tv President Obama Year- End News Conference CSPAN December 19, 2015 6:06am-7:01am EST
while he was up in the tree, he looked at the fields around him, and he thought how wonderful it would be to build some kind of a device that could leave the earth and maybe even travel to mars. >> watched the cities tour on c-span book tv and c-span3. >> in his annual year end news conference, president obama said that 2015 was a year of
progress, citing diplomacy with iran and cuba and a pacific trade agreement as a major publisher. he also talked about plans for the final year of his presidency. this is just under one hour. president obama: good afternoon, everybody. clearly this is not the most important event taking place in the white house today. there is a screening of star wars for gold star families and children, coming up. so i will try to be relatively succinct. let me say a few words about the
year behind us and the year ahead and then i will take some questions. as i look back on this year, one thing i see is that so much of our study, persistent work over the years is paying off for the american people in big, tangible ways. the early actions to rescue the economy set the stage for the longest streak of private sector growth with 13.7 million new jobs in that time. and our unemployment rate has been cut down to 5%. and most importantly, wages grew faster than in any time since the recovery began. so over the course of this year, the decisions we made early on have paid off. and the steady implementation of the affordable care act helped to drive the rate of the uninsured below 10% for the first time since records were kept on that. health care prices have gone to their lowest levels in five decades. 17 million more americans have gained coverage and we now know that 6 million people have signed up to healthcare.gov for coverage beginning on january 1. 600,000 on tuesday alone. new customers are up one third
over last year and the more that sign up, the stronger the system becomes. and that is good news of for every american who does not have to worry about being one own over last year and the more that sign up, the stronger the system -- being one accident or illness away from financial hardship. on climate, our early investment in clean energy ignited a clean energy industry boom. our actions to help reduce our carbon emissions brought china to the table. and last week in paris, nearly 200 nations forged a historic agreement that was only possible because of american leadership. around the world, from reaching the deal to prevent iran from do -- developing a nuclear weapon to reestablishing diplomatic relations with cuba, to concluding a landmark trade agreement that will make sure that american workers and businesses are operating on a level playing field and that we, rather than china, and other countries are setting the world -- setting the rules for global trade. we have shown what is possible when america leads. and after decades of dedicated advocacy, marriage equality became a reality in all 50 states. so, i want to point out that i said it at the beginning of this
year, interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter and we are only halfway through. i do want to thank congress for ending the year on a high note. i got to sign an education bill that is going to affect some of the challenges that we have had with no child left behind and promises to invest more in high quality childhood education. we signed a transportation bill that although not as robust as i think we need, still allows states and local governments to plan and actually get moving putting people back to work, rebuilding roads and bridges. we got xm bank back to work supporting american exports. and today we passed a bipartisan budget deal. i am not wild about everything in it, but i am sure that that is true for everybody. but it is a budget that as i insisted, invests in our military and the middle class without ideological provisions that would have weakened wall street reform or rules on big polluters. it is part of it agreement that part of an agreement that will extend tax credits to 24 million working families.
it includes some long-sought wins like strengthening american leadership at the imf. and because it eliminates the possibility of a shutdown for the first time, or for the first nine months of next year congress and i have a long way to get some important things done on behalf of the american people. now, there is still a lot of work to do. for example, there is still a lot more that congress can do to promote job growth and increase wages. i want to work with congress but democrats and republicans, to reform the criminal justice system. earlier today i commuted the sentences of men and women who had served their debt to society, another step forward and upholding justice.
