Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  January 24, 2012 9:00am-12:00pm EST

9:00 am
where the pressure is being ramped up all the time in the international arena. how would you deal with iran in this sort of speech knowing that there are pitfalls on the domestic politics side? people are ready to say that president obama has let the ball drop in some way, how would you approach that tonight? ..
9:01 am
>> i don't know. if he stops and dwells on it, it might be interpreted in a way he doesn't want it to be interpreted, or he might find himself headed out in front of his own policy he does it will be interpreted, you know, it will fill the air with drama suddenly if he stops and dwells on it and it will take perhaps some kind of the signal. so i suspect it will be put in a much larger context. i'm interested to know if he's going to talk very much about defense cuts. because he had a pretty big announcement at the pentagon a couple weeks ago, dramatic, hugely consequential. and i wonder what is going to say about it tonight. >> any other areas of thoughts expected to come up or will they avoid it all? >> 2012, i think this is not a
9:02 am
speech aimed at anybody outside the borders of the united states. >> foreign policy me, but i would agree with a pale that i think the economy is the overwhelming, overriding issue. and that's where most of both speeches will focus. >> one more topic and then will open up for question. but we just saw in "the new yorker" this huge number of white house memos, somehow leaked to an enterprising journalist. is there anything about the way this president approaches some of these issues? i don't know if you read the story are what you read of the report of the story. anything about the way he approaches these challenges, approach his speeches that strikes being different from your own experience of? >> i guess i don't know enough about how he does things. the president and i, was a
9:03 am
serious editor. i remember that as one of the most important parts of the process. after this thing was vetted, staffed out as they say in the white house, president bush would sit down with us. he would know was in speech because he would have approved an outline, and allied around christmas time, or at the beginning of the year. then we had the draft, that's what he began his serious editing, and he would spend a lot of time with it, a lot of organizational things. if he would catch us on some it was more often than not that we were not explain something enough. when he did social security reform in the 2005 state of union, he was after us for quite a while to make sure that we explained the issue and the solution well enough. and that's, as i said, i don't know president obama is doing it, but with president bush i
9:04 am
remember the serious heavy editing that went up through and into the speech prep. there would be times when he would be practicing the speech in a little theater in the east wing of the white house, teleprompter would be to come and he would stop and pause over a paragraph and work it through with us while there. and it would be changed on the screen while we were in the room with him, and he would stay there with us. and he would think aloud and come up with some very good lines, and he did this, i remember, he said to us he wasn't happy with the conclusion for the o2 or '03 state of the union, and he said to us, you know, i want to say something like the freedom we prize is not america's gift to the world. it is all my schedule all humanity. i want to say something like that. and we that we're not going to
9:05 am
go to improve on the. and put it in and we'll see how it worked for a course that became one of the signature lines of his presidency. and came in one of those editing sessions. >> chriss, was his father as much of an editor? >> no, he was not. although his editing was always somewhat predictable in the sense that we would send draft him, not restated union, but any of his speeches, obviously it would go to the process which stepping out of speech is very involved process in and of itself. all of those comments from all the different agencies, whoever was involved, come back into her office, i would go over them, we would to a new draft. i would go to the president and that's what we can come back from them. and frequently speechwriters live for lines like that. we live to write great flowing lines pros. and president bush was a very plain speaker, so when we would
9:06 am
get the speeches back we would write in a number of the bartlett lashing the ice, backward, and he would always scribble in the margins, too much rhetoric. that was the phrase. and what it meant was it was too flowery. to all of that language would have to come. he didn't take it out. he didn't rewrite it. he didn't edit it himself, but frequently we would have to take some of the best language out of the speeches because he just simply wasn't comfortable with that kind of language. once in a while we would slip something to come but once in a while our go over on and ended me and beg for a line to stay. but most of the time that was his style. and one of the things you learn as a speech writer is that you have to learn to write for your principal voice. it is not your speech, it is their speech but it is their words even if you just spent the last four days writing every single one of those words.
9:07 am
it's their speech and their voice and have to learn to do that. and the state of the yen is after i think a little easier, most of the time because it isn't so much of a laundry list. it's just not the kind of a pros build a speech, much more down taken and policy-based so it doesn't have that same kind of flow to it that another speech my. but every speech is coming to reflecting someone's voice, not your own. >> so one more before we get to questions. we are sitting in front of a big sheet of paper that says bipartisan policy center, at a time when everyone thinks that congress is the most sharply divided along partisan lines anyone can remember, and historically low approval rating. can president obama tonight credibly make a speech saying let's do something together? republicans and democrats. >> not really. [laughter] but i do want to say one thing
9:08 am
-- he talked about the laundry list, and you know, there is a defense to be made for the launch of his come and have researched these things, say this is not just blather. president usually make between 30 and 40 specific legislative requests in a state of union, and even in divided government, that's the part where they say and so i'm asking congress to pass a law that will do x and y. even in divided government, about 40% of those tasks within the next year. so if you're listening, this is a blueprint for a lot of significant things that will get done in the year ahead. and they're done by speechwriters who are only partly writers for a process like this. you're really kind of counter therapist, listening to people, pretending to take suggestions, then cutting them out when someone out rank she wants something else, and soothing
9:09 am
hurt feelings, and getting everybody to sign off on a speech, including the president sometimes. >> let's take some questions. please wait for the microphone to come to you, name, and affiliation, all that good stuff, thank you. lady in the front here. >> good morning. i'm susan friedman with the american osteopathic association, and i'd like to know when you typically start writing the speech, and how does that square with when you would like to start writing the speech? >> thank you. you want to start that when? >> so, my memories of the clinton years, and i was there from 95-98 and is the process certainly started before christmas. so in early december with a big set of information gathered. and think about presidential stock and would've things president clinton likes, very expensive, curious learner who
9:10 am
really sort of absorb knowledge from every direction, and he sometimes would host dinners at the white house where he would invite republican intellectuals or leading academics are all kinds of people to just can't get ideas, get a conversation going as the think he was about the speech. and the drafting would begin i guess in december and sort of work forward. in the way it's not in your interest as a writer to start too soon because inevitably things happen, and so you don't want to try to get the speech done three months out. that wouldn't make any sense. so you need to be working in real-time, but at the same time you don't want to be sweating bullets an hour before you've got to get it to the teleprompter. so i think a structured process is a very good one. >> the way it works, when i was with george w. bush was the chief speechwriter that it worked with, mike had a serious policy role as well in the white
9:11 am
house. he had real standing and was in a lot of these policy meetings. from the beginning. and so mike would be in these meetings to talk about the big things for the coming year and the legislature goals, and he would have all the information just be in the meetings and so on and helped a lot. he and my colleague, matthew scully and i would gather, and we would work on the outlined, as i mentioned earlier, get it to the present at christmas time. he would react to it early in the year, and then the three of us would sit down and start drafting. and it always took seven days, i don't know why, but seven days, consecutive days on the counted, including weekend, and we were just blast through the first draft. we always tried to make it something that was deliverable, not anything rough or anything like that, really something that was deliverable. so it could then go into the process. and then from there it's a typical, you know, senior people
9:12 am
at the white house suggest changes in emphasis, or added policies or things of that nature. but the president got a polished draft probably two weeks before the event, and so it was a pretty disciplined process. we were never on the fly. pics of the road tracks with what john is going through right now knowing what i know. but let's take another question. >> greg with gw, george washington university. this question is in line with the topic of that obama would want to make tonight. based off the speech obama made many ties to teddy roosevelt, the new nationalism. is at the image that obama is going to want to make for himself as a new image headed
9:13 am
into this reelection year? and what do you think that the republican, if chosen, you think this is something republicans are going to address as well? >> that's a good question. theodore roosevelt made that speech at the beginning of the only campaign he ever lost. and so i don't know whether we are going to hear, whether this is going to be the driving theme of the year. >> i think it is. initially i think they found success with it and it's catchy. it's memorable. fair rule, fair share, fair shake. i think people get and i think the occupy movement is very much in line with that, how the republicans will respond i won't say. by do think that this will be a theme that we'll see come a lease in the first part of the year going forward. >> regards of the language, the robust image that teddy roosevelt had is something that i think obama will want to carry
9:14 am
forward in the campaign. and actually, that campaign, the 1912 campaign is very relevant to this campaign. but roosevelt lost. wilson came in, and phil wilson, for 100 years, the state of union speech had only been a written message delivered to congress. wilson was portrayed in the papers, a windows universe presents can do anything energetic. so he said i want to do something that one ups rosewell. i'm going to deliver this address in person. and there was a huge controversy here. people thought this was betraying democracy, that it was echoing the loyalty of great britain. but he did it anyway. and the headlines the next day said, event free of pump. they thought this was so amazing. and wilson went back, i put one over on roosevelt, and ever since they have done it orally.
