tv U.S. Senate CSPAN December 15, 2009 12:00pm-5:00pm EST
independent research institute, reported that the average wait time for a canadian awaiting surgery was 17 weeks, an increase of 76% since 1983. access to a waiting list, mr. president, is not access to health care. a study by the organization for economic cooperation and development showed that the number of c.t. scanners per million in population was seven and a half in britain, 11.2 in canada, and 30.2 in the united states. for the m.r.i.'s, there was an average of five m.r.i.'s per million population in britain, 5.5 in canada, and 26.6 in the united states. government-run health care will undermine patients' choice of care. mr. president, citizens in those countries are told by government
bureaucrats what health care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. americans need to understand, i believe, that all countries with socialized medicine, rationed health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments. simply put, government financing means government control, and government control means less personal freedom. and while we need inaccurate reforms to our health care system that will reduce costs and improve access, our nation cannot withstand the deep deficits this colossal health care entitlement program i believe would create. instead, mr. president, we need a system that restores the patients and doctors as the center of every health care decision, rather than the government and insurance companies. mr. president, by making insurance portable, expanding health care savings accounts, reducing frivolous lawsuits, emphasizing preventative care, reducing administrative costs
and making insurance more affordable to small business and individuals, i believe we can efficiently decrease the costs that currently burden americans while expanding coverage. the result would be improved quality and affordable care for all americans. mr. president, it appears that no matter how much thousands of letters my office receives here in the senate asking congress to stop this type legislation, this administration is determined to pass something, anything, no matter what the cost or how damaging the result. the latest cnn poll that i was shown shows that 64% of americans oppose this health care reform as now written, and the associated press reports that over 60% of americans are against this type of reform. it has been said that we -- it has been said, mr. president, that we would be committing senatorial malpractice to pass legislation such as this. i agree.
i simply do not believe the american people desire or deserve what government-run health care will result in -- higher took, larger deficits, and rationed or quality care. while we need to enact reforms to our health care system that will reduce costs and improve access to all americans, our nation cannot withstand the massive costs this colossal health care entitlement program would create. mr. president, the health of the nation -- of this nation will not be helped by risking our nation's financial well-being. it has been said if you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free. i yield the floor. mr. dorgan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. dorgan: i have six unanimous consent requests for committees to meet today. they have the consent of the
minority and majority leaders. i ask that these be agreed to. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i yield myself such time as i may consume under the hour that i control. mr. president, we'll have people trotting onto the floor of the senate this afternoon and some have this morning talking about this issue of prescription drug reimportation and saying there are safety problems with it, safety problems. let me talk about one small piece of health care reform without which you can't call it health care reform because at least with respect to the issue of pricing of prescription drugs, there will be no reform unless my amendment is passed. my amendment is bipartisan. it includes support from senator snowe, senator mccain, senator grassley on that side, many democratic senators as well, and it says let's put the brakes on these unbelievable increases in the price of prescription drugs. 9% increase this year alone in brand name prescription drugs. now, why is this an important issue? how about let's talk about the price of nexium. the price of nexium.
you buy it -- if you need it -- it -- $424 for an equivalent quantity in the united states. if you want to buy it elsewhere, not $424. pay $37 in germany. $36 in spain. $41 in great britain. we are charged the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. now, we're going to have a lot of people come out here and say well, there will be safety if we reimport f.d.a.-approved drugs from other countries. just absolute rubbish. here is dr. rost, a former vice president for marketing for pfizer corporation. here's what he said. "during my time, i was responsible for a region in northern europe, i never once, not once, heard the drug industry, regulatory agencies, the government, or anyone else saying that this practice in europe was unsafe. and personally, i think it's outright derogatory to claim that the americans would not be able to handle reimportation of drugs when the rest of the educated world can do it." they have been doing this in
europe for 20 years, to reimport lower priced prescription drugs from other countries, and they do it safely. our consumers pay the highest prices in the world because there's no competition for prescription drugs. when a drug is sold for a fraction of the price elsewhere, 1/10 the price for nexium in germany and great britain, the american people can't access it even though it's made in the same plant, same pill, put in the same bottle, the american people are told it's off-limits to you. dr. rost also said this -- "right now, drug companies are testifying that imported drugs are unsafe. nothing could be further from the truth." this from a former executive of pfizer corporation. now, when the pharmaceutical industry goes around the hill today and tells you that importing medicine is going to be unsafe -- and by the way, our bill only allows the importation from australia, new zealand, japan, and the european
companies where they have an identical chain of cud and where we require pedigree and batch lots that will make the entire drug supply much, much safer, including the domestic drug supply. when the pharmaceutical industry goes around the hill today saying if you vote for the dorgan-snowe-mccain et al amendment, you're voting for less safety. ask the pharmaceutical industry this. what about the fact that you get 40% of your active ingredients from drugs from india and china and from places in india and china in many circumstances that have never been investigated or inspected by anyone? answer that. and then tell us that reimporting f.d.a.-approved prescription drugs from other countries is unsafe. what a bunch of rubbish. now, my understanding is that sometime yesterday, maybe late last night, somebody made a deal. i don't know what the deal is, but i guess the deal is to say that we're going to have this amendment. it's been seven days since we
started debating this amendment. we're going to have this amendment vote. then we're going to have another vote on another amendment that nullifies it. it's the amendment that i call i stand up for the american people paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. do you want to support that amendment? go right ahead. what you're doing is nullifying any ability of the american people to have the freedom to access lower priced drugs where they are sold elsewhere in the world. i'm talking about f.d.a.-approved drugs made in f.d.a.-approved plants. it doesn't matter what the fancy wrapping and the bright ribbons are in this package. this package would nullify what we're -- to nullify what we're trying to do is a package that comes directly from the permanent industry. why? to protect their interests. this year, they will sell sell $290 billion worth of drugs. 80% brand name prescription drugs. and on brand name drugs, the price increased 9% this year and on generic drugs, it fell by 9%. now i understand why they want
to protect those interests. here are two pill bottles. both contain lipitor. both made in a plant in ireland by an american corporation. this sent to canada, this sent to the united states. the american consumer gets the same pill made in the same bottle, made in the same plant by the same company. the american consumer also gets the privilege of paying nearly triple the price and can't do a thing about it because this congress vote after vote after vote has said we stand with the pharmaceutical industry and against competition and against freedom for the american worker. and if i sound a bit sick and tired of it, i am. we have been going after this for eight to ten years to give the american people the freedom to access the identical f.d.a.-approved drugs for a fraction of the price where they are sold everywhere else in the world, and we are told again and again and again that there is this phony excuse about safety. just completely phony.
now, i will have more to say about it later, but i did want to say that we're going to see a lot of people trotting out here with such a shop-worn, tired, pathetic argument to try to keep things as they are and try to keep saying to the american people you pay the highest price in the world for brand name drugs, and that's just okay, that's the way we're going to leave it. we'll call it health reform, and at the end of the day, that's what you end up with. the highest prices in the world. a 9% increase just this year alone. over the next ten years, that 9% increase just this year nets the pharmaceutical industry industry $220 billion. but that's okay. that's the way you're going to end up, american consumer, because we don't want to give you the freedom to access those lower priced drugs where they are sold for a fraction of the price. one final point. i've mentioned often an old codger that sat on a straw bale
at a farm once when i had a meeting and he said i'm 80 years old. every three months, we have had to drive to canada across the border because my wife has been fighting breast cancer. and why do we drive to canada? to buy tamoxifen. why do we have to go there to buy tamoxifen? we paid i think he said 1/10 the price in canada. we couldn't have afforded it otherwise. is that what we want the american people to have to do? and most people can't drive across the border someplace. why not establish a system like they have had in europe for 20 years to allow the american people the freedom to access reasonable priced drugs, f.d.a.-approved drugs? so this is a -- a day in which we will vote on my amendment and then we'll vote on a -- an amendment that nullifies it, and we'll see whether enough of a deal has been made so that the fix is in so once again the american people end this day having to pay the highest prices in the world.
pay, pay, pay, soak the american consumer, keep doing it. that's been the message here for ten years. and a group of us, republicans and democrats, 30 who have cosponsored this legislation, have said you know what? we're sick and tired of it. give the american people the freedom. if this is a global economy, how about a global economy for real people. how about let them have the advantages of a global economy. once again, i'll have a lot more to say thi i -- it is -- it is apparently a day for deal making, and we'll see who made what deals, but we're going to have votes. my hope is -- i know one thing. i know the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of clout. i know that. i hope the american people have the ability to expect some clout on their behalf here in the chamber of the united states senate this afternoon. mr. president, i yield the floor.
mr. dorgan: i make a point of order that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will read the roll. quorum call: mr. dorgan: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dorgan: mr. president, my understanding is that there is a desire by some to have a quorum call in which the quorum call time is charged against all sides. my understanding is that there are -- there are, i think, five
hours allocated with respect to today, one hour for the baucus amendment, one hour for the crapo amendment, and three hours distributed, one for me, one for mr. lautenberg, and one for the republican leader on the prescription drug reimportation. is that -- am i correct? the presiding officer: that is correct. mr. dorgan: the way i add that up, two hours plus one hour, so i would ask that the quorum call be allocated against the four hours and not against the hour that i control. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. enzi: reserving the right to object. we have had constant speakers over here so we have used a lot of our time. we could have -- if we had known there was more vacant time and if we could have had some of the majority's time, we could have had a steady stream of speakers over here the whole time. so we would reluctantly agree to the time being divided between
the two sides, because we've done that in all of the times in the past, but we want to reserve some time for some of our speakers as well and could have easily had people over here to speak. mr. dorgan: well, mr. president, if the senator objects -- did the senator object? the presiding officer: he i think reserved his right to object. does the senator object? mr. enzi: yes, the senator objects. the presiding officer: objection is heard. mr. dorgan: mr. president, my understanding is i will put in a quorum call the time is equally divided apparently between the sides, in a circumstance where the other side has three hours and our side has two hours. especially on the subject that i have just discussed, the other side has two hours, i have one hour, but, mr. president, i will put us in a quorum -- i will ask -- i will put us in a quorum call, and i guess it is equally divided among the two sides.
mr. kyl: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: thank you. mr. president, i want to speak in favor of the crapo amendment which we're going to be voting on here in a few hours. the crapo amendment essentially would protect the american middle class from tax increases in this bill. the president, of course, promised that nobody under -- making under $200,000 a year or families making $250,000 a year would see tax increases under the bill. but they do. and crapo amendment simply would send the bill back to the finance committee, make sure that they don't. i think that's a fairly straightforward amendment. i think we should support it. but in -- in supporting his amendment, let me discuss some other things that are related to it. there's this notion that somehow or rather the health care bill is going to save money, it's going to save money for the government and for taxpayers and
for patients. and that's where it's wrong and that's why we need things like the crapo amendment here. how does the expenditure of trillions of dollars in new spending save anyone money? i mean, that's counterintuitive. the answer is it doesn't. so jeffrey flyer, dean of the harvard medical school, gives this bill a failing grade. as he wrote in the "wall street journal," the democrats' health care bills wouldn't control the costs, the growth of costs or raise the quality of care. i think that's the fact. so let me just point out a couple of bill's provisions that do undermine this savings argument, one of which is the new taxes, which the crapo amendment would explicitly address, the new subsidies that fail to address cost, and finally, the inclusion of the class act, which is a massive new expenditure, an entitlement that would grow out of control over time. first, though, focus on these new taxes, 12 in total. at the go in effect immediately.
in fact, the internal revenue service stilts that it would need between $5 billion and $10 billion over the next years to oversee the collection of these new taxes. think about that. they clow but are not limited to a new payroll tax on small businesses. what better way to kill jobs creation? we'll impose another .5% tax if you higher somebody or on all the people that you retain on your payroll. that's crazy. there's a tax on seniors and the chronically ill. i discussed that yesterday. new limits on health savings accounts which will increase the taxable income for middle-class families. and a new medical device tax which will be paid for by american families ring according to the congressional budget office. in other words, you need a health or lifesaving device like a diabetes pump for a stint for your heart. why do you want to tax that if it provides better health
quality for you and your family? the reason is they need to raise more revenue to pay for the expenses of the bill. c.b.o. says they would be passed right through to the patients, which of course are then passed through in the form of higher premium costs. as i said, most of these taxes start immediately. and many would hit middle-income families, despite the president's famous campaign pledge. so, washington for a period of four years piles up the money before it pays any of the money out, and that's supposed to lower costs because for the first four years there aren't any expenses and we're collecting all this revenue. somehow or another that's portrayed as somehow a savings for the federal government. well, over the next ten years that money is spent out. it's $2.5 trillion in spending. and that's not sustainable. this is part of the bill's gimmickry: to create this idea that somehow
the bill is deficit-neutral. but as i said when you take look at the true 10-year costs beginning in year 2014, once the bill is fully implemented, you've got a whopping $2.5 trillion price tag. now, colleagues on the other side say, well, but it's hess to raise all this money to subsidize the increased cost of health care. i get it. we're going to raise premiums urngd the bill and then we're going to need to raise taxes to subsidize so people can afford those increased premiums. what sense does that make? i just ask, do americans really want to pay more taxes in order to get a subsidy because of the increase in costs that are the result of this premium? would they rather not have the premiums go up in the first place as the republicans have proposed it would ensure? but that's what the bill does. it raises premiums so you have to raise taxes t to subsidize te
cost of the insurance. what the crapo amendment would do is the president needs to keep its promise. those making more than $20 $-- sthoas making less than $200,000 a year should be relieved of this tax burden. obviously costs have to rise. as the respected columnist robert samuelson tbloat a column, by the way the title was "the savings mirage on health care." "the logic is simple. greater demand will press on limited unsupply. prices will increase. best policy, control spending first. then expand coverage. that's what republicans have been proposing. we had like to target specific problems to the solutions of cost the. our solutions include medical liability reform. that doesn't cost anything. it saves money. allowing americans to purchase insurance policies across state
lines, allowing small businesses to pool their risk and purchase insurance at the same rates that corporations do. these solutions would bring down costs and at the same time enhance accessibility. now third, and the reason i raise this is because several colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made pretty firm statstatements about not being e to support this as long it is a included the class act. that is government-youfunded program designed to compete with long-term care programs. notice the pattern of governme governmenting to compete with private entities. that's what the class act does. participants would pay in for five years before they'd be allowed to collect any benefits. so naturally you have some increased revenues for a while. that's what the bill counts on in order to allegedly be in balance. of course the payouts occur later. and then it's not in balance. participants would have to be
active workers so this new entitlement would not benefit either seniors or the disabled, so you're talking about a brand-new entitlement. so if a worker begins making payments in 2011, he or she could not collect benefits until the year 2016. that's why supporters of the class act say, well, but this would reduce deficits in between 2010 and 2019. sure, if you don't spend money, if those years and you collect a lot of tax ref niewrks of course you're going to have more of a surplus of revenues. what happens, though, when the claims on that money occurs? it's like medicare today. it's very soon out of money. and then broke. and then in a hole. and then you've got a big debt on your hands. that's pry sighsly what happens here. no government program has ever reduced budget deficits. we know that. the congressional budget confirms that this program will add to future budget deficits. here whs they write. "the program would add to future federal budget deficits in large
and growing fashion." it doesn't get any simpler than that, mr. president. the class act would add to future deficits. that's why colleagues on my side of the aisle have said they can't support the bill as long as the class act is in the bism the last i checked, i a still in it. i also wanted to refer to the senator from the budget committee, senator conrad. he says it is like a ponzi scheme because it offers returns that cannot be covered in the long run t would generate generous surpluses for the government while americans pay in and are not collecting benefits and then later on it reaches a point where payments made into the program can't sustain the promised benefits. here's what c.b.o. tells us about the program. it says -- and i'm quoting -- "it would lead to net outlays when benefits exceed premiums."
net outlays means you are aide spending more than you're taking in. by 2030 the net increase in federal outlays is estimated on the order of tens of billions of dollars for each succeeding ten-year period. so over time, this program adds substantially to the deficit and to the debt. it's an entitlement that's not self-sustaining but has to be propped up in some fashion by additional revenues. and so, mr. president, it is another way in addition to the first two ways that i mentioned how costs go up in this legislation, how savings do not result, and how the american public has to end up making up the difference. you got new taxes to cover subsidies for increased premiums, government subsidies for 30 million americans that increase demand without addressing costs, and finally the inconclusion of the class act. as i said, i support the crapo amendment because it would assure that none of these
burdensome new taxes would hit middle-income families, as they are set to do. this amendment must pass, if president obama is going to keep his campaign pledge to not raise taxes one dime on middle-income americans. i also support the soon-to-be-pending hutchison-thune amendment which sthais no taxes at all should be levied until americans see some benefit. this addresses the problem where you collect the taxes up front and then you start paying benefits at a later date. this is an expression of disapproval for the budget gimmickry contained in the bill. the americans want us to bring costs down. they could not be more clear about that. but the provisions of this bill disobey the wishes of the american people. that's why, mr. president, the public opinion surveys -- it doesn't matter who takes them -- their increasingly showing that the american people are opposed to this legislation. the latest by cnn just a few
days ago -- and cnn is not noted to be a big conservative organization -- shows that 61% of the american public oppose the health care plan and now only 36% support it. that's getting close to 2-1 in opposition. an earlier poll showed that among independent voters, by more than 3-1, they opposed what's in this legislation. and the point here is not some peripheral issue. and i don't mean to demean the importance of the issue when i talk about, for example, the public option or the government-run insurance plan, the abortion language certainly is a key issue to many. even if you could somehow fix those problems, you still have the core of the bill that the american people object to. the half a trillion dollars in cuts in medicare, the half a trillion dollars in increases in
taxes that are meant to be addressed by the amendment that i'm speaking of here. the requirement that because premiums go up under the legislation, you have to raise taxes to create a subsidy so that you can give it to people so they can aford the -- afford the increased premiums. and something we'll be talking about in the future but to me is probably the most pernicious thing of all -- you can talk about the government takeover, you can talk about the additions to the debt, the taxes, the increased premiums, awful these things. the cuts in medicare. to meshing the most pernicious thing of all is the fact that this is unsustainable. the promises exceed the revenues. with the net result that over time, care will have to be rationed. this is what the american people i think fear most of all, because they know you can't sustain a program that's this costly and not have to at some point begin to delay care, delay appointments so that they don't
occur as rapidly and gradually begin denying care. that's why this big deal about the report on screenings for mammograms was so frightening. some panel say, we don't think people need as much medical care as they've been getting. never mind it has been recommended in the past. and oh, by the way, it would save money. and of course when politicians have to find a way to reduce benefits, they don't go to their constituents and say, we're going to cut your benefits. what they do is to reduce the payments to the people that provide the health care, the doctors, the nurses, the hospitals, home health care, hospice care, these folks, they reduce payments so that the providers have no choice but to reduce the amount of their care. they have to see more patients. there aren't as many of them. and they're getting paid less. so naturally they can't provide
the same level and quality of care. that's how rationing begins. ask people in canada. ask people in great britain how long it takes to get in to see the doctor. and eventually that doesn't cut it. so the they set a budget and sae can't atoured to pay anymore than this. you better hope to get sick earlier in the year. that's what you can expect to see even more in the care of our native americans. others have said in the indian health care service, get sick early in the year because they've run out of money if you get sick late in the year. our first obligation ought to be to ensure that our native american population receives the care that we've promised it. but i've personally gone throughout indian reservations in arizona -- we have more than any other state. i made a tour of the navajo reservation including a lot of the health care clinics and facilities that try to take care of folks under the indian health service. none of them have enough moafn to do what they're supposed to do.