and of course, the most important job is to keep americans safe. i have had a lot to say about that this week, but i will reiterate that the united states continues to lead a global coalition to destroy isil. as i have already lost about 40% over the populated areas that were once controlled in iraq and its territories in syria. as we keep up pressure, the air campaigns will continue to hit them harder than ever, taking out their leaders, commanders and forces. we are stepping up support for partners on the ground as they push isil back. and men and women in uniform are carrying out their mission with professionalism and courage, and
this holiday season we are united in gratitude for their service and thankful to their families as well because they serve alongside those who are actually deployed. squeezing isil's heart will make it harder for them to pump their tear into the rest of the world. as we know from san bernardino where i will visit families later today, we must remain vigilant here at home. counterterrorism, intelligence homeland security and law enforcement communities are working 24/7 to protect our homeland and all of us can do our part by staying vigilant, by saying something if we see something that is suspicious my by refusing to be terrorized and by staying united as one american family. in short, we are celebrating the progress that we have made and we still have some unfinished business and i plan on doing every thing i can with every minute of every day that i have left as president to deliver on behalf of the american people. taking this office, i have never been more optimistic about the
year ahead then i am right now. in 2016, i will leave it all on the field. with that, i will take questions. we'll start with roberta. >> mr. president, you're going to california today. as you said earlier this week, the cultivation -- there are similar attacks. how is it possible to know -- onto similar plots going to be just as hard to detect before hand? some lawmakers say that you should review social media of all people applying for visas to come to the country, what do you think of that idea? president obama: you are absolutely right that it is very difficult for us to detect lone wolf lots -- plots, it has been and wife in this case, because
despite the incredible vigilance that law enforcement and home land security have, it is not that different from us trying to detect the next mass shooter. you do not always see it, they are not always communicate publicly musso if you are not getting what they say publicly then it becomes a challenge. we are continuing to work at >> every level. to make sure that there is no slip between information sharing among agencies. we are continuing to strengthen our information sharing with foreign countries and because of
the tragedy in paris on the you are seeing much greater cooperation from our european partners on this issue. but this is a different kind of challenge than the sort we had with organizations like al qaeda, that involved highly trained operatives that were working as cells or a network. here you have isil trying to encourage or induce somebody who may be prayed to this kind of propaganda and and then it becomes more difficult to see. it does mean that there is -- it is less likely for them to carry out complex attacks, but like we saw in san bernardino you can still deal enormous damage. the issue of reviewing social media for those who are obtaining visas i think may have been garbled a little bit. because there may be -- it is important to distinguish between posts that are public, social media on a facebook page, versus private communications through various social media or apps. and our law enforcement and
intelligence professionals are constantly monitoring the public posts and that is part of the review process that people are investigating what individuals have said publicly and questioned about any statements that may be made. but if you have a private communication between two individuals, that is harder to discern, by definition. and one thing we will be doing is engaging with the high tech community to find out how we
can, in an appropriate way, do a better job if we have a lead to be able to track a suspected terrorist. but we will have to recognize that no government is going to have the capacity to read every persons -- person's e-mail or social media. it is not posted publicly -- if it is not posted publicly, there'll be keep ability issues -- there will be capability issues that are not surmountable at that level. keep in mind it was only a couple of years ago where we were having a major debate about whether the government was becoming too much like big brother. over all i think we have struck the right balance in protecting civil liberties and making sure that u.s. citizens' privacy is preserved and making sure there is oversight to what intelligence agencies do, but we are going to have to continue balancing security with
legitimate concerns about privacy. and because the internet is global and communications systems are global, the values that we apply here oftentimes -- i mean, folks coming into the country are also benefiting, because they are using the same technology. but this is why we are working hard with intelligence and high-tech companies, because we will have to review what we can do technically as well as what is along with laws and values. we need to discern more rapidly with the potential that are out there. >> congress made it clear that they will not let you transfer prisoners to the united states but something that you already have the authority to do that. do you think that you have that authority and are you willing to use it?