9:15 am
>> over on this side. >> i'm commonwealth and berger, a resident scholar at the bipartisan policies and. just just assure you i've learned some, -- a book on the rhetorical presidency. using speeches can still make a difference, or have we passed the time win or do they ever really make a difference, but i think president bush when all of the country on his social security plan and not really making a dent there, obama the same thing with his health care plan, things the public opinion didn't really move very much, but just putting aside the state of union, looking at other speeches, can they still make a difference? do they still make a difference? >> yes, speech right is the most important -- [laughter] >> i do think we can make a difference. we live in a different, we live in a conversational age, not on
9:16 am
-- speeches don't look like they used to. state of the union messages, when i was a kid i remember, i guess ford, carter, state of union messages, rats i'm imagining it but i don't know as much applause in those speeches but they could have longer stretches of the type i described earlier that you don't have anymore. so the speeches, they are longer the theatrics of it, it's a lot more television drama to a. the drumroll for a stating that they have got him this tv station of crappy stuff for the state of union and all of this stuff, i mean, this is a 21st century phenomenon. but despite all the differences, i mean, that attention is therefore a reason. this speech, the speech can definitely make a difference. and not just that speech but speeches in general can definitely make a big differen
9:17 am
difference. >> chriss? >> i would agree that speeches can make a big difference. but i think the two that you use as examples were the problem, the problem wasn't so much as speechifying as it was the policy. i think president bush on the social security issue may have been right politically, i mean he may have been right policy wise, but politically the country wasn't ready. he hadn't spent the time to really educate people and get them up to speed. one speech can't do all that. i mean, you have to make an argument that sometimes with policies like that, that are that big, it takes longer and it takes more than one speech. i think obama's health care was very similar in the sense that the people just simply didn't buy the policy yet. and come you know, i do see some i pointed you to probably aren't likely to because i don't think it jibes with what the americans
9:18 am
want. but i make him having said that, again he did do a lot of speeches on health care, over time, and it didn't work. i would argue that's because it was and enhance underlying problem with the policy. if i think president bush, if there had been more of a foundation built, educating people on that come because i think he was right, it has to be fixed. but having said that i would argue that, for example, the speech's post-9/11 and so forth were some of the most powerful, the cathedral and the speech you wrote were tremendously powerful speeches that i think really had a tremendous impact on the country. so i do think speeches, presidential speeches are still very important. >> oof course i teach speechwriting. i ask you use a lot of speeches, and see what student reactions or. there's no question, there are
9:19 am
wonderfully written speeches comically by people i don't agree with at all, that are not only powerful but influential. sarah palin, convention speech written by matthew scully. i was like to give credit to the speech writer. everything before she was even nominated, didn't he? was really a wonderfully and influential speech that it influenced people's attitudes toward the campaign. and ronald reagan's challenger speech, obama's i was speech, yes, we can, they are all things that can still bring the tears. [inaudible] >> right, right. >> which has been a great blueprint for speech rights because they don't second what kind of thing he likes. >> another from the site. >> president obama is doing this enhanced live stream online of his state of union address, and the gop is going to be like fact
9:20 am
checking a. what you hope to see from them online, both sides? in their addresses and what they are doing. >> i'm just going to listen to the speech last night. >> i think were all too old. >> overstimulated. >> it will be pretty straightforward but it would be kind of, i mean, i don't how they're going to do it, but i can so picture what it's going to look like. >> i do think sometimes can buy watches the job speech and the split screen, sometimes it can be incredibly power graphic single along with some of the statement that the president is making to bring the words to live in a very visual way. but i do just as i said earlier, i just find this whole aspect of it quite interesting and new, and for me kind of aiding. i'm not that tech savvy. that's not how i -- by still like to listen to the speech and
9:21 am
read the newspaper that hold him again. it is a generational thing and i think the fact that the white house is doing this is very much a response and also appeal to a significant part of -- to the wiki and people are getting their own information now. >> if i could just mention just a small story, and that is when we walked into the white house, the first date january 20, that afternoon to write a speech for the first thing the next morning, we walked into the white house thinking this is going to be great, it's the white house. we're talking high-tech year. and we walked into the speech writing office, and we had, they had a paper teleprompter still, ronald reagan's still use a paper teleprompter. and we walked in, computer eight-inch floppy disks are coming, it's hard to imagine that now. and that was the white house. we didn't have e-mail.
9:22 am
and so in my lifetime, in my professional lifetime we saw from that to live fact checking, which hard for me to kind of grasp. [laughter] but nonetheless it has, the technique, the technology of speech writing has changed him and for all of us, many of us, that's a we do. to technological changes over the last few years, lasting 15 years has been a tremendous boost to speech writers as would be to mayors of the media to be able to google, search and future research on the internet and so forth, makes the job of speech writing so much easier than it was. >> i was at the white house at the same time at a much more level. i was speechwriter for vice president quayle, and her member in the early '90s, people would say to it would really be great if you get something in the speech mentioning today's
9:23 am
headlines, or something like that. that made it seem sharp. [laughter] this morning's newspaper, a different era. >> i think with time for just a couple more. >> thinking of how much things have changed, ted sorenson writes in his counsel about his relationship with kennedy and how you're almost in a mind meld sometimes in the way that sorenson would prepare the speeches, and given how much the white house has changed, the structure and the size and the stuff, of course the media, i wonder if the panel could comment on whether that still happens. i imagine it does, but to what extent lacks not only gather information, but also as sorenson writes in sort of subtle ways to influence policy through the wording that you use, things that you emphasized and that kind of thing. >> you know, while sorenson, that was so special because he had been with kennedy since i
9:24 am
think 1953 can which is the year he became a senator. and refer to them as my intellectual blood bank. and they travel together, you know, thousands and thousands of miles just the two of them on small planes. kennedy was kind of building his reputation around the country. and it just was an amazing synergy going back to "profiles in courage," and some of the great speeches of the time. in my experience, speech writers saw plenty of the president, andy card, the chief of staff said in this white house, if you need to see the president, you will. if you want to see the president, you won't. it has to be a need. and because speech is more important to him, speech writers had access to him when they needed to do and, we were in and out all the time, but that's important. i think my colleagues would
9:25 am
agree that you've got to see the president when you need is inp input. >> there's a big rivalry in the white house for what you call face time. and people want it and need it, and a lot of times people say oh, you're a woodsman, you don't need to be in that meet the eye with what the policy is. that speech writers ask different questions from a policy people -- polish people will say what is your three-point play and i want to say have you seen any good movies lately? so that is not a trivial fight. and staffs were smaller than, and it was easier to get a lot of face time, which is why for me the most fun, that i've had this been on the house side where you see your boss all the time, and you're just cranking out things that could be really a genuine collaborative effort.
9:26 am
>> i will tell you my favorite, some face time story, one of them was with president bush, the night we invaded panama. and, of course, we didn't know we were invading panama, and of the night of a christmas party, and it was actually the night the speech writing staff was going to the christmas party, but about 4:00 in the afternoon i got a call from the president and secretary who said the president would like to have a drink with speechwriters. but we're going to the party into ours. and she said i know, he just wants to have a drink with you and i said really? i think we can fit him in, fine, okay, we will be right over. so we did that everybody come and it was the christmas party, we were all spiffed and ready to go to the white house, to the residents, and that's what we did. we went up to the residents. we sat down, his grandchildren were there running around. but every few minutes, brent scowcroft would appear in the
9:27 am
doorway, or andy card, and the president would get up and say excuse me just a minute, and walk out and he would huddle out in the hallway, and then back he would come and we had a very pleasant night, conversation as if nothing was going on. and what was going on of course with the troops were actually approaching panama, about to invade, and nobody knew it, including us at that moment. and it was all very pleasant and fine and you would never have known anything was going on, and then we went to the christmas party and then right after that, got the word, have a speech ready at 7:30 the next morning. so luckily we didn't drink too much at the party that night. [laughter] but actually speed as i was just going to say that even though i think sorenson intend is the ideal to which we all aspire, just thinking in recent memory, i do think michael waldman had a very rich policy background that he was clinton's chief domestic
9:28 am
speechwriter for many years, and mike gerson had a commence influence and i think now john and ben rhodes, top domestic and foreign policy writers are that kind of mind meld that i think the present, they are very involved in the policy discussion. so if it's not, it's not quite those times that we look back longingly but i think speechwriter are still engaged. they're not just sequestered. >> john favreau had in mind that we president he did want to do and how he was hired, he was very nervous about working for president who could write all of his own speeches, much better than he could. and so he said to robert gibbs, why do need a speechwriter? and gibbs said to him, if we're 40 hours in the day we went back to need you at all. so that was how they hired him, telling him they didn't really need him, but since there was only 24 hours they would hire him anyway. thank you all for showing up. thing to this wonderful panel, thank you.
9:29 am
[applause] >> [inaudible conversations] >> [inaudible conversations] >> mr. speaker, the president of united states. [cheers and applause] >> tonight, president obama delivers his state of the in
9:30 am
address. live coverage begins at 8 p.m. eastern, including the presidents speech, republican response by indiana governor mitch daniels, and your phone calls live on c-span and c-span radio. on c-span2, watched the presence speech along with tweets from members of congress. and after the address more reaction from house numbers and senators. throughout the night go online for live video and to add your comments using facebook and twitter at >> while the u.s. senate gavels in this morning at 10 eastern time and we will have live coverage on c-span2. no bills are scheduled for debate today. senators will spend much of the day on general speeches. the u.s. house meets for legislative work at noon eastern today. they will consider a number of bills including extending federal airport programs for another month. the house and senate negotiators work on agreement for the next year or more. you can see the house live on c-span.
9:31 am
>> this evening, georgetown university professor joseph stassen presents a history of saddam hussein's regime. he has written a book about using internal documents and recordings captured by coalition forces. after the 2003 invasion. you can see his comments live starting at six eastern online at >> next week the senate intelligence committee hears from u.s. intelligence chiefs about global threats to the u.s. >> the head of americans for tax reform, grover norquist and other leaders of the republican anti-parties a panel discussion on the future of the conservative movement. they spoke at the southern leadership conference in charleston, south carolina.
9:32 am
this portion is about half an hour. >> good afternoon, welcome back from lunch but i hope you had a good lunch and was have a good afternoon with some additional panels here. i'd like to in today's our panelists for the saturn. we will be talking about what it means to be conservative in 2012. first of all we have grover norquist, president of the americans for tax reform right down here. we have karen floyd, former chairman of the south carolina republican party. also she is publisher of palladium do. and that's palladian, especially the legs out there would like to check that out. then we have to my left in the cramer. she's the chairman of the tea party express. and we have chuck who is joint is from the nra. i believe rove is going to start for us this afternoon.
9:33 am
>> there are two teams in american politics. and in the past, you know, there were two parties and somebody told you they were republican 100 is ago or 50 years ago, all you really knew about them was that they were more north -- born north of the mason dixie line. the two parties were regional. they weren't ideological. they weren't based on principles. something if you met a republican or democrat you didn't know if they were for higher taxes or lower taxes or more spend our listing on whether foreign policy was. you simply knew where they were born. and that was about it. but it was during the lifetime of ronald reagan that the two political parties and the conservative movement around the republican party and the liberal progressive movement about the democratic party, the two-party separate themselves out in a coherent way. people who want more government, more government control, more taxes, more regulation, more
9:34 am
spending became democrats. people who wanted more limited government, more individual liberty became republicans. and we separated out and we stopped having the situation with a little old lady from mississippi who agreed with ronald reagan on everything but voted for george mcgovern, because chairman had been mean to atlanta recently. but as people decided to divide up into two teams based on whether they wanted more government, less government, more individual liberty, or more state control of peoples lives, it became easier for the two parties to work together, the two political movements. and i think to answer the question comes in, what is a conservative, what is a reagan republican, if you were to have the modern conservative movement, the modern reagan republican movement sit around a table, you can tell who's at the
9:35 am
table. taxpayers don't raise my taxes. the small business community can don't regulate overtax my ability to run my business, myself being self-employed, independent contractor. my professional life. homeschools, people just want to be left alone to educate their own children and maintain control of their children's upbringing. the second amendment community comprised of on the board of directors of the national rifle association, chuck cunningham with the nra will be talking later, but again, the second amendment community does not go knocking on doors and insisting that you be a hunter, or that we have done stamps or that every fourth grade child in public school in america he top books entitled heather has 200. all they ask is to be left alone with their second amendment rights. then we have the various communities to face, people from the most important thing in
9:36 am
their life is practicing their faith, transmitting it to their children. again, they are not insisting that the government go and make everybody be a baptist or not be a baptist. they simply wish to be left alone so that they have religious liberty, and that's why the center-right conservative movement, modern reagan republican movement is very ecumenical movement. conservative catholics, orthodox, muslims, mormons, people don't agree at all in who gets to heaven or how or why, but do agree that everybody should be free to practice their own religion so that they can go to heaven and everybody else who completely misunderstands scriptures and go to haiti. so around the center-right table the reagan republican table, everybody is in on different issues, wildly different issues in some cases, but they are all there for the same reason. because on the issue that moves
9:37 am
their votes, they want one thing. they wish to be left alone. please my guns alone, my kids along, my faith alone, my money alone, my business alone, my property alone. everybody is there because they want a limited government, to protect property, and again, the center-right come a concerted movement is not anti-government any more than cancer doctors are anti-sell. cancer doctors don't like those cells that grow so rapidly and this was everybody else that make people sick. we don't want a government that gets so big that it becomes intrusive in our lives and destructive of human liberty. we won a government the right size which focuses on protecting people's property rights, making sure annoying people don't steal your stuff, that has a national defense that can be the canadiens underside of the border.
