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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 6, 2015 8:00pm-10:01pm EST

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announcer: and also in washington, d.c., resident obama rejecting a plan to construct the keystone pipeline. we want to get your thoughts and reaction to the decision today. byer seven years of review various agencies, the u.s. government saying it is not going to allow a permit to be issued for transcanada, the company that would be heading that proposed pipeline. we will beginning your reaction, but first, let's take a look at president obama making the announcement. he appeared with secretary of state john kerry. key ondepartment deciding the environmental impacts of what the hype line would be. he also appeared with vice president joe biden. [applause]
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obama: good morning, everybody. several years ago, the state department began a review process for the proposed instruction the pipeline that would carry canadian crude oil from the heartland through the the gulf of mexico to the market. this morning, senator kerry informed me that after extensive public outreach and consultation with other cabinet agencies, the state department has decided that the keystone xl pipeline would not serve the national interest of the united states. i agree with that decision. this morning, i also had the opportunity to speak with prime minister trudeau of canada. while he expressed his disappointment, given canada's position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer correlation between our countries going forward.
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and in the coming weeks, members of my team will be engaging with their's in order to help deepen that cooperation. now for years, the keystone pipeline has occupied what i frankly consider and overinflated role in our political discourse. it became a symbol too often used as a campaign matter rather than a serious policy matter. all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others. to illustrate this, let me briefly comment on some of the reasons why the state department rejected this pipeline. first, the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy. so if congress is serious about
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wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it. if they want to do it, but what we should be doing is passed ing a bipartisan infrastructure that in the short term to create more than 30 times jobs per you than the pipeline would and create a better economy for workers for years to come. our business has created 262,000 new jobs last month. they created 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 months the , longest streak on record. the unemployment rate fell to 5%. this congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan and keep those jobs coming. that would make a difference. the pipeline would not have made a serious impact on those numbers and on the american people's prospects for the future.
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second, the pipeline would not lower gas prices for american consumers. in fact, gas prices have already been falling steadily. the national average gas price is down to about $.77 over a year ago. it is down one dollar over two years ago. it is down $1.27 over three years ago. in three states drivers can find , a gas station selling gas for less than two dollars a gallon. while our politics has been consumed over a debate on whether this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we have gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices. third, shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase america's energy security. what has increased america's energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world.
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three years ago, i set a goal to cut our oil imports in half by 2020. between producing more oil here at home and using less oil throughout our economy, we met that goal last year. five years early. in fact, for the first time in two decades, the united states of america now produces more oil than we buy from other countries. now the truth is the united states will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition, as we must transition to a clean energy economy. that transition will take some time. but it is also going more quickly than many anticipated. think about it. since i took office, we have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025. tripled the power we generate from the wind, multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over.
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our biggest and most successful businesses are going all in on clean energy. and thanks in part to the investments we have made, there are already parts of america were clean power from the wind or sun is cheaper than dirtier conventional power. the point is the old rule set that we cannot promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. the old rule said that we cannot transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers, but this is america. and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules so that today, homegrown energy is booming and energy prices are falling. and over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, america has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on earth. today, the united states of america is leading on climate change with our investments in
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clean energy and energy efficiency. america is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe. america is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like china to announce new regulations to reduce harmful greenhouse gas omissions. in part, because of that american leadership with more than 150 nations representing global omissions have put forward plans to cut global pollution. america is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action when it comes to fighting climate change. and frankly, approving this project would have cut that global leadership and that is the biggest risk that we face. not acting. today, we are continuing to lead by example because ultimately if we are going to prevent large parts of this earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our
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lifetimes, we have to keep some fossil fuel in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky. as long as i president of the am united states, america will hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world. and three weeks from now, i look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in paris where we have to come together around in an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we have got a we still can. if we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it is too late, the time to act is now. not later, not someday, but right here, right now. i am optimistic about what we can accomplish together. i'm optimistic because our own country proves every day, one step at a time, that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, but we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing
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our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time. that is what our own ingenuity and actions can do. that is what we can accomplish. america is prepared to show the rest of the world a way forward. thank you very much. [indiscernible] announcer: president obama earlier today talking about his rejection of the keystone xl pipeline. a look here how that might affect the paris climate talks, coming up from an article in the washington post, how his rejection adds momentum to the
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paris climate talks. there is long been suspicion that they were planning to reject the pipeline. but the announcement today, less than a month before the resident travels to paris to kick off the much anticipated conference, can hardly be in coincidental. talkslikely to give those major momentum, especially after opening. taking your calls, want to hear what you have to think about the keystone pipeline being rejected today by the obama administration. on the line from virginia, republican. hi alma? >> i think mr. obama is incorrect. they have cut out only the southern tip end of virginia, and in virginia, west virginia, and kentucky and pennsylvania, we have lots of coal.
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i understand the reason there not producing the call anymore -- coal anymore. we have thousands out of work because of that. i understand polluting the air. but he is refusing to put the pipeline in and to give us clear fuel and air. he is totally, totally wrong. and i hope all the republicans will stand up and vote for the pipeline. i wish i could be there and vote myself. mr. obama, i personally believe mr. obama, the longer he goes, the worse he ruins our country. >> democrat, chris. what are your thoughts? commendi would like to president obama for putting our children first.
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identify with the democratic viewpoint in making more jobs and providing more economy to everyone. reject thecompletely xl pipeline, i would be fully supportive of that. maybe we can go back to the drawing board and look at other opportunities, so we can tap into those resources, create more jobs for our economy, as well as maintain a safe and effective environment for our children. host: durham north carolina, independent. ellen. caller: hi. host; what do you think about the decision? is a greatre country here, with other opportunities. we have capacity to do that before we dig deep into the earth and possibly add to climate change and not really
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doing what we are built to do. which is we are a country built on creativity and innovation. in the pipeline is not the answer. we need to explore other options that make us independent and a leader in this world. host: thanks for the call. take a look at what some members of congress are saying. senator of alaska, dan sullivan, saying the president has thrown blue collar workers under the bus. he is playing with lives and livelihoods, far dirtier than oil. by any pipeline. thanks to all of you who made the victory for our public health and environment possible. and jason chaffetz, all gop congressional delegation scolds obama. getting your thoughts, what do you think about the president saying he is not going to issue a permit for the keystone xl
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pipeline? george: from west virginia, democrat. what is your take? george: thank god for c-span. this is another big blunder on mr. obama's chart before he leaves office read you know? the congress passed in the senate passed the bill for the pipeline not too long ago. and we cannot get enough veto votes. i have a letter of attention to all veterans across the united states to call their congressman and senator up and find out who voted for this thing. and if they did, when election time comes up, we will further out of office. we want this brought back on the floor again for another vote. and we will get the necessary votes to override this veto. because this president once the oil to travel by rail because he
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has his big contributor that owns the railroad. that is why he does not want the pipe agreed host: who is that? >> it is cheaper to go on a rail -- host: who is that? so we can look into it. caller: mr. buffett, he owns the railroad. everybody knows that. we are not stupid out here like they think we are. host: thank you for the call. ray is on the line from west haven, connecticut. ray: i have heard a lot of these people. they are wrong. there are candidates -- if there is a spill, they don't have to pay nothing. we are responsible. the oil is going straight through america over across the
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world. what do we get out of that? why do we have to have this? it is not one to bring any jobs. it will not bring the 40,000 jobs. that would definitely not happen. so if people listen to the wrong thing and do not look at it from the way it is, if you do not study something, then you do not know what is going on. now i know this very well. this is ridiculous. that pipeline should not go. it is not going to bring jobs, it will hurt the economy really bad. it will hurt wind energy, everything. host: thank you for the call. i got your point. we want to move in, betty from humboldt texas. democrat, what you think? you are in an oil state.
