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tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  December 22, 2009 10:00am-1:00pm EST

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you can see house and senator -- you can see senator jeff sessions on the floor right there. a round 10:30 a.m. eastern time, in about 30 minutes, we'll have live coverage of the press conference with senate majority leader harry reid and other prominent major players in this debate. democrat chris dodd as well as tom harkin and some groups that are now supporting this legislation, including doctors for america, american heart association, americans united for change, and the small- business majority. that will be live coverage on c- span at 10:30 a.m. eastern time. but now, we want to take you to a new poll out by university press conference here in town. asking whether tax dollars should pay for abortion and the economy. . .
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>> on the question of who is best able to handle health care reform, president obama or the republican in congress by a 45%
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to 40% margin voters say president obama is betterq able but that's not only a five-point gap. in july when quinnipiac asked the question, the president enjoyed a 20% margin advantage over the republican congress. so obviously public opinion has changed somewhat over that time. finally, 73% of voters say that they don't believe that president obama will be able to keep his promise to sign a health care reform bill that does not increase the federal deficit. even 56% of voters say that they would prefer that if the health care reform plan were to increase the federal deficit, they would prefer having no plan at all. let me briefly highlight some of the findings on the economic questions that we asked. by a 52% to 42% margin, voters say that they would support the
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idea of using $200 billion left over from the bank bailout to be used for a second stimulus package aimed at creating jobs. overall, little has changed in public opinion about the economy since july. on several questions there's virtually no change in terms of how people view the economy. generally voters are more optimistic that president obama's economic plans will help the economy in the long run and has helped the economy, and it has helped their personal financial situation, or that it will in the long run help their personal financial situation. on the question of how they view president obama's ability or handling of the jobs issue, he gets a very negative 56% approve, 37% approve rating.
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i talked earlier about how there doesn't seem to be much change in public view of the economy since july. let me give you an example. in july we asked the question whether the economy was getting better, getting worse, or about the same. and in july, 27% said getting better, 29% said getting worse. today 28% say getting better, 28% say getting worse. virtually unchanged and stickley meaningless difference. in other words, they don't think the economy is getting better, by they i mean the american people. let's look at the question of who the american people think does a better job handling the economy. they give president obama a 9% edge over the republicans, 45% to 36%. but in july he had a 22% margin, 54% to 32%. now, let me briefly explain some
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of the questions we asked and the results, and then i'll be happy to take your questions. on the basic question of how president obama's handling the economy, 51% say disapprove, 44% approve of his handling of the economy. on health care, on health care 56% disapprove of president obama's handling of the economy, 36% approve. on creating jobs, 56% disapprove, 37% approve of the president's handling of that issue. asked to rate the nation's economy these days, 0% say it is excellent. 7% say it's good. 91% say it's not so good or poor. when asked again, is it getting
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better, getting worse, or staying the same, 28% say getting better. 28% say getting worse. 43% say it's staying the same. asked whether president obama's policies have helped the economy, hurt the economy, or haven't made a difference, 37% say it's helped the economy. 28% says it's hurt the economy. excuse me, 37% say it's helped the economy. in the future america, 43% think that president obama's policies will help the economy, 29% say it will hurt the economy. again, positive numbers.ç but when we asked about personal financial situation, 15% say that president obama's policies have helped their personal financial situation. 26% say it's hurt their personal
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financial situation. and as we look to the future, 31% say it will help their personal financial situation, 37% think it will hurt their personal financial situation. we ask people whether anyone in their household has been laid off or lost a job.xd in the last -- and 28% of the population say that someone in their household has lost a job or been laid off.i] on the question of the $200 billion left over from the bank bailout, 52% say that it should go for job stimulus, whereas 42% want that money used to reduce the federal deficit. moving on, now on health care. we asked the following question.
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from what you have heard or read, do you mostly approve or mostly disapprove of the proposed changes to the health care system under consideration in congress? 53% mostly disapproved. 36% mostly approved. among independents, for instance, which is a key swing group, 58% mostly disapproved, 30% mostly approved. we asked people what came closer to their view, that the president and congress need to take on the health care reform now and that they support that proposal, the president and congress need to take on health care now and they don't support the proposal, or whether they didn't think the issue should be be taken on now? 31% want action now and they support the proposal. 28% want action now and they oppose the proposal. and 36% just don't want any action now.
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on the issue of the so-called public option which has passed the house but not part of the senate bill, 30% -- excuse me 56% approve. 38% disapprove. on the question of increasing medicare eligibility for those under 55, 64% approve, 30% disapprove. and on the question of do you support allowing abortions to be paid for by public funds under a health care reform bill, 72% oppose, 23% support the idea. asked about president obama's pledge to keep the deficit neutral based with health care reform, 73% say it will add to the deficit and they don't believe him. and 18% think he can keep his
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promise and have health care reform without an increase in the deficit. and 56% say if that's the case they would prefer not to increase the deficit and have health care reform. i'll be happy to take your questions. thank you. yes, sir. >> in your experience monitoring this presidential trust rating, how significant is this deterioration from say july? >> obviously support for health care is deteriorated over the summer. out in the country. but at this point the only votes that matter are the 535 members of congress. obviously over the summer the protest against health care reform increased, and it seemed to have some effect. but at this point the only votes that matter are the 535 votes on capitol hill. yes, sir. >> i read a description in the event description it said you
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guys were looking to build a reputation for larger sample sizes. how does this sample size compare to -- >> this sample size is 1,600. it's somewhat smaller than the other nationals we have done. most we have done have been in the 2,300, 2,500 range. one of the mangor reasons is the snowstorm. we had shut down early in the quinnipiac university is located in connecticut. as in most of the northeast there was a heavy snowstorm there. and that did affect our polling numbers. yes, sir. >> were there any questions based on how well the people you polled understood a lot of the issues going on? >> the polling can't get to the question of evaluating how well people understand the topic. especially on health care reform where it's such -- it's a moving target, clearly. what's in the bill one day is not necessarily in the bill the next day.
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so that it's very different polling. that's why we ask the main tree on support for health care reform the way we did. we asked it whether based on what you have read and heard about what's in consideration in congress. and that is a question we have asked before. and this way we were able to get a trend on what people think about what's going on through their eyes. and that's the only thing that polling can do. polling can't say, well, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about so we won't count his opinion, because whether people know about it, don't know about it, if they are registered voters they get to vote in november. that's the universe that we are interested in finding out about. yes, sir. >> are you planning to -- >> obviously as 2010 dawns and over the 10 months between january and the november election, quinnipiac's polls will be aimed at trying to find out what people think about the
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panoply of issues that will play out in the 2010 election. quinnipiac does state polling in new york, new jersey, connecticut, ohio, and pennsylvania. those states have some of the key senate races, for instance. in florida, the senate race and the primary race between governor kris and former house speaker mark arubio has gotten attention. in pennsylvania, arlen specter, who has been in the senate for 30 years, 29 as a republican and switched parties and is now a democrat, his race is obviously a very high profile race. in connecticut chris dodd has been in congress for 30 years. he, too, is a tough re-election race based on the early polling which is showing him behind. in new york, there's a new senator who is not well-known and she faces a potential challenge. ohio you have a governor whose be job approval rating, ted
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strickland, his job approval rating is only a little bit above 40%. so he's obviously got problems, potential problems. there's an open senate seat there. that, too, will be a very heavily watched contest. nationally, in terms of nationaç polls, quinnipiac does national polls and we'll clearly monitor the views going into the election. anything else? thank you very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the u.s. senate is in day 19
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today of debate on health care legislation. earlier democrats passed a bill through a number of procedural votes this morning. the next vote now set for tomorrow afternoon, that will be a vote to limit debate on the bill itself. if that gets the 60 votes needed, final passage on the health care bill will occur thursday evening, that is unless republicans decide to not push for maximum debate time allowed. you can watch the senate on our companion network, c-span2. meanwhile senate majority leader harry reid and other senate democrats are holding a news conference on health care, along with a number of representatives from groups supporting the senate bill, that's at 10:30 this morning. 15 minutes from right now. live coverage here on c-span. until then some of your calls on the health care debate from today's "washington journal" in a segment that aired prior to today's senate votes. bill we just passed it >> we want to hear from all of you this morning. host: does the dealmaking in the
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senate matter to you? one controversial issue was the abortion issue. medicaid bent federal funding for abortion but 17 states and the district pay it out of their own funds. it is order to reach middle ground in the bill before congress which will provide federal subsidies to millions of people to buy private insurance plans in a new marketplace or exchange for the deal reached by senator ben nelson and other democrats would allow those people to purchase insurance plans with abortion coverage but that would have to write two separate print checks. .
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with the help of subsidies. excluding 85% of customers on the exchange. summerville, something s. pat, on the democrats' line, does the deal making matter? >> yes, it cost. we are one of the poorer states in the union of the united states. and i'm very disappointedç in l this deal making. and people getting deals and getting things for their states. i wonder why our representatives didn't get us anything for our state. i'm also disappointed that this bill is being pushed through so quickly and people are not getting to know really what is in it. it's my tax money and i want to know what i'm paying for. thank you. host: pat, are you going to continue to watch this debate as it unfolds? the senate is on track to pass their version. after that the house and senate have to get together and come up
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with some compromised language which will happen in january, before each body then passes a compromise again and sends it to the president's desk. will you continue to watch? caller: yes, i will. i have called every representative that will accept my phone call. i have emailed. i just feel like this is too fast and we really don't know what we are getting. for our money. as i said i'm a taxpayer. this is my money they are playing with. this is my body. this is my children. this is my grandchildren. said, i am a taxpayer. this is my money they are playing with. this is my body this is my children, this is my grandchildren. and i am very concerned. host: thanks, pat. if we are showing on your screen a coverage of the senate, live coverage, as they do another round of votes on this health care legislation. of course, we continue with our gavel-to-gavel uninterrupted live coverage of the senate on c-span2.
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also there are other ways to follow this health care debate in the senate. you can listen to highlights on c-span radio, you can review the debate on our website on the health care of with live streaming video of the senate floor and complete video archives including a debate on the bill, amendments, briefings from leadership and other key senators and the latest from reporters and editors of cq roll-call group. and we have a new iphone application to follow the health-care debate, c-span radio iphone, it is free and you go listen to c-span, c-span2 and radio. massachusetts, rep on the independent line. does the deal making the matter? caller: as the situation is now, i'm dead set against
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abortion. however, the only way i would be for abortion is if, one, the woman is raped or incest -- that is the only way i would be for it. host: all right. a little bit more about what is next if the senate goes through and past is their version of the legislation. here is "the new york times." it is unclear whether the house and senate will appoint a formal conference committee or just work out differences in negotiations with the democratic leaders and committee chairmen from the team -- two chambers. in any event, white house officials expect to play a huge role. it also says here that --
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the senate would expand eligibility to 133% of the poverty level, $29,000 for a family of four. many am plants for low-income people prefer a house approach. that's another difference between the house and senate bills. this is ohio, ed, on the republican line what, do you think? caller: it's a lousy state of affairs this country's got themselves in. how can anybody watching what's going on in washington now not feel abused that our tax money is being favored upon certain states before votes. i call -- i agree with the lady that just called on the democratic line. i have called my senator here, sherrod brown, and he gives me this flubflub answer that means nothing to me, and he will not listen. and not only did i call him, i called probably during the course of this last week, 25 u.s. senators. and most of the time their voicemail boxes are full.