9:38 am
but otherwise i'm a leave us alone to run our lives and organize our affairs as we see fit. the proper role of government, people in the army, the police force, judiciary are all cheerfully members of the leave us alone coalition, and fit comfortably into the reagan republican conservative movement. now, by contrast the other team, if they were to sit around hillary clinton over barack obama's table on the left, or the progressive side, who would be around their table? big competition, the other team. that's a takings coalition. as far as the leave us alone coalition, the left has a takings coalition. and they view the proper role of government as taking things from some people and giving them to other people. often money and often them. so around the table, the trial lawyers, big city political
9:39 am
machines, the organized labor, particularly in the public sector, the two wings of the dependency movement, people are locked into welfare dependency, and people who make $90,000 a year, managing the dependency of others making sure none of them get jobs and become republicans. then you have all of the coercive utopian scum of the who get government grants to push the rest of us around. eviler better than we are and know better than we do have to run our lives and organize ourselves. these are the people who mandated cars too small to put your entire family into, the people who developed and then required toilets that are too small to flush completely, the invention of the light bulbs that don't create enough light so you think you have glaucoma. and then the people who organize that on the sabbath you to separate the white glass from the green glass from the ground
9:40 am
glass for the recycling priests. our friends on the left, the progressives have a whole list of things that you have to do. and a whole list of things that you're not allowed to do. and their list is slightly longer and more tedious than leviticus. goes on and on and on and on. so around the left table, they can get along, as long as we're stupid enough to keep throwing taxpayer dollars into the center of the table. and everyone around around the left table, because each with different things, but as long as we are foolish enough to keep throwing cash into the center of the table they can get along just as they do in the movies after the bank robbery, one for you, one for you, one for you. then everybody on the left can be happy. but if we do our job properly, if we say no new taxes, and mean it, if we put our foot on the air hose and stop the flow of cash into the center of the table and a pile of cash begins
9:41 am
to dwindle, then our friends on the left begin to look at each other a little bit more like the second to the last scene in the lifeboat movies. now they're beginning to wonder about who to eat overdue to throw overboard. the left is not made up of friends and allies. the left is made up of competing parasites. and if we do not allow them to gnaw on taxpayers, they will cheerfully knock on the guy sitting next to them at the table. our job is to not raise taxes, not throw cash into the center of the table so that when we meet the left in elections in two in four years, they are both shorter and there are fewer of them. so those are the two competing coalitions in american politics, the collection of those of us who view the proper role of government as associate liberty and otherwise leaving us alone, and those of you who view the
9:42 am
proper role as taking things from some people and giving them to others. and so that explains everything about what republicans and conservatives will do when they come into power. explains what happens when the left gets into power and it certainly explains the stimulus spending program which was the first order of business when obama, read, and pelosi got united control of the federal government. and that was they took $800 billion a two in the center of the table. one for you, one for you, one for you. and ask ahead a theory called keynesian economics that explains why they did this but it took a dog from somebody who earned it, either through debt or through taxes, and gave it to somebody who is politically connected, that somehow they would be more money at the end of the day. take a dollar from you, give a talk to him and there are new $2. that was their theory.
9:43 am
that if reid, pelosi and obama's on one side of a lake and give an can get three buckets in the lake and walk all the way around the lake in front of the msnbc cameras, poured the water back into the lake, that they could announce that they were stimulating the lake to great depths, okay? and you may wonder whether this would work, but the plan was to do it 800 in times after which it would be a very deep lake. it's nonsense on the face of it, but that was the argument they used. what they really wanted was access to cash in people who credit so they could pay off their friends who did precinct work, but they really need a slightly better articulation of the plan so they came up with keynesian economics and the idea that the government takes your daughter and spins it we are all richer. that is the argument that it was nonsense but it didn't work. that are a million more people
9:44 am
not working in america today than when they wasted $800 billion of your money. but they will keep coming back to do that because they're not trying to govern. they're not trying to create jobs. they are trying to feed all the hungry mouse around the left table. and on the right, robert organize conservative movement, ronald reagan republican party will figure out how to make more and more americans free, independent, self-reliant so that they joined the leave us alone coalition, and focus their political activity on being left alone. so those are the two structures in american politics. we do have the possibility of third parties, but it's not like you're. in europe if you get 1% of vote you make it to decide to the prime minister is. here if you get 1% of the vote to officially not but you don't get to fly in air force one but you might get a radio talk show. thank you.
9:45 am
[applause] >> good afternoon. i'm karen floyd and i have to tell you, grover gave you a macrocosm of what the conservative republican looks like. i'm going to ask you now to do the exact opposite and look at a micro focus. i want to talk to you a little bit about the conservative republican woman, and i want to do so from to vantage point. i want to share with you a little bit about myself and i want to talk to you about palladium do and about some of the findings that we have learned literally over 100 day period. i and a wife. i am a mother of two, 15-year-olds. i am an attorney by profession, and i've three businesses. and i am as those when an the 21st century, like asking at any given time. what we decided let her be 100 days ago was to take an idea of
9:46 am
women, empowering women to see their voice. and so through technology we created something called the palladian view, and the palladian view has 100 women from across the united states that right in any given day to a series of topics that are timely. and we have learned that these women are very, very diverse, but they can be segmented into three different areas. they are either value voters, they are drawn to the republican party through value centric ideas, ideology. typically faith-based. they are drawn to the republican party as traditional republicans. and these women, much like myself, and is grover mentioned, i'm more of a ronald reagan cut and these women tend to be ideological but have more of a financial backing and pushing him and we are the ones incidentally, grover, watch your show and attend your wednesday
9:47 am
meeting. and the third is the group is really kind of going through the libertarian movement, and we have seen probably the most growth in the third area of the two previous areas. and yet these women are all collectively drawn to one thing, and that one thing is, and grover said it well, get government out of our way. give us the ability to make decisions in our personal lives and our business, give us the ability to do what our founding fathers gave us the privilege to do. now, the palladian view, or the last 60 days has begin a process to a promethean widget going to events like that srlc and the myrtle beach debate with fox news, sitting down with groups of women and asking them very, very specific questions about why the vote, who they vote for, how they self define when they vote, and perhaps most
9:48 am
importantly wabc their push, where they see their purpose and push into future years. and this is what we have learned. women can forecast trends. on october 4, we launched the palladian view in kansas city, missouri, and we polled about -- it was more than that. it was about 80% of 1300 women that participated in the convention, and during that process we learned that there was a german by the name of herman cain that had great traction. the monday afterwards we did a little bit of national television shows that we were asked does herman cain legitimate have an opportunity, and we said yes. the next day he did very well. he did well in florida and then he did well in chicago, and he started literally creating a pathway to the presidency. likewise, we were asked about michele bachmann, we were asked
9:49 am
about many other presidential candidates that have come and gone, but each time this core group of activist republican women were able to predict the next step. so the question today that everyone asks is, how do these conservative republican women fare here in the state of south carolina one day before the actual election. and this is what i would tell you. it is unknown. we know in the state of south carolina right now that speaker gingrich's numbers are searching. we know right now that senator santorum's numbers are stabilizing. and we know right now that there's a dynamics with the essence of, or the leading of governor perry, that there is a shift and a very, very fluid next 24 hours. so it's a core group of conservative women in these three segments that can predict what's going to happen on a national scope because these women are informed, they are engaged, and, obviously, they
9:50 am
understand the import of what's going to happen next. the conservative republican woman, if you ask me to give one word to what captures this person, i would say she is passionate. she is passionate about her children, about her family, and about politics. because she and hanley understand that it's politics that will drive the health and well being of her family. and so ladies and gentlemen thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of today as we share a little bit about the palladian view with our 100 women that ride on a daily basis, and with 30,000 followers with just a website that is over 100 days come and ask you to join us and learn more about the conservative republican woman. thank you. [applause] >> fellow. i'm amy kremer, chairman of tea
9:51 am
party express and i'm excited to be here today. i love charleston. i'm a southern belle and i think charles is one of the prizes of the south and is a really exciting. we are right in the center of the political universe right now, and everything is everyone's eyes are upon south carolina, so it's really exciting to be here. i'm also excited to be here because three years ago i was just a mom who is not engaged in politics at all. and i got involved because i was concerned about my country. and i was one of the ones, there were a large number of us have started the modern-day tea party movement, and so i make tea party mom. and what it means to me today to be conservative in 2012 is essentially the same thing that got me involved in this movement, and that is fiscal responsibility and limited government, free market. those are the principles and values the tea party movement was founded upon.
9:52 am
this movement was started because every day average people were fed up with washington and the out of control spending in washington. washington needs to live within their means. in need of a balanced budget, look like families and businesses to all across this country. but instead washington is spending, spending, spending. and all they can do is blame it on each other and there's no accountability to we the people, they people that they work for, the people that hired them. and so what we have done over the past three years have been nothing short of amazing. to look at what we did in the election cycle of 2010, and now here we are going into 2012, and we need to make a difference. the movement was actually started because people were frustrated and angry and fed up with both political parties. they were tired of this, this bickering between the democrats
9:53 am
and the republicans. and so people started focusing on the issues. and that's what the movement is about. we are issue oriented and we focus only on those fiscal issues because when you get into the social issues or foreign policy, it divides us. we are never all going to agree on that stuff. but everybody can agree that washington needs to live within their means. and so we've all come together. we have a tremendous impact in 2010, and now here we are in the 2012 election cycle, and immediate wants to write a narrative that the tea party movement is dead and that we're not having an impact. and it's simply not true. what happened is the movement has grown and matured. i call it tea party 2.0. were no longer standing out on the steps of the capital or at your state capitals. you know, holding a big rallies with signs, which is
9:54 am
sensational, sexy journalism that they may elect to take pictures of an show, its visual. people get that. instead, people are engaged on a local and state level. they are sitting at home behind their computer, on the keyboard, you know, maybe with their phone to the ear calling their representative, calling their senator, engaging on the issues that really matter to them. even down to the school board level and city council. that's what people are working on. but it's hard for the media to go in and take a picture of an individual in their home and then air it across national airwaves because that's not sensational. that's not sexy journalism so they're not going to do that. but we are engaged, and we are focused, and we're having and huge impact. in 2010 not only do we have a huge impact on the federal level, huge impact on local and state level. and that was the untold story of 2010.
