tv Public Affairs CSPAN December 14, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EST
college at oxford university as a rhodes scholar and obtained a second bachelor's degree and a master's degree in politics, philosophy, economics. today he is one of the most decorated scholars and the united states senate would 46 honorary degrees from 15 states in the district of columbia. it now, following these most impressive academic achievements , the senators spent several years in the united states navy, ultimately serving as an intelligence prefer for admiral burke, chief of naval operations. i would say the navy and admiral burke chose the best person they could for that particular job. ..
i was working full-time and attending indiana law school at night and that didn't leave much time for marcia in to enjoy the amenities of indianapolis. but frankly, they were very few to enjoy that particular time. it was then that her newly elect a mayor began a remarkable transformation of indianapolis into it now has become one of the most attract david livable cities in america. as mayor, dick lugar worked carefully with the indiana general assembly, then governor would come to extend the boundaries of the city and merge
indianapolis and marion county to provide common essential service is more efficiently, a concept that called unit of. unit of wasn't without conversely because of dick lugar's vision, careful negotiations and decisive action, indianapolis became a model for other cities across the nation. when the law took effect in 1970 indianapolis population rose from 476,000 to 783,000. moving from the 26th largest city to one of the nation's dozen large cities literally overnight. why didn't the numerous positive changes in indianapolis over the past 40 years, i see the fulfillment of the vision of then mayor dick lugar. not the midwest has a way of producing bad and the amended
decency. none of us fall in that category. sometimes that sense is questioned, but we do have individuals who have the ability to see to the heart of the matter and find a way to resolve a problem. such scale is extremely valuable in the united states senate. a body by its very design is supposed to foster compromise between legislators on issues before the nation. and so it was a natural progression that following his success as mayor, dick lugar's next job would be serving hoosiers is the united states senator. since 1977, senator lugar has represented hoosiers have served our nation admirably. without question, senator lugar is the type of lawmakers later who works hard to bring both parties together, find common ground and pass the legislation. those contributions are many,
including this fine valley service on the senate agriculture committee, senator lugar's most important role in the senate has to be his leadership of the senate foreign relations committee. as a two-time chairman of this committee, he has been one of the most influential minds on foreign policy in the united states senate history. he has worked tirelessly on policies and legislation to promote arms control, control and dismantle nuclear arms and address the global food crisis among others. among his many accomplishments in the field of foreign relations, the signature piece of legislation no doubt will be the cooperative threat reduction program more commonly known as done lucre. senator lugar joined the foreign relations committee 1979. he traveled to the former soviet union on multiple occasions to gain a better understanding of how the united states could be cured and dismantle weapons of mass destruction.
his experiences led him to champion the landmark legislation that successfully resulted in the deactivation of nuclear warheads, making this world a safer place. to date, the nunn lugar program has yet intimate than 7000 nuclear warheads that were once aimed at the united state. a contribution to which americans can never get enough things. over his 36 years in this institution, senators on both sides of the aisle have considered dick lugar trusted resource when it comes to foreign policy and many other important issues. he has been a consistent resource for those who seek thoughtful answers to difficult, political questions. when i first arrived here in 1989, senator lugar and i operated a unique joint office arrangements in indiana, sharing office space and staff in our
space. many of our colleagues were surprised by this arrangement, but dick lugar and i like to tell hoosiers they're getting twice the service for half the price. all those who work in this chamber can learn from dick lugar's passion for public service. his sincere desire to reach across the aisle to find common ground and use his unique talent for forging coalitions and bringing people together to accomplish big things. the tribute to senate lugar would be incomplete without recognizing the support of his wife, charlene from his four sons and extended family, public service demands unique demands on our family and their sacrifice and support plays an important role in any senator success. it's been an honor for me to work with senator lucre. uncle for his service to indiana into our country country.
