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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 1, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EST

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to bring this spending under control, the process reforms we're going to make so hopefully we can get off this unsustainable path and get on a sustainable pra jectry so we can -- trajectory so we can have the kind of growth that we need. we've been there before. this has happened in the past. in the last 20 years it's happened on several occasions. so it's entirely possible, despite the best efforts of those of us who want to avoid it, it's possible it could happen again. if it were to happen again, we want to make sure that we have no default on our debt, that interest is paid, and that social security checks go to their recipients as they should. there will be plenty of resources from ongoing tax revenue to make sure that that happens, and anything less would be very irresponsible, so i would urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this amendment. the presiding officer: all time is expired. mr. leahy: i ask for the yeas
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and nays on the leahy-grassley leahy-grassley-kyl et al. managers' amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there is a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? on this, the ayes are 97, the nays are 2. the amendment is agreed to. a senator: move to reconsider. mrs. boxer: lay it on the table. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. the senate is not in order. please take your conversations out of the senate. the senate will come to order. the senate is not in order.
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the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i would ask consent for one minute for each side to explain this next amendment. equally divided. one minute each side. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president, the next amendment is the vitter amendment 112 which essentially says that the united states must pay its interest debts and social security benefits before it makes any other government obligations. i think that's a bad idea. that would bring economic chaos to our country f. we default, we default. just because bondholders in china get priority over our troops overseas or get priority over tax refunds doesn't mean we're not in default. besides, it's bad policy anyway. this amendment would bring chaos if we ever were to get to the point of being unable to raise our debt, it would be chaos to
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say we would pay the chinese bondholders first before we pay anybody else. that's the wrong thing to do. i don't think we want to get in a situation where we're going to tell the american people that they're second to -- to foreign investors. i strongly urge that this amendment be defeated. at the appropriate time, i'll move to table the amendment. mr. toomey: mr. president, if i could take the minute to rebutt my colleague. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: it's few, it would be very disruptive and would be chaos if we had a government shutdown or if we eventually fay to raise -- fail to raise the debt limit. this amendment doesn't cause that. this amendment is designed in fact to prevent the kind of chaos that might otherwise ensue by simply ensuring that under no circumstances what so ever will the united states default on its debt. and i think we all agree -- the presiding officer: the senate will come to order.
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mr. toomey: thank you. i think we all agree that the last thing we should ever tolerate would be a situation in which the united states government would default on our debt, the chaos that would result from that would be devastating. and so this is an amendment that says, in the event that the debt limit is not raised, when we reach it, and, by the way, we've been there before so it's not unconceivable, that we'd make sure that we under no circumstances would default on the debt. and because senator vitter offered a -- an amendment to this amendment essentially, the merger of these amendments ensures that social security payments would also go out. by the way, there is more than sufficient revenue from ongoing taxes to ensure that that could be done. and so in the interest of avoiding the chaos of an actual default, i think this absolutely should occur. and by the way, i think it's also important to note that a majority of all the debt issued by this government is held by americans. they're held by senior citizens who live in allentown, pennsylvania, and who have saved their whole life and invested
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that savings in u.s. treasury securities. and i think it's very important that we send the message to them that even if we're not able to get our work done and -- and raise this debt limit, as i hope we will at the appropriate time, we certainly would not default on the debt that the -- that they hold. and i'll yield the balance of my time. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i move to table the vitter for toomey amendment number 112 as modified and ask for the yeas and nays on my motion to table. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, on this the yeas are 52.
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the nays are 47. the motion to table is agreed to. the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the homeland security and governmental affairs committee be discharged from further consideration of s. 388 and the senate proceed to its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. 388, a bill to prohibit members of congress and the president from receiving pay during government shutdowns. the presiding officer: without objection, the committee is discharged and the senate will proceed to the measure. mrs. boxer: i ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that the bill be read three times and passed, that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table with no intervening action or debate, and any statements relating to the matter be placed in the record as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: mr. president, in one minute or less, i want to
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thank you very much for your strong cosponsorship of this boxer-casey bill, and all my colleagues who went on. i'll put the list into the record. basically we're saying that if we fail to keep this government open or we fail to lift the debt ceiling, that we -- members of congress -- should not receive our pay. it's pretty straightforward. now i want to thank senator coburn. he had objected earlier. he backed off of his objection. he stated, and he will make his own case in the record -- i ask unanimous consent that his statement be put in the record right after mine. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: he is making the case that federal employees, like nurses or superfund cleanup workers or border patrol agents, never get one penny of reimbursement or back pay. and i think that is really in essence unfair to put, if we have a government shutdown, on
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the backs of the middle-class people who don't want to stay home; they want to work. so i'm glad that he is allowing this to move forward. now we certainly will ask our friends on the other side of the aisle, speaker boehner, to take this bill up posthaste and let's get it going. let's avoid a shutdown, but let's make it clear to the american people that if there is one, we're going to take our lumps just like other federal workers will. i hope this will help avert a shutdown. thank you very, very much, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending business and call up amendment number 124 at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from new jersey, mr. menendez, proposes amendment numbered 124. mr. menendez: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read. the presiding officer: without
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objection. mr. menendez: thank you, mr. president. very briefly, the goal of patent reform legislation is to incentivize investment in the american economy, create jobs and allow this great country to continue to win in the global marketplace. the amendment that i am offering here today would do just that. it would incentivize innovation and investment by prioritizing patents that are vital to the american economy and american competitiveness. let's in essence be able to incentivize that innovation by creating that prioritizing. my amendment would allow the patent office to prioritize patent applications that are vital to our national interests. specifically, the amendment says that the patent office director may prioritize the examination of applications for technologies that are important to the national economy or national competitiveness. and examples, although these are only by way of examples, such as
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green technologies designed to foster renewable energy, clean energy, biofuels, agricultural sustainability, environmental quality, conservation or energy efficiency. currently the patent office runs a green technology pilot program, and application for green technologies may be fast tracked leading to go an ex -- leading to an expedited decision. this process is reserved for a small number of applications that are vitally important so it has little to no adverse impact on other applications. currently the patent process is rather lengthy. patent decisions take two to three years. our country is in danger of having these buried in the patent office. we want to make sure they are fast tracked rather than sidelined. the goal here is to create jobs at home. we have to make sure that the patent office has the resources and ability to prioritize patents that do just that:
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create jobs, incentivize investment and support innovation. the patent office supports this amendment because they need the tools to make sure that this bill reaches its intended goal of improving america's economy. this amendment will create green jobs and support america's transformation to a self-sustaining economy that, among other things, is not relying on foreign oil. it is vitally important that we do our best to ensure that all americans have good-paying jobs and that we secure our nation's economic future. i'm going to ask my colleagues to support this amendment. it codifies an existing successful program at the patent office. it is good, commonsense policy that can help america propel forward in the 21st century. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. i observe the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the
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clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call: mr. martinez: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from emergenc emergency. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. martinez: mr. president, i observe absence of a quorum.