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you can't leave messages. when you do, they are very kind to your suggestion, yes, we'll let the senator know. and i know darn well they don't. these people have already set their path. they know where they are going. all i want to know is can this thing be repealed when these rascals get thrown out? host: terry on the democrat line, you are next. caller: hello. thanks for taking my call. also i'm really a great fan of c-span. i think it's great that we are able to see our government at work. a few days ago i saw on c-span2 a policy discussion about health care in which one of the persons talked about an article written in 1994 after the present debacle called the institution, stupid, explaining that the reason why health care has not been passed in this country was
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due to the fact that the senate doesn't work. and what we have seen over the last couple weeks is proof positive that the senate doesn't work. we have 40 republicans trying to work on some kind of a compromise that could pass muster, and, yes, it's upsetting that ben nelson can get the deal he can get for the state of nebraska, but the problem is when you don't have a single republican that wants to step up to the vote and it's going to require 60 votes to pass, what are you going to do? host: all right. here's the headline in the "new york post" this morning. welcome to nebraska.ck health population of 1.8 million. residents nicknamed the cornhuskers, corn is the nation's third largest producer of corn, $1.4 billion bushels.
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cows outnumber people four to one. the culinary export is spam. pro sports teams, none. claim to fame, home to world's largest porch swing. the other republican was on the floor talking about the deals in the bill. here's what he had to say. >> less than 24 hours after the announcement of the special carve outs for nebraska, virtually no warning, no preparation to speak up, 2000 people gathered in omaha, nebraska, nebraskans, to in one voice cry, fowl -- foul. nebraskans are frustrated and angry that our beloved state has been thrust into the same pot with all of the other special deals that get cut here. in fact, mr. president, they are outraged that a backroom deal for our state might have been
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what puts this bill across the finish line. there should be no special deals, no carve outs for anyone in this health care bill. not for states, not for states, not for insurance companies, and not for individual senators. host: republican senator yesterday on the floor of the senate talking about those so-called sweeteners in the senate health care bill. we are getting your reaction. barbara on the independent line. your thoughts. caller: good morning. i love what everybody has had to say on your show this morning. i think the whole thing is ridiculous. i don't see where it's going to help any of us, any of us lower income people who used to be middle class people. i can't afford part b on my
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medicare. so i don't have part b. i have a sick daughter who probably has over $80,000 in medical bills. doesn't have insurance. took over six years to get my daughter diagnosed with something pretty simple. and the whole thing is a mess. it's disgusting and it's a mess. and i'm against abortion on all of this. i would never go have one. i don't feel i should have to pay for one. host: texas, jerry on the republican line. your thoughts. caller: good morning,ç greta. i believe it's both corrupt and unconstitutional. corruption, of course, is defined as the dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain, and -- would fall under the equal protection clause. these people are just -- they
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just amaze me with their gall.ç it'sç unbelievable. host: all right. in about five minutes here the senate will start its next round of votingi] on this health care legislation. there are about three procedural votes that will be stacked back to back, and as i said they are expected to vote around 7:20 a.m. eastern time here in about five minutes. c-span2 will have live coverage uninterrupted, no commercials, tune in there. continue with us here for the next 157 minutes as we get your reaction to the deal making that happened in the senate health care bill. here is the headline in the "baltimore sun" this morning, democrats look to 2010 vote. democratic leaders in congress are compiling lists of immediate benefits that will spring from passage of the bill. which is up for a vote in the senate on christmas eve. one such measure of the small business tax credit aimed at helping employers pay for coverage. another immediate deliverable added by senator jay rockefeller, democrat, west
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virginia, includes a ban on denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions another bars insurance companies from setting lifetime benefits caps or rescinding insurance because a person is filing claims. that's the "baltimore sun" this morning. democrats line, good morning. caller: good morning. host: go ahead, ma'am. caller: i am glad that they did the deal because i live in florida and, the democrat, gota deal that anybody on the plan, which i am in florida, they will not change us. we are going to keep it the way it is. host: what does that mean for you? how does your medicare advantage plan work, caroline? caller: it pays for everything. there's no co-pay. and there is no pay for specialist. i don't have to take anything
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but my medicines, and the co-pay on the generics is nothing. and on the name brands it's not that much, either. host: do you get into medr!p)e advantage? caller: well, you go to a company that has that. that takes -- there's so many. they are advertised all over in the papers. you can get any of them. mine is with well care. host: do you think it's fair that florida gets that perk? over other states? caller: yeah. you get what you deal for. it helps me, so, yeah. host: all right. this is the opinion section this morning of the "wall street journal" with a piece by william mcgurd. he writes that rahm emmanuel, chief of stamm for president obama, has a wager. that's what he calls it. it was the democrats' failure in 1994 to pass a health care bill thatç ushered in the gingrich takeover of congress. in his own meetings with
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democrats, former president bill clinton has pressed the same line in arguing to democrats up on capitol hill. he writes this today f mr. emmanuel's right, once health care legislation is passed and mr. obama spins it as a huge victory, the american people will forget their objections and the democrats will get credit for passing historic reform. if so, that will be some achievement because it means building on a health care package supported by fewer than 38% of americans. if the merits do matter, by contrast, passing this bill could prove more costly than failure. mr. obama has been unequivocal in his public statements, in his telling this legislation will lower cost, reduce the deficit, help small businesses, maintain the status quo on abortion, offer americans more choices, and so forth. all these promises may look different when the details eamerican and we learn what change really means. if the president's promises do not hold up, all these statements will be in the campaign ads that cut to his
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credibility. the 64 to 40er party-line vote to close debate means every democrat there can be held up as the deciding vote. oregon, joyce, on the independent line, good morning. caller: i can't believe the american people are so gullible. not one person out listening audience or in the country would sign a 2,000-page contract you have to start paying for the item now and don't get it until 2014. that's ridiculous. and while you are getting whatever you signed for, guess what, you are going to have to pay for someone else's too. it doesn't make sense. i do know something has to be done. the republicans are idiots. they haven't done something all along when they had power to fix the insurance companies abuses. this is not the right thing. not the right time. host: as we are taking your phone calls this morning, we are showing you live coverage of the senate as they are about to get underway with their -- the next
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round of voting on this health care bill. in the chamber this morning is human health and services secretary, kathleen see billous --cy billous is in the chamber -- sebilius, probably back in the chamber somewhere. union missouri, greg, on the republican line. what do you think? caller: i think the president of the united states and the democratic party is committing a proud against the american people. i think america needs to wake up and they'll see in six months or so what's going on with the economy and so forth. keep in mind this is just costing us money. and they don't have a clue what's going on. thank you. host: all right. one state is not happy with this health care legislation. the mayor of new york -- one city, the mayor of new york city, says disgrace of a health care description for disaster. it says that the senate health reform bill is packed with a
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bagful of coal for new york. says new york governor -- the governor, paterson, and the mayor, said it will force the city to close 100 health clinics and blow $1 billion dollars hole in the state's budget. and threaten struggling hospitals and nursing homes and other facilities. despite that, "the new york times" is endorsing the legislation in their editorial section. a bill well worth passing is their lead editorial in the "new york times" this morning. greenfield, wisconsin, ken, on the democrats line, next. caller: hi. good morning. i'm a college student. i have a completely different perspective than the other callers. i'm glad they passed at least a framework so they can build on. it could be decades before they have the political capital to do anything again. if they failed with this. and that was pretty much it. host: just so you know, h.h.s. secretary sebilli sufment, i
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misspoke. she's in the senate gallery, the seating that wraps around the senate chamber there. for those of you that have been in that room before. flint, michigan, independent line, good morning. caller: good morning. i just want to make a couple comments. i think the bottom line is just like they were saying, $638 billion for war. in the essence of any war that ultimately takes lives. we are trying to insure people who don't have health care. and i guess the last time, republicans were in office. they had all three, the white house, senate, and congress, and they did nothing. so all these bright ideas they have now and all the objections, they had more than ample fine to rectify this disastrous situation in this country and they did nothing. the republican party is nothing but a party of gimmicks.
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if there was a move to criticize the way obama-believe me, republicans would get onboard. host: "the washington post" is endorsing the senate's legislation but says as the bill moves forward, in conference commosheations -- negotiations with the house, congress should keep provisions to help control costs. that's the lead editorial this morning in the "washington post." eugene robinson writes this morning also in the "washington post," his piece, he says that once the idea of universal health care is signed into law under this legislation, it will be all but impossible to erase. over time, that idea will be made into reality. he says, we have a system now in which americans go bankrupt trying to pay doctors and hospitals to keep them alive. when you have the opportunity to change this, you take it. even if it means winning ugly. charlotte, north carolina, on the republican line, good
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morning. caller: yes, i don't know where to begin. this is an absolute traff vest at this. i'm calling as a person who is outraged at the deal that ben nelson took. i called the governor's office there and he's actually opposed to money coming into nebraska like that. not to mention that they also have another sweetheart deal for them, that cut for the rest of the american people in february of 2010, that nebraska gets an extension until august of 2010, tell me how that's fair when it comes to physicians hospitals. and also in regard to -- i keep hearing about the children are going to benefit right away from the no longer being able to be -- not have health care coverage because of pre-existing condition. what do we do in regard to schip? me and my husband, we are responsible parents. we take care of our children. i love the way the government
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this nilts people, you go out, have these children, and the government's going to take care of it. then when you look at those who make between $40,000 and $100,000 we are going to be whopped so bad when it comes to our coverage we are not going to be able to afford it. you tell me how that's fair, carol, down in florida i love the way you asked her the question does she think it's fair? of course. she's getting everything taken care of down there in florida. an absolute travesty for this country. host: democratic line, go ahead. caller: hello. i just wanted to call in to say i'm so sick and tired of people calling in and claiming this is terrible and that we shouldn't pay for abortion was their tax dollars. i doubt there are many people who make a quarter of a million dollars a year spending their time calling c-span. which probably means that the vast majority, including myself, are people that call into c-span don't pay any appreciable amount of federal income tax.
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this business about my tax dollars is ridiculous. we have a clinic in farmington here that they don't -- you go in there for a physical and there ain't three people there. they are--there are primary care facilities out there that don't have patients. if you increase the population of patients coming to them and stop them from having to argue on the phone with insurance companies. doctors will come out better. doctors want by and large to provide patient care. and i think if they were given the opportunity to do that, they would do so. insurance companies, on the other hand, have been allowed to descend into what could be called a rank of sanity. it is a for-profit business that absolutely does not care. host: dwight, we'll leave it there. another headline for you this morning in the money section of "usa today." new law expands cobra coverage. thousands ever unemployed
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workers won't have to worry about starting the new year without health insurance. president obama has signed legislation that will allow laid off workers to receive subsidized cobra premiums for up to 15 months. previously the subsidy expired after nine months. the extension included in the defense spending bill approved by congress over the weekend and signed by the president on monday also extended the cutoff for eligibility for the cobra subsidy to february 28, 2010 from december 31. with unemployment at 25-year high, it -- >> we'll leave this recorded portion of today's washington journal to take you live to the capitol for news conference with senate democrats on the health care bill. earlier the senate agreeing to move forward with the bill on a party-line vote of 60-39. oklahoma republican jim inhofe, the only senator not to vote this morning. now senate democrats react to today's vote and talk about what lies ahead for the health care measure. live coverage from the capitol on c-span.