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caller: i'm so happy to hear this. i wish all pipelines would stop. and i wish everybody who hears my voice would take a moment and take a deep breath in this environment. i think about 30 years ago, the air that you did brief, it is much different. i'm sick every single day. sleept choose when i eat, because of the environment. oft: take a look at parts the keystone xl pipeline, the states it would affect. one of the big ones, nebraska, also having a lot of reviews. the canadian company, transcanada, said it will still try to push through and possibly even try to attempt another presidential permit asking for becauseone that needs it is crossing an international line -- canada into the u.s.
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and thomas on the line, edessa, florida. what is your take? should putk they through, bypass him. he is not doing it for the interest of the people. the money that is going out on his railroad, and the contributors like they say, giving the money to get them going, they take the money. i have seen the coal in the railroad cars running across nebraska, wyoming. i was up there on a hunting trip. i cannot believe how much coal warren buffett is moving. host: where was that? where you hunting? wyoming, anda, i've seen the trains as far as rp, louisiana. fouri say cars, it took
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engines to pull them over the mountains. that is how much coal they were hauling. the president goes over to west virginia, virginia, pennsylvania and tells them they cannot mine anymore, but his buddy can carry? he is holding this himself. host: we have heard from a couple of callers now about a connection with the railroads. take a look at what the new york times thinks obama's call on keystone. saying the pipeline is taking pressure off of our neighbors to the north, justin trudeau in canada, officially my canada is disappointed. reject decision today to would have linked alberta to the gulf of mexico. it also appears to bring canada's new liberal government a sense of relief. the conservative government was
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replaced this week, they had made the approval of xl a top foreign priority, even though canadians were divided over the importance. trudeauhe campaign, mr. said he pushed for it, but it was a promise made with little obvious enthusiasm. getting your calls, joel is on the line from roanoke rapids, north carolina. independent, what you think about this decision? righto not think it is because we need all of the independents. we need to be independent. they're trying to turn america, make america a less prosperous and less financial so they can start their one world government thing. we need the oil pipeline to come to america to give america more jobs. it is ridiculous, somebody said it will not make more jobs. we need to be independent and
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stop sending our manufacturing jobs overseas. have a president that will do something for america. what has he done for america to make more jobs? host: thank you for the call. democrat, jennifer, new bern, north carolina. caller: after the pipeline was built, i bet it will be nice for the people coming down from canada that will be the contract labor. helping canada, when the pipeline is completed. 600 year-round jobs in the whole united states. it does not bring that much employment, on the contrary, will we make canada rich? it is almost like the deal with iran. what is canada eating from the pipeline? host: take a look at what paul ryan had to say. our largestjects
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trading partner and energy supplier. he is rejecting the will of the american people in a bipartisan majority of the congress. ind oklahoma senator james denies says his action americans well-paying jobs and demonstrates his an ambivalence towards american energy. thanks for calling tonight. if you did call in, try to join us again tomorrow at 7 a.m. eastern when we open our phone line. on washington journal, we will be talking about the states' transportation system. federal funding with chris andrds from cato institute alison black will be offering viewpoints as the house works to reconcile their version of the
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six-year transportation bill. and columbia university willssor carla shedd examine the role of law enforcement in schools. join us with calls or on facebook and twitter. >> every weekend, c-span features programs on politics, books, and american history. as a nation commemorates veterans day, starting at saturday 11 eastern, we will be live from the national world war ii museum in new orleans, as we look back 70 years to the wars end. we will tour the exhibit and take your calls and tweets. starting this week and every sunday morning at 10:00, our new program "road to the white house rewind" takes a look at past campaigns through archival footage. this week we will look at ronald reagan's presence announcement. and then at 8:30 p.m., the steamboat freedom conference
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debate looks at the legalization of marijuana around the country. on sunday evening at 6:30, our road to the white house coverage continues with martin o'malley, who will speak at a town hall meeting at the university of new hampshire in durham. and saturday afternoon on c-span 2's book tv, it is the boston book festival, featuring jessica stern on the terrorist group isis, joe klein and his book about iraq and afghanistan war veterans who use their military discipline and values to help and hisand james wood book "the nearest thing to life," on the connections between fictional writing and life. sunday night at 11:00, a book discussion with former first lady of massachusetts, ann romney, on her book "in this together," on her journey with multiple school sclerosis. get the full schedule at
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>> veterans affairs secretary robert mcdonald spoke about improvements at the v.a., including hiring more physicians and nurses. this is about an hour. >> welcome to the national press club. bloombergitor for first word, our breaking news desk here in washington. i am president of the national health club. our speaker today is robert mcdonald. he is the eighth u.s. secretary of veterans affairs. he will update us on the status of federal programs for people who have served in the military. but first, i want to introduce our distinguished head table. this table includes both national press club members and
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guests of the speakers. from the audience right, john aka sergeant shaft. from the marine corps, a wounded vietnam veteran, and a veteran affairs responded. navy vietnam veteran and commander of the national press club's american legion post. advocate, a veteran and host of the next word on ms paul, past national resident of the benevolent and protective order of elks of the u.s. john donnelly, a senior defense writer at cq roll call, and chairman of the national press
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club's freedom committee. patty andrews, and military veteran and deputy director of the v.a. veterans health administration office of client relations. chief washington bureau of the buffalo news, chairman of the national press club speaker committee and a former press club president. skipping over our speaker for a moment. kevin, a captain of the u.s. navy retired, and the press club speaker committee who arranged the luncheon. thank you, kevin. neil denton, senior vice president and chief government affairs officer at ymca of the usa. veteran andy publisher of stars & stripes. agngel, president of d.c. media
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connection and emcee of the veterans women rock rally at george washington university this coming veterans day. a navy veteran from vietnam and former publisher of the washington examiner. [applause] in addition to our audience in the packed ballroom of the national press club, i want to welcome our c-span audience, as well as our audience listening on public radio. you can also follow the action on twitter. pclive. #n mcdonald was confirmed as secretary of veterans affairs in
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july of last year. but he did not have time to ease into the job. he came aboard to fix problems 312,00department with employees. the agency was facing middle investigations, congressional outrage, and construction cost overruns. you can remember the media reports from that time. as well as an internal audit. it was discovered that more than 120,000 veterans were waiting for care or have not yet received or never received it. schedulers were pressured to use unofficial lists or to engage in other practices to make waiting times appear more favorable. missionnald made it his to restore trust with the nation's nearly 9 million
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veterans and their families. he drew upon his past experience to try to set things right. as the former ceo of procter and gamble, he was no stranger to overseeing large, complex operations. understanding of military service. he served five years in the u.s. army with the 82nd airborne division. he graduated from the u.s. military academy at west point. he finished in the top 2% of his class. been sinceow, it has he took the job. so how are things going at the vienna? .a.? commerce has provided team billion dollars in additional funding to pay for veterans to get treatment from other doctors and hospitals. and to increase the number of the a staff -- v.a. staff.
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lawmakers also gave him more latitude to fire managers. mcdonald sees much to be positive about the department. he was quoted telling a house committee recently, "maybe you can hold a hearing on its progress. i would welcome that." please join me in giving a warm national press club welcome to leader, robert mcdonald. [applause] robert: thank you. that you so much. war, and theil ymca education scholarships were the forerunner of the g.i. bill. so today, i'm pleased to announce that the the a and the
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ymca -- v.a. and the ymca are expanding. this enhanced agreement makes it easier to collaborate on helping transitioning service members and veterans connect to resources and opportunities that they need. neil, thank you. thanks to you and the entire organization for your enduring devotion to veterans. the benevolent protective order of elks have been friends of veterans for a long time, too. the reconstruction hospitals they built in boston in 1918 to the government, it was a forerunner of our centers. last month, the committed $4 million over a four-year period to help and veteran homelessness. they're deploying 800,000 members across the country to help and homelessness in their
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communities. paul, thank you and the elks across the country for your generosity and loyalty to our nations heroes. [applause] the ymca, the elks -- these are strategic partnerships we are starting as part of my transition, which are making profound differences. let me also welcome a great employee, patty andrews. 100,000esents more than employees who are veterans themselves. ask her why she works there, here is what she will tell you. veterans helping veterans is nothing short of a dream job. thank you for your example and your continued service to the nation and to the v.a.
