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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 19, 2013 1:30am-3:31am EST

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including outstanding universities. the one that we can most directly affect is the skill level of our workforce. it doesn't mean that everyone has to go get a ehd. people have different needs and different interests. -- it doesn't mean that everyone has to go get a p.hd. people have different needs and have different interests. unemployment is not something we want to see. >> thank you. >> thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] up, white house senior adviser valerie jarrett. that is followed by the senate debate on the 2014 budget.
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u.s.-lson center examines brazil relations. you can see it live starting at 10 a.m. eastern here on c-span. later, the brookings institution .osted a discussion that is live at 2 p.m. eastern. she was everyone's soul sister. she laid her life out for everyone to see. us about what life was like in suburbia for women in the 1960s through the 1990s. one of the wonderful things about her is that she wrote mainly humor. it was humor that was accessible to everyone.
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it was humor that happened in everybody's lives, but they may not recognize it until they saw it written on the page or in a newspaper column because funny things happen to us all the time , but we have to be on the lookout for it and she was the one that focused our attention on the funny things that happen in a family. that the -- you see my craziness and jives you nuts. when you look back, that was really funny. that is a real gift. that is a literary gift. it wrecks the life and times of erma bombeck. saturday at noon on c-span 2 and sunday at 5 p.m. on c-span 3. >> the white house senior adviser valerie jarrett was interviewed by the by -- by a
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politico correspondent. the talked about administration second term agenda the planning of the president's presidential library. this is 50 minutes. [applause] >> good morning, everybody. i am ben white. i'm the author of a money column. politics andver wall street and washington. thanks everybody for joining us, everybody on the lifestream, c- span -- if you're following us on twitter, you can send questions on twitter. we are delighted to have valerie jarrett joining us this morning. before we get started, i'll have one housekeeping item. happy to have you live tweet
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the event, but please put your phones on vibrate or silent. i would like to thank the peter g. peterson foundation. very much enjoy our partnership with him. here to say a few words is michael peterson. [applause] >> thank you and welcome. the peterson foundation's mission is to raise awareness and accelerate action on america's long-term fiscal challenges and we believe it is essential to stabilize our long-term debt in order to create a growing economy today and for future generations. in our view come up the nation on a sustainable, predictable fiscal path is a central part of an overall plan to improve economic opportunity because our fiscal outlook faces a real threat.
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we have seen in congress a rare bipartisanship on fiscal issues. it is an important step in the right direction. i guess today knows a great deal about working in divided government. for the past five years, she served as senior advisor to bear -- to president obama valerie, thank you so much for finding time in your schedule today and i look forward to hearing your thoughts. once again, thank you for being here. the are proud to be sponsoring this. back to you, ben. >> i would like to welcome valerie jarrett to the stage. [applause] >> good morning, everyone. >> thank you for joining us.
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>> happy holidays, everyone. >> my first question to you is does president obama have the authority to fire dan snyder and get us a new owner? [laughter] >> no, he does not, unfortunately. his power does not go that far. >> i want to talk about the budget agreement in little bit and the fact that it doesn't include one big democratic priority which is the extension of unemployment insurance benefits, which will expire at the end of the year for a lot of folks who are among those who are long-term unemployed. jack reed has a proposal to extend that for three months. what is the white house position on a proposal? >> we strongly supported and we think it will be bipartisan. think of all those families around the country that will benefit rider on the holiday time. the good news of the budget overall, of course, finally we are able to see congress doing their job and coming together and it isn't a perfect budget,
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but it is a good budget and we are delighted. it looks like it will pass. we will have two years of certainty that we know is so important to the business community and the american people. >> you think you can pass both houses in the senate? >> we do. it looks like from senator harry reid's announcement he had the bipartisan support for it. we are hopeful that we will galvanize people. >> let's talk about the relationship between the -- part of your roles to be a liaison for the white house. this happens sometimes in my area when wall street ceos come out of the white house, they say that they want to talk about certain issues. ceos at tech companies want to talk about nsa eavesdropping and
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policies that they believe are damaging to their bottom line. you guys just wanted to talk about healthcare.gov in the white house. was there a disconnect in that event between the ceos'agenda and the white house agenda? >> not at all. i invited the ceos to that meeting and we made it clear that it was going to be a two- part meeting. we would talk about health care and improvements we've made to the website, and then we would have a broader conversation about technology generally in the federal government. that could use a substantial amount of improvement. we wanted to know about things we can do to encourage technology to go more smoothly than our initial rollout dead.
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-- did. that was the first part of the conversation. that was done before the president came into the room. we had a constructive back and forth. he said, i know you have been talking about the website and you have suggestions for what you -- we can do, i want to have an ongoing discussion about technology. people of the time with the president was focused on that issue. i do not think there was a disconnect at all. >> in terms of where this white house is right now with the rollout of health care, and there has been a problematic approval rating for the president, and you're bringing in people to help, what do you think the white house can do to get its message back together and to get the president's approval rating back up? what will it take to get back on
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the offensive? >> we will roll up our sleeves and work harder. we have never been driven by daily polling. we have been driven by why the president is here and what he wants to do to grow the economy. he gave them towards speech a few weeks ago on inequality. he wants to grow our economy and create jobs. it begins with improving the way. we are providing training for people who have lost their jobs, people who are coming out of school and to need to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. we are focusing on immigration reform as a part of our agenda. we have a very robust agenda. that is what we do every day. >> if we look back on the second obama term, what will people say
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it is about? what will people remember about the second obama term? >> he made great progress in terms of the economy. and people care about their jobs. doing a job? do i have the ability to raise my children and send them to college? can i retire with dignity? all of those things that people wonder. when we came into office and the president was elected, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. we lost 450,000 jobs in the last
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month of the prior -- we lost 4 million jobs in the last six months of the prior the administration. we have had over 8 million jobs. that is a terrific start in the right direction. the unemployment rate is down to 7.0%. we have a lot of work to do. growing the economy is a big part of the second term agenda. we would like to look back and say, when you look at the office, the stock market is improving, people's 401(k)s are coming back. manufacturing jobs are improving all across the country. we are seeing growth in all of the sections. that is a big part of it. immigration reform is a big- ticket item. we were heartened to see a bill that was approved by the senate and we believe there is momentum growing to get a bill passed in the house. that will be important as well. the president announced the climate action plan, making sure we're doing everything we can to
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protect our environment. it is also an opportunity for growth and jobs. for the first time now, we are actually exporting more than we are importing. that is so important for our energy plan. it makes the u.s. more globally competitive. we have a lot to get done. most of it is centered around the economy. then we need to have the successful implementation of the affordable care act. we had a rough start, that is true. we have redoubled our efforts to get it going. we are hopeful that over the course of our second term, there will be millions of americans whose quality of life is greatly improved because of the affordable care act. if you had insurance, it should be strengthened. you should not have to worry about being discriminated against insurance companies. we have preventive care available, particularly for women. whether it is coming in for annual services or contraception without a co-pay, many of the benefits have kicked in. by the time the president leaves
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office, -- think of the 40 million people, many of whom have never had health insurance and they don't have to worry about that. today we invited in a group of moms to come talk about how or the affordable care act is to them. they have children with predicting conditions who could not get insurance before. -- with pre-existing conditions who could not get insurance before. some of them have young adults who are currently on their insurance. one mom was going door to door and knocking on doors, encouraging people to sign up. we have a lot to do. >> i assume that an increase in the minimum wage will be part of the approach towards the issue of addressing economic inequality. can we expect to see the minimum wage raised? where would you like to see it? >> i believe it should happen. the president announced in his state of the union as a big priority.
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you have mentioned a couple of weeks ago. we have a lower minimum wage in most developed countries. we all know that it is good for the economy. there's been some issue of whether or not that is true. economists are convinced that it will grow the economy. people feel more secure. if you put more money in their pockets, they will go out and spend it. we think it will help. we cannot tell you what the exact rate will be. we know that there is i never to raise it to $10. we think that is fair and reasonable. >> have you passed the worst part of the health care issues? is the website working?
