tv [untitled] CSPAN June 17, 2009 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
every day. the energy department calls my state the saudi arabia of wind. and so we take the energy from the wind and produce electrici electricity. the fact is, once you put the turbine up, you can gather electricity from that wind for 30 years at very little cost. so i believe we ought to do everything and that's what we've tried to do this this piece of legislation. but key to that is not just collecting energy from the wind and turning it into electricity. it is also to be able to move it where it is needed. i come from a sparsely populated state, ten times the size of the state of massachusetts in land mass and has only 640,000 people living in it. we don't need the additional energy that would come from putting up wind turbines and collecting more energy from wind farms. we don't need in my state. but we need it in the load centers of this country. in order to get it there we need to build an interstate highway
of transmission capability to produce energy where you can produce it and move it to where it is needed. we did this with highways in the 1950's. president eisenhower and the congress said, let's build an interstate highway system and they d in parts of rural areas one might say, well, how can you justify building four lanes between towns where very few people live? because you are connecting new york with seattle, that's why. that's what the interstate was about, connecting america. the same is true with respect to the need for transmission. what we have put in this legislation addresses the issues that have, so far, prevented us from building the transmission capability we need in this country. what are the issues? well, planning, sighting and pricing. if you can't site them or price them, no one is going to build them. all of those issues are critical to building a transmission. in the last nine years we have
built 11,000 miles of natural gas pipeline in this country. in the last nine years we have build 11,000 miles of natural gas pipeline. during the same period we've only been able to build 660 miles of high voltage transmission lines interstate. why can't we do it? because you've got all the bifurcated jurisdictions that can stop it saying, no, not here, not across our state. so we have created a piece of legislation this morning that does some really important things. produce more. my amendment ops up the eastern gulf of mexico to produce oil and gas. that just makes sense to me. i think i have a chart here that shows what i did with this amendment. i know that one of my colleagues was on the floor having a seizure about this suggesting that opening the eastern gulf of mexico for oil and gas exploration was going to impede and cause all kinds of difficulties with military training. and the routes over which you
have sophisticated, important, military training. well, look, i have been part of a group working on an energy plan called the energy security leadership council and we created a plan and i intremendous doused it, "secure america's future energy." let me describe about the membership of that group. and, by the way, that group felt very strongly that the western area of the gulf of mexico is open, the central area is open, the eastern area should be open, as well, because there are substantial reserves of energy and -- of oil and natural gas. among the membership of the group is former general p.x. kelly, retired u.s. marines corps. and general, retired from sitcom, and admiral dennis blair, and admiral clark, all retired -- retired top military officials. general michael ryan, general
charles wall, both retired. but these are some of th the highest military officials in this country, all of whom believe this should be open. would they suggest that if somehow this would impede military training area? of course not. we have military training areas in the central gulf and western gulf. there's no issue there, there's no conflict there. so this legislation is landmark in many ways. for the first time in a long, long time, we're going to actually going to increase production in an area that's been off limits. i was one of four senators that opened up this little area -- four of us, senator domenici, myself, senator bingaman and senator tallent offered legislation to open lease 181 in the gulf and i believe that was about five years ago. that got open but was shrink substantially before being opened. this is the second approach to open that which should be open
in the eastern gulf. i understand there are people upset with it and they say you can't open that up for drilling. let me just show you what my proposition is. state waters for the first three miles, line of sight out here about 15 miles where you can't see anything. 25 miles, you know, the fact is, i think what we ought to do is be sensitive to the costal states. i'm not interested in putting oil wells on their beaches. that's not the point. but my point is, if we are going to have an energy bill that's solving america's energy problem of placing us less dependent on northern energy we ought to do something of everything to make that happen. does it include drilling, and additional production? the answer is yes. does it include substantial conservation iconsequence? absolutely. efficiency? yes. and moving toward a future in which we will have an electric drive system of transportation,
by and large, i think, with smaller vehicles, and we will also, then, in the longer term, i believe, transition to hydrogeneral fuel cell vehicles. that is accomplished if you can make us less dependent on oil from outside of our country by producing more here and conserving more here and then producing substantial amounts of additional energy from renewable energy, wind and solar which produces electricity to put on a grid, a modern interstate highway grid, to move what we produce from where we produce it, to where the loads are and where the load centers need it. this is not some mysterious illness for which we don't know the cure. this is an energy policy that we know will work if we just will decide to do a lot of everything that represents our own self-interest. produce more, conserve more, more efficiency and maximize renewables. i have not mentioned one final point and that is this: our most abundant resource is coal. yesterday i was reading once
