tv U.S. Senate CSPAN December 11, 2009 9:00am-12:00pm EST
strategies as those after redeployment begins 18 months from now? do either of you recommend that it be kept secret or go public? third, what is iran's role in afghanistan today, is increasing, diminishing or staying the same? what are we doing about it? forth, is it true that the primary source of funding for the taliban is no longer the opium trade but for donations from the persian gulf countries and others? . .
focuses on this. i think we are focused prett back to the first one on the surge, iraq is very different from afghanistan. but it's clear that we were informed by the experience in iraq. and i was having spent so much time there. what i learned in iraq is applicable is you must have an approach that is both counterinsurgency and includes counterterrorist capacity in it and then, of course, the counterinsurgency has to be wholistic. the governance and -- ambassador eikenberry's team has together to be shoulder to shoulder with us as we go forward and i think we're pulling that all together here. we were late doing it in iraq. i think we are doing that now here. i think it postures as well. and just last point on the
timeline on july, 2011, the key point for me is the president and the secretary's very public pronouncement of long-term strategic partnership for afghanistan. i think that changes everything. i think that gives the afghans and the insurgents -- the afghans hope and the insurgents a lack of hope because there's not going to be daylight in the long term. and i turn it over to karl. >> two quick points, thanks, congressman. first of all, on the threat financing, we have a very integrated, robust effort both within afghanistan and outside of afghanistan and looking in pakistan and beyond which includes our intelligence agencies, department of treasury, our military diplomatic efforts. i also want to highlight within afghanistan itself, our department of treasury agents on the ground are actually building within the afghan ministry of finance from within their
central bank their own independent threat finance capability. we're mentoring with them and they're starting to get some impressive results. secondly, with regard to the emphasis that you placed on the date, july, 2011, the transition date, i am absolutely aligned with general mcchrystal in how we look at this. afghanistan -- they have a lot of insecurity based upon their history. their people are insecure people based upon their history. based upon people -- other nations withdrawing their support from them over time. they live in a very uncertain neighborhood. so they have an ambivalence about the long term presence of the united states. they want us here in afghanistan because of that insecurity but increasingly they want to stand up and take charge of their own security. that was reflected in president karzai's inauguration speech where his own aspirations over the next five years for afghanistan to stand up and be in charge of its own security with their army and police.
so that 2011 -- i agree with general mcchrystal, it's a very good forcing function kind of date to get the afghans moving forward. and president karzai has shown his support for that date publicly. >> time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from north carolina, mr. miller. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we have now set ambitious goals for training and equipping, afghan army and police forces. but the karzai government by anyone's estimation remains a very weak government. you said earlier much of afghanistan is ungoverned still. having a weak government and a strong military frequently leads to unhappy results in many parts of the world. we've also had at best mixed success in trying to build a military as a unifying national institution in nations that don't have a strong national identity. we tried to do that in iraq and it appeared we effectively armed and equipped every side in the
sectarian civil war. the video, the cell phone video of the execution of saddam hussein and taunting of the shia military but obviously also members of the shia militia that was more loyal to muqtada al-sadr did us great damage. it created the impression that was a sectarian revenge killing not the execution of justice in a society with a legitimate rule of law. what is the -- what is the desertion rate now? where are those folks going? how are we going to make sure that the military we build is not going to dominate the government? and how are we making sure that we are not training and equipping the forces that will be fighting for warlords in a short time? >> i think it's important that i start with the fact that one of the things afghans fear most is militias and warlords.
there will be security forces that form in afghanistan whether we form them or not. they will form in their own defense and i think that it's important we form a national army and national police capacity or a recognized legitimate defense security apparatus or the vacuum will be filled by exactly what the afghans fear, which is a return to strong militias that in many cases are ethnically based and rose with the departure of the soviets. i think that there is an absolute national identity in afghanistan. they don't expect the same things from their central government that many other western nations do. they expect less. but they do have an absolute sense of being afghans before they are any other ethnic or local identity. they take huge pride in the afghan national army. even though it is still a developing entity, they would like to be secured and when i talk to afghan elders they thank us for being there and then they always say we'd like to be secured by the afghan national
army. we're proud of them but we will welcome you just until they're strong enough to do it. so i think that rather than being a threat to the government of afghanistan, i think it's a major source of credibility as they go forward. now, clearly it has to stay under civilian control. and i've seen no indications that that is not likely to be the situation. i'd ask ambassador eikenberry to jump in. >> thanks, congressman. my views are the same as general mcchrystal on this. the afghan national army -- it was established on first principles of being all-ethnic and all-national and indeed it is. it is a sign -- it is a symbol of pride for the afghan people. it's a sign of hope that this country after 30 years of warfare and fighting can come together. the afghan national army is a manifestation of that. second, the principles upon which the afghan national army were established were good principles inspired by us.
and that was that this military would be under civilian control. it would respect the rule of law. respect the people. i believe very much that those principles are still in place. >> what is the desertion rate? i've heard it's 25%? what is the desertion rate? >> congressman, i'll get you that for the record. it's not that high. one of the things about desertion is many of the young afghans who enlist in the army go home because there's not yet a good leave policy established. there's also -- we're still working through issues of how they are paid, electronic pay is clearly the way of the future. but they go home to see family, a great sense of family there. so it's something and a significant percentage come back. so it is a significant problem. i don't want you to believe that it's not. but it's something that's less clear than it might be in another army. >> okay. i'll take the cue from my colleagues and yield back to curry favor with the chairman. >> i thank the gentleman.
we've had a little misunderstanding. my intention always was every member gets to ask questions alternating between democrat and republican. we're at the point we're treating these hearings as one where every member of the republican conference on the committee who is here has had a chance to ask a question. a number of democrats have not yet had to. it was my intention to proceed so that everyone gets to ask -- have time before we go back to alternating.glt but we did not make that clear with the minority. so the compromise i would propose is we alternate but those who have a question have time for a statement and then we go back to the others in the future it will be the intent
that these rights are individual more than group. and that every member should get a chance to question before we go back to the alternating and at this point i will recognize the ranking member for a minute. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman. i would like to yield my minute and he can add his own minute to mr. burton of indiana. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> the gentleman is recognized. >> there was a question a while ago in the international court and the witnesses said they would get back to us on that. there's a story i want to talk about -- that they wrote a book about. have you heard of -- let's see. petty officer marcus lutrell? have you heard of him? he was on a mission and they were supposed to kill an al-qaeda leader and they went up there and they ran into two people and a boy. and they couldn't decide whether they should kill them or not because they were afraid they
would alert the taliban to their mission and that they would all be killed. well, they decided after an argument -- lutrell said we'll let them go because we trust them. they won't say anything. 15 minutes later 200 taliban came across and al-qaeda, i guess -- came across, killed him, killed his partners and left him for dead. 16 navy seals, other navy seals came in helicopter and shot them down when they sent down to rescue them. we've got these three navy seals on trial right now. how do you say to these troops who are sent on a mission out there to kill an al-qaeda leader, what they should do. should they have killed those three people? should they have shot them right on the spot so they wouldn't alert the enemy that they were coming over the hill? if they had would they have gone to the international court? would they have been court martialed in the united states and we are court martialing three kids who in operation amber attacked one of the leaders and arrested him. turned him over to the iraqi military.
they turned him back over. they said he smacked him in the mouth and they hit him in the stomach and you are court martialing. it makes no sense and you're the general in charge and you're the ambassador over there and i talked to the chairman of the joint chiefs the other day. i just do not understand why somebody doesn't say, this is baloney. >> the time of the gentleman is expired. the gentlelady from california, ambassador watson is recognized for 5 minutes. >> i want to thank our two witnesses for the service to our country. and the image that you serve to fill abroad. i want to thank you for your experience and wish you well. now, my question goes to the africans. in the eight years that we've been involved in or more, what is it that is lacking in their
government and their experience in their commitment to their own where they could not train their people to stand up and defend their own country? let me start with the ambassador first. >> well, there's been -- congressman, first there has been extraordinary progress that has been made -- >> hold. how many years has it been and how many years will it take to train them? you see i'm looking ahead, too, that's the reason why i ask this question. and i'm looking at our financial commitment to be there at a time of growing deficit, you know, how long do we have to commit for them to bring their defense force up where they can protect their own country? >> congressman, i'll turn to general mcchrystal for the specifics but the president's strategy is very clear in that regard. >> i want you to tell me from
your experience what is it with the africans where they don't seem to be able to succeed on their own. >> congresswoman, they are succeeding. they've had -- they've had great success. >> then why do we have to have additional forces? >> well, the context over the last eight years, congresswoman, this mission over the last eight years until recently has never received the adequate resources that have been needed. those -- >> i'm not talking about our resources. i'm talking about their own. >> congresswoman, starting where they were in 2001 and 2002, we're talking about a country that had been at war for 30 years. two generations of afghans without education. >> let me stop you there because i'm watching my time. general mcchrystal, you've asked for additional forces to go in.
we're giving a great deal the lives of our military, our finances to a country that operates based on war, and they can't seem to bring their people to a point where they can defend their own nation. we're shedding blood, limbs and building a tremendous deficit that will probably never be closed in my lifetime. what is the element that is missing among their own people? >> congressman, i agree with the ambassador eikenberry. this is a society literally torn apart for 30 years. the tribal parts of the society and the governance and they die at a higher rate than coalition forces now. >> i would hope. you know, why do we have to be the international police? and that's what i don't get with iraq and now with afghanistan. maybe pakistan.
maybe iran. but there's something in their psyche and what i think is happening is that we are fighting an ideology rather than at the end of a gun kind of thing. and i don't know if we knock out every taliban village and killed them all, if that ideology doesn't continue among the taliban and spreads in the area. i don't know how we identify them as they go over their boundary lines into other areas. are we having to maintain a force there forever, general? >> i don't believe we will. i think we do need a strategic partnership to reassure the afghan people but they want to defend themselves. what they want is time and space and opportunity. to build their nation. >> well, and i'm going to give
you back my time, mr. chairman, i don't see any end to it. if we're going to put our people on the front line and put the resources behind, why would they put up, you know. i just think there's a lack somewhere in their ideology that, you know, we need you to help us defend ourselves. and so i'd rather invest the money elsewhere than there. i yield back. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. the gentleman from california, mr. rohrabacher is recognized for 1 minute. >> thank you, mr. chairman, let me just note for the record that i am very disturbed with a policy that has ended up with giving me 1 minute to express my opinions and to ask questions of this very important hearing considering my background on afghanistan. so i'm sorry. i apologize to the two witnesses. i'm going to say some things that i just have to say quickly.
number one, 30,000 troops in afghanistan means $30 billion more a year. my experience in afghanistan tells me for a small portion of that we could buy the aliegeaced, we could earn the good will through payments to tribal leaders and village leaders in that country without putting anybody at risk. number one i'd like your reaction to that. number two, general, your statements about afghans fearing that their militias is dramatically disturbing. militias there are nothing more than all the male children in their villages. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from virginia is recognized for 5 minutes. >> i thank the chairman. and i want to welcome both of -- both the ambassador and the general to this committee. and indicate that at least speaking for this democrat, i am
generally supportive of the policy that is emerging from the white house and after your deliberations having been to afghanistan, i believe that there are large swaths of the country that are not sufficiently secure and that the introduction of additional troops actually could make a dispositive difference. i don't believe this is like vietnam. and i think the president, our new president, deserves the benefit of the doubt at least at this time in history. having said that, the policy deliberations were a little unusual. general mcchrystal, the paper you wrote got leaked. in advance of the president convening. and ambassador eikenberry and your telegram also got leaked and they represented seemingly very different points of view. and i just wonder if each of you might comment on whether -- what you think about, you know,
developing foreign policy by, you know, leaking and counter-leaking and what you think we should learn from that experience. >> thanks, congressman. i'll go first. the review that the president led was an extraordinary review. it was a very open -- it was a deliberative process. everyone that participated was encouraged freely to provide their analysis and their best advice. we did that in a variety of ways through video teleconferences, face-to-face meetings and in writing. the leaks that occurred are absolutely regrettable. now, against that, my own views, during this process i want to emphasize, congressman, at no time did i ever oppose additional troops being sent to afghanistan. indeed, i fully shared and shared general mcchrystal's security assessment. he had written in his analysis security in parts of the country
were deteriorating, security situation is serious today in many parts of the country. against that, the only way then to move forward with regard to troops is additional troops are needed to deal with the -- >> ambassador, i'm going to come back to you on part 2 here about governance. i take your point. general mcchrystal, did you want to respond? >> i would. i agree with ambassador eikenberry. the leaks made our job harder. the differences between our views were really not very large at all. but selected leaks made it look like we were. we were shoulder to shoulder on this thing throughout and i absolutely regret the leaks. >> good. okay. thank you. let me go back -- i think where you were headed, mr. ambassador, and general mcchrystal. you also talked about the desire of afghanis is to have some kind of government that functions in a particular way that protects the security. mr. ambassador, you expressed
some skepticism about the current circumstances being able to meet even that kind of threshold. i want to give you both an opportunity to talk about -- 'cause some of the skepticism up here is we're back in a government that is seen as frankly organized thuggery. it's corrupt and it doesn't deliver services efficiently and frankly the taliban, unfortunately, is an effective alternative. i'd like your comments. >> we both share the importance of the need for a legitimate government. respected by its people, credible. we have two challenges on the civilian side. the afghans have two challenges. one is at the national level, the establishment of national level governance. we do really have a lot to build upon. there's good functioning ministries. they need more capacity. we think our programs that we have moving forward are well focused. our greater challenge, though, is at the local level. the areas where general mcchrystal's forces and the afghan national army right now are dealing with the areas of insecurity out in some of the
provinces especially in the east and the south. we're working closely with the afghan government and our military to try to develop the right kind of combinations of service delivery and governance that as security is brought to a provincial area or to a district that's shortly behind that. government can start to take hold, service delivery can start to take hold and you have credible governance. i don't want to underestimate, though, the challenge that we're facing in this second category. last point, congressman, president karzai's inauguration address that he gave several weeks ago he does show some promise. of course, we're waiting for action now. >> general, you get 12 seconds. >> i agree with ambassador eikenberry. >> the time of the gentleman is expired. the gentleman from california has been recognized for 1 minute. >> i want to second my colleagues concern about the treatment of the three navy seals now facing a court martial for actions taken while apprehending a terrorist who cost the lives of four american
security guards. court martial is very serious business. i don't think it had to be this way and i'd like to ask what alternative actions might still be taken in place of a court martial informal councils, formal councils, nonpunitive letter of reprimand? the point i want to make is that there's ways of dealing with this issue assuming there's an issue here at all far short of a court martial. and second, if acquitted, general, will these seals be given the opportunity to be restored to full fitness and duty? will their careers be spared a black mark which has a large effect on morale. >> i don't have the details of the incident nor do i have any responsibility and it would be inappropriate for me to talk about that case. i do believe, however, that the chain and command in the process has been extraordinarily good across the services in providing fair hearings for people. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentlelady from california,
ms. woolsey, is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. terrorists and terrorism thrives in front poor economies where the citizens consider their future homeless. where there's lack of infrastructure, education, healthcare, roads and sewer systems. and terrorism thrives in areas where the citizens believe that they are being occupied by outside forces. i'm concerned about the lack of focus on the civilian surge in this regard. because i think that is the balance to what being an occupier requires. in his speech at west point, the president dedicated most of his time to military might.