senator lucre, marcia and i wish you and shower and your family nothing but the best. you dedicated so much of your service to our country. you've outlined many other ways which he will continue to do that is a great benefit to our nation and to our state. i'm certainly will continue to learn and benefit from a lifetime of public service. i know my colleagues join me in making senator lucre for as many years of dedicated and distinguished service to them a pleasure to serve as the juniorr senator or 90 yen under yourve d leadership. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. secretaryf >> i've often joked with him ste that he's in my secretary of state while a search here in the united states senate because you could count on senator lucre to give good, unbiased and a son complicated foreign relations le issues. in
and we love very much miss and also his better half, char lugar, who i think we all know is a bright light. so, senator lugar, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you, and i know that your voice will continue to be heard on the important issues of the day. so thank you for your service to our country and to your state, and thank you for being a good friend to me. mr. president, we have this long tradition in the senate of senators giving farewell remarks. i want to alert colleagues that mine will be especially long, so you might want go have lunch and then come back. so i don't consider this my final speech, because i'm still hopeful that we will reach an agreement on a farm bill. the distinguished chair is here. i hope we can reach agreement on averting the fiscal cliff, because that's important to the
country. so i hope we'll have additional chances to communicate with colleagues and the public before we're done. but this is my farewell remarks, observations on 26 years of service here, and it has been an incredible experience. first thing i want to do is say thank you, to you the people of north dakota for having -- thank you to the people of north dakota for having confidence to send me to represent them in the united states national. i was 38 you about but i looke, and people of north dakota elected me in a stunging upset of a long-established incumbent, and i treasure the confidence that they have had in me. i also want to thank my colleagues for the responsibilities that they've given me, the leadership team, senator reid, senator schumer, senator murray, the confidence
that they have had in me. and my staff, i have been so blessed to have people who have been with me, in many cases, for more than 20 years. my chiefs of staff, jim margolis, who has been one of the media gurus in the country now doing much of the advertising for the president in this last campaign. david herring, kent hall, who died on timely death working for me, care are garland, bob vanhuevland, wally, my legislative director who was with me for more than 20 years, tom mar, jerry gaginas, we all fondly call "mom," because she cracks the whip and makes sure the trains run on time. mary naylor, also has been with me more than 20 years.
my deputies there, john rider and joel friedman, who have done extraordinary work on behalf of the people of this country. stew nagerka, who is going to help me with charts today, my longtime communication communics director, and so many more. and most of all to my family, my wife lucy, who has been my partner through all this, was my campaign manager when i first ran for the united states senate, my daughter jessie, who in in many ways has perhaps sacrificed the most because when you're in this job, you miss birthdays, you miss other important events. but she has been a great daughter, and she was here last night for our farewell party. and we had a lovely time. our son, ivan, and his wife kendra, who are in oregon where they have a small farm tawld
tipping tree farm. we wish they could be here today, our grandson carter, who is a proud member of the university of oregon marching band, the ducks, who served as an intern for me -- not at government expense, by the way, that was at our expense. and our little dog dakota, who has become sort of a mascot of the united states senate. brian williams when he did a show on a day in the life of senate concluded that program by calling dakota the 101st senator. and, you know, i think he will be missed perhaps more than i am as i leave the senate. in 1964 i came here, i sat up in the gallery, in fact, it was the gallery right up here. and i was 16 years old. and i watched a debate in the united states senate. it was on civil rights. hubert humphrey was leading that debate. and it so inspired me that i
thought, you know, someday i'd like to be down on that floor and i would like to debate the great issues of the day and i would like to represent the people of north dakota. and so i went home and wrote out on the back of an envelope that i would run for the united states senate in 1986 or 1988 and i ran in 1986. and was successful. that is the power of a plan. to you young pages who are here, if any of you seek to be in the united states senate someday, have a plan. because there are so many people who sort of drift through life without one, if you have a plan, you will be light years ahead. and in that race as i indicated my now wife, lucy, was my campaign manager. we won what was then believed to be the biggest political upset in the history of our state. and i was proud of that victory
and proud to have a chance to represent north dakota here. i think we all know that our country needs a plan now. and we know that plans have worked before. i was here in 1993 when we had just come off the largest deficit in the history of the united states, the country was in doldrums, the economy was just plugging along, not doing very well, just had a weak recovery from a deep recession. and we passed a plan to get the country back on track. we did it the old fashioned way. we made tough decisions, some that were unpopular, but it was the right thing to do and it worked. we balanced the budget, we had the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth in the nation's history, 23 million jobs were created, and we were actually paying down the debt of the united states at the
end of the clinton administration. and we did it again when disaster struck my state in 1997, one of the worst disasters ever in north dakota, a 500-year flood that followed the worst winter storm in 50 years, many of you may recall the images from that disaster when firemen were fighting an enormous conflagration in downtown grand forks in the middle of a blizzard, and a massive flood. grand forks was devastated. again, we had a plan, a $500 million disaster recovery plan that became a billion-dollar plan and it worked and we did it the old fashioned way, we made tough decisions, some that were unpopular, but it was the right thing to do and it worked. the community just held a recognition event for me this last weekend.