9:55 am
the one thing that galvanized this movement more than anything else was obamnicare. people came out of their houses, their homes, and engaged on obamnicare because there's nothing more personal than health care. not every one of us, passionate not everyone of us are a doctor but everyone of us is a patient. i know all of us, we don't want the government involved in decisions should be between myself and my doctor, or yourself and your doctor. we don't need washington making those decisions. but yet that legislation was crammed down our throat, and we are not going to take it. we have an opportunity to repeal obamacare and we have one opportunity to repeal it. and that is if we take back the u.s. senate, and if we vote for rocco bomb out of office and put in a new president.
9:56 am
otherwise, we're going to have socialized medicine. and that's not what america is about. that's not what i have grown up with. i don't want my children to grow up without or my grandchildren, and i'm sure most of you don't. so here we are to have an opportunity to affect change at the highest level of american government. after all, we fought to push back on obamnicare, and after washington is still standing, grover i'm sure can probably speak to this later but i think if this congress will spend more than nancy pelosi's congress last cycle. that spending is out of control. it's simply out of control and we cannot continue down this path. washington is not the answer. washington is the problem. washington needs to get out of the way, and the government needs to be put back into the hands of the american people. they work for us.
9:57 am
and that's what i am here trying to do. that's what the organization, tea party express is about. we have, we've done five national bus tours across the country. we did a many to to up in to support governor -- welcome action we did the minitour last summer to support the republicans that were being recalled. now governor walker and the lieutenant governor are up for recall, and a number of senators, and we're going to support them as well. we also did the first ever tea party presidential debate last september in tampa with cnn, which is a testament to the power of the movement. they keep talking about us being dead, but, you know, what? we are a threat. we are threat to that liberal leftist agenda, and that's why they continue to talk about us. they wouldn't talk about us if we were not a threat. and if we weren't irrelevant. they wouldn't even mention us.
9:58 am
so we did the cnn debate, but the most important thing we've done is we've engaged in election activity. because tea party express believes, tea party express believes that if you truly want to affect change you have to change the players. and that's what we want to do. we want to send conservatives to washington. we need to send more conservatives to stand with senator demint and rand paul and mike lee in the united states and. we need to take that gavel out of harry reid's hands. we need to send more conservatives to the house so that the conservatives in the house can push back on leadership and show them who is really in charge, and that's we the people. we simply cannot continue down this path. and that's what we are focused on. that's what the tea party movement focused on. year going to see -- see us
9:59 am
engage in this election cycle because of the person we can i do have impact as i said at the highest level of the american government. it's our only opportunity to to repeal obamacare and that's what galvanized this movement, and pulls you over 60% of americans today still want that legislation repealed the we cannot just sit back and pray that the supreme court rules it unconstitutional because we've seen what judicial activism has done to this country. the bottom line is, after what happened two weeks ago, i said all along we need to focus on the senate. no matter if barack obama is reelected or not. but after two weeks ago, i realized just how important it is that we could defeat it. because this man has proven -- >> you can see this program in its entirety on our website, the u.s. senate is about to gavel in this morning.
10:00 am
no bills debate is scheduled. centers will spend much of the day on general speeches. they will recess for the weekly party meetings and in return for more speeches as they wait for the state of the union address tonight. and not to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on c-span2 the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.
10:01 am
almighty god, who has made of one blood all the nations of the earth, hallowed be your name. impart your grace to our lawmakers so that their lives will give a witness to your providential power and love. may the words of their mouths and the meditations of their hearts be acceptable to you. give them courage in danger, steadfastness in trial, and perseverance in difficulty. lord, we also ask you to touch
10:02 am
senator mark kirk with your healing hands, restoring him to robust health. we pray in your merciful name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c., january 24, 2012. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable christopher coons, a senator from the commonwealth of delaware,
10:03 am
to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:00 today. during that period of time each senator will be permitted to speak for up to ten minutes each. the majority will control the first 30 minutes. the republicans will control the second 30 minutes. we're going to recess from 12:30 until 2:15 today to allow for our weekly caucus meetings. the state of the union is at 9:00 p.m. tonight. senators will gather at 8:30 to proceed to the house of representatives. mr. president, for generations, this was the american promise. if you worked hard planed by the rules -- and played by the rules success would be within your reach. we call that success the american dream. to earn a decent wage, buy a home, put your children through school and retire comfortably. for many people in this country,
10:04 am
that dream has drifted farther and further from reality. the recession cost many americans their jobs, homes, savings and basic economic security. many are still struggling. and although the economy has made slow progress toward recovery, there is still much more work to be done before every american who wants to work can find a job. but the terrible recession is only part of the problem. the same wall street greed that caused the financial collapse is fueling the greatest income disparity since the great depression. in the last few decades, average c.e.o.'s income has multiplied 250 times. meanwhile, c.e.o.'s k employees have watched their incomes barely creep up at all. lyndon johnson said in 1965, and it's time to ask that now -- and i quote -- "not only how to create wealth but how to use it. not only how fast we're going, but where we're headed."
10:05 am
we can choose to be the kind of nation where hard work of many pays off only for the richest few. or we can be the kind of nation where every man and woman shoulders a fair share of the burden and reaps a fair share of that reward. we can be the kind of country where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer or we can be the kind of country where middle-class families share in the opportunity and the prosperity. president obama has called this choice a make-or-break moment of middle class, and tonight he'll lay out a road map that sets out the path to fairness instead of inequality. i look forward to hearing president obama's vision this evening. it begins with an economy that works for every american regardless of the size of his or her checkbook. i expect the president to lay out commonsense ideas to spur american manufacturing. his vision is fueled by
10:06 am
homegrown renewable energy. it's time to stop spending american dollars on foreign oil. it's time to hire american workers to build wind turbines and next-generation vehicles. the president will propose a new plan to make sure today's students are ready for tomorrow's jobs and today's workers remain competitive in our global economy. i expect the president to include ideas from democrats and from republicans. for three years the president reached out to republicans. now is the time to work with him on common ideas to boost legislation, not stalemate. i request my republican colleagues to give his bipartisan vision the consideration it deserves. in 1947, president truman delivered the first televised state of the union message. truman was the 20th president to govern alongside a congress controlled by the opposing party. the first was george washington. he said democrats in the legislative branch and republicans in the legislative branch could work hand in hand
10:07 am
to shape the nation. this is what he said. men who differ can still work together sincerely for the common good. close quote. i hope republicans in congress will keep those words in mind tonight. despite all our differences work together for the common good of all americans. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:08 am
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. tphoeup tonight the -- mr. mcconnell: tonight the president of the united states will come to the capitol to give us his sense of the state of the union. this is a venerable tradition and we welcome him. yet it's hard not to feel a
10:09 am
sense of disappointment even before tonight's speech is delivered because while we don't yet know all the specifics, we do know the goal. based on what the president's aides have been telling reporters, the goal isn't to conquer the nation's problems. it's to conquer republicans. the goal isn't to prevent gridlock, but to guarantee it. here's how "the new york times" summed up the president's election-year strategy in a recent article entitled "obama to turn up attacks on congress in campaign." here's the quote. "in terms of the president's relationship with congress in 2012, the president is no longer tied to washington, d.c." according to the story, "winning a full-year extension of the cut in payroll taxes, the last knew tph*u piece of legislation for
10:10 am
the white house." here's how a white house aide described the president's strategy a couple of weeks ago, presumably just as tonight's speech was being drafted. referring to past displays of bipartisanship, he said -- quote -- "then we were in a position of legislative compromise by necessity. that phase is behind us." so as i see it, the message from the white house is that the president has basically given up. he got nearly everything he wanted from congress for the first two years of his presidency. the results are in. they're not good. sew decided to spend the -- so he decided to spend the rest of the year trying to convince folks that the results of the economic policies he put in place are somehow congress's fault and not his. my message is this: this debate isn't about what congress may or may not do in the future. it's about what this president
10:11 am
has already done. the president's policies are now firmly in place. it's his economy now. we're living under the obama economy. the president may want to come here tonight and make it sound as if he just somehow walked in the door. a better approach is to admit that his three-year experiment in big government has made our economy worse and our nation's future more uncertain. and it's time for a different approach. that's the message the american people delivered to the president in november of 2010, and they're still waiting. the president will tell you american people tonight that he's got a blueprint for the economy. what he will fail to mention is that we've been working off the president's blueprint now for three years. for three years. and what's it gotten us?
10:12 am
millions still looking for work. trillions in debt. and the first credit downgrade in u.s. history. the president will propose ideas tonight that sound good and have bipartisan support. and if he's serious about these proposals, if he really wants to enact them, he'll encourage democrats who are in the senate to keep them free from poison pills like tax hikes on job creators that we know from past experience turned bipartisan support into bipartisan opposition. the president wants someone to blame for this economy, he should start with himself. the fact is any c.e.o. in america with a record like this after three years on the job would be graciously shown the door. this president blames the managers instead. he blames the folks on the shop floor. he blames the weather.
