on behalf of the world's poorest people, and allow young people who want to create entrepreneurial businesses, whether it is making and selling solar powered flashlights in parts of rural africa where there is no energy access, or commercializing the cpap positive airway pressure device, which they now do for $20 or $30 we find a lot of young people are inspired by the opportunity to become inventors and entrepreneurs and use the skill to savvy and solve the world's most challenging program -- problems. >> you are leveraging the strength of america in science and technology, and what we have been able to discover and share with the world, as well as our entrepreneurial spirit of private companies.
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these are american values being used to help you deal with your objectives in development assistance. where are the challenges, and where can congress help? >> we have requested a series of new authorities in congress to help us be a little more flexible and modern in how we carry out this work. they include the ability to use program funds to hire specialized individuals with science and business backgrounds, the ability to provide prizes. we have seen a lot of technological innovation comes out of fries, -- prize competitions, and you only spend money on those that are winning. you are able to motivate hundreds, sometimes thousands of new partners, some you would never otherwise be able to find, to computer winning prizes on some of the innovation awards. some flexibility in how we use resources in the development assistance account, which is particularly critical to finding this effort. of course, funding the usaid budget.
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those would be the requests. i would like to thank members of the committee for the extraordinary effort you have made to support this new way of working. ask one final comment. as i understand it, it is using existing resources in a more efficient way to accomplish greater results? >> that is correct. >> senator rubio. >> thank you for being here and for all your work. is not ator, usaid charity, right? it is a u.s. agency that promotes humanitarian development around the world. but also furthering u.s. interests around the world. a two-way street. doing what is right for the world, but also furthering our national interest, right? >> yes. >> so as you get involved in each country, you look at the specific needs. every country has different needs. some have a lack of access to water. not countries, women are treated appropriately or rights are violated. every country has different needs.
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so what usaid aims to do is go into specific countries, determine what the needs are, and promote those humanitarian causes but also in a way that furthers u.s. interest, is that an accurate position? >> yes. i mission is to end extreme poverty and promote democratic societies, because over the long term, touching that mission makes us safer and more secure. >> so with that in mind you have programs on the island of cuba you have been engaged in in the past and continue to -- the clearly stated goal of the program, available for the world to read, is to break the information blockade in cuba and promote information sharing, among other goals. those are stated goals of our involvement, correct? >> we have notified congress every year since 2008 on the goals of those programs, and we run internet access and freedom of information programs in many parts of the world, including cuba. >> the reason i bring that up,
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rightfully so that you focus on information sharing, because cuba according to freedom house is the second most repressive government in the world, only after iran, a very close second terms of denying access to information sharing, denying access to the internet. people in cuba cannot go on the internet. if you are close to the government you may be able to sneak in access, but the average person on the street cannot go on the internet in cuba. it is not just capacity. it is prohibited. i will send out a tweet right now. if i sent this out in cuba i would be put in jail. i will send it as an example of what people in cuba cannot do. people in cuba cannot do what i'm about to do, so as a result of that usaid, as has been revealed in the last few days, usaid had a program that was designed to provide the people of cuba access to information and break the information blockade and allow people to share information.
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i want to walk through this. there has been an insinuation made by some that this program was illegal, but in my opinion, and yours i believe as well, was completely within the stated mandate of your purpose in cuba, to promote information sharing. that is accurate, right? within that goal. >> we have publicly notified that these programs are designed to enable open to indications. -- open communications. >> i have heard the argument this was a covert program, but this was reviewed by the general accounting office, right? >> correct. >> and they had no criticism of the way the money was being administered. >> they consummated usaid on improve management oversight of the program. >> this was not an intelligence program. we were not spying on the cuban government. >> no. >> we were not selling weapons on this program or somehow arming elements on the ground in cuba to the program. >> no. >> this was basically allowing
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cubans to communicate with other cubans because the government does not let them do that. society, people should at least be able to do that, right? but in cuba they are not, so the program chose to fulfill the to breakf this program the information blockade and promote information sharing. i read this article that said that at its peak there were 40,000 users. that is actually not true, at the peak there were 60,000 users. here is my question. when was the last time we stop the program because it was too successful? this program in my mind is successful. not only am i glad we did it. i am upset we stopped, and i don't think we should stop at a twitter-like program. we should do everything possible . maybe usaid is not the perfect agency for this, but i believe we should do everything we can to provide the people of cuba and other repressed societies full access to the internet.
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if they want to read a communist rag in cuba, they can do it. if they want to read the cnn website or the "new york times," whatever they want to, they should be able to as well. this,er one outraged by -- everyone outraged by this timeam, when was the last undermining a tierney was counter to the stated purpose of the united states? when was the last time we were outraged by a program that undermines a tyranny and provides the free flow of information? i read these quotes, people setting themselves on fire about this. since when? we have radio broadcasts to europe during the cold war. we have radio broadcasts to europe right now that have content in them. all we want is for people to talk to each other, and i want to know, when was the last time it was against the stated purpose and goals of the united states of america to undermine tyranny?
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we heard testimony three days ago, tyranny involved in the single greatest violation of u.s. sanctions against north korea since they were imposed. a tyranny consistently on the side of every madman and tyrant on the planet. when there was a vote on syria, they were with assad. if there is a vote on russia, there with putin. time and again. when was the last time cuba ever lined up on the side of decency and human rights? this is an anti-american government not as undermining its own people, it tries to undermine our foreign policy and the foreign policy of the free world. my question, and i know this is a long-winded question, when do we start this program again? not just start it, but expanded to people in cuba can do what i just did, speak freely to the world and each other about the
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reality of cuban life and anything else they want, including the latest record from beyonce, what someone wore to the oscars, whatever they want to write about. when do we start again? >> i want to clarify, usaid programs are designed to promote open access to information and facilitate communication. any programs that have further purposes are not implemented by usaid but by other parts of the state department or national endowment for democracy. in terms of restarting these things, we have the fiscal year 2014 guidance, pretty clear as to which agencies will be pursuing these activities in the future. >> senator durbin. >> thank you. i guess i want to follow my colleague and friend senator rubio. i sure don't quarrel with the premise.