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are we beyond the crisis mode of health care reform and implementation into a better keyword -- period? >> we receive feedback from the technology folks, and after they heard the presentation, the feedback that they gave was that he had done everything they would have done once he came in to try to fix the site. we're seeing that people are not just going on the website, they are signing up and that is happening with increased velocity. our opportunity is to spread the word about the benefits of the affordable care act and how important it is for people to sign up. i will go ahead with an interesting story about a small business and the impact of health care reform on small businesses. they could surprise small business owners in a few months when they are trying to sign up and their premiums are going to be a lot higher. what is your response to that? is it a problematic thing for small businesses? >> small businesses are not subject to the aca. we also have tax credit that should help defray some of the cost. we had a group of small businesses come into the white house a few weeks ago talked about the benefits of the affordable care act. some of them have already
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receive rebate checks from their insurance companies because the companies were not spending enough money on care. they were getting money back. it will be very positive for small businesses. the burden is on us to get the word out about the benefit and tax credits that are available. >> i wanted to talk about the budget. presumably if the budget deal passes the senate today and is signed into law, and presumably we do not have fights on the spending bill next year, we will have to raise the debt limit at some point between february 7 and march if the treasury is to be believed. >> the treasury is always to be believed. >> sometimes we can split the difference between those two. the treasury always want to think this guy is about to fall. that the white house believe that we are past fiscal crisis
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mode. can you stick to the line that we will actually not negotiate over the debt limit when many previous debt limit bills have passed of other measures in them for debt reduction. will that make it easier for republicans to support an increase in the debt limit? >> last time it was totally avoidable. we put the government to a shutdown mode that affected so many families. we were right at the brink of defaulting for the first time in our nation's history. people all over the world count on the united states. and credit -- the united states's full faith and credit. we were in a frozen mode. we were not spending and not investing. we were waiting to see what would happen. that is not good for the economy. it is encouraging that these
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businesses get so involved in the process. they are trying to help educate them about the impact something like that might have on the economy. i hope that the debt ceiling will be raised. i tried to remind people that raising the debt ceiling is simply fulfilling the obligations that were approved in the budget. it is not as though -- the opportunity to have that debate is as you are going to be budget office. it is the same as a credit card. when you run up a credit card, you have to pay the bill. it is not appropriate to try to use that as leverage. let's just pay our bills on time. >> there will be no negotiating on the debt limit whatsoever? >> we have a lot of twitter questions coming in. one has to do with the trade deals that i presume would be a big part of the obama agenda in the second term. this one regards the transatlantic trade partnership. but should financial services be a part of that?
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the europeans want it to end. why not include financial services in order to get it passed? >> they would be included in terms of access. that is an important part of this. what we have been saying is that terms of regulations, the treasury department is leading that initiative. access will be included in the regulatory component will be driven by the treasury department. they are down separate but parallel paths. >> what are the prospects for implementation of all the trade deals in the second term? will you give the authority to fast-track these things? can we get those two deals done? >> the president definitely supports giving the authority to congress. that helps set the parameters for negotiations stop as you know, that would require another boat. -- it would require an up or down vote. we strongly support that. we think we will get it. we have had a strong support of
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outreach. we want to protect our workers and open up opportunities for the u.s. we were able to get both south korea, panama, colombia. the wto also had a big announcement recently. they were able to provide additional security through the trade agreement. trade is a big part of the president's attempt to grow the economy. and i think we will be successful in it. >> it is amazing to me that we are you talking about the presidential library for president obama, but there was a big story in the new york times. >> we are not talking about it. you are talking about it. [laughter] >> and we will continue to talk about it.
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the story is, as you know, he was trying to take control of that project as something that he might be able to work on post-obama presidency. it is a key part of the white house agenda. you would like to be in charge of that. i am interested in your reaction to that. and where will it be? where in chicago would be ? >> you cannot believe everything you read, even if it is in the new york times. i have a very full plate. i will not have a big role in the library. we are all extremely busy. who knows where it will be? i am from chicago and i love chicago, but it will be where the president decides the best place is for it to be. life is he actively raising money for? -- >> is he actively raising money for it? >> he is not raising any money for whatsoever. our goal to grow the economy, create jobs, grow our manufacturing and get people educated. he has a lot to do.
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the library is in the absolute embryonic stages. i would have to say that "the new york times" these was inaccurate. >> let's talk a little about wall street and wall street relationships with the white house. we talked about this recently and there was a magazine area about it. there have been consistent complaints from the industry that they come and meet with you and they talk about financial reform and that deficit reduction and a number of issues and then nothing happens. there is constant carping from folks in the industry that you do not understand that. the president comes out of bashes you. what have you done to improve the relationship between the financial services industry and the white house? >> let's go back to when the white house -- the president took office and the economy was on the brink of collapse. we were entering the worst
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depression in a long time. people all over the country were losing their homes, their jobs. we were losing and it was very important that the president acted swiftly and decisively to right the ship. that required us to put rules and regulations in place to that taxpayers never had to come in and bail out wall street. as i traveled around the country and talk to so many people, or was a lot of frustration. the president wanted to make sure that he righted the ship. those circumstances created inevitable tension. we had a clear idea of what those rules should be. there were points of contention and debate. dodd frank was passed. we are in a different place now in terms of the economy and the rules of the road, but also in
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terms of an alignment in interest. the president's agenda in going forward, whether it is corporate tax reform, broadening the base and lowering the rates, manufacturing, working on skills, and all of the issues that i described, i think there is a complete alignment of interests with wall street. i hope all of you were shopping on small business saturday. i did in my own neighborhood. it is a great way to support small businesses. the first lady has an initiative to try to encourage people to higher veterans. we have done a terrific job of hiring our veterans and encouraging other people to do the same. there is an enormous alignment of interests and opportunities to help grow the economy and make our country stronger together. i should also mention one of my other favorites, and that is goldman sachs has a trigger program for small businesses.
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they also have 10,000 women all over the world helping their businesses. when i did small business saturday, i walked into a store and the woman tells me she is part of these golden business -- goldman sachs small business program. we want to support a partner with these programs. there are plenty of initiatives that are being driven by wall street companies. >> tell us about your role in the white house. people know you very well, but some others don't. stories have been written from time to time that suggests that you play a shadow chief of staff role. decisions can be made during the course of the day, but then they get reversed in some way after you have gone and spoke into the president. i wonder if you could talk a little bit about exactly what
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your role is in advising the president and speak to this idea that you are somehow the shadow chief of staff. chief oft the shadow staff. i chair the white house council on women and girls. we hope to improve the lives of women and girls. we want our girls to grow up on an even playing field. we want more women to enter the workforce. we are looking at ways of helping support families through the workforce. that can be equal pay, a range of issues. i also oversee the office of intergovernmental affairs. that is the relationship that we have with all of the elected officials. our marriage, our governors, our -- mayors, our governors, our state legislators. the final office a oversee is the office of engagement. we address a full range of constituencies, including the is this community. in addition to being a senior adviser to the president. people presume, because i am a friend of the president and the
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first lady, for 22 years, we do compartmentalize. i assure you that when he goes home to the residence, he is not interested in talking about jobs. when you guys go home, you talk about your families, your movies, scandal, my favorite tv show. >> all i talk about is my job. [laughter] i do not know how to talk about anything else. >> you need to get a life. [laughter] you should go home and talk about other things. there's a perception that somehow i might be trying to lobby for a position. it is not what we do. but that is just not what we do in our free time. >> in a beginning relationship with them, how you got to know them in chicago?