and he just only once mentioned the civilian side of the equation. and so, you know, you both have said and other leaders in the military and throughout the diplomatic corps really agree that the way to -- one major way to secure stability is through the use of smart security where we'd win the hearts and the minds of the civilians. and we're talking about afghanistan right now, of course. so i ask you, what resources are currently being dedicated? you said a little bit about that to smart security. and in the years to come, here's the main question. what additional do you need? how will the administration approach this smart approach over a military solution and will a smart approach ever be able to win over military? i'll start with you, mr. ambassador. >> congresswoman, the
president's strategy has been clear that the military effort is a necessary effort. it is not a sufficient effort. ultimately, the need for a good governance to be established in afghanistan for economy that allows afghanistan to be a sustainable -- to have a sustainable country all-important -- i do believe the president's strategy and the way we're going now the implementation does address the essential government services that are needed, the essential pieces of the economy. again, i'll just quickly mention agriculture. we see the absolute need for agriculture to help improve security, to help improve -- >> okay. let me just interrupt a minute and i really respect it. tell us where our civilian surge will come. of course, we want the civilians -- afghani civilians to do all this and we need to help them. how will our civilians help? >> well, first of all, congresswoman -- >> how many?
>> congresswoman, the surge -- the civilian surge has been ongoing. we're soon to triple our presence over the ground in the past year. so the surge is not something that we're ready to launch. we're going to add to our capabilities on the ground. our areas of emphasis are in the areas of -- are focused on what's necessary in the economy, in the areas of agriculture, we're focused in the key areas of government helping the afghans helping a further rule of law, law enforcement, we're focused in the financial sector helping the afghans to develop the capability for more revenue collection critical if it's going to be a sustaining economy. >> well, let me interrupt one more minute because we only get a little bit of time. we know we're sending 30,000 troops. are we talking about a tripling of the surge from 1 to 3 people or from 100 to 300? 1,000 to 3,000? i mean, give us some idea what we're talking about.
>> congresswoman, at the start of the year before the president announced his strategy in march reflecting the underresourcing of afghanistan, we had a little over 300 civilians in afghanistan. at the end of january of next year, we'll have 1,000 and we're continuing to grow beyond that. it's an impressive gains that we're making and it's an all-government effort. department of treasury is on the ground. the department of agriculture. the drug enforcement administration. federal aviation administration, the department of state, usaid. this is truly an impressive effort. >> the one point i'd make is i agree with ambassador eikenberry, it may not look like what you traditionally think. we've got military partnered with his. doing agricultural development, enabling civilian expertise. i think it's key we understand we're trying trying to do this with every part of our capacity that we have.
>> thank you very much. >> the time of the general has expired. >> thank you, gentlemen, for appearing today. mr. ambassador, appreciate your emphasis on agricultural development. i think that's noteworthy. before my question, i want you all to succeed. the down side, gravity of the down side to not succeeding is very apparent. with that said, mr.@@@ úx ú >> i wouldn't characterize my views as decidedly pessimistic. concerns expressed. with the president's decision, we have a refined mission.
we have clarity at this point now, with what means we're going to use to move forward. resources are properly matched against that, if you have got with the proper combination of gains, means and ways. i am confident as we move forward. >> the gentle lady from california, texas, ms. sheila jackson lee is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for convening this hearing in the way you have done a. i appreciate your leadership. let me thank both these distinguished public servants. i have a chance to greet him and i want to thank them again for their service. and it was good to see both of you in uniform today, ambassador. it was good to see you general in iraq, and of course you know that i visited afghanistan. today the president received the nobel peace prize, and i salute him and believe in him, that he is a man of peace that he defined for those esteemed audience members a question of a
just war. but let me quickly say to you that i believe we have a major dilemma, and i would call for, as i speak, right now and immediate beginning of negotiations to end this conflict. and that would be the only way that i could concede the possibility of any troops being added to afghanistan. and i will tell you why. i'd like to submit into the record very quickly, mr. chairman, an article, lessons of the soviet occupation. i ask unanimous consent. let me indicate what came out of that article, which is so true. the afghan government urgently needed to establish legitimacy. ethnic tensions were underestimated. afghans were highly intolerant of foreign troop occupation and a military solution was proven not sufficient. the vietnam war in 1966 saw 200,000 troops committed to
vietnam, and that the peak of the war 543,000, 53000 of our treasure lost. general, the cia has indicated that afghanistan is 4000 feet versus up in here, versus iraq, that is why. you asked for 40000 troops, you got 30000. what is your commitment to protect troops as they travel up into those mountains and to save lives? >> my commitment, our rules of engagement provide them and responsibility and right to defend themselves. we believe the equivalent where providing them is as good as we can and we will continue to do that there. i will push for every asset we need to protect their well being. >> i thank you for the. i think the terrain is so difficult, it brings to mind the pat tillman story that opportunities for friendly fire and lost life are heightened. there is a theory of clear, hold, building transfer.
resident karzai today said this week with secretary gates that it will be 15 years before he can maintain a military with his own resources. ambassador, why are we engage with a country of which i have great appreciation and want to see helped with political health and social health and economic health and constitutional health and helping to make sure they treat their women right tommy keep their schools open, how are we going to in essence fight against this concept that afghans do not want foreigners on their soil and had a government that says it will take 15 to 20 years before they can maintain their own military? that 15 or 20 is that the united states will have to be there guarding them. why can't we go the political and social economic right, ambassador? >> the afghans first and foremost, they do want to take control of their own sovereignty. we have to appreciate the baseline that they begin and
have already articulated that. the afghans are though, they need security right now to help them get the time and space so that if they can fully take charge, i think we're on a good path forward. as we see our articulation of this july 2011 timeline where the afghans will start to move and take responsibility for security. president karzai clueing his inauguration speech about in his own goals. but we have to be clear. the afghans be on that period of time, they are going to need -- >> let me have a quick intervention please if you don't mind. this article says by the time the solution relies on a political solution could into the conflict they lost the ability to negotiate. ambassador, what is the strategy for going in now and getting the parties to sit down and be engaged with karzai, warlords, taliban, governors, and is very weak government and the united states and nato? where are we now sitting down and begetting the negotiation to
hand over the responsibility to the afghan government? are we doing that as we speak? >> congresswoman, we have a very clear way ahead right now with the transfer as afghans develop capability or yes, we do have a clear plan politically. president karzai has made it clear again in his inauguration speech that he would like to move forward with reconciliation with taliban leaders, with taliban fighters. and were working in support right now, the government to help achieve those. >> the time of the gentle lady has expired. the gentleman from texas is recognized for one of. >> thank you, mr. chairman. pakistan has always been in the middle of abbasid. ramzi yousef, world trade center bomber, shaikh mohammad. the history of pakistani isi has not been a good one. they tend to side with the extremists. at the same time help us with high guide targets.
has this improved and what do you plan to work better with the pakistan intelligence service? >> congressman, my official responsibility ends at the border of afghanistan. we do, however, have a close relationship with the pakistani military so that we build up a partnership with the problems on both sides of the board. it still has a long way to go. i am absolutely committed like our intelligence agencies are to improve on that so that our shared strategic goals are met. >> what is the influence of iran and afghanistan right now? >> is both positive and negative. there are a number of positive things they do economically and culturally. there's always the threat that they may bring illicit or inappropriate influence in, and we watch for that. >> thank you, general. >> the gentleman from california, mr. koster, recognizer five and. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good hearing. it is timely. i thank both of you for your
service to our country. mr. ambassador, i live has been discussed disporting about metrics and milestones. and on the ledger of our milestones and the afghans, the karzai government milestones as we try to achieve these metrics, one of the early, i think, determination as to whether or not they are achieving them is the naming of his cabinet. defense minister ward off my guess is leaving and another minister is leaving as well, as i've heard. and whether or not president karzai is able to turn the page, it seems to me is going to be evident in these early appointments. when will they be completed and what's your sense of the process of will we be able to determine by the end of january, whether he finishes that process, how
that milestone has been achieved? >> congressman, president karzai in his inauguration speech that was attended by secretary clinton, he made a commitment in that the inauguration speech to the deployment of qualified responsible individuals in his second administration. >> right. the proof is in the putting. >> it's interesting though, congressman, when he said that he got a spontaneous round of applause from the afghans and attendants. so it's the afghans who have high expectations appear to answer your specific question, we expect his cabinet announcements to be made relatively soon before the parlor goes on as recess because these nominees would have to be approved by the parliament suspect it speeded but we should get a good judgment here soon as it relates to cabinet? >> and it will be very speedy's how does that relate then, follow through to the governors some that have been closely associated, we believe, with the
stark trade? >> we believe, congressman, that after the initial announcement of cabinet ministers that subsequently they will be changes to the governors. congressman, if i could though, i would like to emphasize that the cabinet of afghanistan, president karzai's cabinet, has got a lot of very well-qualified people in a. the minister of defense, interior, finance, commerce, agriculture, education and health. these are world-class ministers that they are challenged because they don't have the human capital right now, even the work they have underneath. >> i want to shoot over your. general mcchrystal we talk about the army and police force and a train that is taking place there. and i don't want to get into discussions of schematics, but i think is part of this whole effort is a candid nation know because you're not going to be able to have a solid military or police force unless you've got the credibility of your
relatively corrupt free. since we're now taking over the training, especially in the police force, i've been there several times and i've heard all sorts of antidotal stories. i won't go into. that talks about the dismay of our ability to do so. we're taking over the complete thing of the police force. is that correct? >> well, nato training mission in afghanistan is part of that. it is the whole coalition is doing that. >> okay. are the people with police background training the police or is this military trained to please and are we going to end up with a paramilitary police force because it's a combination. there are policemen that have been hired to do. and then there's some military as well. >> ambassador, backe on the smart issue, and i have been a big proponent of the. i talked to the secretary about this. we saw about the investments of the housing that could involve incorruption and $8 million from other antidotal stories where
money has been wasted, housing has and i debated. it's been substandard. what efforts are we pursuing to correct those kinds of investments in infrastructure? >> let me highlight. levy highlight to. first of all, in terms of how we are contracting, we think designing contract in a much better way than improved performance and transparency. secondly, in terms of modern oversight, many means for that here i want to emphasize we think the most important is exactly what the united states congress as you know, you have special investigator for afghanistan reconstruction, which provides oversight for d.o.d. and state and usaid efforts. we think that is a very speedy's quickly, investor. are you a movie with the hospital in kabul? >> i am not. >> i want to make you aware of that as a success story that we've not produce big in. but americans have made it happen.
