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tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  December 4, 2009 10:00am-1:00pm EST

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military overseas, it is going to be the same thing happening to them. i want you to ask the congressman, when you were speaking to him, why is it that they get a raise and did not give the veterans are race -- give veterans a raise, and we, the backbone of this country, suffered greatly, even to the point where we have to walk in food lines, and there are american citizens -- you did not even want to give us a dollar. we work separately for this country. i tell you, i am not even from the united states of america. host: where are you from? caller: african. host: how long have you been in the u.s.? caller: since i have been eight years old, sir. eight years old.
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i want you to ask them, why do they think that veterans don't deserve better for what they do for us? whatever is comes under the weights, whoever center is -- wherever senate turf is or representative, why did they treat veterans so bad. they say they love the veterans, but you do not, because you look at yourself, and you should be helping us was the backbone of this country. host: you might be interested in a story this morning on that military families inside "usa today" at how the economy is hitting military families, those who have loved ones serving in afghanistan, iraq, and elsewhere. that does it for this friday morning. a reminder that the house is out and the senate will be in session over the weekend. we hope you will join us again tomorrow morning. "washington journal" gets under
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way every day at 7:00 a.m. east coast time. have a great weekend. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] .
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live coverage at 10:30 a.m. here on c-span. the house is out until monday but the senate continues debate on a health care measure with plans to work through the weekend. you can read the bill on line at here is a conversation from today's "washington journal." host: our next guest served as the supreme european commander. you heard the president's speech on tuesday. will this new strategy work? guest: the jury is still out. it depends on the implementation, but the president laid out some clarity that is important on what the goals are and what is required
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of the afghans. in order to get their security forces up where they can provide for their nation's own security. i think the objectives are clear. host: there is a meeting going on today with hillary clinton representing the u.s. in brussels. he spells out a few specific points. transition is not a code word for exit strategy. it means transitioning to a different role. guest: if you read the president's speech, we have all looked at this point that talks about july 2011, but he says that will allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of afghanistan. we will executes it responsibly.
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what we are seeing here is we will assess where we are and how we began that transition depends on where the afghans are. i think nato is very important indeed they can help transition. host: he says it is not just president obama's war. guest: it is not. when we went into bosnia back in 1995, we had 37 nations with us. two-thirds of the force were other than the u.s. there are 43 nations on the ground now. most americans don't understand that. they are in the north and some of them are involved in muscular operations in the
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south, but how to consult with those of 43 nations to get this trust that we need, and we have not a good -- had done a good job consulting. it is important to get nato involved in this. what hillary clinton is doing will make that happen. host: this is from the "new york times." he says, most decision makers on both sides privately believe we are in the business of managing failure, and that is hwo the surge looks. guest: i don't agree. you will find there are parts of afghanistan that can be turned over to the afghans. there are some secure areas in afghanistan we can build on. what will happen is that the
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training of the afghan forces will be down at the province level, not at the national level. the governors will have of much more robust play in how those forces are trained. it is not a recipe for failure. i think it is a clarity for how do we go forward for success? host: the front page of the "new york times" the cia sharpshooters killed eight people suspected of being militants of the taliban. they are using new technology to target the suspects and take them down. what do you know about this? guest: arno nothing classified, but i have had some experiences in places like el salvador -- at
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nel nothing classified. -- i know nothing classified. you have to go after the leadership. that is what the drones are being used for because they are hiding in parts of pakistan. the other part that will happen is to bring the pakistan and nato coalition forces closer together along the border with pakistan, and coordinating their actions. this is essential because this is more than just an afghan problem, it is a strategic problem. the drones are part of that. he will have a counterterrorism strategy. -- we will have a counterterrorism strategy. host: we have a guest from the democratic line.
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caller: i don't understand why this is america's war and why we have to put up the front of money and forces. it seems like when bush talked about [unintelligible] there was very little support. i don't feel that we belong there. i think we need to spend our resources in the united states. host: we will get a response. guest: what is happening is neat -- nato has responsibility for afghanistan. that is why we had an international security force there. there is a un resolution. it has been neglected and now we are trying to say how do we get what was the source of the problem for 9/11? it came from afghanistan, we got our eye off the ball by going
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into iraq to early and ended up neglecting afghanistan. if we want to take afghanistan away from being a source of training for al qaeda, if we want to get some stability in that region, if we want to stop the taliban momentum, it is not just we in the u.s., iswe as 43 nations -- it is we as 43 nations to come together. i am predicting there will be several thousand troops committed by nato to this operation. host: john roberts interviewing the secretary of state, saying she is pleased with the effort by nato. the count of troops will be 7000 additional troops from nato. guest: that is what consultation does.
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whenever it consulted with nato that much before. -- we never consulted with nato that much before. we never really consulted with them. when you do, you get some degree of consensus. when you do that you make them part of the solution. that is what we are seeing now. they have a say in the decision that comes out for the alliance. general mcchrystal is a nato officer and a u.s. officer. there is a nato chain of command as well. how to get nato to understand that is extremely important. it is just not true assets. we have training -- it is just not troop assets. all of that needs to be addressed.
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nato has the resources to do that. host: we have a caller from miami on the republican line. go ahead with your question. -- we have a caller from wyoming. caller: i was drafted into the military in the 1970's. we were working with the of iranians then and i know what the situation must. -- i know what the situation was. i am in support of president obama and what he is doing. i have a reservation on some things, but my question is, are we adequately supplied going into this war with afghanistan with the 30,000 they are saying, or do we have to put in more
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troops to make sure our objective will be met? guest: that is up to general mcchrystal and others to address, but from my understanding there are 100,000 troops there now before the surge. there are about 60,000 u.s. forces, and we will at anywhere from 30,000 to 34,000 u.s. forces and 5000 nato forces. it is creating stability in certain areas of afghanistan, one of the key areas is in the north. that could be developed in a way that creates stability in the region, allows development to come in. raise the militia or afghan
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military in that region under the control of the governor, and then start from that success. that is what i hope is the plan, but there is opportunity. i think he has enough resources to do it. it would be helpful if nato would do what i think they will do and add 5000 troops to it. host: you graduated from the u.s. military academy when? guest: 1961. host: this is a photograph of those cadets listening to the president at the auditorium. during the coverage chris matthews referred to west point as enemy camp. guest: i did nine know that. i am not sure what he meant. these young men and women that are devoted their -- i did not
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know that. this has been going on since 1802. they have fought in every one of our wars. this is not the enemy camp, this is the source of strength for america. i think these are the men and women that have to carry out the orders of the president's and national security team that puts them in harm's way. i don't know why he mentioned that as enemy camp. it suggests a poor choice of words. host: jake joining us from maryland. caller: i am just calling -- i have a question but i need to preface it. as a follower of christ, i don't hold out much hope for the army to bring peace to our time.
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this will be perpetual war. my only hope in this situation is america can get its head on straight for the sake of my children and bring our troops home. guest: i understand where you are coming from. i have been involved in this for many years. i would share your concern that hopefully we can build a peaceful place, but in a region -- in a different type of war, terrorists that can inflict harm on american citizens, then we need to have a strategy to be able to stand up to that. part of the problem is when these terrorists get momentum, and i have fought terrorists in many places, once they get momentum it gets much more
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difficult. these attacks go back further to the 1983 bombing of our troops in lebanon. there has to be away. what has to happen is we have to adapt to the threat we have faced. it is not what we did in the cold war, it is a new type of threat. we are learning as we go along. we have -- it has taken as several years to get it right, but i am optimistic that we can prevail. america must prevail if we will preserve civilization. host: your background is military, but also a reference to the fact that the president referring to the $30 billion price tag for the afghanistan war but did not outline a way to pay for it. david obey suggests maybe we need a war tax.
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guest: i would leave that up to congress for the side. it is a painful time given our economy. if you are going to put troops in harm's way, they have to have the resources to match the mission. it is important we do that. i hope we can take that into consideration with our own economy. we have to find ways to pay it. i am sure congress can be convinced of the importance of this mission. they have always found a way to support troops, and i am not doubting that they will do at this time. host: our guest served as the supreme commander for nato. the president outlined the mission in his speech earlier this week. >> i have asked that our
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commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. some have already provided additional troops. we are confident there will be further contributions. our friends have fought and died alongside us in afghanistan. now we must come together to end this war successfully. what is at stake is not a test of nato's credibility, but a common security of the world. host: did he make the case? guest: i think so. i think later in that speech he talked about the objectives in afghanistan, the now -- deny al qaeda's safe haven and its ability to overthrow the government, and strengthen the capacity of afghan security forces. those goals are worthwhile goals. i believe nato will rally around that, because they have been
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consulted now by the president, secretary of defense, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. they had been consulting with our allies in the past few months. they are sovereign nations and are committing forces. they need to have a say before a decision is made. host: michael gerson who used to write speeches for president bush -- he says in the conclusion that as the casualty's increase, effective explanation of this strategy will matter more and more. guest: it is always a requirement. in bosnia and we got the conditions right, and we took not one hostile death casualty. i think he has the conditions right now. i am not that pessimistic as the
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article you just read is. we will have an opportunity to create a situation in afghanistan that cannot be used by terrorists again. i am more optimistic. host: glenn is joining us from connecticut. caller: i have to say this before i pose my comment. i have watched the news media report on this war ever since it started. when the first troops went into afghanistan i believe it was a round tens of thousands. if we had put in 68,000 i think the situation would be much greater now. no one criticized the bush administration for how they spent all our resources to iraq.