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quorum call:
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quote
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i rise today to speak in support of the america invents act generally and about the managers' amendment specifically. the america invents act, also known as the patent reform bill,
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has been pending for many years and has been the subject of extensive debate, negotiation, and revisions. in its current draft, it does much-needed good to help protect the american innovation economy, by updating and modernizing our patent system. the patent system in the u.s. is designed to protect innovation, inventions and investment, but over the last several decades, the patent and trademark office has become bogged down and overburdened by inefficient process and outdated law. the result is a heavy burden on the innovative work that is the engine of our economy. i want to commend senator leahy. he has gone the extra mile for this bill for many years, and i'm proud and glad that he is seeing his work come to fruition
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as we finally debate the bill on the floor and passage of the bill is in sight. i also want to commend the ranking member of the judiciary committee, senator grassley, who worked with him, as well as senator kyl who has taken a leading role on the republican side for their hard work in crafting a bill that effectively modernizes the patent system while paying attention to the many and varied demands that different sectors of the economy exert upon it. i'm particularly pleased that the chairman has decided to adopt the schumer-kyl amendment on business method patents into the managers' amendment. it's a critical change that this bill finally begins to address the scourge of business method patents that's currently plaguing the financial sector. business method patents are anathema to the protection that the patent system provides because they apply not to novel products or services but to abstract and common concepts of how to do business. often business method patents
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are issued for practices that have been widespread use in the financial industry for years, such as check imaging or one-click checkout. because of the nature of the financial services industry, those practices aren't identifiable by the p.t.o. as prior art and bad patents are issued. the holders of business method patents then attempt to extract settlements from the banks by suing them in plaintiff-friendly courts and tying them up in years of extremely costly litigation. this is not a small problem. around 11,000 new patents -- for patents on business methods are filed every year, and financial patents are being litigated almost 30 times more than patents as a whole. this is not right, it's not fair, and it's taking desperately needed money and economic energy out of the economy and putting it into the hands of a few litigants, so i'm very pleased congress is going to fight it. the schumer-kyl amendment which was included in the managers'
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package we just adopted will allow companies that are the target of one of these frivolous business method patent lawsuits to go back to the p.t.o. and demonstrate with the appropriate prior art that the patent shouldn't have been issued in the first place. that way, bad patents can be knocked out in an inefficient -- knocked out in an efficient administrative proceeding, avoiding costly litigation. one of the most critical elements of this amendment has to do with the stay of litigation, while review of the patent is pending at the p.t.o. the amendment includes a four-factor test for the granting of a stay that places a very heavy thumb on the scale in favor of the stay. indeed, the test requires the court to ask whether a stay would reduce the burden of litigation on the parties and the court. since the entire purpose of the transitional program at the p.t.o. is to reduce the burden of litigation, it is nearly impossible to imagine a scenario in which a district court would not issue a stay.
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in response to concerns that earlier investigators of the amendment were too -- earlier investigators of the amendment were too broad, we have modified it to ensure it is narrowly targeted. we want to capture the business methods at the heart of the problem and avoid any collateral circumstances. in conclusion, i believe the amendment takes an important step in the direction of eliminating the kinds of frivolous lawsuits that the jurisprudence on business methods patents have allowed. i'm thanking, i'm very grateful to the chairman and the ranking member and senator kyl, and i support the managers' amendment and the america invents act as a whole. finally, i'd like to say a few words about senator coburn's proposal on fee diversion. i think his idea which is incorporated in the managers makes a lot of sense. that is, to let the p.t.o. keep the fees they charge so that they are self-funded and we don't have to spend taxpayer money to fund them every year. last year, when we were debating
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the wall street reform bill, senator jack reed and i made a similar proposal for the s.e.c. which ultimately didn't make it into the final bill. i just wanted to take this time to make a few points about this commonsense proposal. first, for the last 15 years, the s.e.c. hasn't spent a dime of taxpayer money. for 15 years, the s.e.c. has had no impact on the deficit. this is because congress in 1996 amended the securities law to provide that 100% of the s.e.c.'s funding come from registration and filing fees charged by the commission. second, even though the s.e.c. collects more in fees every year than it spends, the amount of the s.e.c.'s annual budget is determined by congress, which is continually -- which has continually shortchanged the s.e.c. the s.e.c.'s budget has been in the crosshairs for years and their funding has been so inadequate that they have been compromised in their ability to pursue their core mission.
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third, the budget proposal in the house would continue the shortchanging of the s.e.c., cutting $40 million from its existing budget at a time when it needs resources more than ever. and finally, a word about the current demands on the s.e.c. we gave that agency significant new responsibilities under the dodd-frank act in particular to oversee the previously unregulated derivative markets. that's an enormous undertaking that everybody agrees is necessary after seeing the role that unregulated derivatives play in the financial crisis. in closing, i would strongly suggest to my colleagues that if self-funding makes sense for the p.t.o., it makes sense for the s.e.c. i'm not going to call up my amendment now or my bill now, but i urge my colleagues to support this commonsense proposal that senator reed and i are pushing and ensure that it gets a full hearing in the senate. and, mr. chairman, i thank you for your time and attention. mr. president, i yield the floor
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and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that at 11:00 a.m. on march 2, the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of s.j. h.j. res., the two-week continuing resolution which is at the desk. that the senate proceed to vote
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on the passage of s.j. res. 44 with no intervening action or debate. further, that the cloture motion on the motion to proceed to calendar number 11, h.r. 359, be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of senate resolution 83 which was submitted earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: s. res. 83, designating march 2, 2011, as read across america day. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. schumer: i ask unanimous consent the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, and any statements relating to the matter be placed in the record as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of senate resolution 84, resolution
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introduced earlier today by senator casey. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 84, expressing support for internal rebuilding, resettlement and reconciliation within sri lanka that are necessary to ensure a lasting peace. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. schumer: mr. president, i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, and that any statements related to the measure be printed in the record at the appropriate place. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. presi -- mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to the immediate consideration of senate resolution 85, which was introduced earlier today. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: senate resolution 85, strongly condemning the gross and systematic violations of human rights in libya and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection, the senate will proceed to the measure. mr. schumer: mr. president, i further ask that the resolution be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, the motion to
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reconsider be laid upon table with no intervening action or debate and that any statements relating to the measure be printed at the appropriate place in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it adjourn until 9:30 a.m. on wednesday, march 2. that following the prayer and the pledge, the journal of proceedings be approved to date, the morning hour be deemed expired, the time for which the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day, that following any leader remarks, there be a period of morning business until 11:00 a.m. with senators permitted to speak therein up to ten minutes each, with the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees. with the republicans controlling the first 30 minutes, the majority controlling the next 30 minutes and the remaining time until 11:00 a.m. equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority controlling the final half. further, following morning business, the senate proceed to the consideration of h.j. res. 44, the two-week continuing resolution, as provided for under the previous order.
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and, finally, upon disposition of the c.r., the senate resume consideration of s. 23, the america invents act. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. schumer: mr. president, senators should expect the first vote of the day to begin at approximately 11:00 a.m. that vote will be on the passage of the two-week continuing resolution. additional roll call votes are expected to occur throughout the day in relations to the amendments to the america invents act. if there be no further business to come before the senate, i ask that it adjourn under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate is now adjourned until 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. pennsylvani.