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>> today's a very, very big day. and there are many celebrations. there are many different times we are going to be explaining the benefits of this bill and how this is going to help americans so very, very much. but today we wanted to just express our deep appreciation for so many groups that are
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supporting this legislation. they are all standing behind us. let me read them off. applaud first. doctors for america, americans united for change, small business majority, u.s. birds, families u.s.a., national hispanic council on aging, national puerto rican coalition, third wave, business forward, faith in public life, japanese american citizens league, american association of homes and services for the aging, organizing for america, american association of peoples with disabilities, american cancer society, cancer action network, aarp, american heart association, consumers union, the national jewish democratic council.
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we are truly closer than ever to bringing security and stability to our health care system to provide real reform to american families and businesses and workers so desperately need. the finish line in -- is in sight and all the groups standing behind us know it. now we know with certainty we have the will to cross it. history has called upon us to act, to finally address the growing health care crisis facing our country. the senate has shown is prepared to answer that call. i'd like to thank leader reid, chairman dodd, chairman harkin, my colleagues on both the finance and health committees and across the entire senate for working tirelessly with us on this legislation. together we have craft add bill that will finally provide protections american families have been waiting for. we have crafted a bill that will provide the tax relief that small businesses so desperately need.
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we have crafted a bill that will slow the growth of health care costs, reduce our national debt, and improve the quality of health care. we have craft add bill that will provide violent health insurance coverage to 30 million more americans without adding one thin dime to the national deficit. we have craft add bill that will represent the largest tax cut congress will pass since 2001. this is what the american people sent us here to do. provide real solutions to the real problems facing american families, businesses, and workers every day. we are not the first to attempt such reforms. we will be the first to succeed.
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make no mistake, we will deliver meaningful health care americans have been waiting for decades. senator dodd. >> thank you, senator baucus. max said it all. you heard this wonderful applause behind us. i just hope they are all from connecticut. let me first of all begin by thanking majority leader harry reid. this has been a phenomenal undertaking over the last more than a year now. in fact it goes back as we all know back decades, in fact. people like president nixon and president clinton obviously made the most significant efforts. i thought a lot about john chafee these days. i served with him in the senate from the neighboring state of rhode island and worked with max baucus in those days in trying to put together a health care bill. i heard a lot of people recently that we didn't take advantage of
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john chafee's suggestions, we might have been in a different place than they are. a lot is partisan today and looks as such with votes occurring, i think it's important to remember that a lot of people made significant contributions that have brought us to this point. it's the thought of those individuals and what they tried in the past served as a source of encouragement to all of us continue this effort, despite tremendous difficulties over the last number of months. my hope is still, and i know this may seem naive to some, my hope still is that our friends on the other side as we move forward in this process and conference, will decide to step up and offer their ideas and suggestions. so we emerge with this process with a bipartisan effort on health care.ç certainly the years to comes as tom harkin has said, this is the beginning not the end of a process. long after those of us are not here anymore participating in this process, others will come after us that will build on what we have abelieved today so far in the senate vote. that will make america better and stronger place.
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this wasn't done with just people in a political office making decisions and making tough choices. it's done because we have people like those standing behind us that made this possible. but for their involvement, their participation, their commitment, their passion about this issue that we would not be where we are today. so on behalf of all of us around the country, particularly those who are not in this room today but who will benefit as a result of these efforts, i want toç express my gratitude not only to our leader, max but dust for his efforts in the finance committee , to bring about a bipartisan effort there. to tom harkin following in the footsteps of ted kennedy, obviously the moving spirit behind all of us for so many years, and to thank our respective staffs, many of whom in the room today. many of ted kennedy's people here in the room. people who worked with him before he passed away. people in fact years involved with his efforts. all of this collectively brings us to this mom.
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a health care for all americans. a right that can be achieved by millions and millions of americans. it is a great, great day for our country. >> with apologies to santa -- santa claus, christmas will be anti-climactic this year because we have already gotten the best possible gift, 60 votes in the (uqj senate to create a health care system that works for all americans not just a healthy and wealthy.
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for this great gift we have to thank the senators who are standing beside me. senator baucus, who as senator dodd said, and i said the other day, not only bent over backward and went the extra mile but the extra 100 miles to get his committee to get this bill through. senator dodd who led the effort on our health committee from the beginning and right now through the very end to get this bill pulled together. and of course, as senator dodd said, our leader, harry reid. to put it in biblical terms, harry reid has the patience of jobe -- job, the wisdom of solomon, and the endurance of sampson. -- samson. he has hung in there day after day. has put this together. and he is about to achieve what hasç alluded so many majority leaders going back over half a century. truly with the passage of this
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bill harry reid will have earned his place in theç senate's history.çqu! i thank all the groups for all their support behind us here who have gotten us to this point and without further ado, the person who has led us to this point of victory for the american people, our great leader, harry reid.
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>> we have a lineup here today that is the lineup that is the reason we were able to complete this legislation. i play baseball. i love baseball. i love baseball season. i can come home even if it's for a shortç time, turn on the tv, and watch an inning or two, it's extremely relaxing. i enjoy it very much. i know a lot about baseball.ççó ii] know a lot about why manage baseball. and the reason i wanted this done today this way is to talk about the lineup. in baseball your leadoff hitter is so important. the leadoff hitter has to have speed and has to be able to hit with power, but the leadoff player is somebody that sets the tone for the ballgame, and
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that's what max baucus has done. he's set the tone for what this team has done. he was always at practice early. he had a lot of people had he to deal with. a leadoff hitter has to be able to bunt. has to be able to hit with power, and max has done all of that. but for max baucus, we would not be here. the months and months of the time spent with that committee when we did not have 60 votes, efforts were being made to attain that, as so i have said before but i say again, the leadoff for this whole venture has been max. chairman baucus.
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he hit the leadoff sometime he could hit from the left or right. had he speed. he had power. and that's chris dodd. a great -- if you look at some of the great players that batted third, who are some of those players? how about lou gehrig? lou gehrig was a setup man for babe ruth.
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the reason they had lou gehrig there is that they knew that they had to pitch to him because if you got past him you have babe ruth. that's what managers look for. and so for me, for once in my life, i'm batting cleanup. because when i played baseball i couldn't bat cleanup. but by the time it got to me, through baucus, dodd, and harkin it was pretty easy. so i appreciate the nice words everyone said to me. by the time this thing got to me, most of the hard work had been done. every one of the men and women standing with us represents not hundreds, not thousands, millions of people are represented by the people behind us. they represent millions of americans who support this bill. people who know we must make it possible for everyone to have a healthy life. people who know inaction is not an option. yesterday we were here, some will remember, with the head of
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a.m.a., he said, we have the best health care in the world. for a few people. we want it for everybody. and that's what we are trying to do. and just as important, every one of these leaders behind us today who represents so many americans will benefit from protections and reforms in this bill. families will benefit, consumers will benefit, senior citizens will benefit, physicians will benefit, small business owners in the state of nevada because of this bill, 24,000 small businesses will have the opportunity to insure their employees that they can't now. not because they are cheap. not because they are mean-spirited. they don't have the money. they can't afford insurance. the insurance companies don't allow them to buy insurance. entrepreneurs will benefit. patients and survivors of diseases will benefit. americans of different backgrounds and ethniesities will benefit. and americans of all faiths will benefit. these are people who know how
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our broken health care system doesn't work. they don't need statistics to -- or charts to tell them this, they know because they live it every day. the people they represent wake up every morning trying to figure out whether they are going to make it through the day. they go to bed every nightç second-guessing the agonizing decisions they made that day about whether to sacrifice this or that to try to stay healthy. so to all of you joining us this morning, we thank you for your support. you are the reason we have come this far and i say that without any equivocation. you never let us forget this fight isn't about politics. it isn't about partisanpship. it's about people, real people. while many have tried to knock us off course, you made sure we stayed true to our principles. that is the reason we are going to succeed. we'll take a few questions. >> i was wondering, the constitutionality of being able to repeal the bill, there was a
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report in the "weekly standard" saying that -- >> identify haven't read that yet. -- i haven't read that yet. >> it's on page 1020 there was a saying you won't be able -- the independent medicare advisory. >> my colleague, senator ensign has raised an issue dealing with constitutionality. simple majority vote. i'm glad he raised it. we feel very sound in our position. >> said that the senate bill can't really change very much in conference if it's going to win 60 votes. how have your counterparts in the house reacted to that. and what's on the table -- >> first of all in our meeting before coming here, this may surprise some of you, we actually have prepared for this press conference, we are focused on one thingt( and one thing on, that is passing this bill.
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we havet(çi] -- we hope to be o complete it tomorrow. certainly with ice storms coming in the midwest we hope that we can finish tomorrow, not have to do christmas eve. we'll do whatever is necessary. we are focused on passing this bill. we will work with our house counterparts, the white house, but that's going to come at a subsequent time. our focus today and tomorrow is to complete this legislation. >> how hard it was to get everybody onboard in the compromise, is the reality that the house is going to have to -- to get it back to the senate the house will have to accept the bill? >> no matter how many wayses you ask the question. you'll get the same answer. we are focusing on passing this bill in the senate. we'll worry about subsequent things we have to work on at a later time. >> negotiations, do you think you might be able to do something before christmas? >> i have had some very constructive conversations with senator baucus who is finance
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committee chair. he and i have spoken to secretary geithner. i have had some good conversations with mitch mcconnell the last couple days. we'll have to wait and see. we know we have responsibilities. we'll fulfill our responsibilities as relates to health care reform and the situation with the debt. thank you all very much. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> the senate is in day 19 of debate on the health care legislation today. earlier democrats passed a bill through a number of procedural votes. the next vote is now set for tomorrow afternoon, a vote to limit debate on the bill. if that gets 60 votes needed, final passage of the health care bill would occur thursday evening, christmas eve. but you just heard senator reid mentioning that his hope is that final action on the entire bill would come at some point tomorrow. to agree to not push for maximum debate time allowed. we'll follow that story and keep you up-to-date on the senate debate. you can watch the senate debate on the health care bill live on our companion network, c-span2.
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. >> c-span, christmas day, a look ahead at 2010 politics. buzz aldrin and fellow astronauts on the legacy of apollo 11, a discussion on the role of muslims in america and the world. later, a former ciaç intelligee officer on u.s. strategy against al qaeda in afghanistan. starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern, remembering the lives of william f. buckley jr. and senator ted kennedy. >> now available, c-span possible, "abraham lincoln:
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great american historians." a unique contemporary perspective on lincoln, from 56 journalists, scholars, and writers. from his early years to his life in the white house, and its relevance today. in hardcover at your favorite bookseller and now on digital order -- on digital audio. when more at c-span.org /lincolnbook. >> now a discussion on paying for the war in afghanistan from today's "washington journal." it is about a half-hour. host: lawrence korb is the senior fellow at the center for american progress, out with a new report today. 10 ways to cut the base line defense spending to fight this war within our means. what are you recommending? take a look at yourç regular defense budget, not theç budgeç for theç cost for the wars in afghanistan and iraq.
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there are about 10 programs that could be the delay or cancel without jeopardize in our national security to pay for the $30 billion that it is estimated for these -- for putting these extra troops in afghanistan will cost. host: of these 10 programs, and we can show our viewers from the report, the ballistic missile defense, the ddg-1000 destroyer, the osprey -- these are means of defense programs, and in some of them, they will mean something to some people in certain states. guest: they will, but if we take the example of the virginia class submarine, for the last decade the navy has been building one a year. they would like to move to two. why not just keep it at one? you will still build the same number, but you will not do it as quickly. the same way with the joint strike fighter, the so-called s- 35.