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[applause] like john, i would like to recognize all the veterans here happyand wish you all veterans day. thank you for your services and veterans. i was in kansas city, i had lunch with a vietnam veteran named larry parrish. he agreed to let me share his experiences with you. he is an active man. but over the last two years, his health deteriorated over a have problem -- a hip problem. pounds, and i 278 was only 61. i was suicidal because of the pain, and nobody seemed to care. on the advice of a trusted friend, he turned to the the v.a.
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they gave me my life back. they turned around and 24 hours. they were the most comprehensive, efficient, and most cordial of any therapist i have worked with -- public or private. when his doctor recommended a hip replacement, he chose the v.a. his private health insurance deductible was about $5,000 more than he can afford. but more important to him was this, i wanted to go to the same place because they were so damn good. every time someone saw me, they hugged me or patted me on the back and said thank you for your service, welcome home brother. doing it exactly right, world-class experience veterans earn and they deserve. 's the values of integrity,
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commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence. those stories are out there in abundance. they are too rarely reported. i want to begin by telling you how we are improving access to health care and meeting increasing demand with expanded capacity. how we double the capacity required to meet last year's demand by focusing on four pillars. productivity,e, and community care. we have more people serving over 15,000. we've activated 1.7 million square feet and increase the number of exam rooms in fiscal year 2014 so providers can care for more veterans every single day. we have added 2.2 million square feet in fiscal year 2015. in the wake of the crisis, the
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aggressively increased access to care. in the 12 months following the to 2015, june of 2014 we completed 7 million more appointments than during the same. e period the previous year. 4.5 million of these were in the community. this fiscal year, we completed 61.5 million appointments, 3.1 million more than the last fiscal year. more than 2 million more at v.a. facilities, one million more in the community. altogether this year, 2.6 million veterans were authorized care in the community. that is a 9% increase over authorizations the year before. right now, 97% of avoidance are within 30 days. withinwithin 14, 87 are seven, at 23 are the same day.
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average wait time is six days. primary care is four days. mental health care is three days. those averages are excellent for most. but if you are the one in the tail of the curve, like a veteran living in a city seeing dramatic population growth, they are not acceptable. so we are to take advantage of the scale of the affiliates and partners to have a one day axis standdown to make sure every veteran gets the appropriate care. we are making progress addressing homelessness. over 230,000 veterans and family members have been permanently housed, rapidly re-house, or prevented from falling into homelessness. altogether across the country, there has been a 33% decline in
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homeless veterans. toklog claims are down 76,000. from an historic peak of 611,000 in march of 2013. claimsleted 1.4 million in 2015, the highest in our history emma and 67,000 more since last year. today's veterans wait 93 days for decisions. that is six months fewer than in march of 2013. and the lowest in this century. met one are noticing, i last week at the washington, d.c. medical center. father served in vietnam with the first infantry division and the 101st airborne division and his grandfather fought in world war ii. he bought a great point.
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my personal experience as the people are but some not experienced the same quality of work i got. he advised what we need to work on is consistency across the board. he pinpointed the reason that my transformation is shaping a seamless, unified, high quality customer experience across the entire enterprise and across the entire country. . will modernize culture, processes, and keep abilities to put the needs and interest of veterans and their beneficiaries first. it is focused on five main objective. we have to improve the experience. second, we have to glue the employee -- improve the employee experience. we need to establish a culture
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of continuous improvement and fifth, we need to enhance strategic partnerships. two of them great examples here. i've suggested, as john pointed out, that the chairman and ranking members of our ranking committee that we hold a hearing on the reformation, rather than continuing the garage of of hearingsbarrage to years ago. here are some updates on our progress transforming v.a. realigning to facilitate internal coordination and collaboration among business lines from nine disjointed, disparate structures to a single framework. this means that downsizing from 21 service networks to 18 that are aligned in five districts that are defined by state boundaries, with the exception of california. the realignment means local
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level integration and it promotes the consistently customer service that keith described. veterans from syracuse to seattle will see one v.a. our office is fielding a staff of customer service experts who will help us get to keith's vision. every veteran everywhere getting the same world-class service. we will be securely focused on quality and the highest qualities of professionalism and integrity. the north atlantic office opens at the end of this year, we follow-up with the southeast in february, midwest in april, and working details on the continental and pacific offices. this is about making it easier to meet customers. we launched the my v.a. community model across the country. everything other service
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providers, advocates, and others to improve outcomes for veterans and their families in that community. my communities are not run by v.a. there chaired by local leaders. i was in connecticut when we established the first board in august, 37 others across the country and adopted the model. in 25 cities last may, we kicked off veteran economic unity v.a., theys, like my promote local collaboration and partnership amongst organizations servicing veterans and their families. we have seen the success, and we're doubling down on 25 more committees next year. we are investing in employees. and the last federal employee viewpoint survey results show that employee experiences are
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improving, trending slightly higher than last year. the best customer experience organization in the world, not surprisingly, are also the best choices to work. ,o we are training leaders great customer service companies use human-centered design to understand what customers want and need. and the design customer experiences to meet those needs. they make these effective, efficient, and repeatable. we started training leaders on lean 6 sigma last month. we intend to have 10% trained. we are using a combined top-down and bottom-up approach to train a cadre of leaders. we started in october and are looking to train 5000 employees over the next year. improving employee experience is inexorably linked to improving
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veteran experience. there is not a good customer service company in the world that has unhappy or untrained employees. we kicked off our leaders developing leaders model with 300 senior leaders last month. i was told it was the first time the top leaders of the v.a. had got together on that scale. we are equipping leaders to dramatically improve services to veterans and to create a better work environment for our employees. this month, we will complete initial training for all senior leaders. so employees are better informed on the broadest spectrum of benefits and services, so they understand all of the thv.a. we are giving them training we call v.a. 101. over 60 sites have received the training so far. we have 170,000 trained by next december. it also helps employees better
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appreciate the value they bring. some notable progress on health care delivery, the claims backlog, veteran homelessness, and our my v.a. transformation. we have made undeniable and tangible progress. every health care system has challenges, and v.a. has its fair share. but some of them are unique. you may have read the independent assessment of the health care delivery systems. you read about the stark differences from facility to facility. about the bureaucratic leadership and staffing challenges and failures and access in quality. about cultural challenges employees and leaders experience. as i testified to the house committee on veterans affairs in october, the assessment has given us new ideas and a great deal of information on some known problems.
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it also confirms our own analysis, indicating we are headed in the right direction for some time now. but as long as one veteran does not have the larry parrish experience, we have more work to do. so let me address some challenges for we open things up or questions. access to care has improved. but here is the inevitability. improved access means more demand. and remember, we completed 7 million more appointments in the year following the crisis and we did the year before. that should have satisfied the pent up demand twice over. for the number of employments not completed in 30 days has grown from 300,000 to nearly 500,000. why>? because more veterans come for care. and the more that come, the harder it is to balance supply and demand without additional resources. that kind of imbalance predicts
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failure in any business, public or private. the health care industry is no different. the 2014 access crisis. it was a significant mismatch of supply and demand. it was exacerbated by greater number of veterans receiving services. more veterans like larry parrish choose v.a. for good reason. it is more convenient, ever others like larry, is about quality and cost. the average medicare reimbursement for a knee replacement is $25,000. with a co-pay of 20%. the v.a. saves veterans $5,000 per knee replacement. we cover all hearing loss, not just service-connected. something in the neighborhood of $4000 for hearing aids, and
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veterans know this. challenges will persist. private sector turnover is about 30%. our turnover rate is about 9% -- pretty favorable. but we need more than 4300 positions and 10,000 more nurses. and we need to fill 41 senior-level vacancies in the field. that growing shortage of candidates is a national problem. for our own problem: we are working with the dean's of medical schools. working with congress and asking for more residencies, asking for scholarships and loans reimbursements from congress. working with universities and state governments to create new medical schools. one of our more pressing challenges is the appeals process, delivering timely decisions in a manner veterans deserve. the process is too complex to confusing, and too lengthy.