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mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, it's a great m. president, it's a great mr. president, it's a great privilege and honor for me to be doubled to represent a big b pen wonderful diverse commonwealth of pennsylvania in the united pennsylvania is a wonderful a state. it's got a terrific range of big great attributes, big bustling cities like philadelphia and end pittsburgh and has allcommonalth throughout the commonwealth beautiful historical burroughs like to gettysburg. we go from the banks of theo t delaware old the way to the shores ofhe of lake erie and ine state this big of course we have 'vwide range of very vital industries. ag we've got old industries that we've had for a long time and are still very important
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employers, agricultural, coale g and steel and many others. we are a big manufacturing steel, manufacturing goods of all kinds.cially ithe field we have a huge service sector ad especially in the fields of t and tourism and many others, and an we've got some relatively new exciting industries in the wil commonwealth and i'm very hopeful will lead to anob acceleration job growth soon. pf i'm thinking in particular of natural gas and the shale and the licenses all across the commonwealth especially greater philadelphia and pittsburgh as pitturgh a well as the points in between the medical device sector and pharmaceutical industries are offering some of the most exciting opportunities fories fr economic growth and in the t commonwealth.f when i think about diversity's in the common william convinced, pennsylvania is best days are ahead of us.trengthsnd
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that said, despite thee've underlying strengths and advantages that we have we havee an economy that's struggling, we slowho in coming and as i saidsa repeatedly throughout my i'v campaign for the senate seat ank as i said since then i think there are two vital priorities we need to focus on first andnoc foremost here in washington anda the first is economic growth and job creation that comes with it. second is restoring fiscall discipline to a government that ins lost all sense of fiscalcipl discipline. these of course are socially hae related and will never have thee time to the kind of job growthve we need and deserve until we gen our fiscal house in order.arate but i look at them as separate issues and i think they should be at the top of our of priority list. let me say this mr. president, e am absolutely convinced we can b have terrific economic growth, terrific job growth, we can have the prosperity we've beenle if t looking for and it's actually te
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inevitable the federal government just follows the fors right policies. remembering first and foremostae that prosperity comes from the t private sector, doesn't come from government itself. but the government creates aneas environment in which the privato hactor can thrive and create tht i would argueneed,. mr. preside, the government does that by thab doing just four things and doino them well.l the first is to make sure we have the legal system thatcauset respects property rights becauso the title and ownership and ability to use private property is the cornerstone of a free are enterprise system. require t er requires a second of the gov government establish sensible regulations that are not excessive because that excessive regulation and frankly we have seen a lot of excessiveny regulh regulation always has unintendet consequences that curb our creat ability toe create the job that need. a third thing the ysgovernment stable currency, soundund moneys because the dates on one's currency is the way to ruin, not
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the way to prosperity, and fourth, governments need to livm withinents their means. they can't be spending too muchc money and they can cut taxes at too high a level. it's so important that government spending remainedan h limited and frankly mavuch lesso than we have today for severalt reasons. one of course governmentf capi fending is the political the allocation of capital rather than the allocation and a freehn economy and is always less ente. efficient and engaging in free enterprise and second, too muchi spending is problematic is to be paidan for with its higher taxes, and higher taxes curley really impede economic growth chd prevent job creation. whi they do that in many ways bothne not least of which is incentives to tak making investments toe take riss to launch new enterprises and hiringw new workers. f
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iou would argue if these five gt priorities, the government isn't doing such a great job, and thee failure is most egregious when it comes to the level ofcently spending that has recently developed in this town. a the recent surge in spending the amounts to a 25% increase in th. size of the government virtualle overnight.nment the government is now spending, the federal government alone isf now spending fully 25% of our entire economic output and the huge surge ofoyment spending hasn't worked. unemployment rate has stayed near the 10%. our deficits are now over tha year. that's more than 10% of our you entire economy, and of course when you run annual deficits or spend more than you bring in that is a shortfall that's made we've been adding to a the debtt what i think is an alarming alac pace, and i would argue that t
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today costing us job growth.crea it's costing us jobs because it creates a tremendous uncertainty in our economic future when wed are not on a sustainable fiscalu path and that uncertainty itselc ng job creators from doing the kins of things we need. and the risks are very real. history is replete with its evils of countries that have accumulated too much debt, and w frankly, it never ends well. very often it leads to high inf rates of inflation,la it can ler to much higher interest rates which can have a crippling a effect on job growth, it can on even lead to financial disruptions which can be very,y very damages as we have recently noh the seen. rent now, with the recent acceleration in the size of thed deficits and increasing our debt, we are now relatively i closing in on the statutory limit to the amount of moneyrnms that the federal government has permitted to borrow under thethn
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law andt that is an amount of i over $14 trillion the truth is we are rapidly closing in on that limb at. and we will get their fairly oug soon. here -- here the administration has suggestee that we ought to come here in congress we ought to vote to raise the limit with no attache conditions attached. a.have to t tell you this i thie it's a very bad idea. this brings to mind the case ofr a family that is routinely living beyond their means ore routinely spending more thaniffe their income and making up forte the difference by running up th. when this family reaches the limit on all the credit cards they've got, who really thinks i's a goofy as to just give alk good tv, another credit card.o most folks in pennsylvaniag probably think it's time to reexaminean the spending come ad look at the real problem thatti. has gotten the family into the situation. i think that isgo where we are s a government.y reene the i think we've really need to end fundamentally reexamine the spending that we have been engaged in.ly, i now, i wil fl saiay clearly i tt
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failure to raise the debt limit promptly upon reaching it is noy optimal and would be very disruptive and i hovepe that. doesn't come to pass. the but i happen to think the mostod irresponsible thing we could dob is simply raise the debt limit and it just run up even more dt debt without making any of the changes to the problems that got c into this place. have re specifically i did what we need to do is have real cuts in spending now. not leader, not in some distantl hypothetical point in the tim future, but now.that's one. that's one. second, i think we need real reform in the spending process.s pforms in the way that thee congress goes about its business becomes a process is part of what has gotten us here. my own view i would like to seeq a balanced budget amendment andt books toen dibe balanced and lia the totalso spending to a harder reasonable percentage of thera economy and one that makes it ay harder to raise taxes.but i think there would be a very good development. we c
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banut there will take several years at best if we can get itte implemented.ag of course all the states have te agree. and in the meantime i would hopc we could have statutory spendinw caps. t in her law limits to hohew much the federal government can that spend, and a mechanism that som would redresse the problem if f. limits. should now as we've had this debate over whether or not attach these conditions to raising the debt limit, some din have suggested that this is aluo very dangerous discussion tot have because failure to some hae immediately raise the debt limit some have suggested that amounta dy a default on our treasury ala security on the borrowing we already incurred. already incurred. the factue. is that is just not. true and i think that it's irresponsible to suggest that.og the fact is, mr. president, thee ongoing revenue from the tax system will be collected whether or not we immediately raise theg debt limit, the ongoing revenue is more than ten times all the o
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money needed to stay current onn our debt service. in fact, the last 20 years therb have been four occasions whenwhe te've reached the debt limit without immediately raising it and we never defaulted on ourn debt and this country nevers cou will.nt so why not think we should have a discussion about somethingtav that's not goei ang to happen, e r in the admaiinistration has serd the specter of a default ithould introduced legislation that would quickly take that risk off the table entirely. my bill was called the fullha faith and creditt act, and in rame places in the event we'veo reached the debt limit without having raised it, it instructs debt service is the top w priority.ult onur this guarantees we wouldn'twe wu create a financial crisis of ant kind, and maybe more a importantly, it would be i thino ovgreat reassurance to the thisg millions of americans who havee lent this government the money. the millions who hold treasury bonds in their ira, 401k,s.
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pension plan. you know, for retiree who lives in allentown pennsylvania who's lived modestly, saved money with retirement savings invested in the u.s. treasury?peace i think those folks deserve priority is going to be to make sure that we honor the obligation to stay current on jt our debt. i want to take a mothmeannt tocy lojust thank senator vitter f because yesterday he came downru toced the floor and introduced y legislation as an amendment to . the current patent reform bill. and i hope we will be able to pass my amendment. i hope we will get to a vote on the senate floor on this, and it the real reason is i really just want to take off the table, i want to remove this fall spectea of default on our debt so that e we can c have an honest debate b over how we are going to atgetgt spending under control. contr. what kind of spending cuts we sn are going to have rgight now, aw what kind of reforms we are we'g going to moiake for the process going forward. i don't think we can kick then'k can down the road anymore.can dn we've been doing that for a lont
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time. as i said earlier, it never ende well when the governmentn take continue taking on too much deb debt. nobody here that i know wants to see ththe government shut down. nobody wants to d see theuption failing to raise the debt falimt at some point. pnt. but more can we proceed with business as usual and all acrose pennsylvania i hear every day to when i'm back home how importans it is this government learn to live withinsy its means is that pennsylvania businesses and say, families have done. absol let me close by just saying i a still remain absolutely economic recovery. we can have a booming economic growth and the tremendous job creation that goesit with it.an it's overdue, but it can still k right. if policies that create the rightoc environment.e sign convinced the 21st century will be another american century and pennsylvania will be up the. forefront. m thank you,r. pre mr. president,i yield the floor.