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that burns me up. as a veteran i saw colleagues die in vietnam when the president did not do the job we were sent there to do. i feel like the media in this country takes every-think our president does and blows it out of proportion. -- takes every negative thing for president says. i just feel terrible that the media can now criticize president obama who has only been in office for 12 months. host: we will get a response. guest: i served two tours in vietnam so i know what these troops are going through. my whole life has been trying to prevent the sort of issues that we had with vietnam, the lack of
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clarity of what our mission was. i agree that when we went into afghanistan initially in 2001, we were successful. there was unity in the country. nato declared an article 5 for the first time in its history. they were ready to support what we were trying to do. in the middle of all that when we were successful in afghanistan and had to have follow-up forces, we switched to iraq. i would agree with you that we should have spent much more time stabilizing afghanistan, but unfortunately we are where we are. where do we go from here? i think the president as commander in chief made a very
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thorough analysis of where we need to go forward. we are now committed. i hope the american people would rally around that and support the decision, and hold us accountable for achieving the results that are required. i am praying we are successful, but i think it is an excellent chance for us to reject this area as a training ground for more terrorists. host: diane saying president karzai announced he was willing to meet with the taliban for peace negotiations. if this is so, who is the u.s. fighting? guest: in my view, there is good taliban and bad taliban. the idea of trying to split the
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insurgents -- the insurgents were split to a degree of some that were there for different reasons. you have talent and therefore much different reasons than other elements -- you have taliban there for much different reasons. i think it would be a worthwhile thing to do. i think you need to talk. in el salvador we talked with those insurgents, and that brought about a peace treaty. host: rex is joining us from ohio. caller: i cannot believe i got through. host: it is your lucky morning. caller: i am concerned that i cannot -- i can't imagine osama bin laden and his boys are wallowing in glee. the bush of ministration said --
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the bush administration said we have not been attacked since 9/11. they were trying to bring our nation to an economic collapse. they have done more than that. the nation is completely polarized. we are going to be in a civil war of our own between the haves and have-nots. guest: i hope not. i hope that the -- at the presidential level you have to make decisions. if his decision was to pull everyone else -- pohle everyone el -- pull everyone out, the troops would have complied. the military will do all they can to make this successful. i hope the american people will
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success -- will support this in a way if the afghans don't measure up, then the president will evaluate that and make the proper decisions. host: a follow up on my earlier question with chris matthews. chris matthews apologized for the statement the next evening. guest: i know chris and it did not seem right to me. i think it was a knee-jerk reaction. our military academies are the source of our strength. they are leaders to commit themselves, many of them -- in my case, 37 years of the nation. i hope they have the support of the american people. host: we were hearing house and senate hearings from robert gates. this headline which summarizes
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his message to congress. there are no deadlines. there are no deadlines in terms of when our troops will be out of afghanistan. guest: that is the point i was trying to make. we will look at it in july 2011 and the kendeigh transition out -- and begin the transition out. it depends what the conditions are. if we have some success, this gives a clear signal to the afghans, get your act together and get your security forces up, get beat corruption under control -- get the corruption under control. if there is success i think you can reinforce that success, but it will be the afghans that will be the ones that have to provide the security and
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military ahead. host: i want to show this one photograph. these are the marines as they move through afghanistan. how much weight are they carrying? guest: we have the same problem in vietnam. they are carrying sometimes over 100 pounds on their backs. sometimes they drop those sacks when they get ready to deploy, but they are taking a lot of weight. it gets tough particularly in the heat. host: annie has the last question from kansas city. caller: thank you for your service. my question concerns the clarity of goals. i would like to have the president tell us why we are there. if we are there securing some
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pipeline just tell us that. the problem many of us have is that we were lied into this war. many of us don't believe the facts given to us surrounding 9/11. he had not been given anywhere near the truth surrounding the 9/11 attacks. it is time to have a sincere investigation into 9/11 to where we can understand what really happened to drop those two towers. guest: -- there has been enough written about 9/11 and what caused it, but i listened very carefully to the president. one of my first conditions for success in latin america was clarity of mission. he made it very clear. he said we must deny al qaeda a safe haven.
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that is very clear. we need to develop the intelligence to be able to do that with the afghans. the only way we will do that is to get their government to get to a stage where they can provide for their own security. we must be reversed the taliban's momentum. we must strengthen the capacity of afghan security forces said they can take the irresponsibly into the future. those seem to be very clear. -- and take them responsibly into the future. i understand the frustration about 9/11, and i hope that will go forward. we have troops committed now. we have some clear signals by
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the president of support, and i hope the american people to try to get our troops the support they need to carry out these objectives. we will measure it periodically up through july 2011, and make some decisions. having been in this for a long time, i am optimistic in military and afghan government can pull it off. host: what is your biggest concern? guest: the legitimacy of the afghan government. can they rise to the occasion, and karzai in particular, and gain capacity to gain legitimacy with their own people? that is why we will see more pushed down for the province level. 34 provinces in afghanistan, but president karzai has a
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mission to clean up his act and provide the leadership for all afghans to build a better future for them. to take this opportunity and build on it. if he does not do ed, -- if he does not do it, all of the region then becomes unstable. that is not been anyone's best interest. host: general, thank you for joining us. please come back any time. >> alive picture from the johns hopkins university school of international studies. we are starting shortly. we expect to hear from afghanistan's ambassador to the u.s. the president announced his plan
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to send an additional 34,000 troops to afghanistan. we understand the ambassador is on his way and we will have this event for you live in a moment. >> we are waiting for the afghan ambassador. he will be in the room in a few moments. a chance to let you know about other live coverage coming up. we hope to bring you president obama. he left the white house for pennsylvania and will be touring the allen town metal works.
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that will be today at 11:50 a.m. back now to the johns hopkins school of international studies. >> everybody take your seats and we will get started.
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i have seen a lot of people i have not seen in a long time. i am the founder and director of the center on politics at johns hopkins. this is the sponsor of the event today along with our partners, "the financial times." we have a reporter from the paper and a correspondent from ft. we have been doing this for the past several years and we have the chief of the afghan division at the voice of america. last year we hosted quite a few of the presidential candidates and were out in denver at the democratic convention and backed president obama. we met him before he became
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president. we were having a breakfast with madeleine albright. next year we will be having -- we will be covering most of the congressional senate races, so we hope to have quite a few candidates here. we also have quite a few prime minister's and foreign ministers speak in the past. for jan. it looks like we will have the governor of mississippi. -- for january will have a governor of mississippi speak and it running. -- and mitt romney speak as well. it you want to take a look at our center on politics, we have three web sites. one is transatlantic
10:38 am we also did one of the first on- line magazines on barack obama. it is called america's 44th president. the white house told people to look at our website. you will find barack obama on everything from afghanistan, which is where it starts, on other -- to other foreign policy issues. i try to write a blog once a week, and io ite gu for the "huffington post." our honored guest is the afghanistan ambassador to the united states. he will be looking ahead at what
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will happen in afghanistan. earlier this week most of you saw president obama say that there will be a 30,000 additional troops going into afghanistan. today we learned that nato has promised 7000 more troops, so that is 37,000 more troops. that will be the total -- the total will be over 100,000 troops. the ambassador, before being elected in 2003, worked for president karzai as his press secretary and director of international relations. when he is not being the ambassador to the u.s., he is also an ambassador to mexico, brazil and argentina. he was schooled in kabul and
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received his mba at golden gate university in san francisco and was a lawyer for several prominent law firms. after 9/11 he went back to afghanistan to help rebuild the country. we are very privileged to have him here today. i would like to announce the ambassador. [applause] >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. thank you, panelists and for the kind introduction. it is great being back here. i am grateful for the center on politics and foreign relations at johns hopkins university for providing me this opportunity in this important week of discussion about the afghan
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government on the new strategy being adopted by president obama. we generally welcome president obama's new strategy and new commitment in resources, especially military resources for afghanistan. we are especially grateful for the additional resources to build our institutions and afghanistan, as well as resources to enhance the capacity of the afghan government to deliver sources -- to deliver services. we welcome the renewed attention to the agricultural sector and we are grateful for general mcchrystal's approach for making the protection of the afghan people the most important pillar of the strategy.
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we agree with president obama that we must reverse the momentum of the taliban. we should deny them access to major metropolitan centers and populated areas and work with pakistan to destroy all safe havens, including those operating against afghanistan, nato and u.s. forces. the surge is needed to provide time and space for afghanistan to build its own security forces. we in afghanistan are committed to do our part to see that the new strategy succeeds, and for su -- for us to take the responsibility. i admire president obama for standing tall and emphasizing
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that this country was built on the values of freedom and human rights. and the u.s. will stand up for those struggling to achieve such values. allow me also to convey my gratitude to all those soldiers a -- soldiers and afghan forces fighting and dying. they are true heroes. there is a lot of debate about the necessity to be in afghanistan, but those fighting in afghanistan, and i have met many of them, they are true heroes. they are fighting to make the world a safer place for our children. i also welcome the deployment of additional troops and am
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grateful for support their families are providing for preserving safety and stability in the region. i would like to give you my position on some of the key issues of the new strategy. i will try to answer some questions being raised repeatedly. the most important item is that we fully support president obama's planned to transition the responsibility of taking over the security matters in afghanistan on a gradual basis. the responsible drawdown of the combat troops may start in 18 months. we are ready to begin to take
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the responsibility ourselves. there are many regional factors that will impact the u.s. presence and the drawdown of the forces. we are ready to take the full responsibility of the security in afghanistan. president karzai indicated we will take this in a province by province basis. today we are in charge of the security of kabul province, this is where almost one fourth of the population is living. we are practically in charge of the security in many other provinces in northern and central afghanistan, where some nato troops are operating. we are planning on taking the lead on the military operations within three years. in five years we should be able to take the responsibility of
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the security throughout the country. we think the best exit strategy for the u.s. is success. to succeed is the best strategy for us and the united states. we will be seeking a long-term political friendship with the u.s. we understand a u.s. military presence will have its limitations. we understand fighting for afghanistan is our responsibility as the afghan people. we are ready to take this responsibility. for a smooth transfer, we are asking for the establishment of a joint security consultation group with u.s. and nato. some of the initial consultation has already started. the afghan national army is already fighting a long u.s.
