tv Former Senator James Webb on Economic Fairness and Foreign Policy CSPAN September 27, 2014 6:58pm-8:01pm EDT
point, that what's in place now is that transparency requirement. the ftc, as long as not reclassified as a title 2 common carrier sure thosen make promises can fulfilled. i'm concerned that if that reclassification happens, and the ftc is taken, you know, out that consumers on balance won't be better off. >> maureen ohlhausen, republican commissioner of the federal trade commission. brian fung of the washington post. >> thank you. >> c-span, created by america's years ago ands 35 brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. on the next washington journal,
rick warily will military campaign against isis, and the long-term extremedefeating violence. and a sports writer reviews the domestic violence controversies involving nfl players and the league's response to them as well as congress.action by as always, we'll take your calls and you can join the conversation on facebook and twitter. washington journal, live at 7 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> former virginia senator jim webb was the featured speaker at the national press club recently, where he talked about economic and foreign policy issues. addressed speculation of a possible presidential run in 2016, saying he was seriously looking at the possibility. this is an hour.
>> good afternoon. welcome. my name is myron. at theajung professor george washington university of public affairs. former international bureau associate press. the nash is the -- the national world'sub is the leading professional journalists.for we foster a free press worldwide. for more information about the national press club, please press.org.ebsite at on behalf of our members worldwide, i'd like to welcome speaker, and those of you attending today's event.
head table includes guests of our speaker as well as working journalists who are club members. so i note that members of the general public are attending, not necessarily evidence of a lack of journalism objectivity. i'd also like to welcome our audiences. you can follow the action on twitter using the hashtag #npclunch. after our guest speech concludes, we'll have a question and answer period. now it's time to introduce our head table guest. i'd like each of you to stand briefly as your name is announced. doman, from your right. wnew.oman, reporter for gio lawrence, syndicated columnist. clift, washington
correspondent for the daily beast. and mclaughlin group panelist. james r. webb, son of the clift, washington correspondent for the daily beast. speaker. analyst.lds, political hun lee webb, wife of the speaker. jerry wesky, chairman of the committee and former president of the national press club. angela king, white house correspondent for bloomberg news and former president of the national press club. webb, daughter of the speaker. smoken, executive editor, cnn politics. fales, columnist for military.com. mike eagle, principal, public affairs. a round of applause for our head table. here's what we know about jim webb, our speaker today.
one-termrmer democratic senator from decorated marine who served in vietnam, a secretary of the navy in the reagan emmy-awardion, an winning journalist, a filmmaker of ten books. what we don't know is whether he'll be a candidate for the democratic nomination for president. but there have been some hints. webb visited iowa last month and is planning a trip to new hampshire. not everyone who goes to iowa and new hampshire becomes a contender.l but no one who hopes to be in those earlyores primary states. two weeks ago, he tweeted a link article with times the headline populist could train.clinton as he told a labor audience in iowa, quote, i am comfortable to senator elected with a union card, three tattoos
purple hearts, unquote. [applause] while in the senate, webb served relations, armed services, veteran affairs, and committees.onomic post-911gition, the bill, is the most significant legislation since world war ii. [applause] as chairman of the foreign relation committees, webb called in eastu.s. to reengage asia. in 2009, he went to burma, the first american leader to visit that country in ten years. though the trip was criticized in the pro-democracy movement, subsequently relations wereen the two countries resumed. webb graduated from the naval 1968.y in when he returned from vietnam,
he got a law degree from georgetown. webb was a staffer on the house veterans affairs committee anore being appointed assistant secretary of defense and then secretary of the navy. in addition to his public varied, webb has had a career as a journalist, winning an emmy for his coverage in beirut in 1983. he wrote the original story and of thecutive producer film rules of engagement. webb's books include a history the scots, irish culture, a novel set in the vietnam war, i heard my country calling, a memoir of his early life, published this year. webb has been to the national press club on several previous occasions. welcomere very happy to him back to the national press club. [applause] >> thank you very much.