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one woe will
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now defense secretary robert gates and joint chiefs of staff chairman admiral michael mullen on the u.s. response to violence in libya. this is a half-hour. [inaudible conversations]
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>> good afternoon. i have several personnel announcements to make and then admiral mullen will provide a report on his visit to the middle east. today i'm announcing i recommend the three officers to the president for senior leadership positions. i will recommend vice admiral william mcgreevey who currently heads the joint operations command for promotion to a fourth star and for the nomination to take charge in the u.s. special operations command. he will replace admiral eric olson who will retire year at the completion of his tenure. i will recommend general, james thurmond currently the commander of the army forces command to be the next commander of the united
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states forces korea, replacing general scaap shark who will retire at the end of his tour. finally, i am recommending vice admiral joe kernan for the post of deputy commander of u.s. southern command, replacing lt. general ken keen. we will properly recognize at roles in congenital short and ken keen in the public dedicated service at inappropriate time. the three officers i am recommending today to be their successors have the right mix of military, strategic vision and diplomatic and interagency skill that these posts will require. admiral mcgreevey a commander of co three and special command europe have led a team that has been ruthlessly and effectively taking the fight to america's most dangerous and vicious enemy. general thurman currently runs the army's largest organization with responsibility for oversight, manning, training and command on more than 700,000
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soldiers in the continental united states. general thurman also has significant experience in combat theaters including services in the division commander in iraq and joe kernan returns to southcom where he commanded fort fleet the first seal to lead a fleet. on a personal note i would like to thank joe for his service for the past two years in my office. his a device informed by his background in the special operations or your has been invaluable and he will be sorely missed. joe's successor is military assistance will be lieutenant general tom kelly who currently leads the marine forces reserve and previously commanded the first marine expeditionary force, the first. the first and anbar province in iraq. i look forward to his coming on board later this month. before taking questions and turning it over to the admiral mullen, i would like to note the passing of the corporal frank
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buckles, the last living veteran from world war i. i had the honor of meeting mr. thank etd to buckles three years ago at the pentagon honoring world war i generation. as i said then, we will always be grateful for these veterans did for their country, and in mr. buckles's case, we are all glad that he had the longevity that he had enjoyed on this earth. admiral? >> thank you, mr. secretary. with me start by saying i fully concur with a senior leader recommendations he made. i know each of these officers very well and i watch them work and lead and fight in some very difficult times, and i know each of them will perform their duties with the same energy and innovation with which they have served their entire career. all of the great leaders in their own right and all of them are ready for the challenges you proposed and they now take on. the chiefs and i look forward to working with them and will give them our full support should the president see fit to nominate them and the senate see fit to
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confirm them. if i may, i would like to make a mention of my trip last week through the arabian gulf region. the long plan trips certainly take on fresh character in the face of popular unrest and revolt across north africa in the arab world. seven countries and seven days later i can tell you this, the pace of change in the course of events are really literally at the speed of twitter. when i took off from andrews last saturday protests in bahrain were turning bloody. uprisings in libya were merely percolating and demonstrations and yemen were fragmented and disorganized. today, and april are bound in bahrain is a place of nonviolent activism. khaddafi is waging a war on his own people, and the opposition groups in and around seminar are coalescing setting up camp and vowing to fight. imom was quiet on thursday when i was there and by the time i landed at andrews the protests in the northern town had turned
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violent, and to people had been killed. never have i seen so much happening so quickly in so many different places at once. but people there were glad to see me. they still want a strong partnership with the united states and with the u.s. armed forces specifically. and i believe that it is absolutely vital that we look for ways where and when we can to foster those relationships. i recognize this will always be possible. the preliminary steps we've taken to begin military dialogue in libya for instance right now rightly have been halted. but also in the region we find a public report worships a longstanding and routed professionalism offer a means of communication and even clarity in fees on certain times that other forms of interaction may not yield. that is another reason i didn't alter my plans to make this trip quite frankly. i thought it was important to go and to listen. i wanted to gain their perspective on what is happening
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and hear directly from them on what plans, if any, they were making. as you might expect, no to country's leaders, military or civilian, are approaching this crisis in quite the same way to beat each is guided by his own sense of urgency and domestic politics, but all of them understand the seriousness of the passions driving these protests. and all of them are concerned about the broader regional implications. iran and loomed large. and while i do not share the same worries others have about the felmy the address we see no indication of a credible influence from tehran in that regard. i do agree if the regime needs to take advantage of it for their own purposes. my message, therefore, was one of reassurance. the u.s. military will not lie in our load, we will not speed or focus on the commitments we have made or on preserving our ability to support the actions of any state in the region. iran is the real loser here,
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whether they want to admit it or not. they have had no hand in the change sweeping the region except the one they've used to slap back their own people. violence only gets more violence, while peaceful protests and government restraint can lead to meaningful dialogue and progress and a commitment to change as we have seen in egypt, bahrain and to -- tunisia. >> he mentioned that in libya newmar khaddafi is waging a war on his own people as he put it. as the u.s. military intervention and realistic and what specifics options are you considering? could you is, flexible, the possibility of the no-fly zone or arming the forces? >> well, first of all, i have directed several navy ships to the mediterranean. we will be entering the the
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mediterranean shortly and will provide a capability for both the emergency evacuations and also for humanitarian relief. about 1400 marines from are serving in afghanistan, and so we are sending about 400 marines from the u.s. the will be in support of the mission. so those are the actions that we have taken at this point. we are obviously looking at a lot of options and contingencies no decisions have been made on any other actions. i would no that the u.n. security council resolution provides no authorization for the use of armed force. there is no unanimity within nato for the use of armed force, and the kinds of options that
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have been talked about in the press and elsewhere also have their own consequences and the second and third order of fact. so the need to be considered very carefully. our job is to give the president the broadest possible decisions faced and options and to go into the things that we are thinking about the options that we are providing a i think have the potential to narrow his decision space, and i have no intention of doing that. i don't know if you want to add anything. >> what are those second and third order consequences the you are talking about as a result of any possible u.s. military intervention? and if i could also come to the admiral, this morning up on capitol hill, centcom commander general enforcing the no-fly zone but actively involved u.s. military decorations and taking out air defense systems before the flight zone could be
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enforced. is that the case where the u.s. military has to actually launch air strikes before those no-fly zones could be effectively enforced? >> first of all, all of these options beyond the humanitarian assistance and evaluation more complex. and the second and third order consequences i think derived from the fact that they are complex, and for example, if we move additional assets what are the consequences of that for afghanistan, for the persian gulf, and with other allies are prepared to work with us on some of these things? so i think those are some of the effects we have to think about. we also have to think about, frankly, the use of the u.s. military in another country in the middle east.
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so i feel we are sensitive about all these things but we will provide the president with a full range of options. >> with respect to the no-fly zone specifically, it is an extraordinarily complex operation to set up. it is been done historically. we did it in iraq for many years, north and south, and certainly if we were to set it up or if that were something there was decided to do, we would have to work our way through doing it in a safe manner and certainly not put ourselves in jeopardy in doing that and it gets to the general magic set about obviously putting us in a position, you know, over the air defenses that could actually harm, you know, take our -- take those aviation assets out of the air. but again, that is at this point this is an awful lot of people talking about this. there has been i think
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increasing i guess desire to understand it specifically, but there are many things as the secretary said the we are looking at for contingencies and absolutely no decisions made with respect to that. ..
