tv Today in Washington CSPAN July 28, 2010 2:00am-6:00am EDT
we know that the explosion of the oil rig on april 20, the gulf coast has faced many different -- difficult challenges. this is the summer peak month for tourism, and many people have been adversely impacted by this incident. it is my understanding that bp prior to the gulf closed claim fund being set up, gave $25 million to promote -- it is not surprising that some are having difficulty getting those claims processed quickly, because bp is not an
insurance company. the administration of the claims process is being handled by mr. feinberg. he has experience in this arena, having disbursed funds as a result of the 9/11 incident. it is my understanding that he will be taking control of 36 bp offices and hundreds of employees. mr. feinberg is charged with administering the $20 billion gulf claims account and paying legitimate claims to affected parties. it is an admirable and difficult position, because we know that paying claims in this kind of situation is certainly an inexact science. we -- will downstream suppliers due to the tourism industry
qualify for compensation? there are a lot of unanswered questions. we want to see that people are reimbursed who have legitimate claims. and we hope there will be some -- we know there'll be some filing claims that will not be legitimate. one other question that i think will have to be answered as we go along is the drilling moratorium imposed by the administration. it will have an impact on the economy and the terrorism as a result of this bill. there is going to have to be some questions as to who should pay for the policies of the moratorium? should it be the government or bp? there are some unanswered questions. i know that this committee is totally committed to making sure that everyone receives
compensation that deserves it. we look forward to your expertise and your thoughts on this and important subject. we look forward to all of your testimony. thank you. >> we will hear from one person for five minutes. >> thank you. the bp spell in the gulf of mexico is the worst environmental disaster this country has ever seen. they hope the cap will hold and the oil will stop flowing. this devastation is enormous. the effect will continue for years. the committee on energy and commerce has held a hearing to the debt the damage and efforts to mitigate the damage and the impact to the environment and the local community. i like to thank the chairman for holding our ninth hearing
focused on the impact of the spill on terrorism and the terrorism economy in the gulf area. louisiana, mississippi, alabama, and four are heavily dependent on the gulf coast region for half for fishing and other activities. some beaches are closed. some are still off-limits. hotels and restaurants, charter boats and restaurants are facing cancellations. tourists are shying away from the areas of the goal in been due to oil coming ashore. bush for shoppers across america are asking if the seafood is from the gulf and if it is safe to eat. we will hear from tourism officials and businesses from each of the state's dealing with this catastrophe. we will also hear from kenneth feinberg and the independent and
ministers in charge of looking at all claims to damage and loss in the oil spill. he is responsible for determining the proper level of compensation for each business, worker, and family impacted by the spill. this hearing will give the committee a better understanding of the impact of the spill and the essential part on the gulf coast economy and help us understand what we can do further to help the region recover. i thank everyone for being here. i look forward to their testimony. thanks. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. stearns for two minutes. one minute. oh, i'm sorry. i didn't see the ranking member down there. >> i'm willing to let mr. stearns go. >> he's to my left. normally not on my left.
the chair now recognizes the ranking member of the full committee, my friend from texas for five minutes. >> i thank the distinguished gentleman from the windy city of chicago home of the cubs and the white sox. i appreciate that. i want to thank chairman rush and chairman waxman for convening this hearing today and appreciate the ranking member whitfield and his leadership on this issue. i want to thank each of you witnesses for appearing before us today. i know it's a busy time for all of you. since the deepwater horizon exploded and sank three months ago, this committee in my opinion has conducted a fair and rigorous investigation of the accident and developed what i consider to be a measured congressional response. our oversight and investigation subcommittee, energy and environment subcommittee, health subcommittee and now the consumer protection subcommittee are each doing their best to
review and discussion all of the issues surrounding the oil spill. as a result of these investigations and the bipartisanship engendered by them, the full committee recently voted 48-0 to report out a blowout prevention bill that again in my opinion is a balanced response to the tragedy. i want to welcome all o you witnesses today to consider our investigation, to continue the investigation, especially want to welcome mr. ken feinberg. mr. feinberg has competently administered the 9/11 victims' compensation fund. that was a very tough job and i expect him to competently and trance parentally administer the current bp spill escrow account. the people of the gulf coast who have lost their jobs or had their livelihoods diminished should be compensated, should be compensated fairly and should be compensated quickly. we're going to hear from some of
the people who have been affected when we get to the other witnesses on this panel today. tourism, fishing and energy development are vital to the gulf coast. they employ hundreds of thousands of people. the tourism industry, which is the focus of today's hearing by itself, generates over $30 billion a year. the oil spill reveries much about the gulf coast community. many of us on this committee have come to know the strength of that community following the vast swath of destruction that was left by hurricane katrina nearly five years ago. gulf coast people are nothing if not resilient, but with this latest manmade daster, some of those folks must be wondering what on earth is going to hit them next. the gulf coast economy is tied to earth and ocean resources. the industries along the gulf are so intertwined that the losses in one sectorripple throughout the entire regional economy. that's why if you're going to understand the magnitude of the
tradegy we must listen closely to those affected by the administration's decisions especially the one currently to ban energy exploration. i've said this before, but the administration should reconsider its second moratorium decision. i think that's the wrong decision that they made. enforcing a blanket pause in any exploration is not unlike sending a new oil spill or a big storm to further threaten the jobs of the gulf coast. the administration has shown some tendency towards panic in this regards lately. this should not be a time for panic t instead a moment, a time for careful, thoughtful consideration. i hope the administration will choose not to forget about the fishermen, shrimpers, rig workers who share the same uncertainty as those who work in the beaches and hotels and along the main streets of the gulf coast. this is a important hearing. again, i want to thank the witnesses and look forward to
your testimony and, again, mr. chairman, and chairman and ranking member whitfield, thank you for arranging this hearing. with that i yield back, mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes the gentlemen lady from florida miss castor for one minute. >> thank you for organizing this important hearing. you know, since april and the bp deepwater horizon blowout, floridians have been living their worst nightmare. the environmental mage, the economic damage is taking a terrible toll on our small business owners, our hotels, our fishermen. you know, we were just coming out of the recession, so bp's disaster is wreaking havoc again on our hard-working folks in florida, and what is particularly frustrating in the tampa bay area where i represent, we've got the most
beautiful beaches in the world from pinellas county, manatee, sarasota all the way down to santa bell island. there's no oil there. the oil is hundreds and hundreds of miles away and yet the word has gone out allcross the globe especially to europe and south america where we rely on all those tourists that the florida beaches are damaged, that the gulf coast is toxic. we've got to turn that perception around. the efforts of bp to date have been inadequate to say the least. what is particularly maddening is we watch these incestant ads, full page ads by bp that are polishing their corporate image at a time where they should be devoting a good portion of those moneys to helping small business owners, our hotels, get back on their feet and explain to folks around the globe that our beaches are pristine. and we want you to come to
florida. rather than how many millions and millions and millions of dollars have they spent on polishing their own corporate imagine so that's the frustration i wanted to share today. so i'm really lookg forward to hearing from our expert witnesses, a special thank you to keith overton from the tradewinds from st. pete beach who is the head of florida's restaurant and lodging association. we have a lot to learn from all of you and i'm glad you're here. thank you. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from florida, mr. stearns for -- >> thank you, mr. chairman and let me also compliment you and mr. whitfield for your leadership on this hearing and welcome kenneth feinberg, the gulf coast claims administrator here. he's going to have a tough job. i saw in the paper recently he said i have a concern that bp is stalling claims. yes, bp is stalling. i doubt they are stalling for money. it's not that. i don't thin they know the
answer to the question by the claimants. that's going to be true whether you decide because of geographical distance or whether you decide a claim because of ownership, are you going to ask for tax returns? i mean how ar you possibly going to figure out what particar claim is valid or not? so we all pray and hope that he'll have the wisdom of solomon to do this. i noticed in the report as of july 24th in florida, 41,818 claims were made and money that was hand out was $45,320,000. so obviously some claims have been paid and a lot of people across many, many counties and concluding counties that are not even affected by the gulf coast have been paid. florida has the most densely populated coastline in the united states and so this spill threatens our beaches, and as a former restaurant and hotel owner, i deeply sympathize and empathize with these businesses and hope obviously that they're not hurt badly and that we can
come back. but in the end, i think the hard questions for the administrator, mr. feinberg is how to solve the questions of who gets the money and gets served with the extra support. so mr. chairman, i think this is a very important hearing to hear from mr. feinberg and as well as the members of the tourist industry, what they think should be done. so thank you. >> mr. green of texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman. like my colleagues i want to welcome our panel particular mr. feinberg but i would like to welcome mr. brennan. you re-opened after a terrible fire and appreciate it in houston and mr. chairman, i want to thank you for raising the issues of the effects of the oil spill on tourism in the gulf of mexico having watched jimmy buffett's concert a few weeks ago from gulf shores it's almost like we feed that every week to get the word out along with a number of different places on the gulf
coast, there was a good turnout. people saw the clean beaches and enjoyed the music so we need to do more of that. along the alabama to texas gulf coast, oil and gas exploration, fishing and tourism are the largest industries for employment. an in economic progress an oil spill has a profound impact on all three and during one of our rst economic times in the last 70 years. i represent a district in houston where thousands of lost or furloughed their jobs as a result of the drilling moratorium. other areas have been hit even harder in some gulf coast town, oil, gas, and fishing are all they have and don't have any of those three. i'm afraid it will have a lasting negative impact on the communities beyond t environmental implications for years to come with so much money being removed from the system economies already hard hit will struggle to bounce back. it will be important to help them. one way is by fixing misconceptions that lead to potential tourists to believe that the entire gulf coast has been marred and cannot be
visited again. i see it all the time on the news. there arwhite beaches and the water is clean, so hopefully people would are watching this will know they can spend their vacation along the gulf coast. i'm pleased that our expert panel has given time to be there d look forward to hearing again, m chairman, thank you for calling this hearing. i yield back my time. >> mr. latter is recognized for one minute. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member whitfield, i believe this is very important hearing today as we examine the devastating impacts that t deepwater horizon oil disaster has had on the gulf coast of tourism. i recently toured the area around grand isle, louisiana, and saw firsthand the devastation of the region and its economic impt on the people who work and live there. this area of the country is one that relies heavily on its fishing and tourism industries and i am looking forward to
hearing from today's witnesses and their perspective on the disaster. i especially look forward to mr. feinberg's testimony and questions he may answer as to the administration's platform for the handling and distribution of the $20 billion escrow account to compensate victims of the oil spill. as disaster cleanup continues we need to make sure funds are handled properly and in a timely manner and get to the appropriate individuals that need that assistance. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> miss sutton is recognized fo e minute. >> i thank the distinguished chairman for holding this hearing. over the last few months we've heard from bp and other companies involved in the deepwater horizon disaster and administrationofficials about how this tragedy occurred and how we can prevent it from happening again. now, one of those early hearings i asked lamar mckay, president and chairman of bp america if bp would consider the loss of
profits for fishing and tourism as a legitimateclaim and mr. mckay replied yes. and that was a good development after bp's reckless actions. their culture of carelessness caused the devastation of our waters and coast and wildlife and injured countless businessmen and the tourism industry. and the losses to these businesses, of course, have had ripple effects throughout our economy and we've heard some of that detailed here today where people from places beyond the coast are feeling the effects of loss of tourism. i'm interested in hearing the testimony today from the witnesses about how the gulf coast claims facility has been processing the claims coming in and if this process can be improved. thank you and i yield back. >> now we'll recognize our next speaker for one minute. >> chairman rush, thank you for calling today's hearing o the impact that the deepwater
horizon explosion had on tourism. as a member of the subcommittee on oversight and investigation, i've had the opportunity to hear testimony on a range of matters relating to deepwater horin. i look fward to hearing from today's panel of witnesses. due to the importance that tourism has for the economy in the gulf, it's critically important we use today's hearing to assess the devastating impact that the oil spill will have on approximately 46% of the region's economy. at a time when unemployment across the country is 9.5%, further impact the tourism industry in the region will only exacerbate those economic woes. mr. chairman, this downturn will not only affect the areas directly hit by the oil spill but will also affect areas where the coastline and water are still pristine. therefore, we must strike a balance within the funds being handled by the gulf coast claims facility. under mr. feinberg's administration. in particular, based on his earlier testimony at the small business committee, i look forward to hearing from