president obama: we have been working systematically, we have another level of persistence introducing the population. we have a review process, those who are eligible for transfer. we locate -- and these detainees and they monitor them and it has been determined that they can be transferred. and my expectation is that early next year we should have reduced the population below 100. and we will continue to steadily chip away at the numbers in guantánamo. there will be a point where we have an irreducible population people who pose a significant threat that for various reasons it is difficult for us to try to -- to try them in an article
three court. they will be going to a different process. but there will be a challenge there. now, at that stage, i am presenting a plan on how we can close guantánamo. i am not going to automatically assume that congress says no. i am not trying to be coy, i think it is fair to say that there will be resistance to that. but i think we can make a strong argument that it does not make sense for us to be spending an extra $500 million or $1 billion to have a secure setting for 50, 60, 70 people. we will wait until congress has dependably -- definitively said it no to a well thought out plan with numbers attached, before we
say anything definitive about my executive authority. i think it is far preferable if i can get stuff done with congress. david, as i've said, and i think you've seen me on a bunch of issues like immigration, i'm not going to be forward leaning on what i can do without congress before i tested what i can do with congress. every once in a while they'll surprise you. and this may be one of those places. because i think we can make a strong argument, guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruitment. to roberta's question earlier about how do they convince somebody here in the united states who may not have a
criminal record or a history of terrorist activity to start shooting, this is part of what they feed, this notion of a gross injustice. that america is not living up to its professed ideals. we know that. we see the internet traffic. we see how guantanamo has been used to create this mythology that america is at war with islam. and you know, for us to close it is part of our counterterrorism strategy. that is supported by our military and our diplomatic and intelligence teams. so when you combine that with the fact that it's really expensive and that we are essentially at this point detaining a handful of people and each person is costing several million dollars to
detain when there are more efficient ways of doing it, you know, i think we can make a strong argument. i'm -- but i'll take your point that it will be an uphill battle. every battle i've had with congress over the last five years has been uphill and -- but we keep on surprising you by actually getting some stuff done. sometimes that may prove necessary but we try not to get out ahead of ourselves on that. julie. reporter: wanted to ask you about the broader challenges in the middle east. some of the republicans running for president argued the middle east and the united states would be safer if you hadn't had iraq -- had regime changes in places like iraq and libya. having gone through the arab spring and the aftermath, i wonder what you see the u.s.'s role in the middle east, would you call for future presidents to call for authoritarian
leaders to step down and specifically syria, at this point, is it your expectation that his presidency will outlast you? president obama: there's been a lot of revisionist history sometimes by the same people making different arguments depending on the situation. maybe it's useful for us to go back over some of these issues. we did not depose mubarak. millions of egyptians did because of their dissatisfaction with the corruption and authoritarianism of the regime. we had a working relationship with mubarak. we didn't trigger the arab spring. and the notion that somehow the u.s. was in a position to pull the strings on a country that is the largest in the arab world i think is mistaken. what is true is that at the point at which the choice becomes mowing down millions of
people or trying to find some transition, we believed, and i would still argue, that it was more sensible for us to try to find a peaceful transition to the egyptian situation. with respect to libya, libya is an alternative version of syria in some ways, because by the time the international coalition interceded in syria, chaos had already broken out. you already had the makings of a civil war. you had a dictator who was threatening, and was in a position to carry out, the wholesale slaughter of large numbers of people. and we worked under u.n. mandate with a coalition of folks in
order to try to avert a big humanitarian catastrophe that would not have been good for us. those who now argue in retrospect we should have left gaddafi in there seem to forget that he had already lost legitimacy and control of his country and we could have instead of what we have in libya now, we could have had another syria in libya now. the problem with libya was the fact that there was a failure on the part of the entire international community and i think the united states has some accountability for not moving swiftly enough and underestimating the need to rebuild government there quickly and as a consequence, you now have a very bad situation.