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>> well, 1991,'i was mayor daleys deputy chief of staff, and i was recruiting staff for the mayor's office, and somebody sent me a resume of michelle robinson, and i still remember this. at the top of the resume, it said really it, terrific, is not want to be in a law firm -- brilliant, terrific, does not want to be in a law firm anymore, and i had left a law firm, so that rang a bell, and i brought her in, and what was supposed to be a 20-minute interview went on for about 1.5 hours, and at the end of the interview, i said, would you like the job? and i should have asked the mayor first, and she wisely said, well, i should thought about it, and i called her again, and she said, i was talking to my fiance, and he was not all that excited about it, and he is a community organizer, and he wants to know who is this person that would be looking out for me, and would you have dinner with us, and i had dinner with the two of them, and you know the rest.
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>> what was that sflike what were your first compression of him? what did you take away from that? did you think this guy was going to be president from that moment? >> of course, from the very start. i could see it in his eye. no, i didn't know he would be president. but i did know they had this passion for public service. they were post very early in their careers. he was just out of law school and beginning to write his first book. i could see how much they loved each other, and they were holding hand at the dinner table. i liked the way he listened to her. when he would ask a question and i would answer it, he would be looking at michelle's reaction to how i was answering
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the question. we talked about our life journey, and where we thought would be. what was clear to me was they were completely motivated by public service. whether it would be in the not for profit arena, politics or government, i wasn't at all sure back then. they were old before their age. i told them that at the time. you seem like old souls, very grounded, very real, very authentic. they have grown, but they haven't changed. >> when you thought about your future, you knew it would take you on stage for a morning breakfast. >> absolutely. >> i want to talk about the post obama presidency. >> this is making me sad that we have three years left to go, and i are already talking about post obama. >> right. but there is the question as to what they do after. he will be a very young man when he leaves the white house, and there is a question of
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where they go or where you go. will the president stay in washington after his add strailings is fin -- after his administration is finished? will they go back to chicago? what is the thought process? >> i don't think they have made up their mind. what he said recently is sasha will have a lot to say about that. his family has made a lot of sacrifices for him to follow his dreams, so she will have a role in that. i am not sure where our paths will lead us. >> could you see yourself moving on before the end of the second turn, or are you going to turn off the lights at the white house? >> i have the best job i have ever had or will ever have. i serve at the pleasure of the president, so i will be there as long as he will have me. >> i wonder if you could tell us, if there are a couple of people a few years down the
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road that people will be surprised he takes counsel from that we don't necessarily know about that are influential on him? >> there you go. no, i don't think so. >> we know everybody? >> i just think it is up to him to talk about who he takes counsel from. i will say this. he reads everything. he probably reads morning money. >> well, i would hope that he would. if not, we have to work on that. >> probably on his ipad application. in all seriousness, he talks to a wide range of people. one of the characteristics he has that i have respected is he listens most closely to those with whom he disagrees to make sure he is making the best decision. he knows the stakes here are extremely high. so every decision he makes, every decision is an important one and he wants to make sure
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he has thought it through. >> in terms of relationships on capital hill, one of the big riticisms >> and that in general he doesn't do a lot of socializing on the hill. you hear this from folks in new york. i want to keep it focused on sort of external relationships that he has with folks on capital hill. has that inhibited in any way his ability to get stuff done and to avoid the kind of crisis we have seen over the last few years, that he doesn't have strong ties to lawmakers? >> well, first of all i think he does. he does a great deal of outreach. the fact of the matter if we want to be very blunt here, very members of the represent party from the house weren't looking to forge a relationship
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with the president. that wasn't in their short-term political interests. they have basically admitted that their stunt of holding up the del ceiling and tying it to the affordable care act, they knew it wasn't going to work. building relationships with people who don't want to have a relationship with you and don't want to move the country forward, if you think what they talk mostly about, what they are against. tell us what you are for. early on back in 2011 if it had just been up to the speaker and the president, we would have had that grand bargain. in 2012 if it would have been just up to the speaker and the president, we would have been able to cut the deficit further. the fact of the matter is the president has cut the debt in half over the course of his term in office. so the contentionness of that relationship hasn't stopped him
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from moving forward. he is going to continue to reach out and work with congress on both sides of the aisle. i think he is heartened to see we know have a deal that will last for two years, provide some certainty, and i think that is good for the american people, good for the economy, and we expect it to lead to some job creation. >> is he done with the idea of entitlement reform? you can talk about the fact that the deficit has been cut in half short-term, and they have, but michael knows the long-term pick is nowhere near as rosie. with social security and medicare, it is challenging. does he not want as part of his legacy to make sure they are solvent for the long-term, and are there specific things he would be willing to do in the second term to ensure that? >> well, he very much cares about the security and the strength of social security and medicare absolutely.
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his budget reflects those priorities. he is going through the budget process again. just because we have the certainty of a budget doesn't mean we have given up on continuing to look for new ways of streamlining our processes. the president had a jobs and competitiveness council that made a series of recommendations that are important. they provide the opportunity to streamline. one of the ones that came out of the jobs and export council was something as simple as could you expedite the processes of visas from countries who have folks who want to come here but it takes so long. i was looking at statistics last night. wta stapleton has done has been transformative. take one spot in brazil. it used to take 140 days to get a visa. it now takes two. think of what that does for tourism. i mention that as a small but
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important example of things we can do in our control. the president looks at regulations on the books. businesses say it wasn't that particular regulation, but it was the cumulative effect of a series of regulations, many of which are outdated. so the president has instructed agencies to do a look-back and see what regulations we can get rid of. streamlining our permitting process. we have examples of large infrastructure projects, ports for for example, where we have cut years off the permitting process simply by looking for opportunities to streamline. it is important as we talk about our agenda to not simply focus on legislation passed, but things in our control as well. >> that gets us to jonathan and his advocacy for orders. tell us a little bit about that?
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what do you envision that role to be in the white house? >> he will have a senior advisor role. he is coming in as a senior advisor to the president. pete rauss is leaving, and it is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to pete. john has an enormous amount of expertise having been a former chief of staff. the substantive area he cares a great deal about is energy and climate change, that and a role as a senior advisor. i think he has a tremendous reputation around the country. i was co-chair of the transition with him after the president's first election. we welcome him to the team. he is going to be terrific. >> what can you do on the environment and claimant change through executive order in the coming year? >> we are going to look at a whole series of steps that we can take because this is such a priority. i don't want to disclose to you now in detail what we are going to look at. we are going to look to john to
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come up with new ideas. each day you have to come in and say what is our approach today? this is the hand we are dealt, and let's figure out how to move the agenda forward with what we have. let's shuffle the deck a bit. others are back helping with health care needs already and in just a week and a half has made a tremendous difference. that is the art of it. >> glen t-plush in his magazine piece suggested that the white house is not running on fumes, but people are tired and have worked very hard. you have lost a couple of folks who have left and as you mentioned, john may want to bring in some new folks. what do you make of that characterization that there is a bit of a burn-out factor now and you need an infusion of new energy there? >> well, i think you always need an infusion of new energy, but that doesn't mean people
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are burned out. i am there every day and the energy, enthusiasm, innovation and the desire to come up with new ideas is as much there today as it was on the first day. it is natural over the course of five years -- how many in this room have changed jobs in five years? people move on, and your goal is to attract new talent. the president did that with his cabinet after the election. we are thrilled to have jay johnson as our new secretary of homeland security just this week. we are going to see an infusion of new people. that is healthy and what keeps you vibrant and allows you to move the agenda forward. >> we are getting some good twitter questions in. i wanted to ask this one. the questioner asks have you given the president advice on whether to sign the executive order banning contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orient takes or identity. i guess if the legislative
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approach you support is not successful, would you advise the president to do that? >> we want to keep the pressure on congress to act. the difference is it will cover all employers. we don't believe there should be discrimination against people in the lgbt people, just like there shouldn't be against women or people of color. the best way to do that is through the legislative process. the executive order you are refering to would simply be for government contracts. we want to see the whole thing. we don't want to create the impression that by doing that, that you have satisfied our commitment to equality. the president talked about ee causality if his gnawing operation address. let's keep the pressure where it belongs, on congress. >> here is another one that says your advertising sign-ups on the health care exchange after the december 31 cut-off date, the question is does that mean you are anticipating
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delays?deadline >> it is december 23rd. >> somebody on twitter got a date wrong? >> keep in mind if you sign up after january 1 you still will have coverage 30 days thereafter. the enrollment period lasts under the end of march. we are not anticipating further delays. we are trying to give people as much time as possible in the first period. after january 1 we will be heavily marketing through the end of the enrollment period. >> how much political capital is the administration willing to spend on t.p.a. now that t.p.p. negotiations are nearing the end game. i don't know what they mean by political capital? >> the president has made it very clear he wants t.p.a. to pass. he is going to work hard to get it done and get each of the trade agreements passed. we are not just looking to get a deal for the deal's sake.