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forces. there is hardly any operation anywhere that has been conducted without the presence of the afghan security forces. they are not strong enough, there is an average of three police officers dying for the safety per day. that will increase when we acquired better capabilities. there is no shortage of resources or skills . we will get additional resources to accommodate this strengthening of security forces. to give you an example, if we look at the current number of trainers needed, it is surprising how short the number is.
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we need almost 2375 police teams. only 1050 have been deployed. the same thing with the operation teams, only 55% are filled. with additional troops some vacancies will be filled. we appreciate nato countries and willingness -- we appreciate nato countries willingness to participate. i think instead of pushing too hard for additional troops for those countries, we should try to seek synergies between different degrees of capability that our partners are bringing
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to the table. ask them to do what they can do the best. they can help with sending trainers or equipment, particularly the heavy artillery, helicopters, transport airlift for our forces are in demand. many afghans like myself who speak german and french. europe can play an important role in bringing a large number of students to europe to build the country for the institutions right now. there are many other ways nato countries can contribute. in order to further enhance the cooperation, three important things are under way in the
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upcoming months. there will be a conference in london focus on enhancing security that will take place in late january. there will be a conference in kabul that will focus on finalizing and working two new compacts. it will set forth mutual expectations and responsibilities between the afghan government and international partners. a second compact between the afghan government and the people to recommit the government to provide better governance, fight corruption and improve the life of the afghan people. a third conference could take place in tokyo to focus on
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deficiencies and funding. we heard clearly your message about the need to improve the government's and -- to improve the governmentnance. if our government was functioning there would not have been [unintelligible] there would have been no taliban and no international efforts to rebuild afghanistan. therefore, improving the government is our responsibility. the government of afghanistan is committed to taking measures to fight corruption and improve the government. the president said that individuals involved in corruption will not have a place
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in the government. 600 officials have been arrested lately, and many are high- ranking officials. we are improving the quality of the chief of police and others. we will emphasize the appointment based on merit. and fighting narcotics which funds large-scale corruption is also part of on priority in fighting terrorism and corruption. -- also part of our priority. to fight corruption we need three things, political will, strong legal institutions and improved laws. the political will is becoming much stronger. the laws are being changed.
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to give an example, the constitution requires a member of the cabinet register their property, but then the penal code does not provide a penalty if they do not do so. these laws are being changed. in the past we appointed once a prominent attorney general and hoped he would deal with this issue, but since he was just one person, he failed. corruption is a symptom of that government, not the cause of a bad government. one should note that what we are facing in afghanistan is not just bad government, it is
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absence of government and weak government. in many parts of afghanistan the government is not present. the institutions are week to begin with, so we welcome president obama's plan for the surge. with all due respect to media's right to report selectively and sometimes irresponsibly, we also have to go to the afghan people on what do they think about the concept of corruption and what is the perception among afghan people? according to a recent survey,
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36% of afghans think security is the biggest problem in their life. 35% say unemployment, and 17% say corruption. the order is very important. it is very important to improve government but equally important to improve security and provide jobs. as far as the support for the afghan government, the same survey indicates 71% support the performance of the afghan government. despite all the shortfall in the limitations on our resources, 91% of afghans support the performance of the afghan national army. another issue being raised about the concern of where this money is going to, we are ready to be
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fully accountable for the international funding that is being channelled through the afghan government. 20% of the funding is channeled through the afghan government. it is usually through the afghan trust fund. and we are asking our partners to change some of the traditional ways they are spending their money. to strengthen the institution of the afghan government we would like to see the budget being allocated to afghanistan increased to 40% by next year. there has been talk about direct support for qualified institutions and officials as part of the new strategy. this is very much welcomed.
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i would encourage institutions to perform better. we have always been in favor of benchmarks and deadlines that pushes institutions to perform better, but the focus should be on developing capacity, not replacing capacity. to bypass the government for ignoring the constitution is not a sustainable when of development. -- to bypass the government or ignore the constitution is not a sustainable way of development. this will lead to failure. that partnership must be strengthened. greater transparency on the part of our major donors will help us fight corruption in
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afghanistan because afghan people would like to know -- sometimes they don't see much tangible results. we have the same interests you have, to make sure every dollar has been spent in the most effective way. therefore, we are seeking the establishment of a joint economic council to work on these issues jointly. another very important pillar of the new strategy is reintegration with the taliban. it is very much welcomed by the afghan government. this same survey indicates 71% of advanced support the efforts of the afghan government.
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these efforts have been underway since 2004. they have received limited resources, but we welcome this approach. we think in order to reduce confusion, the best conduit's to carry out this is the institutions of the afghan government. in the past there were reports that certain provinces have established direct contact and created confusion. we think the best conduit should be the afghan government. the question i have been asked frequently, why should our soldiers die for your government?
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first those soldiers are dying to make europe and the united states they are not dying for the afghan government. you came to afghanistan because you are attacked. from bases better operating in afghanistan, by al qaeda. we're grateful for the fact that they are there and helping us out in the meantime. they are not there to fight. therefore, the afghan people are your partner. they are offering partnership.
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let's stay focused on what the mission is. your mission is to destroy, distract, and feet al qaeda. and, prevent the return of taliban and help the afghan people. your presence is welcome and demanded. a lot will be reversed. let's be clear, what the mission is. same question has been asked. what are we in afghanistan? -- why are we in afghanistan? frankly, sometimes i am surprised how quickly people will go back to the mindset of september tamp10. you are in afghanistan because
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you were attacked, because of 911. this is truly america's war, to distract and destroy al qaeda. this is nato's battle for regional stability and europe's security. it is our struggle to stay alive in a difficult part of the world. your presence in africa speafghn has prevented attacks. but you're in mounds of afghanistan to provide security -- but you are in afghanistan to provide security. the benefit is neutral. it is to the best mutual nnational interest to fight
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a bharal enemy in afghanistan. -- to fight a brittle enemy in afghanistan. one cannot separate this from stability or lack of stability in pakistan, in mission test nuclear capabilities. it has become an epicenter lately. other neighbors of afghanistan have nuclear ambitions. your presence is beneficial for both of us. i know that being in afghanistan is dangerous. so many precious lives of americans have been lost and they are irreplaceable. but not being in afghanistan is equally dangerous. as president obama has said, the historic strength of the united states is to end wars and to
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prevent conflicts. security aside, you have improved the life by your presence. hundreds of children are going back to school. and refugees have returned back to afghanistan. we have seen drastic changes. it is all due to your assistance, support, and presence. what is success in afghanistan? success in afghanistan is protecting the united states by building the security institutions of afghanistan, to prevent a return of the taliban and al qaeda to the region. it is a difficult neighborhood of the world. i know that we're losing public
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support for the mission in afghanistan. why is that? it is a tough mission. it is a difficult or. we are facing april enemy. young men and women are dying. -- we're facing a brutal enemy. why these precious lives are being lost and how to prevent major security incidents here in europe. leadership's is not above falling public opinion. it is about changing public opinion, especially when it comes to the issue of security and war. an important question has been asked, who is our partner in afghanistan? the afghan people. they are your partner. the afghan government is providing this partnership to
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you continuously and the government should be treated as such. treated as a partner. -- treat it as a partner. quick notes -- i do not want to run out of time. on pakistan, we're happy to report we're deepening our relationship. we very much welcome the commitment and the capabilities the army's to fight the extremists that are against the pakistan government at this point. and we particularly welcome president obama's reference to dealing with the safe havens of high-level terrorists whose locations are known and whose intentions are clear. we would like the government of
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pakistan to expand their operation in targeting some of the leadership of the taliban who are there working to kill forces in afghanistan. overall, success is within our reach. parable is very modest. what has been accomplished -- our goal is very modest. we have to develop health care services due to your support and assistance. 7 million children are going back to school. 40% or girls. a major accomplishment. -- 40% or girls. -- 40% are girls. 78% think democracy is the best type of government. there has been discussion back and forth. are we imposing democracy on
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afghanistan? no, we are not. and the way to do this is to get advice to the afghan people. if democracy means having not having a terrorist going to bed at home or having an opportunity to send their daughters to school with their spouses t, ths is what every human being deserves. time is crucial. we're grateful for the decision been made and for speedy implementation. we look for the support of the congress to fund this. we are familiar with the economic crisis. we hope that the necessary funding will be in place for this mission to store. we can jointly accomplished this
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mission. there is more reason to think we will not be able to defeat a brutal enemy like the taliban. thank you very much. " the ambassador has agreed to take some question. i will ask the first one. we have a lot of questions. i will go back to the question i asked a few members of the bush administration. president bush said will bring osama bin laden to justice. that was 2001. why cannot the strongest army in the nine states, may know, and the afghan army find an individual supposedly finding in a cave somewhere? will we ever find osama bin laden and bring him to justice? >> if he was in afghanistan by now, we would have certainly found him.
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our armies are in 41 countries. if he were in afghanistan, he board have been found. i do not think he is in a cave. he needs dialysis and connectivity with the rest of the network of al qaeda. he is most probably in a major metropolitan center and hiding or living in an varmint them living in a cave. he is not in afghanistan. there is nothing that will prevent any one of bust to find him if he is in afghanistan. >> its c and pakistan? >> that is a very good guess. -- is he in pakistan? >> thank you very much. i thought that was interesting. there is a reasonable argument that success depends much more
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on many more packages than just the 30,000 troops. it depends on building governance and on pakistan. all of those may be more important than the 30,000 troops. i would like to ask you about the buildup of the army. the u.s. has spent $40 billion so far. half of that has gone to security, about $19 billion to develop security forces in afghanistan. because of that, why haven't you done better with all of that money? what prospect can you give success within the next 18 months? senator levin said the ratio is four nato to everyone afghan army in helmand.