i appreciate all of you coming today to be with us. noticed -- i should point out here, at the outset, that jerry has enough questions, i think, to last for about an after i'm done. in theope you'll be kind questions -- i hope he'll be kind in the questions he chooses done. am first, let me say how proud i am of my family members are with me today, up here at table.d who asst daughter, amy, a small child used to ride on my disabledome of friends from vietnam, as they wheelies in their wheelchairs, wheelchair races in i think hospital, and she found her calling at a young age and now works with the
veterans.merican [applause] jim, who left penn state the iraqe height of infantrynlisted an rifleman, fought in some of the -- infighting in the wor the war, and my wife, hun, who in many ways represents what the about.n dream is all her entire family, ex tenned extended family escape escaped from vietnam on a boat.g they were rescued by the sea.d states navy, at she spent time in two different refugee camps. neither of her parents ever spoke a word of english. and through all that, she ended graduate of cornell law
school. folks, is -- that represents the best of what our country is all about. [applause] and i've said for many years that the truest legacy of my public service will always come from the contributions of those who either under my command in the marine corps or on my staff. has heard and will continue to hear from these talented men and women, wherever go and however they choose to serve. a good number of them have made over here during a busy us.week to join which did great things during those six years. they continue to show us that in aare all-stars multitude of endeavors. i'd be pleased if they would be recognized and right now. [applause] there have been a lot of things going on in the last couple of days, and i'm sure i'm going to get questions about them.
but what i'd really like to talk about today in my opening remarks is what's going on in our country and what we can do to make things better. let me begin by stealing a quote vidal.re gore vidal, as many of you know, irascible the most and brilliant minds of the post-world war ii era. wrote you never know when you are happy. you only know when you were happy. the same holds true, i think, for the times in which we live. areeldom know when we living through a period of true historic challenge. it's overow after that we did. workings of national policy are not a part of most americans' lives. you wake up every morning. you go to work. maybe you try to find a job. you take care of your family. you pay your taxes. you turn on the tv and watch as they were behaving this morning, screaming
at each other, about how screwed things are. sometimes you agree with both of them. sometimes you agree with neither of them. things happen in the world. and that will never change. time, i think it is -- it has been rare in our crasheswhen our economy at the same time we're at war, as has been the case in the past or six years. our in america, multicultural society lives in a state of constant disagreement. this is frustrating. it is also creative. but the discussions during recently years have taken on a different tone. the very character of america is into question. who are we as a people? that u niets us rather thanits us divides us? where is our common ground when centrifugal forces are spinning so out of control, when
inple at the very top exist a distant outer orbit, completely separated in their associationss and from those of us who are even in middle? and completely disconnected from those who exist paycheck to at the bottomose who are often scorned as takers, who simply want a free ride. think about that. we say we're fellow americans when tens of millions of people are being quietly off?en not only by our most wealthy but politicalny of our leaders, as hopeless, who will never be fully employed, and who or should be avoided on the street, feared rather than enter the american mainstream? live indisputably in the greatest country on earth. americanse of the dream is that all of us have an equal opportunity to succeed.
honest.s be if you're ten years old and in eastd living baltimore and going in the bathroom in a bucket because the landlord won't fix your plumbing, and your schools are places of intimidation and violence and the only people on the street who seem to be making money are the ones who are howing drugs, no matter hard you work, you do not have the same picture of the american a kid your age being groomed for prep school and then ivy league. the or if you're a kid growing up in appalachian mountains of clay county, kentucky, by most accounts the poorest county in america, which also happens to white, surrounded by poverty, drug abuse and joblessness, when you leaf your order to succeed, and when you do, you are welcomed a cynical, unbelieving stares and whispers of an
no longerat understands your cultural journey and policies that can from a fair shot at education or employment, with the false premise that if you're white, you by definition have kind of socioeconomic advantage, what are you going to think about the so-called own government? if you're a man, a woman who time in prison, as have so many millions of today's society, and you paid the price for your mistake, which could be as simple as a sickness, a drug moment of or a absolutely but culpable topidity, and you want reenter the community that you left behind when you were locked abusedlected, possibly and definitely marked for the rest of your life on every thatyment application you'll ever fill out, how do you do that?