mr. feinberg in particular on the challenges facing the gulf coast tourism and inthe aftermath of deepwater horizon and i thank all of you gentlemen who are actively involved in tourism industry, you know of what you speak. we look forward to hearing from you today and mr. chairman, i yield back, thank you. >> mr. merrill of georgia is recognized for one minute. thank you. the chair now recognizes mr. scalise of the great state of louisiana for one minute. >> thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member whitfield for having this important hearing on the oil spill's effect on tourism in the gulf coast. i want to start by welcoming a dear friend and a respected business leader from new orleans ralph brennan, not only respected in louisiana but as former head of the national restaurant association an authority on restaurants, tourism and business and i appreciate him coming and look forward to hearing his comments and as my colleagues have
pointed out the tourism industry including restaunts like mr. brennan's is suffering from the effects of the oil spill an industry that employs over a million people along the gulf coast and brings in approximately $39 billion in annual tax receipts is now facing double-digit declines due to this disaster. a national survey done in may by the louisiana office of tourism found that 26% of those who had plans to visit louisiana had postponed or canceled their trip while a june survey focused on nearby visitors along the gulf coast states found similar results. that is why it's so critical the recovery fund being run by mr. feinberg is administered in a way that helps all of those that are being affected and will be affected by this disaster. and finally, mr. chairman it's critical that the federal government does not add to the problems that we're facing along the gulf coast and it's critical that the president end this irresponsible moratoriumn offshore drilling because people in louisiana continue to fight the oil each day, president obama anhis administration are taking what is already a human and environmental tragedy and turning it into an economic
tragedy by continuing to pursue this reckless moratorium. mr. chairman, the economy in my state and others along the gulf ast are already suffering. the federal government's role is to help and noturt our recovery. i look forward to hearing from our panelists and i yield back. >> mr. gonzalez of texas is recognized for one minute. thanks. is there any other member? i do not see other members seeking recognition. now, the chair have a unanimous consent request before the committ committee. mr. burgess will sit on the panel and ask questions. i don't see either of them here. if, in fact, theyo appear, then hearing no objection, if and when they do appear they will be allowed to sit on the
panel and ask questions of the witnesses. the chair also asks for unanimous consent to insert into the cord a statement from the northwest florida tourist delopment council. hearing no objections so ordered. now it is my pleasure and my privilege to recognize and introduce the witnesses that have aeared before us today. and beginning on my left, a name that is not unfamiliar with those who are here in this congress, mr. kenneth feinberg. he is the administer for the gulf coast claims facility. he's on my far left, sitting next to him is mr. roger dow, who is the president and ceo of the u.s. travel association. seated next to mr. dow is mr. rip daniels, he's the senior manager of wjzd-fm and he's also
the vice president of the mississippi gulf coast tourism commission. next to mr. daniels is mr. herb malone. he's the president and ceo of the alabama gulf coast convention and visitors bureau and sitting next to mr. malone is mr. keith overton, and mr. overton is the senior vice president and chief erating officer of tradewinds -- of the tradewinds resort. he's also the chairman of the florida restaurant and lodging association. and then we have mr. brennan. mr. ralph brennan who is the president of the ralph brennan restaurant group llc. again, i want to thank the witnesses for appearing in response to our request and our invitation. it is the practice of this
subcommittee to swear in witnesses so i would ask if you would stand and raise your rig hand. do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? please be seated. please let the record reflect that the witnesses have all in their entirety answered in the affirmative and now we will recognize mr. feinberg for for five minutes for an opening statement. >> i thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify. it's the fourth time, three times on the house side and once on the senate side i the last two weeks, and i'm here again to answer any questions that the members may have. i am the iependent administer of this new gulf coast claims facility set up by agreement between the administration and
bp. i do not work for the administration. i do not work for bp. i have been delegated the authority to design, implement and adminier this purely private facility funded by bp in $20 billion escrow account. i have been assured by both the administration and bp that this facility that i am administering will, in fact, be totally independent. i answer to the people in the gulf, not to the administration, nor to bp. bp has -- is setting aside $20 billion in an escrow fund to pay all eligible claims that are submitted to the facility. hopefully the 20 billion will be enough. if not, bp has agreed that it will honor any additional
financial obligations that it may have over and above the $20 billion. i am now in the process as you know of establishin this facility. it is not yet up and running. it will be up and running next month, in a few weeks, and we'll assume all responsibility from bp for processing private claims of individuals and businesses. i do not have any jurisdiction over government claims, state, local or federal. none. i also have no jurisdiction over thmoratorium claims for the rig workers, the $100 million set aside by bp for moratorium rig workers that is not part of the 20 billion and is being administered as i understa it separately. i want to give bp some credit.
it has already paid over 2$230 million worth of claims not out of the 0 billion, but as part of its petty cash. it's paid out $230 billion in individual and some business claims. when i said's paid out $230 bil individual and some business claims. when i said -- congressman stearns reminded me about stalling. bp has not been paying certain problematic claims for the reasons expressed by congressman stearns. what constitute an eligible claim is a major question here and it's going to be a major question today when it comes to tourism. it's easy to compensate a motel or a restaurant on the beach. you don't need the wisdom of solomon for that claim. you really don't. you don't need the wisdom of sol upon for a claim involving a
motel on the beach where the beach is pristine but you can't fish. that's an easy claim. proximity is going to be the problem here. proximity. how far from the beach does a steak house that's lost 30% of its business because of a downswing in tourism -- it's precisely the question posed by congressman stearns. what constitutes an eligible tourist claim? now, i've got some great help on that from mr. malone, from alabama, who i've met with on a couple of occasions, who's thinking this problem through from the perspective of tourism in alabama. governor christ in florida has reminded me about the panhandle and the influence of this disaster on the florida coast.
but what i'm going to have to decide, you see, as part of this gulf coast claims facility is what constitutes a direct claim, a direct claim that is immediately payable? and how far attenuated may a claim be from the spill? the overall impact of the spill undoubtedly impacts tourism throughout a particular state. i'm sure of that. the question is, what constitutes an eligible claim and what is required to be proven in advancing that calculation in order to get money from this facility? i'm as interested as the members are in hearing from the -- my fellow witnesses toda maybe i'll come up with some additional ideas that mr. malone has already advanced for my
consideration in terms of trying to come up with a fair, equitable, just way to determine eligibility and to determine what the appropriate compensation should be. i look forward to the testimony of my other fellow witnesses. i look forward to working with this committee. there are some members here who have already been working with over the past few weeks, and i look forward to continuing to work with congressman castor and others, congressman from louisiana also. i've been meeting with them. i return to florida tomorrow. i'll be in mississippi and alabama on friday, and will be returning to florida again -- and louisiana in the next two weeks, so you can't do th from washington. you have to spend a lot of time down there hearing what people have to say, the uncertainty, the concern and i really look
forward to working with this committee in the months and weeks ahead. thank you. >> mr. dow, you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chrman and thank you, ranking member whitfield and the members of the committee that are present. it's an honor to be here today and i've already submitted and will submit my testimony for the record, but i'd like to be brief. to give you an idea of the u.s. travel association i represent is basically represents the whole $704 billion travel industry or one in nine americans are employed, our 2,000 members represent the airlines, hotel, lodging company, attractions, et cetera but our mission is real simple and that's to promote travel and increase travel to and with the united stat, it creates american jobs. during the current environmental crisis, that mission couldn't be more important. and my testimony i'm going to highlight several thing, one, the significance of the impact of travel and tourism which
you've already heard distinguished members of the panel and also you will hear from the panel and committees state. but also the potential long-te of the oil spill, the damages and what bp and the federal government can do. it's mentioned that four states are impacted to the tune of $94 billion of their travel economy and a million emploes in the travel economy but you also have texas which perception hasot been hit as hard but perception will cause people not to go to pas of texas and that's even a bigger place. when you look at tourism, it's -- a much larger proportion in the gulf region than in any other region of the country. 15% of private employees are in this versus other areas. when you really look at how many people the question is who's harmed, as mr. feinberg said and how long i think are very important questions. we commissioned oxford economics one of the most respected
economics terms in the globe to take a look because we have to deal with facts as mr. feinberg so rightly says, not hearsay. and we commissioned them to look at 25 national disasters around the world. hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, oil spills, pandemics and take a look at what would happen and how long it took them to recover. well, as you've already heard stated katrina, five years later, new orleans hadn't recovered from prekatrina numbers. oxford economics estimates that the damage is going to be probably $22.7 billion. that's just to the travel and tourism industry over three years. what i want to talk about today is that cost can be reduced significantly by up to a third or $7.6 billion. we have submitted the oxford economics study and also submitted a road map to recovery with concrete ideas how to mitigate the damages, so we can lessen them for the taxpayers and lessen them for bp.
using travel to stimulate the economy and speed the recovery. there's three parts. one to inform the perception and we know how important perception is. second, create an incentive for people to travel back to this area. third to make businesses and people whole and this must be funded by bp to help reduce the long-term implications. a key lever available to bp and the federal government is the opportunity to create marketing to bring people back. we're asking that the be considered a $500 million fund which would give 15-1 return for $7.5 billion to bring people back. mr. feinberg has the challenge of assessing real damages, but the challenge is left untouched these damages will mount and will grow. we have an opportunity to shrink them and we need to address that and so with no guidance for recovery, we don't know how to submit the claims so that is going to be important. we believe that the gulf coast claims facility is the right and
only area to take $500 million and properly allocate it to the people that can make a difference. there's been many requests by states and they've received as you've already said $70 million. the unfortunate problem is of that 70 million, very little actually goto marketing. we'd like to remove the politics. we'd like to remove special interests. we'd like to get a transparent process where we can mitigate and pull this down. the damages are already occurring. everybody is talking about capping the damages andnd cappi the well. well, we also need to cap the damages long term and we can do that. the 400,000 people that work in this industry know how to do things in the industry. they probably don't know how to file a claim so we need to get them back more quickly. a $500 million marketing effort will do that. we've seen that over and over. we saw that with sars and canada and watched for 98 days on television the problems, we can turn this around and mitigate it. nothing is more important than getting a fund to do this, to put it in place and i believe
that will help the communities, the families and the taxpayers and in the long term reduce the liability for bp. thank you very much. >> the chair recognizes now mr. daniels for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman rush, ranking member whitfield and other subcommittee members. i'm representing myself -- >> would you turn the mike on and pull it close to you. thank you. >> i will. i'm representing myself as a private citizen and not the harrison county tourism commission primarily because i wanted to represent small business as well as it applies to tourism. i've been in tourism since 1978 starting as a tavern owner, radio broadcaster, real estate brokertourism commissioner and the primary investor in the coast's newest african-american hotel and seen firsthand the adverse effects of a range of disasters from hurricane camille's destruction on the
seafood's industry process in 1969 to the economic recession of the '80s which resulted in the closing of the hilton and sheraton and complete destction of the coast, tourism destination by hurricane katrina. however, i've also -- i've also been a part of the recovery, and renewal of the coast after each calamity and the resilience of the gulf coastians in the face of insurmountable destruction is a testament to their faith in god and each other. on the eve of the five-year annirsary of hurricane katrina, the coast was poised to have a banner year for tourism. on april 20th, the deepwater horizon sunk and so did our hopes to finally re-establish the mississippi gulf coast as a tourist destination as opposed to a hurricane-ravaged resort. the impact of the bp o disaster on tourism has been and will be a disaster. the devastation is difficult to measure because both the actual
damage and the perception of the damage cannot be readily measured. was the gulf coast spared because there was a limited amount of oil to reach the shoreline or was the shoreline spared because most of the oil is still de bottom of the gulf? or dispersed in plumes. is the perception of clean beaches better than the rception of clean seafood? and in the words of my grandson, is it safe to go in the wate and if not, is it safe to eat the fish? one can glean that the mississippi gulf coast billion dollar tourism industry is undoubtedly tied to seafood. according to recent harrison county surveys the number one reason for visiting the mississippi gulf coast was the food, the seafood. ladies and gentlemen, the coastal view is still gorgeous. the beaches are clean, the sound and the bayous are open for fishing, but the seafood, is it safe? how does the coast remove the perception that it's not?