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whether it is china or cuba, opening up information, free exchange of information is so fundamental to our country, so fundamental to what i consider to be the basic values of democracy. mr. shah, ought to come up with a better idea. but the notion behind the premise is sound. i may go a little further than my colleagues on the committee when i say that after over 50 years of what has been a dubious foreign policy in cuba by the united states, i have been in favor of opening up as much as ofcan cuba to the ideas people of the world and the united states. that is how communism and the soviet union came to an end. they were overwhelmed by reality. i have been to cuba. they are isolated from reality. --we had more context contact, i don't think the current regime could survive, as
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the communistic regimes did not survive in eastern europe. i want to bring in one point, that i am sure has been mentioned. i visited alan gross two years ago. what a heartbreaking situation. this poor man is being held because he may have brought in equipment that would have brought in more information into cuba. i do not know specifically whether he did or did not, but that is the charge, espionage. what they have done to this poor man is heartbreaking. when you visit and see what his life is like today, you meet his wife and family, as i have. officials, ian have leaned your way in opening relations with the united states, but you lost me on gross. what you have done in closing out his small little effort to bring in equipment is outrageous. this poor guy is still in prison , and is going on a hunger
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strike. i do not know how he keeps his mind about him when he faces every single day. i do not disagree with your premise, senator rubio. open it up. the more ideas we can pour into the island, the better i think the chance they will move toward values that we share. so those who are critical of this basic approach, give me a better one. give me something else. two things i focused on. one was a legacy from my predecessor, senator paul simon, about water for the world. appropriating money. i know usaid has been focused on it. the other one was child marriage. we finally passed that as part of the violence against women act. i know there is a program underway in usaid to try to discourage child marriage and all the awful things which come as a result of it. i would like you do comment on those two areas, if you could. >> thank you, senator.
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first, thank you for your leadership on water and water for the poor. thanks in part to your leadership and your predecessors, we have an extraordinary opportunity now to reach 32 million people who would otherwise not have access to clean and reliable sources of water. meanse succeed, that girls who are usually sent into dangerous environments to fetch water have time and a safe places. they avoid being abused and rates and hurt as they're going about those tasks, and they can do things like go to school. it is an extraordinary archon was meant that the entire -- accomplishment that the entire congress should be proud of. spending went are up from $1.4 billion to $2.4 billion. we were able to make that extraordinary increase at a time of tight budgets because as we have focused on investing in
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those things that deliver the most cost effective results, save the most lives and reduce the most opportunity, particularly for girls around the world, investments in water are near the top of the list, and that is why you have seen that transition. i just want to thank you for your leadership. agencyoud of the way the has focused on measuring results in terms of lives saved from water programs and diarrheal disease reduction and sanitation access. with respect to child marriage and gender-based violence, we have new programs that focus on these issues in particularly high risk places. but it is just extraordinary, the challenges people face. i was just in eastern congo a few months ago and saw the u.n. report last week that shows 15,000 girls that have been war has part of how
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been conducted in that part of the world. i am proud of the fact that thanks to your support and the committee, the united states leads the world in supporting health services for victims, helping girls get back on their feet and helping people inntegrate into society finding economic opportunity going back to school. the range of those programs has gone up significantly since secretary clinton made a visit to that region five years ago. i think it is something america can be very proud of. >> thank you very much. i might add that i am promoting a product made in chicago. this is shameless promotion. -pure.called port-a this man is an engineer in water sanitation and he has made a six gallon thermos. whatever you pour in the top comes out clean drinking water in two minutes. no chemicals involved. using nanofibers.
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is $60. in haiti a family spends $3.50 a week for a jug of water. in a few weeks, they could buy this job that for two years would provide them safe drinking water for their family. one idea you mentioned. i hope your folks will take a look at it. portapure -- one word. if you meet george page, you will be very impressed with this man trying to change the world. >> thank you, senator. we set up the u.s. global development lab to help distribute precisely those technologies, so we would be eager to follow up. >> take a look at it. thanks. promotion is one of the duties of the united states senate. [laughter] >> we have pretty good water filtration technology centers in milwaukee as well.