again a prognosis that we can't use coal in the future. of course we can use coal. we have to decarbonize it and use it in a different ways. there are a lot of different, scientific folks out there that are doing cutting-edge research that will allow us, i think, to continue to use our most abundant resource -- coal. so i talked about opening up fields of oil and gas production. substantial investment in the subcommittee i chair will exist with respect to decarbonizing coal. i'm convinced we can build a zero-emission cool-fired generated plant. i know one of america's most prominent scientists who right now is working on something i find fascinating. he's working on developing synthetic microbes to consume coal from which would then exist a gas, methane gas. that would be interesting. if you create a synthetic
microbe to consume the coal and after consumption the microbe turns coal into methane gas. i mean, that's the kind of -- for example, a scientist in california who testified at a hearing i chaired recently talked about capturing carbon from a coal plant by chemically or mineral iegz, singly, the gas and not just separating co2, but turning the gas interest a product that is a value-added product that is harder than and better than concrete which has a value, then, in the marketplace that would bring the cost of decarbonizing nearly down to zero. look, we have solved a lot of very difficult problems in our past. we can surely solve these problems in our future if we are just smart and agree to do a lot of things that work well for our country. now, mr. president, i wanted to compliment my colleague, senator bingaman and senator murkowski and the republican and
democratic colleagues on this committee. we've worked on this for, now, some months and it has taken some while to get to this point but today, finally, at long, long last, we passed this legislation and we will have it open the floor of the senate at some point in the future when the majority leader sees fit to bring it to the floor of the senate and we will have further debate here about points of it but it is exactly what we ought to be discussing. how do you make america more secure? how do you make america less dependent on foreign oil and things over which we have no control or very little control? develop an energy program here at home that makes a lot of sense. that does a lot of everything and does it very, very well. i think that is what we have continue this morning in the energy and natural resources committee. now, mr. president, i want to talk about one other issue today. that issue is something that has been announced by the president this afternoon, just after
lunch, and it deals with the president's plan for financial regulation. i know that my colleague from utah just described it from his perspective. i have great respect for him. let me describe from my perspective why it is necessary for us to have a financial regulation package that requires some reform in those areas, as well. i don't think there's anything that we can do in the congress or that president obama can do that is more important for the future of this and lifting this economy and trying to put it back on track in a way that expands the opportunity and creates jobs, there's nothing more important than to try to instill some confidence in the american people. as i've said a dozen times on the floor of the senate, this is all about confidence. we've get a lot of, all kinds of sophisticated things that we work on and tax policy and all these other issues, and none of it marries as watch as
confidence. when the american people are confident about the future they do the things that expand the economy. they boy a suit of clothing, take a trip, buy a car, buy a house, do the things that they feel secure in their jobs and they do things that expand the economy. when they are not confident about the future, they're worried about their job, wondering whether the economy will allow them and their family to continue to pay all their bills, when they're not confident they do exactly the opposite, they contract the economy. they defer the purchases. they make different judgments. we're not going to buy that suit, take the trip, won't buy the car, won't buy the house. they contract the economy. that's why everything here rests on confidence by the american people going forward. just answer the question, how on earth can people be confident about this economy unless we fix that which caused this wreck? that which steered this who into
the ditch and is now causing 550,000, 600,000 people every month to have to come home and say, i lost my job. they are cutting back at the office or the plant. so this economy has, in recent years, been an economy with an orgy of speculation, an unbelievable bubble of speculation about a lot of things. and at the same time, almost unbelievable oversight difficulties. that is, negligence in oversight by those who the public has hired in fell agencies to do the oversite of what was going on. so we wake up one among and we discover there is -- wake up one morning and we discover there is literally tens of trillions, yes, hundreds of trillions of dollars called c.d.o.'s and
credit default swaps and all sorts of strange names, very complicated with unbelievable embedded risk and we don't know who has them, we don't know how much risk is out there. and all of a sudden things start collapsing like a pancake and the economy goes into the ditch and we're in huge trouble. so how did it all happen? was someone not watching? that's the point -- someone wasn't watching for a long period of time. now, the president has talked about the need for financial reform. and today he has described at least an initial portion of what he would like to do. and i think many of us share his feelings about the need for effective regulation. that is not rocket science given what we've been through. but let me just say this: effective regulation is something that i think from my personal observation is probably not going to come from the
federal reserve board. so let me talk about where the location of this regulation is or should be. the federal reserve board, this my judgment, essentially became a spectator for a long, long period of time under then fed chairman alan greenspan who believed that self-regulation was by far the best. let everybody do what they will and they will do in their self-interest what they believe is right and self-regulation will be just fine. it turns out it was an unbelievably bad decision. but the problem is to set up the federal reserve board as the systematic risk regulator is to set up a systematic risk regulator that is unaccountable. the federal reserve board is unaccountable, not accountable to the congress, not accountable to the president. so in addition to establishing an unaccountable entity, it is also an entity that operates in great secrecy.