surprisingly according to the hotel/motel association and the casino association hotel stays over the last 90 days have been up and casino revenues have been up. but, of course, that is compared to last year when the tourism economy was at an all-time low. yet, maybe the fact that the harrison county tourism commission under my guidance investing $650 billion in advertising did help least with drive-in markets. hotel/motel association sts have shown that many of the room nights are as a result of extended stay, bp employees, government agencies, media, petroleum cleanup-related businesses and the like. although there is a perception at times that the gulf coast revenue is up, is it the result of tourism that the gulf coast revenue is up, is it theesult of tousm or is it a result of oil recovery? and if so, does that not suggest that the recovery is not over until tourism is back to the
ratio that existed prior to the explosion? the most serious adverse effect over the lack of tourism, not recovery workers is that many of the mom and pop shop, restaurants, boats, seafood merchants, water spos venders and golf courses and the like have suffered, they are not getting tourist dollars which were far greater and even more importantly, we have noticed that inquiries about future visits to the coast as it applies to tour sichl off 40 to 50%. what happens when all the recovery money is gone and all the workers have are gone? ironically, just as the deepwater horizon was an exploratory mission in the mississippi gulf coast now finds itse challenged with the exploration of what to do in the coming years to fight the perception. there's too many unknowns right now. considering the fact that we just had a money, one has to
wonder what will happen when there is another katrina or hurricane and how many tarballs will be washed up. ladies and gentlemen, on the mississippi gulf coast as it applies to tourism, we are not enthusiastic trading a billion dollar seafood industry for a million dollar well. so we hope you will see some recommendations and hopefully some cures for this ill. thank you. >> the chair recognizes mr. malone for five minutes. >> good morning, mr. chairman and thank you and thank the members of the subcommittee for inviting us here today. it's a tremendous honor to represent our area, it's an honor to represent some 2,000 -- >> mike turned on? thank you. >> it's an honor to represent the business owners and employees they employ who's livelihoods are all at risk as we sit here today. ou area began receiving oil on our beach in mid-may.
we've continued to receive it, sheen offshore coming ashore today as we speak. this is our high season. with the oil impacts we've had, i cannot describe it verbally as well as it should be. many of us have problems with the media and the way the media has overstated things which sometimes they tend to do. but i'll tell you honestly when the media in the second week of june report eed beaches of alaba were slathered with oil, we were slathered with oil. it was not a false report. they failed to mention how much is cleaned up, our beaches do look good today t is working. what has this done to our tourism and economy is distorted, we're devastated. we should be at 85 to 90% occupancy in mid july, late july, we're running less than 30%. when occupancy goes down, rates go down even greater. so the revenueo our lomper,
restaurants, to everyone in town, i don't november a single business, i conveyed this to mr. feinberg in a recent meeting, i don't know of a single business that has not been directly affected by this oil. it has created a sense of despair i've never sn. like mr. daniels, i've grown up on the gulf coast, i've been through hurricanes, we've been through hurricanes, i've been in this position for 22 years, i look in the eyes of my friends and colleagues around the community and i've seen despair i've never seen before we remember the 11 victims of the explosion of the rig. we've d a w12th victim, the charter boat captain who in the sense of despair took his own life. we hop that's the last one. we have measures in place to try to prevent that from happing again. we're hoping to be successful with those. laterally we're the smallest beach on the gulf coast. we have the least amount of coast line of any of the five states, but we generate $2.3
billion annually. with the high season we fully expect our loss to be at oar orr near $1 billion this year, not counting what happens in the future years, that's the dirt spending by the consumer not counting the ripple effect as it would ripple through r economy. so it is devastating to us it is about survival. the bp claims process has been mentioned in the numbers they sooem to tout quite often of what they have paid, the bigger number is what they have not paid. last night, i received an e-mail from one of our local cpa firms, very actively engaged in the claims process. they have filed -- gave me a detailed list of over 70 claims they have filed on behalf of businesses, totalling over $$27 million. less than $5 million has been paid yet to owners.
of that $5 million, $3.5 million went to two claims. so as you see there's a tremendous void in what's been filed and what's been requested an what's been documented. this cpa firm is highly repu reputab reputable, they've been actively engaged from the beginning, like the rest us, they're sfrus straight about by money is not coming into the hands of our business industry. they can't make payroll, they can't pay the notes thatre due. industry is much like farmers, we prepare in the spring, we market, we spru up the place, we paint the boat, we remodel during the winter, ready for the coming season. just like farmer who's lost his crop, we lost our yield. not only is it a terrible time in regard to the recession and previous hurricanes, it's a terrible time of year for us. so i request of you today as this subcommittee and members of congress is to do please whatever you can to get money in the hands of mr. feinberg and
his program and get it up and going as fast as possible. we have had too many -- we found mr. feinberg to be fair and open mind. our first meeting he scared us with his eligibility requirements, but in our second meeting, he listened to our side of the case and we closed the gap tremendously with him. we still have some work to do, mr. feinberg, but we're feeling better about it. and we're looking forward to working with him. but our problem is i have businesses who have bank notes due last week. every day that goes by is critical. every week that guess by, there will be another foreclosure. so when mr. feinberg says he's taken over mid next month, i wish he would take over tomorrow. if there is any way that members of this committee or any other members of congress can help facilitate getting this in the control of mr. feinberg and out of the control of bp, it would be a tremendous benefit to us. with that, i would like to close
other than to say that again, thank you for your interest in this issue, thank you to the gentleman who recognize our jimmy buffett concert. thank you to the lady from florida who discuss the beautiful beaches, we share the beautiful beaches with florida least we did before the oil. we look forward to the day those beaches are beautiful once again. >> thank you. mr. overton you're recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman and distinguished members. we, too, are a little frightened of mr. feinberg so far but i think we'll get through it as we have more discussion. >> florida is the vacation capital of the country and has been for generations, when visitors think of florida they envision warm sunshine, blue waters, sugary white sand beaches, fresh sea food and a natural environment like no other. all of these wonderful characteristics have been dampd sarlts of the perceptions that florida beaches are covered in oil. tourism is big business.
it's our number onetory, we hosted over 80 million visitors in 2009. we captured nearly 17 vacations from -- million from floridians. collectively our visits spent over $60 billion in travel last year generating nearly $4 billion in sales tax collections. what that means is more than one fifth of florida sales tax dollars are paid by visitors and it also means juror jobs. nearly one million directly employed in travel and tourism. to give you an example of economic impact bp oil spill is having on hotels, let me give you some statists from the trade winds, we are the largest resort just west of tampa bay located in pinellas county. call volume is down by 25%. we have 8 hundred of the county's approximately 35,000
hotel rooms. so when you take an average of the last three years of revenue shortfalls an they're kpair that to the revenue we've achieved since the oil spill we are down approximately $1.7 million and you balance that out that's a $70 ml economic loss just in hotel room revenue, that doesn't include restaurants or secondary businesses related to tourism. then if you think about the panhandle which has 76,000 hotel rooms and the effects have been clearly more devastating to them it's easy to see that the losses to florida's tourism are in the billions. it's a substantial number and it's something we want to make on the record today that we need help with that. what's most concerning to is that all of these losses have have occurred to our resorts without a drop of oil being on any beach in pinellas county. it's amazing to me how the
perceptions of the media have gotten us to this point. nonetheless we're there. i also want to share with you that the y partnership conducted a survey on june 18th, it was asked of the participants which states do you believe will most directly be impacted by oil. 95% put florida at the top of the list. florida is the least impacted. so clearly again i want to restate this is a perction problem. and i certainly think we can all agree that perceptions have worsened since june 18. prior to appearing on the neil cavuto show a couple of weeks ago, i was viewing a monitor and it had the president appearing in pensacola beach and at the the there were a few tar balls there, but hadn't been materially affect the, the ticker tape along the bottom, but it read oil finally reaches florida beaches, plural when they transitioned to the next shot, the television station, i
can't recall when which one it was, superimposed the oil running down the screen behind the president superimposed over the beautiful gulf waters. i said to myself, there's no amount of money that's going to combat that kind of imagery, it's a challenge we're faced with and is going to be there gore many, many years to come, i believe. much like what happens in the hurricanes of 2004, we'retill suffering from that cannot gain occupancies in august and september that we used to chaefr. i have five requests of the committee in closing if you would acknowledge them and i would ask you to at least dress them in your comments and questions. one is the media must be held accountable to accurate and fair reporting of the facts regarding this oil spill. they have aegal and ethical responsibility to do so yet many continue to put ratings ahead of accuracy. i urge you to charge some agency, maybe it's this
governing body i'm not sure to review news report weekly and hold them accountable for the sensational and inaccuries there are there, we need somebody to support us in that regard. number two, we're optimistic that the oil leak has been capped however there's still going to be years of cleanup and recovery efforts remaining. we all fear that the claims are going to cease being paid prior to the end of the actual losses. i think that's an accepted concept today. additionally, mr. feinberg's recent comments with regards to what is a competencible or legitimate claim based on whether or not oil is on its beaches and the proximity to that oil is also very concerning to all ofur members and all the tourist based businesses within florida and we implore mr. feinberg in any branch of the government that can influence the claims process to look very carefully at this and not allow it to be a black and white issue. we want to make sure that each business owner has an opportunity to be heard from
their legitimacy of their claims and not ruled out because of geographics. i would like to make you aware that the cbbs all rely on bed tax dollars related to hotel room revenues. when they fall, revenues then the bed tax dollars fall. we need that marketing money, we need to be made whole. i know that's not mr. feinberg's responsibility but those cbbs need to be made whole on the dollars st for marketing purposes. the fishing and seafood industry are critical to florida's ecomy. i'm not going to go into details but i've included in your packet some recommendations from legitimate ocean conservancy and other agencies at will help you as it relates to wild life. lastly, we have to continue to spend money on marketing efforts domestically and intermarblely. we have not gotten more money past the $25 million that bp has given touchlts $50 million has been turned down. we need that money.