>> we will get with you on that, sir. >> the time of the joan has expired. the jump from florida is recognized. >> thank you for your export a service to our nation. general mcchrystal, in response to senator mccain's question the other day, a lot of the inability to defeat al qaeda unless bin laden is captured, did you mean that there would be u.s. presence in the theater until bin laden is captured? and can your plan ever fully succeed if bin laden is not catch? >> congressman, thanks the opportunity to expand on that because it was a very short question and a long hearing. i believe that al qaeda can be defeated overall. but i believe it's an ideology, and he is an iconic leader. so i think to complete the disruption of that organization, he needs to be brought to justice. it will be another of the steps. however, i do believe that simply getting him into that organization. i think it is one step in and. >> think. thank you, mr. chairman, and the
time of the gentleman has expired. the gentle lady from california is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me just say i crewmember your plan at the last thing they didn't have the the opportunity to speak with me in that order of priority. thank you again very much. i want to welcome and thank our witnesses. just say to you that i have to say as the daughter of a military veteran, 25 years, served in world war ii and in korea, i strongly support our troops that i want to thank all of you who are here with us today for your sacrifices and your service. and my belief that the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform should always be acknowledged and honored. let me just say from the get-go, i think many of you may know that i opposed the war in
afghanistan from day one, for many reasons. but now, moving ahead. many of our military national security experts agree that the presence of our troops continue to fuel the insurgency in afghanistan and give residents to al qaeda recruiters around the globe. i also happen to believe that and disagree, respectfully disagree, with his overall prior eight-year strategy and the strategy today. i was glad to hear you respond because i was going to ask you about bin laden if, in fact, his capture is part of the strategy and a benchmark in terms of the success or failure of this effort. but let me ask you. how does it increasingly expanded and costly rope with united states troops in afghanistan served the united states national security interest in combating al qaeda, if it feels anti-american sentiment among population sympathetic to extremists,
insurgents in afghanistan and pakistan, somalia, yemen and elsewhere, in the world? also let me just say that many have said, and you probably disagree but i would like to hear your response to this, to complete this mission, will require about 400 to 500,000 troops, possibly eight to 10 years, possibly $1 trillion. do you believe that to be the case or not? are why do we hear that so often now? finally, let me just say i am extremely concerned about the strain on our military members and their families, in the face of this expanded, indefinite commitment in afghanistan. the physical, psychological and logistical strain in the u.s. armed forces under the stress of two wars, to me, seems to be untenable. so just know that we are going to do everything here to support our troops and to help them transition back, hopefully soon, to life with their families.
but i'm very concerned about the stress and strain it has taken. thank you. >> congresswoman, thanks for the support of the troop and know how much it is appreciated. i think is that back in terms of our national interest, the eventual destruction of al qaeda is critical, not just for the u.s. but for the world. and that region as will. i think the role of afghanistan, first is denial of location for al qaeda to return to, which i believe they would. but i also believe that the taliban has an absolute linkage to al qaeda. for them to resume power, even over significant areas of afghanistan, would create instability in the region, opportunities for al qaeda, but also wider instability that would cause significant problems for the world. it would not be localized at that point. i believe it's important that afghan security, your point about the concern about foreigners, there's almost an anti-bottle response in many
cultures to foreign forces there. that's understandable. it is a natural part of any society, even greater in that area. i think it's therefore a port and that we work as hard as we can to enable the afghans to secure themselves. they want to secure themselves. they don't want the taliban there, and they want us there only long enough and only in large enough numbers to enable them to get there. i wouldn't ask for a single force more than we had to have simply to give time and space to get the afghan national. >> but the anti-american sentiment that is bird by this, and pakistan and yemen and semi-and other parts of the world, i mean, you try to nip it in the budget, pops up somewhere else. >> it is a danger. i would offer that one of the greatest resentment in afghanistan, and pakistan that is their perception that we deserted them in 1989 when the russians pulled out. we ended our involvement with them. and they believe that we walked
away from them. so i think it is a balance that i think we need to get as much help as they need to get on their feet. and i think we need to help them stand by them self. >> the time of the gentle lady has expired. the gentleman from california has graciously agreed to one minute. >> one minute? thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> what about five minutes? >> he is entitled for five minutes. >> i have 52 seconds let. i would just like to say, general and ambassador, thank you for your service. i know you face challenges that are in some peoples views very difficult, if not more so. from alexander the great to the soviet union. but i appreciate the job you are doing, and we want to try to give you all the support that we can hear. as a matter of the intelligence
committee, i have a little insight about some of the challenges that you have that maybe others don't know. but i would like to take my remaining time and yield to the gentleman from california. >> ten seconds. >> mr. chairman, it is my understanding that those who did not get a chance to ask questions but have five minutes, mr. gallegly did not have chance to ask. >> the time of the job has expired. michelman from tennessee to point a parliamentary inquiry. >> stager pointed. >> is the point that i just made not correct? >> mr. gallegly was entitled to five minutes. just listen for a second. i was told that he sought one minute. i am not recognizing national i'm not recognizing the only person left in this committee who, unlike you, has not had a chance to speak. the gentleman from tennessee.
the gentleman from tennessee, by the. >> point of parliamentary inquiry. point of parliament are in great. as you know, there are other decisions. point of parliamentary inquiry. >> yes, sir. >> do you think this has turned up their? >> i think because of you it hasn't. the gentleman from tennessee for five minutes. >> thank you. thank you very much, mr. chairman. general ikenberry, it is good to see you again. many of our visit to brussels with the nato parliamentary assembly eric general mcchrystal, i appreciate your conversation with me on the phone at the last nato pa meeting. i see and very encouraged by the reaction of the nato parliamentarian member, members at the last meeting a couple, three weeks ago. there's a new spirit and a new cooperation i think from the first time in several years.
is my impression to use a football analogy that they realize and have no problem with the united states being the quarterback of nato. they would just like to be in the huddle when the plate is called. and you and i think the administration have done a good job of including them in the huddle, and it makes a tremendous amount of difference, let me say, in the attitude and the atmosphere where all of these parliamentarians from member nations gather. and as president of that organization for next year i want to thank you both for doing that. i would encourage you, everywhere you can, to always speak of this as a coalition led fight and not us going it alone. i think, i was on active duty during the vietnam days. and i saw that critical mass of public support that's necessary for a prolonged overseas deployment.
sort of just fetter away. and i've been worried at that would be the case in europe. and we have, of course, some people here with our situation in terms of our own economics. but it's my judgment to maintain this critical mass of public support for the coalition. and so anything you all to do, including reiterate from time to time that we're not there to westernize anybody. we got off the pavement in iraq talking about we're going to create this western-style. were not there to westernize afghanistan, in my view. and i think that appeals to the european allies and nato. were there to enable the afghani people and their institutions to say no to taliban and al qaeda. and that why we're there. and if they can do that and we can limit this fear of influence that is poisonous philosophy has, and hopefully, limit it to
an area where we can monitor and contain it. hopefully it will wither and die like a plant without water. two questions real quick. on the civilian surge, talking with some of my colleagues and people who have been there. there seems to be a bottleneck on the civilian side with respect to getting projects actually on the ground. you get people there but they can't get through the maze of a okay or whatever. i know we have stolen blind in iraq sometime, because we didn't have some protections. but if you could really take a close look, both of you, at the coordination of the commanders, that serve money and how that can be straight in line with the civilian money and coordinated, i would really encourage you to do that. because i think that is, both of
you have said, is a critical part of our success. the other thing i would like to talk about is the reintegration. i think general petraeus talked about yesterday, and i knew him when he was at fort campbell in our district. i think that is down the line may be, a part of it. and i would be encouraged to have your insight into what you think the chances there are. the state of play in pakistan, of course, is a large, large part of this, particularly if we're going to try to contain on the border in some physical manner. these bad guys, so that we can monitor and contain their fear of influence, if that's possible. and then finally, is there any thinking about what will happen
if we pull back into a more populated areas in terms of our concentration of troops, how do we maintain in the rural areas security that necessarily brings up? i know i talk a lot, and it is really great to see it again, general eikenberry. >> i will try to answer that. >> three seconds your. >> i think the important question, unfortunate, answered at some other point. because our time has expired. and we have zero time remaining on the clock on the floor. the gentleman from arizona for one minute. >> i thank the chairman. i'm sorry, this ground that has been plowed. less than two months ago, gave a pretty rosy assessment of the situation they are saying there are fewer than 100 al qaeda members in afghanistan present,
that they had a diminished capability the taliban. the question i have is 18 months from now, will we be eight in a better position than that? or maybe you disagree with the assessment in the first place. general mcchrystal, do you have a comment? >> i outlined in my initial assessment of my view of the situation, and i think it is improved slightly since that was published. i think we will be in a much better place 18 months from now, congressman. >> ambassador eikenberry, any comment from you? >> i share general mcchrystal's assessment there, congress and. >> time of the joan has expired. our prayers are with you for your success. ambassador, i wonder, congress and, if you would give me one minute here. not in response, just one point i want to make. >> i think we owe it to you. absolutely.
>> a lot speeded this is not an effort to keep us from voting on the floor though is that? >> no, it's not the chairman said in the opening course of the morning about the great sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and our allies. also want to say, for the record, just emphasized the sacrifice that our great civilian team is making on the ground. on the 13th of october, we had two civilians, one from usaid, travis carter, 38 years old from nebraska, and jim green from the department of agriculture, 55 years old from oklahoma out they were on an ongoing and their convoy was hit by ied's down in spendable doctor kyles make a point when i learned that kind of drama that our civilians are facing, giving them a call that i gave a call boat that night, and asked how they were doing. they said they are doing great. and they said that very humbly,
and with great sincerity, we're just doing what we were sent over here to be doing. and we could be more proud of our civilian force on the ground. >> yes. >> thank you jim and. mr. chairman, thank you so much. some of our marriage would like to sub at some questions to our great panelists. >> we thank you both very much. our prayers are with you for the success of these efforts, and with that, the hearing is adjourned. >> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate comes in next. they have temporarily set aside
health care debate to consider a bill setting federal spending the remainder of the budget year. the house-senate spending bill compromise is a total of more than $1 trillion, 447 billion operating budgets with about 650 billion in payment for federal benefit programs such as medicare and medicaid. the house passed the bill yesterday 221 to 202 without a republican vote. the senate voted to begin with a final vote likely this week in. the measure provides spending increases averaging about 10 percent of programs under the immediate control of congress. now the u.s. senate live here on c-span2. the chaplain: let us pray. gracious god, through the power of your spirit empower us to
live vibrant lives that glorify you. awaken our lawmakers to the opportunities all around them. help them to hear your call to move forward and to accomplish the things that honor you. as you guide them in the pursuit of wisdom and truth. may they confidently face their duties knowing that you are their sufficient shield and defense. lord, make them willing to listen even to people with whom they expect to differ united by
the desire to represent you with exemplary conduct. we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, december 11, 2009, to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing
rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable jeff merkley, a senator from the stae of oregon, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, presidet pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following morning -- senators will be permitted to speak 10 minutes each during that period of time. republicans will control the first 30 minutes, the majority will control the next 30 minutes. we'll continue work on an agreement to vote in relation to the drug importation matter, the crapo motion to commit, and the side by side to the crapo motion. these amendments and the motion with respect to h.r. 3590, health care reform legislation. yesterday i filed cloture on the bill we got from the house, appropriations bill h.r. 3288, which includes the commerce,
justice, science, military construction, labor, h.h.s., transportation, financial services, state foreign operations. we're going to have at least two roll call votes on the motion to waive with respect to the conference report to date. senators will be notified when these votes are scheduled. mr. president, i would direct this question through the chair to my friend from south dakota. i offered a unanimous consent request yesterday evening that -- to set up a schedule of votes on the crapo amendment and the -- of course the dorgan amendment and last night i was told that the republicans weren't ready yet. are the republicans ready yet to vote? mr. thune: i would say to the majority leader that our leader, the republican leader, senator mcconnell, is on his way here,
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, republicans are fully engaged in the health care debate. it's our view that there's no more important work we can do here than to show americans what the democratic plan for health care would mean for them. and once we return to the debate, republicans will be ready with two important amendments. one of those amendments, by senator crapo, would enable the president to keep one of the pledges he's made as a candidate and as president about what the democratic plan for health care reform would look like. he said that no family -- no family making less than $250,000 a year, and no individual making less than $200,000 a year would see a tax increase of any kind. of any kind. the crapo amendment would ensure
that that promise was kept. another amendment, by senators hutchison and thune, would ensure that none of the taxes imposed by this bill go into effect a day earlier man the benefits. in other words -- earlier than the benefits. in other words, you don't get taxes before you get benefits. this is a commonsense amendment. you wouldn't ask a person to pay for mortgage on a house four years before they were allowed to move in. in the same way, we shouldn't tax people for a benefit they wouldn't get for four long years. the hutchison-thune amendment aims to keep government honest. most americans have hard time believing that government would tax on one thing for four years and not use the money for something else. this amendment would guard against that. for the moment, the majority has decided to take us off of health care and moved to an omnibus
bill and has all of the hallmarks of the spengd that we've seen this year. it is outrageous at a time of double-digit unemployment. at a time when democrats are talking about increasing by $2 trillion the amount of money that the government is legally allowed to borrow, majority has moved us off of o one $2.5 trillion spending bill and on to a 1,000 page omnibus that would cost the taxpayer another half a trillion dollars right in the middle of a recession. once again, the majority has shown a lack of restraint when it comes to spending. at a moment of record debt, at a moment when inflation is nearly flat, this bill represents a 12% annual increase in government spending. let me say that again. inflation is flat, yet, we're increasing discretionary spending by 12% in this omnibus spending bill. the american people are not increasing their spending by