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we want to make sure those deals protect our values, our workers and it is good for business. that is very high on the president's agenda. he just had a meeting this weem with his economic advisors, his trade am. am and national security to focus on trade agreements. >> you obviously socialize a lot with the obamas. you celebrated your wed with them. happy birthday. >> thank you. >> what is the social relationship with them like? what do you talk to them about? >> just stuff, just like you. >> he is the president of the united states. >> but he is also a father, a husband, a friend. i think people lose sight of the fact that he is human. just as you go home and spend time with your family and friends, that is what he likes to do, too. it is grounding. he also talks about when he goes upstairs and has dinner
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with the girls, they are nod interested in his day one i bit. they are interested in their day. he talks about what is going on in their day. i have known them since before the children were born. he has seen my daughter grow up and get married. we talk about our families and the same things that everybody else talks about. >> tell me a little bit about when you look back after the second term is over -- we talked a bit about agenda items for the second term. but overarching them of what the eight obama years were about, the accomplishments that were made, how is history going to remember president barack obama and his influence on the country? >> the story is yet to finish. i am not going to write up the last three years, and obviously i don't have a crystal ball. i think people will remember he came in at a time when we were experiencing the worst economy since the great depression, and
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through a lot of hard work and effort we made an enormous amount of progress. he provided equal opportunity for so many people out there who were expecting a break, maybe a hand up, maybe create an environment that is conducive to competitiveness and growth. we are still the greatest nation on earth, but you can't rest on your laurels. you have to constantly work to keep that competitive edge. that means at the same time you tighten your belt and get your fiscal house in order, you have to invest in energy, in innovation, in technology, in education. you have to figure out ways to constantly retool ourselves to make sure that we are competitive. there was an article out a few months ago about the top airports in the world, the top 25. not one in the united states. how could that be? how could that be? because we have not invested in our infrastructure the way we need to do. so galvanizing support for that
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type of agenda is one that resonates broadly around the country. moving that forward is what we are going to do over the course of the next three years. >> obviously he came into office saying that he would change the tone in washington and that we would move past an era of bitter partisanship into ne of functional governance. obviously he is not entirely to blame for that. what does he say when you talk about how successful or not successful he has been? does he lament the fact that he hasn't been able to create this new air in washington. or are there things he could ve done differently to bring to fruition these things? >> el well, it takes two to change a relationship. it is a great frustration to him. he wasn't trying to change the
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tone just for the sake of changesing the tone. he still is trying to change the tone to create an environment where government is functioning for the people. he is there because the american people not once, but twice, indicated their confidence in his leadership. but he has limits to what he can do without a partner in congress. what we have seen is this constant determination to work against an agenda instead of figuring out where is that common ground, and when did compromise become such a bad word? you can't just say my way or the highway. i say all that as a backdrop, and maybe i am just the eternal optimist. but what just happened with the budget where we were able to come up with an agreement, both parties coming together, doing their jobs in the ordinary course. my guess is people are going to get a lot of encouragement from that from their constituents.
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hopefully in the new year we will have a new day. >> does he ever think that pushing through health care reform on a purely partisan vote poisoned the well for republicans, and obviously helped republicans in the elections, or was getting health care done so important that it didn't matter that it was going to enrage a lot of republicans and create the difficult climate for subsequent years of the administration? >> i think the climate began on day one. as we all know through stories that have come out, it was clear that from the very beginning, the republicans were determined to see what they could do to try to undermine his presidency. represents, not all represents, but there was a real head wind we had to go up against. working its way through, there was an enormous amount of outreach to republicans. many of the ideas they
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suggested were incorporated into the budget in the hopes it would be a but partisan vote. in the end it wasn't, but does he believe it is going to dramatically improve the quality of life of americans? absolutely. he will look back on that and think that was -- not even just that fact, but every day he gets people who write him letters about how it has already touched their lives in an important way. that is a really good thing. >> i want to talk a little bit about second terms in general. they have not been particularly successful in recent memory. george w. bush had the iraq war to contend with that kept his approval ratings around 40% or below. the president is in the air area, but presumably he is in a better position to right the ship. with the possible exception of
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bill clinton's term where he was able to get a few things done despite being impeached. does he has a vision for how to avoid that second term curse and to do the things he wants to do? >> absolutely. my goodness, you do have a rather bleak view about a second term. the president's energy and determination to work hard, and to find common grounds, and to figure out what we can do either through our own initiative or through the private sector is as robust today as it has ever been. it is a privilege for him to serve. he is not giving up just because it was hard. we always knew it was going to be hard. change is extraordinarily hard, and what you want to have is a leader who has that resill jent that notwithstanding the fact has been tough at times, to keep getting back up.
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people are counting on him. they are counting on congress. they are counting on people who have taken this pledge of public service, and we all need to do right by them. that is what gives him the energy to keep going every day. >> i would like to thank valerie jarrett for joining us. a lovely conversation. >> thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] >> aflc imp o president is interviewed thursday by mike allen. can you see it live starting at :00 a.m. eastern on use. the senate approved the 2014 federal budget agreement by a vote of 64-36. next remarks from john mccain, patty murray and lindsey graham
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before the vote. this is 50 minutes. >> i would say to my friend, the chairperson of the budget committee that has done extremely hard work on the budget agreement. t the simpson-bowles plan which was embraced by many, many members of this body, including on this side, includi ng o other side, including those who are now announced their opposition to the agreement, the ryan-murray budget, that the simpson-bowles plan recommends scrapping colas, cost-of-living adjustment, entirely. not just cuts them, but the simpson-bowles plan, i wonder if the chairperson knows, eliminates colas entirely for
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working-age military retirees? the simpson-bowles plan which was so embraced and everybody thought was the greatest thing since sliced bread said -- quote -- "defer cost-of-living adjustment cola for retirees in the current system until age 62, including for civilian and military retirees who retire well before a conventional retirement age in place of annual increases, provide a onetime catch-up adjustment at age 62, increase the benefit to the amount that would have been payable had full colas been in effect." so basically what simpson-bowles recommended was scrapping the cost-of-living adjustment for working-age military retirees. and please correct me if i'm wrong, but the provision in your
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bill is a 1% reduction, far, far less than a scrapping it entirely, as simpson-bowles. and i would ask again, where was the outrage, to quote my old friend bob dole -- where was the outrage when this provision in simpson-bowles was included, which would have scrapped it completely? and it wasn't through this armed services committee. it was the simpson-bowles plan which was a commission. i would ask the distinguished chairperson. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: the senator from arizona is correct. the simpson-bowles commission did pass in their report, they asked for elimination of the entire cola, as he outlined in his opening remarks today, the budget bill before us took a different approach. and he appreciate him reminding
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all of us that that's out there. mr. mccain: could i ask the chairperson isn't it true that you have proposed one percentage point for military retirees, reducing annual cost of living adjustment by one percentage point for military retirees, which means, according to the house budget committee staff, a person who enlisted at age 18 and retired 38 as a sergeant first class of the army would see approximately 6% overall reduction in lifetime pay because of the cola reduction. that is that person would receive about $1.626 million in lifetime retirement pay instead of $1.734 million. and so as compared to what simpson-bowles envisions, complete elimination, as opposed to this 1% reduction. and i would also ask again to
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the budget chairman, chairman of the budget committee, isn't it true that this cost-of-living adjustment reduction, the 1%, doesn't kick in until 2015, the end of 2015? and isn't it true that senator levin and i and all others have committed to reviewing this provision with the outlook, at least in my view, to repealing it if necessary, but also there's a commission supported by members on both sides of the aisle which looks at this entire issue of cost-of-living adjustments, of retirement of tricare, of all of these issues because of the increasing costs of these benefits, in the words of secretary gates, former secretary of defense, all of us admired so much, it's -- quote
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-- "eating us alive." again, the simpson-bowles plan which was embraced by almost unanimously on both sides of the aisle, eliminates the cost-of-living adjustments for anyone during their working-age retirees. this plan, which is met with such outrage, is only a 1% reduction. and as i said, for the -- which, by the way, i want revised as well, that this would receive $1.6 million instead of $1.734 million. and finally, i would ask the distinguished chairperson, do you know of another plan, another idea, another legislative proposal that will prevent us from shutting down the government again, something that i refuse to inflict on the citizens of my state.