and the leadership of the community was there, and various aspects of the community. reporting on the remarkable recovery in grand forks. it is really i think, an example of what can be done when government responds and does so intelligently and effectively. now we face a new challenge. we have a fiscal cliff or a fiscal cliff curb or whatever one terms it, but what we know is if we fail to act, we could be pushed back into recession. our country needs a plan. a plan to get us back on track, to revitalize economic growth, to secure our long-term economic future, and to get the country moving again. and we can do it. we've done much tougher things in the past. you know, i hear people being critical sometimes when they leave here of this institution.
let me say i'm not in their ranks. i leave this institution with enormous respect. the united states senate is the greatest deliberative body in the world, and the vast majority of my colleagues, i sincerely believe, are serious minded and have the best interest of the country at heart. i really believe the vast majority of my colleagues want to do what's right for the country. we have differences, enormous differences, about what's the right thing to do, but i have no doubt most of our colleagues are well intentioned. in many circles it's fashionable now to bash government and play down its importance. i personally think we'd be well -- we would be well to remember what it has accomplished. i can remember so well-being
called to an emergency meeting in this building in the fall of 2008. i was handed a note that i was urgently requested to come here. it was about 6:00 in the evening, and it was the last one to arrive. when i walked into the leader's office there were the leaders of the house and the senate, republicans and democrats, the secretary of the treasury from the bush administration, and the chairman of the federal reserve. well, i instantly understood something very serious was afoot. they closed the door and told us they were going to take over a.i.g., the large insurance company, the next day. they weren't there to ask for our approval or seek our agreement. they were there to tell us they were taking this step. and they told us they were taking this step because they believed if they did not, there would be a financial collapse in this country within days.
and they gave great speaker's deskity -- great specificity if they failed to take the action they were about to do. the public reaction was harshly negative. the notion of the government of the united states bailing out a large private insurance company created controversy and criticism for almost every corner. ultimately, the rescue of that company cost $180 billion. a staggering sum. but you know what? we've just learned this week that the taxpayers will make money on the deal. yes, it cost us $180 billion. but the taxpayers are going to make $22 billion on the transaction.
and if we hadn't done it, we would have risked going into a depression. so when people say there's no role for government or it should just be a limited, shrunken role, really? would we have wanted to stand by and risk this country going into another great depression? let's recall what that was like. more than 20% of the people in this country out of work. i know my open grandfather -- own grandfather who refused to take bankruptcy owned stock in the local bank. in those days you had unlimited liability. if you owned stock in a bank. so when there was a run on the bank, as there was, he was called to bring money to the bank. which he did. and he did it over and over. and it took him nine years to recover.