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the board of veterans appeals served over 55,000 veterans, more than we have in recent memory. over 12,700 over 12,000 hearings. that is not enough. , they have notws evolved since world war i, and it cannot serve veterans with a modern system. we work with organizations to reengineer the process, and now we're working with congress to pass the laws necessary to bring the process into the 21st century/ . we still have challenges in veteran experiences. last month, i received an urgent e-mail from a vietnam veteran named mike hughes. he submitted a fully developed compensation claim that was incorrectly rejected. calls to his regional office were unproductive and
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frustrating. the office could not access the information necessary to answer his questions and correct the problem on the spot. even though that is one veteran and one account, it is not the kind of customer service we aim to provide read we more. we are employees who serve veterans more. they deserve the tools and trading that empower them to get every veteran and world-class experience. for benefit call centers, we are strengthening our model so that it is more that are in-centric. we are empowering certain claims at the point of the call and to take action while a veteran is on the phone with them. and as of this september, we are processing claims at the point of call so agents can, for instance, at a minor child or spouse reclaim. as we strengthen the model, call center agents would take more
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and more action while the veterans are on the phone. other initiatives i have will over overtime, help us achieve the customer service goals. we own these challenges. we are working hard to do our part, aggressively tackling issues in our control. in a relatively short period for enterprise of this time and complex become a we have mistreated meaningful change -- demonstrated meaningful change. achieving a place amongst the highest performing health care systems in the world, and we will. but we know we cannot accomplish all we need to do for veterans without the help of congress. veteran service organizations and many other stakeholders, the elks, they are more
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than hundreds of thousands of partners working with the v.a. from businesses to other federal agencies. but let me be clear, while these partnerships are important, our most essential one is with congress. they hold the keys to many of these doors. congress legislates the benefits. we provide a veterans.and is congress , it has to affirm the benefits it legislates. from 25 of the independent requirents, they congressional action. not without the right support, we cannot do it alone. here are five specific requirements that will make a significant different to veterans. and i have repeated them during testimony and it every other opportunity. i do not mind reciting them again. first, we need congress to fully fund the president's budget
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request. we need congress to give us the possibility to align resources. third, we need congress to act on the proposal we submitted may 1 to end the uncertainty about aspects of purchase care. that are outside the veterans choice program and accommodate provider participation in other care in the community programs. fourth, we need congress to address the many statutory issues burdening v.a. with red tape and bureaucracy -- like the appeals process. five, we need congress to streamline and consolidate all care in the community programs into one. we reiterated this for veterans. for year, a variety of different programs have provided care in the community for veterans. it is all very difficult to understand. veterans do not get it, employees do not get it, medical providers do not get it.
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so we sent our plan, veteran choice program, the new one, to the hill last friday. it is our long-term vision were delivering timely and high-quality care. veterans need to see congress act on it quickly. this week, i had breakfast with the chairman and ranking members of our senate and house committees. there is tremendous unanimity to press these measures. to work together to transform the v.a. and provide more consistent and delightful experiences for veterans. remember mike hughes? that veteran who cannot get answers about his claim? a week after he wrote me, he wrote again. "one one day after my e-mail to you, i received a call from a regional office, assuring me my complaint had been heard. and that my claim was indeed one that would be handled probably." that is response might have gotten to begin with.
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we will get there, and we are well on our way. i look forward to your questions. thank you. [applause] >> you mention the progress that you have made. looking back to the problems of two years ago, have you now held everyone accountable that needs to be, and if not, do you need any additional authorities so that you can hold them accountable? >> let us talk about accountability. my good friend, jim collins, wrote a book that talks about the need to get the right people on the bus, in the right seats. 16direct reports, 10 of the are new since i was confirmed. 10 of 16. also, over 90% of our medical
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centers have new directors or new leadership teams. 14, 1100 people were terminated from the v.a. in 2015, 1500 people were terminated from the v.a. since july 29, since i was confirmed last year, 280 people have been terminated from the v a proposed to us but very action from the plating -- disciplinary action for manipulating schedules. in augusta,l and goin georgia was indicted. the charges bring a $250,000 fine and potential for five years in jail. we are working with the ig and the office of special counsel, the fbi on other investigations that are ongoing.
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over the last year, we have had a total of 62 criminal convictions that have been discovered by our inspector general. now i have to say that account ability is a lot more than firing people. it is about giving people the responsibility, giving them the training, and in working with them and training them to perform at a high level. one of the things we have done over the last year, building into people performance review plan, all of the things i've talked about. improving customer service, the my v.a. transformation, the call centers. it is now being built into performance plans. we have a lot more to do, lots of investigations currently underway. and as time goes on, you will see the results of these investigations. >> a question about cost control. what mechanisms and you put in
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place to control costs? how are you ensuring payments are proper and in line with fair market values? >> cost control is important. one of the things i one of the things that i believed in in the procter & gamble company, there were two things i believed would drive it. one was innovation. the v.a. is a great innovator for this country. we spend on innovation, $1.68 billion research. that research is not only critical to american medicine, but also to the american people. secondly, productivity. productivity is critically important to us. we measure value units, which is a common measurement in the medical industry. it is a measure of productivity. our productivity is up 8% over the last year, versus a budget increase of 2.8%. i am asking for ways to improve our productivity every day. there is no question that demand
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is increasing for our services. i do not feel capable of going to congress and asking for more money, unless i can show them that we are trying to save money. if you look at my testimony over the last year, what you see is i told congress that we had 10 million square feet of unused space. unfortunately, it is all in somebody's congressional district. if we could close that space, that would save the v.a. and the american taxpayer $25,000 per year. please look at my testimony. 10 million square feet, $25 million a year. we are eager to work with members of congress to close that space. and we are going to have more space because we have digitized the claims process. by digitizing the process, we eliminated 5000 tons of paper. 5000 tons of paper. >> standardizing care.
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how will the v.a. standardized policies nationally so that the veterans will have the same access to care, no matter what v.a. they attend? the example they give is the various and limitations and qualifying criteria of caregivers, post 9/11 veterans to receive a stipend. sec. mcdonald: great question. i think i addressed it in my remarks, but let me add to it the new undersecretary for help, one of the new leaders at v.a., this is his number one job, how to identify the current best practice in the industry and v.a. and bring all the v.a. up to the current best practice while at the same time trying to innovate to improve the best practice. let me give you an example. if you are a veteran and your address changes you have to
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, change your address nine different times in the v.a. there is not one backbone with every customer listed. a group ofther people all involved in this, and we are going to go to one data backbone with one list of address, which keeps track of every interaction with each of our customers. that is one example. that will cost money and will take time, but now is the time to do it. we have a new assistant secretary for the office of information technology. her name is laverne council. i recruited her. she was the i.t. leader at johnson & johnson and dell. she knows how to do this. now is the time to get it done. >> how have the changes that you initiated with my v.a. helped to effect culture change at the department and improve morale? sec. mcdonald: again, i think i
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addressed that. morale is slightly better but not where we need to be. the all-employee survey was taken this year before we did the leaders developing leaders program. i think our leaders developing leaders program has been a breakthrough. we are working with noel tischi, he was jack welsh's mentor at g.e. and founder of the training university. his daughter works for the v.a. he has helped design a training program which has been outstanding. interestingly, the leaders do the training. i do the training. sloan gibson, my west point classmate and friend of 40 years, does the training. our leaders do the training. we do not hire consultants to do the training, we train them ourselves. we have done 300. those 300 are going to go back and train their own organizations.