12%. it includes controversial unrelated provisions, including language to weaken restrictions on abortion funding. this half a trillion dollar spending bill spends $50 billion more than last year. $50 billion more in one year. and all this spending comes right on the heels of a new report from treasury that says the government ran a deficit of nearly $300 billion in october and november, the worst deficit we've ever had at this point in a fiscal year, ever. at a time when families across the country are struggling to make ends meet, lawmakers almost seem to be flouting their ability to spend taxpayer money. this bill contains many worthy projects. unfortunately the majority has piled on so much spending, so much debt and new controversial policies that i certainly can't support it. as you may know the u.s. senate is considering a bill that would make basic changes in the
country's health care system. we've been debating it for weeks. and what i keep hearing on the other side is no reference to what the american people thivmenthink.i hear these argumt making history -- making history. well, i think ignoring the public is not a great way to make history. we haven't seen poll data for months that indicate the american people support this reid bill. and the most devastating just came out last night. the cnn opinion reap search poll taken -- research poll taken september 2 and 3, cnn, not a bastion of conservatism, their poll taken this week indicates that 61% of the american people oppose this health care bill and
only 36% favor it. 61% against, only 36% in favor. mr. president, we're looking for one courageous member of the other side of the aisle, just one, to stand up and say -- he or she is not going to ignore the overwhelming opinion of the american people. he or she will not be so arrogant as to assume that we have the right answer here and 61% of the american people somehow don't know what they're talking about. i think the american people are pretty smart. they've been watching this very carefully. and this health care bill, like no other issue, affects every single american regardless of age. everybody is interested in the subject. they've watched the debate closely. and they're telling us, please, congress, please do not pass
this bill. mr. president, i yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is reserve. under the -- under the previous order, there will be a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak up to ten minutes with the republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the majority controlling the next 30 minutes. mrs. hutchison: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, as i understand it, we are now in the 30-minute time frame for the republicans. the presiding officer: that is correct. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that we have a colloquy so that we can go back and forth. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: thank you. mr. president, the leader, the republican leader just stated, i think, the case for why it is so important that we have the
votes, that we really go back to the drawing boards on this bill. americans are looking at the fine print of this bill. they're seeing half a trillion-dollar in taxes. just this week the president has had a job summit because we're all concerned about jobs. my goodness, since the president took the oath of office, more than 3.5 million americans have lost their jobs. 300,000 texans. our budget has tripled to $1.4 trillion. and the federal debt as a portion of the u.s. economy has risen to its highest level since world war ii. so we are very concerned about these taxes, and in fact the small businesses of our country have said, no, do not do this to us. the nfib, which is the national federation of independent
business, sent a letter just this week saying "when evaluating health care reform options, small business owners ask themselves two questions: will the bill lower insurance costs? and will it increase the overall cost of doing business? well, the answer to the first is clearly no because the business taxes start on january 1 of 2010, less than three weeks from now -- three weeks or so from now -- and going forward, the mandates and taxes in 2014 to small business are egregious. it could be $750 per employee or it could be $3,000 per employee if you don't have exactly the right mix of health care coverage for your employees. well at $3,000 per employee, small businesses are telling me,
"i am out of here. we are just going to let people go to the government option because we can't afford that." so the answer to question two in the nfib letter is will the bill increase the overall cost of doing business? well, of course it will. at a time when we are seeing the numbers of people employed go down. so we're in a financial crisis in this country. people are jobless. we're in a holiday season. people are very stressed. and here we have a health care bill being rushed through without amendments being able to come forward, with a real chance for passing them, and the cost of business is going to go up, which means more people will be laid off. now, i just want to ask my friend, the senator from south dakota, because he and i are teaming up on an amendment that would just talk about these
taxes and mandates because if we're going to have taxes increase in three weeks, you would say, oh, okay, well, taxes are going to start in three weeks, so then where is the package that i signed up for that's going to lower my health care costs? so i would just ask the senator from south dakota, so when do the programs that are supposed to lower health care costs take effect? mr. thune: i would say to my friend from texas, senator hutchison, that we as -- as we have examined this legislation and looked at its cost and its benefits and how that's distributed over time, it's become clear that what the other side has tried to do, what the democrats have tried to do with this bill is understate its true cost by front loading the tax increases and back-loading the spending. in other words, the tax increases kick in right away when much of the benefit of the
bill doesn't kick in for several years. and so i want to point out, just to illustrate what the senator from texas has said, and that is the tax increases in the bill begin on january 1 of this year. so 21 days from now americans, individuals, families, small businesses are going to see taxes go up. unfortunately, they aren't going to see any benefit come until 1,482 days later. now, what that in effect does, it has understated the total cost of this legislation. they tried to say we want to get this under $1 trillion. the president said i need a bill under $1 trillion, and so they tried to come up with a bill that is right under $1 trillion. but what they don't tell you is by delaying the benefits and front-loading the tax increases that you are actual will go li going to have a four- or five-year period there where people are going to have to experience tax increases which is going to impact not only small businesses because you've
got medicare payroll tax increase which will used not to fund medicare but will be used to fund a whole new health care program, you've got an employer mandate, you've got the tax on medical device manufacturers, on prescription drugs, on health plans, all these taxes that kick in right away. and so what happens? these taxes get passed on to the consumers in this country in the form of higher premiums. so people are going to see their premiums go up, small businesses are going to see their taxes go up immediately. well, 21 days from now. but americans are not going to see any benefit for 1,482 days. so what we have is a gimmick that's been used to disguise the total cost of this bill, which we all know when fully implemented isn't $1 tr-rblgs but $2.5 trillion. and so the senator from texas and i have a motion and i believe supported by the senator from wyoming, who is here, that would delay the tax increases until such time as the benefits
begin so that we synchronize or align the taxes, the tax increases and the fees to begin at the same time as the benefits do, so that we will reflect the true cost this have legislation to the american people and not unfairly begin punishing small businesses by raising their taxes before a single dollar of benefit is going to be distributed to the american people. mrs. hutchison: i would just ask the senator from south dakota, because it is our amendment, the hutchison-thune amendment, and surely the american people who would look at this debate would say we're missing something. this cannot be right. you can't have taxes that are increasing our premiums, increasing our prescription drug costs, increasing our medical devices that we have to have for our health care for four years. did he say that right? did he say we would be paying
those higher costs for four years before there is any option available to allow more people to have health care coverage? mr. thune: i would say to my friend from texas that it's kind of the same old washington game, the same old washington gimmick, the same old backroom deal that's been cut basically that -- of course we've had no input to. incidentally, there is another now latest permutation of this discussion going on right now behind closed doors, which is the the medicare expansion, which is the subject for a whole nother day. i think what the american people are looking at is they're saying how does this impact me? i think what they're concluding is that 90% of the american public, according to the congressional budget office, would see their premiums stay the same at best or, at worst,
go up. when i say stay the same, that means double the rate of inflation annual increases in their health insurance premiums. so the best you can hope for if you're an american today is the status quo when it comes to your health insurance premiums. if you buy in the individual marketplace, kwraour premiums are going to go -- your premiums are going to go up 10% to 13% above the annual inflation increases that we're seeing. that's what happens to the american public, the average person out there in terms of insurance premiums. if you're a small business you're looking at tax increases. you're looking at a whole new raft of tax increases that you're going to have to end up having to pay which is why all the small business organizations, the senator from texas pointed out the letter from the national federation of independent business, which says this is going to drive the cost of doing business up, this is going to increase the cost of health care, not lower it. what they want to see in reform, small business, the economic engine who creates jobs in our country, is they want to see health care reforms put in place that drive health care costs down. we know from every estimate
that's been done -- the congressional budget office, we have data from the as many as actuary that came out -- from the c.m.s. act radar wei that -- c.m.s. actuary that came out yesterday. if you're a senior citizen in america and one of the 11 million people that gets medicare advantage your benefits are going to be cut. you've got benefits cuts to senior citizens across this country and to providers. and if you're a young american, you're faced with a $2.5 trillion new entitlement program that you're going to have to pay for. that's what the american people, as they're observing this debate can expect to come out of this if the bill as been proposed by the majority is enacted. that's why we're working so hard to defeat that and put in place commonsense reforms that actually make sense to the american people. i know the senator from wyoming who is a physician knows full well the impact of many of these policies from being on the front
line. he's someone who had to deliver health care services in a rural state. so i'd ask him to give us his thoughts about what these tax increases and medicare cuts are going to mean to health care delivery in places like wyoming. mr. barrasso: south dakota and wyoming are very similar in many ways. rural areas all spread across the state, people needing health care. and i've seen it, and seen the concerns from people and also from small businesses. you mentioned the national federation of independent businesses. a lot of businesses in wyoming are members of that and rightfully so, because that is the engine that drives the economy: the small businesses. those are the job creators in this country. and i see these taxes, four years of taxes before the health care services are given is going to hurt small businesses in wyoming. it's going to hurt small businesses all around the country. in one of the morning papers, it talks about the plans that are being presented here by the democrats will, "with all the
increases in health costs, the fines, the taxes, that this will cost 1.6 million jobs before the first health care services are given. 1.6 million jobs across the country. that affects all of our states. at a time when unemployment is at 10%, at a time when "investors business daily" this morning says job cuts hit hardest on low-skilled men. outlook is gloomy, when we're looking at an outlook they call on the front page of their paper gloom kwraoerbgs why we say let's increase taxes on americans and cut medicare on seniors and not improve services for four more years, it's no surprise that the republican leader would come to the floor and say we have now reached an all-time high of american people opposed, completely obzed to this -- opposed to this piece of legislation. the republican leader read a poll that said 61% of americans
now oppose this bill. that's because they're learning more about it. the more people of america see what's in this bill, the more they realize they cannot believe any of the promises that were made by the democrats, by the administration, the promises that were made. and the polling shows it. two specific questions that were asked in the poll were two specific promises that the president has made. one is he said that he will not sign a bill if it adds one dime to the deficit. okay, we don't want to add to the deficit. although the democrats want us to vote this weekend on raising the debt level by well over $1 billion -- i'm sorry -- by well over $1 trillion. why? because they can't control the spending. but the question was: do you think the federal budget deficit will or will not increase if this bill is passed? this bill is passed, where the
president says it won't raise it by a dime. 79% of americans said this is going to increase the deficit. only 19% believe what the president is telling the american people. and then the question of taxes. the president said "my plan won't raise your taxes one penny." what do the american people think when the president speaks? do you think your taxes would or will not increase? this is the poll cnn that the republican leader just talked about, done earlier this month. "do you think your taxes would or would not increase?" the number of people that believe the taxes will increase if this passes? 85%. 85% of the american people believe that they're not getting it straight from the president of the united states. only 14% believe him when he says he's not going to -- won't raise taxes a penny. so we have the democrats bringing forth a bill which, to me, as a practicing physician in wyoming, taking care of the families in wyoming, talking to
the doctors, talking to the patients, having town hall meetings in the state, the democrats bring forth a bill that the people of wyoming and the people of america realize is going to cost them more, is going to add to the deficit and is going to hurt the health care they receive. 85% of americans are happy with the health care they receive. they don't like the cost. they don't like the price. but this bill we're looking at is going to raise premiums for people who have insurance. the president promised for families all across america that their premiums would drop b by $2,500 per family. if you go out there and try to buy insurance if this bill passes, they will pay $2,100 more than they would otherwise. if nothing passes -- that's why the majority of americans say, we'd be better off if nothing passed. that's what the american people say. the democrats seem to be ignoring the voice of the american people. but at a time of 10% unemployment. at a time when the national
federation of independent business points out that we will lose over a million more jobs if this passes, we should be looking at ways to help small businesses hire more workers, hire more people. the small businesses continue to be the engines that drive the economy up. we had senator collins from maine on the floor, give an explanation of the taxes of a small business in maine, if you have 10 employees and go to an 11th employee if this business -- if this bill pass, they will be taxed she explained if we tried to work ways through small businesses to give raises to people, those businesses get penalized from a tax standpoint. i look at this health care bill and we need health care reform, mr. president, that's going to get down the cost of care. this bill is going to raise the cost of care for all americans. it is going to hurt our seniors by taking almost $500 billion out of medicare, a program for which the seniors depend.
it's going to raise $500 billion in taxes, which is going to hurt the engine that drives the company. it's going to hurt small businesses. it's going to have people lose their jobs. i think it is -- it is -- it is foolish for people to want to continue to support this bill. it makes no sense. i look to my colleague from south dakota with the chart that says 21 days until the tax increases begin, but almost four years until the benefits begin. what do the people in south dakota have to say about this? mr. thune: let me just, if i might enter into discussion with the senator from wyoming. because, as he said, his state and my state, are not unlike in terms of the composition or population. we have big geographies in wyoming and south dakota in the west, and a lot of rural health care delivery. and the primary job creator in places like wyoming and south dakota is small business. i mean, small businesses are the economic engine that creates
jobs. as the senator from wyoming mentioned, according to many of the analyses that has been done on this legislation, it would be a job killer suggested by the national federation of independent business, the 1.6 million jobs would be lost. what's ironic about that is i heard our colleagues on the other side come down here repeatedly and say, this is going to create jobs. this is going to be good for the economy. if that's true, then why are all of these business organizations coming out an say it will increase the cost of doing business and increase health care cost. you have it validated by the congressional budget office, by the c.m.s. chief actuary, saying overall health care costs under this legislation are going to go up, not down, both as a percentage of the gross domestic product and for individuals that will see in the form of higher health insurance premiums. i would say to my friend from wyoming, because he and i represent similar constituencies and the economies are similar.