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yes, we should build it, but you are rushing it now, and you still have a lot of problems to work out. if you rush it and you have problems when you build it, congress might end up canceling the whole program. not only do we think these would be fiscally responsible, we think it would help national security in the long term. host: you served under former president ronald reagan from 1981 to 1985 as the assistant defense secretary. what is your recommendation to the pentagon or to congress about how to go about current -- cutting programs that are popular? it guest: this is a time for americans to sacrifice. these wars are the first in our history, significant conflicts where we not only have not had a draft, relying on volunteers and overworking, specifically the ground forces, but americans have not been asked to make any sacrifices. not only do we not raise taxes, we cut them, and because of that we have this tremendous budget
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deficit which in the long term is going to hurt americans in their pocketbook as well as on national security. host: talk about the history of paying for war vs when you served verses now. how has the process involved? >> if you go back and take a look at world war ii, we all had war bonds that peaceful basically that -- that people basically lent money. the korean war, we had higher taxes. even vietnam, a very unpopular war, at the height of that war in 1968, not only did we pay for it, we actually balance the budget. the point that out here. one of the things president johnson did was to cut base line or regular defense programs because you're saying, look, we've got to spend this money and the wars are more important, so let's focus on what we have to do here and now. host: you make the claim that if we make cuts to 10 different areas, it could save some $40
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billion in the next fiscal year, so immediate savings. guest: right, in other words, we say pick 30 out of the 40 because that is the cost of extra troops. this should be the beginning of the us beginning to pay for these wars. host: if you raise or save about $40 billion, that gives some leeway with about $20 billion to play with. if you escalate the troops by 30,000, it is around $1 million per trip. guest: that is right. host: you also talk about how much afghanistan and iraq has cost over the year. let's put that up on the screen for viewers. you write that the united states has spent more than $1 trillion to fund the direct cost of operations in afghanistan and iraq over the last eight years. the majority of which had to be borrowed overseas. can you explain that more? guest: we have run up budget deficits every year going back to 2001, and defense has been a
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big driver with the cost of these wars because we as americans do not save enough, we have to borrow this money from abroad. for example, the chinese hold close to $1 trillion in debt american debt that -- in american debt that they could -- host: there was a lot of talk recently of a war tax, and it was proposed by david obe. what are your thoughts? guest: right now is not a good time, unfortunately, because the economy has not yet recovered. we do not want to be raising taxes. we should have thought about this from the beginning, and if our economy gets back on track, this is something you want to take a look at. we will have to make a big decision about whether to continue the bush tax cuts, coming up in a year or so, and
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that would be a good place to start. maybe we ought not to do that and we need to make sacrifices to pay for the wars. guest: how do you get -- host: how do the members of congress and the obama administration to listen to a report like this? guest: hopefully, through a show like yours. the role of what we call think tanks is really to speak to power, and obviously this is our job. we say this is what you need to think about. if you do not want to do it, obviously that is your decision. one of the great things about this country, you can do this, get it into the public domain, and there will be members of congress that will take a look and say maybe it does make sense because we cannot do it all. host: will congress have a preview of this report? guest: we hope when they come back and take up next year's defense budget, which according to some reports is not only going to make these cuts, it will go up in real terms.
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wait a second, before you do that, let's think about the fact that we are fighting this war. host: how much is it expected to go up? guest: is expected to go up about $18 billion over the baseline for this year ho. host: lancaster, pennsylvania, john on the independent line. caller: the biggest entitlement program in the budget is the military they just passed without blinking almost a $700 billion per year budget the other day, so your effort is ludicrous to think that they will pass this bill without even thinking about it, fighting over $80 billion per year for a defense budget. it is just beyond me. and what happened to the $3 trillion to five trillion -- 2
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$5 trillion that came out the week before 9/11? there was the $3 trillion to $5 trillion that the defense department buildup over the last couple of years. that just fell silent. the biggest problem by far is the military budget. it is the biggest pork. you talking earlier about this deal with certain states getting certain things, 50 states doing the same thing, all 100 senators do the same thing. for military stuff. guest: john makes a good point. senator mccain pointed out yesterday, when the president signed the fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations bill, it was about $4.2 billion in programs that the pentagon did not ask for. we did not get into that, but we are talking about next year's budget. for example, they added of the other engine for the joint strike fighter. this is going to cost more money for the program in the long run.
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this was almost $500 million, and obviously we need to take a good look at that as well. john's of the point is when president bush came into office, -- john's other point is when president bush came into office, not only did not keep the surplus, we doubled the national debt. and then his point -- i think it is a little high on the estimate -- about how the pentagon cannot account for a lot of the money, and there is no doubt about the fact that in the less money the pentagon -- in the last decade the money has not been well managed. the cost overruns on the weapons programs that we are building just escalated, like $400 billion in the existing programs. guest: isn't it easier just to say, no earmarks? host: one has to be careful because one person's earmarks
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are another person's strategic, in a sense. where would we be without the patriot missile system, which we used in the first persian gulf war? i think there are things that congress does that makes sense. where you have got to be careful is the second engine to the joint strike fighter, which makes no sense. there are a couple of companies lobbying congress. h of exxon coal, daniel, republican line. -- host: daniel, republican line. caller: good morning. there are ways we can take care of this bill. i do not know how much gas we burn every weekend in each different state, but the first thing, i do not want -- veterans should not have to pay for this because they are paying a different way. if they spent time over there, we put a dollar tax in a different stateçw3çc+
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each state on a different weekend, to pay for this war, $1. if you do not want to pay your dollar, to not go anywhere that weekend. buy your gas before the weekend. that is the way it has been done, and it works. i do not know what that would calculate to, but i do not think the war fighters should have to pay for it or the veterans. i think people here at home that have not been there, that is who should pay for it. guest: i think he is right. the veterans budget is not in the defense budget. that is a separate budget, not $110 billion. we have been urging for years that you have to spend more on veterans, and the point is well taken. veterans -- veterans are not sacrificing. xdçsomebody has to make sacrifs so we all feel part of this effort. we do not recommend cutting military pay or any military benefits. we are talking about programs that you are building and make
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no sense to for example, why do we have over 5000 strategic nuclear weapons? the cold war is over. we are negotiating with the soviets. why notç bring it down to 1000, and you could save $10 billion to $12 billion a year doing that. host: tom, on the democratic line. good morning. caller: i would like to inform american this morning that $600 billion a year over 10 years $6 trillion we will be spending on the military. the other arms of the military industrial[ complex, we are in the supplementals to the warç, spending over $1 trillion a year on this military-industrial complex. over the next 10 years, you can get that 10 trillion dollars away and you will not be any safer than you are guest: we look at the pentagon budget.
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for example, on nuclear weapons, primarily funded in the department of energy, so if you say how much are we spending on çdefense and somebody says $520 billion -- yeah, but you have another $13 billion or $14 billion in the department of energy that you have to pay for. we are focusing primarily on the pentagon, and the department of energy, but there are things in other agencies. if you add it all up, we are spending more on national security than the rest of the world combined host: how did you come to that figure? guest: look at what we spend, and the total more than the rest of the world combined. host: does that line up with our commitments? guest: basically what it means is that if you can make -- we are talking about, in a budget, if you count the war supplemental at several hundred billion, $30 billion, it is not really going to endanger
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national security. host: next caller, independent line, good morning. caller: i was just going tofá s, i think c-span is the pantheon of cable television. what i wanted to ask mr. korb is, how can you tell us that we need to cut back on defense spending and making all these remarks when you oversaw one of the largest military expansions in probably the last decade or generation, with the star wars, the military expansion under reagan. what happened to the star wars initiative? you are sitting there telling us we need to cut back on spending and this and that, and,ç sir, u were in the front part of the biggest military spending we have seen. host: let's get a response. guest: in the first reagan administration, we increased defense spending significantly because in the 1970's we had let
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it go down drastically. a lot of it was military pay. t for manpower with a 25% pay increase to the troops because it had been falling apart. çt(çafter we did that, we cute fence in the second administration. i also pointed out in here,ok wt wasi]ç referred to asççów3 ste ballistic missile defense. even when i was workingçóxd in e ministration, i thought we should keep it,xd as president(d development mode. çççççhis successors decideo deploy, even though it had not been adequately -- host: deploy what? even though the technology has not been proven, because president bush was determined not to let the democrats cut it back when he left office.
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i remember president reagan sitting in the meeting with people saying you have to deploy this thing. it has not been tested yet. i think you have to put that into context. host: in what administration, if you can, can you say what mistakes led to the situations we are in now with programs being overrun and costs exploding? guest: i will give you an example. when dick cheney was secretary of defense, he tried to cancel the be-22 -- the b-22, and president clinton kept it going because it was a convenient way to show that he was "tough on defense." right now you are spending over $100 million for each of those, and there are lower-cost alternatives. it had so many problems, it was not ready to go when we went
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into iraq and afghanistan and we were usingç outmoded equipment. those are the types of mistakes that have been made. as i mentioned, president bush rushed to deploy the missiles in alaska, hawaii, even though they had not been adequately tested. host: what states were building the b-22? guest: alaska and texas. it was called a turkey, and it was kept alive by those delegations under president clinton. people forget we have had a lot of accidents with that, and dozens of people died as we were trying to push this. it was much more expensive than the alternatives we could have gotten rid of.