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i think the u.s. has set less than a third was able to fight on its own of the afghan army. the u.s. has given enormous amounts of money. why haven't you done better? but prospects you have for success? crust i am not sure about the $19 billion. i cannot tell you it is exactly $19 billion. that money has not been given to the defense of afghanistan. the money has been spent directly by our partners. the reason we are not fair, first, the approach was not proper. we wanted to have an army of at least 200,000. everyone said, this is too much. you cannot have this kind of army.
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how are you going to pay for it? so they put a ceiling on it. for a country bigger than iraq, and more complicated than iraq. in this condition, the 35,000 was extremely unreasonable. the training that took place was basic. soldiers were fighting with recycled ak-47's. up till recently, the army was fighting with old ak-47's. there was no nato equipment. just recently they switched to nato guns. the national army does not have airlift capabilities. same thing with the police force. the concept of the league nation was created.
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germany is on that and is doing that. that is fine. you don't have to worry about it. the resources were limited. the approach was not appropriate. trading afghan forces with batons and pistols while the taliban is coming with rocket launchers. the job of the police officer is not to issue a parking citation for a car bomb. his job is to stay alive at first. the approach was not proper. the resources were limited. the ceilings were on realistic. 35,000 was raised recently. there is no shortage of manpower. pay them adequately. thousands will and list. -- thousands will enlist.
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they were recruiting police officers. it was increased. it was not enough. a cooked in afghanistan makes $3. a driver makes $500. how do you expect people will show up if you're paying that little? it is an expense you have to pay. u.s. soldiers cost $1 million a year. if the cost of not doing that is a lot more, it means having more of your troops, british, american, and other troops being in afghanistan, it is politically not sustainable. we're there to do this. >> mr. ambassador, the 30,000 additional troops will deploy at the fastest pace possible.
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they can target the insurgency and the key population centers in afghanistan. how or the troops getting into afghanistan? is it realistic to think the infrastructure is there to support the troops? >> so far in the past, we did have some glitches with supplying troops in afghanistan here and there. there is a much better degree of cooperation. this is to accommodate the transfer and the supply of the u.s. troops. things are improving even in northern afghanistan to do this. a lot of heavy activity is going on in afghanistan. kandahar airport is probably one of the busiest airports in the world. there has been proper planning
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to make sure these troops are properly accommodated. they will not go over in a big number. it will be a gradual deployment. >> we can open it up for about 10 or 15 minutes. >> amy kaslow. i direct the work force economy initiative. you talked about a lot of ways to improve the credibility of the government. into corruption, governments. staggering governmeunemployment. tell us more about this corporation your hoping to achieve, what you hope to accomplish on the ground in terms of job generation. >> very good question. in the name of the joint economic corporation is to make
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sure overall as a nation are recognized as part of our efforts. in different parts of afghanistan, travels -- it varies very much. it is different in one place compared to another. the aim of the council is to put a lot of focus first and foremost on agriculture. this is an area that has received little attention. we're putting more attention on that ourself. other areas that could create jobs and wealth in afghanistan are mining, seeking more investment in mining will create large-scale jobs and also provide for the sustainability of the economy of afghanistan in. the council will try to put a
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strategic focus on creating jobs and creating a sustainable economy in afghanistan. >> stanley? >> my question concerns iran. after 911, all the reports were that iran very helpful. in the last few months, i have been reading scattered accounts coupled iranian weapons showing up. i of seen those accounts disputed. my question is, how credible of these reports? how'd you view the policy of iran toward afghanistan in general? >> thank you very much. the policy is complicated. on one hand, they do not want to seek the return of taliban. they understand long-term
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historical linguistic and religious ties. they are playing a constructive role as far as building a roads, help with education, and assisting the afghan government. because of the tension that exists, they are keeping destructive options active. if there is a complication of relation between iran and washington, we would be paying a price. they are playing both constructive and a destructive role in afghanistan. we would like to be more constructive. we would be better off if iran continued to be constructive. we have been asked very clearly, our friends, and to leave their differences out of afghanistan. it would serve the best interests. the role they are playing is to
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fall. you are right with the increased tension. -- the role is to wofold. they remind us that other options in afghanistan. >> thank you. >> give your name. >> i am the correspondent from spain. you look at the map of afghanistan. it is very different from the soviet union. the war is pretty much focused in specific areas. it is said that they are very influential. is there a security problem in afghanistan, or is there is security problem with the past two montshtuns?
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>> pthe pastuns being used and recruited. they're all not terrorists. they are the prime victims of that. most of the killing, most of the fighting takes place in those areas of afghanistan and pakistan. there have been grievances in the past on the part of the pashtuns. there are more vulnerable to terrorism. that includes elle lack of delivery of services on both parts of the border -- that includes a lack of delivery and services on both parts of the border. there's not an ethnic nature to it. how can a man because of some ethnic problem, instead of
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trying to improve his life and participate in building his community will where a suicide belt and go into a mosque full of other pashtuns on a friday and go and kill himself? how can we explain that, that young men will go into a mosque or market in an hour full of women, mostly christian women, and explode himself backs which have to find out why they had been recruited. ethnicity does not play a role there. it is a lack of services and other historic grievances. >> thank you. i am from gannett. the president talked about an 18-month limit. you said three to five years.
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is he being realistic? first, he said it will begin in three months. it was a responsible drawdown. if you put it all in context, we will see the drawdown will not be actually at the day. conditions should be re- evaluated. the main objective is really to defeat the enemy. if we accomplish that sooner than 18 months, we should do it. but i think overall, considering the current security threats, the 18-month time frame is realistic. if other things do not change in the region, will be fully ready to take responsibility from
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those u.s. troops that will be leaving afghanistan. >> question from back there. >> yes, hi. terrance smith. there is a lot of rhetoric and the u.s. side about not making the same mistakes that were made when the u.s. was involved in the late 1980's. robert gates said yesterday. what extent is the u.s. actually in vault are committed to non-military advancements in afghanistan? you mentioned girls going back to school. not something we're doing other than security gains. >> a lot of focus has been made of the military part of the new strategy, the number of the troupe, drawdown, update. this is a comprehensive approach on insuring long-term
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partnership between afghanistan and the united states. you mentioned creating jobs and hope and opportunity as the most sustainable way of fighting in stabilizing afghanistan. we have been seeking a long-term partnership with the united states. this is the best hope the afghan people have. this is a lot more today, a willingness to focus on the area of enhancing this kind of relationship. the number of exchanges is increasing. students more -- more students coming year. more people-to-people exchanges. it enhances mutual understanding. these are under way. i hope that the economic crisis and the difficulties in this country will allow the united
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states to further deliver on promises that are being made on the new strategy. we're asking also of the support of the u.s. congress overall, not just to focus on the military expansion. >> i have one more question. we defeated the taliban fairly quickly after 9/11. why didn't they state defeated? >> we did not defeat the taliban. we pushed them aside. we pushed them into the countryside into pakistan. and then we did not stay focused on afghanistan. there were other big wars and crises. had we stayed focused on afghanistan and start building the security institutions on time, there would not have been
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a need for additional u.s. troops at this time. of course, the issue of the centuries of the taliban on the other side of the border remain unchallenged. they are still able to receive political, ideological, and financial support from bases on the other side of the border. >> i have one more question. we have heard an awful lot about what went wrong over the last few years. violence has increased since 2005 every year. u.s. military says the taliban is increasing their control. you talked about efforts began in 2004. president karzai talked-about the willingness to enter into talks.
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>> the reason is that the efforts of the afghan government since 2004 were not taken seriously by the rest of the world. the second reason is that there was -- the consolation of the taliban has three components to it. first, it is not -- first, you were dealing with the ideological leadership of the taliban about 10%. they are not affiliated with al qaeda. it goes a long way. it started against the resistance against the soviets. the 10% has to be eliminated in a military matter. >> the president said he was willing to talk. one would assumed he was in the
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10%. >> it is one of those 10%, but there is a symbolic significance. if you start talking, that may change a lot. it has to be dealt with in a military matter. the remaining percentage are malicioutias who have been antagonized because of lack of proper governance and paramilitary operations and what is going on in the south. that 10% is the group that should be focused on in terms of engagement. the engagement is the geopolitical and financial to bring them over to us. the remaining 60% are unemployed that have been promised paradise
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or $300 fighting. becker is neither a military or political. we have to give jobs and a sense of assurance that if you go back to afghanistan, you'll not be killed or sent to jail. we have coordination with our friends. we have individual commanders of nato or u.s. agencies or military has contacted them and has created some confusion. so therefore, it is much better to put a clearer structure and to try to do it in a very coordinated way. >> mr. ambassador, i listened to an author's be classified about the importance of education for women and how this will change the outcome of what will happen in afghanistan.
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this book is now becoming mandatory for members of the military. americans need to learn to listen, respect, and build a relationship. >> he has absolutely right. every human being. it is mutual. to listen, to respect, and to understand is very respectful. when you hear slogans lighke afghans space for the reconstruction, it is not the right approach kirk is to be done by afghan hands. and here you see the importance of respect and understanding. those hands are still weak. that is the way to build. we roll winning the hearts and mind.
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-- we are winning the hearts and mind. we're trying to win your heart and mind. no. building trust and confidence. treating the others as your partner. all of that, come to an understanding come up trusting and engaging. thank you very much. >> thank you for coming. you could catch the audio on the sais website later this afternoon. thank you.
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>> thank you. i would love to get a copy of that. >> we will send you a copy.