we wish we had more oil and gas in south dakota, along the lines of what they have in wyoming too, but the small business sector is what creates jobs. he mentioned the national federation of independent business. i want to mention one other letter we received from an organization called the small brisco rigs for affordable health care. in that stays -- meaningful relief for small business. any potential savings from these reforms are more than outweighed by the new taxes, new mandates and expensive new government programs included in the bivment and that's signed by -- bill. that is signed by 50 small business organizations and one of which is the american farm bureau association, which is a big presence in my state, represents a lot of farmers and ranchers, small business people. i'm sure represents a lot of members in the state of wyoming as well as in the state of texas. and i think that they -- what they're saying is what all of these business groups are saying and that is we don't find
anything in this. there may be some good things in it. but we find the overall -- the core elements of this bill to be a detriment to job creation, to kill jobs and up the cost of doing business in this country. so it's hard for me to -- to believe some of the statements that are made by the other side. i assume they're making them with the greatest sincerity, but they're just factually wrong. if they weren't, you wouldn't have every business organization in this country coming out and saying, we're opposed to this because it's going to increase the cost of doing business, it's going to kill jobs and increase the cost of health care. i would say to my colleague she has a lot of small businesses in her state, not unlike wyoming and south dakota. mrs. hutchison: i'm glad that you mentioned the farm bureau. my constituents in the texas farm bureau, 400,000 members of the texas farm bureau have contacted me, really repeatedly,
about how bad this will be for the farmers, the small businesses who own -- who hire a few people. maybe they have five employees. this will just be a killer for them. just to reenforce the letter that -- that the senator from south dakota read from the small brisco rigs for affordable healtbusiness -- small business coalition. if this bill is enacted, the small business will be forced to devert away from expansion, what our country so desperately needs as it continues to struggle in a faltering economy with double-digit unemployment. then they go on to talk about what those costs are going to be. a small business health insurance tax, an employer mandate that encourages job cuts, not job creation. the temporary small business tax
credit falls short. you know, i'm glad they mentioned the temporary small business tax credit because i've heard them say on the other side of the aisle, but there's a tax credit for small business that will alleviate the pain. well, that credit is for employers with fewer than 25 employees with average annual wages of less than $40,000. now very few small businesses are going to be able to qualify for this tax credit. that is a very, very strict standard. average annual wages of less than $40,000 is going to be very difficult. however, if they qualify, the credit is temporary. the credit is temporary. it is not a permanent credit that helps people who would be able to qualify for this credit. so, in effect, this is not
really a tax credit at all. and certainly when it goes away, it will be gone and that helps no one. so i'm going to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record the letter from the small brisco rigs for afford -- small business coalition for affordable health care and the national federation for independent business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: thank you, mr. president. i just think our states, i am from a state that has big cities, but the vast majority of my state is rural as wyoming, as south dakota. and i see my employers, my small business owners, which is the biggest bulk of the employers in my state, every day. i talk to them or i see them. unfortunately we're in washington every day right now, seven days a week, but when i'm home and when i'm here and talking to them on the phone or
they're visiting me, i talk to them and they are just aghast. they're aghast that congress would be actually putting more strain on small business at a time when we know the jobless rate is the highest since world war ii and people are trying to do their part to increase our economy and they can't do it with more taxes, more mandates, more burdens. so it is time that we look at the tax burden and -- and do something about it. now, the senator from south dakota and i are trying to do something about it. we are trying to say, at the very least, we should not allow this bill to go forward when the taxes start next month, januar january 2010, but none of the programming gets up and running
until 2014. and we're just saying, hey, if we're going to have the mandates and the business taxes, if we're going to have the program that is supposed to alleviate the health care crisis in our country in 2014, shouldn't we start all of the taxes in 2014 rather than asking people to pay for four years the taxes that will increase insurance premiums, increase prescription drug costs, and increase medical equipment costs $100 billion in new taxes on those items, shouldn't we at least put it off until the supposed program comes into place? because in four years, with any luck in america, we won't have these programs start. you know, there is hope for america that we can stop this program by 2014 as people learn what is in it and protest enough
that the members of congress who are elected in 2010, elected in 2012 will say, no. we now know that this would be a disaster for our country. there is hope. i would just ask the senator from wyoming: do you think that maybe when people start learning from the medicare cuts, about which you have spoken so eloquently, and the taxes on the small businesses in your state and all of our states, do you think that perhaps not putting these taxes in place are -- is not a good policy because maybe we can still stop this when people find out what's in it when it is supposed to take effect four years from now? i would just ask the senator from wyoming -- mr. barrasso: may i respond to my colleague from texas, i think
you're absolutely right. the more people learn about this bill and the details of the bill, the more the american people oppose this bill. and my colleague from texas made a wonderful yesterday and again today when she said, how do we know when they start the tax collecting right now, how do we know the money is even going to be there four years from now to start supplying the services? there was a story in today's "u.s.a. today" talking about employment an unemployment in this country, and the story says, public gain, -- public game, private gain. it says the federal government is adding jobs this year at a rate of nearly 10,000 per month. and we have read about all of the different bureaucracies that will be brought into play if this passes. over 70 new bureaucracies, 150,000 more federal employees, more washington bureaucrats to make rules and regulations that affect the people of america. talks about the 10% unemployment
in the country and it says the new federal jobs -- not the small business jobs -- the federal jobs that help bring down the unemployment rate from 10.2% to 10%. it was the federal jobs. and i'm looking at all of this money that washington's going to collect. i used to think it was a big tbimmic so they could say, well, we -- gimmick so they could say, we kept the number unde under $900 billion. i'm concerned that they'll spend the money as well so the money won't be there. which the senator from texas, always fiscally conservative, making sure that we're not spending the taxpayer money that is not a wise use of the money, is that a concern that you have? and i know that the senator from south dakota has similar concerns. will the money still be there or will they hire for washington bureaucrats, which is what the "u.s.a. today" says? mr. thune: that is exactly what our concern ssm and i would also -- concern is. and i would also add that this recent study by the c.m.s. chief
actuary shares a lot of additional light on what is a very bad proposal, a big government proposal that does create 70 new programs in washington, d.c., but does nothing to affect in a positive way the health care costs that most americans are dealing with right now. and the actuary goes on to say that access to care problems are plausible and even probable under the reid bill. so the issue that we talked about in states like wyoming and south dakota where people travel long distances to get access to health care, would be aggravated by this legislation because you would have more and more providers, hospitals, physicians, who currently don't take medicaid patients, you expand medicare, which is the latest proposal the democrats have put forward, and you have as a consequence of that you get few are and fewer hospitals, few are and fewer physicians who are accepting medicare patients because medicare and medicaid under reimburse, therefore,
creating a cost shift or the cost is shifted over to the private payers whose premiums are going up and up and up. you see premiums are going up, taxes are going to go up and medicare benefits are going to be cut, particularly for seniors who have medicare advantage and at the end of the day it ends up being a $2.5 trillion expansion. to the point the senator from texas made, we want to vote, we want to vote on this motion. we don't think you ought to start taxing people in 21 days and not start delivering benefits for almost 1,500 days. synchronize the tax increases with the benefits. i yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, let me just ask unanimous consent that until the democrats take over, could we just continue to talk?
the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hutchison: well, mr. president, just to continue with the senator from south dakota, i'm really glad that he made the point because we're very much hoping that our amendment will be in the order when we start voting on the health care amendments. and the amendment is so clear, it's very simple. in fact, i've got the amendment. for washington it's half a page. that's something everyone will be able to appreciate. the motion to commit with instructions. senator hutchison and senator thune move to commit the bill to the committee on finance with instructions to report back to the senate with changes to align the effective dates of all taxes, fees, and tax increases levied by such bill so that no such tax, fee or increase take effect until such time as the major insurance coverage of the bill, including insurance
exchanges, have begun. the committee is further instructed to maintain the deficit neutrality of the bill over the ten-year budget window. you know, that's what was promised. this was going to be deficit-neutral. it's not deficit-neutral. the cost of this bill is $2.5 trillion over the ten-year period when it starts -- 2014 -- until 2023. $2.5 trillion. the offsets -- and i put that in quotes because the offsets are $500 billion in tax cuts to medicare, which will lower the ability of hospitals to stay in business and treat medicare patients, doctors to be able to treat medicare patients. so the quality of medicare is going to go down. medicare advantage is going to be severely restricted. so you have $500 billion in cuts
to medicare, and then you have $500 billion in tax increases and mandates. that's a total of $1 trillion in the offsets in a bill that costs $2.5 trillion. so what the senator from south dakota and i are trying to do is say let's keep our word here. let's keep our word. let's do two things that the american people should expect. number one, that we wouldn't start the taxes until the program takes effect. and, number two, that it would be deficit-neutral. by my math, i would just ask the senator from south dakota, it looks to me that we have $1.5 trillion into the deficit, and we're already at a debt ceiling that is higher than we have had as a percent of our gross domestic product since world war ii. so, $12 trillion debt ceiling
that we're hitting right now, and we're talking about a $1.5 trillion deficit in the bill that we are being asked to vote for. i would just ask the senator from south dakota, who is my cosponsor on this very important amendment: don't we owe the american people the transparency as well as the policy that we would eliminate the deficit and we would stop these disastrous taxes from taking effect so that maybe we would have a chance to change this product going forward in the next four years so that the american people will not be saddled with these expenses, taxes, and mandates? mr. thune: i would say to my friend from texas, that we do want to get a vote. we want to get a vote on your, mine amendment and other amounts. right now that's being prevented or blocked. we haven't had a vote since tuesday. we've got these amendments that are ready to go. the other side said they're open
to amendment and want to get this bill moving forward and yet we are being prevented from voting on amendments. in the meantime this backroom deal being cut which we haven't seen, supposedly been sent to the congressional budget office to find out what it's going to cost, but we're sitting here waiting for that deal to emerge. but in the meantime we're looking at a piece of legislation that costs $2.5 trillion when fully implemented, as the senator from texas said relies on medicare cuts and tax increases to finance it. even just yesterday the chief actuary at the center for medicare and medicaid services basically came out and said that the savings that are relied upon in terms of medicare cuts are unlikely to be sustainable on a permanent basis. and so they've raised the question about whether or not those cuts are actually going to occur. and if they do, whether they'll be sustained. and if they aren't, then you've got the question of whether or not a lot of these providers out there, if the cuts do occur, and
they start -- continue to lose more and more every time they see a medicare patient, th*epb they are going to quit -- th*epb they are going to quit participating in the medicare program. you'll have few providers offering services making it more difficult for people around the country especially in places like wyoming and south dakota to get access to health care. you're assuming all these savings and cuts in medicare are going to occur. you're assuming all these tax increases. even with all that you've got a $2.5 trillion expansion in the federal government which in my view is going to rely more and more on borrowing. i think you're going to see more and more of this going on, the debt. we're going to be passing it on to future generations because as the c.m.s. pointed out it is unlikely these medicare payment cuts are going to be sustainable without driving hospitals and doctors and other health care providers out of business. and when they start reacting to this and those medicare cuts no longer are sustainable, then you've built in all this new
spending, and there's no way to pay for it without raising taxes dramatically, which would be, i guess something that the other side, since they have already demonstrated a significant willingness to raise taxes in this bill, or borrowing; neither of which is good for the future of our country or economy. right now our economy is trying to come out of a recession. small businesses which create the jobs in our country are faced with higher taxes under this bill, which is why they've all come forward and said, every skaoefrbl business organization -- conceivable business organization saying this is going to drive up the cost of doing business. you have all these businesses saying we aren't going to be able to create jobs. this will kill jobs. you've got that specter out there. you also have the idea of the medicare cuts which according to the c.m.s. actuary unlikely to be sustainable, leading to borrowing and debt. there is going to be a movement
here to raise the debt by almost $2 trillion. we pass this on to future generations, future young americans are going to bear the cost of this massive expansion of the federal government. there isn't anything in this that's good for the american public, which is why they're reacting the way they are and why you're seeing these 61% of americans coming out in these polls against it. i would say to my friend from wyoming, his thought with regard to this issue, these medicare cuts being sustainable and how it's going to impact delivery of health care around this country and what it's going to do to future generations in terms of the additional debt and borrowing. mr. barrasso: my friend from south dakota knows, as do i, that these small communities have hospitals -- mrs. hutchison: sorry to interrupt my friend from wyoming, but i ask unanimous consent that we have he have one minute to finish, after which the floor would go to the majority. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: just to follow up, the small communities of
this nation have great concerns about these cuts in medicare, because the small-community hospitals to stay open know they have to live within their means. and when medicare cuts total over almost a half a trillion dollars, it is the small communities which have just one hospital in a frontier medicine mode, taking care of people who may live 50, 100, 150 miles away, those hospitals, their survivability is at stake. that's why we cannot pass this bill which is going to hurt our stpheurbgs which is going to raise taxes on the american people, which is going to cost jobs, which is going to cause people that have insurance, to have their premiums raised. for all of these reasons, this bill is the wrong prescription for america. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. dorgan: mr. president, first of all, let me ask consent that the amount by which the other side went over the allotted time be added to our block of time.
i believe that's acceptable. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i've come to the floor to speak about something that i -- a colleague of mine spoke about last night that i think he believes separates us when in fact it does not. i want to try to see if i can clarify something that is very controversial. but before i do that, i want to talk just for a moment about the amendment that is now pending of mine on the floor of the senate dealing with the issue of prescription drug pricing. i offered this amendment along with my colleague senator snowe with the support of a broad bipartisan group of members of the united states senate, republicans and democrats, at a time when there has been so few bipartisan amendments, the amendment that i have offered is in fact bipartisan. it's had bipartisan speeches in favor of it in the last several days. and that's unusual, but i think also refreshing. the amendment is very, very simple.