and as far as syria goes, i think it is entirely right and proper for the united states of america to speak out on behalf of its values. and when you have an authoritarian leader that is killing hundreds of thousands of his own people, the notion that we would just stand by and say nothing is contrary to who we are and that does not serve our interests because at that point, us being in co-lution with that kind of governance would make us even more of a target for terrorist activity. the reason that assad has been a problem in syria is because that is a majority sunni country and
he had lost the space that he had early on to execute an inclusive transition, a peaceful transition. he chose instead to slaughter people and once that happened, the idea that a minority population there could somehow crush tens of millions of people who oppose him is not feasible. it's not plausible. even if you were being cold-eyed and hardhearted about the human toll there, it just wouldn't happen. and as a consequence, our view has been that you cannot bring peace to syria. you cannot get an end to the civil war, unless you have a
government that is recognized as legitimate by a majority of that country. it will not happen. and this is the argument that i have had repeatedly with mr. putin. at which time his suggestion, as i gather some republicans are now suggesting, was, assad is not so bad, let him be as brutal and repressive as he can but at least he'll keep order. i said look, the problem is that the history of trying to keep order when a large majority of the country has turned against you is not good. and five years later, i was right. so we now have an opportunity, and john kerry is meeting as we speak with syria and turkey and iran and the gulf countries and other parties who are interested, we now have an opportunity not to turn back the clock, it's going to be very
difficult to completely overcome the devastation that's happened in syria already, but to find a political transition that maintains the syrian state, that recognizes there are a bunch of stake holders inside syria, and hopefully to initiate a cease fire that won't be perfect but allows all the parties to turn on what should be our number one focus and that is destroying dash and its allies in the region. and that is going to be a difficult process. it is going to be a painstaking process, but there is no shortcut to that. and that is not based on some idealism on my part. or hard headed calculation about -- that's a hard headed calculation about what's going to be required to get the job done. reporter: do you think assad will remain in power a year from
now? president obama: i think that assad will have to leave in order for the country to stop the blood letting and for all the parties involved to be able to move forward in a non-secretarian way. he has lost legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of the country. now is there a way of us constructing a bridge, creating a political transition, that allows those who are alied with -- allied with assad right now allows the russians, allows the iranians to ensure that their equities are respected, that minorities are not crushed or retribution is not the order of the day, i think that's going to be very important as well.
that's what makes this is so difficult. you know, sadly, had assad made a decision earlier that he was not more important personally than his entire country, that kind of political transition would have been much easier. it's a lot harder now. but john kerry has been doing some excellent work in moving that process forward and i do think that you've seen from the russians a recognition that after a couple of months they're not really moving the needle that much, despite a sizable deployment inside syria. and of course that's what i suggested would happen. because there's only so much bombing you can do when an entire country is outraged and believes that its ruler doesn't represent them. reporter: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to ask you about congress.
specifically what are your top legislative priorities for next year, and how has the new speaker, paul ryan, changed the dynamic with you and capitol hill? and can you be more ambitious next year, doing things like maybe completing the transatlantic trade partnership or even getting tax reform? president obama: first of all, it's important to give some credit where credit is due. john boehner did a favor to all of us, including now-speaker ryan, by working with us to agree on a top line budget framework. that was the basis for subsequent negotiations. he was able to do that because he was going out the door. and was then given, i think, a little more room to maneuver than he previously had. having said that, i also want to give speaker ryan credit.
i called both him and mitch mcconnell as well as nancy pelosi and harry reid for the orderly way in which they actually negotiated a budget the way congress historically and typically supposed to work. we've gotten kind of used to last-minute crises and shutdown threats and so forth. this is a messy process that doesn't satisfy everybody completely but it's more typical of american democracy. and i think that speaker ryan deserves a role in that. i will say in his interactions with me, he has been professional. he has reached out to tell me what he can do and what he cannot do. i think it's a good working relationship. we recognize that we disagree on a whole bunch of other stuff and have fundamentally different