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probably helped out that company. administrator shah, welcome. keynote atjoyed your the national prayer breakfast where you made a very strong case for foreign aid. unfortunately, not every american got to hear that case. it is also unfortunate that when you take a look at our current budget situation, the enormous pressure we are under, most americans look at foreign aid and it is the first place they want to cut. can you speak little bit in terms of making the case for foreign aid? >> thank you, senator, and thank you for your leadership. what i learned from the opportunity to be at the prayer breakfast this year was that when we come together across different communities, republicans, democrats, house, senate, business, entrepreneurs, and very importantly, faith
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community members who carry out this mission with exactly the right intention of serving those who are least fortunate amongst us, we present a picture to the world of an america that cares about vulnerable people, that cares about countries and societies that have been left out of the tremendous growth and opportunity that has swept over the world over the last several decades, centuries. and when we start to remind americans of just how much suffering there is out there, that 860 million people will go to bed hungry tonight, 6.6 undern children will die the age of five, almost all from the simple illnesses they can be dealt with with pennies per dose treatments, people will see the opportunities to do more, not less with our foreign assistance and development. our priority at usaid has been to demonstrate that the resources congress interested in
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us at a difficult physical time are deployed as effectively and efficiently as possible, and congress has helped us a lot rebuilding our agency to do that, but we now evaluating every major program. i can sit here with confidence and describe programs that work, and sometimes those that don't, that need to be changed. kaine to ask senator preside. i will vote and come back. i know senator flake wants to come back. dear toentioned a word my heart, prioritization. one of the things that harms foreign aid is when foreign aid is given to countries that are very corrupt and maybe supporting programs -- the opposite of what senator rubio asked. can you name a program, give me the argument where we ended a program that has been
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unsuccessful, because we have not been able to influence a country into better behavior? >> over my tenure, we have shut down 34% of our programmatic areas of investment around the world. that is what we needed to do to free up the resources to invest in feed the future, which works in 19 countries and delivers incredible, outstanding results. specifically, i went out with my team a couple years ago to afghanistan. we did a comprehensive review of everything that was planned. we called it a sustainability review, and we removed from the game plan a number of projects we did not think would be financially sustainable or generate the return on investment that would have been required. right now, i am very glad we did. i do not want to name those -- >> provide my office with that list. that would be good information. i can say, we have a good administrator, looking at the programs. 34 of these ended, appropriately
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so. also, let's keep going on prioritization. looking at your budget request, you have about $500 million toward level climate change initiative. sub -- appropriations committee, we talked about somebody whose writings i respect awful lot because he is really looking at prioritization spending. where'd you get the most bang for the buck? he wrote a pretty good book that argues we are far better off ,ending money on malaria addressing the problems of hiv and aids, freshwater initiatives , freshwater for populations, as opposed to spending money on global warming, climate change initiatives. so, can you speak to that? it is 3% of your budget being allocated to something that he
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is really scratching his head, saying you are far better off spending money elsewhere. >> we can. first, i want to be clear about what our priorities are. our largest area of investment at usaid is health, $2.7 billion. when you include the hiv program, it is $8 billion a year. food is the next largest, $2.5 billion. that includes the feed the future program that invests in agriculture. >> here is another $500 million for climate change that could be put toward food. >> we have 800 million dollars for education, six hundred million dollars for water, and our energy programs which are often characterized and are part of the president' is climate change initiative are growing in the budget. it is because access to clean energy in country after country is critical for development. i was in the democratic republic of congo. they have 9% energy access.
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they want hydropower. they want energy solutions for local communities. we work on all of those issues, and those are also, by the way, as we carry them out and implement them, they will be carbon reduction strategies as well. >> hydropower is very cost effective. very effective. i am asking the question, where is this money being spent? >> it is being spent wisely and i point out when we are looking at communities, people pay a huge amount of money for diesel generation, for power and energy where there is no axis. in that context, small-scale energy solutions that rely on solar, wind, and other sources are cost effective for those communities in those contexts.
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this is the kind of math we do to make sure we invest in things not just because we want to invest in things that have the highest return, but we are making an initial investment, and countries have to sustain these systems over time, and like in afghanistan, we want these sustainable and how we carry out this work. i give it credit to our team for bringing that analysis and thinking to how we do this work and carrying out cost effectiveness and analysis on these programs. >> thank you for your answers. >> thank you. today, justth you three comments, and a set of questions around syria and humanitarian relief. senator cardin and others talked about global development lab. really excited about that project. i was in the palestine recently and met with technology entrepreneurs that are
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benefiting the cause of work with usaid, not only creating opportunities, but strong regard for our country. you were a good ambassador in that way. i ask oh the concern about the concern of the latin american budget. it is a combination of things. when we see the line items going down, when we see there inrently 10 ambassadors latin america that are unfilled, some of that is on the white house, but some of it is on people languishing on the floor of the senate. the south, region of our defense ofthe south com region of our defense has been hit hard. the combined message we seem to be sending, is that latin america is not a place of importance to us. because it is not o place of importance to us, does not mean
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it is not a place of importance to others. russia is doing exercises in the caribbean for the first time in 20 years. i want to ask you about syria. the committee two weeks ago and the full senate last week passed a resolution dealing with humanitarian aid in syria. the u.s. is the largest provider of aid to syrian refugees outside syria. touch of the aid has been delivered through ngo's to refugees who have fled across the border in turkey, lebanon, and jordan, to a lesser degree in iraq and egypt. we passed a resolution last week i came up on the un security council resolution of generate 22 saying now is the time for cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid. there is 3 million refugees outside syria, but nine
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million people needing assistance inside syria. u.n. isand has -- the supporting this to the security council, and we call on the administration to come up with a plan how we are to be more aggressive with the delivery of aid. what is the potential role for facilitating a more aggressive strategy? >> thank you for your leadership on such a broad range of issues. i hope more americans can see the $1.7 billion we provided is making a huge difference. it is reaching four point 2 million people inside syria. it is reaching that 2.5 million represent an unsustainable crisis in jordan and lebanon. of thesyria, 3.5 million
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9 million euros referenced are essentially not reachable because of the occurrence constraints placed on how aid is provided. in that context, usaid has been the world leader in providing cross-border assistance. and the u n security council resolution calls for you and agencies to do the same, it was agreed to by the security council, and valerie amos' report showed that the syrian regime has not allowed for that terms that security council to be met at any reasonable scale. there has been a few convoys across the border that was done in coordination with the syrians, but that is a small and very incremental step given there are 3.5 million people that could be reached that are not being reached because of the terms of that resolution are not being implemented as aggressively as necessary by the regime.
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the mainrrently provider of cross-border assistance. that assistance has allowed us to provide surgeries and medical support to 250,000 injured serious in the north and the south and places that other partners are not reaching. i want to say i want to recognize syrian-american doctors and other humanitarian actors who have risked their lives to do some extraordinary work in that context. need theo do more, we you and agencies to do more, and we need this syrian regime to abide what is in the resolution to allow for that. >> i was at a meeting, with one of the ngo's, and we talked about the regime is not allowing access in accord with the security council resolution. an important thing for the administration to understand in terms of congress, while there is compensated feelings in congress about syria and that was demonstrated in the vote
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about authorization of military force in august, there are not, located feelings about humanitarian assistance. the resolution we passed came out of this committee unanimously. we would not be providing the aid if it was controversial. as the administration wrestles with the next cap to make the policy more effective, take advantage of the fact you have a congress that was unanimous about the aggressive delivery of aid including cross-border. i think there is much more that can be done. >> thank you, and that is wonderful dinner because morrow i am convening my counterparts from other donor countries to ask them to do more of this type of cross-border work. it is good to know there is support for that. thank you. forhank you, senator kaine, presiding. >> thank you for your testimony.