it's very important. this is going to go on tour a long period of time and those dollars are val tower recovery. i thank you very much for allowing me to speak today in giving you our testimony. >> mr. brennan, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. sorry about that. thank you for this opportunity to testify on behalf of the national restaurant association and restaurant industry, as you said in my introductioni'm from the ralph brennan restaurant group, i've been involved in the restaurant industry in new orleans for almost 30 years and my family has been in the restaurant business for more than 60 ars, weoperate 12 restaurants, nine in new orleans. gulf seafood is an important ingredient in all of our menus. i want to thank you for holding this hearing and i appreciate the opportunity to tell the restaurant industry's partf
the story. ours is on industry that employs an estimated 2.3 million employees in the gulf coast region, restaurants generat be a $77 billion in annual sales. since april 20th when oil began flowing into the gulf of mexico, our coast line, sea life and tourism economy are again in great jep appeared. after hurricane katrina roared ashore on august 29, 2005, businesses knew how to return to normal or what we call the new normal. we began to rebuild an move on. but this is the not case today. the key message i want to share with you is one of long-term uncertainty impacting both the ecosystem of the gulf and the economy of the gulf coast area and potentially devastating tourism in the gulf states. across the affected areas, restaurants report a range of experiences, those located i sea side or beach communities are decimated as tourism
shrivels. tourists are notoming because people have the perception there is oil there and visitor perception key to decisions about where to vacation. the overall numbers of tourists are down. restaurant guests and sales are decreasing, product costs are increasing as already thin margins precariously slip woimplt in new orleans, gulf seafood is at the heart of our culinary tourism. after we saw after hurricane katrina, cvention groups and leisure travelers are calling to express concern. many are asking if oil is on the doorsteps of new orleans and new orleans is miles inland. today almost five years after hurricane katrina, convention bookings have not returned to hurricane katrina because of the damage to the new orleans brand and the oil spill rinks surrendering the ground we've gained over the last few years along with future increases. while my testimony is not primarily on t bp claims process i have hear from
executive along the that there's a willingness to set up a claims center and that would be solely focused on restaurant and hotel industries i want to voice my strong support for that idea. regarding my three new orleans restaurants specifically, sales are down, counts are down, costs are up and margins are down. this is not a sustainable business model. as the oil looms offshore with impact that could last for many years to come. with regard to perceptions and misconceptions i would like to begin applauding our ate an federal officials for stringent safe testing of gulf seafood that has allowed tthful repoing around potential toxicity of the seafood. 100% of reports show gulf foods to be safe from areas that are approved. ongoing testing is crucial for a and informed public. despite the testing concerns about safety and supply, one of the recent national poll indicated that 54% of respondents said they would only
eat seafood they know does not come from the gulf. our staff has received many calls and comments centering around safety and supply. to combat conrns we have aggressively trained our satisfy to knowledgeably share precise locations where our seafood comes from. to demonstrate support for the fishermen, my restaurants have addeafood offerings. i told "the new york times" the way to help is to eat gulf seafood. if high profile individuals including celebrities, celebrity chefs and men members of congress could be seen eating a gulf shrimp poor boy, it would be go a long way to alleviating fear. it's a welcome opportunity for positive reinforcement and i know the national restaurant association is looking to plan meetings in the gulf coast region and i would hope that trade association and government agencies would do the same. despite a curb in the demand for seafood, prices have increased. on average in my restaurants we're paying 18 to 30% for mort
seafood we serve. finally, i'd like to to comment on the long-term impact of a misinformed public. in the years after hurricane katrina potential visitors from around the country thought that the city of new orleans was still under water, that the drinking water wasunsafe and there were no hospitals or other city services. the misperceptions were largely create reinforced by the media because of theegular lea reigh playing of images from days after the storm. many in new orleans feel that it was only after the new orleans saints and the city of new orleans hosted two playoff games back in january and saints went on to win the super bowl that misperceptions were finay ceased. misperceptions are happening again now. just about every day a story is report live from new orleans on the spill. the perception shapedy the media, even if unintentional is that oil is on the doorsteps of new orleans. at sensationalistic and true. yet. >> if reporting from these lo l
locales continues, many will perceive new orleans as damaged destinations. marketing dollars will be needed to counter these misperceptions rn the long-term consequences and impact on tourism of a damaged brand are severe. thank you, mr. chairman and members of the subcommittee for this opportunity to be here today. >> the chair thanks all the witnesses for their fine testimony and the chair recognizes himself now for five minutes of -- for the purpose of questioning the witnesses. mr. feinberg, i'm going to begin with you. at this moment, bp is still processing claims, i understand, filed by businesses and workers in the gulf coast region. according to your testimony, bp has already paid $200 million in emergency payments. despite these numbers, we've been told as a committee that
there are many complaints about the claims process that bp is utilizing. mr. malone describes the process as erratic, somewhatonvoluted and at times dysfunctional. and also in your testimony, you stated how complicated it is to determine whether the oil spill is true or the approximaproxima for the damages business issing even when there's no evidence of oil in sight of. these businesses are on life support as they wait the determine afgs their elibility to submit a claim against the $20 million escrow fund that bp has established. and mr. feinberg, i just have to ask you because i'm drawn to the infamous and fiction al gulf
coast fisherman forrest gump saying life is a box of chocolates, you don't know what you're going to get. now my question to you when will e people of the gulf coast, the business people and workers, when will they get definite answer? mr. dow talked about a roadmap to recovery. when will at the get something specific from you or someone else about who is eligible, why they're eligible, when they're going to get paid, how much they're going to get paid? these are just some basic questions. the guesswork needs to come through, the guesswork. so your process that you're going through, i understand that
you got it go through this process, a process in terms of getting to a point of answering some of these very,ery valid and important questions. but when is it the process going to be over? when are you going to be able to give some clarity and eliminate the guesswork? >> i'll answer that very obviously critically important question with three answer. first, i believe that the blueprint that i have established for emergency payments to be paid quickly as possible should be finished and available this week. that's first. that's my goal. secondly, i have no authorityto fund the $20 billion escrow account. that is an agreement between the
administration and bp. my understanding is that they are working overtime to try and finalize the terms and conditio of that escrow account which will make the $20 billion available. i can't give you a time except to say i think it's probably within a matter of weeks. but i deon't know. i'm not privy to that escrow negotiation. third, i suspect that i'll be able to accept transition from bp, bp will get out of the claims business completely, the private claims business, and i should be up and running with the gulf coast claims facility the middle of next month. the middle of ne month. a couple of weeks. and then i will assume all authority to process emergency claims, emergency claims in which the fishermen, the small
business, the restaurant will not waive any rights they may have. they will simply decide -- if they're eligible they'll decide if they want to participate in the program and will receive if eligible and if they document their loss, up to six months of emergency payments to help get them over this immediate emergency. no mr. chairman, if i may just add, i understand from all of these witnesses and from the members of this committee time is of the essence. this is a huge undertaking. and i am working as fast as i can, as diligently as i can, full-time to get the gulf coast claims facility up and running, to get it fund so these emergency claims can be made as soon as possible. >> i want to -- are you
considering the workers also in terms of -- do the same guidelines apply to them also? >> the same. i think bp frankly has done a much better job of this $230 billion they've paid out, i think they've done a much better job of playing out workmen claims, shrimpmen, fishermen, oyster harvesters than th have paying out large business claims. i think that's clear from the testimony i've heard tend from the cpa in alabama. and i think that's absolutely true. that's one reason why i've got to get up and running with this facility as soon as i can. >> the chair now recognizes the ranking member mr. whitfield for five minutes. >> well, thank you again for ur testimony. and mr. feinberg, i think all of us are delighte that you will truly be independent, you're not reporting to anyone.
i think that's probably good for all of us to get a fair and equitable help on this problem. i noticed that mr. daniels, mr. overton and mr. brennan in their testimony placed a great deal of emphasis on damages caused by perception as opposed to damages caed by actual damage and i've heard many people also blame the media for assisting in this misperception of the american public. and i don't think that any of us were surprid by that because the media is focused on being sensational and obtaining more viewers and more readers and frequently without any regard to the real impact it has on people. but my question to you would be since you're going to be up and running within a month
hopefully, when you start processing claims from your perspecti perspective, it won't make any difference if the damage is caused by perception or by actual damage, is that correct? >> that is correct. under the law of the federal pollution control act, which is a very important aspect of this whole process, actual physical damage to property is not required. so the issue for me, you're absolutely right on, congressman. the issue for me is not whether perception that has an impact on tourism is competence ab isism far removed is the claim be eligible. the perception harms a motel on the beach, no damage.
it's another thing when it harms a motel 70 miles inland. i've got to decide. i take no advance position on this, but i think that's what congressman stearns was getting at a little bit, where you draw that line on eligibility. >> that's going to be one of the obviously key points that you're going to have to decide on. kind reminds you of the old fallsgraf ca in torts in law school. >> you remember. >> mr. dow, you talked about a $500 million fund to assist. now, would this -- is it your idea that this money for emergency marketing would also come from bp? >> yes, i definitely think it should come from bp and the question whether it can come from this fund or additional amount but as i stated, my hope clearly is that this can
mitigate the damps phenomenally to the tune of $7 billion to $8 billion. just as all that money was spent to dap kap that wel, we ought to cap the damages now. no one would say let the oil run forever and pay the people for their damps. they say stop it and we should do the same thing. i believe it should be should come from bp, mr. feinberg is maybe between a rock and a hard place. >> do u have authority to pay out money for marketing? >> i don't think. again, i'm not privy to that negotiation involving the escrow account but i don't think under the terms of that escrow account $500 mlion for marketing could come out of that $20 billion. that doesn't mean there aren't other sources, i'm not an expert but i don't think it could come out of it. >> if i come in for emergency payment from you and you give me emergency funds, will i be required to sign a release for legal liability issues? >> no.