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>> pictures of president obama earlier this morning. this is about 9:15 eastern where he was leaving the white house for a trip to pennsylvania. in a few moments, president will hold a conversation about jobs and the economy. we plan to bring that to you live. it is supposed to start at about 11:50. interview and reporting from justin hyde and richard will says that the president warns that the jobs lost during the recession might not return without a series of job -- government initiatives. further in the story, with
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reference to the national debt, the president ruled out any immediate ever to reduce that $1.4 million budget deficit until the economy rebounds further. focusing on the deficit too soon "could mitt -- could risk a double dip recession." the president met with economic leaders yesterday for an open session and they concur -- a series of breakout sessions. at the end the president talked about the issues of the u.s. >> what people are going through is heartbreaking.
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this has enormous ripple effects. you had to do it in order to keep your company profitable. consequences of those layoffs are felt deeply, not just by the individuals involved but by the places, the restaurant, the person who was been laid off used to frequent. it keeps on rippling throughout the economy. digging ourselves out of the " we dug ourselves into is not going to be easy. the job loss this past year and the months preceding appear or as severe as anything we have seen for a very long time. and generating the kind of economic growth that leads to the kind of hiring begets employment base back up to where
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it was is going to be hard and it is going to take a lot of work. inside of open "the washington post" there is a story pointing out the top options for mr. obama. barbara, wisconsin. good morning. how long have you been out of work? caller: i am retired now. i was one of the lucky ones. but i have five childrenñi that have no hope. one of my sons is 46 years old. there is no way he can get a job. i have some in their 30's. i feel that when i die, i do not know what to do with them. i have sold the house, but where
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are they going to live? i want to put them all in the house and make them babies again. host: are your children working at all? caller: they worked, then they get laid off. the rent here is so high. they are too young for section 8. too young for cda housing. i cannot bring them in my house because i cannot have extra people here. i just go around and do not know. they are like little babies. you know? i have 46-year-old babies again. they need me.
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host: are they looking for jobs? caller: they look all the time. all the time. host: barbara, thank you for the call this morning. front page of "the philadelphia inquirer" with that the article, "bailout for the unemployed." dale, how long have you been out of work? caller: one year, december 12. host: what did you do before you lost your job? caller: i was a construction worker. host: what has your job search been like? caller: terrible. my feelers are in the air. my old employer is hiring and i have been waiting for him to call me back. host: are you confident that you will find something? caller: i will not give up, life
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is too short, but like the other lady said, i feel sorry for my children. i think we should do something like what roosevelt did, getting the public back to work. bailing out wall street is not helping me. i have no skin in that fight. host: why do you think that the economy is so bad? caller: i think that they've turned their backs on the average person. taking care of the big banks is not going to help the average people. they are the ones that need help right now. hs%iñ on the issue of unemployment benefits, this twitter comment -- as long as president obama continues unemployment, people will not seek a job. ronald, good morning.
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caller: i am not retired, i am young. i have been fired. i am a security guard. i was fired a couple of weeks ago. i have been searching for jobs. i have had problems with my rent and no one will help me. host: why were you fired? caller: i was doing security at a bank from 7:00 in the afternoon until 3:00 in the morning.
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when i came back from my break the supervisor asked where i was and i said where -- that i was at lunch. then i was fired. host: great falls, montana. how long have you been out of work? caller: %a@@@@ @ ' >> it burned up in the beginning of november. i graduated in june. before then, i was on social security because my mother died when i was a freshman. i had all my cell phone bills paid for. i was ok. my grandfather took us in. i graduated. i figured, you know, i might get
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a job. everything was ok. the roller-coaster was not too bad. ever since my job burnt up, i have not been able to find a lot of work. to pay my cell phone bill. i am keeping my grandfather company. he pays it for me and i have to work and off. as far as finding a job, i have been losing my job. it is a little bit hard. everyone here is looking for a job. it is pretty hard, especially after high school pour everything needs to be good. you go out in the real world and it is a lot different. host: the scene outside the white house. the president presses job creation. this sign, a message to the g-20
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from the unemployed of the world, we need jobs now. next, albany, georgia. how long have you been out of work? caller: actually, i have to take early retirement. i am 63 years old now. i worked for quite a while. i was going -- is going down more and more. i try to continue the work, but i had a hip replacement. i took early retirement. i feel like health comes first before the job because the reason i say that is because if you do not have your health and you do not make it, you cannot
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go to work from being sick all the time. you might come up and lose your job nine times out of 10. i have a son that has a vocation and he has taken up welding and although mechanicals. host: is he finding work? caller: he cannot find work because he has a condition. every time he tries to get a job, he cannot perform it because he has a condition and no health insurance. he gets laid off even though he has these two degrees. he cannot afford the medicine.
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i cannot afford the medicine. it all goes to the doctor. host: think you for sharing your story with us. "always overqualified or underqualified. significant experience is a niche to be in." we're asking to hear from those of you who are not employed or underemployed. good morning, sherry. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i was in customer service, call service representative. for the past year, so far i have had a temporary job that lasted for two months. that was last october.
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the same employer this year advertised they were hiring again. but the pace scallops was from $11 -- but the pay scale was from $11 last year to $9 this year. i thought it was ironic that a lot of these employers are not doing a full time to avoid health benefits. they're doing temp and part-time and lowering the salary because they know how desperate people are. we are desperate. i have been working for 33 years. i want to work. host: the president yesterday admitted the results so much the federal government can do in creating jobs. what can the government do to foster a better economy? caller: i guess what he's doing
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now, which is a little too late because he jumped into health care which he never should have done, he passed to work with the employers. there are the ones who hire people. he has to offer incentives to get these employers. what can i do to get you to start hiring again? if it is tax credits, so be it. there are 15 million of us out here who are unemployed through no fault of our own. i did not appreciate his comment that there's just so much the government can do. look at all the bailouts the did with the auto industry and the bank industry. there is a heck of a lot the government can do and should do because we didn't create this mess. we are a victim of it. host: how optimistic are you you will find work?
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caller: i have my faith in god and something will come my way soon. host: sherry, thank you. "when the fed prints money, it makes our dollar useless." sharif was referring to health care. -- sherry was referring to health care. will be checking in on a regular basis with cq politics. joining us now is take a huntkae hunter. there is one point where the author points out there could be a senate vote late next week on health care. guest: it is a quick time frame
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that they're dealing with. it is just a matter of a week before christmas. they want to get something passed before the end of the year. as soon as next week is a real possibility. host: a couple of amendments have been on the floor, some votes today on the abortion issue. there will be a session saturday and sunday. guest: it is a long, slow process. it took them four days. this started debate on the bill on monday. and now we're moving into the second stage. there is another chunk of amendments coming up. it looks like the senate will be in session over the weekend, both saturday and sunday. harry reid said yesterday there will be votes over the weekend. the problem there facing is that the rules are cumbersome. it takes to long time to go to
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the process of shutting off debate. what they do is get these amendments to move forward and so for those agreements have been hard to come by. host: we have been singing republican attempts to use parliamentary procedures to slow down or block the process. what specifically do think the senators will do, what tools do they have? guest: the democrats have a filibuster-proof majority. as long as the democrats stick together, they can overcome most of what the republicans are trying to do. it is the matter of taking more time to do it. senator gregg, the top republican on the budget committee, put together a list
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of budget-related points of order and other tactics that republicans could use to slow down debate. republicans are saying they're not trying to be obstructionist. they see this as a big and important bill. they want to use whatever and the power to have to provide adequate time to debate the bill. democrats want to get this through before the end of the year. they will do whatever they can to speed things up. that is worthy two sides are butting heads. host: there was talk that there are many pages in the bill and senator cockbuburn going to read all the pages. guest: senator coburn said he would ask the senate clerks to
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read the bill on the floor word for word. it seems -- that did not happen. now it seems like the senator is trying to get another, go another round. >> we will leave to go live to allentown, pennsylvania, were president obama will be discussing the economy and job- creation efforts. there was a drop in unemployment last month. the comic lost 11,000 jobs. -- the economy lost 11,000 jobs. live coverage here on c-span. >> that is so much. thank you, everybody. please, have a seat. thank you. it is good to be back in pennsylvania. [cheers] good to be back in allentown, the lehigh valley. a lot of wonderful faces here.
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there are a couple of people want to acknowledge. a great governor of the great state of pennsylvania. please give it up for ed rendell. [cheers] we have an outstanding congressional delegation that this year. congressman alison schwartz is here. congressman chris corniis kearn here. we also have teeth mccall, speaker -- we have keith mccall . we have in pulaski, mayor of allentown, maybe the next member of congress. -- employed polaski.
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i just want to clarify. ed is not running. john is running. i got those reverse. do not vote for ed -- and the vote for him for mayor. john is going to be outstanding. and don cunningham, lehigh valley executive. so, it has been about a year and a half since i last visited allentown and bethlehem when i was running for office. while it was a pleasure to be here as a candidate, it is an honor to be here as your president. it really is. [cheers] pennsylvania helped pull me into office, but -- thank you.
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but even on the most trying days, i want you to know that i am grateful for the opportunity to serve you in these zero challenging times for america. i am grateful for this chance to get out of washington. [laughter] and spent the day in the lehigh valley talking with people about this very tough economy. i just came from allentown metal works or had a tense to visit with workers there. there forging the heavy machinery. one of their projects is related to the rebuilding of the world trade center and the twin towers down there. you can just felt the extraordinary pride the workers take in this project. like so many others, these workers have been doing the best they can to stay afloat in a
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brutal recession . in the two years since this recession began, to many members of our american families have felt the gut punch of a pink slip. 8 million americans have lost their jobs. everyone of us knows someone who has been swept up in this storm. neighbors have lost their homes or health care. friends have put off retirement. relatives have downscaled of their dreams. young people who are not sure whether they cannot afford college educations. i have heard these stories from every corner of america. as we come to the end of this very tough year, i want to do something and have not had a chance to do that often during my first year in office and that is to share some modestly encouraging news about our
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economy. the labor department released its unemployment survey. the nation lost 11,000 jobs in november. it is close to zero from our overall economy. [applause] the unemployment rates ticked down instead of up. [applause] the report found the lost about 160,000 fewer jobs over the last two months then we had thought. this is the best jobs reports we have seen since 2007. [applause] and this is good news, just in time for the season of hope. my chief economist got about four hugs and she handed us the
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report. i do want to keep this in perspective. we still have a long way to go. i consider one job lost one job to many. as i have said yesterday at a jobs conference, good trends do not pay the rent. we have to grow jobs and get america back to work as quickly as we can. .