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host: jacksonville, florida. good morning. caller: he has just answered my question, everything. the osprey has got to go. what i want to know, who saved it? he said it was clinton that saved the project. it has killed so many soldiers, it is not funny. i do not know if the navy pushed for it or what, but i agree. host: what is your experience with the b-22? caller: i have watched it. it is a no-no. so many soldiers have been killed by that stinking aircraft. guest: the marines wanted it. it is in the marine budget, but it was in the navy budget. the navy was not happy with it, the marines pushed it, and with the pennsylvania and the texas delegation and the report of
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president clinton, they kept it alive. it was called the tillt-rotor caucus, because it takes off like a helicopter and flies like a plane. president clinton kept it going, then president bush, and now it is in president obama's budget. host: arlene, good morning. caller: i cannot believe what i am hearing now. you are talking about sacrifice? i mean, americans overwhelmingly do not support these wars. i do not know what world you live in, but this country is broken. we are on our knees, in debt up to our next to china. our infrastructure is crumbling. i have been wondering, this health care bill has gone from lukewarm to awful, how long it will be before the president slaps a war tax on. it is nice to see it is in the cards now. when are we going to admit that
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we cannot keep waving a flag and screaming about loving jesus? we are in real trouble in the world. guest: there are elected representatives -- let's not forget about the wars in afghanistan and iraq there are 23 senators who voted against going to war, and if their representatives do that, then i think they have the responsibility to decide how to pay for it. go back to the vietnam war -- it was even more unpopular than these wars because we still had a draft, and president johnson in his last year in office cut baseline defense programs. he also did raise taxes and cut some of his cherished domestic programs and left office with a balanced budget. he was the first president until president clinton to have a balanced budget. host: we noted at the top of this that in your report you said direct costs for
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afghanistan and iraq was $8 trillion. guest: no, it was $1 trillion. host: $1 trillion. most of that borrowed from overseas. how much of it was borrowed? is most of it borrowed from china? guest: the mask -- the vast majority is borrowed from china and japan, but it was not just the wars that caused the deficit. you also had the new medicare prescription drug program that was not paid for. you also have lower taxes. that is another thing -- not only did we not raise taxes to pay for the war, we actually cut taxes twice. it was a combination of all of those things. i do know that china holds about $800 billion in american i know you -- in american iou's. caller: why do we in the united states spend so much energy
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converting our resources into efforts that are ultimately lost. why do we spend so much money building weapons and vehicles to send over there to get blown up? there is no value added here. there is no reason or logic to the chaos, the fighting, so why do we continue to look at the proposal for ways to escalate or ways to continue pouring money into this whole -- guest: again, iç think william makes the point that arlene made earlier. our elected representatives did vote to go to these wars. i think president bush was correct to go into afghanistan where the attacks on 9/11 came from print iraq was a complete diversion, had nothing to do with 9/11. saddam hussein was a terrible person, but by doing that we spent tremendous amounts of
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blood and treasure that -- for not something that really did not help national security. does this help or hurt national security? i applaud president obama for saying i am going to start getting out of afghanistan. we cannot stay there forever, we will give it our best shot, but there are things we can do to protect security without keeping 100,000 people there indefinitely. host: what -- guest: it came up again. the congressman raised it, to his credit, raising the tax issue. president obama at the end of that speech at west point said, basically, in the final analysis, our ability to protect our security in the world is going to be influenced by how well we handle things at home. i thought, this would be a good first step. i mean, i would like to in the long term debt the budget back in balance. that has got to be our ultimate goal. you know, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step,
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so let's take a look at this. the president talked about it, the country knows about it, and if the congress supports it, let's think about paying for it. host: people can read more about the report online? guest: americanprogress.org. host: next caller, good morning. caller: i do not understand this individual. i retired from the army in 1984, got notice this year that i am not going to get no raises, and i do not understand that. they're taking away from us that has already served in the army, ?nmso i would like your respons. guest: well, clarence, let me tell you that i get military retirement, so i do not know -- so i know you are talking about. that is not in the defense budget. there will be no social security raise this year. take a look at what is happening to the economy, and they look at
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what is happening with inflation. there is very low inflation right now, and the federal reserve has the interest rate basically at zeroxd. that does not come out of the defense budget,my because we ae on an accrual basis. host: what are the options you present for us coming back -- one of them is cutting back on research and development test and evaluation funding. why is that? guest: in the department of defense, in addition to buying weapons, you do research and development for the future. going back, somebody was talking about under president reagan when he had these large defense budget -- if you took the height of his defense buildup, put it in this year's dollars, how much would we be spending on research and development? $20 billion less than we are spending now, so maybe we should take a look at that and say why are wei] doing these things when we have got these immediate problems now? no matter how much you spend, you cannot get perfect security.
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we are saying, look, your eye in this war, you decided to do it, if you do not -- you are in this war, you decided to do it, and if you do not do it, it will hurt you in the long run because if you're-if your adversaries have money, they have power over you. host: franklin, tennessee. caller: americans are resoundingly against these wars. we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction, we do not want to pay an additional war tax, and do not there to hide it in a black budget. let the u.s. and the u.k. oil companies pay for these wars to extend the trans-afghanistan pipeline grid. it is supposed to be finished in 2014. amazingly enough, the war is supposed and route 2014, too. we sent -- in 2014, too.
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rumsfeld and cheney wanted seven wars in five years, and that is exactly what we are getting. every dollar spent to kill people over there should be spent productively in health care. i would encourage all women to rise up against the military industrial complex. american people, and to keep yourself about the trans- afghanistan pipeline, and let's bring our men home. there were no weapons of mass destruction. guest: one thing to say something good about the british, they have sent more troops to afghanistan, and they are paying for it by cutting their base line, their defense budget. host: mr. korb, thank you for being with us. >> c-span christmas day, a look to 2010 politics, including eric kanter and david gregory. buzz aldrin and fellow astronauts. a discussion of the role of muslims in america and the world.
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later, a former cia intelligence officer on u.s. strategy in afghanistan. and remembering the lives of william f. buckley jr. and senator ted kennedy. >> there is about a month left to enter c-span's 2010 student cam contest, with prizes for middle and high school students. top prize, $5,000. the essay -- it must incorporate different points of view. winning entries will be shown on c-span3 do not wait another minute. >> word from politico this morning that representative parker griffith, a freshman from alabama, will announce that he is switching parties to become a republican. the story says that his party switch comes on the eve of a pivotal congressional health- care vote and will send a jolt
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through the house caucus. and that represents a coup for the house republican leadership, which had been courting him. again, politico reporting today that congressman parker griffith, a freshman democrat from alabama, will switch parties and become a republican. on c-span, it is today's white house briefing. at the last white house briefing of the year, many questions focused on the last steps of the health-care debate. house and senate negotiators, if it is passed this week, will have to work out their differences in a conference committee. robert gibbs speaks for about 45 minutes. >> welcome to the last press briefing of the year. i know many of you will be disappointed. [groans] i know, the collective groan. today, my friend, it is not christmas.
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>> hold your christmas spirit. >> if you cannot feel it from here, leicester,, a couple of rows closer. go ahead. >> the president said this morning that his vacation plans are going to be contingent on the senate voted does that mean he is staying in washington on christmas eve? >> they will make a decision about when the president will leave. as soon as we know the outcome of that decision, we will let you guys know. nothing has been made, notice decisions -- no decisions have been made at this point. >> is that the same message that the u.s. is getting from its negotiators? if that is the case, then -- >> with its negotiators -- >> with iran. >> look, i think that the international community is united. this is not something that the
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president has said, this is not something -- or just that the presidentñr has said. this is something that the members of the p5 plus one have said. that is why we are at the point we are now with the international community, waiting to see, and have been waiting to see four months, whether iran will live up to its responsibilities. mr. ahmadinejad may not recognize, for whatever reason, the deadline that looms, but that is a very real deadline for the international community, and i think all of those involved in the p5 plus one would anchorage iran to take the deadline as seriously as it is being taken by us to live up to their responsibilities. it is in his control what iran decides to do. the offer that was put forward by the p5 plus one and the iaea,
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i think make it clear to the world what iran's attention -- intentions were. now they have to live up to those responsibilities, and if they fail to doç so, the international community will react accordingly. >> opec met today and decided to hold out. also, there is a strong message coming out with opec that they are comfortable with oil prices ranging between $70 and $80 a barrel. , i do not have any guidance on opec, but we will try to get some from energy and from an s c. yes, sir. >> once the senate passes health care, how does the presidency his role? is he going to be a bystander and sort of a cheerleader, or is he going to be up his elbows? >> again, i think year-old --
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let me say one thing first. i am not going to get into what that conference, what those negotiations may look like. ççobviously we're hopeful thae bill will pass the senate prior to the senate leaving for christmas, whenever day they may decide that to be. i think the bill has, as you heard the president yesterday say, a number of overwhelmingly good benefits for the american people. the president and his team continue to play -- careful, guys. this room is not paid for. this is just a rental. [laughter] the president and his team will continue to play the role they have, and that is working with leaders in the house and senate,
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discussing with them policy options. i think the role that he and his team have played up to this point have gotten us to the point where, in all honesty, health-care reform is not a matter of if. it is a matter of when, and i think the president is encouraged by that. as you know, he has been criticized for not being more active by some people. >> he has been criticized for being too active. the one thing that the president has results for the new year is not to let any of that criticism bother him. >> if this goes to conference, he is going to be involved as much as he has in the past? >> we would not be at the point we are today if it were not for the president's every day involvement in this.
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you know, i know there have been reports to the contrary. i think the president believes that we have gotten health care reform right up to the point where, as i said a minute ago, it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. >> i am wondering if now that çiran has made its intentions clear that it does not intend to abide by the december 31 deadline, as the white house then started making plans for the next phase? >> we began making those plans weeks ago. you're the president talked about it on his trip to asia. >> is it clear to the white house now that iran is not going to back down? >> that is an iranian decision. that is not a decision that we in the p5 plus 1 will make. we have offered them a different path. if they decide not to take it,
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our delegation with the p5 plus 1 will move accordingly. discussions have been had with leaders about those next steps at the u.n., as you know, in september, with meetings with the president, and the chinese on his recent trip. we have begun to take those steps. if iran is unwilling to pursue its responsibilities. >> as the president is winding down his first year in office and looks back over this year, is he at the point now where he can say, "this is kind of what i ends -- is this kind of what i expected," in terms of health care? >> in terms of getting legislation through congress? >> about what he expected more
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-- >> i think the president was never under any illusion that anything was going to be easy. we are talking about fundamental health care reform, talking about fundamental change that will help in terms of health care reform, millions to have access to affordable health care. millions that have that access see their costs reduced. we know that this is a good thing for our fiscal picture. we know that, whether you have insurance or you do not have insurance, important reforms about the way insurance companies treat patients are in this bill. the senate bill has very strong provisions about -- that prevent insurance companies from padding their own pockets in the medical loss ratio. i do not think the president was
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under any illusion that anything was going to be easy. when he came into office on the 20th of january, we were looking at an economic picture that i think it is fair to say had not been seen by a president, likely since president roosevelt. if you go back to that month -- we had 741,000 jobs lost. the first quarter of 2009 saw a gdp reduction of more than 6%, an economic loss that had not been seen in almost three decades. the president was not under any illusions that any of this stuff would be easy. focused domestically, and on foreign policy, on the ideas that he thinks will make this country safer, more secure, and get our economy back on the road to recovery. but when quick thing --
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>> one quick thing, the death of a -- >> let me talk to the president on that. >> on health care, with abortion language, has the white house been talking with congressman stupak of michigan, and how confident is the president that some sort of cover-can be worked out to satisfy all parties? >> i will check if there have been any conversations. i do not believe the president has talked with congressman stupak in the last few days. i do not know if staff has had conversations. i do not want to get into where some of these issues -- house on these issues may be hammered out in conference. i think it is better to let the senate work their will and get us to a point where we will have those negotiations. again, i think the president is
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quite confident that we are going to be able to figure out how to make health care reform a reality. again, i do not think this is a matter of if, this is a matter of when, and the president looks forward to that. >> robert, what is the president's take on some of the language that has been used over the last several days regarding the health care reform? the chairman of the republican national committee twice yesterday said the democrats are flipping the bird to the american people. >> how much did that interview cost him? that was just directed at the rnc. bamut is that language inappropriate? ç>> i think if you look back to give everybody some context why he came up with whatever verbiage he came up with, this
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is predigáed on the fact that he had come in his mind, deduced that the white house had pressured the congressional budget office into coming up with statistics that were good for the bill. i do not know how many questions i have been asked about cbo numbers in the last nine months. i think the notion that somehow this white house is in cahoots with the congressional budget office is delusional. to put it mildly. i would suggest this for the rnc and for anybody in the republican party. there are millions of people that do not health health care this christmas. there are millions of people that are watching their health- care rates skyrocket, and instead of giving chippy interviews, it might be good to be part of the negotiations and a solution to get health care reform, to make it a reality for the american people. i think that is what they want to see from their political
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parties in washington. >> can you talk about the president's involvement? senator feingold said the lack of support for the administration made it -- made keeping the public option in a struggle. i asked chairman dean yesterday about this, and he said, yes, there are democrats believe that there are democrats who believe that he was not a ball to. >> they are certainly entitled to their -- that he was not involved. >> they are certainly entitled to their opinions. without this reform, we would not be to the point where we would be a couple of votes away -- not in people, but in sequencing -- to getting health care reform to the senate. at that point -- is somebody ordering a pizza?