>> will i ever be required to sign a legal release? >> you'll be required to sign a release down the road only if you come back to the facility and seek a final payment for all of your then-damage and projected future damage. only then would you have to sign a release, not as part of these emergency funds. >> thank you. >> ms. caster is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. dow, since the april bp blowout in the gulf have you seen these tv ads that bp has been running polishing thr corporate image? >> if you own a television set you cannot not see them. i ha seen them and i have seen them and it just points out to me the very clarity tat bp truly understands that changing perception and getting the word
out is critical. i think the same thing has to be done for the citizens for the businesses of the gulf coast t is critical and it can stem the damages phenomenally. >> i think you're right. you said it well, if you own a tv, you've seen these incessant ads by bp, often times not very informative just remind me of political campaign ads frankly and you can't pick up a newspaper, mr. malone, i'm sure you're seeing in alabama what we see in florida s there a day you pick up the newspaper you don't see these full-page ads? >> that's true. and i can tell you that we have met with some of the bp officials that you see in those ads particularly the gentleman that represents these in charge of claims for bp, we met as early as may 11th in my office with mayors and her leading people, cpas in a pro-active to establish an expedited claims process. lots of promise ps w made on
that day, may 11th. i don't mean to be flippant but in our community bp has come to stand for broken promise. that's what we've seen one after another after another. in fact, they issued a press release around the middle of june where they saithey adopt an expedited claims process for business claims. i read you figures a while ago, it's not come true. now mr. feinberg is right, the individual employee can walk into a claims office and walk out with a check for $2500 or $5,000 if he has his w-9s or minimudocumentation. if you ask a business to submit 2200 pages ofocumentation before your claim would even be nsidered, that's onerous and that same business submitted a claim in mid-y yet to receive more than 10% of the claims they've presented since may to this date. these claims, they refer to as large claims, they differ on
whether that's over $20,000, over $50,000, depending on who you talk to. they're sent to a forensic accountant for examination before being given examination, that takes weeks and weeksto do. as i said in my written comments, it's to me, it's the analogy of everyone submitting their income tax returns, if you do a refund, you can't get your refund until a full audit is completed. theye doing a full audit before they write a single check tower businesses. i'm not talking about the million dollar businesses, the guy who rents beach umbrellas on the beach, submit $60,000 claims, that's his whole year. >> it's making folks mad because they understand how much this media campaign is costing bp. i mean you see the same thing in mississippi, mr. daniels? you see all these ads and tv commercials? >> yes. without a doubt we do. and actually as a broadcaster we
sell advertisement to bp. see, that's the paradox here. from a broadcasting standpoint, it's not necessarily the ads, it's the reassurance. and if the federal government would do one thing, that is reassure by way of mr mr. feinberg's claims but especially when it comes down to saying that the seafood is safe. what the rest of the world needs to hear and especially the nation needs to hear is that it's okay to go in the water, and thatis safe and that it's being monitored. >> right. >> i came up with -- >> i know someone had made an inquiry of bp about how much money they have spent on these ads and they refoous to provide that information. so mr. chairman, i would like to ask unanimous consent that this committee seek from bp the amount of money that they have spent on their corporate image polishing campaigns since the bp
employeeout? >> well, the chair will consider the request. i think i'll direct staff to address a letter to bp specifically with that question in mind. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. and quickly, in my remaining time, mr. feinberg, we've got to be able to bring our local government and cvb industry state claims as part of your $20 billion escrow. how do we do this? do we nee to lobby the administration and bp to have that included in this escrow agreement that is going to be coming out in the next week or two? >> first of all, the government claims are included in the $20 billion escrow. they're just not part of my watch. out of that $20 billion will come not only the claims that i pay, but all government claims will come out of that $20
billion. but way the understanding was reached between the administration and bp, government claims are the direct responsibility of bp. even though they're coming out of the $20 billion. >> so what's your opinion? don't you agree that you and your experts are competent, in fact expert enough to sort through those very difficult and detailed claims? >> if it's the will of the parties to the agreement, the administration and bp, i'm glad to -- >> it's up to them. >> take on that assignment. as if i don't have enough problems but i would be glad to take on that assignment. but again, not on my watch at the current time. nor the moratorium claims either. >> thank you. >> chair recognizes mr. barton for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. most of my questions are going to be towards mr. feinberg simply because he's got a huge
undertaking and we don't get him before our committee too often. but i want to tell you other gentlemen i listened to your testimony in my office, i clearly understand the issues that you're dealing with and clearly support that you should be compensated. i'm especially pleased to know there's still a brennan involved with brennans. that's comforting to know since i'm a frequent visitor to your restaurants when i'm in new orleans. my first question to you, mr. feinberg -- let me say, aie do support there be a compensation fund. i do support that bp pays most if not all of the money that goes into that fund and i do support that it be, as i said, fairly, quickly and transparently paid out to the people that have the claims. my first question to you, mr. feinberg, is who do you report to? do you report to the president? do you report to the secretary of the treasury? the chairman of the federal reserve? who exactly is your boss?
>> i don't have boss on this assignment. i think the fair answer, congressman, would be that i report to the people in the gulf. both the administration and bp frankly don't want to get near me once this program is up and running and they want to reinforce the notion i'm totally independent. >> you're doing an excellent job in the other fund that you administer but that was different. that funds were appved by the congress, there were clear reporting standards. this is is a unique fund. >> it really is. >> there apparently is no precedent for it. doesn't mean again we don't need it but if my understding is correct now that you've been either asked to serve or appointed by the president he does not have the power to remove you? is that correct? >> i think that clearly is correct.
clearly he doesn't have the power. >> do you have to personally approve each claim to be paid? >> as a theoretical matter the answer is yes. now, of course, there's going to be thousands of claims and i'm going to have a process in place, an infrastructure where problematic claims will come to you to me. hopefully we'll consistently apply the formulas and there won't be a necessity to look at each and every claim. >> when a claim is paid, will your signature be on the check? >> you know, i don't know the answer to that question. that's a good question. >> where will the funds be deposited that you allocate? will they be deposit in the u.s. treasury in washington, in a branch office in the federal reserve, a private financial institution or institutions? >> one, i don't know the answer to that question because i'm not privy to the escrow negotiations between the administration and bp.
two, i have urged both of the escrow negotiators to deposit at least some of the money in local regional institutions in the gulf that have expressed a real desire to benefit financially from this. >> who makes the decision where -- what depository institution to be s to be used? >> again, that would be between the administration and the fellow i've been consulted with is tom perelli, the social attorney general and at bp -- >> but you have no definitive role in making that decision? >> none. >> you're purely -- make the decision, what the protocol is for claims, the claims process and the decisionmaking protocol for making decisions on the claims and tn being sure that there's adequate follow-up and documentation. is that a fair statement?
>> that is correct. i want to make sure that the checks don't bounce, but that is absolutely accurate. >> okay. what reporting requirement, if any, does the fund that you're going to oversee have to report to the congress on dispersal and operation of the fund? >> there will be expressed reporting requirements that are all interested parties starting with the congress will have inrmation whether it's monthly or biannually, frequent reporting as to how the claims are being processed, what the statistics show, our claim rate, et cetera. >> what transparey will there be for the public, i.e., a public website that shows claims pained who received the money and perhaps even pending claims and the decision process by which a decision is made on a claim? >> yes. now, we've got to be careful as we were with the 9/11 fund that
we don't dilose under the umbrel of transparency individual names or private information, proprietary business information, but i'm completely iagreement with you, congressman with your question that we've got to have a transparent database from which people can review how we're doing and what our strengths and weaknesses have been. >> i have one more, chairman, -- one more question, mr. chairman. i know my time has expired. in answer to the gentlelady from florida's question, you indicated that other decision makers will have decision making authority over this $20 billion fund and that your authority is going to be restricted to certain disbursements. do you make decisions on compensation for oil and gas
workers who have lost their jobs? >> yes. not the moratorium rig workers though. >> i understand that for fishermen. >> yes. >> seafood -- >> all individuals, all private businesses, no government claims. >> okay. so the government claims the decision maker is -- >> bp. >> well, they would -- i wouldn't think we would allocate to them what government official would oversee their decision? no, i mean i think the government official will send a claim for reimbursement or clnup or lost tax revenue or whatever to bp for processing. that's currently the plan. >> mr. chairman, will we have the authority -- ability to ask questions -- written questions for responses from the panel? >> we'll address that issue once we -- >> i know my time is expired. i appreciate the chair's
consideration. >> the chair now recognizes misshami ms. schakowsky for fe minutes. >> i want to thank you the chair and all the witnesses. i've been listening to the witnesses here and i think it would be good for mr. daniels questions, he asked a number of questions to be included among those that we present as our own questions. i think they're very important and that he deserves those answers and so that we should include that in the questions. >> those will be included in the written questions we will submit to the witnesses. >> thank you. i also wanted to ask about the suggestion, i think it was mr. dow's suggestion that the
government incentivize a -- do an incentive for people to do tourism in the region. was that you or mr. malone? >> it was me. it was part of three points of $500 million to get the perception to get right information out and incentivize people to come -- >> what does that mean, what is incentivize? >> there are several things that have been done in the past. commerce department runs trade missions, there could be incentives where they dent charge for those missions to get more people here. there's opportunities to give meal tax deductions or some tax things that are ne. there are many things done in the past throughout areas that will give people an advantage by going to an anyarea and an incentive to do so and we've got a list of them in that roadmap for recovery, ma'am. >> thank you. i think, mr. feinberg, you may have answered this, but
mr. malone said that he's personally spoken with a large number of business owners who have yet to see a single payment, particularly the larger ones. are you suggesting that they refile when you're up and running or no? >> they won't to have to refile at all. we will assume responsibility for those claims and accelerate as quickly as possible. as mr. malone has pointed out to me and governor riley has pointed out we don't haven't want to reinvent the wheel by inquiring people to refile. >> and mr. overton was talking about the damage that has been done even though there's no oil at all. is that still true? at hiss resort. this is clearly on the water. so is his business eligible then
for compensation from the fund? >> his business is eligible insofar as he has a claim with his but no visible damage to the beach, that's not the issue in that case. what i don't know from that statement is how close is his business to the beach, how dependent is it on the beach or fishing or sightseeing or charter boats or what have you. so it is the fact surrounding the overall claim that are going to be critical in deciding eligibility in something like that. >> this perception question is really hard to question your arms around but maybe the biggest source of damage, long term -- am i right, mr. brennan, did you want to comment on that? >> the best exam spell to look at hurricankatrina about the impact on new orleans, the perception as the city as a damaged brand.