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>> i'm talking about the full range of any kind of military activity with respect to libya. there is no authorization for the use of force in that u.n. security counsel resolution. presumably. >> could you talk about the gas and there's a lot of talk about stalk piles and no way to deploy it? what are the possibilities and fears there of what he could do with it? >> first of all, we're keeping an eye on it, and our information is that the security around those things has been increased, and i think i just leave it as we're keeping an eye on it, and i think it is not an immediate concern for us. >> is there any evidence he actually fired on his own
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people. >> we've seen the press reports, but no confirmation. >> that's correct. >> what is your assessment of the situation on the ground, how bad is it? can the rebels take tripoli? are thousands dying? >> well, i think the honest answer, david, is that we don't know in that respect in terms of the number of casualties. in terms of the potential capability of the opposition, we're in the same realm of speculation pretty much as everybody else. i haven't seen anything that would give us a better read on the number of rebels that have been killed than you have, and i think it remains to be seen how
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effectively military leaders who have defected from gadafi's forces can organize the forces in the country, and we are watching that unfold as you are. >> do you have any requests from rebel leaders for air strikes? have you heard of any of that? >> no. >> and can you say about yemen quickly, the mentor of bin laden in the wake of this anti-american comments? are concerned are you of the culture islamic state in yemen? how concerned are you about what's unfolding in yemen right now? >> i have not seen the press reports about the rern of the cleric, so i'm not in a position to respond to that, but we are watching the situation in yemen very closely, and it is a matter of concern. i don't know if you want to comment. you know more than i do. >> well, yemen, i mean, actually
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has been an area we've been focused on for a long time and are concerned essentially about the fur till ground -- fur till ground. it has gotten much more potent as the uncertainty continues there, we are very focused on that. i guess as almost each piece continues to unfold, we are watching it very carefully whether this guy will have the kind of impact that some think he might have. i just don't know. >> how do you explan the anti-american comment from an ally, i mean, someone who is a good supporter of the united states until now? you said it was washington and israel with the middle east. you said that today.
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>> i haven't seen it. >> i haven't either. >> they've been in meetings. >> i'm listening to the news. >> based on what you saw today, do you have any reason gadafi is willing to leave voluntarily or any force whether it is rebels or u.n. sanctions, western intervention, whether some force is required to push them out of power? >> sometimes you have to listen to what people say, and he's saying he's not leaving. [laughter] >> sir, the contract last week, and i'm curious if you heard anything from the venders about whether they can move forward with it or if there's another round of potential difficulties with the companies involved? >> i have not heard anything. i believe that both of the offers were briefed yesterday,
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monday. we think that this was a very transpoint forthright process. companies obviously have the opportunities under the law to protest, but i think the view in this building is that there are no grounds for a valid protest. >> secretary mullen, the question about the middle east, peaceful revolutions in egypt and tunisia where people want democracy and less optimistic pictures in bahrain where things are getting more violent. in the long term, what are the risks and rewards for the u.s. interest in the region? what do you see long term evolving for the u.s. as a result of the changes, if you could speak about that. >> i guess i would have to say
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i'm on optimist about these changes. i think first of all these -- the revolutions in tunisia and in egypt and the protests elsewhere that are leading to reforms in a number of governments, i think are an extraordinary set back for al-qaeda. it basically gives the lie to al-qaeda's claim the only way to get rid of authoritarian governments is to rid of extremist violence. people of several countries in the region are proving this not to be the case. i also think that it is in some republics now and perhaps even more so in the future a major setback for iran because the contrast between the behavior of the militaries in tunisia and
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egypt and except for a brief period of violence in bahrain contrast vividly with the savage repression that the iranians have undertaken against anybody who dares to demonstrate in their countries. now, all of this clearly have to play out. it could take months and probably years before these situations stabilize and we know if we have durable democratic governments in some of these countries, but a progress of change has begun after decades of the political arrangements of these countries being frozen, and the prospect for that change
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particularly if it is carried out without violence as has been the case in several of these countries and gives rise to democratic governments i think is a gain first of all for the peoples of the region, but ultimately a gain for everybody. i don't know if you want to add anything. >> i share the optimism. it's obviously a very difficult time as i was in seven different countries last week. i was reminded, and i think it's very important to discriminate between countries, so i would not put for instance bahrain and libya in the same category at all. in fact, there was violence, the king and crowned prince immediately stepped back for that, called for a dialogue. those were very positive steps, and they are now trying to work their way through how to make that dialogue work, and i think they recognize what their requirement is, and one of the reasons i share the optimism is
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because in each country, it is clearly about the people of that country. it is not been about the relationship, you know, the expersonal relationships, but it's been about change inside those countries which are so important, and certainly i think, you know, in the long run, all of us are going to have to adjust, you know, how, what these relationships mean, but i know on balance i'm optimistic that there is a chance for stability in opportunity that just didn't exist as recently as four weeks ago, and i would just like to reemphasize also what the secretary said about al-qaeda. i think it's a fundamental almost -- not a defeat, but certainly it is a lesson or it is a message that completely underminds the strategy of al-qaeda.
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>> admiral mullen, can you talk as a result of your trip last week, what adjustments do you feel like the u.s. military needs to be making right now, needs to be working on because of the changes in events in terms of the u.s. military's relationship with any of these countries, and secretary gates, i'd like your thoughts on that as well. >> i'm not sure about, you know, some significant adjustments right away. i think it's really important to stay engaged with them, and too as i said, listen to what their concerns are. you know, they actually, you know, they want us to stay with them. they don't want to see, you know, the assistance immediately cut off. they want a chance in their own countries to work on this kind of change specifically. i mean, i've engaged my counterpart in egypt a number of times. they greatly appreciate the relationship. they are working their way
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through this, and they appreciate the support, but it is really for them to work through this and they want to sustain the relationship. we may have to adjust it over time, but they are certainly not calling for any significant change right now. >> i would say again i pick up on the chairman's point. i think we shouldn't lump all these countries in together, so i would say with respect to libya, what limited military relationships we had with the government is on the end. the military financing, our assistance programs, i think it is really important that these continue. i think we've seen the results, the beneficial results of this engagement over time, and so i think it's beyond continuing
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with the governments, the relationships we've had for many years. i think we just have to take our time and look at it. >> [inaudible] can you tell us more detail about this exercise, and i have second question. >> one per customer. [laughter] >> i'll just say broadly this is part of a series of exercises that go on all the time between u.s. and public of korea forces. they are a part of a program of making sure that we have the campaignabilities and we have the skills to be able to respond to various contingencies we've seen over the past year.