when there are no clear programs transition that can prepare you for the structured demands or societyforce itself? which is going to fear you, time inyou spent prison. what do you do now? we, as a government, have an obligation to provide a assist you so can that the rest of your life is not wasted, or have you merely become just another throwaway like the kids in east baltimore kentucky?unty, years olday you're 30 without a high school diploma. maybe you hit a rebellious streak when you were 17. you went out and got a dead-end ab or got pregnant and became single mom. now you're looking at the rest of your life and you feel hopeless. the big debate between the two political parties seems to be a higherou should get minimum wage and whether the
government should start to put kidsograms into school from pre-kindergarten. what do you need more than a minimum wage? i mean, even if -- if your kids pre-k, what happens when they come home? is your life already over at the 30?of would it change if we had a second chance program where you could finish school, show your kids your own diploma and tell studyo stay in school and job that example and a pays more than minimum wage? thoseould it take to turn things around? or is it impossible? or should we just decide that something that's beyond the role of government? societal dislocation has been happening at a time when america's place on the international stage has become increasingly unclear, both in as thef our position economic beacon of the global
community and our vital role as the military guarantor of international stability. decades sincetwo the end of the cold war, our in its has been adrift foreign policy. the greatest military power on lacked a clearly defined set of principles that would communicate our national security objectives to our allies, to our potential adversaries and most importantly to our own people. or that same period, our debates policies and fairness at home have become more polarized, driving our people even further and further bringing themhan together. in many cases, deliberately onggerating divisions based race, class, gender, sexual orientation and geography. surprisingly, the american people have grown ever more cynical about their national parties.p, in both
and increasingly more pessimistic about the future. no mistake. how we resolve these two is going touestions determine what america looks like ten, 20 or 30 years from now. future,ot-too-distant depending on how we resolve these questions, we will look back and judge ourselves. we have the courage to face the hard issues, to make the weficult decisions, to prove were worthy of the sacrifices of the generations that went before us? did we fail? watching passively, the greatest nation descended into mediocrity, because it burned with trivial party politics and the inability of our leaders to come to grips sorts of challenges and to work together to actually
solve them. have reached an unavoidable and historic crossroads. the way we choose to address the deeplyons that now so divide us over the next few years will define who we really people and what our future will look like. the responsibilities of our government? here's a list. provide for the common defense. the general welfare, maintain order and public safety whether you're in east baltimore or north arlington. erect standards of fairness when comes to the opportunity to succeed. don't pick favorites based on corridorscess to the of power. barriers that the have too often divided us, i'm to believe that those of us who love our country ourcome together to rebuild infrastructure and to repair the torn divided fabric of our
national spirit. true fairness is not an nor is thedream, notion that we can return to a time when we can look at a fellow citizen and feel a moment of camaraderie rather than a mistrust, dislike or fear. we need the energy and the of every american, trained and put to use in ways morewill make him productive. their neighborhoods more vibrant. and our country stronger. more than that, every one of us should view this as a duty, as a andzen, if nothing else, participate in the national discussion. me mention a few areas where i believe we can maker a -- make a difference. first, we must develop a clear statement of national security policy.ign an understandable statement of our national security interest
is the basis of any great policy. foreign clearly understood principles and the determination to stand essential to stability and also to public support. our allies will be able to adjust to our clarity. know we'reries will serious. and our people will understand the logic of our place in the world. now. not have that right our foreign policy has become a many cases ofn what can only be called situational ethics. what does the united states stand for in the global arena? under what conditions should we risk our national treasure, our credibility, and more importantly, the lives of our military people? here's a quick bottom line. our national interest is, how we're going to we will knowd how we have accomplished our mission. unless you can do that, you don't have a strategy. once the cold war ended,
our way.ally, we lost and we have yet to regain it. in the area of international relations, it's not a healthy thing when the world's dominant hastary and economic power a policy based on vagueness. so we ended up and continue to trapped in the never-ending, en-- entanglements of the middle east, beginning was the pandora's box that opened in the invasion in iraq and continuing through the still-fermenting nightmare of the arab spring, particularly our inadvisable actions in libya. i was one who warned before the iraq that our entanglement would destabilize empower iran and weaken our influence in other places. it me quote from an article wrote in the washington post on september 4, 2002. five months before we invaded iraq.