people were hungry. people were desperate. that's what a depression is about. so when i reflect back to those decisions, i believe they were the right decisions to make, and it's not just my view. that's the view of two of the most distinguished economists in this country, mark zandi, who was a key economic advisor to john mccain in his presidential race, and alan blinder, the former deputy chairman of the federal reserve. here's what they say. without that federal response, we would have had eight million fewer jobs and 16% level of unemployment in this country, and we would have been in the second great depression. they call it depression 2.0. so, mr. president, let's remember where we were when president obama came to to office. the nation was facing the worst
economic catastrophe since the great depression. in the fourth quarter of 2008, the economy shrunk at a rate of almost 9%. now, after the federal actions, positive economic growth returned in the third quarter of 2009, and we've now had 13 consecutive quarters of economic growth. now, we've come a long way. this is a remarkable turnaround in a very short time, measured against previous financial crises. in fact, there's been an academic study just completed that suggests typically it takes eight to ten years to recover from a financial crisis. so the recovery here, while not everything we would have hoped, is a dramatic turnaround. at the same time, our constituents know, and we
know, that the price has been high. we know that we are currently borrowing 31 cents of every dollar that we spend. that's somewhat of an improvement because we were borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. so this is an improvement but we've got a long way to go. and the public understands that we face both a spending and a revenue problem. spending is near a 60-year high, as this chart shows. the red line is the spending line, the green line is the revenue line. but for those who say it's just a spending problem, i don't think the facts bear that out. because the revenue is near a 60-year low. i think most logical people would say you've got to work both sides of this equation. and when we look at our debt, we see that our gross debt has
now surpassed 100% of our gross domestic product. there was a landmark work done just a couple of years ago by rogoff and reinhart. they looked at 200 years of economic history and they concluded once your debt exceeds 90% of your g.d.p., your future economic prospects are reduced and reduced significantly. future economic growth reduced by 25% to 33%. this is not just numbers on a page. this is a question of future economic opportunity. this growing debt is why many of us have called for action for a long time ago. in fact, it was six years ago this month that senator gregg and i came up with the idea of a commission to tackle the debt. that idea, ultimately led to the president appointing the simpson-bowles commission.
its bipartisan report recommended $4 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way and i think in a fair way protected low-income programs, it actually improved the progressivity of the tax system quite significantly, and it was balanced between revenue and spending. other bipartisan groups have concluded the same thing, that we need spending restraint and we need revenue. so there's a critical role for government here. we've seen it in the past, we'll find it in the future. but i think we also have to acknowledge there are problems here. there are problems in this chamber. as proud as i am of this institution, and i will forever be, i have detected over the 26 years i've been here a change.
and it's happened kind of gradually, but it's clearly happened. we spend now too much of our time seeking partisan advantage. and it happens on both sides. and it's all understandable. i understand it. i'm not being critical of individuals. we spend too little time trying to solve problems. we spend too little time in our caucuses, in our meetings, focused on how to solve the problems facing the country. i deeply believe that this observation is true. and i believe we can do better than this. the institutions of our government have a proud history. the genius of our founding fathers can be found in every part of our history. whether it was conquering the last great fretion or winning world war i and world war ii or
launching a man into space or conquering diseases, our government has bettered the plight of mankind. we need that kind kind of focus and effort now to address our challenges. i'm confident that we can do this. but it's not enough to be confident. it's not enough to be hopeful. it requires a plan, and i'd like to take just the next few minutes to lay out my belief of what that plan should include. mr. president, much of what i will talk about reflects the work of the bowles-simpson commission, the group of six i've been a part of, the group of eight, but it starts looking at what both sides have laid down. republicans have laid down, a spending cut plan, the president has laid down a revenue plan. my own belief is we should take
them both. we should take what the republicans have proposed on spending, with some modest modifications which i'll discuss, and we should take the president's plan on revenue. the president laid down a plan that said we ought to raise $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. boy, that sounds like an awful lot of money, doesn't it? $1.6 trillion. not billion, not million. trillion. and people will be quick to say oh, my god, that's the biggest tax increase history in of mankind. terrible. we can't do that. well, you know we need to put it in perspective. first thing we should recognize, this will take us to a revenue that is 19.9% of our g.d.p. the last five times we balanced the budget in this country, going back to 1969, we've been at 19.7%, 19.9%, 19.8%, 20.6%,
19.5%. does 19.9% kind of fit in there? these are the only times we've balanced the budget going back to 1969. and to put it in each more perspective, how much revenue are we going to raise over the next ten years without any change? well, here's the number. $37.4 trillion. nobody ever puts these things in perspective, these big numbers in relationship to what. $1.6 trillion is in relationship to $37.4 trillion. as a percentage, that is an increase of 4.3%. my goodness, we can't increase the revenue by 4.3% in this country over the next ten years? of course we can. of course we can.