it's been around for a long time. it's been hard to get passed because the pharmaceutical industry is a very strong, assertive industry; a good industry, i might say, but i have very strong disagreements with their pricing policies. this amendment very simply says the the american people ought to have the freedom to access f.d.a.-approved drugs wherever they are sold as long as they are f.d.a. approved, wherever they are sold often at a fraction of the price they are sold at in the united states. if i might have consent to show once again on the floor of the senate two bottles -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dorgan: -- that did at one point contained medicine. this contained lipitor, the most popular cholesterol-lowering drug in the world perhaps. this was made by an american company in an irish plant, made in ireland and then shipped around the world. this bottle, as you see, is identical to this bottle. one has a red label, one a blue label. the only difference in a circumstance where you have the same pill put in the same bottle
made by the same company, the only difference is the price. in this case the americans get to pay $4.48 per tablet. in this case, folks in another country pay $1.83. $4.40. $1.83. why the difference? it is not just one country. this bottle is shipped to virtually every other country: great britain, france, germany, spain, canada. virtually every other country and sold at a much, much lower price. the question is should american people be required to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and not have the freedom to access those drugs in the global marketplace? some say if you allow the american people to abg those *f -- to access those drugs, we'd get counterfeit drugs. in our amendment we have more safety than exists in our domestic drug sphraoeufplt there does not now exist tracing
capability, pedigree, patch lots. that would be a part of our amendment. that doesn't exist for america's drug supply today. we will actually improve the safety of the drug supply with this amendment. i didn't offer this amendment to cause trouble for people, and i know this is causing great angst here in the united states senate. i know the stparplt industry has a great deal of cloud -- the pharmaceutical industry has a great deal of clout. this issue revolves around billions of dollars. and so i understand why some are fighting hard to prevent this. but this is important public policy. the price of prescription drugs has gone up 9% this year alone. this year alone. every single year the price of prescription drugs goes up -- go up way above the rate of
inflation. we can't, in my judgment, pass health care reform through the united states congress and say, yes, we did that but we did nothing about the relentless increases in the prices of prescription drugs. we will solve that not by imposing price controls. we will solve that by giving the american people freedom. we're told it is a global economy. it is a global economy for everything except the american people trying to access those prescription drugs at a fraction of the price in most other countries. so, mr. president, again i say i didn't offer this amendment to try to cause trouble. i offered this amendment to try to solve a problem. and this congress should not, in my judgment, move ahead with health care reform and decide that it ought to leave the question of the american people paying the highest prices for prescription drugs, leave that alone, let that continue to be the case for the next ten years or the next 20 years. well, i will speak more about it later, but i did come to the floor to speak about a colleague
who -- well, i don't want to talk about the colleague. i want to talk about a speech yesterday on the floor of the senate by a colleague for whom i have great affection who was concerned about a provision in the appropriations bill that is now being considered, a provision dealing with the sale of agricultural commodities to cuba. and my colleague said that the provision would undo current law where the castro regime and cuba would have to pay in advance for shipment of goods being sold to them because of their terrible credit history. mr. president, that is not an accurate statement. i suspect there's a misunderstanding here. i would be very happy if my colleague would wish to have a colleague on the floor of the senate to set out the law so all of us understand the same thing. number one, i wrote the law that finally just, finally, opened a small crevasse the ability of our farmers to sell to cuba the
agriculture. why did we do that? we have an embargo on cuba that, in my opinion, has failed. that embargo includes food. and i don't think we should ever embargo food shipments anywhere in the world. i think it's immoral. i don't think we should ever use food as a weapon. that's what has been done. our farmers could not sell agricultural commodities into cuba. the canadian farmers could, the german farmers could, american farmers could not. i changed the law, along with a republican colleague, a dorgan-ashcroft amendment opened it a crack so that american farmers could sell their commodities into the cuban marketplace, but it had to be for cash. the cubans had to pay cash in advance. i support that. i helped write the law. in fact, what i'd like to do is put up a copy of the current law. and the current law indicates
cash in advance. now, we've sold a couple of billion of dollars of agricultural commodities into the cuban marketplace and they have paid cash in advance. what happened was president bush decided, just prior to an election, that he wanted to send a signal that he was really tightening things with cuba. he decided to change the definition, not by law, but by fiat, and said that cash in advance would mean that the cuban would have to pay for the commodity before it is shipped before it leaves the united states. as opposed to getting the commodity and making the payment on the dock when the commodity arrives in cuba. well, the president did that. and he did that as an attempt to shut down the sale of agricultural commodities to cuba. this is the "calgary herald" and here's what the "calgary herald" says, cuba to buy $70 million of
canadian wheat. and a cutout says, cuban food purchases from canada will increase 40% this year due to difficulties in buying from the united states, which is requiring payment before shipment of the food sales. now, as i said, president bush tightened that to say cash in advance, a law that i wrote, cash in advance shall be interpreted as meaning, you must pay even before the shipment. i've never even heard of that but that's the -- that's the way the law is now being administered. so in the appropriations bill pending, there's an amendment that i included and the amendment very simply says this -- and it is not, in my judgment, something that we ought to debate. i mean it's just there. we ought to understand it. during fiscal year 2010, for purposes of the trade sanctions, reform and enhancement act of 2000, the term payment of cash in advance shall be interpreted
as payment before the transfer to and in control of the exported items to cuban purchaser. it -- it just restores it to what it was. my colleague yesterday said this would undo the current law where the castro would have to pay in advance. well, obviously that's not the case. it's just not the case. payment of cash in advance shall be interpreted to mean payment before the transfer of title and control of the exported items. so there's nobody here suggesting that credit be toferred the cuban regime -- offered to the cuban regime. this is an issue where president bush wanted to shut off agricultural commodities to cuba. as i indicated, result of that is this, it is to say to american farmers, you sit here and read the papers an watch the ka -- and watch the canadians
grab your markets. why should we withhold food anywhere? that makes no sense to me. to our -- why should we say to our farmers, the canadians can have an advantage, the germans can have an advantage, we lose that opportunity because we require payment before shipping even. that makes no sense to me, and that'sy wanted to correct. it i wanted to correct it to get it back to what the law reads. and so my colleague that spoke on this yesterday, he's a good senator, and somebody that i like a lot. but -- but he indicates that this amendment of mine undoes -- undoes current law where the castro regime would have to pay in advance. that's not the case. not the case. the best way to resolve that is let's do a colloquy on the floor to put in the record the exact language. because the shipment of
agricultural commodities to cuba in the future will continue to require cash payments in advance. that's just a fact. now, mr. president, let me say also my colleagues -- i use the term plural -- who feel strongly about this issue, the cuba issue, we have common cause. i have no truck for the cuban government. i want the cuban people to be free i have no sympathy for the cuban government. but it is interesting to me that our engagement with communist china and communist vietnam, for example, is to say constructive engagement through trade and travel is the best way to address those issues. we believe that, except we say in cuba we don't believe it. we restrict the right of the american people to travel to cuba, which is slapping around the rights of the american people in order to poke the finger in the eye of fidel castro, i guess. we do other things that make no
sense. my colleagues, who -- who have raised these issues mostly have actually won on one issue that kind of bothers me. i also put an amendment in a piece of legislation that i understand now has been emasculated and let me describe what that was. people -- most people don't know this, we have airplanes flying over cuba or in -- over international waters broadcasting television signals to cube aism i was able to get that shot down in an amendment, we're broadcasting to cuba to tell them how great freedom is, but we're broadcasting television signals being broadcast by an airplane and the signals are signals that the cuban people can't see. isn't that interesting? not only interesting, but kind of disgusting when you think about it. tv marti it's called. here is what tv marti
broadcasts. that is the television screen for tv marti. the cubans block it easily and the cuban people don't see it and can't see it. in fact, we started broadcasting that with aerostat balloons, fat albert they called it. fat albert got loose, it was tethered on a big, long tether to broadcast television signals to the cuban people that the cubans were blocking. and so we're spending a lot of money broadcasting television signals that nobody can see. in the first case we had aerostat balloons to broadcast signals to no audience, spending millions of dollars a year and one got loose and flew over the everyglades and they -- everglades and they had a devil of a time trying to get fat albert. they decided to get a big airplane and we'll fly that
airplane around and broadcast signals to cuba from an airplane and those signals, too, by the way, are routinely blocked and no one can see them. not just interesting, but pretty disgusting, in my judgment, that we twheas kind of money. -- that we twheas kind of money -- waste that kind of money. i thought i would read, if i might, john nickles from penn state university had in to say, tv marti's quest to overcome the law of physics has been a flat. there is no audience currently in cuba, is a complete and total waste of $6 million a year. the $6 million is just for the airplane. they spend more than that on tv marti, it is a waste of $6 million a year of taxpayer dlamples the aero marti platform is probably zero. we have been doing this for 10
years and more. since i raised this issue we spent a quarter of a billion dollars -- a quarter of a billion dollars shipping television signals broadcasting television signals into a country that can't see them. let me continue the quote, tv marti's response to the failures over a two-year period has been the expense of more technology gimmicks and it has not worked. it is just the law of physics. in short, tv marti is a highly wasteful an ineffective operation. now, mr. president, i put in an amendment that to cu cut $15 million out of this program. i know it's radical to say that you shouldn't broadcast signals to people that can't see them. this must be considered a jobs program or something, that is the only excuse to continue funding. but i had an amendment that shut
down the $15 million if ever, ever, ever there was an opportunity to cut government waste, this is it. this is just a program that accomplishes nothing. and has no intrinsic value at all. but in the middle of the very significant economic downturn, when deficits have spiked up, up, way up, i apparently can't even get this done. i got to done in -- i got it done in the senate, but it didn't get through the conference and so i guess for the next year or so fat albert's retired, the airplane will still fly and here's the television set cuba. so we will spend $15 million or so to see if we can see snow on a television set in cuba. not much of a bargain for the american taxpayer, i must say. i point this out, because i lost
on this issue. those who feel strongly on this and continue -- to continue to do this won. i hope that one day, perhaps, we could agree when we spend money, let's spend it on things that work. spend ton things that are effective. spend it on things that advance our interests and values. this certainly does. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i rise this morning to speak about health care and our children, the health care reform bill, the patient protection and affordable care act as it relates tower children. the chart on my left makes a couple of fundamental points that -- for children health care reform must follow one simple principle. and i just say it's four words, "no child worse off."
when i say no child, of course, i'm speaking of children who don't often have a voice. obviously if there are children from family that's very wealthy, i think they'll be just fine no matter what happens here. but children who are poor and children who experience and have to live with special needs are the ones i'm talking about when i say nor child worse off. -- when i say no child worse off. i filed weeks ago, actually months ago now, joint resolution number 170. i was joined in that resolution by senator dodd, senator rockefeller, senator brown, senator whitehouse, and senator sanders. and we filed that resolution just to make this point, with a couple of more words than "no child worse off," but that was the fundamental point, to guide us through this process. sometimes on an debate on something this significant, and
parts of it are complicated to be enacted into law. as it challenge to pass health care reform. i think we will. i think we must. but you do need guiding principles, and i believe one of these should be no child worse off, poor and special-needs children. a lot of the child advocates across america have told us for many, many years, something so simple, but something very meaningful in terms of providing further guidance for this debate. that children are not small adults. now, that doesn't sound so profound. but it really matters when it comes to health care. we can't just say, if you've got a health care plan for adults, it will work for kids. don't worry about it. unfortunately, that's not case. and if we don't do the right thing, we could lose our way on that basic principal. so we have to get it right and we have to give poor an special needs children a voice in this debate.
and i don't think there's any questions that what -- what the senators on this side of the aisle are guided by, that basic princprinciple. so i wanted to turn to the bill, the patient protection and affordable care act and walk through some of the provisions, many good provisions here for children, but walk through a couple. how does it help children? very fundamental. you can't escape the implication of that basic question. the bill eliminates preexisting condition exclusions. that's in the first couple pages of the bill. it obviously has an enormous positive impact for adults. we've heard story after story, literally millions of americans denied coverage year after year after year because of the problem of preexisting conditions. it has special meaning when it comes to children. number two, the bill ensures
benefit packages that include oral and vision care. we know what that means for children. and in particular, we're thinking about the horrific, tragic and preventible death recently of demanatee driver of maryland, a young boy who lost his life because his family didn't have the coverage for an infected tooth, an infected tooth; not something that's complicated to deal with. his family couldn't afford the care. a child in america died from an infected tooth that would have cost $800 to treat. so when we talk about ensuring benefit packages that include oral and vision care, that doesn't really say it too well until you connect it to the life
and death, the tragic death of a young child not too far from washington, d.c. thirdly, the patient protection and affordable care act will mandate prevention and screenings for children. so important. we know that our poorest children who get -- have the benefit of being covered by medicaid, get these kind of services, so you can prevent a child from getting sicker. you are prevent a disease or condition or a problem from becoming that much worse for that child. and we have to make sure that, as i said before, children are not small adults, you've got to have strategies and procedures in place that deal with the special needs and the special challenges that children face in our health care system. and finally, the act increases access to immunizations. i don't think we need to explain
to any american how important immunizations are. the centers for disease control provides grants do improve immunizations for children, adolescents and adults. let me move to the third chart. the third chart outlines some other provisions for children. the patient protection and affordable care act, three other ways it helps children, among many: it creates pediatric medical homes. we've seen a lot of terms here, and people say what's a medical home? what does that mean? i need simplicity just like anyone does. this is my best summary of a medical home. a medical home obviously isn't a place. it's a way of treating people and the way they ought to be treated in our health care system. every american -- the tkaoeurblgs and i think this bill gets us very close to this if not meets this goal. every american should have a primary care physician and then be surrounded by the expertise of our health care system.