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we used videos from our 300 training. we put together a packet, a training packet, and they will go train their subordinates. some of our senior leaders will attend that training. i attended one last week in kansas city. i was thrilled with what we were re.omplishing the while i can talk about my vision need is for, what i every employee to talk about how their vision for their organization cascades from my vision or the organizational vision. the test for any high-performing organization is, can you walk into a medical center, and ask the person in housekeeping how what they are doing that day contributes to the vision of a larger organization. that is what we are shooting for. it is like if you ask the person sweeping the floor at kennedy center what they are working on and the answer is i'm putting a man on the moon. >> hillary clinton got some
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attention recently when she said the v.a. scandal has not been as widespread as it has been made out to be. do you agree with her? sec. mcdonald: i told you, we have made progress, and have more work to do. [laughter] [applause] >> cnn reported that long waits continue for many v.a. patients seeking medical services. in august, more than 8000 requests for care had wait times longer than 90 days at the phoenix v.a. why do these delays continue, and what can be done to cut down on the wait time? sec. mcdonald: 70% of veterans have a choice. they had that choice before. 78% of veterans have medicare, medicaid, their own private health insurance. 78% of veterans have a choice. they exercise that choice. today, on average, the average
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veteran, and of course there is no average veteran, but the average veteran uses v.a. for 34% of their medical care. only 34%. that 34% might be the hearing aids that save $4000, or the knee replacement that saves $5,000. only 34%. as we have improved our care, as we have improved our culture, as people have learned about the great things that the v.a. does, as we have opened up more facilities, as we hire more providers, more people are coming. more people are coming, and those already in the system are looking for more of their care from the v.a. if that 34% becomes 35%, a 1% increase, i need a $1.4 billion budget increase from congress. $1.4 billion for a single percentage point. as many of you know, the budget
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problems we got into last year, because of a miracle hepatitis c drug that was invented in 2014-2015 -- that budget was talked about two years before that. we will have to do something with our committees to create the kind of processes that exist in business for how you have budget flexibility and agility to meet customer demands. otherwise, what will happen is as more people come into the system, if we do not get that budget flexibility, then the appointments might not be within 30 days. maybe the average mental health appointment -- not mental health, that would be about example, but primary care appointment has to go from four days to five days, or six days because the budget is given to us by congress and the benefits are defined by congress. all we are trying to do is make the two match. >> a question about the v.a. complex in los angeles.
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admiral mike mullen is investigating issues. some reports suggest decades of mismanagement. how extensive are the problems, and will people be held accountable? sec. mcdonald: mike is a dear friend and he is there on my behalf. i do not quite understand the question. no, we have problems in west l.a. when i became secretary i , discovered there was a lawsuit in los angeles. there were 10 veteran plaintiffs suing the previous secretary. the lawsuit had been going on for over four years. i discovered that that lawsuit was getting in the way up a them -- in the way of us solving problems in los angeles. i went to los angeles. we have changed the leadership in los angeles. we have hired more providers. we have strengthened our relationships with medical school affiliates, like ucla, and with new partners like
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u.s.c. we have created a community partnership and a master plan for the west l.a. facility now on the internet. you are welcome to comment. we have about 390 acres in los angeles. we need to use the land properly for the care of veterans, rather than having it used as a car lot and other things that were done in the past. we are moving in the right direction in los angeles. again, we have a lot of work to do. progress, but a lot of work to do. at least we got the lawsuit, which i was able to settle, out of of the way. we have stronger partnerships, and we are moving in the right direction. and mike is being very helpful. >> it was reported that 30 v.a. systems lacked permanent directors. why is it so difficult to fill these jobs? is pay an issue? do facilities without a director suffer as a result? sec. mcdonald: i said job one is
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to get the right people on the bus and in the right seats on the bus. the one thing you don't want to do is put the wrong leader in the wrong place. the process does take some time. as i said, 90% of our medical centers have either new leaders or new leadership teams. i can personally vouch for each person we are putting in place. if it takes longer to do that, i'm ok with that. i want to make sure we get the best team in place and do our best to take care of veterans. there is no substitute for leadership, and leadership does matter. >> this is a question about legislation that has been introduced to help world war ii veterans exposed to mustard gas, and help them secure compensation for their injuries if the v.a. does not help them. will it take legislation for the v.a. to compensate these veterans and their families, or is there something the v.a. can do now?
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secretary mcdonald: i'm trying to get the names of individuals that have suffered that. we have been collecting names, and we have a short list. i was lucky to meet, i think kimberly -- is she here? from npr? yeah. she is the one that wrote the article. i'm trying to get her list so i can marriott with our list and find out why there is a discrepancy. that is job one could we have to find the veterans that suffer through this. i'm not sure if legislation will be required. we will do everything without legislation. i have a lot of other legislation we need. >> the new plan presented to congress to consolidate community care states explicitly that it requires congressional support and funding. how likely are we to see that plan realized and when? sec. mcdonald: as i said, great unanimity with our committees. rankings members -- ranking members and chairman said they understand the plan.
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the reason there are so many different ways of getting care in the community is over the years congress has passed so , many laws that layered on top of each other. each one had a different reimbursement rate, a different selection criteria, and as a result of that, you had the se seven different programs that were very difficult for veterans to understand, and very difficult for our employees to understand. similarly, you had dysfunctional or skewed incentives. i went to montana with senator jon tester, a great guy, and he brought in a room of providers, medical professionals, and they all told me how much they loved one of the seven plans. i whispered to john and said, the reason they love that plan is because the reimbursement rates in montana are the highest for that plan. we have to get to one level of rates. we have to get one plan, easy for the veterans to understand it. we are in the customer service business, but these laws have
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been layered over the years. we will get this done, and get it done quickly. >> the mental health of veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress and brain injury is one of the biggest challenges that the v.a. faces. with the shortfall in mental health professionals what alternative methods are being used for veterans? viableic and art alternatives? sec. mcdonald: when i was going through my confirmation progress, there was a very small number of senators, one or two, who said, why don't we blow up the v.a. and give out vouchers? i thought it was important for me to study that, the business guy. i discovered the v.a. is not only essential for veterans, it is essential for american medicine because we are on the cutting edge of so many treatments. and therefore, it is essential for the american public.
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we spent $1.8 billion on research. we did the first liver transplant. invented and did the first implantable cardiac pacemaker. it was a v.a. nurse that had the idea to connect patients with barcodes to records. the first electronic medical record. v.a. doctors invented the shingles vaccine last year. v.a. was the one that came up with the idea of taking an aspirin a day. when you have the largest integrative medical system, you can be on the cutting edge. right now, we are leading the in precisioneffort medicine. we have a project called the million vets project with blood samples of veterans connected to 40 years of medical records, and we are doing the genome mapping of all of those blood samples. imagine the research that can be done by medical professionals to go back to the genome to understand the causality of that
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genome and a form of cancer. we are running seven pieces of research to figure that out. more work will be coming. without the v.a., who is going to do that? training -- the v.a. trains 70% of doctors in the country. without the v.a., who will train those doctors? it is the primary source of residency for medical schools. we need more medical schools. we are working to create a medical school at the university of nevada las vegas. the bigger part of the problem is we need the residencies. congress is giving us more residencies with the choice act, but we need more. the v.a. is the largest employer of nurses, the largest trainer of nurses. the third leg of the stool is conical care. to deal with mental health, because we are who we are, and because we are on the cutting edge of mental health, we will try any technique any treatment
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, that may work. we found that acupuncture is effective with some people. we are the largest user of acupuncture in the country. we found equine therapy is effective with some users. we have equine centers around the country to use them with veterans. i could go on and on. there are many different techniques that are effective that a for-profit system will never figure out. it is up to us to figure it out, write the reports, write the research, do the literature, and create new standards of care. one of the things we will do coming up this spring is hold a mental health summit here in d.c. we are inviting everybody who is an expert. we have already done one of these, this will be the second. we will invite the nhl, nfl, people suffering similar brain injuries so we can spread knowledge and make sure that we are all working synergistically to figure these things out, rather than at cross purposes or in a redundant way.