they're understaffed. the people who are there are wonderful, dedicated health care providers. they're doing their best. but you ask any of the native americans whether they believe that they're getting the care that they're supposed to get under the program, and the answer is uniformly no. they have to wait forever, the care isn't there when they need it. and i mean, this is the perfect example of the rationing of care. what happens when you have a government-run system? that's what i fear most of all will result from this, because we've taken on much more than we can afford, and the end result of that, inevitably, is the reduction in the amount of care that's provided. and the quality of care that's provided. so i urge my colleagues to think very carefully about what we're getting our constituents into here. and we can start to turn this back by supporting the crapo amendment, which at least says that folks that are middle-class families that the president promised would not see a tax increase won't be -- won't see
tax increase under the legislation. that is what the crapo bill would provide, and i would certainly hope that my colleagues could support that. if there are no other senators seeking recognition at this time, then i would ask that the senate stand in recess under the previous order. the presiding officer:
>> david drucker, the president called senate democrats down to the white house. what is he going to tell them? >> tell them unify around health care legislation and pass it before christmas. i think the focus is going to be on, on passing something that's, passing something, i guess is the best way to put it and not less perfect be the enemy of the good. i think democrats are trying to come to grips of the fact that they can't have everything they want but there is a lot in the bill that they wanted for a long time. i think the president will try to focus them on that. >> who in particular does he need to convince during this meeting? >> well, i think what we can tell from last night's democratic caucus, is that, the medicare buy-in and public insurance option proposals are out. those are things troubling to moderate democrats and in particular, joe lieberman, that he would filibuster. nelson hasn't been keen on
the public insurance option how it is put together and some other moderates might have issues. i don't think there is so much pressure with them as there are with liberal democrats who have really saw a sought a major expansion of government in terms of providing health care to uninsured americans. i think what he will tell liberals this is great start, and if we don't get it now we may never get it done. >> as we do the interview on mid tuesday, there are reports that senator lieberman says he will vote for the health bill. is that a change from last night? >> no. it is not a change from last night. i think senator lieberman said all along he would filibuster if there was a public insurance option of any kind. he indicated over the weekend he would filibuster if there was medicare expansion. once those were out he was encouraged, if he says he will vote for it this doesn't surprise me because he not expressed any reservations any other parts of the bill except those two items f they're gone, he can be for it. >> this is president obama's
second meeting with senate democrats in just over a week. has he met with senate republicans? is there a need for him to do that? >> i think the administration long ago made a decision they were going to leave the republican conference out of their health care effort, except for susan collins and olympia snowe of main. i -- maine. i know those are in close contact with the administration. i don't think so far it's done obama and democrats any good. there is lot of problems susan collins has with the current bill. there are several problems that olympia snowe has with the current bill. now it is still getable but that is to be determined. >> a skeptic might say, christmas, this new deadline by the president the new labor day? what is on the line for the president politically and also for senate democrats? >> well i think we've gotten so far into the fight over health care reform in an effort to pass legislation this year, that for it to
tank at this point or fall apart or be defeated, however you look at it, would be seen by the public as, sort of a major emass cuelation, if you would, of the president and his strength both on capitol hill and generally. i think democrats have come to the conclusion they have invested so much political capital into this even with public polling showing their health care plans to be very unpopular, people are only, down on it because they don't understand it completely, that, the only way they can salvage this is to pass something. at least they can go before the american people said we did what you hired us to do. we are governing, and there are popular insurance reforms within the bill which there are. preexisting conditions would be out louded. that is popular. if they do nothing they send a signal they can't do anything. >> if the senators return from capitol hill, who do you want to hear from first, what do you want to know? >> i want to talk to jay
rockefeller. i want to talk to the leadership and talk to ben nelson. i want to find out where these three senators are. i think jay rock feller is prepared to support a scaled back health care bill, scaled back from his point of view. i want to see where ben nelson is. i want to find out if abortion is resolved at all. i want to find the leadership filing cloture on the bill. >> david drucker of "roll call", thanks for the update on the health care debate. >> thank you. any time. >> if you would like more information on the health care bill go to our health care hub. you will find the bill and amendment information as well as all kinds of briefing and congressional quarterly and rollcall interviews with reporters. all at cspan.org/health care. coming up at 1:30 about 40 minutes from now on capitol hill, a rally with groups opposed to health care legislation under consideration in the u.s. senate. speakers will include republican senators tom coburn of oklahoma, jim demint of south caroline and
richard burr of north carolina. we'll hear from radio talk show host laura inghram. that is coming up live at 1:30 eastern and that will be on c-span3 and also c-span radio. coming up here on c-span2, a pentagon briefing with u.s. marine corps commandant, general james conway, just back from afghanistan and iraq. in early december his briefing at 1:00 p.m. eastern and that will be live, while we wait for that to get underway in 10 minutes or some a look at items in the news and viewer phone calls from today's "washington journal.". >> democrats drop a plan to expand medicare is our discussion this morning. more from the washington post-. it says although, no final decision is expected until cbo data are in hand which could be as early as today, democrats left a 90-minute emergency caucus meeting monday night convinced of the problem of the proposal's demise. it looks like that's the case, the senate finance chairman, max baucus. it is just a matter of getting support from 60
senators. gross on to say that liberal senators took news with surprising ease. we've got to move it. the health care committee chairman tom harkin said. a champion of the public option. and senator sherrod brown, democrat of ohio, another champion of public option told reporters i want to see health care reform. there's going to be a good bill. your thoughts this morning. hollywood, florida. reed on the democrats line . what do you i this of this latest on the negotiations. >> caller:? hello? >> host: reed, what do you think. >> i am absolutely opposed. i think it case pitlation. it is false bravado on part of democrats. they failed miserably. i think it's, i studied in europe many years ago. and i was, i envoyed their -- envied their health care system 40 years ago. it is bound to be better
now. i think we have one of the worst health care systems in the world. i think it is a tragedy. i think many more people are going to die. i don't think health care costs are going to be held down. i think this is disaster. and the republicans are probably, celebrating. and, they have brought a president down who, has, who had all the capital in the world and, i think it is a tragedy. >> host: north adams maine, or massachusetts. rick on the independent line. good morning. >> caller: good morning. >> host: go ahead, rick, what are your thoughts on democrats likely to drop the medication provision, expanding it? >> caller: i hope not. i really do. >> host: why is that, rick? >> caller: because i'm 59 but i'm disabled. i have, i have parkinson's,
and, if that he is the only thing that is keeping me from bankruptcy. >> host: okay. charleston, indiana, jan on the democrats line. you're next. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i am so angry about this. i just don't understand how anyone who is a christian can be opposed to health care for everyone. i don't know. and i agree totally with the first guy. he was so articulate. he said everything i would like to say. >> host: all right. more headlines for you from the capitol hill newspapers. hear is the hill newspaper. reid bows to centrists, drops medicare buy-in. the headline in "roll call", lieberman sets off scramble when he said he would not support expanding medicare. following that in politico this morning, with the
picture of lieberman on the front page. in absence of gop support, dems need senator joe lieberman's backing to pass health care reform. next call from florida. robert on the republican line. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i'm calling about the bill there on medicare. it's a waste of money. it is unconstitutional and the democrats ought to be ashamed many themselves what they want to cram down our throats. it won't work. it's a disaster. they ought to go home and stay home. >> host: moving on to trenton, new jersey. clyde on the independent line. good morning. >> caller:. yes, i have two things to say about this health care thing. i don't think you will ever get a health care program in america, one, because everybody is selfish and it is all about themselves. it is all about me, me, me. and the democrats they have 60 people in the senate and they can't get health care bill done.
this thing that not talking about health care bill. this is just a tragedy. it is terrible and it's awful and it should die. >> host: hear from republican, kenneth in new orleans. go ahead, kenneth. >> caller: actually a democrat. >> host: sorry, go ahead, your thoughts. >> caller: i want to say how disappointmented i am with joseph lieberman. he was campaigning with mccain and should have been dismissed with the democrats then. but, i am very, i mean, i'm a person who wants the public option. we didn't get that. we first wanted the, and now, we're in a bad situation with joseph lieberman being a stick in the mud. and, in my opinion, he is not even worthy of watering the plants on capitol hill. >> host: all right. kenneth, you and others may be interested in the front page of "the new york times" this morning. they have a piece about senator lieberman.
it says lieberman gets ex--part to shift on health plan. just the thought of joseph lieberman makes some democrats want to spit nails, mr. lieberman, the connect independent is not least troubled by his status as capitol hill's master infuriate store. on monday he showed how powerful a role can be at a time democrats can't spare a single vote. he threatened the on national television in joining republicans in blocking health care bill, president obama's health care initiative. within hours he was in a capitol with white house officials. ronled today on the democrats line. good morning. >> caller: good morning. i agree with last caller said about lieberman. what i want to remind people one thing. there are americans who work every day, who can't afford health care. there are small businesses that can not afford to give their employees health care.
and, you know, we seem to be losing that point. and in all of this discussion between the egotistical poll ticks that is -- politics going on and i would like both democrats, republicans and independents to remember they're there to serve the american people, and the people who are the most vulnerable, who don't have the lobbyists and the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies to give and donate money, to influence this, this legislation. they're the ones that need our politicians to speak out and protect more. i want them to remember, senator edward kennedy's passion about this issue, and, to somehow, find it within themselves to pull
that spirit, especially during this holiday season, when there are a lot of people who are suffering, who are hungry, who have sickness and illness and trying to take care of their families, that don't have health care. it is a shame, it is a shame that in this country, that people do not have health care, not everyone, who doesn't have health care, is, this view of you know taking something from the government. but, there are people who work every day, who have those small businesses, who can not afford to pay, to give the employees health care or even buy health care themselves. there needs to be a reasonable option for people. >> host: all right. >> caller: this is not america. this is not the spirit of the holiday season and i want people to remember that. >> host: all right, rhonda. orange park florida, shea on the independent line . .
of the people over corporations of special interest. so as an african-american woman, i feel as though the democrats were taking my vote for granted, and i don't like that. and i consider myself a fair-minded person. and so i wanted to look at the issues as a person. >> we are leaving this recorded segment and taking you live to the pentagon. that his marine corps commandant james conway speaking with reporters just back from afghanistan and iraq. live coverage on c-span2. >> and then maybe talk for just a moment about the deployment sequence is taking place and perhaps where we are there. that's not to say i wouldn't be happy to field questions on those if you have them. we went to this year on thanksgiving. we do christmas or thanksgiving every other year. we did christmas this year so we were in theater for
thanksgiving. and reverse the process this time by going to see the troops first before we saw the commanders and that seemed to work fairly well. on thanksgiving day, we traveled to a different forward operating bases around afghanistan to visit our marines party much in place where they live. we flew by the way on yankee helicopters. that was one of the nice little victories to our of our nearest arab flies are in the battle space. so before i went over, if i would take a look at morehouse. because there have been some reports about sagging morel and that type of thing where troops are out on the leading edge. i got today, my observation is that morale is just fine. we were talking to both troops coming out as well as troops coming in. i think you all know we did several months deployment and we're out that several months deployment window.
i couldn't tell the difference. now the people that are going out, of course they are happy to go home, satisfied they made a difference and i think very proud of themselves as rightly they should be. the people coming and are simply happy to be in afghanistan and to do their part, and going to this seven-month sprint that we think we have with regard to our unit on deck there. if i've got a problem, it's with the other 190,000 marines who want to go to afghanistan. they are still a little long in the left these days. a lot of them combat veterans out of iraq. where we visited things were going very well. we had a chance to visit with some governors, iraqi generals, iraqi police chiefs, and their smiles on their faces as well because they see the difference being made in the market place, the school, the population being much, much more secure.
we have a very effective training program taking place in the south now to train the police. we have an old retired marine gunnery guiseppe knows how to teach people to shoot. he is working hard with these folks and out of the class of 53, 52 are going to graduate. the one guy that was in question couldn't see and they are working to get him a set of glasses. so they are just refusing to accept if they are worthy of being policeman, we're going to help them. so it was a very good visit, and one that we came away feeling very good about things. had the opportunity to visit again with the leadership and bottom and kabul. be happy to talk with discussions there. dave rodriguez was not in the country but had a chance to meet with a couple of my generals there, stanley mcchrystal, ambassador eikenberry, etc. we visited iraq and i will tell you that this year, 23 september was an important day for us because on the 23rd, we had more
marines in afghanistan than we did in iraq. and that separation continues to open here today we have just under 5000 marines in iraq. because of our turnover that our veterans, we are at about 13 k. in afghanistan. as you know that will grow to do something under 20000 when the deployment is complete, the president has approved. the equipment items are 95% out of iraq. our folks there in this last rotation, if you will, had been doing a magnificent job, shipment of equipment that's going to follow. evacuating our stuff both through kuwait and jordan as well. a lot of it's going to afghanistan. we've got some issues these days with equipment sets, but in any event, a lot of the things that are coming out of iraq are getting a very rapid rehab in theater and are making their way to afghanistan to be able to
support the additional troop requirements that will be there. what i told the troops in iraq, is that the most dangerous thing that our core is doing today is happening in afghanistan. the most important thing we're doing today is happening in iraq. and that is because we are sealing the win to there. they are making sure that although the clock is ticking down and we are on the other guy's 5-yard line, and they do the right things to close this out. the reason that we think it's so critically important that we do so is that it's the first battle of this extended war against extremism and. our philosophy has worked here for the idea from the very beginning that we needed to insert a wedge between the extremists and the moderates in the country showed itself in 2006. when the sunnis rose up and said we have seen these guys, we know what they do, we are tired of the intimidation and we're going to turn on them. with your help we will slaughter them, their true.
and that's what started to turn that thing. and we should all find encouragement through that because that has, i think, spread itself across other portions of that region. and an ad less overt way other nations are using their forces to go after these same people. i would also offer this. the way we see afghanistan is very much true a field of iraq. as we come out of iraq under a victory pinnick, facing in afghanistan, i think is the way we would want to do that. the way we would hope and expect american forces to be able to do that. serta, and i can offer that, although afghanistan has a lot of things different about it, we have validated our tactics, techniques and procedures that we use in iraq and we thought would work based on our old manual, a pub called the small wars manual that was written really backend the '20s and 30s. but it talks -- is a very applicable document on insurgencies, and is still useful today. in any event after iraq we came
and had some good conversations there with the chief staff of army of the french army, and then we came home and. came home to listen to the president make a decision. and i think the right decision. he announced of course the increase of some 30000 troops. gave the secretary of defense some flexibility in providing a few more thousand that would save lives. i think is the operative phrase of the secretary, will examine when he looks at deploying any additional troops that might be requested. and we're in a process of executing those orders. i think you all know that the first units out of the block were marines, first battalion six grains, and some of their attachment and support troops. they are in transit as we speak. and they will close out in about two days. we had some leftward movement on the scale based on some good work that transkei miss doing
and actually going to be in the theater even before we thought. we're going to get a couple of other units the opportunity to be home with her family for christmas, but right after the first of the year were going to start complete the rest of you. as far as marines into helmand province. and so we think that our movement will substantially be complete by, i would say, very early spring, and part of that because there's a headquarters turnover that would happen at about that time. but the combat units will be in early, and they will start expanding those oh defenseless where we already work. primary up and down the helmand province. so with that, i would like to sort of in my preliterate comment and see what's on your mind today. folks, please. >> you talked a bit about whether you have infrastructure in helmand, and if not, what's the plan? >> david, i will tell you up front that we do not, but that is not an issue with this. i remember reading -- you know
what i'm talking about. you have been there and see a. i a picture with a marine at what he called his iraq. his rack was a hole about that deep in the ground. okay, in his own explanation or phraseology would keep him below the track the line. it had a poncho liner over the top of it and he was completely happy with that. and that's how they're living out there. let there be no doubt. i was discouraged some months ago, probably 10 months ago now, when i saw a line coming out of a sitcom director that said about afghanistan, that the infrastructure must be created before the troops can be deployed. that is not a description the united states marine corps. i mean, that's what we do for the nation. that sabine expedition is all about. and so we spent a lot of time and money and gray matter attempting to determine what do we need from our organic
capacity that would allow us to move rapidly, live on what is and do what has to be done. there are things that need to sustain his. let there be no question about that. there's a supply line out there that's going to need us to get the fuel. we will need of water for troops. although we are doing our own well digging in purifying. winter is coming on. will have to be able to provide some level of heat and cover. probably heating cans when all is said and done. but the enemy doesn't have those kinds of things, by and large that you see in some of our larger areas. and in some places that people don't have some of those covers. we are outliving with the people, and i have to be honest with you where not imposing on the great, young americans that join our core. we visited those people in iraq that were living along the same lines and said, are you going to rotate back to al-assad or back somewhere, i don't want to do that. this is great out here.
this is what we're supposed to be doing. we don't want to go back. so we are blessed that we have young people like that, that believe in the mission and are able to do those things. >> general, when i was in helmand province i heard few complaints about living conditions. but there were complaints from arrays about the rules of engagement. they think they are too restrictive now. that in some way their hands are tied in going after the taliban forces. they understand the need to protect civilians and so forth, but i think it's gone too far. that's one of the complaints we heard repeatedly. and the other was the lack of afghan soldiers to partner with. i think when nicholson started operation in the summer he had 4000 infantry marines, and only several hundred afghan soldiers. could you just address those two points? >> i would be happy to. first of all with regard to the rou's, as you can imagine it was one of my first question as well to lead and other commanders. what's the impact here? and first of all, let me tell
you that i understand and believe in what stanley mcchrystal has done. in iraq, you had what you call sort of the collateral damage of an attack. and in some cases, we have to have that degree of collateral damage uproot all the way up the iraqi chain of command. but there was a mentality in iraq that says if you do proper compensation and make apology for losses of a, then in some ways it's god's will. that is not the attitude in afghanistan. it is just a different culture. and if the 15th taliban run into a house and you put a bomb in the square of that thing and you kill a woman and child, it's not the taliban's fall. is your fault that you killed that woman and child, that you have enemies for life. so first of all, the thought process behind the roe change i think is out and we said we have to adjust. but i would offer to that i think we have a. we are pretty good at that business to begin with. we tend to hit what we aim at, and we spent a lot time and
combined. that so we preferred to fight. what has happened if you talk to the commanders, since the roe have been introduced, the roe change have been introduced is that we have proven ourselves. and larry nicholson with how you if you ask them this question, he gets very little out of bagram or had colors about the bomb they dropped last night because we had reconnaissance watching that site for a couple three days. we patterned the life around a. we were certain that there were only bad guys and we hit them a. now there will be pop-ups and those kind of things when you have five aged from a tree line 150 meters away, you have got to be sure that you're only going to kill the enemy. and our own people will be exercising that with regard to the roe. but i think in a word, it is not as respected as perhaps we thought it might be at the outset. now i will also offer that there's an investigation ongoing with the loss of some of our titis, trainers. up in the tool first and core.