children especially need that kind of, need that kind of help. so we want to make sure that he havery child not only has a primary care physician, in this case a pediatrician, but also has access to all of the expertise that that pediatrician and our system can give them access to. finally -- or next i should say, the act strengthens the pediatric workforce. we can't just say we want children to have access to pediatric care. we want to make sure that we have the workforce in america to provide that kind of care. thirdly, the act expands drug discounts to children's hospitals. before this act, before this act that we're debating here, children's hospitals did not have access to a program that provides discounts on drugs they need for sick children, and now children will benefit from the discounted prices that result
from the passage of this act. vitally important. let me go to one more chart. let me make a parliamentary inquiry. how much time do i have remaining? the presiding officer: two minutes. mr. casey: two minutes, okay. i'll just do one chart and we'll move quickly. this chart makes a very fundamental point. at a time in our history when the national poverty rate went up over the course of one year, the child poverty rate went up, the child poverty rate went up by 800,000, by the way, people without insurance that number has gone up. in the midst of a recession you would understand and expect that. but the one thing we don't focus on is because of the effectiveness of the children's health insurance program, there's one number on this chart that's going down, and we hope it keeps going down. and that is the number of uninsured children. it's interesting that on this chart, as the -- between 2007 and 2008, as the child poverty rate went up by 800,000
children, the number of children without insurance is down by that same number -- 800,000. it shows that the children's health insurance program is working even -- even -- in the midst of a recession. so i have an amendment that strengthens children's health insurance in the program, in the bill. and we're out of time. i would yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, it's my understanding that we have gone over the original allocation of time and that senator mccain is coming to the floor. and we will of course offer to the minority side whatever extra time we have used so that there will be a like amount available to them. and i'll make every effort to shorten my remarks so that when senator mccain comes -- the presiding officer: the majority has not exceeded its time. it has 12 minutes remaining on the khrofpblgt. mr. durbin: misin -- on the clock. mr. durbin: sorry.
yesterday, the majority leader propounded a unanimous consent request to have four votes with respect to the health care bill. the republican leader rejected the request. they needed time to review an amendment. therefore, mr. president, i now ask unanimous consent that following a period of morning business today the senate resume consideration of h.r. 3590 for the purpose of considering the pending crapo amendment to commit and the dorgan amendment number 2793 as modified, that senator baucus be recognized to call up a side by side amendment to the crapo motion. that once that amendment has been reported by number, senator lautenberg be called on his side by side amendment to the dorgan amendment. there be five minutes of debate equally divided and controlled in the usual form, that upon the use or yielding back of the time, the senate proceed to vote in relation to the lautenberg amendment, that upon the disposition of the lautenberg amendment the senate then proceed to vote in relation to the dorgan amendment, that upon disposition of that amendment the senate proceed to vote in
relation to the baucus amendment, and that upon disposition of that amendment the senate proceed to vote in relation to the crapo motion to commit. that no other amendments be in order during the pendency of this agreement and that the above-referenced amendments and motion to commit be subject to an affirmative 60-vote threshold and if they achieve that threshold then they be agreed to and the motion to reconsider be laid on the table. if they do not achieve that threshold, they then be withdrawn. the presiding officer: is there objection? a senator: mr. president, reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: we're going to have three democrat amendments and one republican amendment voted on here. the democrats wrote the bill, and the democrats are doing a side-by-side to their own amendment. it looks to me they ought to get together and get some things figured out. there ought to be a little more fairness on the number of amendments. so i would object. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: this is the second time we've offered to call amendments for a vote, and the
complaint from the other side is you're not calling amendments for a vote. how many times do we have to ask for permission to call amendments for a vote, run into objections from the republican side and then hear the speech, "why aren't we voting on amendments?" i'm certain in the vast expanse of time and space we can work out something fair in terms of the number of amendments on both sides. in fact, maybe the next round will have more republican amendments than democratic amendments. i don't know how many republican amendments or democratic amendments we've voted on so far. i can get an official tally of that. but that really seems like a very minor element to stop the debate on the health care bill because we need to have an equal number of amendments? can't grownups work things out like this and with an understanding that we will resolve them? if we can't, then for goodness sakes, don't subject us to these arguments on the floor that we're not calling amendments for a vote. we just tried for two days in a row, and the republicans once
again have stopped us with objections. that's a fact. and i would implore the leadership -- not my friend from wyoming, i know he's doing what he's instructed to do by the leaders -- i would kpwhroert leadership, for goodness' sake, let's break this logjam. let's not at the end of the day say we stopped debating this bill when we should have been debating when we offered two days in a row to have actual amendments offered and debated. i would also say, mr. president, that this is the bill we are considering, h.r. 3590, when we return to it. this is the health care reform bill. and this is a bill which has been the product of a lot of work, a lot of work has gone into it both in the house and in the senate. in the senate, two different committees met literally for months writing this bill. and they should take that time, because this is the most significant and historic and comprehensive bill i've ever considered in my time in congress, more than 25 years. this bill affects every person in america, every person in the
gallery, everyone watches this on c-span, every person in america, and it addresses an issue that every american is concerned about: the future of health care, how we're going to make it affordable at a time when fewer businesses offer the protection of health insurance, at a time when individuals find themselves unable to buy health insurance that is good, that they can afford. at a time when health insurance companies are turning down people right and left for virtually any excuse relateed to preexisting conditions. we cannot continue along this road. those who are fighting change, those who are resisting reform are basically standing by a broken system. there are many elements in american health care that are the best in the world, but the basic health care system? america is fundamentally flawed. this is the only civilized nation on earth where you can die for lack of health insurance. literally die. 45,000 people a year die because they don't have the health insurance they need to bring them to the doctor that they need at a critical moment in
life. they don't have the health insurance they need to afford the surgical procedure they need to avoid a deadly disease. if a person has a $5,000 deductible on their health insurance and a doctor tells them as a man who wrote me from illinois said, you should have a colonoscopy, sir. there are some indications you may have a problem. this could develop into colon cancer which could be fatal. and the man says how much is the colonoscopy? they say $3,000 out of pocket. he says i can't afford it, doesn't pay for it. he doesn't get the colonoscopy, and bad things can occur. that happens in america. it doesn't happen in any other civilized country. it's true in some systems he may have had to wait an extra week or month, but he gets the care he needs. he doesn't die from lack of health insurance. that is what is going on in america. almost 50 million americans without health insurance today. almost 50 million in this great
and prosperous nation who went to bed last night without the peace of mind of coverage of health insurance. this bill addresses it. at the end of the day 94% of the people living in america will be able to sleep at night knowing they have a decent health insurance plan. that is an amazing step forward. it is a step consistent with the establishment of social security, which finally took the worry away from seniors and their families about what would happen to grandma and grandpa when they stopped working. i remember those days. there was a time when grandma and grandpa retired and moved in with their kids. you remember that era? i do. it happened in our family, and they didn't have any choice. they had to because they had modest jobs and not a lot of savings, and they depended on their kids to find that spare bedroom or let them sleep in a basement that's made over so they would have a comfortable, safe place to be. social security changed that for most american families. this bill will change health care for most american families. and the same thing is true with
medicare. the critics of medicare -- and they have been legion on the floor of the united states senate -- ignore the obvious. 45 million americans have peace of mind to know that they can get affordable health care once they've reached the age of 6 56789 they won't lose their -- 6 56789 they won't lose their live savings. they'll get a good doctor and a good outcome. isn't that why we're supposed to be here? why don't we have more support? the republican side of the aisle, all they do is come here and tell us what's wrong with the idea of health care reform. this morning's washington poeftd steven pearlstein writes an article which i hope some of my colleagues will read because he talks about a lost opportunity which the republicans had. we have invited the republicans from day one to be part of the conversation about health care reform. senator enzi from wyoming is one who assiduously gave every effort, spent 61 days trying to reach a bipartisan agreement. it failed, but at least he tried. i commend him for trying. too many others on the other side didn't try.
steven pearlstein writes "one can only imagine how republicans could have reshaped health care reform legislation in the senate. without question, they could have won more deficit-reducing cost savings in medicare by setting limits on spending growth and reforming the way health care is organized. and they could have begun to realize their goal of consumer driven health care by insisting one plan built around individual health savings account, catastrophic coverage." he goes on and on to talk about the possibilities. he said they could have taken a page from john mccain's platform and insisted on the current tax exclusion with a flat tax credit which would be more progressive and put down pressures on insurance premiums." i'm not guaranteeing any of those proposals wofpb in but -- would have been in but they all could have been if we had a dialogue. one side of the aisle shouting at the other side. it is the stereotype of politics
in america people have come to hate. they want us to solve problems. but unfortunately, we're still waiting. for the first republican to cross the aisle on the passage of this bill and work with us. the door is still open. the invitation is still there. the idea of doing nothing is unacceptable. and that, i think, should be the message. the fact is there is no comprehensive republican health care reform bill, period. senators come to the floor like senator coburn, and says i have some good ideas, and i'll bet he does. i may even subscribe to them, but his ideas haven't gone through the rigor this bill has gone through. this bill was sent to the congressional budget office and scored, asking the basic questions: number one, will it add to the deficit? they came back and told us no. the democratic health care reform bill will in fact save money, $130 billion in ten years, $650 billion in the second ten years. we asked them is it going to
insure more americans. they said yes, 94% will be insured when this is over. that same rigor has not been applied to the republican ideas because it's hard. it's tough and it takes time. so i commend them for their thoughtful ideas but to say they have something they could match against this bill, comprehensive reform, just go to the republican senate web site and look for the republican comprehensive health care reform bill, and you know what you'll find? you'll find the democratic bill. that's all they can talk about. they don't have a comprehensive health care reform bill. but we're not going to quit. america, we can't go home for christmas until we get this job done. after we've been here 12 straight days debating, we get into a trance-like catatonic state here where we can't remember what our last speech was about, and we go to sleep at night thinking about what we might have said on the floor and what we're going to say tomorrow. but the fact is we've got to stay and do our job not just in passing health care reform but doing something significant to help the unemployed and deal
with jobs and the economy before we leave here to try to enjoy christmas, what's left of it or the holiday season with our family. this is a job that has to be done. i'm sorry we reached a point where the republicans have not been actively involved with creating this bill. we tried for the longest time. in the "help" committee where senator enzi served, more than 100 republican amendments were accepted as part of this debate and still not one single republican senator would vote for the bill in that committee. so far the scorecard on republican participation in health care reform debate is a lot of speeches, a lot of press releases, a lot of charts on the floor, but only two votes. one from the republican congressman of louisiana for the house bill, one from senator snowe of maine for the senate finance version of the bill. the presiding officer: the majority's time has expired. mr. durbin: i urge my colleagues to join us in a cooperative efive to come up with -- cooperative to come up with more than our lonely speeches on the
floor. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona -- mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that morning business be closed. i want to make sure that senator mccain has his time. mr. mccain: i'd ask for an additional 10 minutes of morning business so that i could maybe engage in a colloquy with my favorite combatant here that -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: maybe talk a little bit about his remarks. and i have to say that i appreciate the eloquence and the passion that the senator from illinois has brought to this debate. and he makes some very convincing points. and one of the major points -- and i'd be glad to listen to the senator. i think it's fair for us to respond to each other's comments very quickly. the senator from illinois said that we have been engaged in the negotiations and inputs have been made in the formulation of
this bill. now, i have to tell the senator from illinois, i've been engaged in many bipartisan compromises, whether it be issues such as campaign finance reform, whetsder it be a whole large number of issues -- whether it be a whole large number of issues, whether it is defense acquisition reform. you know what the process is, i say to the senator from illinois, people sat down to the table together when they were writing the legislation -- when they were writing the legislation. now i'm a member of the "help" committee. you know what the process was, i say to the senator from illinois, because i'm on the committee? a bill was brought before the committee without a single -- and senator enzi will attest to this -- without a single period of negotiations where we sat down together with the chairman of the committee where they said, what's your input into this legislation? now, we had many hours -- many hours of amendments in that -- in the committee. all of which, if there are any
real substance, were rejected on a party line vote. i have to tell the senator from illinois, he can say all wants to that there have been efforts to open this up to bipartisanship, there has not. and my experience here in this senate -- i know how you frame a bipartisan bill. and that has not been the process that has been pursued by the majority. and i understand what 60 votes mean. but for -- in all due respect i say in the eloquence to my friend from illinois, that is not the process which i have successfully pursued for many, many years where people have sat down together at the beginning where you're there on the takeoff and also then on the landing. and i'd be glad to hear the senator from illinois' response. i'd ask unanimous consent if the senator and i can engage in colloquy. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: first, for those who are watching, this is perilessly close to a debate on the floor of the united states senate,
which rarely occurs in the world's most deliberative body, where senators with opposing views in a respectful way have an exchange and i thank the senator from arizona. i thank the senator from arizona. and here's what i understood 0 to have happened. i know that senator dodd came to the "help" committee with a base bill to start with. it's my understanding in the process, that 100 republican amendments were accepted on that bill. if i'm mistaken, i hope the senator from arizona will correct me -- mr. mccain: i would be glad to correct the senator from illinois and senator enzi is here. none of those amendments were of any significant substance that would have a significant impact on the legislation, i've got to say to the senator from illinois. for example, medical malpractice, we proposed several amendments that would address what we all know what the congressional budget office says because $54 billion -- other estimates are as much a
as $100 billion in -- 100 billion in savings. i have to say that some of those amendments were accepted. but it still doesn't change the fact that at the beginning, just as the senator from illinois said, the bill came to the committee, without a bit -- one minute of negotiation before the bill was presented to the committee and the ranking member is here on the floor. he'll attest to that. please go ahead. mr. durbin: i went through bankruptcy reform with senator grassley and the similar process followed when the republicans were in majority. ultimately at one point in time we agreed on a bill. came up with a common bill stampletting point is just that, a starting point. i would say to the senator from arizona, look at what happened to the issue of public option. i believe in public option pash gnatly. i really believe it is essential for -- passionately. i really believe it is essential for health care reform, to give insurance companies a choice, to make sure we have one low-cost