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there's been provocations from the north that make the importance of these exercises i think even more clear. anything to add? >> i add we've had challenges over the last year, significant challenges, and i've been struck at how important the long term relationship has been, how immediate the coming together on how we should move ahead and how we are able to do that so quickly because of this relationship, bill to bill, and also between the two countries. that underpins, you know, a long term strategy which i think is headed in the right direction. >> you know, it's said that the commissioner changes and leading to reforms. don't you think that having similar changes in some countries like jordan or saudi arabia could put u.s. interests
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in danger or in jeopardy? >> well, i don't think so. we obviously have very strong and long standing relationships with both of those countries, friendships, and i'm -- both kings have undertaken reforms over time. there is clearly a need for continuation of those efforts, and we're supportive of them, but i think our relationships with both countries are very deep and go back a very long time, and i would be surprised if any changes in those countries of the kind we're talking about would significantly negatively effect our relationships. last question. >> you have assets in italy for any possibility of a no-fly zone operation, but do you think it would be sensible to have
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carrier also to increase your flexibility? plans to move a carrier to the mediterranean? >> as i said at the outset, we're looking at all options and a variety of contingencies. thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> now press secretary jay carney holds today's white house briefing. topics include federal spending and the ongoing political unrest in libya and the middle east. this is 45 minutes. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> all right. i just have a couple of things i'd like to start with if i may. first, as you know, on friday, the president is traveling to florida. he will visit miami central high school in florida with education secretary arne duncan and jeb bush. reforming our education system and preparing the next generation of young people to compete rather globally is not a democratic or a republican issue. miami central high school was recommended by former governor
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bush because it tells an incredible story of the impact successful turn around strategies and models can have on persist tently low-performing schools. governor bush is obviously, former governor bush, rather was committed and remains committed to bipartisan education reform. the president is as well. he's looking forward to that visit. i'd like to tell you and inform you that the president about 40 minutes ago made a phone call to speaker of the house john boehner to dos the progress being made on the negotiations for a continuing resolution. it was a 10-12 minute phone call, a good phone call, and you will ask, but i will not dive more into that phone call. i just wanted you to know it has taken place. >> two topics. on the spending standoff you mentioned there, the house is moving ahead with its two-week
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stopgap bill. is the white house engaged at all in trying to prevent this from becoming a two week after two week cycle where the government stays afloat, but there's no long term continuity? what's the white house doing about that? >> well, the white house is obviously engaged at various levels including at the presidential level as i just noted. we believe some progress has been made. we believe that there is a know cues in congress now on cuts that we all can agree on. the president, as you know, is committed to reducing spending. as he made clear with his 2012 budget proposal, and as he has made clear in these negotiations on the continuing resolution that he is committed to spending cuts. we can agree on those. we also believe that this process should be one in which we are -- there is enough time
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allowed for all sides to come together to reach an agreement on a long-term continuing resolution so that we can fund the government for the remainder of the year. that, in turn, will allow us to focus on the many other challenges that we face and that the american people want us to work on, so without getting into what is acceptable or unacceptable, our goal here is that we get a continuing resolution that is clear, that deals with the spending cuts we can agree on. we do believe that if $4 billion in cuts over two weeks is acceptable, that $8 billion over four or five weeks is something that we could agree on. again, if it was a clean continuing resolution, that would also allow the time, but our point here is not this amount of time versus that amount of time, but our focus is on moving beyond the short term
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cr and focusing on negotiations for a longer term cr that allows us to tighten our belts, live within our means, and continue to invest in the areas of the economy we think are social to invest in order to keep growing and creating jobs. >> well, how does two weeks given any of the parties the time needed to do what you're talking about? the want wanting another path forward? >> well, i think i just mentioned that another operation would be a longer cr with substantially more spending cuts included as essentially spending caughts that go into an escrow against the long term, the total number of cuts in a longer-term deal. again, but the point is whether it's two weeks, two weeks and two days, three weeks, four weeks, the point is what we do not believe would be helpful.
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in fact, we believe it would be harmful to the economy, and therefore, not something the american people would support is that if we created a toll booth where we are negotiating again and again on continuing resolutions to fund the government for two weeks or another short term period. there may be a process where we do that once or twice, but the focus is on the longer temperature term deal to come to an agreement, find commonground, and then put that in place so that we can focus on the longer term issues that we all realize the nation faces and that the american people want us to grapple with. >> are you saying -- hold me, let me -- >> follow-up on that. >> yes, okay. >> what do you mean by that? >> we wanted to focus on the spending and spending cuts that we can all agree on, and not to include extraneous policy issues that are not priorityies right
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now in terms of focusing on the continuing resolution and continuing to fund the government in the way that the american people want. yes? >> jay, following up on the whole issue. if the house passes the cr today, which they are most likely to do, will the president support? >> it is a process as you know where the house has already passed something that the president has made very clear he would not support, and that was a proposal they put out on the table, and now they are putting another one on the stable. the ?aft has to agree to something as well, and those negotiations are ongoing. i'm not going to say yes or no from here to a proposal that may be voted on today, but may not represent what is ultimately agreed upon in congress.
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the principles i just discussed about what our goals are, we think are widely shared. what is very apparent in this process is that the president is committed to making tough choices on spending. he is equally committed to not going down a road in terms of spending cuts that does harm to the economy, potentially does harm to our national security, and doesn't address the kind of investments that we need to make to keep our economy growing and innovating and educating so that we can win the future in the 21st century. those are his priorities, and he believes that there is plenty of commonground, that there are reasonable proposals out there, some of which i just discussed, that democrats and republicans working together, house members,
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senate members, can come together on and agree on on behalf of the american peemg, and i think we all know that that's what they want. they don't want debate about extraneous issues. they want agreement on commonground, and i think we can get there. >> switching gears, just one follow-up question. what message is the u.s. trying to send to qaddafi by moving warships closer to libya? >> we are, the united states, preparing for contingencies by moving some assets into the region primarily focused on the potential humanitarian contingencies that are out there, but as i have said and others have said, our u.s. ambassador to the united nations said yesterday we obviously aren't taking any options off the table, but this is
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contingency planning essentially. yes, jay? >> following up on libya. qaddafi shows no [inaudible conversations] that unlike the previous version of this film that we saw in egypt, there's no conclusion that he's moving towards bowing out. if any, he was walking around tripoli. there are support, he does have support in tripol. moving warships is not going to be enough. what else can u.s. do? what else does the white house intend to do? >> jake, i think we have done already quite a lot unilaterally and working with our international partners through the united nations and the e.u. and other places. the unilateral sanctions that we imposed on friday have already led the treasury department to
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block access to $30 billion of assets held by libbian regime, members of the regime. that's a strong message about the consequences of this continued behavior. the united nations has with incredible speed made clear that it will refer to the international criminal court, the abuses of human rights, that are being proven to have happened in libya and continue to happen, and that demonstrates the international community's ability to hold accountable those who perpetrate the violations we see and hear about that produces pressure on the regime. those who are around colonel qaddafi, wondering which way
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they should go and whether or not to continue to support the leader who no longer has creditability at home or anywhere in the world, they ought to think twice about it, because the consequences of continuing to support colonel qaddafi are severe and will be held accountable. >> last week there was a rash of ambassadors and some ministers and others separating themselves or removing themselves from the regime. we have not seen that in recent days, even as u.s. upped the pressure. you are talking about those around qaddafi needing to think about what said they want to be on. you know, right now, hypothetically stepping into one of their shoes, i don't know how it's going to go. it doesn't seem the momentum for him to be forced from office is there right now. >> well, jake, i would -- just based on the activities last week compared this week. >> first of all, i understand --
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and that's a fair question, as we watch the eventings in libya and other countries the drama we witness creates in us a sense of urgency, but when you say you don't see a sense of momentum, my goodness, would anyone predicted two weeks ago colonel qaddafi would be in this position now where great swaths of the country are no longer in his control where the entire international community including arab nations have a raid against him and call him nod credible as a leader. >> talking about those in the regime leading the regime. >> again, it's a matter of days, or if that, hours sense high level officials around him have separated themselves from him. i'm not sure i can accept the premise there is a lack of momentum. >> who was the last one to leave
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the regime? >> i'm saying the events in the last 10 days is remarkable. ed idea it's moving slowly is not acceptable. >> might the sanctions, and i know it's been last friday, but still, as jake was pointed out, no sign that he's backing down, so is there are surprise that these sanctions or whatever these options they have on the table so far are not making him budge? >> i would -- i won't bore you by repeating what i said to jake. . .