sadly, we lost former is out there in a fight. and there's unquestiounquestionably some part of a reporter asked whether not they asked for any time a fashion. that investigation is not yet done. we will be very interested in that you see what we are applying down south applies ever were to armories, in the tt and so forth so we don't have unnecessary loss of life. >> it was clear there was a lot of frustration, widespread frustration among the marines. do you hear any frustration among any of of the marines when you are the? >> no, i didn't i think that was the initial blow back. that's not the way did we go about business. no, i didn't any of that. and i think indict it will be proven that we are going to shoot artillery. we are going to fire tanks. we're not going to put marines up against a structure just because we are scared of asking even. with regard to afghan troops,
it's still not where it needs to be. we now have about 4000 that are working with larry in the south. we have a promise however, that there's going to be 215 afghan court is going to be built if you will be in the south associated with our terrain. and that as opposed to the earlier thought process of building infantry battalions and artillery battalions and simultaneously, they are going to build rival cubbies. they are going to get them in the fight. they will be training and operating alongside us, and those numbers are going to dramatically change in the next few weeks, of course. >> the former commander of south said the situation has a direct impact on the security in kandahar. what can the marine corps deal to take this taliban stronghold of way? >> okay. let me start by saying that you
win the confidence of the people, whether it be iraq or afghanistan, by being the strongest drive. okay. that means that there can be no place in our area of operations where we don't go. and right now it is one of those places. marcia has to be cracked open. the people there, i think will welcome us when that happens because the reports that we get is that there is a murder intimidation campaign at work there. the people are being capped and in many ways against their will. so that will be one of those areas of direct concern for us in the coming weeks of course. >> like falluja one, falluja to? >> that's probably all i will say because it is a pending operation and i don't want to do anything. >> general, based on what you saw in this recent trip, to both ears, what's your assessment of
the ied threats now? is it getting better, worse? what are the observations you have on that? >> i think i can say this. we are encouraged by what we are seeing. you know, we have working dogs that in the heat of summer don't do much for you. they said they want to go where it's cool, and those dogs are initially trained against military grade explosives. was being used in afghanistan, are larger ied's, volume wise, than some that we saw even in iraq where the tendency was for military grade explosives. and again, the dogs had to be trained differently in order to be able to smell out those fertilizer-based explosives, if you will. they are susceptible to weather. and so, you know, in the winter of the year, those types of things, that particular type of explosive made at the as effective as it is in the dead
of summer where they can dry it out, put it into a container and make it work. i will be honest with you though, we're not saying that you make because of tactics and techniques, the enemy uses against us, i'm speaking for numbering sector and hellman. i'm not speaking for the army is singing kadar. they have been getting hit pretty hard over in kandahar with just massive types of ied's. you would probably be hard-pressed to survive even in mrap. so we are encouraged that through different means that we can take away that weapon system at a point and place of our choosing. it's still going to be dangerous to us that it is still the most use weapons that produces probably 70% or casualties. we are encouraged by the trendlines. [inaudible] >> well, we are getting what we need. i just checked this morning. at one point the new mrap, the matv was put on a hold by u.s. forces in afghanistan because of some issues, mechanical issues,
that they are having that made it a little dated but actually, one of the issues, we are not applicable to armories because we didn't buy the gutter skeptic that was a 400 panties that tend to float around in an explosive. that could be very dangerous. but we didn't buy that. the other thing had to do with our people on deck, many skies can fix that. so today, we had 83 mrap's, more to follow that are working out in afghanistan. our preferred vehicle is one that we have sort of created if you will, which is the cat one mrap from afghanistan, the cougar that we have put seven-time suspension on. the seven-time was a very popular vehicle with armories because it could get off road and go anyplace you wanted it to go. so we said instead of buying or mrap, one day we will not need as a wrinkle. let's take a look at those that we have a. can we do something with this suspension system that comes off the mtv are to make a go everywhere and do anything. and we have a. it is a heavier vehicle than the
matv and is traber operating and for the most part supports its use. so we've got, we're building over 1000 of those in theater. i can do the exact number on that, but in rats are the number one delivery item for the people in transportation command and we're turning that as hard as we can. >> general, as she talked to other commanders and hellman, do they give you a sense of how they expect the enemy to react as you grow additional forces in the winter and spring? >> we think that in most cases they're not going to take us all. you know, they tried different approaches. in the early going it was direct engagement. they lose. there's been an ied campaign, and again, that's not as effective as it was perhaps at one time. they tried an indirect fire phase, but they don't shoot very well. they don't get good registration but they don't have enough
friends to stay very long. they know if they do stay long they will probably not walk away from it. so our commanders are feeling pretty good about things right now. that's not to say that there will not be some places where they stay and fight. and again, i do not want to anyway leave you with the impression that these aren't good fighters. they are intense. they are not fanatics in the sense that we saw some of those people in iraq, but they are super good at what they do. they were raised by. they been doing it for 30 years that they are better at infantry tactics. they are courageous, not fanatical but courageous and they will die for each of the. so where they will stay and fight us, we will have our hands full. so right now, we just ran an operation for instance, we killed a dozen or so but we think most of them tried to leave your. we got word recently there may be some foreign fighters that are coming back into tried to
contest a script that will be harder than if they had been there in the first place. so it's a mixed bag i guess to answer your question. if it's important to them, they are going to stay and fight for a. and it's not they don't want to take on a main force if they think the end is inevitable. >> can we talk about the utilization in afghanistan, how differently in iraq they were sort getting used to how to load the aircraft, can you talk about that? >> you know, i will start with our three deployment of offspring into iraq. one on the heels of the other. we then took a break and put it aboard ship with the new that went into the centcom theater that was therefore availability but from our own internal purposes will find out a lot about systems aboard ship and all that type of thing. things we needed to answer for a long-term use of the aircraft. wind that left the theater it's flew into afghanistan. and there will be ospreys in
afghanistan now for as long as there are marines in afghanistan. because of the aircraft again just has an incredible capability. one of the things that we had to i think express is that this is not just a replacement to the ch 46. this aircraft is so much more capable than that. that would actually have to adjust our aviation techniques and tactics and procedures to mask the capability of the airplane. today, to ospreys takeoff, go different directions through different things around about because they can join very quickly on each other. if there's an issue. we are using them in some of our operations, if you will, to land troops deep, and to very quickly build up troop numbers on the deck. they can do that so much faster than any other means. when your selection for the course of action is an aerosol,
these aircraft entered his capacity. fly above the air threat that we've got, deposit its troops quickly and do it all again. we now have the guns on our ospreys in the theater. that's something that took a little while, but they are now within there so they have a self escort and immediate suppression kind of capability. so if i sound excited about the airplane, we are. it is really i think schilling is capacity here in an area that really lends itself to it. because when i first went there and flew around in a ch 53, or drove the road, i came to realize how expensive this area is that it's the size of texas. and so getting around in something that large requires a fast-moving airplane that is very non-susceptible to fighters. >> a follow-up on that. we heard this before but admittedly major improve its. last year the gao came out with a report laying out all the mission capable in iraq that, no
offense, but you another marine corps officials never disclosed it everything was hunky-dory. what is the mission capable rate at this point, what are they predicting, and is there going to be another accountable auto-parts issued? >> let me go back and address your first point of icann, tony. and that is to say that everything you read in a gal report was old news. for whatever combination or reason, both the gao and the congressional inquiry that followed, chose not to use information that we provided them about the fixes that were in place to the very issues that decided. we felt that was a little bit one-sided, and that intelligent people would make different determinations given the facts of the matter. so we continue to work. we are the last to paint something in rose-colored. if it's not going to, you know, help a college admission, or be dangerous, for employment with
our marines. so in terms of availability rates, they started out in about a 68 to 72 range in iraq. we discovered some things about a little park called slip ring, that was wearing out in that unique kind of iraqi talcum dust, but hadn't been an issue for us in the u.s. western desert. we found some really somethings with regard to ship aboard a flight that we had an interesting but that's part of this whole learning process. today it's in the '70s approaching the '80s. at times in afghanistan, and the answer to your question with regard to the future, is what every other new platform as experience. it starts, you know, with these lower than what we would like availability rates, but it climbs the ladder to the point where we are at 92, 93, 94%. we think the osprey is on that trajectory. that's right where we would want it to be. and the things that we're fighting are not major systems kind of problems that need to go back to the manufacture.
they are bushings and codings and things that wear out in use when you apply the wins. >> there's a senate armed hearing on this tomorrow, but what's your level of concern these days contrasted with earlier this year when you are fairly enthusiastic about the reported performance, it hasn't flown yet, that we are still waiting. what is your level of interest because we have the first test aircraft. acetylene i think we'll be there before the end of the year. my focus, tony, is on the promise that the contractor has made to us that we will have ioc of our first squadron. by the way, i think you know we are the first service to get an operational squadron. in 2012. that is an important period to us because the british and italian have the same version that we are, are keenly interested in a. we have accepted risk now for a number of years, not buying for
the generation airplanes such as the navy has done to await the arrival of this aircraft. we have a small bathtub after of with regard to attack and fighter aircraft. to all of our planning is 2012 the backwards. and when we asked that question we get us into. we're going to make 201240. it may be center of calendar year 2012. and whether contractors telles and in fact is validated by the program manager is that the ground has birds that we have used are going to be tremendously more impactful than they have been in the past. and a lot of things that we could see when we start flying the experimental aircraft and vertical to takeoff mode, we will be less problematic for that i fully expect to get an invitation in the spring of next year to go watch the first vertical flight at pax river. if that happens again the contract and program manager tell me that we will be generally on the schedule that they think we need.
>> you've heard this from the companies and the program manager before. that is on schedule and it's going to this and do that. are you getting more skeptical or argue -- >> i am an unapologetic optimist. i have to take at the outset. but you know, we are very concerned about it. we registered that concern. i just saw. and we stood closer than you and i are, and i asked him that question. okay. and he's not a bs kind of guy that he tells me he's got his 18 odd that he still think they can make 2012, and all focuses are in that direction. and i've got to take the man at his word. as i think every understands how important it is and if we are not going that's what we're not going to let a. >> what are you concerned about at this point the? that they may not make the 2012 bid on the program is looking too much? >> our focus is 2012, okay. i think they are related.
so long as that -- that doesn't slip, then i'm not going to be critical of the other things that they have in some of the areas of the program. the cost rise in all that, that's someone else's concern, at least at this point, although we are watching it. but our focus is that we want to get those planes in an operational so we can start doing the same thing with the gs 35 that we have done with osprey. >> on that issue, forward-looking both the osprey and the fire, the navy is having concerns about heat on deck. burning, turning the engine on the osprey, post flight, you're overheating the deck and they are worried about eventually wearing them at. same problem expected with the f-35. are you getting into a situation where you're going to have your airplane, but you're not going
-- >> no, we don't think that's an issue. if you simply alter the direction of the plastic reflector a little bit, it's not as large an issue. the other specs that we have are some relatively inexpensive pads that will absorb the heat, and not try. we think there's not that much is going to keep it aboard ship. we are going to experiment with the. you know, we don't want to minimize the navy's concern about these types of things. but we fly harriers on and off the deck. they have the vertical thrust. and so we think all those things can be fixed in time. it's going to be a different set of requirements, admittedly, but there is nothing we see that will be a showstopper. >> do you have any indication that they are rethinking a lie you to put your osprey's? >> no, i think they want us to put them on board ship.
i think for those reasons and others will find a way to get it done. >> can you tell me how moving the raids from okinawa to guam? >> you know, the facts are there. we have a new japanese government that is looking at i suppose all the treaty agreements and obligations of the preceding government. in this case, with regard to this treaty, we a way, you know, their formal notification. we are hearing about all kind of churn, there are reports coming out of japan and okinawa about this minister or that, saying this or that. but i mean we've got to give the government a chance to reach their logical determinations and give us a formal response. and when we do, we will see what our nation and what our departmental reactions to that
ought to be. right now, i think it's no surprise that our position is that the team of replacement is out the vital to the defense that we provide of the entire region. and that we agree with the original planning that when we are right now, needs to come out of a very popular area to a more sparsely populated area where the other strip can be built. so at this point, it's sort of their move. and there is a joint commission that's at work, i think, that will probably be receiving some initial guidance from both the japanese government and the u.s. government. but i am sipping a privy to what those folks are saying these days. okay. guesser. >> can i go back to some of the numbers you mentioned originally? you expect to be in theater completed by the end of this week. >> before christmas, that's right. >> before christmas. and you expect to grow to 20000
by wind, so? >> well less than 20000 are just less than 20000 i would say by spring. a part of that is going to be a headquarters that we put in, a two star hagler that we put in. but we will not put them in prematurely because we've got a headquarters there right now. so i think by spring that minus some 20000 brains will be fully up and opry. >> say now is going above 20000 during this transition that's going on. and do you have any commitments, sir, by july 2011 that some of them will be coming out? >> no, i do not see -- i do not see us exceeding 20000. now hopefully and the reason that that is an important figure to us is that we are on a verge of achieving one to two. in iraq, our standing covenant was something on the order of 25, 26000 marines. if we can keep it below 20000 in
afghanistan, and we now have the ability to input the effect of 27000 additional marines that we started growing at the beginning of 2007, that's having a pretty good impact out there in the field in terms of our deployment as well. so we think we can be at seven and 14 probably by mid or late next year. and that's good news for our troops and our families, etc., etc. so we are encouraged by that. second part of your question was -- >> july 2011, do you have any animus because that's a long way off it went a lot of work to do between now and then, but as i understand what the president said and as i read, the secretary's testimony statements and so forth, i think that what you will see is reduction of forces, u.s. forces, where the afghans are ready to take over. my belief at this point, i mean,
fully -- what, 18 months out from that, is that that's going to be in the flesh are contested areas. helmand does not fall into that category. so what that means to us as marines is yet to be determined. we intend on making good progress, but i have to be honest, i would be surprised if we are in that initial tranche of a turnover by, say, 2011. >> the officer said the infantry the u.s. had concerns with fielding the weapons. what were those concerns? do they still exist and do you think that building the rifle was some cases sacrifice fly by? >> yes, ma'am. i do have concerns. and those concerns have not been updated at this point. i got it that a saw with a 200 round magazine is not perhaps terribly accurate shot to shot. but it is a light machine gun. if you take another weapon that
fires three round burst, you know that every fourth round is going to be an aimed shot. so in terms of accuracy, there's probably no comparison. let's step away from agassi for a moment and talk about suppression. and eight psychology of a small unit, this is the other guy has a light machine gun, and i've got an automatic rifle, i'm going to be hard pressed to get fire superiority over him. to keep his head down and sent him keeping my data because that 200 round magazine just keeps on giving. so i got the accuracy argument but now let's talk about suppression. let's talk about what it does to tactics. and see how the troops feel about this think that because you're not only changing the kit, you are changing the way potentially that we fight. and with this new automatic rifle, every third round you have got to change magazines that you are probably not going to do that, you know, in an exposed position. you're going to have to to have to drop a comma change that magazine and come back up again.
fire superiority is leading. and so i'm concerned about the sustained a facts of all of that. i'm concerned that moving at night, that the other squad members carrying those additional magazines for the automatic rifleman, might in a spread formation be hard-pressed to get him what he needs in a timely fashion. i mean, how is he going to do that? is he going to throw it over to where he they think he is? they're going to be occupied themselves i suspect that i don't want to get so far down that i'm doing lance corporal work here. but it is a big deal. when you start changing how marine infantry squad fights. and we're going to treat it as a big deal and i'm going to have to be convinced that we are making the right move before we start to purchase another system and change that whole dynamic. by the way, we also have to be able to justify to you folks arguably that we are moving away to a tried-and-true weapons system that the army is going to contiguous, and yet we are going to go another way. there's another additional burden of proof here, i think,
that has to be met simply because of the expands to the taxpayer. so there's a number of things out there that we've got to accomplish. >> are those being developed now are or their about them, do you see them going to an interim vehicle and a near-term? >> we could. our concern is not just what the gop be. our concern is that right now and arguments and 2003, really, we have been serving as a second land army we believe in large doses of a salt cedar. does not much of that in and bar or in helmand province. what we offer to the nation is and shared access from the sea and we are strongest working with our brothers in the navy. so we need to get back to that and a part of that is shocking
some of this weight that we have picked up at is analogous to a land army. in the process of beating the enemy's favorite system and putting fire on our own objective, a maneuver that is necessary, that type of thing. so as we look at our next set of vehicles, we want them to be helicopter transportable. we want them to fit in what we call lower vehicle still on the ships. we don't want to wait to be shipped out before we chew it up again all that is at risk if you stay with heavy vehicles. now, and the joint light tactical vehicle. and it's hanging in around 22000 pounds. emphasis on the lightyear. questioner, and we ask ourselves is that the vehicle that we need to be buying? people point to the weighted. it's got to be loaded, got to have the protections and that type of thing. so what do we do? and that's overcurrent asking ourselves right now. if you go back and check the
parameters, the joint light tactical vehicle was dependent upon technology to give us apposite or plastic armor or something that would be light and yet serve the same. purpose as to. it just hasn't happened an expert will take that pistil fighters appeared that latest request on to reduce them. with the 7-ton, we have tens of thousands of humvees at the. are we going to get into the iraqi's and afghanistan are pushing over the side on the way home, you know, probably would be wise to do that. so we are looking at the kiddo and i will not talk about the manufacture, but capability that would elevate that humvee so it's not flatbottom and it is well above the ground compared to what it is now. now is eight to 10 inches. we need something to or three times that for blast. with a v-shaped bottom that would have a protected compartment for the crew.
and there's some manufactured after the think they can do that. for about one 10th of the cost of a new vehicle. so again, that's what the marine corps does. we try to be good, you know, good servant of the nation and use defense dollars wisely. so we can come up with something that will give us that capacity for, i don't know, a few years. and we're going to look at it. until the joint light tactical vehicle comes along. >> are there multiple companies that would make those modifications to the existing of these? >> we think there are. we have one that is already given to us. it's not only a matter of making standard, just this last week, we ask that the matv be blasted to failure, okay, because we want to understand the difference between what it will
sustain and what the iss will sustain. because it is important to us as commanders of marines to know what's going to put our people in the safest vehicle given conditions that do we want to do the same thing with these other vehicles. and see, okay, what is that disparity here? what is the best buy for the money that we can feel the fastest. >> you spoke earlier about the two star command going to helmand. was that only a plant or is this an adjustment that you made as you went along? how is that two star command within the south structure going to impact? >> you know, as mike mullins said, we do what we must in iraq. we do what we can in afghanistan. we are at that point now where afghanistan has moved from being an economy of force function to our main effort. so we are in the process of looking at expanding the capacity that we have had there.
there's a place that we said we haven't been able go. the place on by the italians but probably don't have enough forces there to do what needs to be done routinely to canvass the area, make the villagers feel secure and that type of thing. we are expanding that way as well. at some point you really start to stretch the command-and-control capacity of the established headquarters. and remember, when these headquarters were established it was about nationbuilding, not about fighting a counterinsurgency. i mean, these things go all the way back to 2002, 2003 perhaps. and at that point, the nation's enabler subdividing over the country for pr, prt is in that type of thing. so conditions have changed and we have i think had to adapt within. so it is a natural thing for us ever going to put 20000 marines into an area of operations to say, okay, that's bigger than a
brigade, smaller than a marine force. so i think we're always thinking along those lines. now what follows with a subdivision of rc south and urc southwest or rc south central, is going to be a decision that standard was last to make in terms of what's the best allocation of resources and command-and-control networks. >> so you potentially see it becoming another regional command? >> that's an option. got to be an option. it could also, you know, work for the commander data there, although he is also a two star. but there are probably three or four courses of action that i think general mcchrystal and others will take a look at in terms of what is the best distribution given again a complete understanding of the significant landmass. but there's other factors that kraken as well. you've got to look at the
alignment of the afghan forces lay down. what is the area responsible for the afghans to 15 core? we like to work with the governor, single governor and not start splitting of his province so that we are having to deal with two or three governors, you know, in the village. so there's a lot of things that will have to go into that stew before decisions are made. but certainly we think we have got the capacity to take on an rc southwest or something like that, if that's the final determination. >> talk about pushing into other areas. when you set the traitors in the initially do you think they hadn't been uplifted go into with them and you think you have enough lift for the forces you have not? >> there's a couple of types of traders that we have some people out that way and i think if you ask admiral olson he would tell you he is short a little bit. that's been something to be or have been looking at. we have suggested, those guys are marine. redraw that bound and they will
come to a different part. we would look at the requirements in the schema priorty. and support in the best we can. that hasn't happened today but that's another option out there. so no, we're not totally comfortable that they've had the kind of support they needed. we had some casualties up in a unit that was a long way out. that is what they do. in mission planning to provide for some of the things that we are lacking that they. but we are concerned of the medical evacuations, somebody who is down. and we would encourage that that be a stronger part of the plan perhaps, we don't lose somebody. >> let me get some glass and asked. >> can i clarify what you said about just to make sure, are you saying that the decision made by the japanese government yesterday does not influence the replacement of the marines
replacement from open onto guam? >> can you elaborate and tell me what decision that you're talking about precisely? >> yesterday our japanese government made a decision to delay the agreement about extend replacement. they said they will make a decision next year. doesn't that influence? >> if that is going to be the formal notification to our government, i freckly have not heard or even read that the japanese government had slapped the table on a decision. but if that is their decision, then i think it's unfortunate in terms of what -- we're attending to plan our are and, because what we have said -- what the treaty says is that work on the team of replacement facility
must be substantial in order for us to kick into gear and begin moving marines to guam. and doing the necessary drawdown that began our countries had agreed on. there's always been some question in our mind based on the scope of the work and some things that we need to do on guam for a rival as to whether or not we would make 2014, which is again part of the tree and what both governments were striving for. in the delay at this point only put that date i think in greater doubts. because we do want to see the a firm statement and then action that will show us that we have a replacement facility that is being built. that again, part of the treaty. >> on operation ability, some of the local okinawa politicians have been telling, throwing ideas around, a sea-based rather than land-based facility. operationally speaking, what's
the deal? >> you know, probably too early to start talking about alternatives. i think our government, if that is the japanese position, our government is going to have to i think tell us what it is that they want us to begin planning. so in that context i will not comment on any alternatives. but it's going to be interesting to watch a formal response coming from the government of japan, and then we will await the formal reaction of our own state department and the president administration in terms of where we are on this thing. at this point, it sounds like it's more and more in the air, which is unfortunate. >> can you talk more about equipment as far as you pull out of iraq and afghanistan? >> yacht. i will take that you probably touch on my hot button issue at this point. because we are concerned. we are facing sort of a vortex
that is i think caused by several factors. the movement of equipment into afghanistan from iraq, that we previously thought was going to be able to come home, go into a reconstitution, reset phase and get put up on first year basis. we've had a lot of equipment destroyed. now most of that is replaceable and so i can't really say that that's a dramatic factor, but it impacts certainly on the availability of equipment. we have gone to training says in the united states. now that's different from what we used to have. we used to have battalions with their entire into warehouses and down at the motor pool and so forth, so that if another contingency broke out, you load your cake and to go to war. today, we don't have that wealth of equipment. so we have the training set that these units need in order to be able to prepare themselves to go
to iraq or increasingly now, afghanistan. part of the problem is that what we call the table of equipment, what a battalion rates, in 2003 for instance, it was a fraction of what a battalion has on deck today in afghanistan. communications equipment is probably tenfold above what it was at that point. rolling stock, 300 50%, heavy weapons the same way. so that that deplete our home station allowances and causes us to be again woefully short back in the states. we have made a conscious decision and we may have to reconsider it, but we have made a conscious decision not to drawdown our maritime reposition stock that we have three squads out there afloat with a great deal of marine equipment. that to us is our sort of national reserve. that's our ability to respond to a crisis elsewhere. ships to sail there.
the marines fly into the linkup with equipment. that's kept in great shape and we do what we have to do. the army hasn't done that, and so the army condition is a little better than ours really in terms of readiness and availability of equipment. the army goes to theater with a good and they bring their equal in all. wheelies are significant saves money but also means that equipment is not available for rework it is hard to reach a proportion here. and today, it's fair to say that, and i won't give you the figures, but today it is fair to say that our equipment readiness at home station is not what we would want it to be to be able to train and/or deployed to another crisis elsewhere. and so we made the void that we simply need to start laying in some more procurement dollars against some of that equipment so that we can i think have a better picture. augurs has been very good to us up to a point. at one point that we were about 75 percent of neat. today is only about 50%. and the promissory note or money
and reset after the fight, you know, we would like to have had on that. but i saw charlie wilson's war the other night. and there was a time where charlie got a lot of money for what he was doing. after it was all over he could do any money for what he wanted to do. and so we don't want to suffer from it and find ourselves with a hat in her hand with a lot of broken down equipment, and that we are the nations force of readiness. [inaudible] >> that's a pretty good gig i think. that's everything. that's reset and that's what we need in terms of some in rome in fusions for sort of our contemporary requirements. but it is a lot more money than we first thought it was going to be. is because of these factors that kind of take us down the drain. >> one more question. >> where are you going to be in the next 18 months in helmand province and terms of transitioning? >> okay. heating at the end of 18 months?