visions for where we want to move the country, but perhaps because even before he was elected he had worked on capitol hill. i think that he is respectful of the process, and respectful how the legislation works. so, kudos to him as well as all the leaders and appropriators who are involved in this process. now, i want to repeat because sometimes we take for granted what has happened. i said early on in this process that i wasn't going to sign a budget that did not relieve sequester. this artificial austerity that was making it difficult for us to invest in things like education and our military. and i said i would not accept a lot of ideological riders that -- ideological writers that were
attached to a big budget deal. and we met our goals. and because of some terrific negotiations by the democrats up on capitol hill, and i think some pretty good work by our legislative staffs here, we are going to be able to fund an environmental protection. we're going to make sure we're investing in things like early childhood education, making college more affordable. we're going to be able to implement the clean power plant rule. we're going to be able to continue to invest in clean energy that spurs on innovation. we're going to be able to make sure that our military gets the equipment and the training that it needs in order to be effective in fighting isil and other threats around the world so it was a good win. and there's some things in there that i don't like. but that's the nature of
legislation and compromise. and i think the system worked. that gives me some optimism that next year on a narrow set of issues, we can get some more work done. as david said, it's an election year. and obviously, a lot of the legislative process is going to be skewed by people looking over their shoulders, worried about primaries, trying to position themselves relative to the presidential candidates, so that makes it harder. but i think there are going to be a handful of areas where we can make real progress. one of them you already mentioned. trans-pacific partnership, which now has been out, congress has had a chance to review, and it meets the bar that i set. it is consistent with what i promised, which is the most pro-labor, pro-environment progressive trade deal in
history. that eliminates just about every tariff on american manufacturing goods in countries that up until this point have charged a tax, essentially, on anything that american workers, american businesses sell in these areas. it brings those taxes down to zero on basically all of american manufactured products. a huge win for agriculture. because now, the people of japan are going to be in a better position to enjoy american beef and american pork, which up until this point, even though we're much more efficient producers, has been tagged with a tax that makes our products uncompetitive in japanese markets. so this is a big deal. i think speaker ryan would like to try to get it done. and there are both proponents and opponents of this in both democratic and republican
parties, so it's going to be an interesting situation where we're going to have to stitch together the same bipartisan effort in order for us to get it done. a second area that i think is possible is criminal justice reform. there has been sincere, serious negotiations and efforts by democrats and republicans to create a criminal justice system that is more fair, more evenhanded, more proportionate and is smarter about how we reduce crime. and i've really been impressed by the dedication of a core group of democrats and republicans, some of them the most liberal democrats and the most conservative republicans, coming together saying this is the right thing to do. we've got a good bill in the senate that passed with bipartisan support out of
committee. my hope is that that gets to the floor, and that we can pair it up with a good bill out of ethe -- out of the house. this is a good bill where we can potentially save money, reduce recidivism, make sure that people who make a mistake on nonviolent crimes have to pay the price, have to serve time, but are released in a reasonable fashion that they have more support so that they're less likely to go back into the criminal system subsequently and that's an area where i think we may be able to make a big difference. those are two examples. we'll keep on looking for a number of examples like that. and wherever there's an opportunity, i'm going to take it. reporter: thank you, mr. president. you mentioned climate change
already. at the time of the signing of the deal in paris, you said it was potentially a turning point for the world. this was a deal that's not a legally binding document. you bypassed congress pretty much completely. are you worried at this point, a republican president who might take over from you in the white house could stop the deal in its tracks entirely? and considering that possibility, are you more interested in campaigning for a democratic nominee, considering that danger? pres. obama: i think it's fair to say i was going to be campaigning for a democratic nominee, even without that danger. [laughter] pres. obama: i'm very confident that we are going to have a terrific democratic nominee and -- whose phone is that, guys? somebody you recognize your ring. don't be embarrassed, just turn it off. there you go. [laughter] pres. obama: ok. can i still hear it? i think it's off now.
i think we will have a strong democratic nominee. i think that democratic nominee will win, i think i'll have a democratic successor. i'll campaign very hard to make that happen for a variety of reasons, because they're far more likely to share my fundamental vision about where america should go. but, having said that, what i think people should also feel good about is that the agreement struck in paris, although not legally binding when it comes to the targets that have been set does create this architecture in which all around the world countries are saying this is where we're going. we're going to be chasing after this clean energy future. this is how we're going to meet our goals. we're going to double down on solar power. we're going to double down on wind power.