i give the president great marks here for suggesting we have to have more effective regulatory capability. good morning sure we'll have discussions about exactly where should that regulation exist. who should be responsible, how do you get it right. but i do hope we can have a discussion about whether the systemic risk regulator should or could be an entity that is really not accountable and one that operates in substantial secrecy. my feeling is there is a much better way to do that number one. number two, i'm still -- while there are a lot of details that i'm not going to describe today, i still am interested in this question of whether we will confront -- and i don't know that from the president's description today -- whether we will confront the issue of too big it fail. it seems to me this issue of too big to fail is no-fault capitalism. that is, if we don't address this question of too-big-to-fail, which choughsed us enormous angst in recent
months especially, we will ultimately have to confront the issue once again down the road when it is very expensive again to do so. i do think that there is a requirement here for us to support the president in deciding that there needs to be regulation that gives people confidence that someone is minding the store. when i said that all of this rests on a foundation of confidence, i mean that if we do not restore the regulatory functions in a manner that the american people see as just and fair and most especially effective, i don't think we will restore the kind of confidence that is necessary to begin building and expanding this economy once again. again, i give the president substantial credit today for saying, this is an important issue, let's get about the business of doing it. he's offered us a description that now gives us a chance for
discussion of how we begin to put the pieces back together of what is the most significant financial wreck since the great depression. this was not some natural disaster, like some huge hurricane or some big storm that came running through. this disaster was man-made and we need to make sure that we put in place the things that will prevent it from ever happening again. there will be, i'm sure, much more discussion about this in the coming days, but again, my thanks to the president for beginning this discussion because it is essential, as we goin try to build opportunity -- as we begin to try to build opportunity in this economy again to restore confidence in the american people by saying we're going to have effective regulatory capabilities to make certain we don't have this unbelievable bubble of speculation that has steered a collapse of our economy in the recent year or so.
mr. president, with that, i yield the floor, and i make a point of order that a quorum is not present -- let me withhold the point of order. mr. brownback: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. brownback: u.a.e.ppreciate my colleagu -- i appreciate my e withholding his point of order about a quorum. i've got in my office a debt clock running, and i phut there purposefully so that people can see what it is and it's running at $11.5 trillion. at this point in time, it has a dizzying amount of numbers that are running on it. usually my constituents coming in are saying, good, i want to get out of the waiting room. the clock is driving my dis disirks the news are growing so fast. it is just so huge what it is we're growing at. the thing that troubles me as well is as a member of the baby-boomer generation, i look at this and i feel like we're following on the heels of the greatest generation that -- the world war ii generation, all the sacrifices and the things that they did to make this country
what it is. the preyed seasethe predecessort i am in is bob dole, who epitomizes the world war ii generation. i am deeply appreciative of that. but i look at my generation, they called it "the me generation," which i don't know that that's particularly an applauding sort of title to it, saying it's more focused that way, and i think we need ourselves to step up a lot more for the country, for the people in this nation, and deal with the problems that we have. and one of the biggest ones as far as the legacy we leave is the mortgage that's growing on this country. this $11.5 trillion that i started off talking about. and that when i first started in congress in 1994 was roughly 50% mandatory spending, 50% discretionary spending.
this year we'll look at 70% mandatory spending, between 60% and 70% mandatory spend, depending on what ends up in the final packages of things, and 30% or 40% discretionary spending. of that discretionary, half of that is military. and so you're really -- you have this huge growth in entitlement programs, in spending programs that are on auto pilot, that are putting that clock going faster and feafort at $1.5 -- faster and faster at $11.5 trillion. this is nonsustainabled and it is irresponsible. and it's irresponsible of the baby-boomer generation that has inherited and been given so much to not step up and to start to deal with this. and i feel very strongly about that this is something weefnedz to start dealing with -- we need to start dealing with as a generation. not talking about it from a party perspective but talking
about it from a generational perspective, that this is the sort of thing we need to start dealing with for our children's future and our grandchildren's future and so that when future generations come up and they look back and they say the greatest generation in world war ii, they don't look just as the baby-boomer generation as saying that's the generation that used a lot of it up. but, rather, they say, no, that was the one that used a lot, but then got it together and started to address the problems. the problems of our fiscal irresponsibility that is taking place in this country and in this government and doing it today. and it is program spending that is out of control. and everybody is against waste, fraud, and abuse, but i've not found that line in the budget yet to be able to "x" it out. what i'm talking about here and will introduce at the end of my speech is a bill that actually does start to get at that and it does it via a mechanism that's that's a proven mechanism that we've used before that has