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let me tell you, $30,000 to answer that call. we will have health care reform through the house and the senate. that has never happened before. i think, again, we are in a place we have never been. we are closer to reform than we ever have been. i think, quite frankly, if you look at disagree with dr. dean, if you look at what is good for the american people, i think far and away this is a bill that would provide people with important protections and make true health care reform a reality for the first time in seven years. >> can you talk a little bit about the president's meeting today with the community and small bankers? what is the message to them, and how is that message different from the meeting that he had
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with big banks the week before? >> this group probably represents several thousand small and community banks throughout the country. the president wants to have a discussion with the bankers here about ways in which we can all work together, as he did with the bigger banks, to spur lending to small and medium- sized businesses. the president will reiterate his support for a comprehensive financial reform. i think those are the two main things of the president's list. obviously some issues like compensation are less than an issue for these banks. we will have a more full read out of the meeting that is taking place right now. >> does he believe that the small and community banks are as reluctant to lend as the big banks?
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and the seat -- that of finding fault somebody does not get them a loan. we want to work with small and community banks, find ways in whichw3 the environmentç for lending to the small and medium- sized businesses, where that can be conducive for these banks. there are things we can continue to do work to help that process. >> mark, can you provide any examples of ways in which lending can be increased by these banks? >> let me get a full read out of the meeting. once they conclude, i do not think there is a lot that is done without hearing directly from what they talked about. >> so far this morning you have said three times is not a question of when but -- not a question of if, but when the health care bill will be
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enacted. do you see no possible deal breakersok in congress? >> i am not saying there are not issues that have to be worked out, i think that there are- there is significant and important momentum for health care reform. i think, evaluating this legislation, in the many ways that they will help the american people, whether you are lucky enough to have health insurance in this country, whether you want accessible, affordable insurance, whether you think it is time that insurance companies have to change their actions as it relates to things like pre-existing conditions, whether you are a small business that wants help, or whether you are a concern -- whether you are concerned about the fiscal picture of the federal government, this bill will help all of those groups. i think the president believes, continues to believe that we are going to get health care reform passed, to his desk, and signed.
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>> on the hacking of citigroup, has the white house been briefed on this? >> i am sure the president saw the article today. i do not know whether he has been briefed by others on this or not. >> is he on the job yet or -- in my >-- on the debt limit, a lot of them think negotiating with the white house for statutory pay, which the president is for and throughout the campaign, are they serious about enacting statutory pay, attaching it to raising the debt limit? >> obviously we have got -- the house passed a temporary raise that limit sometime in mid february. i am not going to get out ahead of negotiations going forward. obviously, the president and the white house are negotiating in
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good faith. çwe share the concerns with may in the blue dog caucus, the democratic and republican caucuses, that are concerned about the fiscal health of our country. >> is it on the table, though, in terms of -- >> lots of things are on the table. when you get elected and joined the blue dog caucus, we can do this right here. i do not want to dissuade you from trying. what color are your socks today? we are going to be transparent. what are we wearing today? show them to the world, with your purple-striped tie. i rest my case. major, with a snappy blue tie
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and hopefully darker socks. >> much darker which bill does the white house think is better for the american people? >> i have not asked for conclusions as to what exact legislation is better. i will tell you this. i think in both bills, you have many of the things i have talked about in this briefing and many of the things you have heard the administration talked about for months. each of these bills meets the principles that the president and the american people back in his speech in september. comprehensive health care reform is in each one of these bills, helps with the skyrocketing costs of premiums, and helps with the cost of health care, affordable insurance, help with insurance reforms. all of those things are in both of these bills, and the president looks forward to
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signing a bill in making health care reform a reality. >> two principal difference is i would like to ask you about. the house bill has the public option, the senate bill does not to the senate bill has a taxation system on the cadillac plans. but again, i am not going to get into -- >> again, i am not going to get into the major negotiations. once the senate passes the major in the -- -- was the senate passes the major legislation -- the president and his team will be involved, as they have been coming to get the bills to this point, to get a bill from that point to his desk. >> does the white house prefer that these negotiations be carried out in public? >> we are hoping to get these things done quickly to have something for the president to sign. >> you mentioned throughout this debate, at a commission -- a
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commitment to transparency. >> getting something done for the american people is the most important thing that we can do for millions of americans who struggle with the high cost of health care. >> what does the economic team believe about this? >> we do not have an economic daily briefing this morning. the president usually gets this information -- >> we did not start until 10:20, so i apologize. >> what, obviously you have seen the number revised down, largely based on inventory. again, i would take you back to what we saw in the first quarter of the year, at a gdp downturn that we had not seen in nearly three decades. we saw an increase in that, just
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a slight lessening of the gdp in the second quarter. now we have seen positive growth for the first time in over a year, in each of the numbers that were put out for the third quarter. we are certainly hopeful to continue a trajectory for the economy that we have seen over the past few quarters. this is, as i had said countless times, not a problem that is going to be solved overnight. we did not get here overnight. i do not think the president will be satisfied until we see not just positive economic growth, but positive economic growth that leads to positive jobs growth, and the millions of people that want to find work and cannot right now in this country will be able to do so. >> the deals in the last few minutes, and the last few days to procure the necessary 60
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votes were said to be smelly, among other adjectives. does the white house find that in any way objectionable? >> i would refer you to what i said over the weekend, that the legislative process is what it has been for several hundred years. >> legislation is not something the white house considered crucial, and this -- the president often talk in the campaign about things being done differently. >> i think one of the things that will be done differently is we will have health care reform in this country. the president thinks that is an enormously good thing for the american people. >> over the weekend, the white house issued a statement about the ayatollah, and i do not recall the white house noting any previous leaders -- he is obviously critic of, did a job in a prominent figure in the opposition.
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>> i would point to what the president said in his speech in oslo. i would simply say that i think if you look at his actions post the revolution that you are talking about, in order to seek greater human-rights, it is something that we all support. i refer you back again to what we talked about earlier with iran. they have an opportunity to take steps to fulfill their international responsibilities. we not only have not seen that from the iranians, we have actually seen, throughout the course of this year and the past several years, attempts to very much hide what their activities were. this administration, working
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through the iaea and its allies, have taken steps to bring the international community along. if iran fails to live up to those obligations by the end of the year, we will take our next steps. >> does the white house believe that this statement at a positive effect on demonstrators that showed up around his funeral? >> i have not heard directly from nsc on that. >> coming up with the budget that we are about a month and a half away from, in the contract in remarks earlier this week, the president briefly spoke about it and said it requires tough choices. has he said to the cabinet chiefs, you guys have to come back with the budget, talk about spending freezes and things like that? are their marching orders for that? >> the president has been involved in the last three or
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four weeks, probably four or five different budget meetings. obviously, peter has worked with different agencies about their budget requests for the next fiscal year. i think, though not all those decisions have been made, i think the president has expressed a concern, to fold, about continuing our economic recovery, doing what we have to do to create an environment where the private sector is creating jobs. secondly, in the medium and the long term, take steps to greatly reduce our deficit and take the necessary steps to get ourselves back on the path toward fiscal responsibility. i mentioned fiscal responsibility in health care. not simply based on the fact that cbo reports that our budget situation will be -- this bill is not just deficit-neutral, it
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will improve our fiscal situation. remember, one of the reasons this debate has taken so long is, unlike other things that have come down the pike in washington over the past several years, the president made the commitment to pay for it. the two biggest drivers in the budget deficit that we have right now, two of the three biggest drivers -- one is economic, simple economic activity, which the president, as i mentioned earlier, is working hard to restore. but the teodoro biggest spending programs -- but the two biggest spending programs are the tax cuts that were not paid for in a prescription drug benefit that was not paid for. major talked about changing the way washington works. the president proposed comprehensive health-care reform in this country, then changed the way washington works by actually talking about and paying for it.
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understanding that we have to take steps to get our country back on the path toward fiscal responsibility. >> the agency budgets that the president is going to have to submit shortly -- has he told them that it is time for -- >> i am not going to get ahead of what the budget is going to look like. suffice to say that it will not look as it has in the past. >> just two questions. >> just two. >> first, does the president support the senator's a y n--- native reorganization act, creative a native hawaiian government, and if so, why not support statehood for american indian government? >> is that two questions? >> that is one question.
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>> that seems about 3. >> no, no, no. i am positive is only one and it has two parts. >> may i can't -- may i >> you are a very funny man. >> i practice. i will give you aone-part answer. >> does the president believed a flight attendant who directed passengers to adhere to the rules by turning off cell phones should be called a "bitch" by any u.s. senator? >> we may need a couple flight attendants in this room to tell people to turn off their self loans.
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-- to turn off their cell phones. >> thank you very much. merry christmas to you. >> [inaudible] >> i am sorry. >> a couple of meetings at the nec. are they cooking up things for the new year? >> they talk abed details for what the president talked about in his speech -- they talked about details. some of those meetings have been budget meetings, so those continue. i don't know if there are any for tomorrow. yes. >> now that we have finished the 2010 spending bills, i am wondering how you viewed the process. the final bills had many earmarks.
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how would you evaluate how things work? what will you call on congress to do differently? >> i don't want to get ahead of budgetary announcements which will be made at the beginning of february. i said this last week whenever we were asked about this that far from perfect, the legislation had a reduction in the remarks which the president believes is a good thing. -- reduction in earmarks. the president said we would like bills to go through in order. that was made much more difficult this year based on -- we have watched the floor of the senate be taken up by a series of delayed tactics which many would find it curious given the
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fact that the tactics normally follow bills that have passed in one case 88-10. it is unclear why people would delay a piece of legislation that passes 88-10. we will certainly look for more congeniality next year in making the process flow more easily. >> a question on the navy seals case. one of the seals was arraigned today. does the president believe the court martial was the appropriate portion? >> i don't think the president should get involved in a legal cases like this. if you are looking for comment, either the pentagon or department of justice is a good place to debate. >> just one question.