alternative in the market. yet at the end of the day i didn't get what i wanted. now what is proposed is not my version of public option much we ended up -- public option. we ended up bending toward some of the more moderate members of the caucus and toward the republican point of view. i don't know a single republican who came out for public option. at the end of the day, the point i'm making to you, there was an effort at flexibility and an effort at change to find common ground. unfortunately the ground we're plowing has only 60 democratic votes. it could have been much different. it could still be much different. mr. mccain: wasn't the reason why the public option was abandoned was not because of republican objection, it was because of democrat objection that -- that was -- the senator from connecticut stated uunequivocally. i appreciate the fact that republican objections were observed, but i don't believe the driving force behind the
abandonment of this position, if it actually was that, we haven't seen the bill that's going to come to the floor, was mainly because to keep 60 democratic votes together. mr. durbin: i would add senator snowe has shown, i feel, extraordinary courage in voting for the finance bill but said she could not vote for the public option. we're hoping that she will vote for health care reform -- mr. mccain: probably not. mr. durbin: you're right. we're moving toward our 60 votes, but it would be a great outcome if we end up with a bill that brings some republicans on board and it was clear we couldn't achieve that if we kept the public option in. there are other elements here. we're going to have a real profound difference when it comes to medical malpractice and how to approach it. but i think even on that issue we could have worked toward some common ground and i hope some day we still can. mr. mccain: could i just ask
my friend about the situation as it exists right now. right now no member on this side has any idea as to the specifics of the proposal that the majority leader, i understand has sent to o.m.b. for some type of scoring. is that the way we really want to do business here? that a proposal that will be presented to the senate sometime next week, an voted on immediately, that's -- and voted on immediately, that's what we're told. is that the way to do business in a bipartisan fashion? shouldn't we be informed on what the senate majority leader is going to propose to the entire united states senate in a couple of days? shouldn't we know what it is. mr. durbin: i should say to the senator from arizona, i'm in the dark almost as much as he is. the congressional budget office which scores the managers' amendment, the so-called
compromise, has told us once you publicly start debating it, we will publicly release it. we want to see if it works. whether it works to reduce the deficit, whether it will continue to reduce the health care cost. we had a caucus after this was submitted to the congressional budget office where senator reid and other senators involved with it basically stood up and said, sorry, but we can't tell you what is involved in detail here. everyone will learn when it is on the internet. the congressional budget office has tied our hands at this point of putting it forward. all basically what i know is what you know having read press accounts of what may be included. mr. mccain: can i ask my friend from illinois, i would like to do this again, perhaps when we get more substantive into issues, but isn't that kind of -- i admit these are unusual times. but isn't that a very unusual process that here we are
discussing one-sixth of the gross national product, the bill before us has been the product of almost a year of sausage making, and, yet, here we are in a position just -- on the 12th of december where a proposal that none of us, except, i understand one person, the majority leader, know what the fundamental perimeters are, much less inform the american people. i don't get it. mr. durbin: i think the senator is correct in saying knowing the fundamentals, but we don't know the details. this is not the choice of the majority leader. it is the choice of the congressional budget office. we may find that something that was sent over there doesn't work, doesn't fly. they may say, this doesn't work. start over. so we have to reserve the right to do just that. that is why we're waiting for the congressional budget office scoring, as they call it, to make sure it hits the levels we
want in terms of deficit reduction and reducing the cost of health care. it is frustrating on your side. it's frustrating here. i'm hoping in a matter of hours, maybe days, that we will receive this c.b.o. report. i would like to ask the senator from arizona if he wouldn't mind responding to me on this, do you believe the current health care system in america is sustainable as we know it in terms of affordability for individuals and businesses? are you concerned that more and more people don't have the protection of health insurance? fewer businesses offer that protection. the presiding officer: 10-minute time period has expired. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent for five additional minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: are you concerned as well with the fact that we have 50 million americans without health insurance and the number is growing? that in many of the insurance markets across america there's no competition much one or two take it or leave it situations. does that lead you to conclude that we cannot stay with the current system but have to make some fundamental changes in
reforms? mr. mccain: i say to my friend everything he said is absolutely correct. i am deeply concerned about the situation of health care in america. and i know the senator from illinois is deeply concerned about the fact that it's going to go bankrupt. about the fact that the medicare trustees say within six or seven years it's broke. and from what we hear, there's now a program over there to extend eligibility for medicare which obviously puts more people in the system which obviously oy under the present setup would accelerate a point of bankruptcy, at least from what i know of this. but the fundamental difference we have i think in opinion is not that we want affordable -- we don't want -- both share the deep ambition that every american have affordable and available health care. it's that we believe that a government option, a government takeover, a massive reorganization of health care in
america will destroy the quality of america -- of health care in america and not address the fundamental problem, which we believe the quality is fine. we think that the problem is bringing the costs under control. and when you refuse to address an obvious aspect of cost savings such as malpractice reform, such as being -- going across state lines to obtain health insurance, such as allowing small businesses to join together and negotiate with health care companies, such as other proposals that we have, then i think that's where we have a difference. we share a common ambition but the way you get there, i do not see in this bill nor do most experts a significant reduction in health care costs. except slashing medicare costs -- medicare by some half trillion dollars which everybody knows doesn't work and destroying the medicare advantage program. and in my home home state, that
333,000 seniors are a part of of the mr. durbin: let me say three things. first, the congressional budget office tells us this bill will make medicare live five years more. mr. durbin: this bill will breathe into medicare more life for five additional years. second, i would ask the senator from arizona, i've heard a lot of negative comments about government-sponsored health ca care. i would ask the senator from arizona, is he in favor of eliminating the medicare progr program, the veterans care program, the medicaid program, the "chip" program to provide health insurance for children, all basically government administered programs? does he believe there is something fundamentally wrong with those programs, that we should jettison and turn back over to the private sector? and the second question: does the senator from arizona want to stand and justify why medicare advantage, offered by private health insurance companies, costs 14% more than the
government plan that's being offered and we are literally subsidizing private health insurance companies to the tune of billions of dollars each year so that they can make more profits at the expense of medicare? mr. mccain: well, first of al all, obviously i want to preserve those programs, but every one of those that the senator pointed out is going broke. so they're wonderful programs. they're great things to have. but they're going broke, i would say to the senator from illinois, and he knows it and i know it, and the medicare trustees know it. so to say that we -- that we don't want these programs because we want to fix them is obviously a mischaracterization of our -- of our -- of my -- of our position. we want to preserve them but we all know they're going broke, so it means cost savings, it means malpractice reform, it means all the things that i just talked about before. now, the senator just mentioned medicare advantage.
that's called medicare part-c, as the senator well knows. that's part of the medicare system, and there are arguments that are made that the -- there are enormous savings over time because the seniors who have this program -- who have chosen it, they haven't violated any law -- who have chosen it or more well and more fit and have better health overtime, thereby in the long-run saving significant -- making significant savings in the mcsystem, which is -- in the medicare system, which is what this is supposed to be all about. so the senator -- i would ask in response, how in the world do you take a medicare system, which according to the trustee trustees -- the trustees, is going broke and then expand it to people between age 55 and 64? the math doesn't work, i say to the senator from illinois. it doesn't work under the present system, which is going broke, to add on it -- on to it, which any medical expert will tell you is -- results in
adverse selection and, therefore, increases in health care costs. mr. durbin: if i could respond first, why is medicare facing insolvency, why is it going broke, why are the other systems facing it? because the costs -- the increased costs in health care each year outstrips inflation. and there is basically no way to keep up with it unless we start bending that cost curve. so we face that reality unless we deal with the fundamentals of how to have more efficient quality health care. going broke is a phenomena which is not reflective in bad administration of the program but in the reality of health care economics. now, what i'm about to say about the expanded medicare is basicked sole on -- based solely on press accounts. not that i know what was submitted to c.b.o. in detail -- i do not -- but the 65 or 64 eligibility for medicare will be in a separate pool sustained by premiums paid by those going in. so if they are a high-risk pool by nature, you're going to see higher premiums.
what happens in that pool will not have an impact on medicare, as i understand it. it will be a separate pool of those receiving medicare benefits that they will pay for in actual premiums. it won't be at the expense or to the benefit of the medicare program itself. what i've just said is based on press accounts and not my personal knowledge of what was submitted to c.b.o. mr. mccain: i don't know if the senator has seen the c.m.s. estimates this morning that these will be dramatic increases in health care costs. and you may be able to expand the access to it but given the dramatic increase, one, it still affects the medicare system; and, two there, will obviousl obviously -- and two, there will obviously be increased costs if you see the adverse selection such as we're talking about. i'd ask my friend, i see our staff is getting very restless. i'd ask my friend if maybe we could do this again during the weekend and during the week. i appreciate it. i think people are -- are helped by this kind of debate and discussion, and i do respect not
only the passion but the knowledge that the senator from illinois has about this issue. mr. durbin: thank you. i ask now consent that morning business be closed. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. the clerk will report. the clerk: conference report to accompany h.r. 3288, an act making appropriations for the departments of transportation and housing and urban development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2010, and for other purposes. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, one of the troubling aspects of this conference report is that the appropriators airdropped three very significant spending bills into the text during conference. in other words, three bills without any debate, discussion, amendment here was airdropped into this legislation -- pending legislation. the three bills are the labor, health and human services, financial services, and general
government; the state foreign relations -- foreign operations appropriations bill. combined, these three bills spend over $237 billion and contain 2,019 earmarks. i think it's really remarkable and unacceptable that the senate is willing to approve expenditure of such huge sums without the opportunity to debate and amend their content. now, mr. president, on the other side of the aisle -- in fact, i see the senator from hawaii -- he will say, well, this is the way we've had to do business before and we have to do this because the pressure of time and the fiscal year ended, et cetera, et cetera. but again, we get back to this whole line that we heard for an entire year and even in early this year about change, about how we were going to change things in washington, we were going to change the way we do business. president obama said about the last omnibus bill, which was passed last march, three months into the obama administration,
he said -- and i quote president obama -- "the future demands that we operate in a different way than we have in the past. so let there be no doubt, this piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business and the beginning of a new era of responsibility and accountability that the american people have every right to expect and demand. so what are we doing today? the exact same thing that we were doing before. and here's a quote from the white house chief of staff, rahm emanuel. what he said about the last omnibus bill. remember? this is the one we weren't going to do anymore. "second, this is last year's business" -- he was talking about the one we passed in mar march -- and their, most importantly, we're going -- "and third, most importantly, we're going to have to bring some other changes going forward, to reduce and bring more, reduce the number and bring the transparency, and that's the policy that he annunciated in his campaign." bob schieffer, "what it sounds to me what he's about to do here
is say" -- "well, don't like it but i'm going to go ahead and sign it" -- he's talking about the last omnibus bill -- "but i'm going to warn you, you don't ever do it again" -- because that's what's happening here. emanue-- is that what's happenig here? emanuel, "yes." and we have a lot issues when we fund the government, something we should have done last year but did not because of the difficulty we had with working with president bush. i wonder if we're going to blame president bush for this one. we might. we blame him for almost everything. rains, doesn't rain, whatever it is, let's blame president bush. but the point is -- the point is, what this bill is -- and another one that will be coming up in a couple of days is exactly the same, business-as-usual, a pork-barrel laden bill with increases in spending when the american people are hurting in the worst possible way. the american people are hurting and this -- and this piece of
legislation, my friends, has 11-point -- has a whopping $11.3 billion -- the labor, health and human services and education appropriations bill has $11.3 billion or 7% increase -- a 7% increase -- in spending over last year's spending level. where are we? this is america. americans are hurting. there's 10% unemployment. people can't stay in their homes. they can't keep their jobs. and so we pass a piece of legislation with 1,749 earmarks just in the labor, health and human services of over $806 billion? want to hear a few of them? they're fascinating. they're fascinating. here's my favorite. here's my favorite of all, and there's a lot of really good ones in there. $2.7 million to support surgical
operations in outer space at the university of nebraska. now, i'm -- i assure my colleagues, i am not making that up. that is an appropriation in this bill. let me repeat, support -- $2.7 million to support surgical operations in outer space. now, there's a lot of compelling issues before the american people. surgical operations in outer space at the university of nebraska? i guess the university of nebraska has some kind of expertise that they need $2.7 million so that we could support surgical operations in outer space? i wonder when the next surgical operation is scheduled in outer space. maybe we ought to -- maybe we ought to go into that. i mean, i will be spending more time on the floor on this, i say to my colleagues, but $30,000 for woodstock film festival
youth initiative. you know, woodstock was a pretty neat experience but do we need to spend $30,000 to revisit that one? there's $200,000 to renovate and construct the laredo little theater in texas. my frerntiond friends, the nexte in laredo, be sure to stop by the theater and see $200,000 of your money which is going to renovate and construct this little theater in lor laredo, t. $500,000 for the botanical research institute of texas in fort worth. $200,000 for a visitor's center in bastruck, texas. bastrop, texas. now, it's $200,000 for a visitor's center there in basrop. has a population of $5,340 people. so we're going to spend $200,000 of my taxpayer dollars to build them a visitor's center.
$200,000 for design and construction of a garapan public market in the northern marianas islands. $500,000 for development of a community center in custer county, idaho, population 4,342. if my moot mat my math is rights about $100 per person. right here in our nation's capital, $200,000 for the washington national opera for set design, installation, and performing arts at libraries and schools. they have an operating budget of $32 million. their web site says the secret of its success is due to its position without the crucial government support typical in most world's capitals. and then, of course, we always get back to hawaii, $13.1 million on fisheries in hawaii, nine projects throughout the islandsgi