10:13 am
well, you're certainly within your rights to walk away from the legislative process if you like, mr. president. you can point the finger all you like, but you can't walk away from your record. i saw a survey the other day that contained a number of sobering findings. it was a poll of small business leaders. it said that more than eight out of ten of them tphoup believe the u.s. economy is on the wrong track. eight in ten said they'd rather have washington stay out of the way than try to help them. nearly nine out of ten said they'd rather have more certainty from washington than more assistance. and it said that nearly a third of all those surveyed said they're not hiring on account of the health care bill. a third of them said they were not hiring on account of the health care bill. what this survey says to me is that the policies of this
10:14 am
administration are literally crushing -- crushing -- the private sector. they're stifling job creation and they're holding the economy back. americans want washington to get out of the way, and yet this president continues to have the same two-word answer he's always had for seemingly every single problem we face. "more government." and this is the economy we've got to show for it. will have the week the president had an opportunity to do something on his own about the ongoing jobs crisis. the only thing that stood in the way of the single-biggest shovel-ready infrastructure project in america was him. the keystone pipeline was just the kind of project he had been calling for in peaches for
10:15 am
months. and he said, no, that one could wait. here's a project he knew would create thousands of jobs instantly. he said "no." a project that wouldn't have cost taxpayers a dime. he said no. that would have brought more energy from our ally canada and less from the middle east. he said "no." it all came down to one question: was the keystone pipe lynn in the national interest or not? he said, no. as one columnist put it, his own standard wasn't the national interest, it was his own political interest. americans want jobs and the
10:16 am
president is studying an election that took place 60 years ago to see how he can save his own job. he sided with the liberal environmental base over the energy and security interests of the american people. and that's exactly what we're now being told we can expect for the rest of the year. in last year's state of the union, the president talked about how we need to win the future. win the future. this year he just wanted to win the next campaign -- he just wants to win the next campaign. the president can decide he's not interested in working with congress if his party only controls one half of it. that's his prerogative. he can give up on bipartisanship, but we won't. our problems are too urgent. the economy is too weak. the future is too uncertain. the president knows as well as i
10:17 am
do that when he's called for action on things for which there exists bipartisan support, the republicans have been his strong eflt allies. last year in the state of the union, he called for free trade agreements. we worked hard to get them done, and we did. since then he called for an extension of the highway and f.a.a. bills, and the jobs that come with them. we did both with strong bipartisan support. the president asked for patent reform. we got that done, too. the president knows as well as we do we're happy to work with him whenever he's willing to work with us. if he turns his back on that good-faith offer, as we expect he will this year, we'll remind people that the problems we face aren't about what congress may or may not do in the future but what this president has already done, what's already happened. let the president turn his back
10:18 am
on bipartisanship, let the press cover every futile speech and every staged event, but we intend to do our jobs, and we invite him to join us. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. and under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 4:00 p.m. today with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each. the time equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or her designees, with the first 30 minutes controlled by the majority leader or his designee and the second 30 minutes controlled by the republican leader or his designee. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i listened to the speech just given by the republican leader of the senate. he expresses a sentiment that americans share, that it's time for us to work together in the senate and the house, across the board in washington and solve
10:19 am
the problems which american families face every single day. i agree with him completely on that. unfortunately, the record doesn't reflect a level of cooperation which the american people are expecting. it was hardly a month or two into the obama administration when the republican leader announced that his highest priority was to to make certain that barack obama was a one-term president. it is difficult to establish a working relationship when the first words out of a republican leader's mouth are "we're going to defeat you." and then as we addressed the largest issues of the day, time and again we found little or no bipartisan cooperation. i think back to the important, historic debate on health care. if there was ever a moment when we should have come together
10:20 am
with a bipartisan solution, it was that moment. and despite the best efforts of senator baucus, the democratic finance chair, and others, we were unable to even get a core group of republicans to join us in this conversation about containing the overwhelming increase in the cost of health care. at the end of the day, after one of the most painfully long and rancorous debates in senate history, not one single republican senator would vote for health care reform, not one. same thing held true when it came to wall street reform. many of us felt that the recession we are currently coming out of was created by mismanagement and greed at the highest levels of our financial institutions. many of us were angered by the fact that we were called on with a political gun to our heads and told, if you don't pass a bailout program for the biggest banks in america, our economy
10:21 am
will crater and the weakest, poorest people in america will suffer the most. that was our choice, our choice given at that moment. and many of us were determined to never let that happen again. and so we put together a wall street reform bill. senator chris dodd of connecticut, not retired, let the effort on the democratic side and we tried to come up with a bipartisan bill. we worked to do it. he was masterful in his day and did everything in his power to make it a bipartisan bill, yet at the end of the day, not one single republican would vote for wall street reform, not one. now on the campaign trail we hear from republican candidates they're going to repeal wall street reform, they're going to repeal health care reform. they're not creating an environment that's conducive to the level of cooperation which senator mcconnell earlier spoke of. i hope that he's right, that even in this presidential election year we can find some
10:22 am
common ground. there are several things which are immediately before us which require it. first, the extension of the payroll tax cut. this is a cut that helps working families across america. it helps the economy. and it will expire at the end of the february if we don't reach a bipartisan agreement to extend it, along with unemployment benefits. secondly, postal reform. many of the suggestions that have been made by the postmaster general about saving money at the post office create real hardship in states like illinois where some nine different mail processing facilities would be closed, closed in areas where i frankly could never justify it because they do a volume of work, do it well, and perform a valuable function. but we have a chance. by may 1r5, the deadline which the -- by may 15, the deadline which the postmaster agreed to in my office, by may 15, if we enact legislation to save money and keep the post office running
10:23 am
in the right direction, then we can avoid some of these onerous cuts we've heard of. but the burden falls on democrats and republicans to achieve it. i hope we can. on another subject, i had the opportunity to visit two island nations near our shores -- cuba and haiti. each is facing enormous problems. in could you embay cuba, how tok tairltship. and in haiti, how to rebuild from a devastating earthquake two of years in a nation already one of the poorest on earth. i concluded the trip more optimistic about hearkts despite all its challenges -- about haiti, despite all its challenges, than cuba, which quite frankly appeared froze nontime in an ideology which should be cast aside for a more modern view of how to progress in the 21st century. i am no fan of the castro
10:24 am
regime, but i am also no fan of the foreign policy in the united states. i look back on what we tried to achieve in cuba or the last 50 years, and any analysis would tell you we do not achieve our goal. fidel castro is not a casualty of our own foreign policy. he is a casualty of old analyst he is there. and his brother now reins as the successor in cuba. despite achievements in health and education in cuba, and i saw firsthand some of these achievements, the government has maintained a grip on the people. political opposition is oppressed. those pursuing greater political freedom of government accountability at times even
10:25 am
find their young children threatened, as was sadly noted in "the new york times" on sunday. in a most recent incident, martiza pellagrino found herself harassed for associating with a group for the wives and daughters of political prisoners. her 5- and 7-year-old children were threatened to be taken away. another man found himself and his colleagues harassed and in some cases jailed. fragically, the petition process for change was actually called for in the cuban constitution. he was only following the constitution of his country and he ended up being harassed and many who supported him arrested. nonetheless, under president rule castro, there has been some
10:26 am
modest reform. the conditional release of some political prisoners and some economic reform. there's also been some serious oil exploration under way off the coast of cuba. i wanted to go to cuba for the first time to visit that part of cuba other than guantanamo to see what changes had taken place, to see what preparations the cuban government had made for offshore oil drilling within 50 miles of the coast of florida. to see if the united states and cuba would work together on environmental concerns related to offshore drilling and to see if the 50-plus years of u.s. isolation were having the intended effect of creating a climate of political and economic reform. most importantly, i wanted to talk to the cuban government about a 62-year-old american development worker, alan gross of maryland, who has been imprisoned by the cuban regime for more than two years. gross was sentenced to 15 years
10:27 am
for bringing internet equipment to cuba for the island's small jewish community. 15 years for bringing equipment to cuba which any american could purchase at radio shack 15 years in prison. can anyone imagine that in today's world? well, that is fact in cuba. i sat senator two hours with mr. gross. i am grateful that the government let me do that. i didn't know him in advance. i had heard a lot about him. but i took the measure of a man who is really living under the most tryin circumstances duringt meeting. alan gross is no spy. he is no terrorist. he is no threat to cuba or its future. he is a humble and kind man. he within trying to overthrow their government. he was simply trying to expand communications and openness in cuba. and now, while his family
10:28 am
suffers in his absence back home, he languishes in a prison-like atmosphere. he told me what happened when he came to cuba. he said, understand, i used my american passport with my name and flew in on a cuban-owned airline. landed in havana and took every piece of equipment that i was bringing in through customs and stood there while they took each piece of the bofl and inspected it. at one point the cuss stopples official said to him, it is what? he is said, it is a router. he said, i'm not sure you can bring it in. at which point gross said, then keep it. just give me your naivment i'll claim it when i leave the country. the man said, no there is a duty coming in. gross said, how much will it cost? because it is 100%, it'll cost. he paid the $100 and all the equipment passed through customs
10:29 am
inspected piece by piece and he brought it into the country. he stayed at a cuban hotel. they knew where he was. his travels were well-known, as most trstles ar travels are to n government. then they arrested him. it is hard to say with a straight face that alan gross was some agent of a government trying to overthrow the cuban government. he languishes now over two years because of these accusations. they have taken away his shoes. he said at one point he couldn't have shoestrings because he might try to hang himself. it took him seven months to convince him to allow his wife to bring him dental floss. he uses the dental floss for shoestrings. they took away his ipod.