i quote, america's best military know they are accountable to history, not only for how they fight wars, but how they prevent them. the greatest military victory of bringing an expansionist soviet union in aom the cold, while averting nuclear holocaust was accomplished not by an invasion, but through decades of maneuvering and continuous operations. situation into the iraq, our military leaders know to haveities that seem been lost in the narrow debate about saddam hussein himself. oftenrst is that wars have unintended consequences. the second is that a long-term occupation of iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of elsewhere and could eventually diminish american influence in other parts of the world. and then later, in japan, american occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. quickly they would
become 50,000 terrorist targets. should our governing principles be? first, if a president wishes to conduct offensive military operations, he or she should be able to explain clearly the threat, the specific objections of the operations, and the end result. should honor all our treaty commitments. but we are not obligated to join the treaty partner if they elect to use force outside the direct of our commitment, as in libya, for example. will maintain superiority in our strategic systems. nuclearludes not only weapons but also such areas as technology, space and cyberwarfare. fourth, we will preserve and exercise the right of
self-defense as guaranteed under international law and the united nations charter. important allies around the world, especially in asia and the middle east, whom will continue to support in many ways. this will not cease. clarify other commitments, these relationships will be strengthened. respect to the war against terrorism, we should act against terrorist organizations if they're international in nature and are threat to our national security. this includes the right to operations inry foreign countries, if that unable is unwilling or to address the threat. we have this right through international law and specifically through article 51 charter.ited nations but there's an important caveat to how our country should fight international terrorism. and having ignored this us a lot ofs caused trouble, since 9/11.
quotedo no better than from an article i wrote on 12, 2001, the day of 911. do not occupy territory. no terrorist armies make claim to be members of any nation state. similarly, it would be and politically dangerous for our military to bases, permit or semipermit, or to declare we are specific pieces of terrain in the regions where the terrorist armies live and train. and finally, with respect to national security, a warning spurned by the actions of this libya.tration in there is no such thing as the right of any president to use forcely decide to in combat operations based on concept of humanitarian intervention. us, treaty doesn't obligate if american forces are not under attack or under threat of
attack, if no americans are at risk, the president congress.e to the consideration,r as we look into the future, is we need to give our people some of economices fairness and social justice. our working people have struggled following the collapse of the economy in the final months of the bush administration, while those at the very top have continued to separate themselves from the society.ur if you take a look at the stock market, since march of 2009, when this recession bottomed 6,443 toas moved from more than 17,000 as of today. has almostarket tripled, as we have come out of this recession. statement, study -- at the same after study have showed that working incomes have
decline, noteady only for our workers. according to the wall street loans to small business, who traditionally have been the backbone of the american success story, have 18% since 2008, while overall business loans 9%. increased by the growth in our economy has increasingly reflected in capital gains rather than in the salaries of our working people. many cases, corporate headquarters, financial sectors the workers are overseas. many f to our younger -- many of younger workers in this country are subject to complicated hiring arrangements that in many cases don't even pay health care or retirement. byporate success is measured the increase in the value of a stock. when i graduated from the naval corporatehe average ceo made 20 times the average worker's pay. today that multiple is about 350. it's not a global phenomenon.
in germany, the average ceo akes about 11 times what worker makes. many of our brightest economic analysts, high among them ralph gomory, who is here today. ralph, where are you? [applause] point out that this disparate came -- disparity came about not because of globization but because executive compensation became linked with the value of a stock rather than a company's actual earnings. our workers, the most productive workforce in the world, are the have been left behind. cannot taxhat we ourselves into prosperity, but theo need to reconfigure tax code so that taxes fall in a fair way. rebuild ourould national infrastructure.