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i refuse to disturb their lifestyles, to destroy their income, to shut down essential government services, the nightmare we just went through. so i guess my question is to the chairperson, do you know of another avenue between now, i believe it is january 15, when the government would be shut down again, that we could pursue that would prevent another government shutdown? mrs. murray: madam president, the senator from arizona is entirely correct. there is no other legislation that can be brought before us at this time to prevent a government shutdown. as we know, the house of representatives has gone home for the year. we know that without a bipartisan agreement before us, that the impacts across the country would be untenable. we've kind of been there. and on top of that, if we do not have this budget agreement, the military itself will take
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another $20 billion hit, so those very military personnel that all of us passionately care about would be facing layoffs, would be facing uncertainty, would be facing furloughs, would be facing tremendous hardship to themselves and to their families. so, yes, the senator from arizona is absolutely correct. mr. mccain: i would further ask the chairperson if she has, as i have, heard from every single service, uniformed service leader of the four armed services, including the chairman of the joint chief of staffs, that further affects of sequestration will do unsustainable damage to our national security. that the pay impacted, because of the way sequestration acts in 2014, the really significant
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effects that we will destroy, or certainly dramatically impact our ability to defend this nation. and isn't that the unanimous opinion of our uniformed service commanders who we give the responsibility to defend this nation? i would ask the chairperson if she has heard from our military leadership in uniform as well on this entire proposal, particularly its effect on sequestration? mrs. murray: madam president, the senator from arizona is correct. i have heard from every single branch of our military service that the impacts in 2015, a few weeks from now, would be devastating if the current sequester continues to take place. and i would add to the senator from arizona, coming from a state where we have a number of military bases, i've heard from the families of those soldiers and airmen and sailors that they are deeply worried about their
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loved ones and their lives if we don't replace the sequester. and i want to personally thank him for his hard work and his support behind the scenes to help us get to where we are today, because without his voice in this, it would have been extremely difficult. and i carry his voice and many voices into that conference room to take some very tough choices afford so that those families, all the way up to those top generals, don't have to theact the further cut -- don't have to enact the further cuts of sequestration. mr. mccain: if i may ask the chairperson in summary, one, floss legislative proposal between nowed an now and januart anyone sees that could pass both houses of congress and be signed by the president of the united states that would prevent another government shutdown on january 15? i would ask the chairperson if that's true. second, isn't it true that if we
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go through this sequestration again, particularly because of the nature of the sequester legislation, that there is a sharp drop in 2014 and then a -- sort of a restoration in following years? in other words, the worst year of the entire sequestration process would be next year, unless we soften the blow. and isn't it true that nobody cares more about those who serve in the military than their uniformed leaders, and unilaterallunanimously, those ud leaders have sthaid they support this legislation -- have said that they support this legislation? and isn't it true that the chairman of the senate armed services committee will -- and the arme armed services committe will have an entire year because this legislation will not take effect, this cost-of-living adjustment will not take effect until january 15 -- until 2015,
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so we have an entire year of authorization committee, consideration of this particular provision? and isn't it also true that it is recognized by all members of the armed services committee and the appropriations committee and the chairman of the budget committee that we cannot have continued increases in costs and benefits forever because of our inability to fund our national security? in other words, the dramatic increase in personnel and benefit costs are such that we really aren't going to have money left over for the mission, the equipment, and the capabilities? so -- and isn't it also true, i would report -- ask again what the obvious is, the simpson-bowlbowles plan, which s
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embraced by us, including in senator, by the way, said that -- and "the deferred cos cost-of-living ajugsment" -- understand that he's cost-of-living adjustments for retirees in the current system until age 62." isn't it far more draconian what is envisioned in simpson-bowles than what is before the body today? so it hard to understand why someone would embrace simpson-bowles and yet find this provision as objectionable as it is? i find the provision objectionable, but i have confidence -- and i hope that the budget committee chairperson would agree -- that it deserves the review and legislating, if it needs to be fixed, because the fact is that we have to look at the entire retirement and benefits that are now present in the military; for example,
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tricare, where there has not been an increase in premiums, i believe, since 1985, while the costs of health care has skyrocketed? so, i would ask the chairman of the budget committee if that's true, and if it's true, then doesn't it deserve some consideration for those who care, as i do -- and i know the chairperson does -- about the men and women who are serving in the military? and shouldn't we listen to our military leadership who literally are saying they cannot defend this nation if this sequestration continues, particularly in the fashion, in the meat-ax fashion with which sequestration is now impacting our nation's defense? mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: madam president, i would agree with the senator from arizona and of course the
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often-touted and quoted simpson-bowles commission report even in this debate over the last day is much more egregious in what they are speaking about. but, secondly, i agree with everything he said except for one thing. the senator from arizona mentioned that we have a year to look at the commission report. it is actually two years before this goes into effect. congress will have time to act. the senate armed services committee will be looking at the commission reports, and we will have an opportunity to look at this in entirety before it is implemented. and i truly want to thank him for speaking up for our military, because i know more than anyone of us on this floor that when he speaks for the military, he understands the consequences of not enacting legislation today. canmr. mccain: i thank the chairperson for her hard work, and i believe that most americans are a bit surprised that there is any agreement.
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and i believe that the chairperson would agree that this is a small step. but i think the chairperson should also deserve and be accorded great credit for tough negotiating, for a good agreement that i think will achieve many things but, most of all, prevention of the shutdown of the government again, which we should not and cannot inflict on the american people. and i would have -- and i'm sure the chairperson would have had different provisions in it if she had written it herself, just as congressman ryan would have said the same thing. but this is the essence of what we're supposed to be doing. and the option -- the option of shutting down the government is something that i don't really understand why anybody, after what we just went through, would want to have as a viable option of of our failure to act.