you as a member of congress understand perception. we have to overcome that and just like bp is running these ads trying to change the perception of their company, we need to do a similar thing to change the perception of the hospitality and tourism industries along the gulf coast. >> whose responsibility do you think, mr. feinberg, or is it everybody's to pro-actively addresshis issue? >> i think it's bp's responsibility. i thinkbp has done some things, nothing to do with me. they clearly haven't done enough. they've spent some money i believe, what i read in the newspapers, they've spent some money promoting tourism in the gulf but others know better than i about that. >> i will address that. bp initially spent $70 million, $25 million for the state of florida, $15 million for the three other states. requests have been denied by the governor of florida and about ten gulf coast communities, not
denied -- they have not received other inrmation. the governor of florida was denied, the other communities have not heard anything back. the challenge is $70 million, very little has got to marketing. one of the most important things this committee, bp could do is isolate the funds and say let's get expert working on this and let's be sure they do the job and i i believe the gentleman to my right could do a terrific job overseeing that because he's proven himself. >> yes. i thank you all for your efforts. mr. feinberg, good luck on your all work. if i could just, mr. chairman, a point of personal privilege. i have spent vacations, many summers on the panhandle of florida and these sugar white sand beaches which is of course the lure. and the notion that both the beaches- that the beaches would be spoiled but also that the reputation of this area would be hurt is just so painful
i can only imagine how it i to all of you. so i thank you for being here. >> mr. kearns is recognized for five minutes. >> m feinberg,he question would be who is going to payhe salaries of the employees you hire to implement this program disbursement of the $20 million? >> bp. >> and how many employees do you think you'll expect? can you extrapolate from your 11 experience? >> well, 9/11, which was thank goodness, a relatively modest, clean cohort. we had 475 employees. bp, in paying out $230 million so far has hired about 1,500 at 35 claims offices throughout the gulfegion and i think 7 in
florida. i'm now putting together a budget for the gulf coast claims facity. i think we probably won't need that many people. but i'll know more about that in the next week or two. >> i understand. so roughly 1,500 or less? >> yes. >> and they're ill be paid by the bp funds? >> yes. >> is this more like the private sector or the government sector? >> again, the deputy administrator of the fund camille barros would have a better handle on that but i could certainly get you that information in. >> 9/11 -- what standard did you use for salaries? in. >> salaries, we used a price water house had a contract with the department of justice that used largely private, private salaries. >> okay. i have here, i think it's a four page claim form that used for
coercial fishermen. i notice on their form is does not have a notary public on it and it's just that people can fill it out. do you intend to usehe same form or are you going to come up with a new form? >> new form. >> new form. okay. i noticed that with bp that 43% of the claims are still waiting payment. so that means are you going to take over inherit all those 43%? and does that mean these people who supposedly haven't gotten claim, lack of information, are you going to follow up on that? >> yes,we will not require people to refile. now that 43% figure i'm not sure that figure is accurate. >> okay. >> because bp apparently has counted as a claim somebody who makes an inquiry and gets a claim number and never fills out the form. so i'm not sure, i've got to get a handle on that data. >> okay let me just give you a
statement and ask you if you agree with this. do you think everybody should get reimbursed no matter where they're located if they can prove loss of income because of this spill? >> no. >> because a family in tennessee could we're not going to go to pensacola we're going to go to tampa and the gas station on the interstate could say i didn't get that family in tennessee and make that claim. how are you going to work this so that it's a fair thing? >> i have to listen to these experts that are at this table like mr. malone and mr. malone, in a very careful presentation laid out for me sort of the proximity, the zone where there's the greatest direct impact and said, mr. feinberg, in that zone, in alabama, that is the zone that is the most directly impacted. tourism. these are the restaurants, the motels, the other sites
and with input from experts, lie try and answer that very question as to what's the proximity where it's most likely that a claim should be deemed eligible. >> mr. feinberg, under 9/11, did you have anybody accounting firm come in and look at what you did? was there anybody, not necessarily that you reported to but somebody sort of like we have here inspector eneral, gao can go into a government agency and sort of tell members of congress what's happening? did you have that ununder the 9/11 commission? >> constantly, the office of managent and budget. >> now you're not going to have that here? >> no. >> don't you think you would even want to van inspector general or claims adjuster or somebody that could oversee this and report back to congress on what you're doing instead of you reporting back on what you're doing yourself? don't you think -- i mean i would think i would like to have somebody checking up on me just to make sure that i get the
cross the dots -- >> i love that idea. i think we're going do that. now we will have a separate question related, what about -- i've heard this from various congressional committees. what about fraud? what about the problem of fraud, not so much auditing just fraudulent claim, the department of justice criminal fraud department is working with us directly. >> so you'll refer them. >> absolutely, we'll have an internal retained anti-fraud internet working within the facility to audit and check for fraud. but i absolutely have no problem with transparency in the form of congressional oversight or some sort of regular reporting by an independent person checking on what we're doing. >> mr. chairman, i think what mr. feinberg is mentioning is something this committee or some committee in congress should help him with this legislation that allows him to report to or they provide sort of an
inspector general type of accounting he. this a sa he amount of money, $20 billion. i think the american taxpayers obvious list would like some kind of report. obviously we have great confidence in mr. feinberg but statement i don't think he would mind having somebody to counterbalance and show everything is going. because this is 1,500 employees working in a way they can't control completely so it's just a thought. thank you. >> your point is well taken and it will be taken under consideration by this committee. now, we recognize mr. green of texas, recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i know you read a statement earlier and i would like to ask this question of mr. feinberg. ovb has paid over $200 million in emergency payments. and the committee has heard complaints about the bp's claims process. and mr. malone describes the process as erat ig, somewhat
convolute and at times dysfunction a i think could that could probably apply to congress in in cases, mr. feinberg, i would hoping if you could comment on bp's process of these claims so far, specifically what problems have you ideified? >> i think bp deserves some credit here. most of these mass disasters that i've been involved in over the years, when i get involved, i start sort of from scratch, there's nothing in place and we have to build from the beginning. while i am rushing to set up this facility in just a few weeks in august, bp continues to pay claims. now the problem is that as my fellow witnesses hav pointed out accurately, bp is quick to pay the individual wage loss claims. they're quick to pay claims where there is physical destruction, oil on the beach or
flowing somewhere injuring property, destroyingroperty. where they're reluctant or where they have less assuredness is business interruption claims, lost profit, lost business, calculating lost busiss, corroborating lost business and that's why i think the gentlemen that are here today are frustrated by bp, they paid $230 million but shouldn't they doing more on the businessside? i appreciate that and when i set up this facility asap we will focus on those business claims. >> okay. and so your testimony earlier that the claims will be actually what bp is doing, you're monitoring those and they're coming to you now instead of bp directly? >> they will be in the matter of weeks and i'll accelerate the payment of those claims. >> how do you plan to staff the
gulf keep the people that are there now. we will train them. as neede and we will set up the instruction a matter of weeks. i know compared to louisiana and mississip mississippi. have you seen the payments getting better? is mr. fineberg said, small payments have been fairly routine matrs. in matters that are in excess to 100,000 or excess of a million have been extremely difficult to
obtain. >> it was very sporadic. some large checks. other companies have been waiting three months for their first check. >> coming from where i am and obviously you were concerned about galveston. that wasn't the issue in southeast texas. but my concern is the comment not only on the bp's response but the impact of the moratorium. whether it be alabama, mississippi, or louisiana. and those folks except for the workers they are probably allowed compensation. if you are laid off of a rig, could you comment on that? >> are you talking to me? >> yes. >> i am in tourism.
only for unemployed rig rkers. >> i know i am out of time. do you know how much of that has been spent? >> i don't think any of it has been deposited yet. >> thank you. >> thank you have much. we have spent most of the morn ing he has got a tremendous job and responsibility seeing that at is done. and you brought out the fact that time is of the essence, i think. mr. fineberg may have said that. the others of you have said gosh, i think mr. overton talked about florida. no tar balls washing up on the
beaches have an effect because of perception is. and we talk about individuals, rig workers but the small business men and women across the country, the husband and wife that owned the motel six maybe or you saw these blinking neon signs that said no vacancy. there was a huge problem and mr. fineberg, it probably extends a
lot further than we realize today as far as economic losses. ron emanual, the chief of staff, was credited with making a statement, let no crisis go waste. we would say that's deplorable. if that's what he was talking about, then i would agree that we should not let a crisis go waste we should make lemonade out of lemons. the president and state of the union address said we are going take $30 billion of the unspent t.a.r.p. money. we gave the nine or ten largest financial stuxs take that money
against their will. it has been paid back. and the president said let's take $30 billion and let's give it to -- let's recapitalize the small banks and help them make loans because small business men d women can't borrow the money that they need tostay afloat. wouldn't this be a great opportunity for the federal government to listen to the president and to actually follow through on this and is get money available to small community banks. not just in florida. all along the gulf coast. indeed georgia has 120 miles of coastline. all of these small mom and pops that invested five, ten, 5, $25,000 to be part of the start
up. i would like -- we start with you. i know this is not y'all's area ofexpertise. we need to get this conversation going. >> am i safe if i say worthy of conversation? >> when you talk about small businesses, it is probably almost all sma businesses. new orleans s big hotels. you look at this, this is made up of people who have relationships with these small banks.
people know they have got their records and all that there will be another hurricane. another tsunami and another earthquake. this is an opportunity to set in place how we deal with these so we don't have to reinvent the wheel. that is why this is is so critical and we tnk we can use this over and over again. >> i see my time is running out. but, clearly, the president called for this to be done. this hasn't been done. but it's not too late and we need to really look into this closely. i hope we have an opportunity to discuss it further.
mr. chairman i know some of the witnesses want to respond to this. it's up to you. i will shut up and you can let them talk if you give them time. >> witnesses have a response? >> i must say i think it's a great idea. i would be remissed if i did not impress upon you that this is still a liquid situation. every day there are those of us on the gulf coast who are praying that the cap stays. there is is still oil in the water. and graed the discussion of payment is is excellent. your idea is excellent but bp doesn't have enough money when we talk about perception over the years if the oil continues to come. so i think the idea of utilizing the community banks is great. but what the people on the gulf
coast need is reassurance if you don't think it's safe to go the beach then you will not take your kids. you guys need to have bp's expense an army of scientists, biologists and marine biologists there assuring the rest of the world that it's okay. anfirst assure them that there is no more oil in the water.
i think mr. fienberg. >> we are going move on. mr. gonzales is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you very much. my question will go to mr. fineberg. i was not able to ask the question and i want to ask it at this time. that same morning joe scarborough was broadcasting from pence cola and he had a state senator and the senate senator made a couple of comments and so i will build my questions on the comments.
so it's the perception and you refer to this in the past. i wasn't here for all of the testimony. and that is gonzales was thinking of going to pensacola. that is a victim of some perception. may be false. how are you going handle that claim. what was disturb something t state senator's comment is right now we have been dealing with on claims. now we will have to deal with the federal govement. and you have already made it very car that you don't -- that's not your boss. neither is bp. why is it that this gulf coast claims facility is superior to what was in place prior to the agreement? the second question is the one i would like for you to answer and go the perception. >> i would like to think that
that with the experience i would bring and the confidence they have in selecting me to do this based on my prior work in processing mass disaster claims, bp is an oil company. i would like to think that we will be able, much more efficiently and effectively to process claims in a way in a way that will engender the support of the people i am trying to help. all the talk in the world won't replace payments. and a sense that people have and businesses have that there are checks being paid to eligible claims. i am hoping that the president's confidence in me and the
administration's confidence and bp's confidence in me will result in the people i the gulf having confidence in me so that the program is working and that it's credible. >> and the second question, not to prejudge any claims, but what do you do if the perception was that there was oil on the beach when there wasn't and the businesses suffered? >> you do not need oil on the beach to have a compensable claim. florida laway require -- the attorney general has a different view and probably the correct view but you don't need oil on the beach. you don't have to unable to fish. perception now the problem that others pose, well, what's the proximity requirement?
i whether have to draw lines on eligibility. the lines will be based on proximity to the beach or the national resources. the industry, fishing, crabbing, oyster harvesting is easy. hotels and restaurants. legitimate, eligible. actually in the next few weeks i will have to develop eligibility is one issue. corroborating the claim while showing that the spill caused my
loss, that's another issue. but that's what i will have to deal with. thank you for your testimony and i yield back. >> the chair recognis mr. solis of louisiana. the fact that even where some areas has absolutely no oil you have still got double digit if not over 50% drops in people that are coming. i know our state has worked on different types of certification
proposals to encourage fda to set up a formal process so that people can go out there and have all across the country have a clear confidence level if they are buying seafood, our vendors are not selling seafood that is not safe. so a certification process will give a higher level of confidence. can you talk about that combined with marketing? what is it going take to get people to feel comfortable walking into a seafood restaura restaurant. >> there are two issues here. and the other that you just mentioned is the food safety concern. and there are a number of regulatory agencies at the state and federal level that are evaluating the safety on a daily basis and we needed one consistent program ta could become a gold standard.
i had an opportunity to have dinner with a lady the other night who said she would never eat gulf seafood because she still believes it is tainted in some way. there are probably many people around the country that feel that way and there are restaurants posting signs saying we don't serve gulf seafood. we need one standard so that the country will feel confident. >> we will just go down the line. >> the seafood industry has been underfunded for a long time. back to the comments of how do we bring something good out of this crisis, i think it is an opportunity for us to take funds and do what we are faced with
now we actually lose money in september and in august. we don't make a profit. we make our money in the other parts of the year. what are we going to do if we don't have a large claim paid. what are we going to do? do we go lay employees off because we need to make that number? that's what we're faced with. >> i apologize. i only have a minute and a half left and is i have a number of other questions. if you canet me copy of the presentati
presentation. >> can i speak briefly? >> real quickly. i only have a minute now. >> the science community is doing our region a terrible injustice as long as those questionare out there, these misperceptions will be there. >> i have got get to my questions for mr. feinberg. as you have heard today, can you help give the panelists some confidence that when we talk about geographical limitations. if you have a restaurant in new orleans and is it is 60 miles away from the point of impact, how will you factor that in.
if you are right on the beach or you are right by the gulf, by the waters, that's what i mean by proximity. it's easy. that doesn't mean if somebody has another facility farther away they are automatically ineligible. >> real quickly. are you kind of held back on what you can do to start setting up your operation to cutting checks for that to be completed? or can you start before they complete these? >> no. i am not held up. we are on parallel tracks. meanwhile i am going forward. >> and is have you gotten any checks? >> no. t i am con iffident that by the second week of august which is ready too late, i am hoping that the escrow should be up and running so that there will be no inability to cut checks. >> you said with the $100 million, that's the only place to go for people who work on rigs.