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i want to respond to some of the comments made earlier that the chairman started off by talking about the cuban issue and said mb, dumb, and dumber to shield cuba from the inputs as we have on other dictatorial regimes. i could not agree more. that is why i have opposed our policy on cuba for so long. that iranr mentioned is the only country less free than cuba. even in iran, we do not shield the people from iran from the influences or the government of iran from the influences from americans traveling there. we encourage it. north korea, if their government would allow more of it, we would encourage more of it, where more americans not just dennis rodman
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would travel there. we have oliver stone going to cuba and praising the education system in cuba. riawe had bob from peo with say no such thing because they realized it is a different world from those who travel there. for the life of me i cannot our goal ishy when to expose cubans and the cuban government to american influence week cut off our arm -- we cut off our arm and her feet by denying everyday americans the ability to travel freely there. i have no doubt that if we opened up the travel ban, ended it, the cuban government would be more selective on who they allowed to come to cuba. they are all about control. but if somebody is going to limit my travel, it should be a common us, not this government. problemthe broader
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i have with the whole policy writ large regarding cuba. specifically, with this one. i do have issues. with the fact that we have programs like this going, but the fact they are conducted by and you can say until you are blue in the face this is something we should have known about war it has been authorized -- we should have known more about, it has been authorized, it was covert or discrete, but that does not shield the fact that it is ill-advised advised for usaid, that has the role to provide humanitarian relief and encourage democratic development around the country -- around the world, because that benefits us and then in the long term. it benefits u.s. interests as
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well. when we have programs elsewhere in the world, just describe some of the things that usaid is doing. we are providing humanitarian relief to those in south sudan. we have supplies coming from nairobi to south sudan. we are working with partners inside syria. we may not have people on the ground, but we do in neighboring countries. this is serious stuff. what are we doing to our usaid programs are in the world when they hear there are covert or discrete programs like this going on by usaid? do you have any concern that this progress in cuba jeopardizes our programs elsewhere in the world? i am not questioning whether or not we should do this. i am questioning where we are doing it. well, senator, i appreciate your remarks. debate on theicy
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overall policy. with respect to the implementation of programs, what i can assure you is our implementation is consistent with the authorizations and appropriations language that has to record us to do this. and by that i mean they are not covert. they are intended to provide access to open information. they are consistent with programs we conduct as part of our efforts in a number of other countries around the world as part of supporting democratic and open governments and societies and civil society actors. at the end of the day, i believe -- mission to end it extreme to end extreme poverty requires a broad open society to participate in that task. and i appreciate your mention of south sudan and syria, where our people are conducting i believe aerobic world-leading -- where i believe aerobic world leaving --
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heroic activities. >> we can argue whether it is discrete or covert. but when we look at the description of the program here, look at some of xt messages that we hire people to write, a satirist somewhere in south america to write this, and i am reading a few that we have accessed. the latest tweet sent out under this program -- >> i am sorry. i do think this program is no longer operational. i have asked my team to review the content we are seeing in the various tory. we know the intent of the program was to support information. >> along those lines, will we tweetscess to all of the or the messages that were sent by usaid or its contractors in
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haveso we can judge, so we to provide oversight. will we have access to these? to reviewas my team these documents. most of the documents are not in our position. access--u have >> they will gather them, review them, and we will make our findings available to you. >> i am not interested in your findings, i am interested in the data. >> we will make the data available. >> we will have access to each of these tweets or messages that was sent out by usaid or its contractors? >> you will have access to what we are able to gather. this had programs like dating back -- i am not pointing fingers to this administration. this program has done great things in broadening travel.
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i applaud this administration for doing that much better than the last administration. the republican administration in this regard. the last administration had for --hile a ticker at the u.s. center in cuba where messages only wayup that, the to describe them, was juvenile. cubans for not providing school lunches for their kids when those were provided in miami, for example. it is juvenile sayings that i do not think served in a buddy's purposes. -- served anybody's purposes. we are continuing the things like that. it smacks of that kind of program. politicalaking a point. our policy is wrong. let's simply allow travel to juvenile and we would achieve in
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-- if we have the information from this program to actually review it, then make a decision, do we want to continue to fund programs like this that in my view my point usaid contractors or individuals for other -- from other countries, including cuba, that participate in this program in danger for what? i'm not sure what we get out of this. americans to travel, allow them to take flash drives, allow them to go and do good instead of saying you cannot travel, we are going to shield the cuban government from the influences that come with american travel. i do not see american travel as some kind of a reward for good behavior have the cuban government. we are unlikely to see that. it is finally a get-tough policy with the cuban government. if i may say, the fy 2014
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languages clear about the purpose and authorizations of these programs as well as which agency should be in the lead for their implementation. we intend to follow the law and some ofe and transition those issues to the national endowment for democracy. the larger policy debate here, but i want to come back to assuring you that we believe our implementation and passed with this program has been consistent , that these are not covert, these have been publicly notified a number of times. you, senator. administrator, do you conduct internet access programs in other countries in the world? >> we do. at the direction of specific language in the congressional -- >> do you have an idea how many of those are?