>> during the next 18 months, how much billy are you going to be able to deal? >> well, you know, we don't know what we don't know, david. in terms of what we are going to be able to do with regard to iraqi police and army, i mean, afghan. i'm sorry. while i was there, i was told by general caldwell that they had increased pay by 40%. utility that the month before they fell 2000 short in terms of recruitment for the army. this year i'm told that there were 3800 people in the first week on what is essentially has been a 5000 men a month required. so if that continues to take off and, you know, suddenly things are looking much better in terms of force and availability in the south, i think we can do a lot. we have gotten a 40 to take the
gloves off with regard to our police training programs. and so we're going to turn up the volume on that. i mean, 50 sounds great but it is a ration rebel we need in these other those in areas where going to go. but if we can increase our troop there and we have plenty of people who want to do the. it is a relatively short training program. that i think we start to create what we saw in iraq, which was very effective joint coordination center's. that said please, you've got a. day in india. you got guys coming in, take every. if you can't, call the afghan army. if they can handle it, call the marines began that we start to turn over responsibility for them. so key to all that in my mind is the support of the people. you've got to win them over. you have got to get him off the fence so they truly believe there is a central government that is going to support them, and these police are honest people and they're not going to charge them unfairly to go to market, those kinds of things. if we can get the momentum going, then i think the sky is
the limit in terms of what we can about this, even in an 18 month period. i am encouraged by recent trends, but we will have to watch to make sure that they continue on through the winter and into spring. >> okay folks. thank you very much. had a great christmas. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> and in washington, on capitol hill, both genders are in today. the house is working on the 13 bills including one that would levy sections against companies on gasoline to iran. lighthouse coverage now on c-span. the senate currently in recess. democrats are over at the white house beat with president obama to discuss health care legislation. the president said he wants the bill passed.
we are also expecting republican leadership to speak shortly anytime now in the capital quarters. we will take you there live when that gets underway. underway at this hour on your screen, we are moving our camera little closer so you can get a look at the size of the crowd is attending a rock outside the capital with groups opposed to health care legislation under consideration in the senate. the group includes -- speakers include tom coburn who is speaking now. senator jim demint's. and also scheduled to speak radio talk show host laura ingram. that is live now. you can follow that on c-span3. . .
>> i think democrats are trying to come to the grip with the fat that they attendant havering they want. there's a lot in the bill that they've wanted for a long time. i think the president is going to try to focus on that. >> who in particular does he need to convince in this meeting? >> i think what we can tell that the propro sals are out. those are the things that are troubling to moderate democrats, lieberman, nelson, and depending on how it's put together and
some others might have issues. i don't think there's so much to pressure with them as there are the liberal democrats who have really saw a major expansion in government in terms of providing health care to americans. i think what you are going to tell the liberal is there is a great start. if we don't get it done now, we'll never get it done. >> congress daily is reporting now. senator lieberman says he will vote for the health bill. is that a change? >> no, it's not a change. he said he would filibuster if there was a problem of any kind. he indicated he could filibuster if there was a medicare expansion. he said he would encourage, if he's not saying he's going to vote, he has not expressed any other reservations expect the two items. if they are gone, we can be for
it. >> this is the second meeting for president obama and the democrats. has he met with republicans? >> i think the administration made the decision they were going to leave the republican conversation out of their health care effort expect for susan collins and olivia snowe. i know those two have conditioned to be in close contact. thus far, i don't think there's done any good. there are several problems that collins and snowe have. >> a skeptic might say the christmas is the new labor day. what's on the line? >> well, i think that we've gotten so far into the pride over health care reform and an effort to pass legislation this year that for it to tank, it would fall apart and be
defeated. however you looked at it, would be stained by the public as a major emasculation if you would by the president and his strength both on capitol hill and generally. they have invested political capital into this, their health care plan could be very unpopular when people are only down on it because they don't understand it completely. that the only way to stall is to pass something. we did what you hired us to do. there are popular insurance reforms in the bill. which they are. if they get nothing, it's going to send a signal that they just can't get anything done. who do you want to hear from first? what do you want to know? >> i want to talk to jay rockefeller, i want to talk to
the leadership, and i want to talk to nelson. i want to find out where they are. rockefeller is reported the scaleback his point of view. i want to find out if abortion has resolved at all. i want to find out if the leadership now on its way to finding closer on the bill. >> david drucker of "roll call." thank you for the update. waiting to here on health care legislation. an associated press report that independent connecticut senator says he expects to support the democrat health care legislation as soon as the insurance plan stays out of the bill. senate leaders said yesterday they were backing away from a medicare expansion that lieberman had opposed. they already dropped the full-blown insurance program.
waiting to hear from the republican are leader. here's the schedule for the house. they are in recess for their meetings, democrats meeting with president obama. the senate is set to gavel back in at 3:15 eastern. a number of amendments to take up again. the dorgan amendment and others and votes likely around 6 p.m. eastern. they will have live senate coverage when they get underway at 3:15 on c-span 2. waiting for republicans and viewers from today's "washington journal." >> host: now we turn to all of you for your thoughts on the most controversial topic of the year. go ahead. who do you pick? >> caller: president obama. >> host:. okay. why is that? >> caller: because in the election he had brought up how he would put a stop to giving these large companies incentives
for sending their jobs overseas. i am not a politician, when were they thinking when they decided to give these large companies incentives and tax breaks to send the jobs overseas when it was taking jobs from the american? >> all host:all right in philadelphia. who's the most impressive political figure? >> caller: yeah. probably senator collins or snowe. the republican congress are acting like the democrat congress in 1985. with the ulysses funeral, that was the greatest funeral. >> host: you're on. >> caller: i want to thank
because here's a politician, lieberman. when you think you have to figured out, with he fools you. he's not holding the whole country hostage because they only dropped the options to ensure they get his vote. you want to go with a guy like joe lieberman. >> host: all right. caller is referring to the headline this morning that democrats may drop a medicare provision that had been to expand medicare to 55 and it seems that this morning the news is they will not include that in any sort of final package. st. paul, good morning. >> caller: hi, barack obama definitely. because he's taken on a big mess that was left behind by the bush and cheney administration. the republicans want to sit back and pretend like they have nothing to do with it --
>> we're going to leave the recorded program to go to the capitol for senate heretos. >> first on the health care issue that's before us, there are all kinds of stories about what kind of deals may be struck behind closed doors. we know for sure this bill will include half trillion in medicare cuts, $400 billion in taxes, and higher insurance premiums for everybody else. that isn't going to change. that ises problem that the american people are aware of. the polls are overwhelming. every poll has been taken that's shown opposition to it. the cnn poll last friday had it down 61 to 36. 61% oppose, only 61% support.
we know where the american people are. which is why the majority and the administration are left with the argument of making history. as senator alexander responded to reminding us. many things that have happened in history are not so good. this has the potential to be a mistake of historical proportions. and the american people are literally almost telling us on a daily basis please don't pass this bill. one quick observation on the effort to move the guantanamo prisoners attorney illinois. gitmo north is something the american people are not open to. this is outrageous to say it's a job program. current law prohibits moving these detainees to the united states for long-term detention. if the administration proposed
to shut down guantanamo and move owl of the prisoners to -- all of the prisoners to western illinois, they are going to have to change the law. and it is a waste of a perfect facility for this purpose already at guantanamo, a $200 million state-of-the-art facility with courtroom for trials, all to make us popular in europe. well, it's not a popular decision in the united states. and i think this will continue to be a very big issue. particularly in illinois. now we're going to be turned into a target for terrorist attacks. i was hoping he could consider. but apparently he's decided to go ahead with it. >> with all of the talk of deals
that the democrat party says he's not aware of, i thought i'd mention that something hasn't received a lot of attention. many of the democrat and many others have spoken out on a un71able component of any health care reform legislation. it's the so-call ad class act. let me note a couple of things that have been said. "washington post" call it had a gimmick, designed to pretend health care is fully paid for it. the reason is it collects the money up front, pays out benefits, but it's unacceptable, much like a ponzi scheme, in fact, senator conrad called it ponzi scheme to the first order. a kind bernie madoff would have
proud of. and also that programs like this face a significant risk of failure. and he expects the program will result in a net federal cost in the long term. that's why several colleagues have said they cannot support a bill with this in it. i'm interested to see what the bills behind closed do will be eliminated because they said they cannot support the bill. >> this legislation that is supposed to be enacted before christmas is still floating from secret room to secret room, and in thes are floating from meeting to meeting to encourage themselves forwards a suicide mission. no matter what they decide to do
about the so-called public option, it's still $1 trillion in new taxes. which will be passed on to the american people. it is still when fully implemented, $1 trillion in cuts to medicare which is going broke in five years. it is still a premium increase for millions of americans. and to governors and legislatures who from struggling with the largest definites they've had since the great depression, it is a huge new cost that undoubtly will raise state taxes and will permanently damage, i'm afraid, public higher education. >> for all of the discussion about jobs in the economy, it's also a job killer. every business organization in the country, national federation of business commerce, has come out in strong opposition to the bill. because they say it will increase in the cost of doing business, it will drive up the
cost of health care, and it will cost them job. they said it'll cost 1.6 million jobs. so you have the business community, the people that are the job creators, all lined up against this bill. you have the experts, cbo and now the cmsa who are saying it's going to increase the cost of health care, and that it's going to cost about 17 million people who get their insurance their their employer to lose it. it will kill about 20% of the hospitals out there. you have the american people weighs in increasingly with two public polls and what with every member of congress hears in the office that they are opposed. what we're hoping to see is one or two or more courageous democrats that we are going to defeat this thing for most
americans. go back and start over and work with republicans here in the senate on health care solutions that will meaningfully reform health care and drive health care cost down for people and small businesses in this country. >> well, it may not feel like it around here, but this is the holiday season. and if you're reading the papers, talking to your neighbors, most americans are scalingback. they are not spending as much on gifts in view of what's happening with the recession and the concern about jobs. so is spending is being cut back at home. but we here in congress are clearly not following that same path. what have we been doing during this holiday season? on sunday we passed $1 trillion plus spending package and contained were three appropriations bills that never had opportunity for amendment and debate on the senate floor.
on the 7th of december, the epa announced itst endangerment finding. what we do know about epa regulation, is that it is going to be incredibly costly, incredibly burdensomed. and when they use the term endangerment, it's right on. it endangers the economy, it endangers jobs, and it endangers u.s. competitiveness. now what are we working on? of course is the health care bill. $2.5 trillion reform package that as my colleagues have stated, we don't know what the latest it ration might be. but we do know it's going to increase your taxes. we do know that it's going to be a half a trillion dollar cut to medicare. we do know that it's going to increase your premiums. now, of course, we are also talking about the need to increase the debt and potentially the jobs package. i tell you, at christmas time,
as a parent, with i have a tendency to hide the gifts from the kids. but i will tell you one thing that we cannot hide is the debt that our children will be receiving. that's not a gift that we want to be remembered for. >> one of the worst victims on this process to health care reform, the strict of of honest, open government, and the lack of transparency, i remember sited on the dias. deals are being cut behind closed door, and people are expressing support for bills which haven't been written yet,
in which they are not read or been scored by the congressional budget office. i believe it was eight democrats who wrote a letter to senator reid, whatever we're going to be asked to vote on, we hope it will be posted at least 72 hours in vance advance so we can read it, the american people, along with the score from the budget office that will give an honest cost estimate. i hope they stick by their guns. i think it's very important that no matter what the deals are that are cut behind closed doors, all of us, i'm not just talking about senators, the american people, have the right to read it, to understand how it will impact them and their family, and particularly how much it will cost? because right now all we can conclude from the general outlines of what we know is that it will raise premiums, raise taxes, and cut medicare benefits from our seniors. that's not the kind of health care reform that any of us signed on for.
>> a couple of questions, >> the house is talking about sending a number of short-term extensions for patriot act, sba, does that sound like a good strategy? >> well, we're going to take a look at what actually the final package is. as you indicated, it is apparently being paired down somewhat from what was originally suggested. and i think we'll wait until we see exactly how this is all going to be packaged before we reacting to it. sorry to give you a cautious answer. it's kind of a work in progress. >> do you think we're going to be able to block an extense? >> well, we don't know whether some kind of the extension might be a part of the package that was just asked about. it's really candidly kind of hard to comment on all of this. because their budget things we know need to be done.
we don't know they are going to be packaged, what kind of length will be ascribed to them. but we'll be taking a look at that when the package gets puts together. obviously it's going to come over here at some point this week. and in my view, it's the last item of the year that we ought to be doing. there's a great deal of interest on the other side to have it do something we shouldn't be doing. but we're happy to take a look at what we ought to be doing when it gets over here. >> debate on health care in the next 10 days? [laughter] >> my crystal ball is not completely clear. all i can tell you is this? i have 40 unified republicans who do not think that this bill is the right direction to go. we have overwhelming majority of the american people that share that view. we know that all of the anxiety is on the other side. most of the stories you've been filing is about various
agreements over various parts of the fill. on paper they have 60 votes. i think they are having an extremely difficult time convincing 60 people to completely ignore the wishes of the american people. with a weak argument to make history. we all know some things that happened in history were not good. thank you. [silence] >> senate republicans just outside the senate chamber. the senate gavels back in at 3:15 eastern. live coverage here. meanwhile, congressional reporting, with lieberman indicated he's ready to give democrats the 60th vote they need. during the news conference, if the government-run public onyx is out, and the drop the buy-in plan for 65 to 64 if there was
no attempts to add other alternatives, i'm in a position. i'm ready to vote. i want to show you his comments. they run about 10 minutes. >> yeah. >> have the democrats done anything to -- >> pardon? >> on the health care bill have you been moved -- >> it seems like a ronald reagan moment where i should say, what? no, go ahead. >> have you been moved towards voting -- >> well, in other words as i said last night. i think we were having what i consider to be constructive discussions. and, you know, it's not finished yet. and i think one of the things that we with learned in the hectic last couple of weeks is that we all ought to be looking at paper. this is a legislative process. we have to be looking at specifickic legislative language before we say i agree or i object. but to be as explicit as i can
be now if as appears to be happening. the so-called public option, government-run insurance program is out. and the medicare buy-in, which i thought would jeopardize medicare, cost taxpayers billions of dollars over the long haul, increase our deficit, is out. and there's no other attempts to bring things like that in, then i'm going to be in a position where i can say -- i'm getting toward that position where i can say what i wanted to say, i wanted to vote for health care reform. my whole point have been here that the president laid out a couple of bill goals for this process. bend the cost curve down for individuals, families, businesses, our government, our economy of health care, and secondly, bring a lot of people in who can't afford health insurance now. the basic core bill does that.
i think some of the other things were going to add to our debt, increase taxes, and were just not necessary to achieve those two goals. i think we are heading in the right way. >> you have a lot of insurance companies in your state. how much pressure? >> i thought you said you were going to reverend? >> i'm trying. >> i haven't received any pressure. i've never hesitated to take on the insurance companies. [inaudible conversations] >> hold on. the reason i was against the public option is the same reason that a lot of people are worried about this overall health care reform proposal. which is they think it's getting too big. they worry it's going to increase their faxes and increase the national debt that their kids and grand kids are going to have to pay. that's why i was at the position. >> can you blame -- >> on to medicare buy-in.
>> well, i didn't change my mind on the medicare buy-in. i know there is a classic sort of sport. although it's not terrible to change ones mind if, in fact, you do. but i don't want to spend too much time on this. in the 2000 campaign when i was privileged to be al gore's running mate, the committee platform one way to reform was 65 to 55 to buy-in. that's a lot of age. a lot of things have changed in nine years. federal government was in surplus and pay off the debt. not having increased the debt. secondly, medicare wasn't on the verge of bankruptcy, which it is now. and third, there wasn't a bill on the floor such as the one on the floor now that would extent generous subsidies to those 55 to 65 to enable them to buy
insurance and reduce the impact of age in the pricing of insurance policies. so things changed a lot. [inaudible conversations] >> when they try to get post interview. i finally got to see it last night. it looks like it was referring to things that i supported in the past. though i was against the public option, i was not against health care reform. and of course, i did that before the finance committee bill cape out with this -- came out with the large and generous, but i supported system of subsidies to bring basically lower-and middle-income people into the subsidies. >> what do they make into the reform long before that? >> not to that extent. look, here's the point. the medicare buy-in as proposed
didn't make sense. it end up it seems to me, when advocates saw they didn't have the votes, they kind of tried to get it down another path. and it made no sense. hospitals, i'm not the only person in the democratic caucus who opposed the medicare buy-in, you saw 11 democratic senators wrote to him telling him they were against it because of the impact they thought it would have on hospital thes and doctors in their state, and by cost shifting on the 180 million people in america who get their insurance today through private companies, their premiums would go up. that's where we are now. this was onuses. the fact is the more they try to change it to get it through separate insurance, separate from medicare, self-sustaining, the premiums would have to pay for it. as i said to one of the advocates, nobody between 65 and
55 is going to be able to afford. that's not the point, we're trying to work out a deal. that doesn't make any sense to me, because in the long-term the danger will be that the federal government will be pressured to take this over, make up deficits and this separate pool, and again it's not necessary. we have a great insurance reform bill here. and the danger was that some of my colleagues, i think, were just trying to load it up with too much. and what happens then is that you run the risk of losing everything. so i think what's beginning to emerge, though some people are not happy about it, is really a historic achievement. health care reform such as we've not seen in that country for decades?