revolution has pushed a lot of lower-skilled people into employment. we seerywhere around us roads that need to be widened or areired, bridges that beginning to crumble, others that need to be built, traffic jams from clogged highways, need to be built, expanded or repaired, inner city neighborhoods with cracked sidewalks, broken windows and people on the street. the franklin roosevelt mobilized a nation whose unemployment rate 25%.t the civilian conservation corps went out and planted trees and cleared land. we built roads, put people to work. up.leaned things dwight d. eisenhower's vision interstatethe highway system and the jobs that it took to build it. jobs are people who need and there is work to be done. and along the way, i believe to meld such a program with another one,
featuring adult education for who did lose their way when they were 17 and now know important it is as a worker and as a parent to get that diploma, earn some money and be your kid.el to we need to reform the criminal justice system. this is a leadership issue and has dramatic manifestations throughout our society. the u.s. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. this i doubt we are the most evil people in the world. maybe we are doing something wrong. millions of citizens are in prison or under the supervision of the criminal justice system. during lifetime of the senate, we were to examine every component of this process from the point of apprehension to the length of sentencing to the elements of life in prison coming and to the challenge of
reentering society and hopefully living productive lives. the stigma of having been in prison is like a tattoo on your four head. -- forehead. me --ld only be rating mediated through structure and reentry programs. millions are in this row graham. many are read -- went to prison due to drug use. to those who wonder whether we can or should put such programs in place, my answer is this. if you want to see these former offenders back on their streets and coming after your money or your life? or do you want them in a job making money and having a life? , let's find a way to return to good governance. it will take time, but it's possible to rebalance the relationship between the executive and legislative
branches and to carefully manage the federal government which is surely the most complex your accuracy in the world. a lot of people running for president a lot of people covering those for presidency to skip past realities of governing and into the surface of the medical debate. the federal bureaucracy is used come fromve seen many highly successful careers in the business world only to be devoured and humiliated by the demands of moving all a see through the bureaucracy and then congress. the very administration of our government needs to be fixed. with the right leadership and the right sense of priorities, it can be. i spent four years as a marine. four more as a full committee council in the congress, five in the pentagon, one as a marine and four as a defense executive sitting on the defense resources board. six years as a member of the united states senate.
i'm well aware and appreciate that there are a lot of highly talented, dedicated people in our federal work force and i know they would be among the first to agree that we would benefit from taking a deep breath and basically auditing the entire federal government in order to re-justify the functioning of every program and every office. [applause] the way to solve these challenges and others is the way that other such challenges have always been solved in the past. find good leaders. tell them where the country needs to go. free them up to use their own creative energies. trust their integrity. supervise, hold them accountable. just as they should hold our own people accountable, their own people accountable, and just as the american people should hold every national leader
accountable. have the courage of your convictions, have the humility to listen to others. remember the greatness of our country and the sacrifices that have gone before us and never forget that history should and will judge all of us if we ever let the american dream die. thank you. \[applause] >> thank you. we will now go into our q&a session. as i said to the senator beforehand, we'll try to make it rapid fire, as to get as much as we can in this next few minutes. sir, are you considering pursuing the democratic nomination for president? would you consider running as an independent? >> i would say we've had a lot of discussions among people that i respect and trust about the
future of the country. and we are going to continue having these discussions over the next four or five months and i'm seriously looking at the possibility of running for president. but we want to, you know, see if there's a support base from people who would support the programs that we're interested in pursuing with the leadership. so the answer is i'm a democrat, i have strong reasons for being a democrat. basically if you want true fairness in this society, you want to give a voice and the quarters of power to people who would otherwise not have it, i believe that would come from the democratic party and we're taking a hard look and we'll get back to you in a few months.
[applause] >> what trait is most important in a person wanting to become our president and what is your best trait? [laughter] >> how many questions do you have on that stack before you pull that one up? you know, i think trust and integrity, vision. but -- and loyalty. you cannot run or lead unless you have that and unless you have that in the people who are with you too. one thing i used to tell my staff when i was in the senate was that i met every day with the secretary of defense. i met with him every day for four years. i think the issues of character override even issues of intelligence. i hate to put it that way. i'd rather have someone who is really loyal and who can be trusted than someone who is
smart and couldn't be trusted. [applause] >> hillary clinton, of course, is widely seen as the democratic front runner for president in 2016. what do you see as her strengths and weaknesses? [laughter] >> i've had the pleasure of working with hillary clinton when we were in the senate and at times when she was secretary of state. and i must say she has a much broader forum than i do to answer that question. >> a follow-up regarding mrs. clinton. hillary clinton was secretary of state for four years. how responsible is she for the tangled mess of u.s. foreign policy that you cited in your remarks? [laughter] >> again, i think that's a question that really should be directed at secretary clinton. i'm not here to undermine her.
