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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 22, 2009 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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policy thinking and high level policy, how do you get them to move the permanent federal government. it's a long process of turning a cruise ship around in some ways, and i think omb traditionally has had 95% or so of its employees at the captain level agencies within the executive office of the president, but 95% of its employees are career. always be in many ways is the center of translating the president priority into administration policy. . . voice. in this particular administration, this president is famously known for being
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wonky, in a good sense. he cares about the nuance and details of policy administration. to go and be and the kind of a traditional sense of it as a bunch of the traditional sense of a bunch of policy monger's implementing policy is an important part of this president's vision, how do you institutionalize change? how do you make it happen? the washington post talked-about the memorandum sent to all agency heads about transforming the federal personnel process. this is the management side of omb, making it different and transforming government. we are at a unique moment in the public/private sector, the boundaries of public/private sector, the power of government to solve human problems. now we have the opportunity to
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make government transparent. omb is a center of a lot of the transparency efforts, the recovery effort, the vice president's office implementing a lot of stuff in the recovery act. in 4 months i tell people it has been 4-1/2 months, we have had 2 budget cycles in the 2010 budget. it has been an extraordinary amount of work. given the economic mess we are in, given just how presidential priorities are implemented through economics and budget, it is natural that omb would pursue this roll. combined with that are some powerful personalities and people that allowed that to happen. >> do you worry that too much authority and power is being sucked into the white house and we are diminishing the role of
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cabinet secretaries? >> that is not about omb, it is the policy czar. i think this is a unique time, there are extraordinary challenges that need coordination, something that is essential. with the read is the d p c, all of the policy councils, they're playing a courageous -- creative role in bringing together the administration. given that vision, it has to happen. >> kind of yes. spencer, you work in one of those agencies. in an office most people think of as doing the work nolan is suggesting, deciding which
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techniques to be used. the office of legal policy. it has an important role in the transparency question. that has been your background. there has been some disappointment on the progressive side too. the question about withholding vice-president chaney's testimony to patrick fitzgerald, that came up as a political question. tell us about the legal policy, how would you assess the administration's efforts? >> just to start off, it is nice
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to see so many young friends, and that at scan mentions was certainly an honor. they have one on one conversations, and the short history, many of you have given me advice and insight and support and i appreciate that. some of you are the part of the it ministration, many of you, the next 4 or 8 years. please stay engaged, your talents, your energy, you really
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sustain us. being here and continued, please continue. there are so many people who would say to me, how are and in georgetown? , what is going on, when are you guys going to release more torture memos? if there is a net shall. 0 l. lewis tells us what the law
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is, tells us what the law should be. it serves as an outside counsel to executive branch agencies. 0 lp spearheads of oil day's policies, we have had judges in the white house, we coordinate the rulemaking, but in terms of poli policy, in terms of legislation, policy initiatives, olp is known as the think-tank of the justice department. in the reagan administration, they came up with legislation that resulted in the current federal sentencing system, they dealt a lot with death penalty issues, really came forward with
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an original meaning jurisprudence, that is what olp did in the reagan administration. in the clinton administration they spearheaded anti-terrorism administration in the aftermath of the oklahoma city bombing, spearheaded the violence against women act and the brady bill. in the administration office, growth initiated the patriot act. if there's something, you talk about state secrets, whistle-blowers, that is another issue we are working on. there's something unique, we work with different components within doj to really balance out and work through, negotiate these institutional interests, the criminal division at the o.j. has different interests
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than the civil-rights division, or a d a made the primary focus, preventing trafficing, or h h s, how many have access to drugs. they have different interests and how we negotiate that to come up with the best policy, a neutral arbiter, so there are some big issues with state secrets and other issues and there really are competing interests. something that was fascinating to me, maybe this was naive, see the difference between republicans and democrats, maybe at a certain point people conceded difference between senator clinton and senator
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obama during a primary. when you deal with government, there a differences the tween components with the same administration, how they negotiate through that so that you can come up with some coherent policy. that is what we are trying to in a variety of areas. >> maybe go back, this is an administration making a big commit and transparency. we have cio, transparency initiatives out of the science and technology policy, the justice department, who should the paul -- who should the public look to to hold responsible for open government
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in this the ministrations? >> i am going to defer on that question. >> everyone is in charge of transparency and open government. everybody has their hand in a piece of it. naturally, the office studying policy in that area, the science and technology office, which is where the technology officer is the house as well as the omb. those offices are more involved than others in setting the policy but this is something that is crosscutting every agency, every office in the white house. it will probably come a little bit from everywhere. >> do you think the project is going well? >> the recovery act is a great