we are going to invest more heavily in biofuels. we're going to figure out battery technologies. and what you saw in this budget, which i think was really significant, was an extension of the solar tax credits and wind tax credits that we had helped to really boost early on in my administration and resulted in wind power increasing three fold, solar increasing by 20 fold. those tax credits are now going to be extended for five to seven years. as a consequence, that combination of market signals means that the private sector is going to start investing much more heavily. they know this is coming. and it's not just coming here. it's coming around the world. you now have a global marketplace for clean energy that is stable and accelerating over the course of the next
decade. that then creates a different dynamic that is independent of what congress does, but also helps to shape what congress does. because the more people that are now getting jobs in solar installation and production, the more that you have companies who are seeing how american innovation can sell products in clean energy all across the asian pacific and in europe and in africa. suddenly there's a big monetary incentive to getting this right. and that's been the history of environmental progress in this country, and now we've exported it around the world. every time we've made a decision, you know what, we're going to have clean air, the predictions were everything would fall apart, and lo and
behold, turns out that american innovation makes getting clean air a lot less expensive than people expected, and it happened a lot faster than expected. when we made a decision that we were going to double fuel efficiency standards on cars everybody said, this is going to ruin the american auto industry. the american auto industry has been booming over the last couple of years. acid rain. when george h.w. bush instituted a system to charge for the emissions that were causing acid rain, everybody said, you can't do that, it's going to ruin business. it turned out it was smoother, faster, quicker, better and acid rain, folks who were born -- some of you reporters are getting younger, or i'm getting older, you may not remember it but that was a big deal. most people don't remember it anymore because it got solved. there's no reason the same won't happen here.
do i think there's going to be a lot of noise in campaigning next year about how we're going to stop paris in its tracks? there'll probably be a lot of noise like that. do i actually think that two years from now, three years from now, even republican members of congress are going to look at it and say, that's a smart thing to do? i don't think they will. keep in mind right now, the american republican party is the only major party that i can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change. i mean, it's an outlier. many of the key signatories to this deal, the architects of the deal, come from center right governments. even the far-right parties in many of these countries. they may not like immigrants for example, but they admit,
yeah, the science tells us we've got to do something about climate change. so my sense is that, you know, this is something that may be an advantage in terms of short-term politics in the republican primary. it's not something that is going to be a winner for republicans long-term. reporter: you mentioned american leadership. is it embarrassing to you that the other party denies climate change? pres. obama: no, because first of all, i'm not a member of that party. [laughter] pres. obama: second of all, it didn't stop us from being the key leader in getting this done. i mean, this is something i've been working on now for five six years. when i went to copenhagen, i essentially engaged in 24 hours of diplomacy to salvage from a pretty chaotic process the basic
principle that all countries had to participate. we couldn't have a rigid division between developed countries and developing countries when it came to solving this problem. that was the initial foundation for us then working with other countries, culminating in the joint announcement with china, bringing in india, bringing in brazil and the other big emerging countries, working with europeans and getting this done. this would not have happened without american leadership. by the way, the same is true for the iran nuclear deal. the same is true for the trans-pacific partnership. the same is true for stamping out ebola. something you guys may recall from last year. which was the potential end of the world. you know, at each juncture, what we've said is that american strength and american exceptionalism is not just a
matter of us bombing somebody. more often, it's a matter of us convening, setting the agenda, pointing other nations in a direction that's good for everybody and good for u.s. interests, engaging in painstaking diplomacy, leading by example, and sometimes the results don't come overnight they don't come the following day, but they come. and this year, what you really saw was that steady, persistent leadership on many initiatives that i began when i first came into office. all right. reporter: mr. president? i want to ask you something about criminal justice. your administration contends
that the united states is 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the world's jailed population. what legislation are you supporting that significantly cuts mass incarcerations in this country? and going back to assad? those -- [indiscernible] pres. obama: we're going to defeat isis. and we're going to do so by systematically squeezing them, cutting off their supply lines cutting off their financing, taking out their leadership, taking out their forces, taking out their infrastructure. we're going to do so in partnership with forces on the ground that sometimes are spotty, that sometimes need capacity building, sometimes need our assistance, but we're seeing, steadily, progress, in many of these areas. so they're going to be on the run.