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[inaudible] will the president be attending church on christmas? hal is the search for a churchgoing? >> -- how is the search going? >> some of this is up in flux. the president has attended fairly regularly at camp david a church he is comfortable in and has enjoyed attending. when he does go to church there are many inconveniences' other parishioners have to go through. the president has tried to minimize that. >> i wanted to get a little more detail about how the president will structure his vacation schedule because presidents are
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never really on vacation. is he planning to set aside a certain window for briefings, particularly on healthcare and afghanistan? will we get once a day an update on that? >> i don't have the schedule in front of maine. -- i don't have the schedule in front of me. i would hit on the premise in that where we are -- i went to hawaii with candidate bill, -- with candidate obama. i think the president has in discussions with his team, if there are updates around health care he will always be available. he will continue to get daily intelligence updates and security updates as he does here
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and when he travels abroad. we will have an extensive network of whatever is needed to stay on top of whatever situations happen. >> does he plan to [unintelligible] can you tell us which -- is the speechwriter going for part of the trip? is/j the deputy chief of staff going for all of the trip? >> let me try to get a list of whoçç is going. i don't believe a speech writer is going. the president has had meetings on the state of the union and there is a meeting later today. çpreparations being made for that, lots of those meetings have happened at the staff levelw3. let me get a full list. i know that bill and nick are
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going, but i just want to confirm which people are going on behalf of the staff. cracks [inaudible] -- >> [inaudible] >> no, he will probably take the girls at and they may go to variousç thingsçç around haw, but there are no public events. >> is there a date for the state of the union? >> no. ç>> [inaudible] [laughter] >> for steny purposes only. >> sometime in 2010. -- çççforce stanving purpose. >> do you know if the president called the radio stationç and identified himself as garyw3 frm
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qdc? >> i think this is governor kaine's last radio show and i know there was a cold sheet that went in. -- there was a call sheet that went in. >> just to follow up on your other question. why did the president never bring up the public option in discussions with senator lieberman? >> i will not rehash -- >> it is not really rehashing. >> it is generally rehashing. the president has been clear on what he has supported. members of the senate were clear on what they did not support. the president believes he could refer you to an interview he did yesterday. health care in the senate
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contains about 95% of what he wanted. the president is quite pleased with the product and looks forward to signing a comprehensive health care. >> he said he did everything he could to get the public's option passed. >> absolutely. >> the commander in iraq issued a new soldier -- issued a new warning that says female soldiers who get pregnant will be subject to court martial. >> i have no knowledge of this. let me go find some background information. >> you might have already addressed this. with the holidaysw3 here, is the president considering any pardons? >> no, i don't know in terms of broader pardons.
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in terms of jack johnson, the department of justice came back recommending -- not recommending a pardon. >> are there others he is considering? >> let me check and see. >> [inaudible] about the cost of the senate bill is class act. [inaudible] does the white house shared any concern about that provision? >> i would have to talk directly to the guysq on that, but i think the president is comfortable with where the senate bill is and looks forward to its passage. >> i know the white house.ñ!tq's for health care, but would it be safe to say he would like to [inaudible] >> since we don't know when that is it might be a series of moving deadlines.
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he looks forward to signing this as soon as congress sends it to him. >> there is back and forth with folks who are for the public option and for medicare çextension, but there are many people who have complaints. is the white house doing anything to reach out to these folks considering they are part of the president's constituency? >> i think david mentioned as on sunday. çwe spent 45 minutes with governor dean on saturday to walking through what was in the senate bill. governor dean mentioned that things like medical [inaudible] was something that was in the bill. his earlier criticism that nothing was done about things like that after hearing from
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somebody as smart as nancy is in terms of that policy, i think he came to the conclusion that some of the things he did not believe were in the bill were in the bill. >> there are some who think there could be lasting damage. what concerns does the white house have -- some folks who supported candidate obama have problems with the way things have gone. >> i would say the same thing the president would say, which is look at the entire bill. look at what this bill does if you are concerned about the skyrocketing costs of health care. that is addressed in this reform. if you are concerned about 30 million americans that have lacked a -- lacked basic insurance, look at what this bill does for them. look at what it does to stop
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insurance abuse and pre-existing conditions. look at what the legislation does on medical loss ratio. look at what this does for ogr fiscal picture. understand a around 95% of what he wanted with health care reform is in this legislation. ççthe president is proudç ofs legislation and the fact is about to get through the senate. he is proud and has gotten through the house. it is not a matter of if, but when comprehensive health care reform -- something that presidents have try to do for 70 years. and many people have been working decades on this as well. when people had a chance to look at all of what is in the
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legislation, people will be s enormously proud of what we are on the cusp ofç accomplishing s the president is. and will take one more and we will disappear for 2009. >> [inaudible] the white house pressure the fda to send this letter to help kill the -- the fda is not denying it. the senator stands by his charge. >> i would say that concerns by the fda about reinterpretation are not something that came with the obama administration. if one can do this safely, it was the concern of the fda to
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the prior administration, so this is about 810-year concern by the fda in terms of safety. -- this is about a 10-year concern. if you look back at the history of concerns that have been had about safety, they have been there for quite some time. happy holidays. >> [inaudible] >> no, enjoy your holidays. >> [inaudible] >> i have not seen that information. thanks. >> a question for robert gibbs about parker griffith. news that parker griffith, a freshman democrat will announce he is switching parties to become a republican.
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that will take place this afternoon in his district in northern alabama. the senate is in day 19 of debate on health care legislation. democrats passed the bill through procedural votes this morning, paving the way for more debate, although there were also hints from the majority and minority leaders that negotiations were under way to shorten the workweek, but a final vote is now set for christmas eve. you can watch the senate live on our companion network, c-span2. it is a senate hearing]i on the back lot of dna evidence collected for unsolved rape cases. tens of thousands of rape kits had not been tested. we will hear testimony from law- enforcement and a rape victim who is now a dna testing at the kit. this is one hour and 45 minutes.
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>> good morning, everyone. today a committee is holding a second hearing on the reauthorization of the ground- breaking justice for all act. the justice for all act includes the debbie smith rape kit back log reduction act. this -- this authorizes funding for the rate kits. now we will examine some disturbing reports that despite our progress to ensure justice for rate victims, -- justice for rape victims.
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dna evidence could be used to convict them, but instead it sits on a shelf. rape victims are victimized once again. our communities become more dangerous. that is unacceptable and we have to fix that problem. since we passed this law in 2004, teh debbie smith act resulted in millions of dollars going to states for testing of dna samples to reduce the backlog. i have worked with senators to ensure a full funding for the >> each year. i -- funding for the act each year. i welcome debbie smith and her husband once again. she lived in fear for years after being attacked before her rape kit was tested and her perpetrator caught.
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she and her husband worked tirelessly to ensure a there is need not experience her ordeal. let me just mention debbie and i have talked so many times. thank you for being here. ymrob, thank you for beingi]q . the two of you are -- i put you right at the very first line and two people i admire greatly. there is one thing i have heard again and again which would be a great comfort to all of us here. the program has made tremendous gains across the country. i have heard from the justice department and law enforcement
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that the grants have led to a meaningful backlog reductionsç and justice for victims across the country. the director of the vermont forensic laboratory described hal funding -- describe how this has resulted in all production of backlogs in vermont to solve cases. i hope our state of vermont will be an example for other jurisdictions. i also know that he was clear in saying the bratt success would not be possible without funding -- by saying the vermont success would not be possible without funding. we would not be here today if there was not a problem. we see alarming reports have continued of backlogs. one study found 12,500 untested
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rate kicks in the los angeles area alone. -- untested rape camps -- çuntested rape kits. 18% of unsolved rape cases have not even been submitted to a crime lab. ç police officers have to understand the importance of testing this evidence. they must learn when testing is necessary. to many jurisdictions -- rape kits can help law enforcement
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get criminals across the street -- get criminals off the street. the backlog problems in some jurisdictions show we are the victims of our own success. the availability of >> funding -- availability of funding has sent more cases to the labs. law-enforcement face difficult questions of priority when there are limited resources. we begin to learn of possible solutions to these dynamics. there must be national standards and best practices giving guidance to police officers about when dna should go to labs. every jurisdictions must have jurisdiction to provide training and put into place these standards. we have to ensure good communication and compatible
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technology. we should reexamine regulations required with samples sent out to private laboratories and retest in government laboratories. it costs time and money. [unintelligible] for help in putting this hearing together. as well as many other committees on both sides of the aisle. and the senator from arizona who worked closely to get this passed. i]there is d we can solve this. i]there is d çççwe will solve this. senator sessions. >> thank you. çi am of the yield region -- im
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of the view we are investing enough money in terms of the forensic evidence -- to fight crime like rape which tends to be competitive. -- which tends to be repetitive. i am not happy with our state and local government. it has always been a frustrating that we have increases in law- enforcement but not enough for forensics. it is not just dna, there are fingerprinting, forensics for firearms and all kinds of other scientific evidence that often backlog leading cases unsolved.
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even simple drug analysis cases that often delay prosecution for months simply waiting on a chemist report to determine the substance was illegal. i really think we are on to something that is important. i also believe the department of justice should be taking the lead in studying dna and howt( ç could be better applied. what kinds of best practices should be out there? what kind of new techniques are developing in dna that can make -- that can help local officials identify repeat criminals much earlier and stop victimization and reduce crime? there are many things we need to do.
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i don't think that federal government should be bearing responsibility of paying for every rape kit in america. we need to figure a way to get local law enforcement up to where they need today. if we can help them create the database and protocols, that would be our first choice. i have supported additional federal resources to make celebrate the improving -- decelerate to improve forensics capability. -- to accelerate to improve forensics capability. >> we look -- we began with debbie smith, the leading advocate for the rape kit testing. she was raped in 1989. more than six years later her
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assailant was finally caught using dna evidence. she worked tirelessly to raise awareness with the importance of dna evidence. she worked closely with me to address this problem of rape kit testing backlogs. she lent her name to the debbie smith rape kit backlog reduction act. it passed back in 2004. i remember that phone call. i think i caught you at the airport to tell you the good news. and the both of us were pretty emotional on that phone call. it was reauthorize in 2008. if you would go ahead and i will ask the senator to introduce the next witness. >> let me say how honored i am to have been included today. as a surviving victim of sexual
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assault, understand the importance of the work to be done. i don't bring any professional perspective to this table, but what i can offer you is the first hand knowledge of the importance of timely dna testing and the elimination of the backlog of suspect and victim kits. i would like to ask each of you to remove your political hacks and take your place as a husband or brother, or a mother or sister. you just received news that your relative was raped. this man repeatedly said he would return and kill her if she told anyone. she cries hysterically pleading with you not to call the police,
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but in your heart you know is the right thing to do. you call the police and your loved one sits in shock. your heart is breaking as you watch her try to hold onto her sanity. watching her try to make sense of what has happened kurtz incredibly. -- hurts incredibly. a search begins because there has to be something you can do to make it better, but you find that search is in vain. you convince her she needs to go to the hospital to have the only physical evidence taken. this person is begging you not to make her go. your prayer is that your help in her to do the things she would still cannot make the right
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decisions, if only she could. as you walk into the hospital you try to make her understand this is necessary. it is the only way we can prevent this man from hurting anyone else. she walks like a frightened child. she hears you tell the receptionist she was raped. no, because they cannot be true. it does not happen to people like me. the questions begin all over again. you begin to wonder if you have helped her to do the right thing. the look in her eyes conveys the desperation she is feeling, needing to know someone is on her side, that someone police hurt, but her nightmare continues as she is asked to lie down on the table and and spread
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her legs. and male doctor begins this procedure by program and -- by probing just hours after the attack. what was left of her self-esteem has completelyç vanished. she has been violated all over again. you only hope this very procedure will bring justice. you trust things willç be bett, but it does not take long before the vacant stares giveaway she has beenw3 robbed of any life. he watched her strugglei] to lee her house or allow children out of her sight. remember, i know where you live and i will come back to kill you. you fear one day you will find
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she has taken her own life. all she wants is her freedom and to feel safe. she wants justice but she waits. my husband and i lived this nightmare. when she -- she has done everything asked to keep this man from hurting anyone else. but there is a good chance this evidence will sit on a shelf with thousands of other kits, each box hults and vital evidence crucial to the safety of women everywhere. -- each box holds a vital evidence. how many could these be prevented? i existed for six years waiting for my rapist to be identified, trying to death and the sound of his voice, -- trying to deafen
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the sound of his voice. i became a suicidal, seeking rest from the pictures that played in myç mind, but finally dna revealed themç identity oy rapist, promising justice. i want every victim to experience this gift of renewed life. i am here today on behalf of this victims whose cases continue to sit on the shelves. i am here for future victims and for those who sit in a prison cell who had been wrongly accused. i speak for victims like amy who was attacked in 1996. her rape kit yielded little evidence. her memory -- by 2004 dna
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technology have changed. her evidence was retested and revealed the profile of her attractive -- revealed the profile of her attacker. she says, today i have hopeç ad a new purpose. i am here for those who can no longer speak for themselves. a lab scientist told a rape victim -- told about a rape çvictim who had -- the scientit went to deliver the news in person to the detective. he looked at her with a solemn face and says that is great news, but the victim committed suicide last night. unfortunately this is not an isolated case. i ask you to put your political hat back on because it empowers
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you with the ability to make a difference. you need to make sure these are taken off the shelf and reviewed to see if there is any viable forensic evidence. can you enmeshing goingxd throuh this examination only to have the results sit behind locked doors? everything done is to find this person. the guilty is made to return what was stolen to its rightful çowner, but you are powerless o return to a rape victim what was taken from her because you cannot restore her dignity or peace of mind. you cannot remove this pictures from her mind, but you can give her justice by making her rapist pay for his crime. lady liberty offers freedom for all within our borders.