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example. we have the most unprecedented level of transparency with regard to the spending and recovery. it is obviously a huge project, there are websites created for every federal agency, there is, state and local grants, it is an extraordinary effort. where we started given where we came from is huge. >> we have twitter going in iran recently. >> a couple of very important concepts that are really new in terms of political culture, would be transparency and collaboration. they are very consistent with technology concept, and they do characterized what is happening in terms of collaboration across
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agencies and in terms of transparency when we talk about executive order, we talk about the is the executive order. the ethics executive order. in terms of transparency -- >> you work for an administration which was going the other direction. claiming executive privilege, secrecy, the vice-president was probably at the vanguard of that. do you see a big difference? obviously the obama administration is putting off. and particularly vice-president cheney in making this big effort to connect, be more transparent. but there are politics in at as well. >> i imagine there are differences and the differences may or may not be bigger than we think once we start seeing more
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classes between the branches. these internal task forces that the administration has set up, you are more transparent than the bush should ministrations was and the clinton administration was prior to that. to me, the real fight about transparency in our administration, the claims of executive privilege, when it was putting the executive congress against the presidency, you don't normally see that when those fights with both parties told congress and the white house. if, i hope, the control of the congress and the presidency come to differ over the next few years, you will see those classes, and you will see the extent to which president obama is committed to transparency. i happen to think there's an enormous value to be able to
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shield some of your highest -- you are bested 5 not to splash your best advice on the front pages. i don't think many members of congress would want to make public the internal e-mail between them and their staff over whether to vote for a certain bill and what considerations they take in voting for a certain bill. that is the type of non transparency that we were really advocating in the bush should ministration, that if you want the president to get unvarnished advice from his top advisers on sensitive and controversial issues, that advice should not be disclosed to the public because it is, you are not going to get the best of fights that you can from your advisor. to answer your question i really think it remains to be seen whether at the highest level, where transparency is an issue, this administration is or is not going to be transparent because they haven't had the type of fights that we had once the government became divided in the
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budget ministry in. >> lisa -- by the way, we have cards in here if you want to ask questions. like the office of legal policy no one knows what the staff secretary is. explain what your main duty is, and to you have a responsibility, do you feel you have a responsibility to provide alternative views from the right to the president? he is wanting to hear from his critics as well as his supporters. how do you manage the need to give him information that is coming from the right? all of us hope that you are only giving himself from the rest of the perspective but what is the role of your office? >> the staff secretary's office,
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i certainly did know about and to working in the white house, a very inward looking office, all of the paper goes to the president through the secretary's office. look core of the job is ensuring that by the time a decision memo gets to the president, it accurately reflects his advisor's views. there's a process you go for as a policy council, working on developing policy and working with agencies on policy, it works its way through, there's a certain consensus that has developed. we are the lapsed substance to stop before it gets to the president. we make sure it will circulate and make sure that his senior advisers have had a chance to have input so that if you have larry summers working away on something, it doesn't happen just in a silo said that peter orszag hasn't had a chance to weigh in.
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they're serious differences of opinion in a variety of issues in the white house and this is a president who actually wants to hear from different advisers, he wants to make sure that he has the benefit of all these different opinions. if the policy works through a particular style and gets to him he would not have the benefit of that, you have a decision that might not be wrong, but you might come to think it could have been better. that is the core part of the job. certain it is with technology, of the changes in the job is it gets substantively involved in going back, what about this? how about this issue? that can be, here is where conservatives -- how do we respond to that? there's a lot of working with the office fought -- to make
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sure people are engaging on a particular issue. and the president asks questions. it is not really what i describe as a little more linear, there will be an initial memo, it will come back with questions, how about this? you get people involved in that. it is also with the agency. you were talking about the czar. the executive branch can become territorial about their agency. these difficult economic issues, you really do have to have someone driving the coordination process and that is what you see with the energies are and somebody who is bringing the agency players to the table and making sure that their views are part of the policymaking process
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and that the president gets the best a device that he can get. >> let's talk about some places were progressives felt the biggest change from conservative administration is in the selection of judges. we now have the sense, with the selection of judge sotomayor, an inkling of how the president is thinking about this. spencer, you are involved, preeta, you were involved in the transition, ron, you were very active in judicial selection, i am not sure whether you have been participating as well. taken in order, whoever wants to go first, what is the criteria? and another question, why so slow in producing the court of appeals? anybody want to take that?