there is really no place to go for people who service rigs, would you pay them out of your fund? is it just unemployment their only option? >> i don't know about employment. unemployed rig workers who are unemployed because of the moratorium don't have a claim. >> once that 100 million is going run out in two months. once that's extinguished, do they have any other recourse? >> i doubt very much they would have a claim within this run. >> if you can give me the protocols for a review board. they want to go to some kind of -- >> i yield back. thank you mr. chair. >> the chair now recognizes our
next guest. >> thank you mr. chairman. thanks to the panel. mr. feinberg i want to ask you some questions. you say you are not privy to negotiations that are going on with respect to the escrow fund. are you okay with that? do you think that is better? what is your perspective? >> i'm neutral. as long as the money is available to cut checks, that's fine with me. >> do your decisions, are they immune from challenge under whatever understandings have been made? >> no. so if you -- if you and mr. malone are talking about the appropriate zone and is the government thinks you have drown the zone too small and bp thinks you have drawn the zone too big
or someone on the outside of the zone doesn't agree with your judgment call, are you anticipating that there will be some challenge presented to that? or under the structure of this arrangement, is that not challenging? >> neither the government or bp can challenge my independence but if an individual claimant doesn'like my determination or the amount of money i have awarded that individual has two choices. the individual can either -- not either, both. first the individualan seek an abeel and onlyhen can the if he or she is still dissatisfied
be it a letter or a promise or your willingness to deal with me. if i know that claimly go bp. i have done this already. >> okay. >> to try and ease that transition. >> so there is is some re couco there is a way to say before is too late, do something here. all right. thank you. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes dr. burrgess for five minutes. >> i thank the chairman for the conversation.
>> the -- the frame work setting up my claims facility is being done by me. the frame work of setting up the $20 billion escrow fund, my understanding is because i am not privy to those negotiations is between the associate attorney general's office and people at bp in houston. >> now at some point those two have to merge? is that correct? otrwise you have a structure with no fund. they have a fund with no structure. >> that's right. >> when that meing occurs, will we be made aware of what that structure looks like and how the fund then subsequently is to be administered? >> i would think so. would certainly be entely up to date on what i am doing.
>> 9/11 was before my time. but thenho were you working for? >> the department of justice and john ashcroft. >> you received a paycheck from the department of justice? >> i worked on that assignment entirely pro bono. >> are you working on this pro bono? >> no. the entire cost must, of cour, be paiby bp. you can't ask the claimants to fund any part or the government. >> that begs the question, who is signing your paycheck? >> i am sure that bp is signing
not only my paycheck but the paycheck of everybody working in this independent gulf coast claims facility. >> do you see any difficty with maintaining the independence with them holding the title of pay mast sner. >> i certainly do see implication of your question which is there could be a perception that since bp is paying, should we have more transparency. >> i think thi is where we would like to be of service to you and provide some help for you. when the 9/11 compensation fund was set up, that was set up under a congressional authorization. >> it was a federal statute. >> right. a direct result of action taken. but this is a little different. there has been no action taken. so if we invite you, for
example, to our committee on oversight investigations, if the chairman invites you back to this committee, may we expect your attendance? >> you certainly may. with honor. >> i would say who knows what will happen to the world after november but as the current ranking member, we will welcome you to that committee sometime this fall when you actually get funded to have a visit about how those funds are actually being dispersed and we also will be terribly interested in how the merging of the structure that you are producing and the funding that is yet to happen. we have had a field hearing the first of june. now they are being destroyed by the oil spill. there was a hotel operator there who talk about how he was keeping the cash flow going by
borrowing and having run a business before i knowit's hard to keep the cash flow going if you are borrowing and i asked who was co-signing the loans and he said his wife. i said that's not exactly what i had in mind. i was hoping bp was co-signing the loans. he said nouch luck. will we get to the point where that individual or an individual inner similar circumstance can continue to maintain their business without facing future financial ruin? >> that will be my goal. >> thank you. >> the chair recognizes our next speaker for five minutes. >> thank you. i appreciate your allowing me to go on. i would like to submit a statent to the sub committee. thank you. i would like to welcome my friend with the restaurant association. we worked many years ago on a
promotion for louisiana and internationally. and i guess my question to you is do you remember how many years it took us to build that reputation once we got that fund up and is running? is. >> congressman, i don't remember the number of years but it's a long time. >> so we are reverting back to where we were and we will have to have some ability as well as alabama, mississippi, florida, and texas to get that message back out once this gulf has been cleaned up so it's a long time coming. >> yes. >> is there any indication with bp of how long they are going be in this thing? or are they thinking that this $20 llion is the be all end all?
is. >> if i could, can you tell me what this alabama is about. >> i'm sorry? >> this alabama lawsuit. what is that about. bp is the responsibility pardy. they are oblated for the paying of the administration. somebody is filing, alabama is filing suit? >> i am n -- >> that was something i heard on the news the other day and i wondered what that was all about. i didn't kbet my full information. that has been quite a number of day da days we are all in this thing together.
is there anything stins discussions that has come to your mind that you witch you have said that you might want to still say whi i still have two minutes and 30 seconds? >> i said this in my opening remarks, this is a long term problem. it was a fixed event. we knew what we had to do. we don't know the long term effects on this especially on louisiana, the tourism industry and is seafood. so we have to take an approach today. we have to start today knowing it will be a long term battle. i think you mentioned that earlier. we have had. as i mentioned, what our problem
club for an hour. >> good afternoo and welcome to the national press club. my name is alan, i'm a reporter for bloomberg news and president ofhe national press club. we're committed to our future by programming and fostering a free press worldwide. for more information about the press club, please visit our website at www.press.org. to donate to our programs, please visit www.press.org/library. on behalf of our members worldwide, i'd like to welcome our speaker and attendees at today's event, which includes guest of our speaker as well as working journalists. i'd also like to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences. after the speech concludes i'll ask as many questions as time permits. i' now introduce our head table guests. from you are why right, francis ebberly, executive director for the national science teachers
association. kung song, sara brown wes ling, english teacher in johnson, iowa, and national teacher of the year. cri christia christiane ammanpour. andrew snyder, associate editor for kiplinger washington editors. skipping our speaker for the moment, seniorice president at hagger sharp and speakers committee member who organized today'luncheon. shary horsily, katherine skiba, sara sparks, a reporter at education daily, and lynn sweet, washington bureau chief for the "chica sun-times" and columnist for politicsdaily.com. [ applause ]
our speaker today calls education the civil rights issue of our times. framing reform debates in terms of social justice. to understand the sense of mission, you might look at his childhood in chicago where his mother, sue duncan, started a tutoring program for disadvantaged kids on chicago's south side in 1961. arne duncan was there, tutoring, playing basketball and learning the value of education. sometimes in stark terms. he once said that education could literally be the difference between life and death. in his words, the guys who got killed were the ones who didn't finish high school. inform one who went to college got killed. he played professional basketball for four years after he graduated harvard before returning to chicago and becoming the longest-serving school chief in the country then
his friend and esident barack obama tapped him to lead the department of education. last year's enomic recovery act doubled his department's budget. he's proposing a longer school year, requiring for profit colleges to prove they train students for gainful employment and closing schools that don't perform. he faces challenges. the federal budget deficit, the achievement gap among white, black and hispanic students. teachers who say evaluations are based too much on test scores, and critics who say it's futile to cast today's challenges of civil rights when a two-parent family is one of the biggest factors determining a child' success. welcome to the national press club education secretary arne duncan. [ applause ] >> good afternoon and thank you so much for that kind
introduction. the american story is all about extraordinary people who meet the challenges of their time with determination, with courage, and with vision. from the heroes of the american revolution to the heroes of our transformative sial vements, our nation was shaped by bold men and women who overcome resistan resistance, fear and decent to advance our collective welfare. they include great presidents, brilliant thinkers, social leaders and millions of ordinary americans whose courage strengthen us and lift us through the everyday challenges in our communities and the national crises that test us. in this ongoing american story, circumstances periodically conspire to redirect our course and leads to a new and better place where yesterday's problems fade and tomorrow's solutions
emerge with great clarity and force. today in the field of public education, this moment is upon us. and i'm not the first one to say it. from journalists to educators, to politicians and parents, there's a growing sense that a quiet revolution is underway in our homes, in our schools, in our classrooms, in our communities. this quiet revolution is driven by motivated parents who want better educational outcomes for their children. they know how critical education is to succeed and compete in the global economy and they insist on the very best and ey're willing to sacrifice to make that happen. it's driven by great, great teachers and educators and administrators who are challenging the inertia that has trapped generations of children in second-rate schools. they know every single child can learn in a school culture where parents are engaged, teachers are respected and principals are
empowered. it's driven by elected officials, community leaders and stakeholders outside the school system who value education enough to fund it adequately and give generously of their time and energy and their resources. they know that quality education, more so than ever before, is the cornerstone for strong economy in the 21st century. it's driven by foundations and entrepreneurs that see the fresh new thinking that every sector of society needs in order to change, grow and improve. they're fronting real money and enlisting smart, creative people willing to try new approaches to educating america's underserved children. i'm especially honored to be part of an administration that is playing a modest role in sparking this quiet revolution. we arrived in washington at a time when america was deeply vided over the proper federal role in educational policy. no child left behind forced some hard conversations around issues
like accountability and achievement gap but also triggered some negative consequences. it caused states to lower their standards, mandated impractical remedies and incentivize the wrong behavior among some educators whoput standardized testing ahead of a curriculum. rather than reformat the local level, nclb had federal overreaching. in february 2009 with the economic crisis at hand, the president signed the historic law to stimulate the economy and among other things, rescue states facing unprecedented budget cuts. the $786 billion american recovery and reinvestment act included $48 billion to help save or create 400,000 jobs, most of them in education. literally staving off an education catastrophe in our nation's classrooms. it included $17 billion for pell grants, to send more young people to college and meet the
national goal of producing the highest percentage of college-educated workers in the world by 2020, by the end of the next decade. the president clearly recnizes that america must educate her way to a bettereconomy. and as he has said, the nations that outeducate us today will outcompete us tomorrow. included in that recovery act arizona was i, by the standards in washington, a small provision authorizing the department of education to design and administer competitive programs aimed at improving education in four core areas of reform, standar standards, teachers, data ask school turnarounds. with a budget of just $5 billion, less than 1% of total education spending in america, this minor provision of the recovery act has unleashed an avalanche of pent up educational reform activity at the state and local level. 48 states voluntarily collaborated to raise the bar and create common, college and career ready standards, solving
one of the biggest drawbacks of nclb without federal mandate and without a federal dollar. so far, 29 states have adopted those standards, even massachusetts, universally viewed as having the highest standards in the country, voted to adopt those standards last week. i want to single out jean wilhoit whose here and chief state school officers and raymond shipock, who have done extraordinary work to drive this agenda. collectively their leadership at the local level has helped make this happen. i want to salute our governors and legislators for the work on race to the top. 46 state in the district of columbia brought together labor you knunions and elected offici compete for race to the top funds. in support of the applications, 13 states alter laws to foster growth of good charter school
and 17 states reformed teacher evaluation systems by including, among other things, student achievement. i've learned many, many things since i've come to washington, but i have to admit i was surprised to learn we had state that's had laws prohibiting the use of student achievement and teacher evaluation. they had laws on the books against that. because of relation to thace to those laws are gone. these blueprints bear the signatures of many key players that drive change in our schools. the winners of race to the top will be held accountable for those commitments but every single state, every state that applied will benefit from this consensus building process to drive reform. much of the federa dollars can support their plans to raise standards, improve teaching, to use data more ee february tevly, to support student learning and turn around chronically underperforming schools. two states, delaware and