10:30 am
his routine is one which i would find hard to imagine for any long period of tiesm gets up at 6:00, is in a room with two other prisoners. and he has mapped out a course on the floor that he's measured that he walks every morning back and forth and back and forth for an hour and a half. and he says, if i do that about 500 times, it is equivalent of five miles. so i walk that back and forth every morning when i get up. i get a little breakfast and listen to the cuban news. finally they give him a chance to go outside. one hour outside. he said they have some rebar hanging outside and he said i do pullups to keep myself in decent condition. he's suffering from a deteriorating back problem which caused partial paralysis in his right leg. they wanted to treat him with chemotherapy. he refused. i find it hard to imagine how chemotherapy could apply to that situation. he's a man who has other medical
10:31 am
issues: arthritis and problems, gout, other conditions which don't make for a very comfortable life. and of course the wear and tear on his mind of being separated from his family tpo so long. i was very moved by my discussion with alan gross, his bravery and particularly his warmth toward the cuban people. i said to one of the ministers of their government afterwards, you ought to sit down and talk to this man. he doesn't hate cuba, and he doesn't hate the people of cuba. he certainly wasn't coming in to overthrow your government. he would come back to america and say we need a better, stronger relationship between our nay 2002 nations. -- between our two nations. much different than some might expect. i appealed to the cuban government when i was there, three times in in fact to consider humanitarian release for alan gross, to show a gesture that could help improve relation twaoepbs our two countries -- between our two countries that have seen enough division and animosity. i know the american intersection
10:32 am
under the leadership of john caulfield worked tirelessly on this issue. sadly the cuban government seems determined to keep alan gross as a pawn, as endless hostage to the dated standoff between our two nations. i hope i'm wrong in that conclusion. i left cuba feeling this poor man was a victim of international horse trading which has been going on for five decades. i hope the government will show compassion and mercy to mr. gross and let him come home after two years of imprisonment. recently president raul castro released over 2,900 political prisoners, including some americans. alan gross was not included. he should have been. there's still a chance, a chance for the cuban government to do the right thing for alan gross and do something that will allow to us say there's real progress twhe doms dealing -- when it comes to dealing at least in
10:33 am
this instance with a man who i believe has been falsely accused. i hope there are some in the cuban leadership who are tired of the old way of doing things and worn out with the slogans blaming the super power united states for every problem in cuba, tired of a system of political and economic isolation that has nothing to do with the united states anymore and a system that keeps its people from joining the community of nations and sharing the many impressive tablets of the cuban people. nonetheless while deeply troubled by cuba's political repression and the impasse on alan gross, i continue to believe that we should look for new ways to establish a relationship with cuba. i believe that dramatically opening cuba to the world at large and america in particular, the ideas and the energy of the american people is the best way to bring real and lasting change to that island. we have tried isolation for more than 50 years, with at best,
10:34 am
mixed results. it became clear to me during my visit that some of the hard-liners who were part of that revolution back in the 1950's are still in power and still clinging to their old ideology. it's time for something new in cuba, and it's time for something new in our policy. a new diplomacy with cuba. there are a lot of people who disagree with me on this issue in this chamber and outside, including many of my close friends. but ultimately we have the same goal: we want real freedom in cuba, and we want to work to make sure that the united states has a friend 90 miles off our shore. i hope that day is near. mr. president, i then visited haiti. it was my third trip to that poor country. it is the poorest nation on our side of the globe. and of course the poverty preceded an earthquake of a little over two years ago. it's a flight of about 90 minutes from miami. but in many ways it's a world
10:35 am
apart. they're proud and kind people. they have suffered unimaginable misfortune both at the hands of repressive dictator and then from mother nature. the history of haiti is fascinating. they overthrew slavery, took control of their nation, and for almost 50 years waited for the united states government to recognize them as a nation because we were divided in our country over the issue of slavery, it was too hot to handle. it was an issue we wouldn't touch until the civil war began, abraham lincoln was president and he recognized the republic of haiti for the first time as a sovereign nation. two years ago the world showed an outpouring of generosity to help this country when it was devastated by an earthquake. as you travel around port-au-prince as we did last week, you can still see the rubble, still seat pancake buildings where so many people
10:36 am
died. thousands responded donating time and endless effort. they still do. the plane from miami to port-au-prince was loaded with americans, many of them wearing crosses around their neck, t-shirts advertising the charitable cause that is they were supporting, heading to haiti to help. that spirit of giving has sustained the haitian people through a very difficult time. former presidents clinton and george w. bush helped raise money for those efforts and the rebuilding efforts that followed. today more than half of the one million displaced persons have left the camps in port-au-prince and around the island of haiti and found homes. believe me, their homes are modest by american standards. to walk into an eight foot-by eight foot room and have the woman there tell me time and again that four or five people live in that room, hard for many americans to imagine. but for these haitians it is an improvement over where they were before. many of the changes in haiti are
10:37 am
fragile. there is a great deal of work still to be done. but improvements are real. i recommend to those who go to port-au-prince to visit one project, several but one in particular, the group called jesquille. in partnership with the centers for disease control, this group is showing what can happen with a modest, small investment by the united states. many years ago i worked to pass legislation known as the paul simon water for the poor act. it was not funded at any great level, but it was an opportunity to have some money available for developing nations around the world to find potable, clean, safe drinking water. how important is that? right now haiti faces the threat of a cholera epidemic which literally kills innocent people. tanned's because they don't have safe -- and it's because they don't have safe drinking water. smack dab in the middle of port-au-prince at this jesquille
10:38 am
project, dr. dechoppe took me on a tour and pointed to a ground and a little piece of equipment and said there's our well and you built it with paul simon water for the poor act. she said we had to drill 600 feet and we found crystal clear water. we treat it with chlorine, and we provide water out of this camp for 120,000 people. i asked her how much did it do have the build the project. she said $25,000. $25,000. think of the cost in human terms, not to mention economic terms of a cholera epidemic and the suffering that would follow. it's a lesson for us to learn in america that small contributions in the right places can dramatically change lives in the poorest places on earth. the people on that camp and those who are served know that the american people cared enough to let them drill a well which gives them safe water for their children and families. we can and should do more, even
10:39 am
with our limited means. we witnessed a group called partners in health, a fellow by the name of dr. paul farmer, an inspiring man who i read about and have come to know personally , toeupbs extend the reach of -- continues to extend the reach of care and health care to the poorest people in haiti on that haitian island. we visited one of his camps where literally the day after the earthquake they went into a hospital and found 40 children in a hospital ward unattended, because the earthquake people fled and died in the process. these kids survived. and it was dr. paul farmer, partners in health, who brought them in. about a fourth of these children are special-needs children who could not survive were it not for his help. they are there being fed and cared for and clothed because of the kindness of this man and the wonderful volunteers who are part of his organization. we went back to a project that i
10:40 am
visited years ago with the senator from mike dewine, who served from the state of ohio. he and his wife fran invite immediate down to meet father tom hagan of philadelphia who in 1985 went down to haiti with a group of students from lafayette college and decided this was where he needed to spend the rest of his life. he create add group called hands together, and now that organization literally educates and feeds hundreds of poor children and elderly people in haiti. it is refreshing and rewarding to go and see this work and to realize that amidst all the storm and fury of our political debate, there are good people, many from our own country that do such amazing things with little or no recognition. father tom hagan and hands together in port-au-prince in one of the poorest sections is a living example of that.
10:41 am
i want to thank our embassy staff, our ambassador kim burton in port-au-prince. this is his third or fourth assignment in haiti. he and his wife love haiti. they speak creole. he is a wonderful representative to the united states and works tirelessly to help these people. we had a meeting with the new president of haiti, president martelli. i didn't know what to expect, mr. president. here's a man who made his name as a punk regg a star and got elected president. what i found was a bundle of energy. leaping across the room saying let's make changes. my country needs it and needs it now. what a dramatic change over some of his predecessors. i was reefly happy to meet with him. and -- i was really happy to meet with him. and then the prime minister k
10:42 am
kaneil le. a medical doctor in haiti working in the state of new york making over $200,000 a year as chief of staff to former president clinton in his role as envoy for the united nations to haiti who gave up that post in new york to take the job of prime minister in haiti for $35,000 a year. a medical doctor. a wonderful man. clearly has no separate personal agenda. he just wants to help the people of this island. i left, mr. president, very heartened by my meetings with those two individuals. their energy, determination and thoughtfulness for haiti gives me hope for nation. they recognize haiti will never be on the path to long term stability without educating its people and employing them and bringing the kind of leadership and foreign investment so that their nation can grow. we in the united states should support that effort. i'm going to urge chairman john
10:43 am
kerry of the foreign relations committee where the presiding officer and i serve to enhance the haiti reforestation act. that is an issue brought up by many of the leaders that we met with. i introduced it originally with senator susan collins and senator kerry some months ago. we want to tackle one of the haiti's most entrenched long-term problems, one that has a spillover impact on a lot of key issues, like agriculture and flooding that can hit this poor nation. the last night we were in haiti in our room there was a violent thunderstorm and the lady who ran our gathering place where we were, the little inn came to me and said i will guarantee in the morning there will be press reports that two or three people drowned and died because of this rainstorm. it is not uncommon in haiti. that's why reforestation is part of the solution to that terrible problem. i want to make sure that my colleagues understand how important our involvement in this is. i asked how many groups had come
10:44 am
down recently from congress to visit haiti. i was told that my colleague, senator mark rubio from florida had been there a few days before. i know senator bill nelson spent time there with his wife, making the right contacts. but for those in the senate and the house of both political parties who are looking for an opportunity to see where a small amount of american taxpayer dollars are making a huge difference in the lives of some of the poorest people in the western hemisphere, that hour and a half trip from my my to haiti is worth your time -- from my my to haiti is worth your time. i ask unanimous consent the senate be asked to join the committee to escort the president of the united states into the house chamber for a joint session to be held tonight at 9:00 p.m. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, i yield the floor.
10:45 am
the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:46 am
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. chambliss mr. isakson: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. isakson: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: i ask to be recognized in morning business. the presiding officer: the senator is so recognized. mr. isakson: well, we're back, mr. president. and tonight i understand that the presiding officer and i will be sitting together at the state of the union event which i'm pleased to do and it is always an historic moment in our process when the president of the united states talks about and lays out his plans for the future. i know from watching this morning on television and from reading some of the accounts of what is thought to be said tonight, one of the overriding themes is the theism fairness. that's an important thing to focus on particularly with regard to our spending and debt
10:47 am
and deficit. i did a telephone town hall meeting back to juror last evening. we had thousands of people listening in on the call. i was able to take 17 questions in the course of an hour. one of the questions was from fred in barnsville, georgia. fred is a small business person. he said, senator, you were a small businessman. i am a small businessman. we in to operate within a budget. why is it the united states government doesn't have a budget and really today i think is the 100th day we haven't been operating withouoperating with . so if you want to talk about fairness for a minute, my contribution is going to be, what's fair to the american people, the american businessman, the american employee? a budget is a guide by which you try to live under. it is an appropriation of your priorities to the future based on what you think you'll need to accomplish your goals. but if you're without a budget, then you have the tendency at the do what america has done over the last three years and
10:48 am
that is exponentially increase its debt and its deficit. what that has done is put a paul on the economy and a pall on the recovery. so i would suggest the fairest thing we can do in congress and the fairest thing the administration can do is see to it that we have a budget submitted, that it come to the floor of the house and senate, that it be adopted and then more importantly we change our pace here and live within that budget. i have some suggestions of how do you that but first and foremost i urge the white house to submit a budget this year. i understand that it will be delayed until february 13. that's fine with me. but the quicker we get to us, the better off we are. then let the budget committees of the house and senate act and end up with a framework not just for a year but for ten years because we forecast out those budgets and those complications of those budgets for ten years. but we have a broken system. we also have a broken will to $what's really most more than pour the american people when it comes to spend their money.
10:49 am
i want to suggest how we change our habits and become a fairer legislative body and a fair governing body to the american people. senator jeanne shaheen and i introduced a bill a year ago called the biennial budget. it amends the budget control act of the united states of america and changes the way we do business. it portends that in the future instead of appropriating and b budgeting for one year, you'll do it in two-year sickles and you'll do your budgeting in the odd-numbered years so in the even-numbered year of reelection you're doing oversight fiscal accountability. i think everyone will admit we make an effort at oversight to a certain extent but not near the oversight the american people have to do. you know, it is ironic that our country, our people, our families, our retirees, our business folks, our employees, the last four years of the recession, they've sat around their kitchen table lots of
10:50 am
times, reprioritized what they could are aford, reallocated their resources to take care of their family and children and they've been frying rail and conservative because they have to. they can't deficit-spend. they can't borrow themselves into oblivion. they can't print the money and write the checks. don't you think the government ought to at least have to live under the same set of circumstances? we need for this room to become a big kitchen table, good enough for 100 people of good will to sit down together. we need a white house to submit a budget that we can then argue about and set the priorities of this country and try to put a governor on what we're spending. try and put some type of accountability for where we're going. try and forecast what the american people can expect of all of us. so tonight when the president talks about fairness, i hope one of his quotes will be, its only fair to expect of me, the president, to submit a budget to the congress and it is only fair of me, the president, to expect
10:51 am
the congress to act on that busmght because, after all, everything else flows from that. in the absence of budget responsibility, budget restrictions and predictions and a kuhl us will for the future, we're spending without any governor or guide. it is like trying to get to alaska from here without a road map. unfortunately, of all the institutions in america, thrtion a only one that doesn't know where it's going and how the a getting there. that happens to be the government of the united states of america. so my message today at this day of the state of the yiewndz and this statement of fairness, let's be fair to the american people. let's ask of ourselves what they're asking to ask of themselves because of high deficits and high debt. interest rates, those living on fixed incomes are seeing interest rates of .025%. markets have been flat in terms of investment, real estate values are down nationwide 33%. i saw last night in teem pa, the
10:52 am
presidential debate location, it was at 55%. we have the most significant, serious financial crisis in the history of the united states of america. so let's ask of our servings let's ask of our president what every american family has had to ask of itself, sit around our kitchen table, budget and prioritize. i would suggest that senator shaheen and i have a road map that works. do you did in two years. committed to budgeting in one year. wouldn't it be a great change for you and for i object to campaigning in even-numbered years talking about what we're looking to save and cut rather than what we're looking toad to bring home the bacon. it is time for the next bacon to be brought home to be a sound budget and fiscal policy for the people of the united states of america. i note the absence of a quorum.