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>> from the moment i was sworn into office i began taking a number of difficult steps -- and by the way, can i just say i did not take these steps because they were popular or because they were particularly gratifying to me. they were not. you can be sure that when i was running for office, things like saving the bank and rescuing auto companies were not on my to do list. they were not even on my want to do this. [laughter] but i did them because they were necessary to save our country from even greater catastrophe. we also took steps to unlock the
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frozen credit markets so average americans could get along as they need to buy a home or car, to go to college or start a small business. we acted to stem the crisis in our housing market, helping responsible owners stay in their homes, curbing the decline in home values overall. and we have seen some stabilization in the housing market. we cut taxes. the about this because he would not know it from watching the news -- think about this because you would not know it from watching the news. we have cut taxes from 95% of hard-working families, just as i promised i would when i ran for president. [applause] and we passed the recovery act, which created or saved up to 1.6 million jobs, stopped our free fall, lifted our economy to the point where it is growing for the first time in more than a year. i was just talking to the
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governor went 5 -- before we walked in and he has a series of charts about how much more steel was produced because of the recovery act. how much more the infrastructure spending is taking place out here. putting people to work, doing the work that america needs done. today's report is another hopeful sign that these steps that we took, difficult steps, have helped turn the tide. but we have a lot more work to do before we can celebrate. even though our economy is now growing again, a lot of companies are still hesitant to hire. they're still worried about hiring. some of this is because they are still trying to get out of the red brought on by tough times this year and they're still seeing consumers pull back because people got overextended on their credit cards and those hemp -- home equity loans suddenly did not look welso attractive.
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people are spending a bit less. but part of what has happened also with companies is that they figured out how to squeeze more productivity out of the workers they have got. they're working people more -- longer hours, doing more overtime, or not, but either way, they're producing the same amount of product or providing the same services without adding more people. that is something that we will have to work on. it is typical that it takes time for job growth to catch up with economic growth. it is typical that it takes a little bit more time to come out of a recession when it comes to hiring. but americans who have been desperately looking for work for months, some of them may be for a year or longer, they cannot wait. and we will not wait. we need to do everything we can right now to get our businesses hiring again so that our friends and neighbors can go back to work.
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[applause] yesterday, at the white house, we had a forum on jobs and growth from leaders in every sector of our economy and every economic group -- every economic viewpoint, from the ceo of google, to small business owners to know our economy as well as anybody. and i wanted to ask them to tell me what they needed to start hiring again. we had a frank discussion about a variety of things, investments and clean energy, to not only create jobs but to make america a global leader in renewable energy technology. [applause] we talked about incentives for homeowners for the materials and neighbors -- and labor they need to make their homes more energy efficient. bismark electricity brit -- grid
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that saves you money and lose our economy forward -- a smart electricity grid that save your money and moves our economy forward. we talked about additional investments in america's roads and bridges and railways and ports. nobody has been a bigger champion of this then governor rendell, rebuilding the critical infrastructure of our economy. tuesday, i will speak in greater detail on the ideas i will be sending to congress to help jumpstart private sectors hiring and get americans back to work. but here's the thing, we have got to do more than manage our way through this crisis. because long before the recession hit, many of our communities, including communities right here in pennsylvania, were struggling even when the economy was doing relatively well. plants are closing, jobs were leaving, especially in manufacturing. for too many families and communities, the recession was not a new challenge. it was a pump -- permanent one.
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it has been going on for a decade or more. in addition for delete -- in addition to dealing with the immediate crisis we face today, we have got to face up to the challenge is necessary to strengthen our economy for the long term. that is why i have taken on our broken health insurance system, so that families and businesses will not have to cope with premium increases year after year. [cheers and applause] that is why my secretary of education, arnie dunnigan, is taking on our education system -- arne duncan is taking on our education system. and that is why america's most underappreciated asset, community colleges, just like this one. [cheers and applause]
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that is why we're doing everything we can to spur new energies like clean energy. that is why when the current emergency passes, i am committed to bringing down deficits that the less a threat to our future economic growth. for decades, washington avoided doing what was right in favor of what was doing -- in favor of doing what was easy. and the middle class took a beating for it. it got papered over because there was a lot of cheap credit out there, so people were just able to keep up by getting more credit cards and taking on more home equity loans. the long-term trends were not good. that is what was happening decade after decade. i did not run for president to sweep our masses under the rug with the next election in mind. i ran for president to solve our problems once and for all with the next generation in mind. that is what we're doing now.
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[cheers and applause] here's the bottom line, i know times are tough. michele and i were talking the other day. there are members of our families that are out of work. we're not that far removed from struggling to pay the bills. five, six years ago we were still paying off student loans. still trying to figure out if we pay this bill this month, what do we have to give up next month? we are not that far away from that. but i promise you this, i will not rest until things get better. i know you may not agree with every decision i make, but i promise i will always tell you the truth about why making these
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decisions. [applause] and i know that we can come together to forge a brighter futures about places like allentown and bethlehem and others to do not just survive, but they thrive. as long as i have the privilege of being your president i will always be there, right there with you in the thick of the fight. so, thank you so much, everybody. i appreciate you. thank you. [cheers and applause] thank you very much. [applause] thank you. [cheers and applause] listen, i've got time, i think, for three questions. all right, i will make you first because everybody is very
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excited about this young man. and you can sit down. it will be three questions. we've got microphones in there. go ahead. >> mr. obama, i really appreciate how you are trying to stimulate the economy to help this country out. i was just wondering, in college we have been studying some criminology and i was wondering if maybe you checked out some of the statistics about legalizing prostitution and gambling, drugs, and nonviolent crime in order to stimulate some of the economy. [laughter] >> you know, i have to see this -- to say this, well, i appreciate the boldness of your question. [laughter] that will not be my job strategy. [laughter]
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but let me say this cannot what you're un in school? >> this is my second year. >> your second year. first of all, part of what you're supposed to do in college is questioned conventional wisdom [laughter] so, you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing, which is thinking in new ways about things. [laughter] the truth is that when you look at our economy, in the same way that we used to be an agricultural country and now we have moved to an industrial age and then we went from an industrial economy to an information economy, you know, that transition means that manufacturing will never be as high of a percentage of our economy as it was back in the 1950's. it is not just because we're competing overseas.
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it is also that a factory that used to require 100 guys to make something, now, they can do it with 10 guys because of automation and advances in technology. there is going to be a shift in our economy, but the capacity for a state like pennsylvania to make enormous progress on advanced manufacturing around infrastructure on the one hand, and green technology on the other are still enormous. think about it. and we have got about $2 trillion worth of -- it might even be more than that. and probably knows the statistics. we have got trillions of dollars of infrastructure improvements that need to be made all across the country, roads, bridges, ports -- and that is just the
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old infrastructure. then we have a new infrastructure we have to build. when we talk about, for example, the smart. . this is not a complicated -- the smart grid. this is not a complicated concept. we have an old electricity network that leaks electricity all the time is not sufficient in the ways that it should be and if we could create a much more efficient, 21st century gradid we could save huge amouns of energy -- 10%, 50%, 20% just becoming more efficient and that would create jobs for people who have to lay down lines and put up new transmitters and all of that good stuff. the same is true when it comes to clean energy. there is no reason why we should not have the corner on wind turbine technology, solar panel
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technology. in fact, some companies that are doing battery and wind and solar technology benefited from the recovery act and they are now hiring people right here in pennsylvania to do their work. but in order for us to take advantage of this new future, we have got to make some investments now. we have got to have an infrastructure plan and something that i have been working with the governor on is the idea of an infrastructure bank. instead of us just every six years having congress vote to figure out what our infrastructure is and there's no real planning to it, you can have a system where we can leverage private sector dollars into making investments along side the public sector and it is not based on who's got the committee chairmanship, but based on what the infrastructure needs we really have in this country, and prioritize them.
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when it comes to clean energy, this is a triple win situation. if we invest now and clean energy and we acknowledge that we have got to change how we do business for our economy, for oil independence, but also for climate change, then we can clean up our environment. we can free ourselves from independence on foreign oil so we are not waiting to see what somebody in the middle east is doing before we know what is going to happen to gas prices in the united states, and we can put people to work right now. those jobs cannot be shipped out. those are jobs that have to be done right here in the united states of america. [applause] so, that is the strategy that we're pursuing. there's one last component -- two other components that want to mention. -- that i want to mention. people, first of all -- i noticed the press yesterday
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because we have this jobs foreman in the white house who said, obama is finally put it into jobs. as if what we have not been doing for the whole nine months from the dax was sworn in and start talking about recovery was all about jobs -- from the day i was sworn in and started talking about recovery was all about jobs. but people's attention span is short. what has happened is that a lot of the debate in washington has been around health care and people think my guess they are not working on jobs. no, we have been working on jobs the whole time. health care is part and parcel with our economy. [applause] how many small-business owners are here? there may be a few. talk to any of the folks that raised their hands and ask them what happened to their premiums over the last year, two years, three years -- they are not just going up 7% or 8%. they're going up 25%, 40%.