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>> part of what we do everywhere around the world, and internet access is one component of is supporting civil society so that you have an open and inclusive approach to development in a number of different contexts. >> because a society that can come together and share what its goals are is part of the information as to what is sustainable programs we might be able to support. i would like you to give the chair a list of all the internet access programs you conduct. i may ask you for the same thing senator flake has asked for for all those programs, because it seems to be we are either going areudge whether or not we going to be supportive of internet access in the world or not. and i think it is consistently unfair that one set of
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democracy programs has the greatest scrutiny of the federal government to the absence of all others. as the authorizing committee, we want to see what is happening across the entire spectrum. and i would ask you to give me information about all of those programs and all of the programming of those programs and all of the tweets and all of the e-mails and everything so that we can make an informed judgment here. view of share is of the the authorizing committee that either we believe in these programs collectively, which i generally think i do, in which case we support it, and not choose which country deserves it and which country does not as it relates to internet access, and aid is thenot the appropriate entity. its overallof
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development program, the democracy programs that have been run by aid are critical. and so i am not one to advocate having aid all of a sudden be stripped of its democracy programs. because democracy programs in ,nd of itself tenderly speaking maybe they are in some open societies in which we seek to strengthen democratic institutions, but there are many in which they are not, which is why we are having democracy programs in the first place. these are not governments that are receptive at the end of the day. the are governments that oppose it and just as the voice of america and a whole host of other circuit broadcasting was meant -- other circuit bringasting was meant to broadcasting to different parts the world, it seems to me what we're trained to do is to exactly that for which we have a global perspective and understanding the value of those programs and a commitment to it. not beommitments should
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decided by picking and choosing which country we somehow like and which countries we do not. if they fail to provide their people access to the basic flow of information, it seems to me we should be pursuing it. i would like the information on all programs. also, i could finish, and to me just say i would like get a full sense of all your democracy programs beyond the internet as well. because we are gone to judge all of those in context as well. and maybe i will ask for gao, inspector general reports on some of them. in my mind, there is a siege mentality. i respect that there is a difference of opinion as to what our policy should be. what i do not respect is the siege upon one part of our
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democracy programs to the exclusion of all others. so that is something we are going to have a full spectrum analysis of. senator flake? >> i was going to care for, this program is not to provide internet access. it was social media content with access -- within access that already exists. >> this program was designed to provide access to information and create a platform. >> it did not provide internet access to any cuban that did not have before, correct? >> i will let my team respond later. but the program was intended to provide open access to information and a platform to communicate with each other. basis thatthere is a didn't exist because people thought to when they had the opportunity, if they have some other venue, they would use some other venue. inside ofone access
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cuba. the problem is the regime blocks andss to both the internet to these platforms. and so that is the challenge of a regime as other regimes of the world that simply do not want to allow its people have information, because when they have information, they may suddenly decide to make choices or to peacefully protest to try to create change in the government, which we generally in the world -- we look at turkey and what it is doing in on world has come down turkey for what is happening there. we look at iran and what has happened there. we look at china and the challenges there. and we condemn those. but in cuba, the cuban people deserve that flow of information. we are going to have a broad range of judgment. one final note, i know that
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senator flake has a different view, senator durbin expressed some of that, too, but the and you dothat way travel to cuba, there are millions of people going to europeans, latin americans, canadians, and others, and yet the regime has become not less repressive but more repressive and more selective. when you travel and go, you end up feeding you? unfortunately, not the cuban people, but the regime. why? because the regime is the one that has through its company, which is basically owned by the whichry, the entities by those who go visit and largely stay at her either with a entitiesartner or with that are totally owned by the military. front complete. ultimately feed a
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regime versus feed people. this is a legitimate debate. we have different views. what should not be a debate in my view, in this context, is the nature of our democracy programs and creating access the information, people, anywhere in the world. with the thanks of the committee, we will keep this record open for questions until the end of tomorrow, friday, and this hearing is adjourned. today, president obama delivered remarks at the presidentialn library. here is more now. ago, was true 50 years there are those who dismiss a great society as a field experiment and an encroachment on liberty. the larger the government has become, the true source of all that ails us and that army is due to the moral failings of
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those who suffer from it. argueare also those who that nothing is changed. racism is so embedded in our dna that there is no use trying politics. the game is rigged. but such theories ignore history. that despiteue laws like the civil rights act and medicare, our society is still wracked with the vision and poverty. are race still colors political debate, and there have been government programs that have fallen short.
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in the time when cynicism is too it ispassed on as wisdom, perhaps easy to conclude there are limits to change, that we ,re trapped by our own history and politics is a fools errand. and we would be better off if we rolled back the chunks of lbj' s legacy or at least if we do ,ot put too much of our hope invest too much of our hope in our government. thinking.uch not just because medicare -- [applause] not just because medicare and medicaid have lifted millions from suffering, not just because the poverty rate in this nation would be far worse without food stamps and head
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start in on a great society programs that survived to this , i reject such cynicism because i have lived out the promise of lbj's efforts, because michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts, because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts, because i and millions of my generation were in a position to take the baton that he handed to us, because -- [applause] because of the civil rights movement, because of the laws president johnson signed, new doors of opportunity in educations won't open for everybody, not all at once, but they swung open. and whites, but also women and latinos and
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asians and native americans and a americans and americans with a disability. they swung open for you, and they swung open for me. and that is why i'm standing here today, because of those efforts, because of that legacy. [applause] >> president obama today at the lbj library. president johnson signed the civil rights act into law in 1964. john lewis of georgia introduced president obama. back in washington, the house oversight committee voted 21-12 to hold former irs official lowest learner in contempt of congress. that citation now goes to the full house. we will show you the entire hearing at 8:40 eastern on c-span. tomorrow, we will have more about the contempt citation with the heritage foundation's john malcolm.