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>> this question says women veterans are often invisible to the v.a., and also the fastest growing population of the homeless. what is your plan to outreach to women vets nationwide informing them of benefits? sec. mcdonald: the question is correct. women veterans often do not identify themselves as veterans. all veterans feel inadequate because they feel there is someone who has done more than they have. we find some veterans think the word "veteran" means only if you served in combat. some veterans think the word means only male. we are outreaching to female veterans all of the country. we are hiring more providers for female veterans, more obstetricians, gynecologists. we are also setting up women's clinics in most of our major facilities. if, who ever asked that question
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is in d.c., ask for the medical director and take a look at our new women's clinic. i'm quite proud of it, and think some good work is going on there for women. the same thing in atlanta, georgia. we got some space from the department of defense and set up a women's clinic. we have women's clinics going in all over the country. the questioner was right. women are 11% of veterans today, and in the not-too-distant future, 20%. >> we are almost out of time, but before i get to the last question or two, i have some housekeeping. the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists, and we fight for a free press worldwide. to find out more, go to our website, to donate to our nonprofit journalism institute, go to i would like to remind you about upcoming speakers.
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p.j. o'rourke will discuss his at 6:30s coming tuesday p.m. the club will hold its 38 annual book club and authors night on november 17 at 5:30 p.m. we have more than 100 authors who will be here in the club, and there are so many of them that are noteworthy, i will not even begin mentioning a few of them. debra lee james, the 23rd secretary of the u.s. air force , will speak at a club luncheon on december 2. i would now like to present our guest with the traditional national press club mug, the greatest keepsake of the national press club. [applause] you are here a year ago, so you now have your collection started.
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we hope you come back in a year for your third. you really have to get the larger set to get the full experience of the press club mug. mr. secretary, you have been at the v.a. more than a year now. compare the challenges of running such a large government agency with running such a large corporation as procter & gamble, as you did. how are they like, how are they different? how do the challenges differ? secretary mcdonald: the thing that is alike is what you could call the burden of big numbers. we have 9 million veterans in our health care system regularly. if you make a mistake, .5% of the time, that is still a very big number. just like i talked about the 7 million more completed appointments, but i also talked about the tail. if you are in a place like phoenix or hampton, virginia, where the veteran's population is growing rapidly, you do not
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care what is happening elsewhere. you don't care about the quarter days for primary health care. big numbers is really a big deal. how do you be perfect across that system? that is why design thinking is so critical to train the organization in. secondly, one of the differences -- at procter & gamble, what we them -- while we had health care business, it was things like over-the-counter remedies. here, we are in the health care business where people have catastrophic injuries. that also makes for a difficult situation where there is no room for errors. those are differences. a big difference for me is i spent 33 years with the company, and i had lived and worked all over the world, 16 of those years outside of the united 33 states. i lived in japan, brussels, canada, the philippines. here, i have just been on the job a little over a year.
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how do you compress those 33 years of knowledge and knowledge of the people in such a short period of time. when i got the question of why does it take you so long to fill a leadership vacancy, it was easy when i knew somebody for 33 years, it is a little more difficult today. those are some of the differences. >> more and more veterans are running for elected office. has this been helpful to you and the v.a.? also, it is the campaign season. we are hearing a lot from candidates on the campaign trail. what do you think in terms of the veterans issues? are you hearing enough discussion of veterans issues out there, or not? sec. mcdonald: i'm always glad when veterans issues are raised. i wish there would be more fact checking on some of the numbers used. there are a lot of myths out there. what i have tried to do today is give you both the good and bad.
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the things we have accomplished, but the challenges we have. i may well leave it at that. >> as far as more candidates getting elected that are veterans, is that also helpful? sec. mcdonald: i think it is helpful when you have more people with veteran experiences that are writing laws. there is no question that we will keep moving in the direction where very few of our elected leaders, or at least, not as many as in the past, were veterans. that is why i think it is critically important that, rather than having veterans at the center of a political issue, and using veterans as a political pawn for one party or the other to play gotcha with the president, the administration, or the
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department of veterans affairs it is better that we work , together. we have hearings on what we want to do in the future, rather than what happened two or three years ago when everybody wrote their questions to play gotcha. if you ask me about differences, coming from the business world, i'm just not used to this, where somebody behaves one way privately to you, and different way on camera, and they work hard to write a question that you might answer incorrectly. let's work together, all work together, all of us, including everyone in this room strategic , partners, members of congress. let's work together to do what is right for veterans, and forget this gamesmanship. it just is not make sense. -- it just does not make sense. [applause] just to be clear, i think we have tremendous unanimity today. i will tell you, i'm not running for political office. i'm in this for only one reason.
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i came out of retirement for one reason, and that was to do this job. the lord has put me here to do it, and i will do it to the best of my ability. we will make the changes we need to make and let the veterans decide we have made the changes -- decide whether or not we have made the changes we need to make. [applause] >> thank you, mr. secretary. i would also like to thank the national press club staff, including the journalism institute and broadcast center for helping to organize today's event. if you would like a copy of today's program, you can find one at the website,, where you can also learn more about the national press club. thank you so much. if you could stay in your seats
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until the secretary leaves the room, i would appreciate that. thank you so much. we are adjourned. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] next, a discussion about the candidates and campaigns in the 2016 elections. then a look at the october jobs numbers. after that, the president's announcement concerning the keystone xl pipeline. night, a discussion about marijuana legalization focusing on colorado. the marijuana policy project debates at a forum hosted by the steamboat institute. in this portion, he says evidence shows adults in colorado are starting to favor legal marijuana vendors.
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he argues colorado is drawing black-market operators. at the beginning, we heard people say it costs too much in the stores and that is going to result in the underground market. now it costs the same in the stores on the street. now that there are these stores, where do adults want to go? adults who want to use marijuana what to access it in a way similar to adult who use alcohol. andwant to find someone hope it is what they say it is and they are going to give it to you and you will be safe? or do you want to just stop at the store? -- theyeeing sales started low and have been getting higher because people are starting to become more accustomed to this system. there is a reason why more people are buying marijuana from the store instead of the underground market. it is because it is preferable
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in every way. >> if you are a producer in another place, whether mexico or some other state, and you want the heat to be off of you. you want to lower your overhead by reducing the amount of security you need to operate underground, guess where you're going to come? you're coming to colorado. we know it is happening because we know how much is being exported out of the state. >> a discussion about legalized marijuana in colorado tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. eastern on c-span. with a 2016 election one year away, the american enterprise institute hosted a discussion about the current field of candidates and campaigns discussing the presidential race , u.s. senate and house elections and the potential alice of power in congress. this is one hour and 15 minutes.
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>> good morning. i am a senior fellow and like to welcome to the first installment of the 2016 election watch program. as a number of you know, this is the longest running election program in washington and two of us on the panel were here when the program first began in 1982. i would like to begin by whoking the conference team always do a wonderful job of making sure everything is in order here. also, a special thanks to my s who have been extremely important in preparing the handouts you have and getting this conference organized. we invite you to join the usingsation on twitter our handled follow
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for more insights into the 2016 election. continues, inon 367 days, 15 hours, and 16 minutes, the voters in new hampshire will go to the polls to vote at midnight. this morning, we are going to tell you what we are watching at this early stage in the 2016 campaign and why. it is a pleasure to my colleague, norm on the panel and we are delighted to be joined by the director of the policy center. henry olsen, you are here. wonderful. i am delighted you are here. i'm goingntroduction, to pose a question to each of the panelists. they will have five minutes for initial remarks. we will try to start a lightning round in which any of them can answer any of the questions. last and not least, the mesh last but not least, we will turn to your questions.
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like all of you, i read the polls. i think we should treat what we are seeing now with substantial skepticism. here is why. politicalto scientists, polls conducted even 300 days before an election have virtually no predictive value. that is one of many reasons polls should not be used as the standard for debate participation. their predictive power comes later in the campaign, usually around the 100-day mark. another reason to caution at this stage of the campaign is the polls cannot simulate the electorate because of the arcane rules for awarding delegates each party has. in most important finding the new poll among republicans was not that trump ben carson were tied for the lead, but rather that 35% of republicans said they leaned to the g.o.p. and said their minds were made up. in the nbc news-wall street journal poll released tuesday, only 28% of republicans said
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they had definitely decided. in the new poll of republicans in new hampshire released monday, only 20% of republicans said they had definitely decided. democrats are more sure of their choices, but a substantial number say they could still change their minds. traditional polling is beset by problems. all of the final polls in the kentucky gubernatorial contest show the democrat ahead by two percentage points. by 8%.won response rates for most polls today are below 10% for even the best-designed surveys. this year, gallup and pew have been sitting on the sidelines in terms of trial heat. in 2007 between january and november, gallup asked over 50 questions about the election looking at the candidates. we all know about the missed
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calls in great britain, israel, and argentina to name a few. i am not sure election polling has a future. it remains important. already, hillary has spent more than $1 million on pulling. last week, bernie sanders hired a pollster. this week, we saw another change in the polling business, again in part because of problems with the business overall. 48 years ago in 1968, cbs news conducted the first exit poll of voters leaving the polls and kentucky in that governor's grace. it has become harder for the consortium to conduct an exit poll because around one third of us vote either early or absentee. on tuesday in kentucky and mississippi, the associated press moved forward with an experiment to reinvent the exit poll by conducting an online voter poll. in the 2014 election, they did online polling in georgia and illinois.