10:53 am
the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. thune: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota. mr. thune: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection.
10:54 am
mr. thune: mr. president, i want to, like all my colleagues here, express our sympathy and support and prayers for our colleague, senator kirk. senator kirk is someone who is new to the senate but served for a good number of years in the house of representatives but already has made a tremendous impact in coming to the senate. incredibly smart, hardworking, thoughtful, knowledgeable on so many different sugges subjects o obviously we will miss his presence here in the near-term but hope and pray for a full, quick, complete recovery and hope to have him back with us soon. and so i know i speak for many of my colleagues, but certainly want to express my and my family's prayers and support for senator kirk and for his family as he tries to get back on his feet. and we wish him all the best, as he does that, and hope that he
10:55 am
will return soon and be able to get involved in many of the issues that he was involved with and has been involved with sings he's come to the senate. and if he were here, i think he would be very involved in the debates about -- that we're going to be having in the coming days about the budget. i think that today marks the 100th day since we actual -- the 1,000th day since we actually acted on a budget. that's something that we're very, very concerned about. senator kirk was one of those. i consider myself to be one of those. we have a lot of people in the united states senate who are very concerned about where we are as a nation, about the amount of spending, the amount of debt that we've wracked up, continue to pile up on an annual basis. it all starts with a busmght we spend $3.6 trillion of the americaamerican people's money n annual base basis and yet we have not had a budget here in the united states senate for 1,000 days, literally now for
10:56 am
three years essentially since the senate last passed a budget. we cannot continue with a straight face to go to the american people and say that we are being good stewards of their tax dollars when in fact we don't even go through the exercise annually of determining and prioritizing how we're going to spend their hard-earned tax dollars. this is something that crisis out for reform. my colleague, senator isakson, who just spoke, has some proposals for budget reform that i think we ought to take up, we ought to vote on here in the united states senate. i've got some ideas about budget reform. there are so many things that we need to do to change the budget process here in the congress, because we have failed to pass a budget resolution, not just for the past 1,000 days but also for five of the last seven election years. we've only completed five of the annual appropriations bills on time in four of the last 34
10:57 am
years. we clearly have a problem. i don't think there's anybody whwho can't say this system nees to be fixed. as we bent's witness through the budget for 20912, we had to go through this annual exercise of doing nearly $1 trillion omnibus spending bill at the 11th hour, yet again. and during the past three years we've consistently had record deficits of $1.3 trillion or more. clearly, what we have in place is not working, and the american people are the ones who are paying the price for a that because the debt per person is now oarve $48,700. that's an increase of nearly $14,000 per -- on an individual basis since president obama took office. if you think about iten a per household basis, it represents $126,000 per person family, per
10:58 am
household, that is their share of our federal debt. that's massive amount of money that we put on -- that we pile on to people in this country. if you nad the unfunded liabilities for social security and medicare, which exceed $40 trillion, then you start talking about over a half a million dollars in liability for every family in this country. national debt is now mother than $15 trillion, which is literally over 100% of our gross domestic product. to put that in perspective, one years ago greece was at 143%. we are not far behind. we are now 100% debt to g.d.p. we're seeing the effect of high levels of sovereign debt in countries like greece. we're real estate going to face a similar crisis in the not-too-distant future. if we continue to see an economy
10:59 am
struggling and growing at a very slow rate, we cannot grow that economy by making the federal government larger. that's the case. the $1 trillion stimulus bill that passed in 2009 would have brought unemployment down. but as we know, the unemployment rate in this country is still at 8.5%. we've got to unleash the economy. we've got to make the federal government smaller, not larger. and get federal spending as a percentage of our gross domestic product back more of an historical average. today the spending as a percentage of g.d.p. is about 25%. if you go in the last 40 years of american historic the average has been 20% to 231%. there have only been five times since 1969 where the budget has actually been balanced. in the cases where the budget was balanced, spending a a percentage of g.d.p. was 18.7% on average. so it can be done. but we've got to get spending back to a more historic and
11:00 am
reasonable level relative to our entire commitment of the detect to g.d.p. as i mentioned earlier is also historic because we haven't seen debt to g.d.p. levels like this literally since the end of world war ii. you have to go back over a half a century to find a time when we were carrying debt to g.d.p. that was one-to-one. where the amount of debt that we have in this country is 100% of our entire economic output in a given year. tha -- that is a staggering, staggering number and one that should make us all very concerned about our future if we don't take steps to correct it. i think that point was driven home by the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen, who has said in testifying before congressional committees that the greatest threat to america's national security is our national debt. think about that. he didn't say the iranian nuclear program. he didn't say china. he didn't say north korea. he didn't say al qaeda. he said the greatest threat to
11:01 am
america's national security is our national debt. that coming from the person who used to be the highest ranking military official in this country. i think that speaks volumes about what we need to be focused on and why it is so important that we start getting our budgetary, our fiscal house in order. and why it is so important, frankly, mr. president, that we pass a budget. 1,000 days without a budget. 1,000 days, and we spend $3.6 trillion every single year of the american people's money. i think that, again, in order to get our fiscal house in order, in order to get our economy back on track, we've got to cut spending. we have to reduce the amount that we spend, and that means we've got to take on some of the big challenges before us, like entitlement reform. we all know that about three-fifths of all federal spending is in what we call mandatory spending and that represents programs like social security, medicare and medicaid that aren't annually appropriated for by congress but are a function of the law.
11:02 am
if you're eligible for a particular program, you're going to get a benefit under that program. that type of spending in our budget represents about three-fifths of all federal spending. if you add interest on the debt which is also mandatory spending, you get up to 65 cents out of every dollar being spent right now is in mandatory spending. when you've got programs like medicaid which is growing three times the rate of inflation, and medicare growing at two times the rate of inflation, it's pretty clear that's not sustainable over time waoefplt to figure out -- we have to figure out a way to get these programs where they aren't growing at 12% a year or 8% a year, closer to the rate of inflation. that means we've got to reform these programs if they're going to be sustainable and be there for future generations of americans. that can be done without impacting the benefits that people who are on those programs today receive and those who are nearing retirement age. there's a real concern, there's a lot of hot political rhetoric about republicans just want to
11:03 am
cut benefits for seniors across this country. i think, as most of my colleagues know, there have been several proposals put forward that would address the long-term challenges that we face with regard to medicare and medicaid, and for that matter, social security, all of which would not impact people who are retired today nor those who are nearing retirement age, but simply put in place some reforms that would impact younger americans who today are working hard and putting money into these programs. but if we don't take steps to fix these programs, they're not going to be around when those people retire. entitlement reform is so important in terms of getting federal spending under control, and that's why not withstanding the fact that it is an election year, i hope there will be the political will here in the congress and with the president and, frankly, mr. president, it's going to take presidential leadership to do these types of things. you cannot do big things. you cannot conquer big challenges and big problems in
11:04 am
this country absent presidential leadership. there are 535 members of congress. there is only one president. there is only one person who can sign a bill into law. there is only one person who can engage the congress and work towards a solution for some of these big challenges. and this president so far has demonstrated no willingness to take on the challenges that we face with regard to our budget. it was demonstrated last year when he submitted his budget to congress, it was ultimately voted on here in the senate and was voted down by a vote of 97-0. i think that tells you that they have not been serious about taking on the major drivers of federal spending in this country. with regard to the other part of our budget, the discretionary part, we saw spending increase in that part of our budget by 25% from 2008 to 2010, literally grew eight to ten times the rate of inflation. we need to get that part, that side of our spending under control as well. many of us have supported legislative efforts that would
11:05 am
roll back discretionary spending to 2008 levels to get us back in a place where we can defend the things that we are doing here to the american people at a time when they are seeing their family budgets shrink, they're seeing their personal assets shrink, and many of them are having a very hard time finding work. cutting spending, reducing spending, reforming entitlement programs, getting our fiscal house in order, mr. president, is just essential, absolutely essential if we want to put our country on a path and a track that will prevent us from heading for the train wreck that many of our allies, many of the countries in europe are facing right now simply because they made promises to their people that they just couldn't keep. and we've got to get our spending under control in this country and rein it in or that is our future. and i hope, for the sake of our children and grandchildren here in this country, that we're willing to make the hard political decisions that will enable that to happen. the second thing we've got to
11:06 am
see, mr. president, if we're going to get out of this sort of mow ras that we're in -- morass we're in right now in addition to reducing spending is we have got to get the economy growing again. we have to expand this economy, grow this economy. it's been said that the rising tide lifts all the boats. well, we need to get a tide that starts lifting all americans. instead of talking about how we are going to redistribute the pie, we need to make the pie bigger. and the way you do that is you grow and expand the economy. we start growing and expanding the economy, we'll get more americans back working again, we'll have more people making money, more people investing. when more people are making money, it means they're paying more taxes. revenues go up. that makes a lot of these other issues much more manageable. but you've got to have economic growth and you have to have policies in place, mr. president, that promote economic growth. regrettably, the policies of the current administration have had the opposite effect. they have made it more
11:07 am
difficult, more expensive to create jobs in this country. we need to put policies in place that will make it less expensive, less difficult to create jobs. and that will encourage people and provide the kind of economic certainty that gets people to invest their money, to put their capital to work and to get americans back to work in this country. i think there are several things obviously that need to be done. one of course is to reform the tax code which, in my view, is right now is a roadblock, if you will, an obstacle, an impediment to economic growth. we are not competitive in the world marketplace because of our tax policies. what we need today is a clear, fair, simple tax code that does away with a lot of these special interest loopholes that exist today, that broadens the tax base in this country, but at the same time that lowers rates so that businesses want to invest here in america as opposed to moving their headquarters and
11:08 am
taking their jobs overseas. we want to encourage investment here. that means we have got to reform our tax code. and that means, mr. president, as i said, that we've got to do away with a lot of the tax code today that is riddled with loopholes. we've got to do away with those loopholes. we need to get our tax rates down to where they're competitive with the countries around the world that are stealing business from us all the time and taking jobs overseas. so tax reform is an essential, in my view, element in economic growth strategy that will get us on a path where the economy is growing and expanding and where we're creating jobs in this country. that's going to take presidential leadership, just as entitlement reform is going to take presidential leadership. you can't do big things in this country absent presidential leadership. and this is another area where we've not seen that from this president. and i would hope that he will engage the congress again not withstanding the fact that this is an election year in a debate. and prapts more than a debate,
11:09 am
but a -- and perhaps more than a debate but a solution to the tax code in this country that will get us on a competitive footing and make us more competitive in the world marketplace. the president is going to have to do that, be involved in that debate or it's not going to happen, particularly in a political year. the other thing we've got to do, mr. president, is we've got to get our arms around these runaway, overreaching, excessive government regulations that are strangling small businesses in this country. i cannot tell you how many times when i travel my state of south dakota or anyplace else, for that matter, that i don't hear from small businesses that the number-one obstacle right now to us creating jobs is this massive amount of regulation coming out of washington, d.c. and, in fact, there have literally been thousands and thousands and thousands of new pages of regulations that have been promulgated, issued since this president took office. and they affect every sector of our economy. the one that we hear about the most probably is the e.p.a. but you've got the department of labor. you've got other agencies of
11:10 am
government that constantly are putting forward new regulations which make it more difficult, more complicated to get people in this country back to work. and just as a point, a fact about that recent set of regulations proposed by the department of labor which, by the way, there was no complaint about this. there was no consultation with the people that would be impacted by this. there wasn't any really reason that we can come up with for why these regulations were put forward. but the department of labor in their infin knit wisdom decided they know better how to run a farming operation, ranching operation in this country than the people involved in those endeavors and have basically put forward some regulations that would make it, put all kinds of new restrictions on young people working in family farming or ranching operations. incredibly prescriptive regulations, i might add. detailed regulations that are going to change the culture and
11:11 am
the economic fabric of ranching and farming in this country like anything we've seen before. anybody who's been around farming operation enterprise in my part of the country realizes they are inherently family operations. young people are involved in those operations. when the department of labor comes out and says young people can't operate certain types of equipment or young people can't work with farm animals that are older than six months or can't be on, in an elevation that is any more than six feet, it is a complete contradiction to the way that work gets done in rural parts of this country. but that's what we have. we've got a massive amount of new regulation coming out of the department of labor that will forever change the way that farming operations are carried out and the work gets done on a family farm. that's the kind of thing that i'm talking about, mr. president. it is overreaching.