i'm here just to explain where my concerns are as someone who's been involved in the military and foreign policy all of my life. it wasn't even a political comment when i made it. it's more a comment about leadership and how we need to be much clearer in terms of our national goals and our objectives around the world. [applause] >> as someone who didn't really embrace the task of being a politician while serving in the senate, why are you considering a run for president when that job demands so much politicking to be effective? >> i think a lot of people misunderstand the approach that we took during my time in the senate and how much i valued being a part of the united states senate. i look at these positions more
as opportunities to lead rather than to conduct politics per se. i was raised on the notion of what it takes to be a leader and i think if you look at what we were able to do during our six-year period in the senate, it's pretty remarkable. and we did it by bringing strong, dedicated people into the staff, trusting them, giving them what the marine corps would be called mission-oriented orders, and approaching issues such as criminal justice that a lot of other people in the country were afraid to touch. and bringing them to a place where we bring these issues out of the shadows and into the public debate. so it's a very tough thing to run for office. but it's also the way that the american people get to know you and to make their own decisions
about whether they want to trust you and that's the process of a democracy. >> a related question. what's appealing about the job of president when partisanship and unwillingness in congress to compromise and work together makes getting even little things done so hard? >> i think with the right leadership we can get a lot of things done in this country. and we've seen this over and over again. i'm going to give you a bipartisan historical response to that. this country was completely in the doldrums when franklin roosevelt took over. people had a feeling of hopelessness, that things couldn't be done. he came in with vision and leadership, put programs into place all over the country.
things started to change. by the way, many of us lived through the carter administration and if you'll recall, in 1979, 1980, there were a lot of people saying, nothing can get done. everything is so paralyzed. people were even writing that the presidency was now too big for any one person to handle. and ronald reagan came in, he was a leader. you know, some of my democratic friends don't like it when i say that. ronald reagan was once a democrat. he was still a leader. but he brought strong people around him. he had a vision where he wanted to take the country and things started moving again. leadership in this world requires that you sit down and talk to people and give them a clear vision of where you want to go and listen to them. i think we did this probably
most clearly when we got the g.i. bill through the united states congress. i wrote this bill with legislative council before i was sworn in to the senate. we introduced it on my first day. we worked extremely hard across the aisle, we got two republican key sponsors, two democrat sponsors, two world war ii veterans, two vietnam veterans, and in 16 months we got a bill through a paralyzed congress that now more than a million of the veterans, post-9/11 veterans, have been able to use and really change their lives. [applause] >> you have opposed u.s. military intervention in iraq and libya previously. please tell us your reaction to president obama beginning air strikes in syria last night and perhaps you would also like to respond to the remarks that the
president made three hours ago. >> i would start, mark shields will remember this, i'll start with a common that was given to me when i was in beirut reporting for a news hour. i was out on a marine platoon that started taking fire from an outpost because there was a lebanese army positioned, co-located with the marines. and then some unknown militia started joining in, just because it was beirut, and then the syrians came up over one ridge line and were firing 25 millimeter down into it. and a young marine turned around to me and said, sir, never get involved in a five-sided argument. [laughter] during the hearings, when i was still in the senate and they
were considering doing something in syria, that was one of the points that i would raise. that if you think lebanon was bad, you know, syria's lebanon on steroids. just look at the situation that we now are in. isis, however you want to define that, we need to be very careful to define what the membership of these entities really is, because in that part of the world people tend to drift in and out of different organizations, depending on who they think is getting something done. we have isis, supposedly who is anti-assad, wants to create this caliphate up there and now we're going to arm and train another syrian opposition whose mission up until a couple of weeks ago was to help take out assad. now they're supposedly going to fight isis. we have a quiet agreement with the syrian government at this time, one would assume from what i'm hearing, the same government that the president a couple years ago said must go. we have a tacit participation by iran on some level.