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if you're a small-business person and let's say you have five employees and you are doing the right thing by them and giving them health insurance. and then you find out that what you are paying suddenly doubled over the course of two or three or four years. that is money that is directly out of your pocket and you could have been reinvesting it your business or hiring more workers. us being able to control health- care costs and giving small businesses the opportunity to pool with other small businesses and individuals around the country so that they have the same kind of leverage with insurance companies that the big guys have, that is an economic plan. that is part of our jobs growth. the last point i want to make, and that has to do with education. you know, i was in asia for a
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week and we were mostly talking about trade and how we can increase u.s. exports. i'm tired of them just sending goods into the united states. i want to start sending goods from the united states out there. [applause] i think there are a lot of opportunities for us to increase exports and into -- and to increase job growth without a spending any money. if we increased u.s. exports, our share of exports to asia by just 5%, we would be creating hundreds of thousands, maybe 1 million or 2 million jobs, just by opening up new markets. i mentioned this yesterday at the jobs summit and i want to mention it again today, i was having lunch with the president of south korea and that country has gone from direct property --
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from poverty and is now booming. they're doing really well. i asked him, what is your biggest challenge in terms of education? he said, my biggest challenges that the parents are just too demanding. [laughter] he said, i have had to import foreign t-shirts, pay for foreign teachers to come to teach -- foreign teachers, paid for foreign teachers to come to teach english to the kids because their parents think they should be learning english in the first grade. now, i tell that story to make the point that these folks are serious. their kids are not spending a bunch of time playing video games or watching tv. [applause] they're out there. they're working. they're working in math, in science, in foreign languages. they're preparing themselves to compete.
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one of the messages i have is that we are going to have to work just as hard. we cannot take for granted that somehow it is just owed to us that automatically we have the strongest economy. we have got to make sure that each and everyone of us are working as hard as pecan and -- and workings' market in order to -- as hard as we can't and working smart in order to greet the jobs of the future -- working as hard as we can't and working smart in order to create the jobs of the future. hold the microphone. >> i am ceasing kennedy from the manufacturing sector in pennsylvania. i have nine manufacturers here with me. one was located right next to the place you visited this morning. they all want to know what you will do to loosen up the money for the small businesses and how
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they can compete more with the things they need to grow their businesses. >> you are referring specifically to credit and getting loans? >> credit, yes. >> is that the main credit -- priority you are concerned with? >> that me ask the people here, anything else you want to add? [laughter] >> this is like where they send the attractive person to hitchhike. then the car stops and suddenly all the other guys come out of the woodwork. [laughter] >> shihin need a microphone, so i'll take this opportunity. thank you for coming to the lehigh valley and listening to us. [cheers and applause] president obama, i do represent one of the 10 ceos of the manufacturing companies here. i'm third generation, 59-year family business. and by the way, i was in asia
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when you were for other reasons, but that is a good segue into what i would like to discuss. that is, i was not going to asi. i was going because i had to be there. manufacturing in this country is changing. companies need to move and change with it. susan statement about the credit markets is really important. the bottom line is that when our credit -- our companies have an opportunity, you know, years ago we would take a risk, go out and buy capital equipment, and on to the buildings, are the necessary people -- higher than necessary people to meet that demand. our concern today is whether the banks are going to be with us. we do not feel that they are. what will change in the news -- in the near future to get these people to work? people are worried. we need the support. >> let me talk about the whole financial sector. it relates to what is happening
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in terms of jobs. you know, when we came in, and even before we came into my body remembers the lehman brothers crash and what happened right before the holiday season last year. the banks, the hedge funds, the whole financial system had leveraged itself so much -- and leverage means that they took $1 and turned it into $30, or at least they pretended it was $30 or $40 or $60 and were going out and landing like crazy even though they knew that a lot of these loans really made no sense whatsoever. so, they were lending -- part of what drove the housing boom is that it used to be that you had to save 20% money down to get your mortgage. suddenly, people were putting no money down. it used to be that you would
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get a fixed mortgage of 30 years and he would have a steady payment. suddenly, you did not have to pay interest. you only pay principle. there were a lot of other sectors of the economy were this was happening. not only were they getting money to folks that probably in previous eras would not have qualified, but was also happening was they were then taking those loans and selling them. there were packaging them, chopping them up as securities and those securities would then sell for what they were not worth. there were being certified as great a investments when they really were not. -- as grade "a" investments when they really were not. and frankly, washington was not doing a very good job regulating. now, we saw the consequences of
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this once everybody realized that a lot of this stuff was bogus, that there was no value beneath a lot of these bank loans. suddenly, everybody started running for the doors and we could've had a complete collapse of the financial markets. we stepped in to make sure that' you did not have that kind of meltdown that definitely got us into a great depression, and we did so successfully cured and by the way, the interventions we have made have turned out to actually be cheaper than we had predicted and more effective than we predicted. here is a little bit of interesting news. everybody thinks that this bank bailout was about $700 billion. the truth of the matter is that most of the money going to the banks will probably be in -- will probably end up being paid back with interest, and we have
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already made about several tens of billions of dollars that go right into pain of deficits because of some of these investments. -- into paying off deficits because of some of these investments. here's the problem, though. i just wanted to give you the background. here is the problem. having been way too easy in terms of getting credit, now banks have swung in the opposite direction and they're not giving credit to some very creditworthy businesses. they used to say yes to everything and now they're just saying no to everything. part of what our message to the banks is, the taxpayers were there for you to clean up your mistakes. you now have a responsibility to be there for the community now that we are bearing the brunt of a lot of these problems that you caused. [applause]
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in fairness to some of the banks, what they will tell you is, well, the regulators are telling us that we have to build up our capital reserves. we still have some bad loans on our books. there is still a commercial real estate problem out there that we have to be on the lookout for. that is why we're not aggressively lending as we used to be. what we're hoping to do is to work with them and push as hard as we can't say, look, and try to get the right balance here. -- as hard as we can to say, look, try to get the right balance here. if there is a business in pennsylvania or ohio that is making profits, that has a good idea, that has a customer base, give them a loan on fair terms. and what we're also saying is that the government is willing to step into the breach in some circumstances to help. for example, we have increased our small business lending by about 73% through the sba.
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that doesn't help everybody that needs help, but it is helping to fill some of the gaps. i promise you, in fact, i have to be meeting with the bankers again -- i have already met within a couple of times -- some time before the end of the year to say to them, look, you have a responsibility now, now that we have pulled you back from the brink to help make sure that mainstreamed is actually getting the kind of loans that it needs. -- the main street is getting the kind of loans that it needs and i'm hoping and optimistic that we will see the kinds of credit line that we need. [applause] akaka mowl last question. i'm going to go with that guy right there. that guy in the blue shirt -- ok, last question. imoinda with that guy right there. that guy in the blue shirt. too many blue shirts.
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i did not see you. debose calling on him. -- i was calling on him. >> the delmon of their asked a funny question, so i do not really have anything i wanted to know if my wife had anything. if not, i would like to pass it off to my wife. >> go ahead. >> mr. president, thank you for coming to lehigh valley. i appreciate you coming to the health care reform. my question is about what you just ended on, that is, the investment going on wall street. are you confident that there have been enough safeguards put in place so that we do not run over the cliff again with these irresponsible risky investments? >> no, i mean, here's what is happening -- let me say this. congress worked incredibly hard and you guys have a great congressional delegation, but i think they will testify to the fact that congress moves, let's
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say, deliberately. [laughter] it takes time to get things done in congress. and the senate, in particular, just because of the way the rules are constructed. these days, you need 60 votes for everything because of the filibuster, which it used to be was applied rarely, but now the opposition just invoked it for everything. you can try to pass a bill to rename a post office and they will say, no, we need 60 votes for that. and we need to weeks of debate. the reason i. all of this out is that the financial -- the reason i am pointing all of this out is that direct financial regulatory perforreform was a top prioritye beginning of year -- of the year. the we got three series of committees and house and the house has passed out its version, but now the senate has to pass its version.
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it is just like the health-care bill. i know sometimes the public thinks, what are these folks doing? part of it is that you have got three or four or five different committees, all who think they're in charge of the thing. they have hearings and everybody has to talk and everybody has got to have their amendments, and then the bill in one house gets merged and then the bill in the other house gets merged. sometimes it gives you a headache just thinking about it, but that is democracy. that is part of what makes our government stable. it is not easy to get anything done. but it is also what makes it frustrating when we have emergency situations. we have put forward a very specific set of financial reforms that involve making sure that if you have got these really big companies, the jpmorgans or the goldman sachs'
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you know, the companies have been called to big to fail. you better have a bunch of safeguards that we do not have to bail you out if you make bad mistakes. [applause] so, that is one part of the reform. another part of the reform is a consumer watchdog that actually has some teeth. because everybody here has a story to tell about a credit card company that suddenly jacked up your rates for a loan that had a fine print that you did not understand. there is a balloon payment someplace. we want to make sure that regulatory framework is much more effective. we want to set in place mechanisms so that if there is a big bang that it -- a big bank that is getting into trouble, or for that matter, an insurance company like aig that is getting
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into trouble, there's a way of quarantining them so they do not infect the rest of the financial system. if we get this package passed, then we will have the safeguards in place to be sure this stuff does not happen again. but i want to tell all of you, and anybody who is watching or listening, not surprisingly, a lot of the banks and financial institutions are fighting this. because they want to basically just go back to business as usual. they want to do the same things that they were doing. and you are already starting to see some of these bonis payments coming out. it is liked suddenly, they have forgotten that we had to yank them out of the fire. it is very important that we get financial regulatory reform done. we're hoping that we can get it done early in the beginning of next year. but the banks are going to be
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pushing back. he will start seeing ads and in fact, i think they have already started putting that out, saying, well, you know, florists and bakeries are born to be subject to financial regulations. well, that is not true -- are going to be subject to financial regulations. well, that is not true. there's something out there saying that government is going to take care of it -- take over health insurance, but it is action is going to make sure that you're not gypped by the insurance company. [applause] i will take one more question from that gentleman that there because what happened was is that he thought he had been caught on and he felt bad and it turned out that this guy did not really have a question. [laughter] go ahead. >> good afternoon, sir, my name is leonard martin and i am currently a student here.