11:12 am
it is excessive. it goes beyond the pale in terms of what we need by way of regulation in this country. we need smart regulation. there are public health and safety reasons why we need it. but this kind of overreaching, excessive regulation is making it that much more difficult for people to get jobs in this country. the final thing i'll mention with regard to an economic agenda that i think will get people back to work and create jobs, mr. president, is the issue of energy security. we need an energy policy in this country that promotes domestic production, that recognizes that we have enormous amounts of resources here at home, that we shouldn't have to continue to import a lot of our energy from outside the united states. the keystone pipeline which was just recently vetoed by the administration, turned down, is an example of that. studied for three years extensively by many agencies of the government, ao*ep, serious environmental impact statements done, all cleared, all teed this thing up to be done and just
11:13 am
this last week the president said no, it's not in the national interest. i would argue and i think a lot of people on both sides here in the senate would argue that this is in the national interest. that it's a lot better for to us get 700,000 barrels of oil a day from a friendly neighbor like canada as opposeed to a country like venezuela. we can continue to buy oil from hugo chavez or we can get that same equivalent amount of oil from a friendly neighbor like canada, bring it into this country where it's refined haoerbgs creates jobs -- here, creates jobs, gets investment here in the united states. instead we're going to see that energy source go the other direction. it's going to go to asia. it's going to go to china if we aren't able to get projects like this approved. interestingly enough, there was a pipeline just like this that was built a few years ago, and it goes right through the eastern part of my state and other states. this pipeline would go through the western part of my state of
11:14 am
south dakota as well as other states, but it would bring much of that energy resource into this country, create jobs and help create economic growth here in america as opposeed to sending that energy overseas and making us more dependent upon foreign sources of energy here at home. it just makes absolutely no sense, mr. president. if the president of the united states is serious in his rhetoric about focusing every morning on creating jobs, you'd think the first thing that he would want to do is support projects that create shovel-ready jobs -- in this case 20,000 shovel-ready jobs -- an investment of $7 billion and bring energy into this country that will make us more energy-independent. that is absolutely right in the wheel house of what we ought to be looking for in terms of getting this country's economy back on track. yet the president last week turned thumbs down on this proposal. i simply would say again in closing, mr. president, that in my view, if we're going to get our country back on track, we have got to get our fiscal house
11:15 am
in order, which means we have got to reduce spending, get our spending as a percentage of our entire economy back into a form, more of an historical norm. for the past 40 years that's been about 21% of our economy. today we're spending 25% and we're on a trajectory that not too far from now we'll be spending 40% of our entire economy. we've got to get spending under control and then we have got to get policies in place that will promote long-term economic growth and reverse the decline that we've seen, the massive amount of debt we racked up over the past three years and the huge job losses we've seen at the same time. if we can do that we will at least be doing the people's work in terms of trying to address the major problems which i think face more americans and the things they're most concerned about every single day. i yield the floor.
11:16 am
mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: thank you, mr. president. democracy, meaning government of the people, by the people, and for the people, does not thrive or even survive unless we have a well-informed and well-educated public who are thinking about, discussing, and debating the important issues facing our country. in order to stimulate that goal, i have for the last two years sponsored an essay contest asking vermont's high school students what they think the united states should be doing to address the major problems facing our country. in other words, while tonight we hear from the president of the united states regarding his views about the state of the union, the he is cas the essayse vermont students have written express their views about the
11:17 am
state of the union. i am delighted that 308 students from 30 different high schools throughout vermont thought about these challenges as they choate their own state of the union essays. and i want to thank each and every one ever them for their participation in the contest and the time and the effort that they put into those essays. i also want to thank the five teachers who acted as judges for these essays. they are brian bergess, liz obrun, lois little, joe mehrly, and terry vesp of twin field union high school. mr. president, i want to tell you and my colleagues that the winner of this essay contest selected by the panel of five vermont teachers is jennifer sekorski, a senior at winewski high school. in addition-to-jennifer, 18
11:18 am
students were named at finalists. the four runnerups are monica allard, milton high school, kalely ilovac, kate rosca, and caroline in a sebeleska. because of the excellent quality of the essays, we honored the 14 other students with an honorable mention. mr. president, i ask that all of these essays be submitted for publication in the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: thank you, mr. president. with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. sanders: just a minute. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the presiding officer of the senate be authorized to appoint the committee on the part of the senate to join a like committee on the part of the house to escort the president of the united states into the house chamber for the joint session to be held tonight at 9:00 p.m.
11:19 am
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, i have one unanimous consent request for a committee to meet during today's session of the senate. it has the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that this request be agreed to and that this request be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, i yield the floor. i ask for a quorum call. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:20 am
11:21 am
11:22 am
11:23 am
11:24 am
11:25 am
11:26 am
11:27 am
11:28 am
11:29 am
11:30 am
quorum call:
11:31 am
11:32 am
11:33 am
11:34 am
11:35 am
11:36 am
11:37 am
11:38 am
11:39 am
11:40 am
11:41 am
11:42 am
11:43 am
11:44 am
11:45 am
quorum call:
11:46 am
11:47 am
11:48 am
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. conrad: mr. president, in listening to some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, both in speeches here and in press statements they have made, i hear repeatedly them say that we have not had a budget for a thousand days. mr. president, that's just wrong. that is just absolutely wrong. sometimes i wonder if our
11:49 am
colleagues are paying attention to what goes on here on the floor of the united states senate. have they already forgotten the budget control act? mr. president, here it is. august 2 of last year. the budget control act passed this body 74-26. more than half of our republican colleagues voted for it. didn't they know what they were voting on? the budget control act contains the budget for this year and for next year. weren't they paying attention? don't they know what they voted on? mr. president, in many ways the budget control act is stronger than a typical budget resolution. and it is stronger in these ways. number one, it is other more
11:50 am
extensive than a traditional budget resolution. number two, it has the force of law. unlike a budget resolution that is not signed by the president, the budget control act that we passed last august that provides the budget for this year and for next year is a law. passed by the house of representatives, passed by the senate, signed by the president of the united states. the budget control act. it also set discretionary caps on spending for ten years instead of the one year normally set in a budget resolution. so when our colleagues come out here and say we've not had a budget in a thousand days, wow, can they really have missed the vote that -- the debate, the consideration of
11:51 am
the budget control act? did they really miss all that? or -- or are they saying something they know to be untrue? because really, those are the only choices you've left with. either they don't know what they did, or they are misrepresenting what we all did. mr. president, not only does the budget control act set discretionary caps for ten years, it also provided enforcement mechanisms including a two year deeming resolution allowing budget points of order to be enforced. that's what a budget does. it sets the spending levels, it creates spending caps, and it provides enforcement mechanisms. all of that in the budget control act that we passed on august 2 of last year. with a vote of 74-26. not only did we pass it, but
11:52 am
the republican-controlled house passed it, and the president signed it. it is the law of the land. it sets the budget for this year, it sets the budget for next year, it provides enforcement mechanisms, it sets ten years of spending caps, and it created a reconciliation-like super committee to address entitlement and tax reforms. that super committee didn't come up with a result, but they were established in the budget control act. and they were given the authority just like a reconciliation provision would to come back with a package that could not be filibustered and could not be altered, and could pass with a simple majority. mr. president, that is the fact. so if we hear colleagues come out and say one more time we have not had a budget for a
11:53 am
thousand days, i hope somebody will have the sense to stand up and say really, what was the budget control act about? what was this legislation that passed not only the united states senate on a vote of 74-26 but passed the house of representatives, that's controlled by the other party, and is signed by the president of the united states. mr. president, republican rhetoric aside, congress did pass a budget. not through the normal way of a budget resolution but through an actual law. the republican-controlled house passed it, the democratic senate passed it, and the president signed it. the budget control act set ten years of spending caps, established a two-year deeming resolution to enforce spending levels and it created a reconciliation-like process to consider entitlement and tax reform. mr. president, i hope we have laid this issue to rest. so now if i hear colleagues come out and say that, that we've
11:54 am
not had a budget for a thousand days, i will know that they've been put on fair notice. maybe they missed somehow what they were voting on back in august. maybe they gapped out. maybe they forgot. but you know what? they voted for it. every member of the senate voted on the budget control act. 74-26. add it up, that's a hundred. everybody was here. and if they didn't know what they were voting on, now they do. so if i hear another assertion that there's not a budget for a thousand days, i will know and the listeners will know that somebody's not telling the truth. i thank the chair and yield the floor.
11:55 am
i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:56 am
11:57 am
11:58 am
11:59 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on