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then white house efforts to combat gender pay eight inequality. then maurice jackson about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights act. i think what we need is something akin to the grace commission during the reagan administration or the rack commission -- brack commission during the clinton administration. administration. an outside group to come in and do a complete overhaul. purpose, and if it is not fulfilling that purpose or not doing it within a reasonable budget, it should be cut or eliminated. let's just take headstart. this came in with the highest motivation. do you know -- and i did not
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until i researched it -- there are now three. early head start, enhanced head start, and regular. why do we have the other two? because the first one was not working. why do we have the third? because the second was not working. >> cal thomas on fixing a broken .ashington immediately afterward, a heritage foundation party for mr. thomas as he signs his book and chats with guests. also this weekend, this years national black writers conference saturday at noon eastern with panels on race, power, and politics, literature and shifting identities in africa, and sunday at 2:00, strengthening communities, the historical narrative. "booktv" every weekend on c-span2. >> with tax day just five days reformmericans for tax president grover norquist held a press conference earlier today
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on tax policy and the need for tax reform. he was joined by several members of congress on the day the house approved the republican budget plan. this is an hour. >> thank you, everyone, for coming. i am tax policy director at americans for tax reform. this is our annual tax date you .- tax day eve press conference before i turn it over to grover norquist, president of americans for tax reform, who will be the emcee of this event, i want to run through the handouts you have on your seat so you are familiar with them. all of these can be found on, which is our website taxfirst is the list of protection pledge signers in
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federal office, people who have committed to their constituents that they will not vote for any net tax increase as long as they are elected a member of congress. next is an op-ed i wrote on about why the irs should not be preparing people's taxes. we also have information on the lowest learner affair -- lois lerner affair. with that, i will turn it over to over norquist. >> thank you. we have a number of congressional house and senate leaders who will be here speaking today about taxes. i would just point out that we hold an event like this every april 15. do not worry if you have not put your taxes and just yet. we are doing this ahead of time because members will be back in their districts and states. this year, 2014, is a little bit
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different than other tax years. we are in the middle of a discussion of extenders and in the middle of a conversation about the fundamental tax reform that we all know is coming but what you're exactly it is going to kick off is unsure, but the shape is beginning to get formed, and lastly, every april 15 when we do these events, we know that the american people have a certain amount of fear powerthe irs and the irs' . as we know from the last several days, this is the first time where the people that run the irs are beginning to have a little bit of fear about the anger of the american people and how they have been treated by some of the bureaucrats and leaders in the irs. that said, our first beaker today will be the house majority leader, eric cantor, from the great state of virginia. >> thanks, grover. it's a pleasure to be here with americans for tax reform. i want to say that atr has foristently been the voice
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the taxpayers of this country demanding reform of our tax system. there is a lot of discussion right now going on in this building and throughout the country about the lack of confidence that people have in what is going on, and i think central to that is the trust that the people of this country place in their government and the appropriate balance of that government in terms of whether it works for the people or the other way around. the point that was just made by grover in terms of the confidence of the people and in fact the fear and anger of the people towards the tax collection agency in this administration i think is central to this notion of distrust. it is reprehensible to think that an administration would condone activity on the part of toolsats that employ the -- on the part of bureaucrats
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that employ the tools of a neutral enforcement agency to a political end. it's one thing when people are .lected, parties are elected voters and citizens of america have a right to expect that the individual elected will be promoting his or her philosophy or agenda, but never was it candidate,at a president, or his administration was going to use a neutral instrument like the tax collection agency to further political and -- end. that's what's going on right now, and as you know, the house has taken action. we have announced the intent for us to go forward to hold this administration accountable, hold lerner accountable, and as you know, the ways and means committee took an extraordinary step. we have got to get to the bottom
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of this if we are going to restore the trust that is owed the american people on the part of this government. -- on the other issue of april 15, it is a day we are all reminded how much money the government takes from hard-working families. we've got to strive to make sure that the amount of money -- the level of taxation is reduced. we are taxed enough already, but yet, this week, we've got democrats in the house right now as we speak passing their version of a budget, which $1.8 trillion. that is unacceptable, and that is what we are about on the majority of the house. we are pushing forward in terms of ideas, focus on how we reform our tax code, ideas of how we can make sure people keep more of their hard-earned money and ensure that this government works for the people and not the
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other way around. thank you very much to atr. >> we are now joined by the chairman of the republican study steve soliz. >> i want to highlight how important it is to cut tax rates to get economic growth, to get more people back to work in this country, and i think the importance of this highlight leading up to april 15 is so important, especially today when we are voting on a house budget. we have had some really incredible debates on the house floor. our budgets are our visions for the country. how are we going to get our country moving again? both the budgets brought forward
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on the floor get to balance within a 10-your window, and what is so interesting is we do all of that by putting americans back in charge of their government, by getting washington out of the way to allow for people to get more of their freedom and to have more of their tax dollars. we balance the federal budget in the 10-your window without raising a dime in new taxes. why is that important? it is important to contrast with the democrats budget. president obama -- five of his six years in office as president, he has missed the legal deadline to file a budget. he has never missed a deadline to file his final four bracket. i think that shows you what his priorities. six years in office, he has never missed a deadline to file a final four bracket, which did not do too well, by the way, but he five of six years as president missed the deadline to file his budget. if you look at his budget, you might see why he was ashamed to put it out there before the people. it reflects his priorities.
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what are those priorities? one of those important contrast is president obama actually trillion in new taxes and his budget on top of what he already passed in the obamacare. the president says he wants to take more taxes out of the pockets of american family, more than they will pay on april 15, and he would suggest maybe that's what he needs to get to a balanced budget. unfortunately, when you look at his budget, he never ever gets to balance. the balance in the budget is not a priority of president obama. he has made it clear, but he lays it out in his budget document. when you talk about tax policy and the work that americans for tax reform does, why is it so important? when you look at the debate we have here in washington, there are people on the liberal side of the aisle who say tax increases are what are needed to get the federal budget balanced.