now, they are going to continue to be dangerous. let me just be very clear. because whenever i say that we have made progress in squeezing the territory that they control, or made real inroads against them, what people will say is, well, if something happens around the world, then obviously that must not be true. but in any battle, in any fight, even as you make progress, there's still dangers involved. and isil's capacity both to infiltrate western countries with people who travel to syria or travel to iraq, and the savvyness of their social media, their ability to recruit disaffected individuals who may be french, or british, or even u.s. citizens will continue to make them dangerous for quite
some time. but we will systematically go after them. now, in order for us to stamp them out thoroughly, we have to eliminate lawless areas in which they cannot still run. -- still roam. so we can disable them, we can dismantle much of their infrastructure, greatly reduce the threat that they pose to the united states, our allies and our neighbors, but in the same way that al qaeda is pinned down and has much more difficulty carrying out any significant attacks because of how we've systematically dismantled them they still pose a threat. there are still operatives who are interested in carrying out terrorist attacks. because they still operate in areas between pakistan and afghanistan, or more prominently right now in yemen that are hard
to reach, our long-term goal has to be to stabilize these areas so they don't have any safe haven. in order for us to do that in syria, there has to be an end to the civil war. and there has to be an actual government that has a police capacity and a structure in these areas that currently aren't governed. and, it is my firm belief and the belief of the experts in this administration that so long as assad is there, we cannot achieve that kind of civility inside of syria. and, i think the history over the last several years indicates as much. so that's going to continue to be a top priority for us moving
aggressively on the military track and not letting isil take a breath and pounding away at them with our special forces and our air strikes and the training and advising of partners who can go after them. but, we also have to keep very aggressive on this diplomatic track in order for us to bring countries together. all right? everybody. oh, criminal justice reform. i answered the question, i'm hopeful. reporter: [indiscernible] pres. obama: april, what i said was i strongly support the senate legislation that's already been put forward. i'm hopeful that the house can come up with legislation that follows the same principles, which is to make sure that we're doing sentencing reform, but we are also doing a better job in terms of reducing recidivism and
providing support for accident or's -- ex-offenders. if we can get those two bills together in a conference, then i'm somewhat optimistic we'll be able to make a difference. keep in mind, april, when you use the term mass incarceration, statistically, the overwhelming majority of people incarcerated are in state prisons, state facilities for state crimes. we can only focus on federal law and federal crimes. so there's still going to be a large population of individuals who are incarcerated, even for nonviolent drug crimes, because this is a trend that started in the late 1980's and 1990's and accelerated at the state levels. but if we can show at the federal level that we can be
smart on crime, more cost effective, more just, more proportionate, then we can set a trend for other states to follow as well. and that's our hope. this is not going to be something that's reversed overnight. so, just to go back to my general principle, april, it took 20 years for us to get to the point we are now. and it will be 20 years probably before we reverse some of these major trends. ok, everybody, i've got to get to "star wars." thank you. thank you, guys. appreciate you. merry christmas, everybody. [captioning performed by -- [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] pres. obama: have fun with your families.
announcer: next, your calls and comments on "washington journal." then, taking questions on u.s. military readiness. at 10: 30, senator lindsey graham from south carolina is holding a town hall meeting in south carolina. announcer: book tv has 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors every weekend on c-span 2. today at 7:00 p.m., discussing the latest book "the generals: pass him mcarthur, marshall -- and the wedding of world war ii." on afterwords, on the world health cap.
then former virginia governor douglas wilder discusses his memoir "son of virginia: a life in the political arena." >> the military experience that i had, and the of fraternity -- and the opportunity that i had that started me. i had a good ballpark this. -- i had a good law practice. i had a great law practice. politics was the last thing i wanted to get involved with. announcer: watch book tv on c-span2. announcer: this morning, retired air force judge advocate general discussing the court-martial of sergeant bowe bergdahl for his disappearance from a base in
afghanistan. then the director of the death penalty center talks about death penalty by state. you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. "washington journal" is next. host: in the race for the white house, lindsey graham and jep bush are holding town halls today. you can see those live on c-span listen to them on c-span radio. the democratic national committee has reversed a decision that kept the bernie sanders campaign from getting access to campaign information, this after the sanders campaign admitted getting unauthorized access to clinton campaign information. and in its final news conference of the year, president obama not only highlighted his accomplishments this year, but also what he wants to accomplish during his last year in office. for our first 45 minutes, we want