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there estimates were more accurate than the exit polls. i spoke to david pace yesterday of the a.p. and unfortunately they have not fully analyzed the results from kentucky or minute -- mississippi. online surveys cannot guarantee the people they have surveyed have voted. but a.p. is working with the national opinion research center to explore the possibility of using g.p.s. tracking on cellphones of online participants with their permission to verify they voted before asking them to participate in the online polls. candidates with high name recognition and star quality usually do better early. and then the fundamentals kick in. let me say a quick word about the fundamentals. the jobs report this morning was encouraging. the economy added far more jobs than predicted, 271,000. the an employment rate ticked down to 5%. in part because the 2008 crash
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was such a powerful event in public opinion, americans have still not fully recovered. they are not confident the financial system has been fixed. while we have focused on divisions among republicans, dissatisfaction with both parties in washington runs deep. although the republicans lagged behind the democrats in terms of party favorability in virtually every survey, a new cnn opinion research poll shows slightly say they half, 52%, are angry with the way both parties have been dealing with the country's problems. said they were angry with neither. many americans share donald trumps critique that america is not great anymore. while americans are generally oriented to the future, this nostalgia impulse is a powerful occurrence in public opinion today. this will be a major topic in our december report on virtually every question on one of the
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central issues in any modern election. there is a chasm between democrats and republicans on the proper role of government. what does all of this mean? nbc news and the wall street journal have asked adults six if it woulddecember be better for the country to have a democrat or republican for the nurse -- next president. people have been evenly divided. they conducted another poll in late october. they asked a separate question. 40% ind a democrat, republican. once again, the country was evenly divided. when asked in november of 2007 before our last open contest, people preferred a democrat by 10 percentage points. since 1960, we have had five of the eight closest elections in our nation's history. now we will turn to the panelists. i will begin with michael barone.
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michael is one of the original authors of this 2000 page volume, one of the founders of it, the 1972 edition was the first. 1972.l barone: >> he has one of the introductory essays in the volume this year. in that essay, you say our politics are stuck in a rut. explain. michael barone: thank you. you have already explained we have had five of the closest elections in american history since 1960. one of the others was 1880. nobody remembers that in washington now that strom thurmond is not around. back over the last few years, the last half-century, what i see is we have been in an extended period of static partisan alignments going back to the middle 1990's.
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it has persisted about as long as any such period in american history. voter attitudes, voter choices seem to be linked primarily more on cultural attitudes rather than economic status. the demographic factor most highly correlated with voting behavior is religion or degree of religiosity. that has resulted in a certain amount of polarization. we have had increasing numbers of people on the one hand identify as secular or nonreligious and on the other hand people who identify as evangelical, very strongly religious. this has been reflected in the degree of political polarization in attitudes. if you look back at the last six , and intial elections the 1990's allocate the perot votes a second choices, both democrat and republicans have
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run between a narrow range. things,y in historical we have not seen anybody win anything like the landslide victories that when two candidates perceived as bringing peace and prosperity we saw for 19 56, 19es in 1936, 64, 1972, 1984. that has not happened. the highest percentage since 1984 in a presidential election went to george h.w. bush in 1988 , nearly equaled by barack obama in 2008. rounded off to 53%. had elections where the easiest way to predict which party is going to carry the states electoral votes is to look at the last map. switchedy three states between parties from 2000. only two states switched between
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parties between 2008 and 2012. 2008,etween 2004 and which was the biggest swing, partisan swing, you get nine states out of 50 changing parties. we see the same thing in-house elections. popular vote for house of representatives, in nine of the 1994ection starting with when i think i was the first one to write there was a serious chance the republicans would win the house, the article appeared in july of the election year. almost nobody had any idea this was going to happen. we have had static numbers. republicans winning between 48-52%. democrats 42-44%, nearly overlapping numbers. you have two exceptions. 2006 and 2008 when george w. bush's numbers plummet. and then you have democrats republicans in%,
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the mid to low 40's. in 2010, we swung back to the 1994-2004 range and have been there ever since in the house popular vote. this has been accompanied by increased straight ticket voting. i remember when a political scientist produced a book called "ticket splitter." ticket splitters were the key to elections. that was then, this is now. had 26 of thely 435 congressional districts voting for president of one party and congressmen of another. that is the lowest number since 1920. warren g. harding was elected in a landslide. despite this, we have had divided government. even though you have closely divided electorate and partisan -- straight ticket voting, you have had divided government. since the 1968,
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but for different reasons than earlier. part of the reason is demographics. democratic voters tend to be clustered in central cities, synthetic suburbs, and university towns. a very high percentage democratic in those constituencies. that helps in the electoral college. go to equaln you population districts. i have been looking for changes. we have seen huge viewership increases, particularly in the republican debates, maybe in the democratic debates. as i look at the results of the 2015 governor races, i see the same numbers. louisiana governor race, 56-42.ts -- it was the president last time, 56-41.
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sounds similar. >> this gong reminds us elderly colleague introduced us to the election series to try to keep us on time. we remember him fondly. he passed away earlier this year. this is the centennial of the new hampshire primary. when did it become important? michael barone: 1952. it existed but the results were not associated with candidates. you were just electing delegates. 52, eisenhower backers in the republican party entryman opponents of the democratic party, people rebelling what was seen as party establishments, decided to put their candidates on the ballot and that becomes a referendum. we see that with caucuses evolving from a an old skins ring when antiwar democrats started in the 1970's to emphasize caucuses that had
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been perfunctory before. >> thank you, michael. we will now turn to henry olsen. you tend to think of the g.o.p. contest in terms of the title of your forthcoming book. it is available for preorder on amazon. could you explain your theory of the republican party? henry olsen: if you look at the exit polls through the 1996 republican nomination contest, you find there are four phases or factions of the republican party. they are roughly the same in terms of what type of candidates they prefer, what type of issues they prioritize, and roughly the same as where they are concentrated in strength and weakness. those four factions are moderates and liberals that dominate in the northeast and are strong in the midwest and in
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california. nationally, they are about 30% of the national electric. 35% and are well over in some cases up to 50% in the states i mentioned. there is the evangelical conservatives who are extremely conservative. they dominate in the south and midwestern caucus states like iowa. there is a fiscal conservative who is a secular, the sort of person who thought steve forbes ought to be the next president. they are about 10% of the electorate nationwide. and then the group that always wins is the group that no one pays much attention to. in the polls, they say they are somewhat conservative. i think the best way of thinking about them in washington terms is they are the sort of conservative that think john boehner is just fine. they are about 40% of the republican party. they exist in equal numbers in virtually every state and at the
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state and national level, they always back the winner. track this group, and you know who the next nominee is going to be. insiders versus outsiders has not been a theme a very much import throughout the last few republican cycles. a lot ofd be the idea media representatives are pushing now based on a couple of polls saying republicans prefer somebody without elected experience. i think they are using that to interpret why ben carson or donald trump are rising in the national polls. but i would say two things about that. this far out on national levels do not have a good level of productiveness. and secondly, if you dive below the top lines, the aggregate numbers, and look at the crosstabs, the support among subgroups, you find the factional theory i advance explains every bit as well what is going on as the insider
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versus outsider. i think what is going to happen that havee factors affected republican nominations going back for 20 years are going to affect the same ones here, which is the very conservative factions of the republican party, people who are highly ideological and highly ofive in their rhetoric, 2/3 the republican party that is either establishment conservative or moderate liberal do not want those things. what has typically happened is the moderates and liberals and establishment conservatives back somebody who is conservative enough and they win the nomination. the only time that has not happened was in 2000 when john mccain broke through. there, you saw the opposite. the inflammatory candidate came from the left and not be right. the conservatives lined up behind george bush, who was the heavy favorite of the very conservative group.