>> the answer in supporting or not supporting this bill. first let me say that i am grateful for the work that senator lieberman has done. i believe that his principal stance has improved the bill. i very much would like to see a health care bill that is based on lowering cuts, expanding access, helping small businesses pass. but i don't see voting for the of current bill that is on the floor even with the improvements that have been made. i'm very leery of the impact of nearly 5* -- $500 billion in medicare, particularly the cuts in home health care which are counterprotective to the goal of lowering cost. senator lieberman and i, senator
wyden and i have a bill to get more affordable choices and to lower the cost of health care remains to be seen. whether those are going to be adopted, i'm concerned about the penalties that would be imposed on smaller employees. so this bill is getting better, but it's still too deeply flawed for me to support it. >> have huh any conversation with the leadership about senator lieberman and senator wyden's proposals and your proposals. >> i have had some conversations, but they have not given me an answer at this point. i should make clear that while i cared deeply about those amendments and believe that they make significant improvements in the bill that their adoption would not be sufficient to persuade me to vote for the bill. i'm still very concerned about the enormous cuts in the medicare programs, and what that
would mean to access to health care for thundershower -- for our seniors? >> then why offer them? >> because i think something is going to pass. i would like to make that bill as good as possible. even if ultimately it's not a bill that i can support. i believe that i have an obligation to try to improve the bill, not to just say no. and that's why i've been working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on several amendments that i believe will improve the bill? and i'm going to continue to try too improve the bill. >> have you had any persuasion from pennsylvania avenue in recent days? >> i've had extensive discussions with the president, with the chief of staff, with the omb director, is the white house health policy advisor. those have been helpful. and i appreciate the dialogue that we're having, but they certainly have not moved me
towards to be able to support the bill at this point. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you. >> just to let you know, we posted the full congressional quarterly story on this news conversation with senator collins and lieberman online. read more about that. look at capital here. protectors against the health bill there in the distance. the house and senate are both in today. the house working its way through 13 bills, including one that would levy of sanctions to countries selling gasoline to iran. the senate is in the recession, democrats have been over at the white house meeting with president obama to discuss health care legislation. the president is saying he wants the bill passed out of senate
and into negotiation with the house before christmas. we'll have live coverage of the senate at 3:15 when they return. the president is scheduled to make a comment. we'll try to get that on live for you too if it happens before the senate returns at 3:15. the president did earlier today press his case for new initiatives aimed at increasing home efficiency. that was at a home depot story, and it runs about 15 minutes. [applause] >> hello, hello. thank you, guys. thank you. thanks. [applause] >> thank you. everybody, please have a seat. we have a couple of special guests here today. first of all, the outstanding senator from the great state, commonwealth of virginia,
senator mark warner. [applause] >> we have a couple of champions for job creation here, gary dowelly and jim rant. can i ask how come they got the home depot and you don't have it? the senators are too cool to put it on? what's going on here? working the jump start our retro fit -- retrofit efforts around the country. we got alexandria mayor willie. is there he is. good to see you. and we have frank blake and his team. there he is. [applause] >> seeing how chris nas is just around the corner and we're in home depot, i thought i might
knock out some of my holiday shopping. i figure my energy secretary wants some lightbulbs. my press secretary wants something that will prevent leaks. come on guys. [laughter] >> took a while there for. but i've also come here to spend some time with workers and contractors, and manufacturers and small business owners who have been especially hard hit by our economic downturn. a few of us just spent some time in a round table talking about the role they want to play in job creation and our economic recovery, and how government can best help to give them a boost. i don't need to remind them or any of you about the situation we find ourself in at the beginning of this year. the economy was in a free fall, as a result of our financial crisis. folks couldn't access affordable
credit to run their businesses, take out an auto loan, student loan, some cases pay their mortgages, home values for plummeting. we were losing about 700,000 jobs per month. today the economy is growing for the first time in more than a year. november's job report was the best that we've had in nearly two years. but the fact is even though we've stopped the rapid job losses that we were seeing just a few months ago, more than 7 million americans have lost their jobs in the two-year since this recession began. unemployment still stands at 10%. so we're not finished with our test. far from it. we have a lot of work to do. i promise you in the white house we're hard at work every single day. until every single person who wants a job can find a job. that's why last week i announced some additional targeted steps to spur private sector hiring. and give an added boost to small businesses, by building on the
tax cuts, recovery act, and increasing access to the loans desperately needed for small businesses to grow. we will build and modernize our transportation across the country. i called for the extension of emergency relief, like unemployment insurance, health benefits, while boosting consumer spending and promoting job growth. we also want to take some strategic surgical steps in areas that are going to generate the greatest number of jobs while generating the greatest value for our economy. for the moment we took office, even with the financial crisis, we began investing in newer, stronger foundations for lasting growth. one that would free us from boom and bust that have been so painful. one that can create job jobs and -- good jobs and opportunities.
clean energy can be a powerful engine for creating that kind of growth. that's why the recovery act included the single biggest investment in job cleaning energy in our history. in renewable sources of energy, in advance manufacturing, in clean vehicle technology, in a bigger, better, smaller electric grid that can carry clean homegrown energy from the places that harness it to the place that is need it. after the investments have been given the better part of a year to take root, the picture of their impact is starting to emerge. i just received a report from vice president biden that confirms as a result of the step that is we've with taken, a major transportation of our economy is well underway. we are on track to double renewable energy production and double our capacity to manufacturing clean energy components like wind turbines and solar panels right near in
the united states by the year 2012. doubling. [applause] >> but there's a lot more that we can do. that's what with i've come to it talk about. our nation building, homes, offices, consume 40% of the energy we use. we contribute almost 40% of the carbon pollution that we produce. everybody is talking about right now in copenhagen. homes build built in the first half can use about 30% more energies that home that is are built today. because most of our homes and offices aren't energy efficient, much of that energy just goes to waste. while costing our families and businesses money that they can't afford to throw away. the simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more emergency efficient, inositolling new windows, doors,
modernizing heating and cooling equipment is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest things we can do to put americans back to work, while saving money and producing harmful emissions. as a result of a variety of investments made under the recover act, including state and local energy grants, we're on pace to upgrades of the homes of half a million americans by this time next year. half a million americans boosting the economy, saving money in energy, creating clean energy jobs that can't be outcoursed. this is an area that has huge potential to grow. that's why i'm calling on congress to provide incentives to make energy investments in their homes. and we want them to do it soon. i know the idea may not be very glamorous. although i get really excited about it. we were at the round table, somebody said insulation is not
sexy. i disagree. frank, don't you think. insulation is sexy stuff. [applause] >> here's what's sexy about it. saving money. think about it this way. if you haven't upgraded your home, it's not just heat and cool air, it's energy and money that you are wasting. if you saw $20 billions just sort of floating through the window with up into the atmosphere, you'd try to figure out how to keep that. but that's exactly what's happening because of the lack of efficiency in our buildings. so what we want to do is create incentives that stimulus consumer spending because folks buy materials from home improvement stores like this one, which then buys them from manufacturers, it spurs hiring, because local contractors and construction work withers do the insulation, it save consumers money, perhaps hundreds of dollars off their quite bills each year. and it reduces our energy
consumption in the process. in other words, most of this stuff is going to pay for itself. you put in the insulation, you weatherize your home now. you will take up that money in a year or two years or three years. and then everything after that is just gravy. but the challenge for a lot of people is getting that money upfront. they know this is a smart thing to do. but times are tight right now. it's hard to afford making that capital investment. that's where the government can come in to provide the incentives to help people make that investment so they can recover the money over the long term. these incentives will build on the work that my administration is doing to eliminate the barriers to retrofitting millions of homes across the country. environmental quality appreciately released a report called recovery through retrofit
and explains how to overcome the hurdles. providing straightforward reliable information, reducing the cost to do it, and make sure we have a well-framed work force ready to make it happen. i think this is an extraordinary idea. all of the ideas that we've discussed were talked about at the jobs forum we held at the white house a couple of weeks ago. in fact, frank blake was there and mentioned that 30% of home depot's business is made up of small contractors of five or fewer employees who often do this kind of work. they and the folks that i met with earlier know how important the program can be. the economic downturn hit both small contractors and broader construction industry hard. construction unemployment reached 21% in the beginning of this year. the investment we made under the
recovery act have helped. obviously, there's a lot more work to do to put construction workers and millions of other americans who are ready and eager to rebuild americans back on the job again. we're not going to rest until we do it. it's fitting that we're here today at home depot with folks that play a vital roll in helping american's families and strengthen the ones that they've got. that's exactly what we're trying to do. we build america's house. on a stronger foundation of growth and prosperity. it's not going to be easy. but we have the concrete fort. i promise you we are going to get this job done. together we can leave something for future generations that makes america that much stronger. and i just want to emphasize one last pint. there's -- point. a lot of times there's an
argument about economic growth versus the environment. in the debate about climate change, a lot of people say we can't afford to deal with these emissions to the environment. but the fact of the matter is, energy efficiency is a perfect example of how this can be a win/win. manufacturers, who's ceo is here today, they win because they produce this stuff. those are americans job. right now i just heard from the ceo because australia put an incentive to do exactly what we're talking about. they've seen a huge increase in their volumes of experts to australia. why can't we do the same thing here? when it comes to contractors, contractors all around the country know that this is work they can do. they can do effectively, they can do well. and it's reliable business. it's not going to be subject to as much of the vacillations as
home sales are in the current environment where you have a soft housing market. this can help fill the void in a major industry that's taken a big hit. the workers, we have somebody who just got trained, already on the job crawling through attics and putting this stuff together. other the course of six month or a year, somebody can get trained effectively, leo is doing terrific work. this means people who are unemployed, they can get a marketable skill that they can take anywhere. so this is a smart thing to do. and we've got to get beyond this point where we think that somehow being smart on energy is a job destroyer, it is a job creator. but it's going to require some imagination and foresight. it requires us to work
together. i know that's what all of you are committed to doing. we are going to generation so much business for you, we are going to generation so much work. we're going to create so many business opportunities for contractors here that over the course of the next several years people are going to see this as an extraordinary opportunity. it's going to help america turn the corner when it comes to energy use. i'm excited about it. i hope you are too. i told you, insulation is sexy. thank you, everybody. [applause] [silence] [inaudible conversations]
that meeting comes a day after senate democrat leaders suggested they were ready to abandon the vast vestages of the government-run insurance program that liberals have thought. in order to secure the 60 votes they need. ap writes the concessions appeared to have the desired effect. connecticut said today medicare expansion stays out of the bill, quote, i'm going to be in a position that i can say what i wanted to say all along. i'm ready to vote for health care reform. but other key moderates was still withholding his support as he seeks stronger abortion restrictions in the bill. the number of issues still pending when the senate returns. we will have live coverage when they do. we're expecting to hear from the president as well. he's scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. if that happens before the senate comes in, we'll bring it to you live.
one the pending amendments is by byron dorgan much north dakota, which would make it easier for consumers to buy prescription drugs from other countries. we talked about it this morning on the "washington journal." >> host: it says in the papers this morning that bede baits in the senate have stalled partly over an amendment that you offered that would allow cheaper drugs to be imported from canada, europe, other places, what is the status of your amendment? will it be voted on? >> well, it has slowed down for seven days. it appears we may get a vote on it today. this is not just cheaper, it's less expensive, identical, fda sold in every other country for the a fraction of the price. it's unbelievable. we've been working on this ten years. and the pharmaceutical industries wins all the time when we have these votes. if there is a global economy, how about giving the american
people the freedom to access that identical drug, same pill in the same bottle made by the same company. the difference, the american people get to pay two or three times the cost that most other people in the world pay. i think that's unfair. i believe they ought to be able to access the same drugs from other companies. countries rather i should say. >> host: the president supported your provision when he was running for president. have you talked to him during the negotiations over the last seven days? have you talked to him? >> well, you are right. he was a sponsor when he was in senate. 30 cosponsors ranging from the late ted kennedy to john mccain, it's by part -- bipartisan. and yet it's difficult to us to get a vote. they pharmaceutical company made a deal as going into health
care. they had an arrangement with somebody. i'm not a deal i wasn't a part of. i wasn't in the deal. now we are told if you pass this legislation that would save about $100 billion over ten years, save the consumers about $80 billion, the federal government $19 billion. if you pass this deal, it will interpretation the agreement, arrangement, or do deal. you know, i wasn't a part of that deal. i want a decent deal for the american people. >> host: what has the president said to you? >> i have not talked to the president personally about it. but i've talked to folks at the white house. they have indicated to me, there was no deal that they waldo nose amendment. i happen to know in the last seven days while the amendment has been on the floor, there's a been a lot of work done to strip
it off. we'll see what happens. >> host: how are they stripping the support of your amendment? >> just saying to people, look, if you pass the dorgan drug reimportation amendment, it somehow will jury the ability to health care. it's always this way with every piece of legislation. it's the lose thread on the cheap suit, pull the thread, the arm falls off. i think we had the votes. i hope we do. although the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of clout and support, my hope that the american people have a lot of clout and support. and we can pass the amendment. >> host: if you don't get the amendment, what happens to your support for the final flex >> well, we'll see. i'm going to look at legislation. the legislation on health care reform is not yet complete. we've been working and working. at the end of the day, i'll take a look at what is this? do i think it advances the country's interest?
we do need health care reform. the question is how do we do it? what is the impact of it? at the end of the day, i'll take a look and make a judgment. >> host: what should viewers be watching for. if your amendment gets a vote, what follows that? >> it would be dorgan/ snowe amendment, mccain/stabenow. and there would be a certification. the reason it's offered is to nullify any ability for the american people to be able to import the identical fda approved drugs at a fraction of the price they now pay. >> host: give our viewers an idea of what the lobbying effort is like. the papers talk about not just the pharmaceutical companies but hospitals, insurer, as this bill is being debated, what do you seeing in the hallways in the senate office buildings and
behind closed doors as far as the lobbying effort. >> well, the lobbying in furious. the effort on prescription drugs by the pharmaceutical industry is to derail, you don't see that sort of thing out in the open so much. but it's contacts to make sure that they range their support to try to nullify my ability to get the legislation passed. there's a lot at stake. this issue is $100 billion over the next ten years. the pharmaceutical industry this year sold about $290 billion worth of goods. brand name about 80% of that. brand name drugs increase in price 9%. generic drugs decreased. the pharmaceutical industry is pushing very hard to keep the sweetheart deal they have. why should the american people be paying, double, triple, sometimes eight times the cost for the identical drug.
it makes no sense, give the american people the benefit of the global economy. we were able to shift american jobs, we were able to import contaminated wall boards , toothpaste, toy that is kill children. what about the opportunity to reimport the fda approved drugs that comes from the identical chain of custody that we have. >> host: all right. let's let our viewers weigh in. you're on the air. >> caller: yes. what i'm calling to say is i wanted to ask how he feels the rates of the jobs that the senate has been doing on the health care bill. i think it's terrible. you finally broke my back. i'm telling you. i can't believe it. you are staking everything on everybody's paying into the insurance companies. that's the only thing that everybody needs to be done.
this is terrible. >> host: all right. how would you rate the debate? >> i don't think you give a grade until it's over. it's not done. we're at the -- inspect final hours here. but there's a lot yet to do. then let's make a judgment when it done, is this something that advances the country's interest or not. one the important questions is if we do nothing, is the system working? it works in some ways and other way it is doesn't work at all. we have 100,000 deaths, 45 million people that don't have health insurance. health insurance are rising every year above the ability to pay for the health care premiums. so, you know, the question is not whether you do something, the question is what do dough? >> host: gary on the independent line. >> caller: yes. i'd like to tell you that i agree with your bill. but i think we're going to have
a big problem that president obama has already made the deal with the drug manufacturers in the country to buying the pockets for the, you know, health care insurance. how are you going to get past the president where the deal has been made with the drug manufacturers, in fact, you know, that are in control of this debate anyway? >> yeah, well i haven't made a deal with anybody. as i quoted an old senator. i don't support any deal i wasn't a part of. i didn't make any deal with anybody. and i've got one hour, if what i think is going to happen, happens on the floor, i have one hour for debate. i intend to make good use of that hour. we'll see. all you can do is fight the right fights here. but i will be pretty disappointed if when we talk about health care reform if the pharmaceutical industry can jack up the price of their drugs, 9% this year alone, 9% this year alone. and, you know, the votes in the
united states senate would say that's okay. that's fine. we're not going to do anything to address the cost of prescription drugs. that's not health care reform if you leave out the cost of prescription drugs. how about giving american people the freedom to access lower price. >> host: disappointed, but not disappointed enough to not support the legislation in the end? >> we're doing this legislation a piece at a time. there's some things i've supported, some things i have not. what i'm going to do is steer the legislation through the senate. i offered it 7 days allege. we have not been able to get a vote on it. today, i think we'll get a vote. if there are enough people to be able to afford and purchase prescription drugs at a fair price. i don't have beef with pharmaceutical company, i have the prices company. >> host: what is it about their pricing policy? why doesn't it work?
>> caller: i have been a volunteer lobbyist i guess you'd say on the hill for about 30 days -- 30 years. and it bothers me that sometimes there are issues that come up that the american people overwhelmingly voted, show in the polls that they are opposed to. and it's like we have a renegade congress that goes right over our heads. and the other issue, another kind of drugs that i think we've got to get out of her country and out of our schools or we will never have any success in manufacturing, and congressman barney frank now has two bills out there that would legalize drugs. i've heard him speak on the issue. he has no understanding of it. it's the biggest myth, or untrue issue that's ever been perpetrated on the american people. we've challenged him to a debate on two different occasions. he refuses to meet with us, and yet obloquy says he doesn't even know what marijuana looks like. and it's now coming closer probably than it ever has, and i
hope that you and everyone on the hill will maybe pull on his air a little bit and tell him he is going down the wrong track. >> guest: i'm not somebody with his amendment. i don't think that sort of thing would be anywhere close to being reasonably entertain on capitol hill at this point that i just don't think -- >> let me just mention the woman talked about manufacturing and i listened to a little bit of the previous segment and your guest was absolutely right. you don't longer than a world economic power and less you've got a first class manufacturing capability and that is dissipating in this country. we are on health care. i think health care is important that i think by far the more important issue is restarting the economic engine and putting people back to where. there's no social program in the country as important as blue job that pays well that makes everything else possible. >> host: and ever that you are in charge of. >> guest: senator durbin and i are working in a job package because the federal government doesn't create jobs or the
federal government creates a seabed in which jobs can go, with risktakers and companies and other produce out there that want to hire people. and i just think it is critically important having been through this steepest decline since the great depression. we've got to work as a major priority to get this economic engine restart and put people back to work. >> host: what provision do you think will be in this job creation bill that you're looking at that you are cochairing a group that you're in charge of creating a bill? when it comes to manufacture, what provisions are you looking at? >> guest: we are still putting this jobs package together. i think there will be some infrastruinfrastructure, you know, building roads and bridges and so on. that put people back on payrolls but also creates an asset for the country. we desperately need that investment. but i also think that the jobs are the weighty task is to exercise, there are a series of tax incidence that seca on to produce out there that are ready to hire, you know, here is an incentive to do the. we also need to find credit for
small indian size businesses who are ready to expand the camp unaccredited ouzo. >> host: you are a big deficit person. how do you bring down the deficit and create jobs by spending more, government spending? >> guest: in the middle of a steep decline you have to be careful because government spending is part of what can help lift you out of it. but we are in an unsustainable path with respect to deficits. it's been going on for a long time. we have gone off to fight wars by sending young men and women off to war without being able to pay for the. >> host: toledo, ohio, tom, good morning. >> caller: senator dorgan, one of the questions i would like to ask today is not just a matter of the farmers and industry but the tdm's. you know, i recently put out an rfp for a particular organization and we took a look at the top to bottom, it was a
$48000 bread on a $3 million worth of work of three national providers. we then hired a direct fee for service provider that gave us the the full, not just large but also genetics that are not used by the normal pvm. and we kept our cost in five years $2 per min per month increase. i can tell you that there are other ways of saving money, not just a matter of the drug companies themselves, but those that are selling them to the public. thank you very much. >> guest: i understand his point. in fact, i have been involved in raising some questions about that very issue. we have in fact, some of the pvm have grown so large and a way that it doesn't represent in my judgment a free market or free opportunity. so he raised a very important point about pharmacy benefit managers. >> host: wisconsin rapids, dawn on independent line. is that right? >> caller: yes.
>> host: go ahead. >> caller: senator dorgan, how are you doing? i am a big fan of yours. it's sad but true as i say, long story short, after 2008 elections, two corporate parties. and what i'm going to ask is the same thing i've asked my representatives, i'm sure you consider yourself, would you please -- its own by the corporations as the republicans are, president obama is involved. can you ever get anywhere and lets you start a second party in this country? >> guest: you know, i have my disappointed with my political party, as i'm sure almost everyone does. but it is a great political party. i am glad to be a democratic i'm a progressive fairly independent-minded. but when you look back at the
things that have made a big difference in a lot of ways in this country, basic rights, women's rights, civil rights, who is it that led the way? who was it that led the way to health care and senior citizens. there are so may things that are important. one final point. if you take a look at the last 12 presidencies, republican versus democratic administration, the rate of economic growth has always been higher under the democratic administrations. i think generally speaking is because the policies put in place allows and creates economic growth and create jobs. but this part is not perfect for sure. and i have my disappointment with it but i'm still proud to be a democrat. >> host: you are chairman of the democratic policy committee, a leadership position, the caucus, democratic caucus held an emergency meeting last night about expanding medicare. here's the headline this point in one of the papers. u.s.a. today. democrats may drop medicare by. can you give viewers the latest on what's going on?