especially if it means we get our house in order and put the country on a firmer fiscal footing. and, you know, it doesn't just matter how much money you raise. it also matters how you raise it. we have got a tax code now that i can't defend. i can't defend. i took a study that was done by a man named martin sullivan last year. he did a very interesting thing. he looked at one building on park avenue in new york and he was able to do it because they happened to have the statistics that isolate that one building. do you know what he found? that the average income in that building was $1,167,000 for the
year. $1,167,000. the average tax rate of the people in that building was 14.7%. the janitor in that building had an income of $33,000 and he paid a tax rate of 24.9%. is this fair? is it fair that people making $1.1 million paid a tax rate of 14.7% and the janitor who served them, earning $33,000 a year, paid a tax rate of 24.9%? well, i personally don't think so. and i know all the arguments. i've served on the finance committee. i've heard it all. the biggest reason for this differential, by the way, is not the earned income tax rate, which has had almost all of the attention in this national
discussion. almost all of the attention has been on the earned income tax rate and raising it from 35% to 39.6%. almost no attention has been paid to the unearned income tax rate on capital gains and dividends. the unearned rate is currently 15%. that's what allows very wealthy people to pay a tax rate that is a fraction of those who work full time and are paying rates of 25%. so i hope that as we move to conclusion here, we'll pay a little more attention to the unearned rates. you know, the truth is, you could not go as much -- have as much of an increase as being
proposed on the earned income side and have more of an increase on the unearned income side and you'd make the tax code more fair and you could raise the same amount of revenue. mr. president, so that's the revenue side. but the spending side, republicans have laid down, they've put out a proposal that asks for savings out of entitlements and other discretionary spending. and, you know, if you look at their proposal and you break it down, again, let's look at health care. we are going to spend $11 trillion over the next ten years on health care. republicans are proposing saving $600 million. if we had a compromise between republicans and democrats, let's say at $500 million, that would be a savings of, again, the magic 4%.
we're going to increase revenue 4%. if we had savings on health care of 4.5%, we would save $500 billion. now, i mean, i've just had conversations with colleagues who've told me, we can't possibly save $500 billion out of health care. just like people say, well, you can't possibly increase revenue $1.6 trillion. really? we can't save $500 billion out of a pot of money where we're going to spend $11 trillion? i don't think that's true. i think we can save $500 billion. and i'll tell you, there's somebody sitting on this floor that's got a pretty good idea how to do it. senator sheldon whitehouse has said to us over and over and over, we are spending more than any other country in the world as a share of our national income on health care. we're spending 18% of our g.d.p.
on health care. no other country spends more than 11.5%. and the best minds in the country have told us we're wasting hundreds of billions of dollars in health care that don't improve health care outcomes at all. and if we would save money in overall health care, 40% of that savings would flow through to the federal government. senator whitehouse is right about this. we ought to focus like a laser on where the waste is. you don't need to increase the eligibility age for medicare. you absolutely do not have to do it to save $500 billion. but what it would do if you save $500 billion is it would keep the growth in health care spending about equal to the growth in the overall economy. that would stabilize the growth of health care spending.
that would be a huge contribution to the economic competitive position of the united states. now, mr. president, the republicans have also said, hey, let's save $300 billion on domestic discretionary savings. now, i'd be the first to say, we've already had lots of savings on the discretionary accounts. we've saved over a trillion dollars in the discretionary accounts. but they say, okay, let's save another $300 billion. i think we should say, we'll do it if you go with us on the revenue. we'll do it. because that represents savings of 2.6% of the $11.6 trillion we're going to spend in the discretionary accounts over the next ten years. now, i think, you know, we've kind of gotten into a situation here where we use numbers that are absolutely big numbers but
we don't put them in perspecti perspective. we can't save 2.6% out of the discretionary accounts? well, i believe we can. i absolutely believe we can. i believe we can save more out of defense. and i've been somebody, i've supported every penny. i didn't vote for going to war in iraq, thought that was a huge mistake, but i've supported every dollar of spending for our troops in the field. and i can tell you, as a budget committee chairman, we can save more money in defense. and there are lots of republicans who know we can do it, too. mr. president, other mandatory, that's another category the republicans said save $300 billion there. i think they're $100 billion too high because we've already saved over $100 billion out of other mandatory spending in the budget deal we did last year. so let's save $200 billion.