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[applause] i am also discharged from the army, sir. >> i appreciate your service. >> yes, sir. [applause] my question, sir, it deals with the veterans administration. and for example, this week, i have called them several times asking questions about the gi bill. i am eligible for the post 9/11 g.i. bill, but i have not gotten any benefits from them yet. when i call them, they're often busy and we get a message saying that we have to call back,íso, d ask them? [laughter] [applause] >> first of all, we will get your name -- [laughter] you know, you went straight to the top here. [laughter]
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[applause] i suspect somebody will be calling you on your cell phone in about two seconds. [laughter] but more importantly company one -- what -- but more importantly, one of my commitment as president was that we are going to that -- with the va into shape because when our men and women are serving on behalf of all of us, we have a solemn obligation to look after them when they come home. [applause] diss 9/11 -- post 9/11 g.i. bill, i think it's a great example of it. my grandfather fought in world war ii and then he got his college education on the gi bill. it was not just good for him. because of that whole greatest generation going to college, that built our middleclass.
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and all the things that we have been talking about in terms of science and technology and innovation and clean energy, all of that depends on what happens in places like lehigh, making sure that people are trained and continually upgrading their skills for the future. that is what the g.i. bill is supposed to do. the va, we have actually increased the budget for the va by 11% last year, which was the largest increase in 30 years. and we will be increasing it again this year, because we think it is important to place and catch up. rick shinseki, who was a great american hero and now the secretary of the va, one of his tasks is to upgrade a bunch of the old systems in the va. the truth of the matter is, you should not have to make a phone call. you should be able to get on line. that would be more efficient, and what that tells me is -- i mean, the fact that your having to make the call tells me that
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we have not fully upgraded our information systems yet, the way they need to be upgraded. but he is working diligently i have -- we have a lot of work to do on this front. we are, i think, going to get it in a good place by the time through in washington, but in the meantime, you will, i promise, get a return phone call. thank you, everybody. god bless you. [applause] ♪ [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009]
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>> president obama in pennsylvania this afternoon. the u.s. house is not in session today. they are out until monday, but the senate continues debate on an $840 billion health care measure with plans to work throughout this weekend. live coverage right now once -- on c-span2. you can read the house and senate versions of the bill, which video of the demand + town hall meetings and presidential speeches.
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you'll also find related ads and links through twitter online through and now from today's "washington journal" -- this is just over 30 minutes. . thanks for being with us. you are not at the white house yesterday for the jobs summit. guest: my invitation was lost in the mail, i think. host: if you were there, what would you have asked the president or advised the white house? guest: the real key to the economy is the consumer. 70% of gdp is consumption. if you look at retail sales, they are terrible. if you talk to our members, 33% tell us that their most significant is this problem is just weak sales. nobody is coming in. if nobody is coming in the front door, you don't need to hire people, you don't need to buy inventory, which we have not been doing, and we certainly in this environment are not going to buy new equipment or delivery trucks, if you don't have
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somebody to deliver to. i would say do something to help the consumer and get back on his or her feet and come back shopping. host: you wrote in a recent summary about the state of the economy that the small business job machine is "in reverse, and still in reverse." guest: we talk to our members every month, and we found that in our most recent survey we were looking at three percentage points more still planning to reduce employment relative to the percent who are planning to increase employment. we have not crossed the zero line. we have more folks saying that it will keep cutting employment but i am trying to survive, i have to keep costs low. we have seen the most dramatic reductions in employment that we have ever seen in the 35-year history of the survey just happening in the last year and half. host: the president is traveling to allentown, pennsylvania
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today. one of the places he is going to, a bakery called out in the lehigh valley, with 40 employees. one of the owners says that she is constantly getting applications for jobs. in that economy, 41,000 people out of work in allentown, what does that mean for somebody trying to hire somebody in tons of the income that they will be able to make and that competition to get the select number of jobs? guest: if you are in lehigh valley and you want to hire somebody, you obviously have a great selection. that is true for the economy as a whole. 15 million unemployed people now compared to 7 million in good times. we always have a bunch of people who are unemployed. but if you go back just a year or two, one of the top complaints our small business owners had was finding qualified workers. not anymore treed nobody is complaining about that.
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-- not anymore. nobody is complaining about that. you could hire them relatively inexpensive flee. you don't have to compete for them. from the workers put it, not so good. but from the employer's point of you com-- point of view, now ise time to hire. when is the best time to start a small business? i always respond facetiously, the day before the recession and. -- the day before the recession ends. everything is an expensive. and then the next day you get what everyone needs, cash flow. host: is this a v recovery, w recovery? explain the different types of recoveries. guest: it is definitely a v so far. output is down 6.4%, a huge
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decline in gdp. in just nine months we of got from -6.4 to 2.8, which is stunning, a very steep v. the w o, if we suddenly falter and take back down again and we get the w shape. we have a very big w in the 1980-1982 period, were in 1980 the economy crashed significantly and that the economy grew -- then the economy grew and it fell again and did not start growing until 1983. it usually takes a major policy mistake or something like that to send us into nw. there is no real reason to go into eight w unless you scare consumers to death or use of the else that drives down spending, business spending, and then you
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can get a w. but we should not really be looking at a w. host: the president was meeting with business leaders and economists at the white house, and minority leader john boehner was holding his own summit and met with reporters after his conversation. >> the nation's largest organization representing employers, and the fact that they are not at the white house, gives some indication that they are considering policies that are not going to help employers be more competent about the future of the economy, and therefore, but employers in a position where they are not going to hire more people. i used to run a business before i stumbled into this political arena. i'm beginning to scratch my head and wonder why. but i know what it takes to meet a payroll, what it means to create jobs. without certainty, without some confidence about what tomorrow
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is going to bring, i am not going to move. when you look at all of these policies that are being proposed and the tax rates that are so uncertain, it is no surprise to any of us that employers continue to do nothing. host: bill dunkelberg, what policies and it is right now are hindering small businesses? -- what policies in place right now are hindering small businesses? guest: we usually have the tax problem, and they are going up. regulation is always a problem. that certainly does not help either. if you look at the typical response, owner optimism usually release source at the beginning of expansion. we presumably bottom out in the third quarter and everything should look rosy now. the opportunities are there, the competitors are gone, the recession has filtered out. you should really be optimistic. normally we see that happen. coming out of the 1982 period, our optimism was at an all-time
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high, 35-year high, in 1983. this time it is not happening. the economy has turned and you have growth in the third quarter, but pessimism seems to continue to prevail. i think that is because we look forward and ask ourselves what is coming out of this town that would look -- help us out and make us more optimistic? it is just tax, tax, tax, we are going to tax, redistribute, take this, mandate that. there is so much uncertainty there for the small business owner that they are just sitting back and say, " i will wait until this results itself." i think the consumer feels the same way. what is going to happen to me, what is going to happen to my health care? consumer optimism has not picked up either. we are sitting and waiting to see what happens. uncertainty is always the enemy of the financial markets but obviously of their real economy as well.
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host: bill dunkelberg is a graduate of the nervous the of michigan. today in "the detroit free press," president, saying, "we will get through this." why is this recovery so tough? guest: the consumers are not picking up their share of the deal. if you look at the 2003 to 2007 period, we brought this economy around at a 0 savings rate with cheap credit. we overbuilt and we're looking at hundreds of billions of dollars of retail sales gone that we were having before. now we have too many stores, too many restaurants, and infrastructure that is really built around a consumer that lives on the debt rather than some kind of saving program. now we have all this excess capacity. we have too many workers
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available, lots of strip malls, all kinds of other stuff that we really don't need. if the consumer is going to have a 5% savings rate, many people have been characterizing this as what is the new normal? where is the consumer going to take us? 50% of consumption, 70% of gdp, comes from the top 20% of the income distribution. they got whacked on their houses, the stock market, which is 70% back now, but still there is bad news. and of course, it tapped all their credit availability and spent it. they are the ones that we really need to get back to the shopping mode. we went from 16 million cars a year down to 9 million, that was not unemployed people not buying cars. it was people like us who are still working and just deciding no, this year i will just keep the car a little longer. i will not buy the newest and greatest tv.
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that is what took the economy down in the third quarter of 2008. host: cafrom the republican line. -- fred on the republican line. caller: the main problem is congress, period, senate and house. the louisiana governor did a $3 million put off -- $3 million pay off. don't you think the american people are tired of being bent over and getting the finished product? host: he was referring to mary landrieu, a point well taken. -- but a point well taken. guest: in the people have been complaining about congress for a long -- a lot of people have been complaining about congress for a long time. the health care bill -- passing it is more important than what
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it actually does any more. we know that votes are bought. it is unfortunate that once the representatives get elected and come to washington, they seem to stop representing us and start paying attention to special interests instead of our interests, and we are the ones that sent them there. i agree with you. it is very unfortunate. one of these days, if we get angry enough as of voters, we will change that, but we've not done that yet. host: deborah is joining us from new jersey. welcome to "washington journal." caller: mr. dunkelberg, we listen to economists so often tell us that getting us out of american crisis is american ingenuity. it seems that over the last 30 years, all the ingenuity has been focused on not creating product, but financial instruments to create profits for a very select few by
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shuffling debt to around. for too long, our manufacturing has been disappearing from this country, and jobs have been lost, and the consumer that you are talking about who is not doing their part for not only jobs -- not only jobs disappear, but their wages are frozen, and the standard of the quality of life, using a homes as atm's and racking up more credit card debt that they will ever live to see paying off the interest on. i was thrilled by the talk of i was thrilled by the talk of the greek e -- i heard about this project in texas where they were going to create the wende forms and i thought, oh, great, we will be producing the turbines and we will create j


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