>> guest: it was never in lebanon taken at. this is one of the circumstances where in recent days and weeks there are things back and forth kind of ricocheting like a ping-pong ball. but there's an effort here to try to get to the end of a process by which you have reform health care in a way that advances the country's interest that it is not over. we will see when it is over what we have, what do you come down on expanding medicare? >> guest: i think it is not the sort of thing you do just by suggesting it. if it's worthy of doing, and i don't know whether it is or not, you create an intellectual framework for it, studied economics, what's it mean me to current medicare. those who are curley on medicare, what will the cost be. i don't think that's what you can do in today's or two weeks. i think there's a much bigger issue than that. >> host: is the talk is now moving away from expanding medicare, what are democrats looking at to replace this, which was going to be an alternative to the public option? what's the latest? >> guest: we had a caucus about that last evening.
they're still a lot of work being done to try to eat either way what can be done to provide some competition in the insurance market. i come from a state in which one company write to 90 percent of the policies in my state. would it be better, i think would be better if there were more competition, robust competition among many companies offering people differentiation of policies and better prices. i think competition is always better. what can we do that promotes that additional competition? that's the question. >> host: bloomfield hills, michigan. good morning. >> caller: good morning, senator. >> guest: good morning. >> caller: i have a dedication to watch c-span practically everyday and i hear one of the democrats that i really approve of, i have had occasion to watch hearings where they talk about imported drugs from mexico and different places and the dangers of those importations. however, the thing that concerns me more about health care is the fact that we will spend the
billions of dollars going to war, and the congress and the senate will pass any amount of money. and we cannot afford health care for our country. it is absolutely appalling that you know, when david walker talked about the pentagon, and when he talked about their budget or they're what ever, cannot even be deciphered, i think that's a place that we need to start in this country. we spent entirely too much money on war and bombs at all those kinds of things. and neglect our own people. thank you very much for listing. thank you thank you. i have done 20 hearings as chairman of the policy committee on the subject of waste in the pentagon budget, particularly to contracting. as you know, in the wars in afghanistan and iraq, we're doing a lot of contracting with companies. and i think it is the greatest amount of waste, fraud and abuse in the history of this country. all of the hearings are on the
website, it just is unbelievable and make you angry when you see what has been done. and what i have been pushing for as you know, unsuccessfully so far, is the creation of what was previously the truman committee. the truman committee at the start of the second world war and through the second world war investigated abuses overspending and the pentagon. in this committee created about $15 billion in savings with a 15000-dollar original investment to start the select committee with subpoenas and so on. i think it's really important that we do that. >> host: the fda recently -- >> guest: i'm sorry to interrupt you. no one is adjusting that we reimported anything from mexico. this bill that i pushing, the mma i pushing, talks about reimportation all be from countries that have an identical chain of custody as we do, and it would establish greater safety for the domestic drug supply and reimportation because every drug would have to have a pedigree that you can trackback, batch lot numbers, treasures.
none of that exist under the existing drug supply. we're talking about repartition from canada, australia, new zealand, japan and the european countries only. >> host: the fda sent a letter to you and others saying that you're a minute raises safety concerns. in the "washington post" is what is as the white house is attempting to strike a balance expressing approval of the idea to allow drug imports while bowing to the fda's safety concerns. what are they looking at, what are they told you about some sort of copper mice? >> guest: the day before the letter came to the capital, they were unaware of a letter. what i said is it could've come from a copy machine somewhere years ago. the fda did the same thing that i think the letter was prompted by someone else to send to capitol hill to undermine the effort because they were worried that if my eminent passes, as i said, the thread on a cheap suit if he armfuls off when you pointed. they are worried that whatever deal somebody made with the pharmaceutical industry, will not stick if $100 billion is
taken out of pharmaceutical revenues the next 10 years. we're talking about revenues of over $3 trillion in the next 10 years. a portion of which is achieved by overpricing, overcharging the american people with prescription drug. i think it is an outrage and i think it ought to stop. >> host: is their compromise line which we talked about between you and the white house? >> guest: no, not at all. the letter -- and by the way, this same type of letter was sent when tommy thompson former governor of wisconsin was head of hhs, and he said with that letter, he said i can't possibly certify safety of the drug supply. but you couldn't certify the safety of the best drug supply with that letter. but after tommy thompson left office, he walked out of an elevator at the capitol one day and he said dorgan, let me to. you were right about reimportation. you were right about it but he couldn't say that while he was working for the previous president, but every white house has worked against the ability to provide reimportation of
prescription drugs, despite the fact that europe has allowed it for 20 years with no problem. this is the strength and the clout and the muscle of the pharmaceutical industry. my hope is perhaps the american people have some representation. >> live to the white house to hear from president obama after meeting with senate democrats. >> hello, everybody. we just had a very productive session about the final stages of health care reform in the senate. and from the discussions we had it is clear that we are on the precipice of an achievement that has eluded congresses and presidents for generations. and achievement that will touch the lives of nearly every american. there are still some differences that have to be worked on. this was not able call. this was a broad-based discussion about how we move forward, but whatever differences were made, there is broad consensus around reforms that will finally, number one, protect every american from the
worst practices in the health insurance industry. no longer will these companies be able to deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing illness or condition. no blogger will they be able to drop you from coverage when you get sick. no longer will you have to pay unlimited amounts out of your own pocket for the treatments that you need. we are all in agreement on those reforms. we agree on reforms that will finally reduce the cost of health care. families will save on their premiums, businesses that will see their costs rise if we do nothing will save money now and in the future. this plan will strengthen medicare and extend the life of that program. and because it gets rid of the waste and inefficiencies in our health care system, this will be the largest deficit reduction plan in over a decade. i just want to repeat this because there's so much misinformation about the causal issue. you talk to every health care economist out there, and they will tell you that whatever
ideas that whatever ideas exist in terms of bending the cost curve and start to reduce cost of families, businesses and government, those elements are in this bill. and in terms of deficits because we keep on hearing these ads about how this is going to add to the deficit, the cbo has said that this is a deficit reduction. not a deficit increase. so all the scare tactics out there, all the ads that are out there are simply inaccurate. some of the same people who cited the cbo when it was saying it didn't reduce the deficit, thanks to gil is the most credible, possible arbiter of whether or not this adds to our deficit now suddenly aren't going what the cbo says. finally, we agree on reforms that will make coverage affordable to 30 million americans who don't have it.
every day that goes by, another 14000 americans lose their health care coverage. a recent study shows that in the next decade half of all americans under the age of 65 will be without coverage at some point. on the other end of this reform passes, when it passes, for the very first time in their lives of these americans will be able to provide health insurance for their families and those americans who are already covered will no longer have to live in fear that their family might fall through the cracks of the system we have now. these are not small changes. these are big changes. they represent the most significant reform of our health care system since the passage of medicare. they will save money. they will save families money. they will save businesses money, and they will save government money. and they are going to save lives. that's why this reform is supported by groups like the aarp who represents most of
america's seniors. that's why this reform has to pass on our watch. let's be clear. the final bill will not include everything that everybody wants. no bill can do that. but what i told my former colleagues today is that we simply cannot allow differences over individual elements of this plan to prevent us from meeting our responsibility to solve a long-standing and urgent problem for the american people. they are waiting for us to act. they are counting on us to show leadership. and i don't intend to let them down, and neither do the people standing next to me. there's too much at stake for families who can't pay their medical bills or see a doctor when they need to, or get the treatment they need. the stakes are enormous for them. the stakes are enormous for businesses. who are already seeing their
premiums go up 15, 20, 30%. a lot of the critics of this entire process fail to note what happens if nothing gets done, and the american people acted be very clear about this. if we don't get this done, your premiums are guaranteed to go up. if this does not get done, more employers are going to drop coverage because they can't afford it. if this does not get done, it is guaranteed that medicare and medicaid will blow a hole through our budget. those things are guaranteed. that's the status quo. that is the trajectory that we are currently on. i don't intend to have that happen. i believe that the senate doesn't intend to have that happen. and i think any fair reading of this bill will indicate that all the criteria that i laid out
when i met before a joint session have now been met. it is deficit neutral, it bends the cost curve, it covers 30 million americans who don't have health insurance, and it has extraordinary insurance reforms in their that make sure that we are preventing abuse. by the way, it also does things that tom harkin has been a champing of four years. prevention and wellness to make sure that people are getting the care they need and the checkups they need and the screens they need, before they get sick. which will save all of us money and reduce pressures on emergency rooms all across the country. so, there are still disagreements that have to be ironed out. there is still work to be done in the next few days. i think it's important for every single member of the senate to take a careful look at what's in the bill.
we welcome the scrutiny from the press. recently, there was an article in "the new yorker" that talked about all the cost savings, and how important they are going to be in terms of bending the cost curve over the long-term. i am absolutely confident that if the american people know what's in this bill, and if the senate knows what's in this bill, that this is going to pass. because it's right for america. and i'm feeling cautiously optimistic that we can get this done, and start rolling up our sleeves and getting to work improving the lives of the american people. all right. thank you, everybody. >> president obama, democratic senate leadership on the senate health care bill. were going to take you live now to the senate.
they gaveled back in just a moment ago. senator from louisiana speaking on the dorgan amendment. live coverage now on c-span2. through giving them lower prescription prices or pharma and politics as usual in washington. make no mistake about it, mr. president, that is the choice. it couldn't be laid out in as clear a way. and to choose for the american people, to make real progress for lower prescription drug prices, we need to do not one, but two things. first, to pass the dorgan amendment. but, secondly, and just as importantly, to defeat the lautenberg amendment side by side, which would clearly by all acknowledged sources be a poison pill to reimportation, an easy way for the administration to ensure that reimportation never happens.
i urge all of my colleagues, democrats and republicans, to vote for lower prescription drug prices, to vote for the american people. and, certainly, to vote for them and against washington politics as usual, which people are so completely disgusted and fed up with. i urge that vote, mr. president. americans all around the country and all of our home states will remember it, will thank us for it. because we'll actually be solving a real problem with a real solution and bringing them significantly lower prescription drug prices. with that, mr. president, i yield my time.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho. a senator: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. crapo: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that two staffers from my office, rachel johnson and amanda critchfield
be granted floor privileges for the remainder of h.r. 3590. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. crapo: thank you, mr. president. i believe i have 20 minutes remaining, correct? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho has 17 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. crapo: i ask that the -- that i be notified when i have two minutes remaining. the presiding officer: the senator will be notified. mr. crapo: we will refer my bill to the finance committee and have it comply with the president's promise with regard to taxes. as i said a number of times on the floor, this bill does not correct so many of the problems that we need to deal with in health care. it drives up the cost of health care and premiums, not down. yet raises hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes. it cuts medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars. it grows the federal government by over $2.5 trillion in the
first 10 years of full implementation. it forces the needy, uninsured -- does not give them an access towards insurance, it forces them into a failing medicaid system. imposes a damaging, unfunding mandate on our struggling states. still leaves millions of americans uninsured. and establishes a massive government control over our health care. and even, frankly, if the so-called government option or the government health care insurance company created by the bill were to be removed, there would still be massive government instriewtion into the control and -- instriewtion into the control and management of our our health care system. as we were facing the prospect of dealing with this bill, the president made a pledge to the american people and in his terms the pledge was, "i can make a firm pledge no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase. not their income taxes.
not your payroll taxes. not your capital gain taxes. not any of your taxes. you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime." and, yet, what we have in this legislation is a whole array of new taxes. about $493 billion in new taxes to start with. and that's assuming that you just start with the beginning of the bill and go for the first 10 years. if you actually compare the number of taxes that will be charged by this bill to the american people with that first full 10-year implementation period, that's $1.28 trillion in new taxes. now, this chart shows taxes and fees, not just the specific taxes, but taxes and fees, fees which our congressional budget office and joint tax committee have said, repeatedly, will be passed on to the american consumer. and, yet, the president said that nobody's taxes will be increased.
let's see the next chart. we have further analysis of just four of the major tax provisions in the bill. and there are many more. but if you look at the four major tax provisions in the bill, the joint committee on taxation has said that "by 2019 at least 73 million american households earning belo below $200,000 will face a tax increase." when you break the numbers down further, it's not just the people making between $100,000 and $200,000, but massive tax increases falling upon people who are making well unde under $100,000 a year. now, the response has been well, wait a minute, this bill also has some tax cuts in it, and when you offset the tax cuts against the tax increases, there's more tax cuts than there are tax increases. i dispute that in a couple of ways. first of all, even if you accept the fact that there are tax cuts in this bill -- which is
arguable, and i'll point that out in a money -- they don't offset all the taxes and fees, so it's still a net increase in taxes. but there is a subsidy in this bill to provide insurance to a group of americans who do not have the financial capacity today to purchase their own insurance. as i mentioned earlier, the neediest of this group did not get access to insurance. they got put on medicaid. but some in america will get some access to insurance, and that subsidy will be provided by the federal government. and the other side is saying that that's a tax cut. well, i disagree with that for a couple of reasons. first of all, it's called in the bill a refundable tax credit, and it is administered by the internal revenue service, which, by the way, the internal revenue service is going to need to grow by 40% to 50% in order to
accommodate these new rolls in managing the health care system. but it's a refundable tax credit, and only -- in only the way that congress could put it together. it's nothing other than a government payment to individuals, most of whom may no taxes. in fact, between 2014-2019, 73% of the people receiving the subsidy, or $288 billion of the subsidy, goes to taxpayers who pay no taxes. now, you can call that a tax cut if you want, but c.b.o., our congressional budget office, doesn't call it a tax cut. the congressional budget office scores it as federal spending. that's exactly what it is, spending by the federal government. it's a subsidy being provided by the federal government. and you can argue about whether it should be provided or not, but to call it a tax cut is a stretch. well, even if you accept that
that is a tax cut, there are still 42 million american households earning below below $200,000 a year who will pay more taxes, and the bottom line here is no matter how you cut it and no matter how you define tax cut, the reality is that this bill imposes hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of new taxes cold airily on the middle class, in violation of the president's promise that nobody in america in order to fund this bill who makes less than $250,000 as a family or $200,000 as a individual would be required to pay more taxes. now, again, some of those who have responded to this have said that -- you know, this is our opportunity, and if we support this amendment, we will be killing a bill that provides tax relief to the american people.
again, as i have pointed out, the amendment does not do anything to the subsidy that is called a cut. the amendment leaves the subsidy in place, so it's simply wrong to say that the amendment -- or the motion that i have asked to have passed would do anything to remove this so-called tax relief or properly called subsidy from the bill. what my motion does is simply to say that the bill should be referred to the finance committee so the finance committee can make sure that it complies with the president's pledge that it does not raise taxes on those who are in what the president has described as the middle class. very simple and straightforward, and if there are no such taxes, then the motion is irrelevant, but we all know they are. joint tax, the congressional budget office, many private organizations have squarely pointed it out. in fact, we're still studying it, and if we get past the first four big taxes in the bill, these numbers that i've talked
about, the 42 million net or the 73 million in reality in america -- and those are households, not individuals -- who will be paying more taxes are squarely going to be hit by this bill. let me give you a different perspective on it. if you take all of those who are supposedly getting tax relief but are really getting a direct subsidy, except the fact that this is truly a tax cut, they represent 7% of the american public. the rest of the american public does not get a subsidy. the rest of the american public pays the taxes, for the establishment of a huge huge $2.5 trillion new entitlement program that will bring that much more of the federal government into control of the health care economy. we are just coming back now from a two and a half-hour break because the democrats were over
at the white house meeting with the president. we don't know what was said there. there was apparently the negotiation behind closed doors yet once again of some other new changes to the legislation, some other new portions of the bill. no c-span cameras were there, to my knowledge, but we now have an opportunity to talk about what will happen in the next few hours with regard to this amendment. the president could have asked his -- his friends in the democratic caucus to support this amendment which simply requires that the bill comply with his pledge. i hope that he did and i hope it can be accepted, but the true reality here is that this legislation violates not only this pledge but a number of the president's other pledges. for example, the pledge that if you like what you have, you can keep it. americans all over this country have heard that pledge repeated a number of times.
well, if you're one of the employees who has employer-provided insurance and that insurance happens to fit in the so-called higher cost insurance packages that are taxed 45% by this plan, you're not going to keep it. both c.b.o. and joint tax have made it very clear that you are going to see your health care cut by your employer in order to avoid this tax. and then what's going to happen is your employer might -- probably will give you a little bit more wages to compensate for the cut in your employment benefits. your net package of compensation won't change in value, but you will get a little more of it in wages and less of it in health care, but the kicker is that the wage portion is taxed and the health care portion is not so your taxes are going to go up, and your net compensation package is going to go down. you're going to have a less robust health care plan and you're going to have a lower overall compensation package.
now, does that comply with the president's promise that if you like what you have, you can keep it? or what about the millions, the 11 million americans, i believe it is, who have medicare advantage policies today who clearly are going to lose about half of their extra medicare advantage benefits under the medicare cuts in the bill. if they like what they have, can they keep it? no. so, mr. president, what i am asking here is simply that the senate vote to require that the president's pledge in this one case be honored. namely, let's send the bill to the finance committee, it can be turned around in the finance committee overnight, take out the provisions that impose taxes on people in america earning less than $250,000 as a family or $200,000 as an individual and bring it back to the floor. now, you will hear it said that this is a killing amendment, that it will kill the bill. it won't kill the bill unless
it's necessary in the bill to tax americans to the tune of the hundreds of billions of dollars that are included in this bill. what it will do is expose that this bill cannot be claimed to be deficit neutral or to even reduce the deficit unless three things happen -- the medicare cuts of hundreds of billions of dollars are imposed, the tax increases of hundreds of billions of dollars are imposed, and the budget gimmicks are implemented. let me tell you about the most significant of those budget gimmicks. in order to make it so they could say that this bill doesn't increase taxes -- or doesn't increase the deficit, the crafters of the bill have had the taxes go into effect on day one, the medicare cuts go into effect on day one, but the subsidy program or the spending part of the bill is delayed for four years. so we have ten years of revenue
and six years of spending. and i personally think that the way they pick 2014 to be the year in which they implement the spending part of the bill is they just said how many years do we have to delay the spending impact until we can claim that there is a deficit-neutral bill? turned out they had to delay it for four years out of the ten. if it took five, they would have delayed it five years. now, that's a budget gimmick. the reality is we all know that if you had the spending go into place on day one and the taxes go into place on day one and the medicare cuts go into place on day one and took the gimmicks out, that this bill would generate a deficit. another promise that the president pledged not to do. there are so many problems with this bill, but most importantly today as we will have an opportunity around 6:00 is to vote to at least have the bill
comply with the president's pledge. and, mr. president, i would ask how much time remains? the presiding officer: the senator from idaho has three minutes remaining. mr. crapo: mr. president, i would like to reserve the balance of my time and i will hold that until later in the day. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. ms. cantwell: i would ask for three minutes out of senator baucus' time to make a statement. the presiding officer: the senator recognized. -- the senator is recognized. ms. cantwell: i know we're in the middle of a health care debate and we'll be talking about that for several days, but i rise today to congratulate the people of washington state and the country on the 77 dreamliner flight that took over from payne field, everett, washington, just a few days ago. some people might think of that as going to youtube and looking
at the video and thinking a plane took off and what's the significance. well, i can tell you, mr. president, it's great significance, not just for the state of washington but for the country, because this plane is a unique plane, it's a game changer as far as the market is concerned, but it is american innovation at its best. this plane, built now with 50% composite materials, is going to be a 20% more fuel-efficient plane. that is significant for our country. it's significant because it means that the united states can still be a leader in manufacturing and it can still deal with something as complex as fuel efficiency in aviation. but what's prideful for us as americans is that this is about american innovation at its best. what would bill boeing say about today? he would say that we achieved another milestone, where we face international competition, but yet the united states can still be a manufacturer.
we can still build a product, still compete, and still win because we are innovating with aviation. so to the thousands of workers in the boeing company and in puget sound, i say congratulations for your hard work, for the planning and implementation of taking manufacturing from aerospace with aluminum that had been the status quo now for decades to developing an entirely new plane, 50% with the new material. i want the united states to continue to be a manufacturer, to still build product, to still say that we can compete, so i applaud the name dreamliner. somebody in that company had a dream, and today it got launched when it took off on that runway, and i want to say that that is the innovative spirit that has made this country great, and that is the innovative spirit we need to invest in. i change the president and i yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president?
the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i wanted to make a point, and i know my colleague from arizona wishes to engage in a brief colloquy on this point. the amendment that we are offering, a bipartisan amendment dealing with the price of prescription drugs is a very important amendment. we're going to get our vote on that, but then there is also going to be a vote on an amendment that nullifies it, the poison pill amendment, nullifies it. says you pass the second amendment, it means nothing happens and prescription drug prices keep going through the roof. i just wanted to say quickly that there have been very few bipartisan amendments on the floor of the united states senate during this health care debate. that's regrettable. this, in fact, is bipartisan. a wide range of 30 senators, including republicans, john mccain, chuck grassley, olympia snowe and so on, support this effort and the effort is simple. trying to put the brakes on prescription drug prices by giving the american people freedom and the ability to find competition among drug prices where they are sold in other
parts of the world for a fraction of what we are charged as american consumers. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: i ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with the senator from north dakota. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mccain: i think that it's important for us to recognize what the dorgan amendment is all about. it's about an estimated -- according to the congressional budget office -- we love to quote the congressional budget office around here -- here -- $100 billion or more in consumer savings. that's what the dorgan amendment does. and it cuts the cost of the bill, of the legislation before us as much as $19.4 billion over ten years. so here we're always talking about bending the cost curve, saving the money particularly for our seniors, who use more prescription drugs than younger americans, and yet there's opposition.