actually reduced government spending. it is called the commission on accountability -- carfa, 20 additional cosponsors. it is the brac commission, the base closing realignment commission, it applies to the rest of government, not just military bases. you create a mission, the commission says you need -- these 300 bases should be closed. sends it to the administration to check off on that, and it sends it to the congress requiring an up-or-down vote within a limited time frame, and set amount of time to debate, deal or no deal. going to close the bases or not close the bases? that's the only mechanism that we've ever come up with to actually cut federal spending, to be able to actually do the thing we all talk about doing all the time but in the trading nature of the legislative bodies never gets done. this one is actually -- this one has actually done it on the brac commission on military basings
which is a substantial but certainly not all of our budget and i'm saying let's take that mechanism and apply it it to the rest of the budget, mandatory and discretionary spending, both pockets of t the bill which i am fully open to suggestions and ideas for amendment would break it into -- the federal government into four different categories to where every fourth year there is as carfa commission review of one-fourth of the budget and then that recommendation is sent to the congress to either we eliminate these pieces or we keep them. i've got a scorecard up here. turns out that the g.a.o. does a regular scoring of the federal government -- excuse moshings it is o.m.b. that does a regular scoring of the federal government, of the effectiveness of federal government programs. then they assign a percentage out of 100 on it. i put the grade equivalent on it. you can see programs that were reviewed in here. state department has got the highest score that i've got up
here of a c + for effectiveness that the o.m.b. scored for that. the education department, which i don't know what that really says here, but scores below 50% gets an "f" the education department on its scorecard. you can look through this and so these are the programs that were reviewed. 51 in state department, 91 in the education department. what i'm saying is you would have this carfa commission go through and do a similar type of review for effectiveness. those programs that failed then would be put in an overall bill and say, okay, congress, vote on either keeping this entire package or eliminating this entire package. now, if you eliminate them, you can the same year come back and reauthorize that bill and reappropriate it, if you believe it's really effective. but what it does is it gives you an automatic culling process to there's culling that takes place on programs that have been put in the budget year after year and somehow they've sustained or they've gotten supporters around them and most programs have a number of different supporters
around them, so they keep going on and on and even though they're not particularly effective, the supporters really like them and so they keep getting in the budget and then with we do -- and then when woulwedo an effective review, wd out these are failed programs, by our own standards that they're failed programs. this is something that we need to do. iters a something that i would hope -- it's something that i would hope that the baby-boomer generation could stand up and start to say, it is time for us to take fiscal sphonts for the situation that's being -- responsibility for the situation that's being created that is nonsustainable in this country. we're already starting to see interest rates move up. that's likely to continue. we are seeing people just beside themselves looking at the level of federal spending, the waste in it, and just saying, what -- what is going on? can't you guys get ahold of it? and here is a way to actually get ahold of t and deal with it.
and be able to say then to generations when they come forward in future years, say, yes, we stood up and we took ownership, and we dealt with the problem. there was an article in the washington stree"thewall streett the unfundefund obligations of e federal government today -- these are things like medicare, social security, veterans benefits, pension guarantees that we have -- rivals or gets close to $100 trillion of unfunded obligations existing on the part of the federal government today. that number seems high to me, but i know if you look at medicare and a couple of other ones we're looking ago nearly $60 trillion in that category. and to give some perspective, the total economy is $14
trillion or thereabouts. this is irresponsible to the highest degree, and it is irresponsible to future generations, and it's time we put a mechanism in place for us to deal with it. i urge my colleagues to join us in cosponsoring this bill. i'm submitting it now to the desk with 20 cosponsors. this is an idea whose time has come. i want to thank my colleagues, and i'd yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to be able to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cardin: mr. president, i take this time to share with my colleagues a problem that we thought was left in the 20th century, a worldwide problem: slavery.
i'm talking about modern slavery: the human trafficking that takes place around the world. yesterday as chairman of the united states commission on security and cooperation in europe, the helsinki commission, i was privileged to join secretary of state clinton at the state department for the official release of the ninth annual trafficking in persons report. this is a vital diplomatic tool. it's put out every year by the united states, been doing this for almost 10 years now. and it lists every country, and the current status of trafficking in their country. some countries are origin countries. others allow trafficking through their countries. other countries are receiving countries. in this report there is an -- and this report is an objective yardstick so we know exactly what is happening in each one of these countries much it is a
valuable tool for us to put an end to the trafficking in human beings used for forced labor or sex or for other illegal-type purposes. it was interesting, mr. president, that the secretary of state, secretary clinton, also released the attorney general's report to congress, "an assessment of u.s. government activities to combat trafficking in persons." this is the first time we've had this report. this report talks about what's happening in our own country, in the united states. because we think it's important if we're going to lead internationally that we lead by example on what we do in our own country in order to stop trafficking in human beings. the united states department of state's office to monitor and combat trafficking utilizes our vast network of embassies and consulates throughout the world to compile the most comprehensive report of its kind.