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if only those corporations that are making money, which they seem to have a problem with -- if you are not making money, the federal government will try to bail you out, but if you are making a profit, this administration wants to go after you and punish you for your success, and they say it's all in the name of fairness and fiscal responsibility. the problem is when you look at their own budget, it proves the fact that grover and atr make every day. higher taxes and not the answer to get you to a balanced budget. higher taxes are the hallmark of president obama's budget, and he never gets to balance -- not in 10 years, not in 20 years, not ever. in our budgets, both the house republican budget and the republican study committee budget, we do not have a dime in new taxes. zero dollars in new taxes, and the 10-yournce in window. economic growth is what this country needs, not the federal government taking more of our hard-earned tax dollars, but
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unleashing the potential of american families, giving families more of their hard-earned tax dollars back and forcing washington to finally start living within its means. that's what's going to get us back to not only balanced budget, but prosperity for families who are struggling in this tough economy. but it's really do lay out those priorities. you can just look in our home state of louisiana. senator landrieu was the deciding vote for obamacare. that one vote that she decided alone to put that policy in place is going to cost louisiana families millions of doctors of new taxes on april 15 just to pay for those 20 new tax increases that she put into law. these policies have real impact on families. that is why we are fighting to lower tax rates to get our economy moving again and put our economy back in the hands of people, not here in the hands of washington politicians and bureaucrats. thank you, grover, for the work you do and look forward to continuing. >> thank you.
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that's the chairman of the ,epublican study committee steve scalise. i mentioned the pushback by the american people and by congress and now the discussion that has been kicked off by the chairman ,f the ways and means committee congressman from michigan. he is taking the lead in drawing what the future can look like and how we move there and also where we are going with tax extenders. from auld just say free-market conservative perspective, i think the most important tax decision to make is to maintain what is called bonus depreciation. all it really is is moving towards expensing. it is sort of halfway towards expensing. whoever call the bonus depreciation i think made a mistake. than fullally less expensing, which is where we
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ought to be on new investment in the united states, but maintaining that and expanding it to all investment, i think, is ultimately the right way to go. cap -- --ave camp -- dave kemp. >> thank you for all you've done -- chairman dave camp. >> thank you for all you've done. we do not really have the kind of growing economy, the kind of economic recovery and job creation we need to see. more kids are living at home than ever before with their parents rather than starting out on their own careers, livelihoods, and pursuing their own dreams. a lower workerve participation rate than we've had since the carter administration. people are just not able to see of prosperity.
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immediate incomes have been declining for the past few years, and the number one issue facing americans is jobs and economy. one way to address that is the comprehensive tax reform so that we can be a party of opportunity, the party of her-growth policies, and be the kind of country that sees the kind of dynamic growth and revitalization of the american dream. many people feel the country is moving in the wrong direction, and they do not think it's going to get any better. what we try to do with this discussion draft is to try to have a code that really is pro-growth, and we do that by lowering rates, increasing standard deductions, and that gets at the complexity of the tax code. theyu talk to americans, talk about how incredibly complicated our code is, and that really has put a wet blanket over the economic recovery. that's another reason why we are not seeing the sort of job creation we need to see, but the real object is its 95% of the people do not itemize, which they do not under the tax plan, that means they will be filing a
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simpler 1040, which means they will have less opportunity for the irs to meddle in their affairs because it will be much more straightforward. there will not be as much discretion in terms of the irs, and i will tell you there is probably nothing more frightening than having a letter in the mail when you get home -- and those always come on friday night -- from the irs. obviously, with the investigation into the abuses at the irs and the scandal that has resulted, we've had an agency where there have been high-level officials who felt it was ok to target people based on their political belief, but really, what is that? that is denying people their constitutional right of due serious and that is a matter. so the committee has been investigating this. obviously, if we had people from the irs that were forthcoming and what happened, we would not line bybe going through line tens of thousands of pages of documents. i don't have all the e-mails and documents i have requested, but when i get them, i can assure will be able to conclude
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this a very expedited way. what we found so far really leads me -- and the committee has now concluded and referred to the department of justice -- the evidence we have uncovered that we believe that there is reason to believe that lois l keyr commit crimes, and the one is denying people their constitutional rights. clearly, it was very important for the public to know this and very important for the committee to vote this so that this information would become public, and being able to sort of hide the american people not knowing would and -- end. now we need to see if mr. holder will take a serious look at this, as we think it is important he does. it was really the violation of constitutional rights, the ofential release constitutional taxpayer information, and really denying people the ability to express
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their constitutional rights -- those things all were things that we felt needed to be looked at. moving forward, we are the only country in the world that has big pieces of tax policy that expire. we call those extenders. we literally let them expire for year and retroactively put them in place, and then they go forward a year. one of the things the committee is looking at is how we can take the so-called extender package, which is a number of -- really, .ome items are very good one of our neighbors, canada, has a permanent research and development tax credit. we obviously are competing with tax policies we see around the world. we are looking at these. we've had our first hearing on them. we are doing them in a methodical way and breaking them down into groups, and clearly, those are two that are very much at the top of the list. i look forward to continuing to work on those and actually have markups in committee to see which of these policies we can
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so we get off this "is this the law or is this not the law," which is really that uncertainty for people who are trying to plan on whether to build a plant or hire more people or even buy that piece of .quipment it really makes a huge difference. i want to thank you for all of the work that you do. it really helps us as we continue to try to push these issues forward. thank you very much. mp of the ways and means committee, thank you for your leadership. we are now joined by representatives from virginia foxx from north carolina. virginia. when you agree to do the things, you probably should