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is because of the intense diplomacy, the diplomacy that that entailed, and you can be sure that the president and all senior members of the national security team are focused on this intensely and continue to be. so, i just think you cannot reasonably measured this momentum in this situation, and in terms of hours and days the momentum has been almost blinding in terms of what we've seen in the situation and libya
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specifically. >> in your conversation did the president -- i know you don't want to talk about specifics, but did you talk to mr. been about a long-term solution and making sure there is a long term solutions of the door not going to weeks by two weeks? >> without addressing the specifics or the content of that situation, i will go back to what i said before which is our general concern, without going to whether it is two weeks acceptable or 16 days or 21 days -- is that there is a focus by all parties on the need to resolve this in a way that -- where we get the spending cuts that we can all agree on, that funds the government with those spending cuts for the end of the year, fiscal year, and then allows us to move on and address the other important issues facing us. >> so there was no commitment? you won't say if there was a commitment? >> i'm not going to go into the content of the conversation
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beyond what i've already said. yes. >> did you say who called him? >> the president called speaker boehner. >> okay, he got directly to him? this wasn't one of those -- [inaudible] [laughter] >> it was quite correct, yes. >> okay. glad to hear it. question, mr. boehner himself said today in a little press -- of a press conference but q&a, a little while ago when he was asked the president come late to the game on this one month extension, and said if there had been a conversation about this ten days or two days ago that we might have had something to talk about. but the fact is that we are forced to move on our own. he's suggesting that if the president headed men slow to move the game on this, that maybe they would have been able to do a one month extension. comment? >> i would simply say that, again, the president and the speaker had a productive and useful conversation to the -- >> he had said if they had it two days ago things might be
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different. >> i see no reason why we cannot engage as we have been by the way, at the staff level prior to this, -- but does have democrats on the hill, democrats and republicans together in this process going forward. we -- the american people expect us to come together. the president has made very clear in his -- but he also is committed to cutting spending. there's no longer -- there's no debate here about the need to cut spending. the question is where do you cut a way that doesn't harm the economy, doesn't throw it in reverse, doesn't reduce job growth, job creation, and it protect the investments that are so keen to the longer term economic growth in this country. and the president thinks there's common ground there. we have made very clear that we could accept, even over a relatively short period of time, $8 billion in cuts that we can agree on. i think that's a substantial number and demonstrates our -- his commitment to the need to
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tighten our belts as long as we protect essential functions of government, national security, and don't do anything that would hurt our ability to grow and create jobs. >> was this a pleasant call or was it as they say "frank and direct"? >> it was a good call. i'm not going to use the diplomatic ease. it was good and from i understand very productive. >> could you update us on with the president's latest thinking is on whether he's going to give a speech on the middle east over all? and secondly, have you heard him talk recently about what he believes in the common element in all of these different uprisings all throughout northern africa and the middle
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east? what makes them all similar? what do they all have in common? >> well, i don't even -- i have heard him discuss this recently and i would simply say that -- light spoken to this quite a bit from his podium and because the elements of his perspective on this are contained within the speech he gave in cairo early in his presidency that talked about the need for countries in the region to be -- to hear the voices of their peoples, to be responsive in their aspirations and to reform their pub terkel systems in a way that meets those aspirations -- and precisely for the reason that more democracy, more pluralism, more participation by the people in these countries, in that region, is a way to prevent the kind of instability in the unrest that inevitably comes when entire populations feel that they are not being heard or respected and that their aspirations aren't being met and their grievance is not being legitimately considered.
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>> so his principles in dealing with all of these situations in these countries again go back to nonviolent response to peaceful demonstrations; to respect for the universal rights of the peoples in the region who -- the right to free speech, the right to free assembly, the right to access information; and then the need to engage in a political process, a reform process, that brings in the people of the region in these countries to for dissipate in their government and in a way that gives them a
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greater voice. >> a speech on that is -- >> there are many ways that the president can come has and will address what happening in the middle east. he has spoken four times on this issue and will speak again on this issue. in fact i expect he will speak on it is it for a state that the president of mexico will be here? you may hear from him on that day about this. as for other plants we are looking at different options. >> the hill report from the republicans said the expansion of medicaid will cost the state's $115 billion through 2023. do you have any reaction to that?
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>> first, we are committed to working with governors to help them manage the medicaid costs, the medicaid programs and the department of health and human services has been an active and constructive partner with the states, with the governors to answer the questions and ensure they are aware of the substantial flexibility that exists in the affordable care act. it's important to remember that the affordable care act will cover the overwhelming majority of the costs associated with the medicaid expansion and will, in fact, reduce the amounts they spend to care for the uninsured. a lot of independent experts have actually estimated that the states will have a net savings in their medicare program because of the affordable care act with. but again, we are working with the states. secretary sebelius is committed to working with the states to help them explore the flexibility they have to reduce costs. and we will continue to do that.
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the president actually just this week in his meeting with the governors asked them to name a bipartisan group of governors to work with secretary sebelius on ways to lower cost and improve the quality-of-care for these americans. so we are on it, and again, i would just say we want to be a partner of the states in dealing with this issue. >> does the white house believe guantanamo bay will still be open next year? >> as you know, the president is committed to closing guantanamo bay. i don't have a timetable for you on that process. >> let me read this correctly. the president in yemen -- >> breaking news? >> i just want to make sure it the quote right. he had this to say but the uprisings, but the protests the taking place in yemen. this is the president of yemen, somebody that john brennan and the handful of times he's come in here talks about an important
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american ally -- he said this: i am going to reveal a secret. there is an operations room until the fees, with an aim of destabilizing the arab world. and the operations room is in televisa and run by the white house. is that how an ally -- is that how you were to become our allies should speak about the united states? >> well, we've made clear to the leadership in cnn.com as we have with the leadership in other countries, that the need to focus on political reforms and the need to implement the respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people. and we don't think scapegoating will be the kind of response that the people of yemen or the people in other countries will find adequate to get is, again, i think the focus needs to be an yemen as it needs to be in other countries on opening their society, working with countries -- i mean, working with the people in their country to bring them to a political process that democratic inconclusive. connect given that al qaeda ap
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is such a threat to the united states, comments like this -- is this becoming -- does this bring to the forefront a possible national security problem -- if this is what he believes about the american government? >> again, we think that he needs to focus on what he needs to do in terms of political reform in this country. and in terms of al qaeda, i think one thing that has been abundantly clear in the last several weeks and months is that the unrest we've seen in the region is not inspired by al qaeda. but it is in fact demonstrate if of a movement within the region of the world that is wholly counter to everything that al qaeda believes in and to the methods that they believe change -- the methods by which they believe change should come about. peaceful, non-violent, pluralistic, nonsectarian
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demonstrations -- that's not in the al qaeda manual. and it is a powerful response, we believe -- or a powerful message, we believe, to those who think that change needs to come about through horrific violence and attacks on innocent people. >> quick follow-up on the boehner phone call. when is the last time the president spoke to senator reid? >> i have to get that for you. i know he was here not long ago when he visited with the president, but i can find out. >> a question about international cooperation and coordination. european union leaders are holding a special summit on libya and north africa on brussels on march 11th. will the president be sending a delegation to that? >> i will have to get an answer to you on that. we are working very closely, as you know, at every level with our international partners. we believe very strongly that the response has been effective in libya precisely because it
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has been so united and that we are speaking with one voice. to make is that something the president might consider? >> again i will have to take that question. >> they understand that during the phone call with the prime minister of canada, the president and the prime minister agreed on the need to teacher additional acts of violence by the khadafy regime. do we have to understand that the military is always to interfere just in case? >> again, i -- we have said very clearly that we are pursuing the options that we've already taken. the actions that were taken on the sanctions and other areas -- other options remain on the table. and that's all i'll say about that. >> one thing. the president is pushing ahead with his plan to travel on friday. does that mean he is confident the fix is in and this is going to be settled? there's not going to be a government shutdown? >> i'm not sure i describe it as the fix is in. [laughter] i think the president remains confident that we can find time
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on the ground to avoid a shutdown that nobody wants, that the leaders of both parties in congress have said the do not want, that the president does not want, because the american people don't want it and because of the impact on the economy that it would have, the negative impact. so, we are still in discussions. the senate and the house are in discussions on how we reach an agreement on the continuing resolution, but we remain confident that we can get their. >> so with a b1 -- 82 week this weekend the president and congress are both leaving town on the 18th. when are you going to get around to the longer term? >> welcome again i don't want to say that we are doing this for however many weeks and then another thing for another number of weeks. but he make a good point about the fact that congress will be leaving town for a week in this period and -- which is why we believe that whatever agreement we come to for the short term, we need to be mindful of the
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fact that the stage really does have to be -- or does soon have to be a focus and commitment to deal with the longer term continuing resolution so we can fund the government through the end of the year and focus on the other issues. >> so it's going to take one short cr -- >> again, i'm not going to say precisely what we will accept or won't accept. we know the president has been very clear about what he will not accept and i have been very clear about where we believe there is a great deal of room for common ground on the spending cuts that we all agree on, on the need to demonstrate spending restraint as we continue to fund the important areas that will allow us to out educate, how to build and how to
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renovate the competition in the 21st century. >> you said the president is engaged on libya. can you give more specific steps on where they are regulated on and how is this being incorporated into his schedule? >> welcome as you know, in the morning breeze, the presidential daily brief, that has in recent days focused in some and often larger part on the events in libya. he is also getting additional updates. i think i mentioned from this podium awhile ago, last week perhaps, even a week before, that this unrest in the region began the president asked for more regular updates, approximately the morning update, midday, and in the of the day updates. so he is fully informed of what's happening. and there is -- if there is significant occurrences, events,
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things that happen that he needs to know about in between those times, he finds out about them. he's very much on top of it. >> in terms of being fully aware, yesterday you guys announced that $30 billion in assets, the freezing of the assets -- does the president know which entities, which u.s. my financial institutions have those assets? >> i would refer you to the department of treasury which is overseeing that. >> has this, that all any of the conversations about which ones? >> it may have played the treasury is the place to go for that. >> in the morning show interviews this morning in one of them the ambassador mentioned contacts with countries that have -- on trying to think of the exact -- leal capacity come excess oil capacity. what can you tell us about that in terms of trying to believe the price pressure, a sure the supply and so forth? >> well, i'll just say, first of all, that we are very conscious of the fact that a rise in gas prices has a direct effect on american and their wallets.