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>> i want to make 2 clique points. my perspective is limited because it focuses on vetting judges that the white house elects. we support the white house through our vetting process. i will say the first bush nominees were in may in terms of the court of appeals, the obama administration had that buys a couple months, at least with regard to nomination. from a factual of -- point, nominations, the obama administration, previous administrations -- in terms -- okay. >> don't overclaim.
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we are up to four. >> things are moving along. there were only a few nominations that made it through in the bush administration, people like roger gregory early on. like most of the people talking about confirmation, like september, that kind of thing. >> that is it on timing. we are up to 4. what kind of people will go on court? of lot of people want to balance out the conservative judges that previous republican presidents put on. what attributes do you see president obama looking for in selecting judges? >> i can speak from the transmission standpoint. he was looking first and foremost for capable, intellectual lawyers, jurists,
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that was first and foremost, clearly see. her qualifications. my sense of the extra factor, the distinguishing factor was that this was a person who understood, who had a sense of why they wanted to be a judge, not just a pristine piece of paper, not just reading briefs, but really understood and had some interest in the human interest of judging, who had some life experience dealing with people. i have the sense the president was not that interested in people, was more interested in people who actually had litigated real cases, worked with people, did not have to be in the context of litigation, just public-interest work, but someone who has inhuman drama and human story. that was always the extra factor.
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>> to jump in, he has been closely involved in the supreme court nomination but the word empathetic has come up a lot. the president really does care about, this is somebody who thinks about the impact of the law. these cases involve people, they're not just abstract legal questions. these people had a real world experience, and an approach where they think about the impact of the decisions they are making on people. it is not i feel sorry for this person or something like that, it is a real world understanding about how is the decision going to play out. what does it mean in the workplace? is it realistic to say someone should complain about discrimination, when you have seen enough in a paycheck to recognize that it is there? the practical understanding of how these cases come up and what it means, how it will play out? >> you select a whole batch of
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judges during the clinton presidency. they are here tonight. do you see any difference, what do you think president obama is looking for? >> there are some differences. with president obama, his selection of judges, you start with someone who is a brilliant lawyer himself, who is a litigator himself, who taught law, brings a tremendous amount of intellectual firepower and legal perspective to his decision. this was the choice that he spent a lot of time on, he read a lot of material about her and in number of other possibilities, very thoughtful and orderly process and in the end came away with the person he thought combined great legal
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acumen with life experience, practice experience, divers practice experience, as a private lawyer, trial court judge, the best round of legal career, as any sitting member of the court, and there is that hole combination of things the president was looking for. and the other thing about the way he did this, president obama is the only president ever who spoke individually to every single minute of the -- every single member of the jenna insisted -- senate judiciary committee before he made his choice. i don't know if that means more of them are going to vote for his nominee or not but the effort to reach out, understand what was on their minds and factor that into his own decision about making is an approach that hopefully will set a better tone as we move forward
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in this process. >> i am trying to group the questions because we have so many. a number of questions, that the president is doing too much, there's a decidedly deep strain, he's not doing enough and one particular area, the question of gay-rights coming including marriage, adoption, medical insurance, several questions about the brief that was recently filed with respect to the case in california. i don't know whether -- directing this to right person, does anyone want to take that up? i don't know if it has come across your desk or if you want to discuss what the administration is doing, don't ask, don't tell, i will throw it
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up to you. >> i'd know -- [laughter] >> somebody has got to be brave. >> it was an awful lot better than the brief written in the bush administration. there is no question that there were some sites that should not have been in there. they did make a concerted effort to be making arguments, they are in the position of the offending, they were trying -- defending, trying to eliminate argument the bush said ministration made. the administration is trying hard, moving slowly, they announced yesterday, a presidential memorandum extending benefits to same-sex couples, travel benefits and health benefits.
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it is a complicated area of law that were constrained by doma, so he's trying to do what he can within the confine of doma and extend those benefits and work with congress to support the lieberman legislation to extend health-care benefits to same-sex couples and repeal doma. nobody thinks it is fast enough right now. i know the president cares about this and is working on reversing don't ask don't tell. >> what she said. [laughter] i understand why people are impatient with the pace of progress. mostly in the right direction, there's a question of pace. i understand we have only been


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