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so i, again, thank the chairperson and i yield the floor. mrs. murray: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i again want to thank the senator from arizona for his astute remarks and appreciate his help and support. and, madam president, i do have eight unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders, and i ask unanimous consent these requests be agreed to and be printed in the record. the presiding o that we get out of the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. graham: we were told to come down here. we had a 4:00 time. glad to be able to discuss things earlier. so what i would like to talk about with the chair's permission is to talk about the military retiree provisions. the presiding officer: the senator may proceed. mr. graham: thank you. number wurntion i want tnumber r budget chairwoman, you had a really good discussion were senator chambliss and isakson
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about trying to figure a way to fix this provision. i'm very disappointed that we can't have an amendment to fix it or amendments to do other things. but we are where we are. so the bottom line, this has been a healthy exercise because all of us are now looking at a provision. this is a bipartisan product, so it is not about blaming democrats or republicans. it's a good exercise. how could a bill -- and, one, this bill, as we all know, doesn't fund the government. we if wif we pass the budget, it doesn't keep the government open. it sets limits on spendingment we're increasing the amount we can spend on defense and non-defense, setting some sequestration aside. that's a great thing. i think that's going to be good. how we pay for it is the problem. and the question is how did this happen? you know, the chairman of the senate budget committee and the
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chairman in the house are great folks. the military retiree provision is a pay-for that has got everybody a bit wondering. and upon a second evaluation it is probably certainly not the right thing to do. in may 2014 there will be a commission that was set up by the congress to tell us how best to reform military pay and benefits, because they're unsustainable, quite frankly, in the future. but we put in that commission report a requirement that any reform could not affect those who are in the service now. they're grandfathered. and i think the reason the congress did that was we don't want to break faith with those who signed up you for deal "a." they're doing their part of the deal. they're serving. the congress is looking for a way for making these programs more sustainable by applying it in the future, which i think we should do.
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about the employee -- civilian employee contribution to their retirement program, that's prospective. the one thing i was disappointed in is the money doesn't go into their retirement plan. senator, what you have been doing with every gang of six, eight, ten, 12, 14 -- i know entitlement programs are the source ar of the problem. i know programs like tricare, we have to look at. that's not a problemment but we're i--that's not a problem. but we're in a hurry to pass a budget that generally i support it -- it ge gets us into a situation of sequestration relief. how could we have pick add pay-for that this to me is just unacceptable. the military retiree community up to the age of 62 will have their cola reduced by 1%. that doesn't sound like a lot,
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but the compounding effect goes like this. if you have a master sergeant who retires after 20 years of service at, say, 42, by the time you go et to 62 get to 62, thist you $72,000. nobody has ever suggested that it should be applied to people who are almost at retirement or in retirement when it comes to how you would reform benefits. and my good friend, senator mccain -- and he has earned every penny he's ever gotten in retirement and then some -- mentioned the intoal the simpsos commission. when you're $17 trillion in debt, you have got to do things you would otherwise not like. but simpson-bowles did not, as my good friend, senator mccain
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suggests, adopt eliminating colas before 62 as part of their solution. they wanted to find $70 billion over ten years for federal workforce entitlement reform. they created a commission, said a federal workforce entitlement commission to eevaluate civil service, military health and retirement programs. they did not say we're going to eliminate colas entirely for the military and civilian workers. they said we need a commission to look at how to find $70 billion over the next ten years. the examples they gave of what you might look at is use the highest five years of earnings to calculate civil service pension benefits for new retirees, defer cost-of-living adjustment is the second one, adjust the ratio of employer-employee contribution s
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to federal employee pension plans to equalize pensions. that saves $4 billion. they wanted a commission. guess what? so did the congress. this came out in 2010. in 2014, the congress said, let's form a commission to look at this. the commission hasn't reported back to us and we did put a prohibition on the commission's work product. you can -- you have to grandfather existing service members. you can't retroactively apply any reforms. so simpson-bowles does not say we're is going to eliminate all colas many they said, form a commission. and that was one example of what to look at. the congress did form a commission. the commission is not back yet. but the congress told the commission, grandfather people who are in the current system. but we forgot to tell ourselves that, because this pay-for is retroactive in flair an nature d applies to all past, present,
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and future. the people who drafted this assumed that disability retirees would not be included. they are. and the $600 million of the d.3 billion that this generates in revenue to help pay for the deal, $600 million comes from the disability retired community and that's not the right thing to do. someone senior senator lost -- t their legs in afghanistan, iraq, they get benefits outside of disability retirement. they have earned those benefits but to reduce their coa cola, wh would have tens of thousands of dollars lost in benefits, nobody wants to do that. they thought they weren't included. they are. i am a military lawyer. so i am not a frontline military person by any means. i tried to be the best military lawyer i could be. i loved the cull tiewrks the environment, tried -- i loved
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the culture, the environment, tried to be part of the team. the pilots who go fly and face danger, you know, they are the herheroes. to them go the glory. but the bottom line is, i don't think it's fair for us to consider, you know, if you're in the m wrap that didn' mrap thaty the tour, you made it through just's a as ib else. they get things that the average military retiree doesn't because the needs are greater. all i'm doing is begging the body, late don't pass a budget deal with a pay-for that really violates our own commission requirements, that in hind signature is not the message you want -- that in hind sight is not the message you want to send. let's see if we can fix this thing. let's see if we can fix it before it gets into law.
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because once you get something into law, we all know how hard it is to take it out. ms. ayotte: will the senator yield for a question? mr. graham: i would, but i want to sthait senator from mississippi first asked a question to our conference. can you tell bhee -- and all of us on the republican side looked at him, me included -- me included; i didn't have a clue how to answer that. when i found out it was $71,000, almost $2,000 for e-7 from 420 to 62, i em fell ou about fell y chair. as to the senator from new hampshire, she was the first one to really take this torch up and run with it and i have been trying to help where i can. i will yield for any question. ms. ayotte: i want to thank the senator from south carolina for his leadership on this important issue. i wanted to ask you this: some have come to this floor and
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said, pass this budget agreement and we'll fix this later. do you think that's a good way to solve this? mr. graham: well, good question. the best way is to never -- fix it before it passes and we've got until january 15. nobody wants to shuttle the government down -- nobody wants to shut the government down. the budget deal is just about numbers. we've got to actually appropriate. but i think we could. i mean, there are so many different ways. i've thrown how the the idea of eliminating subsidies for people who make over $250,000 for their part-d premiums. there's $54 billion over ten. i'm not asking my democratic colleagues to go to food stamps and safety nets. i'm not asking you to do that. i'm certainly not going to ask a republican to raise taxes. there's better ways to do it. so i couldn't agree with the senator from new hampshire more. with a little bit of effort here in the next few hours or days,
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we could fix this in total. ms. ayotte: and of all the people that deserve our effort, don't you think we could stay here as long as wee we needed be the holidays, a little bit of inconvenience for us, to fix this? because one thing i see from this is we're saying to our military retirees, don't worry, trust the politicians in washington to fix something that they voted for. i mean, here we are -- we know the problem is here now. people yet haven't had a final vote on this. and the yet they're still sayine know the problem is there. we're going to vote for it anyway. i don't understand this. if you're someone who is serving our country, what kind of message does 245 -- does that send. mr. graham: well, in all honesty, the provision doesn't take effect for a year or two. but i think what you're saying so important.
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why leave any doubt in people's mind? they've got enough to worry about already. life is hard for all of us. you know, for some people, life is just incrediblely hard. i've lived a fortunate life. but a military retiree who's not disabled, it matters to them. so we shouldn't create stress where none is needed. you know, they've been stressed out enough i think. lasthe last 10 years have been d as hell for them. multiple deployments. senator warner, all of us would go overseas. you see the same people. i would do small reserve tours for just a few days in iraq and afghanistan. i'm seeing the same people in afghanistan i saw in iraq, in my career field in the j.a.g. corps working on detention matters. i don't think they really understand how hard this has been on 1% of the american people. so wouldn't it be nice if they didn't have to worry about this and we could get this issue behind us? because here's the truth of the matter. it may come as a shock to the body but we're not in very good
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standing right now and that's a bipartisan problem. and here's the concern, is main things that have been fixed that are wrong -- not a whole lot. it's hard to fix things. and the unraveling effect is what people worry about. if you fix the military retiree, what about the civilians? and i'm willing to look at that. but the bottom line is they've fought hard, they've fought long, they've earned what they've got. we shouldn't retroactively diminish their retirement. they've worried enough. let's don't give them anything to worry about for the holidays. let's take this one off the table. ms. ayotte: i couldn't agree with the senator from south carolina more on this issue because, you know, i heard th the -- the chairman of the budget committee say that the fact that disabled veterans are included in this, those who have had a medical retirement -- we've talked about them, we've been to walter reed, we've seen those who have sacrificed so much for our country and are getting a cut to their cost-of-living increase under
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this, their retirement -- and that this was somehow a technical glitch or something. well, if it's a technical glitch that we know is there, why are we going home until it's fixed? i don't understand it. and even putting one shred of doubt in their minds that we stand with them and that we know this problem exists in this bill and that it can be fixed. mr. graham: well, just to respond, i think this is what happens when you're trying get something done late in the year. all of us -- you know, we're all adults here. we've had months to deal with these issues. and i sort of hate the fact that you're dealing with important things like the defense authorization bill a day or two before everybody wants to go home for christmas. you know, eventually that leads to $17 trillion in debt. how do you get to $17 trillion in debt? it takes bipartisanship. no one party can get influence. and this is the way you've run the -- run the place. what happens when you fill up the tree? you can't fix things.