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and we are a jury conscious of that and we are monitoring very closely. we also believe that the international -- the global system has the capacity to deal with a major disruption. and we have, i think i said in a previous briefing, been in discussions with the iea e and others about how you deal with the disruptions. we do believe that we can -- we're just monitoring the situation very carefully. >> beyond the umbrella talks with an umbrella organization like the iea, are there specific contacts with saudi arabia, with some of the other big oil supply years in the region? >> i don't have anything for you on that i'm afraid. let's see.
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yes. >> david kennon said today that before going into the talks with any kind of military intervention that the president has any concrete since to charge in libya or at least who you should be talking to? >> the united states is using many channels, diplomatic, businesses, ngos, to reach out to those in libya who are in the opposition and are interested in the creating of the government that respects the rights of the people and meet the aspirations of the people. it is, and i think this must be -- i believe this is what the prime minister was getting at is a very fluid situation but we are reaching out from these different channels to a variety of people who were in the position i just described, broadly described as the opposition. >> most of the significant
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ngos bear the name of qaddafi to read is that a problem? >> i think the issue is we want to hear from and learn from and talk to those who have a desire to move towards a representative government that is responsive to the aspirations of the people and protect the rights of the people. so what it's called matters far less than what it supports and what it does. let me get you in the back. yes, sir. >> to questions on libya. first is during this morning's hearing, secretary clinton said libya could descend into civil war. what's your viewpoint on that? and also, china evacuated 30,000 citizens within just a few days with air force and navy. how do you see that? >> i will just say on secateurs clinton's comments i will just refer you to her, she's the secretary of state and i missed the other part of the question. >> china evacuated its citizens
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from libya, almost all the citizens, took we think just a few days with navy and air force. how do you see that? >> i think china like a lot of countries has moved the evacuated citizens and as you know the evacuate the citizens who wish to leave as well as its embassy personnel. >> yes, all the way in that. >> in the last several days in china there has been some violence against journalists and also detention of them. so the response from the administration doesn't seem to be the same magnitude as in use of the same treatment in north africa and the middle east. why is that? is it because it is off the radar? is there another reason? >> well, what i will do in giving you a response now is use the same language we've used in response to violence against journalists in those parts of the world that you mentioned. we are aware of the reports of the foreign journalists being detained or physically harassed in beijing and we find those reports disturbing. we call on the chinese
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government respect the rights of the foreign journalists to report in china and urged public security authorities to protect the safety and well-being of anyone who is the subject to a legal harassment or intimidation i believe ambassador hans minn at our embassy in beijing put out a statement, and i refer you to that for more information, but we obviously do not think that this is acceptable for journalists not to be a will to do the work and to be harassed or detect the the two detained. sorry, i guess. >> i heard you mention representative government and also moving towards democracy. is it your position that the people in all these countries in the region deserve the right to elect their leaders three elections? >> we support democracy. we believe that the peoples of these countries should be able to decide the kind of government they want and to kill leaders -- and elect the leaders they choose. every country is different, and the process for getting there is
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different. we are not here to dictate outcomes. it is very important we believe that it be recognized that the movement's we've seen in the middle east have not been driven by united states or outside government or forces; the internal. and the credibility that they have has become that of -- the organic nature of the unrest and the uprising. again, how you get there is a different probably in many countries. but the overreaching believe that we have is that pluralistic space societies that have inclusive governments that respect the rights of the people that respond to the legitimate grievances of the people, have the potential to be both more prosperous and more stable, and that in both cases would be a welcome report. >> was the president aware of
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speaker boehner's criticisms this morning before he placed a phone call to the speaker? >> the president is being very close attention to the debate and he is -- without going into what specific comments he might have been aware of, he's very well briefed and read into what's happening regarding the budget debates and the negotiations towards a resolution. >> let me put it this way. did the president calls speaker boehner in response to the speaker saying that the president wasn't engaged? >> no, i was in the oval office, and i can tell you that he's called speaker boehner because he felt it was a good time to call him to discuss progress on
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the discussions around a continuing resolution. >> did he mention comments? >> he did not. >> yes, david. >> thanks. in talking about who the administration is talking to, to find people to deal with libya, does that include any u.s. oil companies or transnational oil companies? are you reaching out to them? >> welcome again, david, i would just point you to the fact that there are different channels sabrue we can reach people in opposite, people who represent groups or who support the idea of a more space government, a government that would be a responsive to the right -- respect the rights of the libyan people and be responsive to their aspirations. those channels include diplomatic, businesses, ngos. so i'm not going to enumerate specifically the channels and who we are going through or which potential businesses are included in that group. but the event would businesses. >> let me follow up.
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is the president satisfied -- has he been satisfied with the state of knowledge that the u.s. government had about internal circumstances within libya in terms of who to try to talk to? >> i will just speak broadly that the president feels that his diplomatic corps as well as his intelligence community does an excellent job in informing him on the situations in these countries, in the region that have experienced on rest. >> you recall the u.s. ambassador to libya. >> yes, we did. >> yes, cheryl. >> i have a follow-up. but first, senator lugar is cautioning that the state department needs to be mindful of this funding request. the president has left for an increase for the state department of 8.4% and senator lugar says that given the
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economic situation we face, all foreign aid is going to have to meet a really tough test. does the president think that in light of events in the middle east and north africa that we need to increase our foreign aid budget, and how does he reconcile that with the spending cut mood on capitol hill? and then separately to could shed a little more light on how it can to be that jeb bush's on air force one on friday i would appreciate that, too. [laughter] >> welcome on the governor bush portion of your question, i'll just -- i will say that he recommended this school. he has a record of being engaged in and committed to education reform. obviously, this is a higher priority for the president and he believes very strongly that education reform is neither a democratic or republican issue and i think his pursuit of reform has demonstrated that. his reforms already have generated a great deal of bipartisan support, and i think
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that's reflective of the fact that americans believe it ought to be a priority. >> did you reach out to governor bush or the other way around? >> i don't have a sequence of events. i do know the governor specifically recommended this school has a good one to showcase in terms of its turnaround efforts, but in terms of who called home i don't know spin magazine meeting him at andrews or -- >> i don't have any more details on that. maybe if you check back with me later. but cheryl, what was your first question? >> on foreign aid, you know, the administration is asking for an increase in the state department budget. senator lugar is saying hey, we've got to cut spending. how important is that increased the president and what does he think in light of the vince? >> i think the budget the president proposed for 2012 reflect his priorities. it also reflects the fact that he was willing to victory trees is because he realizes that we all have to live within our means and the federal government needs to live within its means. it includes, as you

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