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try to find out who it is you are going to have to follow. dave camp is the preeminent area, obviously, as chairman of the ways and means committee. most of us aspire to know just a knowsn of what dave camp about tax code and about budgets and the issues we are dealing with right now. atr forant to thank and grover's leadership in educating the american people in particular about the issues that we are .acing last year when i was here, i talked a lot about the length of -- 4 million words. compared to the bible. it is staggering in size, but that is just the statute. when you add the 20 volumes and growing of regulations, and it
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comes in at well over 14 million words, that's a lot of words. average american spends 13 hours to comply with our monstrous tax code, and it really is a monstrosity. this includes reading pages of rules, filling out forms, keeping receipts, gathering records and often paying someone to do the rest. in total, we spend more than 6 billionhours and $168 just to pay our taxes. would that we could keep all that in a productive economy. b, which is sopp concerned about the length of mortgage applications, should take a crack at the instructions it takes to explain just the 1040. it's bad enough that citizens have to try to make sense of how the 14 million-word tax system
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applies to them, but now, we some ofat very likely, those entrusted with enforcing the system, a system in which a simple math error can devastate your budget, likely weaponize the code in an attempt to make life difficult for those they .isagree with politically this cannot be allowed to go unpunished. the tax code will never be popular, but it should not be this complicated, and it absolutely should not be partisan. it is genuinely puzzling to me that our colleagues across the aisle are not pursuing the irs with vigor. the entire vision of government requires massive bureaucracy to function. they should know the american people are unlikely to support a politicized bureaucracy. for all these reasons and many more, i support a simpler, , and again, ie
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want to thank atr for the work that it does. i know we are going to miss dave camp and his expertise on the ways and means committee. i thank you all for helping to get the word out about what is happening here today. thank you very much. >> thank you. thank you, virginia foxx, from north carolina. the discussion that several of the members have brought up on the abuse of the irs -- in some of our less honest cities, the tax assessor is a political job, and they punish people through the tax code who forget to contribute to the mayor and do not do what they want to do. there are some people who think the abuses in the irs our politics as usual if you from chicago. they are not politics as usual
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at the national level, and they cannot be tolerated any longer. we are now joined by senator orrin hatch of utah, the ranking member of the senate committee on finance and soon to be the chairman. orrin hatch. >> well, thanks, grover. i appreciate all of you being here today because this is an important discussion as far as i'm concerned. it is always great to see my .ood friend, grover norquist i think he stands head and shoulders above everyone else in this business of trying to get government to do taxes the right way. he firmly understands that the more we tax, the more government spends and the larger it becomes. i have been really proud of you all these years for standing so tall and these particular issues. i wish we were here today to
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celebrate tax day, but let's towards the clock ticks april 15, and americans across the country are rushing to complete their tax returns. of course, it is an annual chore we all go through. tax day reminds us all of how overly complex and burdensome the u.s. tax code really is. at over 70,000 pages in length, our tax code is a labyrinth of .ed tape it's counterproductive. it is stifling to american competitiveness and hinders much-needed job growth and needlessly hassles individual americans and their families. heck, we have not reformed our tax code in 28 years, and it's a colossal mess. i know my good friend dave camp is working hard on the house side to overhaul the nation's code, and you recently put forward a bold vision, and for
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that, he deserves a tremendous credit. the chairman's goals of remaking the tax code and getting this thing under control. the tax code should be more efficient. it should be more competitive for our job creators and hard-working middle-class families. let me be clear -- any efforts to advance comprehensive tax reform must not be turned into a revenue-raising exercise. i would reroute a focus on spending reduction, and that will be a real challenge to our friends on the other side of the aisle. look at our friends on the other side of the house trying to push a budget that would hit the american people with $1.5 trillion tax hike on top of the $1 trillion in the affordable care act. give me a break. we know the democrats are hardwired to believe that the government's money is not the people's money but their money. even the nonpartisan congressional budget office has
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made it clear that we don't have an revenue problem in this country. we have what is called a spending problem. given that today's $17.5 trillion debt exceeds our .ation's annual economic output a lot of people do not realize that. we are just spending ourselves into bankruptcy. it's pretty clear we have a debt problem in this country and that all of the president's populist talks about the b distribution of wealth and making sure the so-called rich pay their share -- the redistribution of wealth and making sure the so-called rich pay their share -- gets what -- guess what? tot's not going to do squat restart our economy and complete paychecks for american workers. bottom line, if we're serious about taking on the economic challenges facing our nation today and reforming the tax code, we need to rebuild the system in a way that would spur economic growth, jumpstart job creation, and once again restore
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prosperity to the american people. i think we've got to get to work , and, hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to get to work on these types of matters. i intend to see that we do, and we've got to straighten out this colossal mess. for you young people, your future is being bartered right down the drain. all the answers that they have for this kind of bumbling is "we need more taxes" and "we need to assess the rich more." that may be, but that won't solve our problems. if you took every dime the so-called rich make, it would not fix our budget. we got to find a way of stimulating the economy, creating jobs, and getting this economy back on track. to that degree, i appreciate grover and the people who back him, and i am one of them, and what they do to try to get us back on track. sorry to take so long.
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>> senator orrin hatch, ranking member of the senate finance committee from utah. we are now joined by senator pat roberts from kansas, a member of the senate finance committee, and he has been a leader on taxpayer issues for a number of years. senator roberts. >> good morning. anybody out there? good morning. let's try it again. >> good morning. >> hey, this is the first amendment rights. if this keeps up and the irs comes in here, you will not even be able to say good morning. good morning. >> good morning. >> thank you. appreciate it. thank you, grover. i recently made a personal vow. it says in my bio that i'm a journalist. that means an unemployed newspaperman, but at least i recognize 4 generations of the roberts family and the first
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amendment and the right of free speech, and i made a vow like many in the senate and the house to keep pushing the administration until we understand the irs' recent just this tuesday, i took the opportunity to question the new commissioner of the irs. beyond any shadow of doubt, let there be no shadow of doubt, the irs has been targeting conservative groups during the exemption application process. it looks like it is doing this even as i speak. yesterday's action by the ways and means committee really confirms this. kudos to the ways and means committee for the dedication to get to the bottom of this mess. what is going on is a deliberate abuse of


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