you know, the country that many in the region believe we should be most concerned about. and it just shows you, this -- that is this region. it has been this region for 2,000 years. and what i have been saying since i was secretary of the navy, not just before the iraq war, is that the united states can assert its national security interests in that part of the world but we should never become an occupying force in that part of the world. so when i look at what the president, the strikes that the president ordered, i would say this -- if he is ordering these strikes based on the notions of international terrorism, to borrow from the remarks that he made, if he's saying this is an international terrorist entity and the national security interests of the united states are directly threatened, and he's conducting limited strikes, i would say that is legal. that is legal. the question of judgment will remain to be seen.
i'll stop right there. folks, this is a very, very complicated part of the world and we have to deal with our national security in a way that makes sure that we do not get entangled on the ground again. >> president obama's advisors are saying that attacking al qaeda is not an expansion of the u.s. military mission because congress authorized war against al qaeda over a decade ago. do you agree with that reasoning? >> i've never heard them say that but i would expect them to say that. it goes to what the portion might have remarks were.
i said that even without the congressional authorization they are mentioning, we have the right of self-defense under international law and under the united nations charter. if there's an international terrorist organization that directly threatens our national security interests. so in that context, these types of limited raids are really no different than what we have been doing in places like yemen. >> how do you think the obama administration is handling the situation in ukraine and how would you deal with vladimir putin if you were president? >> i do believe that this administration has been taking the right approach with respect to the situation in ukraine. first, the issue of the russian involvement in ukraine involves larger players in historic europe countries like germany, which have an impact on the
actions of the russians. second, it's possible, always possible, for the russians to have overplayed their hand. we saw this actually with the soviets in afghanistan, in 1979. where they went in, they overplayed their hand and over time they had to adjust their policies. i believe the policy of sanction and working with our european partners is the best way to go. what we can be thankful for right now by the way is that ukraine did not become a member of nato, as many people were advocating during the time that i was in the senate. because if
they were a member of nato, we would be obligated to come to their defense militarily in some of these situations. we need to preserve our options and to work with our european partners. >> going domestically for a few questions. does it bother you that all the big financial firms and banks found responsible for the 2008 great recession have only had to pay fines? are we monetizing felonies? >> let me just say this. going to give you a little historical marker here. when we had to vote on whether to provide $700 billion under what was called the tarp
program, to appropriate $700 billion to a lot of companies who had i think abused our economic system, i called a lot of people trying to get their thoughts on which way i should vote. one of the pieces of advice that i appreciated most came from an individual named barton biggs who was with morgan stanley for many years. he helped me when i was bringing companies -- american companies into vietnam many years ago. very, very smart macroeconomic thinker. and someone who made a lot of money in the financial sector. and i said, which way do you think i should vote on this? it's a three-page hands-written memorandum that says give these people $700 billion because of the mistakes they made.
he said, number one, you have to do this. he said, if we do not staunch the bleeding, within weeks the economic systems in the world economy will have a cataclysmic freefall. number two, he said, we need to re-regulate. we need to get back to proper regulation of the financial sector. he said that as a hedge fund guy. he said, number three, you ought to find a way to punish, and that was his word, you ought to find a way to punish the people who created this situation, whose negligence and activities created this situation.
so with that in mind, we worked from our office to pass a windfall profits tax. i'm not big on long-term taxes like that. but after reading an article by martin wolf in the financial times d actually, a very conservative economic newspaper, he was recommending because these companies got bailed out through the moneys of the average working people in this country, the tax moneys of the average working people in this country, they ought to pay, they ought to pay back in. so we put together a refined piece of legislation that basically said, if you were one of, i think there were 13 companies that got more than a certain amount, the very top amount from the tarp program, and you're executive, you get your full compensation and $400,000 bonus on regular taxation, but anything above your $400,000 bonus you split half and half, you split 50/50 with the people who bailed you out. i thought that was extremely reasonable. the most interesting thing about it was, when we got up to the senate floor, it really was the democrats who didn't want to vote on it. not the republicans. nobody wanted to touch it. as a result we didn't get a vote on it.