that would represent, again, 4% of what we are projected to spend over the next ten years in other mandatory spending. $5.1 trillion is what we're programmed to spend. $200 billion of savings there would represent 4%. again, i've had colleagues tell me, well, we can't possibly save $200 billion. i've had some staff people tell me we can't save $200 billion. so i say, okay, how much are we going to spend? how much are we going to spend? that $200 billion represents 4% of what we're going to spend. we can't save 4%? yes, we can. yes, we k. you know, -- yes, w. you know, i was elected on the slogan in 1986 of, "yes, we can." and somebody else used that slogan a few years later. president obama used that slogan "yes, we can." called me up, said, "do i owe
you royalties?" i said, no, i'm glad you're using it. but yes, we can. we need more of a "yes, we can" attitude around here. so when i rack it all up and i look at what we've already done, we've saved a trillion dollars in the budget control act of last year, and here -- here's other mandatory savings. i just talked about $129 billion that we've already done. $900 billion of other discretionary savings, already done. so we put that in the bank. we use that as the base. and you put it all together and here's what you've got. save another $200 billion on defense, have revenue of $1.6 trillion, which is the president's proposal, have $100 billion of non-defense. that gets you the $300 billion the republicans have asked for. on health care, you do $500 billion. that's close to what they've asked for. a hundred billion less. other mandatory, $200 billion.
that's close to what they asked for. a hundred billion-dollar difference reflects what we've already done. interest savings, because you're spending less and you have more revenue, you save interest, $400 billion. that gives you a total of spending cuts of $1.4 trillion. you add in what's already been done, $1,05 trillion and you've got a total of $2,450,000,000,000. you add that to the $1.6 trillion of revenue and you've got $4,050,000,000,000 of savings. and then i personally would extend the payroll tax holiday because c.b.o. tells us on the tax side, that's the biggest bang for the buck in giving lift to the economy. it costs you $200 billion. for a net deficit reduction of
$3,850,000,000,000. for those who are wondering, well, what happens to a.m.t. and what happens to the doc fix? we have those in the baseline so they're covered in this proposal. you can correct the alternative minimum tax, you can eliminate the doc fix, be done with it. mr. president, this magnitude of packages is precisely what was called for in the fiscal commission. in the moment-of-truth report, this is what they called for: i think they were right to call for it. i was proud to be part of that effort. i believe this is precisely what we need to do now. so that's the plan. now we need action. we should do it the old-fashioned way. we should make tough decisions, even some that will be unpopular.