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and here's what's wrong with that. you can't fix the things that politically are bad for you and expect the rest of us to go away quietly because we have something that we want to do. so this filling up the tree process is -- is not good for something this big, and i hope people would be responsible with their amendments. but again, it goes back to, how did this happen? i don't believe for a moment that patty murray or paul ryan meant to hurt disabled veterans. i don't believe that. i think the whole issue -- nobody looked at it. these things are put together very quickly. you know, i'm on the budget committee. you're on the budget committee. you're on the budget committee. i had no idea. nobody asked me if this was a good idea. i didn't even get to look at it. i got to read about it in the paper. that's what happens when you put the deals together with just a handful of people. you make mistakes, because the more eyes the better, and you find yourself here talking about something quite frankly that we all know is wrong, we need to
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fix it, we're creating a lot of anxiety for people who've gone through enough anxiety. and i just hope we can rise to the occasion here at the end. a senator: mr. president, will the senator from south carolina yield? mr. graham: absolutely. mr. sessions: senator graham, you've served in the house. i know 6 that powers that be would just like -- i know that powers that be would just like to see this bill rubber-stamped, dealt with, ra, ra, ra. but if this legislation were to be amended and this problem were fixed, don't you think the house would have ample time to pass it before the january 15 date for the c.r.? or, really, they could, as we've done many times, extend the c.r. a week or so if needed? but i don't really think it would be needed. i think they would pass it promptly, do you not? mr. graham: i think the senator is absolutely right. we have a legislative process that could rise to the occasion if we would use it. you know, for 200 years we've
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been doing business a certain way and the senate is changing, all for the worse. and like i say, this is a bipartisan problem. i'm not blaming patty murray, the democratic chairman. this got into a bill that was bipartisan. 330 votes, 70% of republican conference. we all make mistakes. but how did it get there? nobody will tell me who put this in there because they don't know. so you're right, i think our house colleagues would find the equities of the matter easy to resolve, they would come back and fix it in just no time and i think we could fix it. the offsets might be hard to find in terms of our ideological differences but i think we could find some offsets to fix this pretty quickly. and, yes, senator sessions, the house would be able to do it, too. one final plea, i would hope that as we go into the holiday season, that the acrimony that's been created in this body about
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different aspects of the way we run the place, that we don't miss a chance to do the right thing. they come on a lot here. i mean, it's not like you don't get a chance to do the right thing, as republicans and democrats. we just both don't rise to the occasion enough. but here's a chance to do the right thing and a very necessary thing. and maybe if we rose to the occasion here, it might lead to doing more right things. i will leave here as an optimist and hope and pray we do the right thing while we mr. coburn: i ask unanimous consent the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: i wanted to spend a few minutes talking about the bill that we're going to be voting on this afternoon. i'm in my 10th year -- starting my 10th year in the senate and during that period of time, my number-one goal in coming to the senate was to try to right our financial ship. and almost everything that i've
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done in the senate has been related to the fiscal consequences of our dereliction of duty as members of congress, of both parties. there's nothing partisan about that statement. we've seen different presidents and different parties control both bodies. always to the same result. and we have before us a bill today that is a purported compromise. i want to describe who it's a compromise for. it's a compromise for the poll suggestions. it's not a compromise for the american people. because what it really does is increase spending and increase taxes. and the net effect, even if you give -- even if you take all the budget gimmicks that are in this bill that are not actual savin savings, and even if you believe people 10 and 11 years from now will actually hold true to what
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this bill pretends to have us do, which we're not doing something we did two years ago through this bill, we're still going to spend more money than we would have and we're going to charge people revenues, some $24 billion -- $28 billion, pardon me, in increased revenues, which we're not calling tax increases but americans are going to pay that so it's money that's going to come out of their pocket. so what we have before us is a bill that's a political compromise for the parties in washington to keep us from doing what we really need to do: the hard things. and i'm going to go through some -- some criticisms of the bill. it's not meant to be reflected on any one individual and it will apply just as much to the republicans as it does the democrats. mr. coburn: but we have a bill that supposedly fixes things until the next -- past the next
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election so we don't have to face these gigantic problems of -- quote -- "deadlock." the other thing that i would note as i go through this is it's my contention that we don't have a problem getting along. it's my contention that we get along way too well. we get along way too well. otherwise, we wouldn't have a $17.7 trillion debt. we wouldn't have a $124 -- have $124 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and we wouldn't have debt per person in this country which is now at $57,000 per person and unfinded liabilitieunfundedliabilities ta
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million dollars per household, not including that debt repayment. now, how did we do that? we had to agree to do that. both parties had to agree to do that. the president had to sign it. so my contention is we get along way too well when it comes to ruining the financial future of our country. my main criticism, i don't criticize compromise. i criticize compromise that ignores the facts of our financial situation. d i just want to make a point. i put a book out yesterday. it's called the yearly waste book. die it everi do it every year. i do it somewhat in jest but i do it to make a point. i outlined over $31 billion what i think -- and i think most democrats would agree, that the american public, 5% of them would -- 95% of them would agree with us -- that when you're running a $197 billion deficit, maybe we shouldn't be spending money on these things, which goes far further in actually solving our problems for compromise in terms of creating a solution to the long-term problems and giving the american people what they really want.
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i mean, we really do have a 6% approval rating, right? i mean, that's true. i think we've earned it. and this bill i believe proves it because we did exactly the opposite of what the american people would like to see us do. we solved our problem as politicians but we made their problem worse. and we didn't fix the things that are obvious to fix. i've -- i was on the simpson-bowles commission. i was a member of the gang of 6. i've worked in a bipartisan fashion with anybody that will work with me to try to solve the big problems in front of our country. except we as a body and the house don't really want to solve them. because the thing you put at risk when you really solve them is political careers. and as a group of politicians, the people in washington care much more about their careers --
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by their actions, it is proven -- than they do about the long-term fiscal health of this country. and that applies to both parties. so when we have a deal brought before us that will avoid confrontation come january 15 and we have all sorts of budget gimmicks in it that are not truthful, they're not real, in the hopes that somebody will grow a backbone nine and ten years from now and actually keep their word to the american public -- and we're demonstrating right now we can't even keep our word from two years ago -- why would we be proud to vote for that? does it solve a real problem? no, it puts a real problem off and actually makes the problems worse to the tube tun tune of
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$68 billion. so through this bill we will borrow an additional $68 billion, $48 billion of it in the next -- or $50 billion, close to it, in the next year and $20 billion-some after that and the year after, and then hope and pray that congresses that follow us will do what we suggested. and everybody in this body knows that isn't going to happen. so when you vote on this bill, you're voting for your political career, you're voting for the washington establishment, but you're not voting for the person out there that now has $57,000 worth of debt they're servicing and their family, a million dollars per household in this country in unfunded liabilities. so it will pass. i have no doubt it will pass. i feel like john the baptist in "the wilderness."