>> one more question before we go to some questions about veterans. do you believe that obamacare is a step forward for creating economic fairness? why or why not? >> the whole issue of obamacare i think was the most difficult issue that we faced during my time in the senate. whether to eventually vote in favor of it or not. and first i would say, i believe the administration made an error, a strategic error of calling for that legislation at the time that they did. which was the beginning of their administration. it was an issue that had been very popular during the election cycle, but you'll remember two months before the election, the economy crashed. and to bring something this vast and potentially costly as your flagship piece of legislation,
at a time when the economy was still suffering was not a strategically smart thing to do. there were a lot of pieces in this legislation i did not like. i voted with the republicans 18 times on different amendments, trying to bring the legislation to a place that i was more comfortable with. in the end i did vote for it and i'll tell you what was in my mind when i did. let's say this is 50.1% what you like and 49.9% what you don't. but my mother grew up in east arkansas, in some pretty difficult surroundings. she was one of eight children. three of her siblings died in childhood. not child birth, childhood.
as did her father when she was 10. and there wasn't medical care in east arkansas at the time. and if you go back to that period, in the 1930's, even on issues like do we create social security, any program that was put up where the government was going to take a greater responsibility for the individuals, to go book and look at it, they're all screaming, you know, this is socialism, you know, how are you going to have social security for these people? 1960's, medicare comes along. it's socialism. so that really pushed me over. i think to vote in favor of it and i don't regret voting in favor of it. but there's a lot in this program that could be tightened and adjusted and i would hope that's where the congress can come together after this election. it's not going to go away. let's tighten it up and make it better. >> we have many veterans in the
audience, including yourself. many veterans are struggling to find work. is there more we can do to ensure that the men and women who serve are better prepared to enter the civilian work force? >> what i would like to see is a better understanding among potential employers about the value that a veteran can bring to the workplace. we've had discussions over the years on this issue. i was a counsel on the house veterans' committee when i finished law school. i worked on this for many, many years. and if you're in the military, if you're an office and have been able to not only have a college degree but have in many cases an advanced degree, and you've got a skill set that people can understand, you don't have a terribly difficult time selling yourself. if you're enlisted, particularly noncareer enlisted, i mean, the citizen soldiers, the people
that i designed this g.i. bill for, you interrupt your life, you go out and pull a pump or two in iraq or afghanistan, you come back and some of the best leaders in that environment are the ones who are in the combat arms. but they come to an employer and they've got a dd-214, it doesn't have a degree or a computer school, it says i was a squad leader. we need to have a better understanding amongst potential employers of what that means.
that means i had to get things done every day. i had to lead people, i had to motivate them. i had to work across ethnic and other lines. i learned how to lead and how to get things done. and the more people understand that, then the easier it becomes to resolve the issues that you mentioned. >> we are almost out of time. but before i ask the last question, we have a couple of housekeeping matters to take care of. first of all, i'd like to remind you about our upcoming events and speakers. on october 15, deborah ruther, the new president of the john f. kennedy center for the performing arts, will outline her plans for the center's future. october 20, thomas perez, secretary of the u.s. department of labor, october 21, bob bowlsby, commissioner of the big 12 conference. next, i'd like to present our guests with the traditional national press club bug. -- mug. i trust you have a set at home and this you can add to it. [laughter] ok?
and our final question. two of our greatest presidents, teddy roosevelt and f.d.r., are backgrounds at the department of the navy. do you sense a trend developing there? [laughter] [applause] >> unfortunately we're not cousins. [laughter] thank you very much. pleasure being here. >> thank you all. we are adjourned. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
>> next a congressional lack caucus townhall on voting and the midterm elections. he also plan to have coverage of the president's remarks at tonight's cdc foundation dinner. after that, some of the speakers from the family research council values of voters summit. the congressional black caucus foundation held its annual legislation conference in washington, d.c.. we will look at the midterm elections and new