but it will be the right thing to do, and it will work. it'll stablize our debt and begin to bring it down. it will provide certainty to our economy. it will unleash, i believe, the $1.7 trillion that are on the balance sheets of our corporations. it will unlock the investment potential that lies all across this country. mr. president, let me just end as i began by simply saying "thank you." thank you to the people of north dakota, thank you to my colleagues, thank you to my staff, and, most of all, thanks to my family, to my wife lucy, to my daughter jessie, to our son ivan and his wife kendra and to our grandson carter. and to all my family members, my
cousins who have been with me in every campaign, i will never forget your support on the one hand your help, and i will always consider serving here the honor of my life. i also want to thank my colleague, senator hoeven, who in the two years that he and i have overlapped has been a good colleague. i have enjoyed working with him very much. i just would close by noting, because many of you know i'm sort of a numbers guy, that i started these remarks in the 12th hour of the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012. i'm sure unanimousologists will make -- i'm sure numerologishs will make much of those remarks. i began this speech in the
12th hour of the 12th day of the 12th month of 201. -- of 2012. and i leave here ever grateful and i leave here ever grateful i am filled with many emotions, but the one that i feel most is gratitude. gratitude first to god, creator of life and law, whose loving -- without whose loving kindness, nothing would be possible. gratitude to america, this extraordinary land of opportunity, which has given someone like me so many opportunities. at gratitude to the people of connecticut who have entrusted me with the privilege of public service for 40 years, the last
24 in the united states senate. gratitude to my senate colleagues, who find come to know as friends and with whom it has been such an honor to serve. gratitude to all the people without whose help, hard work and support i never would've made it to the senate or state here. the gifted and hard-working staff in connecticut and washington who supported unformed and enriched my service here in the volunteers in my campaign two k. so much and asked for nothing in return, except that i do what i believe is right. gratitude to all those who labor out of view in the corridors of the capitol building, from the maintenance crews to the capitol police and everybody else anywhere in this building. thank you for keeping our capital running and keeping us safe.
and gratitude, most of all of course to my family, for the love, support and inspiration dates given every day of my life. my parents, grandparents and siblings, my children and grandchildren and havasu, my wife of almost 30 years now, the love of my life, who has been my constant companion, supporter and partner through this amazing adventure. and so i want to begin his farewell speech by simply saying thank you all. i have a lot to be grateful for her. but mr. president, pna senator and since this is my farewell speech, i do have a few more things i'd like to say. i am leaving the senate at a moment in our history when america faces daunting challenges, both domestic and foreign and went too often our problems seem greater than our government's ability to solve
them. but i can tell you that i remained deeply optimistic about america's future and constantly inspired by the special destiny but i'm convinced is ours as american. my hot medicine is based not in theory or hope, but in american history and in personal experience. i think particularly about my time in public life and especially the changes i've witnessed since i took the oath of office as a senator on january 3rd company and 89. the fact is over the past quarter century, america and the world have become freer and more prosperous. the iron curtain was peacefully torn down of the soviet empire defeated. the eternal values of freedom and opportunity in which america was founded and for which we still stand have made local
games that were once unimaginable. we've seen the spread of democracy from central europe to southeast asia and from latin america to the middle east. hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in places like china, india and just about every other corner of the globe. and technological advances have transformed over almost every aspect of our daily lives. when i started here in the senate, it lacked. was a fruit and tweaking was something only earth day. no more. none of these extraordinary developments have been by accident. in fact, to a significant degree, i would say they were made possible by the principled leadership of the united states, by the global economy and international system that america created with our diplomacy and protected with
paramilitary and by the unique culture of freedom, innovation and entrepreneurship flourishes in our country and that remains the model and inspiration for the rest of the modernizing world. we have every reason to be proud of the progress of humanity that has happened on americas watch and hear at home to be grateful for the countless ways in which our own country has been benefited in the process. we live in a world whose shape interject jury of the united states with any other nation is responsible for. it's not a perfect world. i know that. it is a better world than the one we inherited and in my opinion, it is actually in so many ways a better world than has ever existed before. here at home, over the past quarter century we've moved closer to the more perfect union our founders sought, becoming a
more free and open society in ways i would guess the same founders never could've imagined. barriers of discrimination and a good tree that just a few decades ago seemed immovable have opened the doors of opportunity have been opened wider for all americans regardless of race and the religion, gender, it nicety, orientation, age or disability. during my time here in washington come her first first female secretary of the nominated and confirmed in our first african-american president elected and reelect it. it will forever remain one of my deepest honors, thanks to vice president gore is given the opportunity to be the first jewish american nominated by a major political party for national office and incidentally, thanks to the american people, grateful to have received a half a billion
more votes than my opponent on the other side it that that's a longer story. [laughter] so while there is still much work to do the many problems to be solved, i believe we can and should approach our future with a confidence that is based on the real and substantial progress we've made together. what is required now is to solve the urgent problems we still have and was really required to do that is leadership. leadership of a kind it's never easy or common, but we as americans know we can summon in times of need because we summoned it before. today, i regret to say as i leave the senate that the greatest obstacle that i see standing between us and the brighter american future we all want is right here in washington. it's the partisan polarization
of our politics, which prevents us from making the principled compromises on which progress in the democracy depends on right now prevents us from restoring our fiscal solvency as a nation. we need bipartisan leadership to break the gridlock in washington that will unleash other potential that is in the american people. i'm so, i would respectfully make this appeal to my colleagues, especially the 12 new senators who will take the oath of office for the first time next month. i know how hard each of you has worked to get elected to the united states senate and i know that you worked so hard because he wanted to come here to difference for the better. there's no magical mystery about the way to do so in the u.s. senate.