and so i'd like to ask my colleague from north dakota, one, how long has he been fighting this issue. and, two, what -- why in the world do we think that anybody would be opposed to an amendment that would save $100 billion to the consumers of america. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i would say to my colleague from arizona, we've been working on this for ten years. ten years, myself, the senator from arizona and others. he knows because he was chairman of the commerce committee, we held hearings on this in the committee. now, the fact is, we have gotten votes on it before. in each case, the pharmaceutical industry, that has a lot of muscle around here, has prevailed on those votes with an amendment that is a poison pill amendment saying somebody has to is certify with respect to no additional safety risk and so on. these safety issues are completely bogus, absolutely bogus. they have done in europe for 20 years what we're proposing to do in this country, parallel trading between countries, with no issues at all. and what we're trying to do, as
the senator from arizona has indicated, is save the american people $100 billion in the next ten years because we are charged the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and there is no justification for it. i want to just show the senator from arizona one chart and this is just representative. nexium, if you happen to take some nexium, you need nexium? well, for the same quantity, you pay $424 in the united states. if you were in spain, you'd pay $36; france, $67; spain -- great britain, $41; germany, $37. why is it the american consumer has the privilege of paying ten times the cost for exactly the same drug? same drug put in the same bottle, made by the same company, made in the same plant. justify that. mr. mccain: could i also ask my friend, has he seen this chart? this chart? this chart shows that the pharmaceutical companies in america have increased wholesale drug costs, which it doesn't
reflect the retail drug cost, by some 8.7% increase just this year while the consumer price index, this little line here, inflation, has been minus 1.3%. now, how in the world do you justify doing that? then these are lists of the -- of the monthly -- of the increases over a year in costs of some of the most popular or much-needed prescription drugs. so why would pharmaceutical companies raise costs by some 9% unless they were anticipating some kind of deal that they went into. and i've -- i don't want to embarrass the senator from north dakota, but it isn't true when the president of the united states was a member of this body, he cosponsored this amendment? mr. dorgan: mr. president, that is the case, the president was a cosponsor of this legislation when he served here last year. i do want to say as well, when
he talked about nexium, just as an example, the american consumer gets to pay ten times the cost. nexium is for acid reflux, probably a condition that will exist with some after this vote, because my understanding is after seven days on the floor of the senate, there's now an arrangement by which the pharmaceutical industry will probably have sufficient votes to beat us. once again. which means the american people losement but i also want to make this point. anyone who stands up and cites safety and reads the stuff that could come right out of a copying machine for ten years, understand this. dr. peter roascht, former vice president of marketing for pfizer and formerly worked on europe in the parallel trading system says this -- quote -- "the biggest argument against reimportation of prescription drugs is safety. what everyone has recently forgotten to tell you is that in europe, reimportation of drugs has been in place for 20 years." it is an insult, in my judgment, to the american people to say, oh, you can make this work in
europe for the benefit of the consumer to get lower prices, but the americans don't have the capability to make this happen, don't have the capability to manage it. that is absurd, and i think the safety issue is unbelievably bogus. mr. mccain: and -- and -- i might ask my friend from north dakota again, haven't we seen this movie before? the movie i'm talking about is that have we have an amendment or legislation pending before the body or in committee that will allow for drug reimportation, as you just point out from that previous chart, in the totally safe manner and then there is always, thanks to the pharmaceutical lobbyist, of which i believe there are 535 pharmaceutical lobbyists -- a lobbyist and a half for every member of congress -- that an amendment passes that then basically prohibits the reimportation of drugs.
haven't we seen this movie before? and apparent nowl that another deal was made so that they're now going to have sufficient votes to, again, cost the consumers of america $100 billion now in costs for the pharmaceutical drugs. and their representatives are here on the floor ready to tout the virtues of an amendment which, as we all know, is a killer amendment. let's have no doubt about that. mr. dorgan bil:mr.mr. dorgan: me senator is right that this is groundhogs day. it's 6:00 and the clock strikes 6:00 and the pharmaceutical industry wins. wwe've been doing it for ten years -- we just repeat the day over and over again. my hope is that we won't have to repeat it today. my hope is that after a lot of work on a bipartisan piece of legislation, the american people will have sufficient support here on the floor of the united states senate to say it is not fair for us to be paying double
and triple and ten times the cost that others in the world are paying. now, mr. president, i wonder if we might be able to yield some time to the senator from arizona five minutes by consent. unless the senator from arizona wishes to conclude. mr. mccain: my only conclusion is what we are seeing here is really what, i would ask my friend from north dakota, what contributes to the enormous cynicism in the american -- on the part of the american people about the way we do business here. this is a pretty clear-cut issue. as the senator from north dakota pointed out, it's been around for ten years. ten years we've been trying to hensure that consumers of ameria would be able to get at a lower cost many times lifesaving prescription drugs, and the power of the special interests, the power of the lobbyists, the power of campaign contributions
are now being manifested in the passage of a killer amendment which will then prohibit -- there's no objective observer who will attest to any other fact than the passage of the follow-on amendment, the side-by-side amendment, will probably the reimportation of prescription drugs into this country, which we all know is can be done in a safe fashion and could save americans who are hurting so badly a hundred billion dollars a year or more and cut the cost of the legislation before us by $19.4 billion. and to scare people to say that these drugs that are being reimported are not done in a safe and -- a manner that will ensure that the american people health is not endangered is, of course, an old saw that -- and
an old movie that we have seen before. it's regrettable. it's really regrettable that the special interests again prevail and the power of the pharmaceutical lobby. but i also want to say finally, i -- there are many traits that the senator from north dakota has that i admire. one of them is his tenacity. and i want to assure him that he and i rntle that , that i will s side as we go back and back and back again on this issue until justice and fairness is done and we defeat the special interests of the pharmaceutical industry which have tape over the white house and -- taken over the white house and will take thoafer vote thathisvote that w0 of the it is not one of the mostal micial chapters in the history of the united states senate or the united states -- most admiral chapters in the history of the united states senate or the united states government. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i was going to yield five minutes to the senator from iowa, but if
there's someone who wants to go -- is the senator from lautenberg seeking recognition? if not, i would ask the senator from iowa be recognized -- if so, i would ask the senator from iowa be recognized following the senator for five minutes. i recognize the senator from iowa for five minutes. mr. grassley: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. 34 grassley: we have two key votes this afternoon on drug reimportation. mr. grassley: these votes mean that today is the day that we can show the american people whether we can really pass drug reimportation or whether the senate will give it lip service and nothing else. now, we have heard here on the floor the concerns that some have about drug importation and whether or not it can be safe. everyone who knows me knows that i care deeply about drug safety.
the fact of the matter is that the unsafe situation is what we have today. today, consumers are ordering drugs over the internet from who knows where and the f.d.a. does not know -- does not have the resources, in fact, to do much about anything about it. the fact is that legislation to legalize importation would not only help to lower the cost of prescription drugs for all americans but also should shut down the unregulated importation of drugs from foreign pharmacies that we have -- the situation we have today. the dorgan amendment, in fact, would improve drug safety, not threaten it, and it would open up trade to lower-cost drugs. in 2004, my staff was briefed by the investigation that the
permanent subcommittee on investigations of the senate governmental affairs committee conducted. that subcommittee conducted this investigation into what we would call going on right now, current drug importation. they found about 40,000 parcels containing prescription drugs come through j.f.k. mail facility every single day of the year. 40,000 packages each day. now, the j.f.k. airport houses the largest international mail branch in the united states, but even then, that is the tip of the iceberg. according to this subcommittee, each day, 30,000 packages of drugs enter the u.s. through miami. 20 thousand enter through chicago. so that's another 50,000 more -- 20,000 enter through chicago. so that's another 50,000 more pabbages that enter the u.s. -- packages that enter the u.s.
each day. and what's worse, about 20% of the drugs coming in are controlled substances. so we have a situation where we need the basic approach in this amendment to ensuring that imported drugs are safe. and that's what the dorgan amendment is all about, to give f.d.a. the ability to verify the drug pedigree back to the manufacturer, to require f.d.a. to inspect frequently and to require fees to give the f.d.a. the resources to do that. so the bomb tom line is the dorgan amendment gives the in f.d.a. the authority and the resources it needs to implement drug safety from court importation of drugs. and certainly the president knows that a great way to hold drug companies accountable is to allow safe, legal drug importation, because i would
like to quote this president not when he was a ca candidate for president but a candidate for the senate. this is what president obama said then -- quote -- "i urge my opponent to stop siding with the drug manufacturers and put aside his opposition to the reimportation of lower-priced prescription drugs. and now we're hearing about the secret deal with big pharma, that that was revised just this week to solidify support with pharma's allies for killing this very important dorgan amendment. the drug companies will do nothing. they will do anythin nothing toe united states -- or they'll stop at nothing to keep united states closed to other markets in order to charge hirer prices. -- charge higher prices. so with the dorgan amendment, we're working to get the job
done. what we need is to make sure americans have even greater, more affordable access to drugs by further opening the doors to commission in the global pharmaceutical industry. mr. president, americans are waiting. too often this thing has been stymied. it looks like there's another chance to stymie it. although i'm surprised. most of the times in the past that i've been for the importation of drugs, it was my colleagues over here that were trying to stymie it. but now it looks like on the other side. the presiding officer: the senator has used his five minutes. mr. grassley: i'd be surprised if we didn't have a vast grouter this amendment. it would be a crime if we didn't. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: i offer time to my colleague from new jersey, senator menendez, up to 10 or -- up to 11 minutes.
mr. menendez: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. menendez: mr. president, i appreciate my distinguished senior colleague from new jersey yielding time. i know he's going to call up his amendment shortly. that's what i want to speak to. before i do, i ask unanimous consent that megan morrow, be given floor privilegesdure the ermder of the debate on the health care reform legislation. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: before i get to the core of my remarks, i want to tell my colleague who left the floor, you know, i was tempted to rise under rule 19 that says that "no senator in debate shall directly or indirectly by any form of words impugn to another senator or other senators any conduct unworthy of becoming a senator." you know, i could impute, if i wanted to i guess, that maybe there are some who really don't care about this amendment as much as they care about killing health care reform. but i wouldn't do that. i wouldn't done doe that. so i hope in the context of the debate rkt i'll not forced to
rise under rule 19. mr. president, i rise in favor of the amendment of senator lautenberg, who is going to offer it shortly, because it does two things that underscore the gwire debate about health care reform. it protects the american people by putting the safety of families first, and there's a lot of brushing aside of safety here. safety is paramount. safety is paramount, and it lowers costs. and of course that's what this health care debate is all about. now, i appreciate the intentions of the amendment that has been offered today on the floor. but in my view, it is regressivive. it hearkens back to a time when the lack of sufficient drug regulation allowed people to sell snake oil and magic elicks irrelevance that promised everything and did nothing. to allow the importation of untested, unregulated drugs made from untested and unregulated ingredients from 32 countries into the medicine cabinets of
american families, without serious safety precautions, flies in the face of protecting the american people. and it's contrary to the context of health care reform. the amendment by senator lautenberg brings us around to the real purpose why we've been here on the floor, which is to create the type of reform that ultimately i gives greater healh insurance and greatest safety to the american people. they care about honest, real reform that makes health care affordable and protects american people, protects them from the potential of counterfeit drugs that promise to cure but do absolutely nothing. just as we are here to protect them from insurance policies that promise to provide health care for a premium and then deny coverage and provide no health care at all. mr. president, basically what senator haute lawsuit's amendment is going to do is it modify's the dorgan amendment to allow reimportation but to do it when basic safety concerns to
keep our prescription medications safe are complied with. it includes the dorgan importation amendment but adds one fundamental element of broader health care reform: it protects the american people from those who would game the system for profits at the expense of health and safety of american families. that's what this reform is all about. specifically, when it comes to the importation of prescription medication, this amendment will help us be sure that what we think we're buying in the bottle is in fact what is in tha bottl. you know, i want to take this letter -- talk about a lot of safety and a lot of pooh-poohing, oh, there's no safety concerns. there is one entity in this country dhas responsible for safety when it comes to food and drugs it's called the f.d.a., the food and drug administration. in a letter from the f.d.a. commissioner, hamburg, she
mentioned risks that must be addressed. first, she's concerned that some imported drugs may not be safe and effective because they were not subject to a rigorous regulatory review prior to approval. second, that the drugs may not be a consistently made, high-quality product because they were not manufactured in a facility that comply with appropriate good manufacturing products. third -- procedures, i should say. third, the drugs may not be substitutable with the f.d.a.-approved products because of differences in composition or manufacturing. and, fowrnl, the drugs simply may not be what they purport to be because inadequate safeguards in the supply chain may have allowed contamination or, works counterfeit. and it addresses f.d.a. commissioner hamburg's statement of the amendment of my colleague from north dakota. and i quote -- "there are significant safety concerns relating to allowing the
importation of nonbioequivalent products and safety issues" -- safety issues -- "related to distribution and labeling of foreign products and the domestic product that remaining to fully addressed in the amendment." senator lautenberg's amendment addresses this concern. it allows importation, but it protects the american people by requiring that before any drug is imported to the united states, it must be certified to be safe and to reduce costs. so it does what the f.d.a. commissioner is talking about here. the agency responsible for protecting the american people. people may want to just not believe it, they may want to ignore it. but the fact is, this is the entity responsible in this country to protect the food supply and the drug supply. we want to be as certain as we possibly can of the conditions under which imported drugs are manufactured, that they are safe to use, and we know where their
ingredients originated before they are imported. we want to be absolutely certain that patients are getting prescription medications that are the same in substance, quality, and quantity that their doctor has prescribed. this amendment requires the secretary of health and human services to certify that all imported drugs are safe and will reduce costs before they're allowed into america's medicine cabinets. and, you know, i've heard a lot about the european union here. well, let's look at what the european union is now saying. they're constantly being offered on the floor for the reason why in fact we should follow what the european union is saying. well, let's see what happens if we allow unregulated importati importation. let's look at the european union. last week the european union commissioner in charge of this issue said, and i quote, "the number of counterfeit medicines arriving in europe is constantly
growing." "the european commission is extremely worried." in just two months, the european union sees 43 million -- million, hear me -- tak -- fake. i don't want american families to see these fears come to life here, and i'm -- i believe that if we do not pass the lautenberg amendment and were to pass the dorgan amendment that we would open the floodgates. the european union's experience all proves my scerns, not alleviates them, like the other side would suggest. you know, here's the problem. a $75 counterfeit cancer drug that contains half of the dosage that the doctor told you you needed to combat your disease doesn't save americans money and
certainly isn't worth the price in terms of dollars or risk to life. let us not now open our national borders to insufficiently regulated drugs from around the world. it seems to me that real health reform, particularly for our seniors and those who are qualified under the medicare program that receive their prescription coverage under that, by filling the doughnut hole in its entirety, which we have declared we will do in the conference, as we are permitted to, that provides for the coverage for prescription drugs that aarp talks about on barf of its millions of members. and that's what we want to see, not by unregulated reimportation. mr. president, we should have no illusions. keeping our drug supply safe in a global economy in which we cannot affect the motives and willingness of others to game the system for greed and profit will be a monumental but essential task.
it would require a global reach, extraordinary vigilance to institute the highest standards in other parts of the world that have minimal standards now so we don't have to ask which drug is real and which is counterfeit. let me show some of those. people say, oh, no, this safety issue isn't really the case. tam i flew. we saw a rush when the h1n1 flu arrived. there's actually one ariewfd and one that's counterfeit. but the average person wouldn't know the difference t or if it is aricept, a drug to slow the progression of alzheimer's disease. which one is the real one and which one is the counterfeit one? if i didn't tell from you the labels, you probably wouldn't know, but there is an approved one and a counterfeit one. and let me tell you, as someone who lost his mother to alzheimer's, i can tell you that having the wrong drug in the
wrong dosage would not have helped her slow the progression of her illness. it makes a difference. let's look at others. lipitor -- very important. you're walking around with a real problem with cholesterol and ultimately you find yourself -- you think you're taking the appropriate dosage and the appropriate drug. which one is the real one? which is the counterfeit one? there is a counterfeit one and there's an approved one, a real one. but if you're taking the counterfeit one and you think you're meeting your challenges and you might have a heart attack as a result of not having the real one. by the time you figure it out, it could be too late to reverse the damage. that's the problem. that's the global economy opening up possibilities at the end of the day. does the gentleman have an additional minute? mr. lautenberg: i yield an additional minute. mr. menendez: finally, this is
a gamble we cannot afford to take. to open up the potential for these drugs or ingredients used in these drugs to find their way from nation to nation, from southeast asia where the problem is epidemic, to one of 32 nations listed into this amendment into the homes of american families. that's a gamble we cannot take. that is not about protecting our citizens. that is not about providing prescription drugs that ultimately meet the challenge of a person's illness. filling the doughnut hole totally, which is what we're going to do, is the way to achieve it. so, i do hope that that's what we'll dovment i do hope that we will adopt senator lautenberg's amendment and defeat the dorgan amendment, for i fear for the safety of our citizens and, i fear, as to whether or not we can ultimately achieve filling that doughnut hole, if this amendment ultimately gets adopted. and i fear what that means for health care reform at the end of
the day. with that, i yield back the balance of my time and thank the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator new jersey. mr. lautenberg: i call up amendment 3956 at the desk and ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator new jersey, mr. lautenberg, for him caisson others, proposes an amendment numbered 3556 to amendment 2786. mr. lautenberg: scwi that the further reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lautenberg: mr. president, i rise today because one thing we have to do as the progress with this health care reform bill is to make sure that prescription medicine in our country is safe and affordable, and i thank my colleague from new jersey for his excellent review of the conditions that cause us to add this amendment.
to senator dorgan's amendment. that would allow potentially unsafe prescription drugs to be shipped across our borders and directly into the medicine cabinets of homes throughout america. now, i want to be clear, the effect of this plan, as the senator -- that senator dorgan has introduced could be catastrophic. that's why president obama's administration has written to the congress expressing its serious concerns with the dorgan amendment. now, i appreciate the effort to try and lower prescription drug prices. after all, that's what we're doing about the whole health reform reru review is is to tryo get prices reduced so everyone
can have safe and affordable health care. we want to make sure that people don't harm their health with any shortcuts. we all want americans to stay healthy and still have some money left in their pockets. but as much as we want to cut costs for consumers, we cannot afford to cut corners and risk exposing americans to drugs that are ineffective or unsafe. the fact is that this is a matter of life or death. the european commission just discovered that counterfeit drugs in europe are worse than they feared. in just two months -- and i know that senator menendez made reference to this as well -- the e.u. seized 34 million fake tablets, including antibiotics, and cancer treatments.
as the commissioner of the e.u. said, every fake drug is a potential massacre. even when a medicine only contains an ineffective substance, this can lead to people dying because they think they are fighting their illnesses with a real drug. americans buy meds to lower their encloses -- buy medicine to lower their cholesterol, fight cancer and prevent heart stkaoefplts imagine what would happen to a mother or a child if they start relying on medicine imported from another country only to find out years later that the drug was a fake. imagine the heartbreak that might ensue if the medicine americans were taking was found to be harmful. the fact is drugs from other countries have dangerously high counterfeit rates, and importation could expose americans to those drugs. under the dorgan arpblgsd drugs could be imported from the former soviet union countries where the world health
organization estimates that over 20% of the drugs are counterfeit. under the dorgan amendment, drugs that originated in china could find their way into our homes, and we know that china has been the source of many dangerous projects -- products in recent years from toys laced with lead to toothpaste made with antifreeze. if we're going to trust drugs from other countries, we need to be absolutely certain that we're not putting americans' lives at risk. and that's why the food and drug administration went on record to express its concerns with the dorgan amendment. it says, "there are significant safety concerns related to allowing the importation of nonbioequivalent products, and safety issues related to confusion and distribution and labeling of foreign products and domestic products that remain to be fully addressed in the amendment." that's from the f.d.a.
commissioner, margaret hamburg. now, there are problems that associate with the possibility of drugs coming to this country that are way different that that which is expected to be used in the treatment of sickness. when president obama's f.d.a. commissioner wrote, she also said that importing drugs presents risks to patients because the drug may not be safe and effective, may not have been made in a facility with good manufacturing practices and may not be the drug it claims to be. and i ask unanimous consent that the letter from the f.d.a. be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lautenberg: in light of the serious concerns raised by the obama administration, i am offering an amendment to require that the department of health
and human services certify that the drugs are safe and will reduce costs before they're imported. my amendment is commonsense bipartisan alternative to the dorgan amendment. in fact, it is the same exact language as the dorgan importation amendment, but with certification requirement that is so important to ensure safety. mr. president, if we're going to allow the importation of drugs from other countries, we've got to be certain that they are safe and affordable. and i, with this amendment, would be able -- would be a supporter of the dorgan amendment. only certification by health experts will provide that assurance. i urge my colleagues to support the amendment, my amendment and
oppose the dorgan amendment. mr. president, we have no way of knowing what the working conditions might be like in a plant or a facility or the sanitary conditions in other countries, or whether in the process of packing and shipping that temperatures might be -- might not be appropriate for the product without its deterioration. so, thusly, again, i stress bring in what you want just to make sure it's safe for the people. there is no moment in the discussion that we've had about the health care reform bill that says that, look, you can save money by taking a chance on a shortcut here or a shortcut there. absolutely not, we wouldn't think of proposing anything like that. and we ought not to be proposing it here now. and i ask, mr. president, that
we yield five minutes to my colleague from north carolina. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hagan: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to speak about drug re-importation. with millions of seniors balancing drug regimens that entail taking several medicines per day on a fixed income, i believe we need to find a way to ensure they have access to affordable drugs. if we could reduce the cost of drugs with re-importation and guarantee the safety of those drugs, i would be very supportive. however, i have serious doubts that we can adequately ensure the safety of our drug supply with drug re-importation amendment proposed by my colleague from north dakota. even without re-importation, the u.s. has had trouble with counterfeit drugs. at the height of the h1n1 epidemic this fall, the f.d.a. was warning consumers to be wary of counterfeit h1n1 treatments.