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right now, it does not look like the candidate likely to come through is a very conservative favorite like ted cruz is going to have much support outside of that group. that suggests whoever consolidates the two larger factions is going to be the nominee. the only reason ben carson is running well now is because unlike every other candidate who has profiled highly to the right in the last 20 years, he also appeals to the g.o.p. center. when you see somebody who is basically extremely low-key and extremely self-assured on tv, that is the sort of personal characteristics the boehner conservative likes unlike ted cruz or mike huckabee or rick santorum. he is much more low-key. i don't think this is going to last. i think somebody who thinks the pyramids were built by joseph to conserve grain, there are too many of these things out there. the other thing we know about establishment conservatives is they like stability.
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when financial markets are in meltdown, investors flock to the 30 year bonds. when political markets are in meltdown, they flock to the conservative candidate who looks like somebody who could govern. i don't think ben carson is going to be able to stand up under that scrutiny. i don't think ted cruz will appeal to the center. that means the winner of the rubio-bush contest is going to be the nominee. >> thank you very much, henry. one more quick question for you. are there any lessons in scott walker and rick perry's demised for other candidates? sell olsen: rick perry's by date was november 2011. scott walker i think has a lot of lessons. one is don't run as somebody you are not. scott walker is not a voluble tea party person. he ran as the tea party
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candidate. what became clear in the debates and why he has had an unprecedented collapse in what his supporters were being sold as was not who he was. that came through very clearly that this is not somebody who is a ted cruz who can win. i would say the first lesson from scott walker is don't run as somebody you are not when you are trying to run for national office. the other thing i think you can learn from scott walker is what worked for scott walker in the general election in wisconsin was the uncanny ability to mobilize people who generally support democrats to support him on what might be called a reform conservative platform. nobody is trying to do that in the republican electorate now. none of the republican candidates are trying to mobilize republicans in a way that present that for the general election. the thing that made scott walker wasttractive candidate
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something they decided was not salable in the republican party. i think that speaks poorly for the republican party's chance to win the general election. >> thank you so much, henry. norm, we know this is the recruitment season when democratic and republican party officials are going around the country trying to get the best candidates to run. the democrats have done well on a number of key house contests. is there any chance they can ?egain the house realistically, how many seats do you think they can pick up? norman ornstein: let me say i do miss rick perry. my favorite moment was when he was asked about what he would do about the west bank, and he said he would bring back free checking. i want to offer a moment of silence for george pataki and lindsey graham who did not even debate -- kiddie
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debate next time. i feel for lincoln chafee. he tried to become the alternative to hillary clinton. bernie sanders had the slogan "feel the burn." he tried to feel the chafe. [laughter] just did not work. for chris christie and mike huckabee who are now off the main stage and onto the undercard, christie said he would cross that bridge when he comes to it. [laughter] , the your question democrats have had a good recruiting said them -- season. but it is important to realize there is a longer-term problem for democrats below the presidential level. the last done poorly two midterm contests were disasters for them.
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not just in congress put at the state level. the farm team, and democrats in particular look to state legislators and in some cases people who have been in other public offices to recruit to move up. it is a very thin team looking down the road. they have to hope they can turn that around. while they had a good class this ,ime and will have resources winning the house would require a set of circumstances that go beyond the candidate they have, the microlevel campaigning it would probably take a republican presidential candidate who would make some republicans yarn for the success of barry goldwater. it would take a complete wipeout at the presidential level. that could happen in a couple of ways. henry's analysis is
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really terrific. i have a couple of cautions. i believe the anger level for a substantial number of we know among other things that anger is driving the electorate more than we have seen before. it is anger at the other party more than support for one's own party. on the republican side, there is a lot of anger at the party's own establishment. some of that is driven by people making a lot of money by feeling ingt anger -- feeling -- fuel that anger. if you have a process were a significant number evangelical conservatives and fiscal conservatives feel was stolen again, the ted cruz theory they keep having defeat snatched from the jaws of victory by nominating a nice person who is just another democrat, we may see a turnout that is not quite as robust as before. the same thing would happen if
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you ended up with a ted cruz or donald trump or ben carson winning the nomination. i am not so sure it is going to move inexorably in another direction. but that is a topic for another day. otherwise, democrats can pick up seats this next time. if you look at the sheets, you can see how different the electorate is for a presidential election year compared to the midterm election year. that is becoming even more distinct. categories in a presidential election year that work to the advantage of democrats, and that includes people not married. it includes having more women. it includes a larger share of minorities and a larger share of younger voters. that works to the advantage of democrats. that can help in some districts. but the structure of districts is such that if democrats managed to pick up 10 seats, that under most circumstances
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now would be seen as a big victory. the senate on the surface has a great chance for democrats to win back the majority. 24 seats held by republicans, only 10 held by democrats. seven of the republican seats held in states that obama won. increasingly as we see the number of swing voters decline, as we see red and blue states divide much more distinctly, as we saw with the kentucky results which reflected the fact that you are not seeing swing voters so much anymore. it is a red state and votes red. for matt bevin who was an outsider in that party to win handily, that tells you something. for democrats to win the senate, they will have to win the white house and probably by a significant enough margin that a lot of races that are marginal would go in their direction and they don't lose states of their open seats that
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are also tossups. >> the second question for you. i know paul ryan is a friend of yours. he is clearly a friend of a.i. what are the strengths and weaknesses? norman ornstein: paul ryan started out well. john boehner gave him two big parting gifts. the first was negotiating this broad deal that took us past the debt ceiling debacle that could easily have resulted in disaster. but also added enough money to the budget accounts. that money itself is not going to be the big driver in confrontations in the days and weeks ahead. by doing that, it also left it open for another bill boehner helped negotiate. that was the infrastructure bill which has to be done by november 20 or the highway trust fund basically is unable to operate.
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did, bringing it up which they could not do until they resolved the basics of the budget bill, was to open up the process more and have a significant number of amendments. surprisingly, 100 amendments allowed. but he moved it through expeditiously. donaldson's burger -- dawn is here and knows about how the committee operates and the dangers of opening the process more. whether ryan can continue to bring up bills along a lot of amendments, maintain some control over what happens on the floor and over those amendments, can do what the freedom caucus wants, which is the regular order. but what they want is regular order that applies to them and not to democrats or moderate republicans with amendments. that is a challenge ahead. he is very smart. the other thing he wants to do is bring up substantive
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legislation that can pass and go on to the president for signature or veto. the infrastructure bill is one of those that will go for signature. most of the other things may not make it through the senate. he has a real challenge because he has promised to bring up an alternative to obamacare. we have been promised an alternative to obamacare since obamacare was enacted. we don't have a bill introduced that can be scored by the congressional budget office because it is very tough to do without being eviscerated. can he managed to do that? course, we have the other big test coming up quickly by december 11, which is will freedom caucus members and others now demand, having voted for ryan and taken a lot of flak in coming from the right for being squishy on that front, will they demand he confront the defunding planned parenthood and adding riders that block obama
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executive actions on the environment and other areas that could lead to one or more partial shutdowns? if he can make his way through that, i think he has relatively smooth territory through the rest of this congress. >> , norm.ou last but not least, john fortier. john has been looking very closely at the fundamentals in the senate contests. john fortier: great, thank you. i would like to thank all of you and look forward to henry's book. is it ready for christmas where we have it in our stockings? henry olsen: it will be ready for your stockings. [laughter] john fortier: we created a new insult. instead of being two faced you can be four-face


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