it requires action across the aisle and finding partners to the opposite party. it means ultimately putting the interest of country and constituents ahead of the dictates of party and ideology. when i look back at my own career, the legislative achievements and produce two the bad part is that passing the clean air act in 1990, stopping the genocide in the balkans, creating the 9/11 commission and the department of homeland security, informing the intelligence community, we are commencing the night and repealing "don't ask, don't tell" all were achieved only because the critical mass of democrats and republicans found common ground. and that is what is desperately needed in washington now to solve our nation's biggest problems and address their biggest challenges before they become crises or catastrophes.
our future also depends on our nation continuing to exercise another kind of leadership and that is leadership beyond our borders. this has never been easier popular americans have rarely been eager to untangle ourselves abroad, especially at times when we faced economic difficulties at home as we do now. there's been a temptation to turn inward, to tell ourselves the problems of the world are not our responsibility or we cannot afford to do anything about them. in fact, the prosperity, security and freedom of the american people depend more than ever before on what's happening in the rest of the world. and so to does the rest of the world depend especially en masse. i know we can't solve all of the planet's problems by yourselves, nor should we try. but the fact is none of the
biggest problems facing the world can or will be solved in the absence of american leadership. and here too, i appeal to my senate colleagues and again, especially those who will take the oath of office for the first time early in january. do not listen to the political consultants or others who tell you that you shouldn't spend time on foreign affairs or national security. they are wrong. the american people need us, the senate to stay engaged economically, diplomatically and militarily and in other smaller world. do not underestimate the impact you can have by getting involved in matters of foreign policy and national security, whether by using your voice to stand in solidarity with those struggling for the american ideal of freedom in their countries across the globe are working to strengthen foreign policy and
national security institutions of our own country by rallying our citizens to embrace the role we as a country must play in the world stage as both our interests and values demand. none of the challenges we face today in a still dangerous world is beyond our ability to me, just as we ended the night cleansing in the balkans, we can stop the slaughter in syria. just as we nurture the democratic transitions after communism fell essential in eastern europe, we can support the forces of freedom in the middle east today. and just as we were able to prevail in the long struggle against the soviet union during the cold war, we can prevail in the global conflict with islamic extremism and terrorism that we were forced into by the terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001. but all that too will require leadership in the united states
senate. it will require bidders who will stand against the siren song of isolationism, who will defend our defense and foreign assistance budget, who will support, when necessary, the use of america's military power against our enemies in the world and who will have the patience and determination when the public is weary ccr battles through until they are one. mr. president, first definition are almost 50 years ago in the summer of 1963 comments by a thick so many may generation by president john f. kennedy and his call to service. i spent that summer break here in the senate as an intern or my home state senator aber murkoff. he was then remained a personal
hero of mine. but i never would've admitted so publicly back then because it is so presumptuous, i came away from that experience with the dream that i might someday, somehow returned to serve in this place. well, i've been blessed to live that dream and that is what america is all about. we have always been a nation and streamers, whose destiny is determined only by the bounds of their own imagination and by our willingness to work hard to realize that we have imagined. indeed, long before the united states came into being as a government institutions and laws, it was a dream, and implausible, incredible dream animated ac of a country defined not by its borders or by its rulers, nor by the ethnicity of its founders, but by a set of eternal and universal principles