these counterfeits came from foreign online pharmacies. in one instance the f.d.a. seized so-called kpupb kpupb treatment tablet from india and found them to contain talc and as seat met fin. -- acetomophin. the suns discovered about 800 alleged packages of tpa*eul fake or prescription drugs including viagra and claritin and shut down 68 alleged rogue online pharmacies. counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs are appearing on the market at alarming rates. in 2007 drugs comprised 6% of the total counterfeit products seized. in one year they've now jumped to 10% of all counterfeit product seizures. this growing problem is all about unscrupulous criminals
preying on the sick and the elderly who are in desperate need of cheaper drugs. but the consequences are harmful and in some cases deadly. officials estimate that some of these counterfeit drugs contained either a dangerous amount of active ingredients or were placebos. some counterfeits include toxic chemicals such as dry wall material, antifreeze and even yellow highway paint. according to a recent "washington post" article, tracing the origins of drugs such as cyalis and viagra took investigators across the globe and back again. supposedly these drugsame from a warehouse in new delhi through the online company selling the drugs headquartered in canada with a license to sell medicine in minnesota. however, when federal officials investigated the drugs' origins further, they actually found that the online web site was registered in china. its server was hosted in russia
and its headquarters had previously been listed in louisiana and on a local level here near our capitol, the "baltimore sun" yesterday reported on the death of the university of maryland pharmacologist cary john. she suffered an allergic reaction to a legal drug in the u.s. but purchased illegally from the philippines. apparently the counterfeit drug so closely resembled the legal version that two pharmacologists conducting the analysis after ms. johns' death could not tell the difference. local police have yet to identify the contents of the counterfeit drug. a few of my colleagues have already mentioned the letter sent last week by f.d.a. commissioner margaret hamburg outlining the safety concerns that the f.d.a. has about re-importation. specifically, the f.d.a. stated that importing non-f.d.a.-approved prescription drugs posed four potential risks to patients. let me go over those four risks.
the first, the drug may not be safe and effective because it did not undergo the rigorous f.d.a. regulatory review process. number two, the drug may not be consistently made high-quality product because the facility in which it was manufactured was not reviewed by the f.d.a. third, the drug may not be substitutable with the f.d.a.-approved product because of differences in composition or manufacturing. and, fourth, the drug could be contaminated or counterfeit as a result of inadequate safeguards in the supply chain. if the agency that oversees drug safety is saying it would have difficulty guaranteeing the safety of our nation's drug supply with preimportation, i have grave concerns, particularly since the f.d.a. is already underfunded and understaffed. but let's take a moment to examine how europe, which does allow re-importation, has fared
in terms of safety. british authorities say counterfeit drugs often exchange hands between pheuplgd men and are repackaged multiple times before reaching a legitimate hospital or pharmacist. this creates opportunities for counterfeit products often produced in china and shipped to the middle east to penetrate the european market. in 2008, british authorities identified 40,000 doses of counterfeit kasodex. the presiding officer: the senator has used five minutes. mrs. hagan: mr. president, i would like to ask for about three more minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. hagan: thank you. in 2008 the british authorities identified 40,000 doses of counterfeit caseodex, a hormone treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer. the european union seized 34 million fake tablets at custom points in all member countries. in other countries around the
world the world health organization estimates that up to 30% of the medicines on sale may be counterfeit. as a result, numerous people have died. earlier this year 80 infants in nigeria died from teething medicine that contained a toxic coolant. and in bangladesh some died from a poisonous syrup. the dorgan amendment does not require imported drugs to be f.d.a.-approved or meet the f.d.a. misbranding standards. furthermore, it does not prevent criminals in other countries prosecute repackaging imported drugs. although our safety system is not perfect, we have a thorough f.d.a. review system for drug safety that actively involves physicians, pharmacists and patients. as a result, americans can be generally confident that our medications are safe and contain the ingredients on the bottle. mr. president, supporters of re-importation argue that the sick and elderly need an
alternative way to obtain affordable drugs. however, a study by the london school of economics found that in the european union middle men reaped most of the products witt requires the savings to be passed on to the consumer, leaving the door wide open for unscrupulous, profit-seeking third parties to get into the reapportion gain. in the u.s. we're already trying to reduce the cost of prescription drugs through the use of generics. this is one of the most effective ways for customers to reap savings and the generic dispensing rate at retail pharmacies is close to 65%. the f.d.a. is working with stakeholders to develop drug re-importation policy. with the f.d.a. looking into this and significant outstanding safety concerns, i cannot in good conscience support the amendment offered by my colleague from north dakota. instead, i will support the
amendment by my colleague from new jersey. the lautenberg amendment will allow the importation of drugs only if the secretary of hepblgt and human services certifies that doing so would save money for americans and would not adversely affect the safety of our drug supply. it is critical that all americans, especially our nation's seniors, have access to affordable drugs. it's imperative that we not compromise the safety of u.s. drugs on the market. after all, what are good cheap drugs if they are toxic or ineffective? thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: yes, mr. president. i believe that my colleague from north dakota intends to make further remarks. how much time do we have on our side, please?
the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey controls 13 minutes. mr. lautenberg: 13 minutes. mr. president, if senator dorgan is here and we're trying to accommodate a colleague who wants to speak on this -- but how much time is left on the dorgan side of the issue? the presiding officer: 28 minutes. mr. lautenberg: 28 minutes. mr. president, we heard about what has happened -- happening in the e.u. having to do with the question of whether or not drugs are counterfeited and the serious consequence of having people take a medication that is not what it's supposed to be and
the consequences of something like that, especially interfaced -- as it interfaces with other products. now in -- there was a news report last week that was printed in the yahoo news system and they -- they quote the commissioner of the european -- the program that -- in europe controls are at least attempts to see that the european union has a -- issues a concern about the situation that they see there and the commissioner, mr. berhagan, said that he expected the u.e. -- the e.u.,
rather, to take action to fight the menace of fake pharmaceuticals. and he said that he thought the e.u. would agree in 2010 that a drug's journey from manufacture to sale should be scrutinized carefully and that there will be special markings on the packages. there is a lot of concern about this, mr. president. and we ought not to dash willy-nilly through here without understanding what the consequences of fake medication might be. i want to see our people pay as little as they can to get the medicines that -- that they need and part of that is -- has to include a safety factor. and, as i said earlier, we would not suggest anything in the health reform bill that would say -- take the shortcut and --
and disregard safety. i have a letter that was sent from the department of health and human services, which i quoted a little bit ago. but we say that the letter is being sent on amendment filed by senator dorgan and the administration supports the program, which i agree to buy safe and effective drugs from other countries and include included $5 million in our 2010 budget. now they go on to say, and this is from mr. hamburg, the commissioner of food and drugs, approving nonf.d.a. prescription drugs presents four potential risks to patients that must be addressed. the drug may not be safe and
effective because it was not subject to rigorous regulatory review or that the drug may not be consistently made high-quality product because it was not manufactured in a facility that complies with good, appropriate manufacturing practices. ored, thirdly, the drug may not be substitutable with the f.d.a. product because of composition or manufacturing. the drug may not be what it purports to be because it has been contaminated or is a counterfeit due to inadequate safeguards in the supply chain. i ask unanimous consent that the letter sent to senator tom carper, from the department of health and human services. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lautenberg: mr. president, we're -- i now will call for a -- a quorum call and ask unanimous consent that it be
charged equally to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection. is there objection? the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: you can't do that. there's 8 1/2 minutes left on -- mr. lautenberg: that's considerably more -- mr. grassley: we only have 8 -- [inaudible] a senator: mr. president, let me ask that the senator from new jersey withhold his request for a quorum. the presiding officer: does the senator withhold? [inaudible] a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. dorgan: mr. president, back in the mid 1800's when lincoln and douglas had debates, lincoln
was exasperated because he couldn't get douglas to understand what he was saying. to douglas he said, listen, how many legs does a horse have? douglas said, why four, of course. and lincoln said if you call the tail a leg how many legs does a horse have? douglas said five. and lincoln said, no, calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg at all. that's what my colleagues have done. suggesting that the amendments that we offered is for untested, unregulated drugs. it is just not true. the only drugs we're talking about here are f.d.a. approve drugs made in an f.d.a. inspected plant that are part of a chain of custody that is the equivalent to the united states chain of custody. it is limp si not true that we're talking about -- simply not true that we're talking about untested, unregulated drugs coming from what used to
be the soviet union. that's simply not true. simply saying it doesn't make it true. here's why we're on the floor of the united states senate. we're reforming health care. right? we're going to have health care reform. part of health care is prescription drugs. a lot of people take prescription drugs to keep them out of the hospital bed. it manages their disease. prescription drugs are very important. here's what happened to prescription drug prices year after year after year. as you can see the rate of inflation is here in yellow, prescription drug prices here in red. this year alone up 9%. 9% this year. at a time when inflation is below zero. well, why do we want to be able to access the same f.d.a.-approved drug where it's sold elsewhere at a fraction of the price? because the american people are going to pay in the next decade if we don't pass this legislation $100 billion in excess prescription drug prices. you need to take nextup for a--
nexium for acid reflux? if you buy it, it will cost yo you $424 for an equivalent quantity in the united states, $65 in canada, $424 here. lipitor, the most popular cholesterol-lowering drug in the world. $125 in the united states for an equivalent quantity. you can bite same thing for dz 40dz in the u.k. dz 32 in spain, one-fourth of the price. $33 in canada. the american people get to pay triple or qaw quadruple the pri. by the way, it comes in these bottles, i ask consent to use the bottles. these are bottles that are -- that did contain lipitor. made in ireland by an american corporation. same bottle, different colored
label. same bottle, with the same bill, f.d.a. approved, sent to different places. this to canada, this to the united states. the american buyer has the privilege of paying triple the price. sound fair? it doesn't to me. boniva up 18% for price. singular up 12%, embrel up 12%, boniva, plavix, the list goes on. should we say, let's pass health care reform and ignore what's happening to the price of prescription drugs. this amendment that i offered with senator mccain, senator grassley, many of my colleagues on this side, 30 co-sponsors, this amendment that i -- cosponsors, this amendment that i offered is for freedom for the american people. how about giving the american
people the ability to access identical prescription drugs, we know are identical because -- those who talk about safety, let me -- let me remind them 40% of the active ingredients in u.s. prescription drugs come from india and china, from places in india and china that have never been inspected. that's in the existing drug supply. 40%. "the wall street journal," did some really terrific exposes about this. you know, there were over 60 people in this country died from something called heparin, contaminated heparin? here's where they were taking it. "the wall street journal," did these pictures. you'll see thrusty, old pot. and, by the way, being stirred with the limb from a tree. yeah, knows are active ingredients for american drugs. here's a guys that working with pig intestines, the guts from a hog. and this old plant over here with the wooden stick.
looks kind of sanitary, doesn't it? or maybe unsanitary. and that's the source of heparin. these are the photographs by "the wall street journal," investigative reporter. they're telling us f.d.a. approved drugs with a chain of custody identical to us would pose some sort of threat. are you kidding? you can make that charge without laughing outloud? well, mr. president, let's talk about the existing drug supply just for a moment. this young man, named tim fagan. he was a victim of counterfeit domestic drugs in this country. not reimportation of f.d.a. approved drugs. you want to know where this guy's drug came from? well, here's the investigative report that was done on that. it's made by amgen. it ended up in place in playpen,
a south florida strip club, in the cooler of a south florida strip club. at one point it was in a cooler in car trunks, and, finally, was a prescription drug prescribed for this young man named mr. tim fagan. he survived the ordeal, but he was getting medicine with on 1-20th of the strength for the disease that his doctor intended for him. don't talk to me about the issue of prescription drug safety. we're talking about safety that doesn't now exist in the domestic drug supply that we included in this amendment. saying that every drug should have a pedigree, track it where it came from in every respect from there to the consumption. it should have batch lots and tracers. mr. president, i want to quote
former vice president of pfizer corporation, a prescription drug manufacturer. "right now -- this is dr. peter rost. "right now, drug companies are testifying that imported drugs are unsafe. nothing could be further from the truth." this from the vice president of one of the major drug companies. nothing could be further from the truth. he was fired, to be sure. you can't say that if you're with a drug company. their business is to try to keep their pricing strategy the way it is. and i might say i don't have a beef with the drug industry. i have a beef with their pricing policy. their pricing policy that says we'll sell the same drug everywhere in the world at a fraction of the price that we charge the american consumer. how do you make that nick you make that stick by -- stick? you make it stick by a law that says that they cannot be import
their drugs. the spanish can reimport their drugs, but the u.s. is told you don't have the same freedom to shop for the same f.d.a. approved drug. approved because it is insecond by the food and drug administration in, the u.s. consumer does not have the freedom to make that purchase. now, mr. president, if i might, peter rost, the same guy i just quoted, former vice president of marketing at pfizer. "during my time responsible for a region in northern europe, i never once heard the drug industry, regulatory agencies, the government or anyone else saying this practice was unsafe. and i personally think it is outright derrogatory to claim that the americans would not be able to handle the reimportation of drugs when the rest of the world can do this."
dr. peter rost, the biggest argument against reimportation is safety. what everyone has conveniently forgotten to tell you is that in europe reimportation of drugs has been in place for 20 years. hank mckennel, former pfizer c.e.o. name an industry in which competition is allowed to flourish, computers, telecommunications, small package shipping, retailing, entertainment, an i'll show you lower prices, higher quality, more innovation, and better customer service. there ordinary an exception. okay, there's one. so far the health care industry seems immune to the discipline of competition. nowhere is that more evident than with respect to pharmaceutical drugs, nowhere. so, mr. president, the question today is will we once again offer a prescription drug reimportation bill that would save consumers and the federal government $100 billion, that
contains safety circumstances that don't exist even in the domestic drug supply, that will not pose risk but, in fact, reduce risk, reduce prices for the american people, provide fair pricing for american consumers? will we be able to vote for that legislation that i and senator mccain, senator grassley, senator stabenow, senator klobuchar and so many others have brought to the floor of the senate? the answer is yeah, we're going to vote on that. the question is in the seven days since i have introduced this, has the pharmaceutical industry been able to pry enough people away from this because they're raising all kinds of issues of safety? of course, the issues really have to do with their revenue. we know that. so how many votes will we get? and by the way, the stand-alone bill -- i should say the side-by-side bill is just a killer bill, so we'll have a
second vote and we'll see. a lot of people are going to say you know what? we'll vote for this bill and then we'll vote to nullify it by voting for the lautenberg amendment. let me read the aarp letter which was sent yesterday." on behalf of the aarp's nearly 40 million members, we urge you to support the dorgan-snowe importation amendment to h.r. 3590, the senate health care reform legislation. the amendment provides for safe, legal importation of lower priced prescription drugs from abroad. c.b.o. has scored the amendment as saving more than than $19 billion." that's just for the federal government. there is much more for consumers." we also urge you to vote against an alternative importation amendment proposed by senator lautenberg and menendez. the aarp strongly opposes this amendment because it includes the unnecessary addition of a certification requirement which is simply a thinly veiled effort to undermine importation and preserve the status quo of high
drug prices. -- drug prices." so there it is. we are always told there is this finely crafted piece, like embroidering with lots of sophisticated colors, this finely crafted piece, and don't mess with it because if you pass your amendment somehow, the whole thing is going to come apart. it's like pulling a thread on a cheap suit. you pull the thread and the arm falls off. god forbid anybody should pass an amendment like this. and so here we are seven days after i introduced this amendment and we have a circumstance where we now have a side-by-side in order to try to nullify it, and we have had all kinds of dealing going on. i'm not a part of it. i don't know what the deals are. i don't know what time they were consummated. somebody told me late last night there was another deal. and i'm like the old senator who served here long ago who said i'm not for any deal i'm not a part of. this deal is for the american people. and so we're going to leave health care out of this chamber
at some point, going to pass some health care legislation, and then we're going to shuffle around with our hands in our pockets or maybe thumbing our suspenders and sticking out our shined shoes and say well, we did this all right and we feal really good about it, but we couldn't do a thing about prescription drug prices. we couldn't do that, we just didn't have the support because the pharmaceutical industry wouldn't let us. oh, really? well, maybe at last, at long, long last there will be sufficient friends here on this vote on behalf of the american people to say we stand with the consumer, we stand with the american consumers today. we like the pharmaceutical industry. we want them to produce prescription drugs, we want them to make profits. we just don't want them to charge us ten times, five times, three times or double what's being charged others in the world for the identical prescription drug because we don't think it's fair to the american people. mr. president, how much time remains?
the presiding officer: the senator has 13 1/2 minutes. mr. dorgan: mr. president, let me at this point yield the floor, and i will ask for a quorum call. i don't know whether the senator from new jersey has other speakers. we have a couple of speakers i believe that will be here and make a point of order that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. dorgan: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be waived. i ask the quorum call be charged equally against all sides. the presiding officer: is there objection? the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: to having the time equally divided expressed by the senator from iowa. i -- how much time is -- how much time is available on our
side, mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey controls seven minutes. mr. lautenberg: seven? the presiding officer: seven. mr. lautenberg: seven minutes? the presiding officer: seven minutes. mr. lautenberg: all right, well, mr. president, i, too, have people who want to speak to the issue, but if we can equally divide the quorum call, that's all right with me, i have no objection. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i believe the quorum call will be momentary. we have people coming to speak. if not, i will take additional time as perhaps with the senator from new jersey, but i ask consent that the -- i make a point of order that a quorum is not present and ask consent that it be charged against all sides equally. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered.
have come out of a copying machine, but it's -- it's the same letter that has come always. it is interesting to me that we export a lot of american jobs, all kinds of jobs leaving our country, and then we import contaminated wallboard, children's toys that kill kids -- and yes, that's happened. we import contaminated pet food and contaminated toothpaste. and so we import 85% of the seafood in this country every day, 85% of the seafood and 1% is inspected, by the way. 1% of that seafood is inspected. the rest is not. we import fruits and vegetables. and i'm wondering if the food and drug administration is sending letters around with concern about the risk to health
of fruits and vegetables and seafoods that are not inspected. in many places, produced with insecticides and various things that would not be permitted in this country. so i'm wondering where the f.d.a.'s letter is with respect to that. now, i called the food and drug administration, and i -- i talked to the head of the f.d.a., and i said i understand there are some rumors around you're going to send a letter up here. this is 24 hours before the letter came. then the head of the f.d.a. said i know nothing of such a letter. so my question is where did the letter come from? who prompted the letter? i think i know. but i just find it really interesting that i don't see anybody down at the f.d.a. sending letters up here about the issue of safety on fruits and vegetables and fish. they raised the question of safety with respect to a prescription drug reimportation bill that has the most specific and the most rigorous safety standards, not only for
reimported drugs but for the existing domestic drug supply, the kind of safety standards that the pharmaceutical industry has objected to for many, many years. of course i would be happy to yield. mr. lautenberg: i know senator dorgan very well, a man of great principle and skill, i might say, but i would say that the list of aberrations or lack of care about the various products, the toys, the wallboards and food, and i have had a great interest in it. whether it is being suggested by the senator from north dakota that that's an acceptable standard and we ought to go ahead and continue that. mr. dorgan: mr. president, the senator is not asking a question. i yielded for a question. if you have one and truncate it, i would appreciate it.
mr. lautenberg: the question is whether or not you think that casual standard for bringing in food and other products is acceptable and therefore we ought to do the same with drugs? mr. dorgan: mr. president, reclaiming my time, the answer is self-evident by the question. of course the standard doesn't exist in an appropriate way for fish and for vegetables and for fruits. that's the point i was making. but what we have done with respect to the reimportation of prescription drugs is we have included batch lots and pedigree and tracers that don't exist in the existing drug supply. why? the existing drug supply don't have those -- do not have those provisions because they have been objected to over the years by the pharmaceutical industry. we have put in place things that will make this safe. you can't say the same thing about fruit and vegetables and seafood, unfortunately. a lot of work needs to be done there. but we don't bring a bill to the floor of the united states senate, a bipartisan group of legislators, a bill that would in any way injure or provide problems with respect to safety.
what we do is bring a bill to the floor of the senate that dramatically enhances the margin of safety for prescription drugs. but i understand, i understand completely if i were trying to protect -- and i were the drug industry trying to protect protect $100 billion, boy, i understand the exertion of efforts to try to protect that. my only point is this. i have a beef with an industry that decides they're going to overcharge the american people, in some cases ten times more, some cases five, double the price that is paid in other parts of the world for the identical drug. i don't think that's fair and i don't think we should allow it to continue, and the way to prevent it is to give the american people the freedom. every european has that freedom. and let me end with what i began with. for somebody to come out here and say that this is about unregulated, untested drugs is absolute, sheer nonsense. it is not. we don't have to debate what words mean and what words say. that's not a debate that we
ought to take time having. all we have to do is read it and represent it accurately which has not been the case on the floor of the united states senate regrettably. i yield the floor. mr. president, i make a point of order that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. dorgan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the quorum call is in progress. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i ask the quorum call be waived by consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dorgan: mr. president, isn't it the case when a quorum call is requested that it be equally charged? the presiding officer: no. mr. dorgan: mr. president, i ask that it be equally charged against all sides. the presiding officer: is there objection? if no objection, it is so ordered. the clerk will call the roll.
quorum call: mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: i am here to remind us why we are here today, on health care reform, and why health care reform is so, so important. i would like to go through the costs of inaction. what are the consequences if we do not pass health care reform? well, first of all, rising health care costs are wrecking thees