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equal justice under law is areç raised high. our flags+,- -- equal justice under law is etche din stone. she anticipates the promised justice to be imparted for the crime committed against her. i ask you use your power to award her what is promised to all, liberty and justice for all. thank you. çó>> i think -- [unintelligible] i think listening to your testimony, that people can understand why when i called you a few minutes after we passed
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the bill, why that was such an emotional phone call for both of us. thank you for being here. rob, i thank you, too. the next witness is someone you know well. could you please introduce him? >> thank you for that moving story and your courage not only for telling your own story, but for being the voice for so many victims. we welcome our next witness. when i became hennepin county attorney, i came from the outside without a lot of criminal experience. i wanted to put someone in charge that had the trust of the people. that was steve.
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most importantly, he is one of the national experts on dna. it means having the willingness and determination to learn the science of dna which is not that easy for so many lawyers to do, and because we have to be as sophisticated as the science. he is someone -- his wife is here, he believes you can use this science not only to convict guilty but also protect innocent. steve redding. >> i am a senior assistant county attorney in hennepin county. i supervise the sexual assaults division.
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our office serves approximately 1.1 million people. i want to thank members for inviting me here. i want to thank the senator who was the county attorney for eight years. and she fully understood the power of dna testing to protect women and children and assist prosecutors in carrying out our duty to protect the innocent. i went to thank mike freeman for his support with the dna issues now and for the eight years he was county attorney. dna testing has solved many cold cases. i have the ability to prosecute the first few cold cases in the early 1990's.
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neither of those men will ever be released from prison. these successes were not the result at anything special i did, but the foresight into the minnesota state legislature which funded the dna lab. it became what it is today, a pioneer in dna testing practices. there are a large number of untested sexual assault cases and the disparities between state and local labs in their ability to process kits. this issue is not as severe as it might seem, but many rape kits remain untested. two years ago we were able to obtain a list of 98 cases. i identified 33 where the kit
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had not been tested. the results were as follows, in at seven cases there was not sufficient amount of material to test. 13 of those cases produced john doe profiles. 13 of this case is produced a hit. 10 of those were to convicted offenders with previous sex histories. of those 13 , 3 had been convicted, five were charged, and in two cases we are still looking for the victim. two of those cases turned out the victim was from a consentual partner. this demonstrates how fruitful it can be to test this type of case. additional funding can yield similar results. one year ago it became mandatory in minneapolis to test all cases
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were the victim has identified her perpetrator and indicated he was a stranger. we need more training for police and prosecutors. years ago prosecutors with dna experience provided training to inexperienced prosecutors. it is no longer available in most cases. evidence collection is performed by a specially trained nurse. perpetrators know about dna and are taking steps to avoid leaving it. one victim ejaculated in the woman's pants and he took them. he said, i am taking these for dna purposes. he thought he took the only evidence that would tie him to the crime, but the nurse who was
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taking the evidence from her revealed that he had talked on her cell phone. that dna profile was entered into the database and hit to this man. her innovation made that arrest possible. he is awaiting trial. for similar reasons, police training would enhance investigations. there needs to be more cooperation between police and prosecutors. when they work together, we improve outcomes significantly. team work on a cold cases is crucial. a road block exists to this cooperation and i have detailed what that is and suggested solutions. the crime solving ability of our
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national database is amazing. in 1989 a young woman was stabbed to death. police sergeants found evidence that was submitted for dna evidence. it hit to a man that was convicted for drunk driving. the senator was responsible for the law that made repeat drunk driving offenses a felony. that man is now doing 25 years in prison for a crime that never would have been solved but for the fact that he was placed into a convicted offender data base. this is a magnificent example where the law of unintended consequences led to terrific consequences. i have made several observations in my written submissions to the committee. i believe the use of dna to identify rapist's can be further
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enhanced. i outline a number of areas i thinkw3 could help this. i want to thank you for inviting me to testifyi] and i look forwd to continuing my work on maximizing dna technology in this area. >> thank you very much. uççóour next witness is susan howley. çshe joined the organization in 1991 and served as director of victim services until 2005. iwçqçshe has written a book ony issues affecting victims of crime and serve the national advisory committee of violence against women. she received her law degree from georgetown university.
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some of us in this committee -- never mind. we actually have two of us who graduated from georgetown. please go ahead. >> thank you. good morning, members of the committee. i am public policy director from the national center of victims from crime. we will soon celebrate our 25th year of championing the interests of victims of crime. our members include victim service providers at the state and local levels. we work to promote the use of dna evidence. i appreciate the opportunity to appear here this morning. sexual assault victims call our health line every day when they
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cannot find the informations a need at the local level. they remind us that undergoing a rape exam can be violating and confusing, especially when is not conducted by a specially trained examiner. once this is complete victims have no idea what happens to the rape kit. many assume everyone is sent to the lab immediately, said they are confused as to why they cannot get in a formation about their case. if they learned it was never ççsent they become very upsetd discouraged. many are destroyed before processing. many -- one caller spoke at length about her frustration that after she had done all she could no one else seemed to care about bringing the offender to
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justice. another caller was outraged rape kits from her previous victims had languished before testing. she is ready to sue officials becauseheç isçxd convinced if those were processed her rapist would have been caughtç. our members confirm what we hear, that many jurisdictions are not processing all appropriate rape kits and the re are many delays. we would like to offer a solution to the backlog, but we need more information. we need to know more about whether the problem is a lack of sq%ei+ dna evidenceç or lackñr of fung to process evidence, or lack of willl to prosecute more cases. each of those barriers would
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call for a different solution. we need to know if there is any benefit from testing every kit even if the identity is not an issue. some jurisdictions are in the process of clearing their backlogs by doing just that. their experience could give us the information to know whether that is our path forward. we are reluctant to recommend everyone be tested. if a defendant admits to the sexual conduct but claims consent, there may be no value in prosecuting. if he is convicted his dna will be submitted into the database. because our capacity to do this is limited, to require testing of every sexual assaults kit will inevitably delay testing in
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other types of cases. many victims of other crimes also have a compelling interest. for forensic testing could close many open homicide cases, w3 burglary victims can benefit, families with missing persons could benefit. until our capacity for dna testing gross, -- dna testing grows. there is much congress can do to improve the treatment of rape victims as forensic evidence is processed. congress could provide additional support for a sexual assaults nurses to preserve evidence. we recommend creation of a sexual assault dna bill of rights that gives rape victims the right to know whether there
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rape kit has been processed. we urge you to support increased awareness that sexual assault victims have the right to a free forensicok exam even if they hae not made the decision to report the crime. victims learn about the exam from the police, but only a fraction will report to the police and many delay calling the crisis center until is too late. we applaud this committee for its repeated efforts to bring justice to sexual assault victims and to senator frank and for bringing attention to this issue. -- to said franken -- s enator frankenç çfor bringing
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attention to this issue. >> i have the honor to introduce ourçç next guest. çóshe is the commander of the miami dade police repertory bureauq -- police laboratory bureau. xdshe oversees biological evidee andç [unintelligible] she is a national leader of forensic science and has lectured at the international çassociation chief of police. she has taught as a professor of forensic biology at the international research institute at florida international university and is a board member of the crime laboratory directors. she received her master's from florida international university. >> good morning.
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my name is stephanie. i in the crime laboratory director and i am the -- i am the crime director. i also sit on the board of the american society of crime laboratory directors which represents the interests of 500 directors to wrathy country and place a great role in the credibility of these services. i am honored to be asked to speak to you about insuring the effective use of dna evidence to effective use of dna evidence to solve rape cases. ti+ the role of crime laboratories is to provide leads to remove dangerous offenders or exonerate innocent suspects and provide roles -- provide results in a court of law. there are more cases that could
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be worked. cases must be prioritized. the highest priority is given to those in which the subject has the greatest threat to society. crime laboratories are faced with insufficient personnel and funding to meet the needs of expectations of investigators and citizens. forensic science has become an critical component. crime laboratories also provide analysis in areas such as controlled substances and firearms. non-dna forensic services comprise 90% of the crime laboratory's caseload. a significant backlog exists in all areas. this is impacted by a lack of funding. as a result of the glamorization
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of forensic science, dna requests are made because the jury expects evidence to be tested. if identity is not in question, why train laboratory resources? prosecutors need to explain television drama is just that'. in a perfect world with unlimited resources every lab could analyze every sample, but the reality is quite different. there are resources issues that stop this. each case is evaluated separately and each case is different. if a consensual sex case is submitted with an underage females, should this receive the same level of attention as a stranger rape? we understand the value of analyzing sexual assault
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evidence. this does not mean consensual sex case would not be analyzed, but it means priority is different. if we were to examine every case then other cases would go on examined. the primary challenge is backlog. there is no explanation of what makes up a backlog. crime laboratories can only manage the cases they know about. a written prioritization allows this -- is juggling is not perform in an arbitrary manner. there are define priorities for all cases that enter a crime laboratory. the cases that go to trial fast as our property crimes.
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why are valuable resources spent on dna analysis of property crimes? data collected tells me that 52% at a burglary in their past. the less opportunity they have. congress has allocated funding to use current advances the police department has pursued federal funding under the cold cases. they want to reexamine cold cases. of the first 100 cases reviewed, 68 were developed. 32 hits were made. training is an essential component to the analysis
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reporting. the police department crime laboratory provides training. publications such as guidelines for dna evidence and what every law-enforcement officer should try. this information should be common knowledge. training curriculum should include procedures for the proper collection of dna evidence. the management submitted is not only a law-enforcement problem. it is an issue that must be addressed in the judicial system. submission that every case can be worked is unrealistic. every case needs to be evaluated separately. crime laboratories do not have resources to evaluate every sample. the answer does not lie in the hands of the person who analyzes
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cases on a daily basis. the responsibility for case management lies in the hands of the entire judicial system. the efforts within a climate laboratory should focus on how to produce results in a timely manner. -- the efforts with a crime laboratory. there is no one size fits all approach. this must be fluid to meet the demands of the system. i appreciate the opportunity to appear today. thank you. >> our last witness is jayann sepich. she is the advocate for mandating dna testing since the tragedy of her daughter being raped and murdered in new mexico.

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