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but mark my words, if we continue to do what we're doing today, we will be remembered as the people who could have fixed the problem and didn't, who could have made the courageous decisions and chose not to, who could have stiffened their spines and said, we don't care what republican extremists or liberal extremists say, the future of our country's more important than any political career in this town. and what we have before us is just the opposite of that. just the opposite. and why wouldn't in part of this agreement some of the $250 billion that g.a.o. has identified in waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement? there's not one thing in this bill that addresses one thing that g.a.o. has recommended to congress over the last three years.
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not one! and so we have the waste book. $31 billion of what i would consider -- and you can -- it's not partisan. it's a -- there's a -- there could be a difference in terms of agreement about what is important and what's not. but again, i would say in terms of the waste book, it's should we be spending money now when we're borrowing money in light of the fiscal situation that we have on some of the things that we outline? it's a listing of a hundred things. it's got $31 billion worth of savings.and i'll just outline a few of them for you. we're going to be taking up ndaa next. none of the amendments that i offered are in the ndaa. every one of them were structural to the pentagon to make it more responsible and accountable to its constitutional duty, which it has not performed, of giving an
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account to congress on how its spent its money. for example, the army commissioned a contract to have a warfare overseen blimp. they spent $297 million on that blimp. it flew for a short period of time in this country. we solve it back to the contractor for $300,000. i have two questions. one, whoever signed that contract and made that decision, did they get fired from the federal government? did they get demoted in rank? and, number two, was the contract actually executed to the requirements that the military set out for it? it's called accountability. the answer to both those is no. there is no accountability. and so we're going to have ndaa bill come through that requires them to meet an audit. they've been being required since 1992 to meet an audit. they've not done it.
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they won't do it in 2014. they won't do it in 1917 and they're not going to do it in -- 2017 and they're not going to do it in 2018. because there's no hammer on the pentagon to make them do it. because all hammers have been taken out, because we don't want to force them to meet their constitutional responsibility. it's too hard. well, we never told them it was too hard to go to iraq or afghanistan. but it's too hard for them to follow their constitutional duty to report on how they spend their money. and what i would put before you is, if you can't measure what you're doing, you can't manage what you're doing. and it's obvious from the waste, fraud, and abuse, contract failures within the pentagon, is they have no clue on what they're doing. all you have to do is take the dwight d. eisenhower carrier, the literal combat ships, the f-35 -- all of those major defense programs are at risk, overbudget, behind schedule -- over budget, behind schedule,
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and i'm not talking a little bit over budget. so -- so we didn't do the oversight, we haven't enforced that. you'll never get control of those programs until you make them be able to account for what they're doing. my first training, my first degree's in accounting. i understand the reason accounting is important is because it tells you where to go to manage your problems. the pentagon cannot do that. the pentagon ordered, at the insistence of us, by the way, some airplanes for afghanistan. guess what we've done? we've taken delivery here and we've sent them straight to the arizona desert. just $422 million worth of them. and oh, by the way, the ones that we did go to afghanistan, we're going to cut up, destroy. we're not going to send them to africa for relief missions, we're not going to send them somewhere else, we're going to cut them into pieces. another $200 million worth of
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airplanes. and oh, by the way, because the afghan air force the same thing america has, we've already given them two c-130h's and we're going to give them two more and that's another $200 million. so what with we'v we've done thr management is waste almost $700 million on one item. there's nothing in this bill that corrects that and yet this bill is going to come to the floor, the ndaa, and not one of us who actually knows what really needs to be done in terms of changing the financial picture in the pentagon is going to have an opportunity to influence that bill. not one of us. didn't have to be that way. that bill came out of committee in may of last year. but we've chosen to operate that way. the person who ordered camp leatherneck in afghanistan, a
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$34 million new camp for troops, sits abandoned today. never occupied. who was the general or the colonel that authorized that in anticipation of our drawdown, executed its building and then ordered that we abandon it? is there any accountability in the pentagon? or any other agency? are we doing our job holding them accountable? the waste book isn't all about the defense department, but i brought a couple of those up just so we could see. the waste book is about all across the agencies, about poor judgment. you may agree -- disagree with me of some of the things in the waste book, but the question you have to ask yourself is at a time when we have done what we have done to the american people in terms of unfunded liabilities, in terms of individual debt, the average
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family now has over $220,000 of debt they have to pay back that we have borrowed, at a time when we do it, should we spend money the way we spend it? $978,000 to study romance novels now, certainly that's a priority right now in our government. everybody would agree with that, right? sure they are. they would agree with it. and yet we put out that contract last year. and spent that money to study the backgrounds and romance novels both on the web and off and why people write them. and we didn't just study it here. we studied it everywhere. here's another one. how about $400,000 to yale university by the national science foundation to actually study whether people who align with the tea party have the cognitive capability in terms of science?
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well, guess what? we spent that money and the professor got the biggest surprise of his life. here's what the study says, people who are aligned with the tea party have far exceptional cognitive abilities when it comes to science, math and financial aptitude. totally surprised the professor because the whole purpose was to undermine people who are constitutional conservatives, yet we have spent $400,000. that's just a few of the small examples of silliness that goes on. and everybody said well, $400,000 isn't much, $900,000 isn't much. the state department spent $5 million the last week of the fiscal year. what did they spend it on? anybody know? to buy all brand-new crystal stemware for all the embassies throughout the world. we didn't need new stemware but
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we had to spend the money so we spent it. think about that. we're responsible for that. we allow it to happen. there is no oversight here. there is no aggressiveness in terms of controlling the costs, and our default position is the agreement of this budget bill that doesn't address any of those problems. the american people are going to be asking questions about why we get along so well. it's not the political story that washington spins out of conflict and partisan bickering, because the facts don't lie. we get along way too well. we're going to get along so well we're going to pass another bill that gives us -- solves the problem for us as politicians, but in fact actually hurts the american people. i'm not going to be a part of that. and i'm going to keep yelling from the canyons and from the
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mountaintops that until we start doing what we're supposed to do, this isn't going to change. it would be my hope that some of us would wake up and start looking at some of the real facts. $30 billion would have made a big difference if you just eliminate the things in this book for next year. you would have taken care of one-third of this question. and this is just 100. i can give you 300. i can give you $150 billion worth of stupidity every year. but we choose not to do it, and we choose not to do it because you have to be a committee chairman to hold an oversight to dig into this stuff. you actually have to do the hard work to find out where the administration is spending the money. president obama doesn't want this money wasted this way. he needs our help. and yet, we won't help him. we won't help the american people. so consequently, the future of our country is at risk when it should be gloriously great, and it's at risk not because of the
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american people. it's at risk because of us. we ought to changeminutes.
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[applause]o changeminutes. >> you laid out exactly the questions. questions, i know they are bringing up the ipad. ambassador, let me begin. be a historyould of non-relations. no direct talks. even this interim agreement appears to be a hiccup. secretary has talked to the foreign minister. agreement?eal is this a breakthrough moment? inventived take imagination to believe that it
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is not a breakthrough in the context of 30 years of all must know content -- almost no .ontent -- con tact where does that door lead? is it leading somewhere? can we see this particular opening take us through to a stage where we recognize that the agreements -- and i put the plural there because we are waiting to see about follow on arrangements -- that the agreements have produced something that we can see, observe, and understand that it has created a status different from where we started. breakthrough, absolutely, but is the whole question going to be ratified? i think we are focused on the we havend that is what
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to look at. i have great hopes that it will, but the problem about the future is that it is all prediction. the point here is that i think the opening of the door is that every responsible reason to make sure on both sides that we conduct ourselves and run the activities so that at the end of the day, the door is leading a somewhere. from that particular point, we can pick up and do other things. -- even though both sides have given priority to the nuclear agenda. believeobably hard to that given the number of contact, a of not talked about other questions. -- they have not talked about other questions.

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