tennessee, one grants in the first phase of race to the top. here representing governor from delaware and govnor from tennessee are their visionary chief state school officers, dr. lowery and webb, let's give them a round of applause. [ applause ] i want to salute them and their entire state for setting a new standard of commitment and courage in public education they're the pioneers and they're showing us together how to move forward. in a few minutes i will announce the finalists for the second phase and they'll be invited to address our review panels in early august. the second phase winners are be announced in september. in the coming weeks, we will also announce the winners for the investing in innovation fund, also known as i-three. we received 1700 applications from districts and nonprofit
partners all across america. one of the largest responses we've ever received in the history of the department of education. we will also be distributing teacher incentive fund grants for districts willing to try new compensation program that's reward excellence in the classroom, or provide incentives to teach in hard to staff schools in hard totaff subjects. the biggest single thing we can do is get great teachers into struggling schools, whenever it takes, including incentive pay and other ideas. meanwhile, states all across america are also distribute uting $3.5 billion in school improvement grants to districts willing to dramatically interveen in their lowest performing schools. to those who say this work can't be done, visit schools like george hall elementary in mobile, alabama, or roxbury prep in boston, schools that went from the bottom to the top thanks to committed leadership and dedicated stab. go to urban prep in chicago, an
all-male, all african-american high school. a place in school where only 4% of freshman were at grade level and 60% were dropping out. they just had their first graduating class, 107 young men, 107 graduating, 107 going off to four-year universities. [ applause ] when we made the decision to transform thatle skochool, form president of chicago community trust and former president of spelman college and he told me when he was going to college, when he was in eighth grade, his mother wouldn't let him attend that high school 50 yrs ago because that high school was so bad at that time. it took us half a century to have the courage to change and to create urban prep. there's simply no excuse for that. i wonder how many don stewarts we lost over those 50 years because we failed to provide
real educational opportunity. so there's also money for new charter schools and other innovative learning models as well as funds for states that develop better data systems. lastly, $350 million in race to the top funds are set aside for groups of states to develop new, more comprehensive assessments. all told, nearly $10 billion is going out in the coming weeks to support education reform driven at the local level. over and above the billions of dollars we distributed in formula grants to sport low income students and now the special populations. it's been a remarkable year and a half, and among other things i've lrned much about the proper federal role in supporting education reform. i think it comes down to a few basic things. the first is the bully pulpit, the president and i have both used the megaphone, our position affords, to challenge everyone in the system to get better. starting with ourselves and continuing with parents and
students, educators, elected officials and colleges of education. i've been to 37 states and literally hundreds and hundreds of schools. i've held large and small meetings with thousands of parents, teachers, students and administrators. i've yet to meet one person who is satisfied with the status quo. everybody knows that we have to get better. i've tried to give voice to their concerns by telling the truth as i've heard it from people all across the country. the truth is a quarter of our students do not graduate from high school. that's 1.2 million students dropping out of high school each year and there are no good options, as you know, for them. that is morally unacceptable and you can nomically unsustainable. the truth is, too many teachers are unprepared when they enter the classroom and the system fails to identify and reward good teachers, support those with potential or when necessary counsel out of the field those teachers just not suited for
this challenging, challenging profession. the truth is, too many schools, including some charter schools, are simply not providing students with an education that prepares them for college and careers and they need to change the way they do business or they need to go out of business. the truth is, there are indefensible innick witties in terms of funding, teacher funding, access to curriculum and student outcomes. half a century after brown versus board of education, this is an epic injustice in our society. we will target these schools under civil rights laws, but it falls on elected officials, school administrators and stakeholders to confront educational inequity. education is the civil rights issue of our generation. it's the only way to make good on the american promise of equality. and the truth is that states with low standards have been
lying to children's families for years, telling them they're ready for college or work when they're not cle. many who attend college need remediation and half drop out. overall, just 40% of young people eastern a two-year or four-year degree. the u.s. ranks ten, we were first a generation ago and we want to be first again. that's why we ended federal subsidies for banks and student lending programs and shifted billions and billions of dollars into increasing pell grants without going back to taxpayers for a dime. that's why we fix the student financial aid application. it was so complicated a lot of students simply gave up and that's one more barrier to access that we have eliminated. we're competing with students from around the world and the truth is unfortunately we're continuing to slip further behind. among developed nations, our eighth graders trail students in ten countries in science, and
our 15-year-olds are in the bottom quartile in math. our first responsibility is simply to tell the truth. the second big lever of change, transparency. i credit nclb for exposing america's dirty laundry but we need to go furtherer and show what is and what is not working. the big game changer is to start measuring individual student growth rather than proficientency, whi is in our blueprint for reauthorizing the elementa and secondary act. we have to use that information to drive student instruction and accountability at every level, classroom, school, district, and state. if wknow w much students are gaining each year, if we know how much they're improving, we'll know which teachers and principals are succeeding, which ones need more help and support, and which ones simply are not getting the job done. we will also know if the best teachers are distributed equitably among schools or
whether the poorest kids and the most disadvantaged communities are consistently taught b the least experienced and the least effective teachers. if you go to any chronically low performing school, i promise you that you'll find less experienced teamers and high teacher turnover. go to a high performing school, you'll find the opposite. stability, a mixture of experience and youth and a professional teaching culture. too many states are not built to measure growth which is why we need better assessments and data systems. we also need to look at a range of other indicators, graduation, college enrollment and completion rates to more innovative metrics like the rate of freshman on track, helping us attack the dropout rate in chicago. another big lever of change is the one i mentioned before, that is incentives, like race to the top. nothing moves people as quickly as the opportunity for more funding, especially in tough
budget times like today. when i was in chicago, our teachers designed a program for performance pay as $27 million federal grant, the largest grant our school district ever received. it would have taken us frankly years to bargain this program with our unions, but with a grand in hand, they signed on together with us for weeks. that program was created by teachers, for teachers. in chicago's model, every adult in the building, teachers, everyone was rewarded when it improved. a positive school culture. today there are dozens of schools with performance pay programs. there are districts competing for the innocencive fund dollars. educatorers want to get better, they wt results, and they want the opportunity to try new approaches to learning.
so as we look at the last 18 months, it's absolutely stunning to see how much change has happened at the state and local level because of these incentive programs. and that's why we're asking congress to continue race to the top, and the promise neighborhoods program let's not get side tracked in a false choice between competitive and formula funding because we absolutely need both. our blueprint and our 2011 budget request both call for fully funding formula programs like title one and ida, homeless, my immigrant, rural and enish language learner programs. even with increases in competitive funds, 80%, 80% of our k through 12, and envisions a humble and realistic federal role in driving reform. we're a long, long way here in the nation's capital from our nation's classrooms. if we've learned one thing,
instead of one size fits all, it doesn't work. those one size fits all ideas tend to stifle creativity and innovation at the local level. nclb proscriescribed tutoring, want to change the accountability system in two important ways. first of all, we want to hold states, districts, superintendants and school boards accountable. we can't put it all on schools. they don't operate in a vacuum but as part of a system that ranges from highly supportive to highly dysfunctional. we want to stop labeling so many schools as failures. it's demoralizing, counter productive and just brain wrong. instead, recognize and reward high achieving and high growth schools, offering insentives to drive reform and help accelerate
their rate of progress. for schools which face a variety of challenges from dropout rates, we can point them to success but we can't mandate solutions. they have to figure that out at the local level and i'm absolutely confident they will do that much more consistently an we ever could from here in washington. the only place where we are explicitly prescrippive is with the bottom 5% of schools. those that chronically underperform year after year after year. not the 95% of schools in any state but that bottom one in 20 where things aren't working for children. we have 2,000 high schools that account for half of america's dropouts. those 2,000 high schools also prode 75% of our nation's dropouts from minority communities are african-american and latino young men and women.
many of these dropout factories are graduating fewer than half their students. they're in crisis, they're denying our children education and we have a moral obligation to take dramatic action and to do so with a real sense of urgency. and we know what it takes. great principals and teachers, a professional learning culture where everybodtakes responsibility, from parents and students to educators. we all must be held accountable for these outcomes, and we all must take responsibility for challenging a status quo that actually helps to perpetuate cycles of poverty and social failure. we have learned from nclb if we don't mandate consequences, nothing will change, and nothing should accept that. we have reached this stage of education reform after decades of trying, failing, succeeding and learning. we're building on what we know works and does not work. while there's still honest policy disagreements among key stakeholders, there's far more
consensus than i think people realize. consider our system of teacher evaluation, which both frustrates teachers who feel their good work goes un unrecognized and ignores teachers who could benefit from additional support. 99% of teachers are rated satisfactorily and most evaluations ignore the most important measure of a teacher's success which is how much the students have learned that year. teachers also worry that their job security and salaries will be tied to the results of the bubble test that is largely disconnected from the material they're teaching. so let me be very, very clear. no one thinks test scores should be the only factor in teacher evuations and no one wants to evaluate teachers based on a single test on a single day. but looking at student progress over the course of a year, in combination with other factors like peer review and principal observation can lead to a culture shift in our schools
where we finally take good teaching as seriously as the profession deserves. we also agree the current generation of assessments don't really measure critical thinking skills and that testing only for reading and math ignores many other critically important subjects. over emphasis on test subjects narrows the curriculum. teachers and principals believe the only way to show progress is to teach to that test. but if we had better assessments that measure student growth and critical thinking skills in many subjects we can stop assessing whether students are just mastering the basics and get a much fuller picture of student learning and achievement. the bottom line is that if we want different results, we have to do things differently. not just talk about it, but actually do it. higher standards and better assessments, as important as they are, are obviously the first stps. states and districts will also need to resign curriculum to meet tse higher standards.
and even as districts face tight, tight budgets, we still need to support our teachers and recruit new ones to help our students reach those higher standards. here again, the warriors of the quietevolution are way ahead of the curve. some of them are here today. sarah brown wes ling from iowa, the national teacher of the year. she's been in the field only ten years and already she's at the head of the pack. i had the pleasure of spending some time with her earlier this year and her commitment to evyone, every single one of her students, was stunning. sarah, can you please stand for a round of applause? mrs. mrs. sherry horsily, the principal of west carter middle school in olive hill, kentucky, another amazing turn around story. heruperintendant is also here today. in five years she boosted math
scores by 50% and reading scores by 25%. today it was one of the top middle schools in the state. can you please stand? [ applause ] we have some great superintennts here as well. dr. william covington from kansas city who is facing tough budget decision that's were neglected for years by that district but he's determined to turn crisis into opportunity and right size the district so it can improve. terry greer is here from houston, he has a bold plan for evaluating teachers using multiple years of data on student growth. we have andrea solanzo from baimore, turning around schools and making significant gains in test scores. please stand. thank you so much. [ applause ]
beyond them, there are literally thousands and thousands of innovative educators all across america using technology in new ways to improve learning education. from distance learning programs in alaska to an online pd program in iowa called the heartland area education agency to an online charter school in utah called open high. i want to salute labor leaders who define conventional wisdom and low expectation of others, showing how labor can be both a partner and a leader in driving reform. diane donahue is president of the delaware education association. she was part of the team that won the frst race to the top grant. in her words, she signed on to the plan because the delaware plan offers an opportunity to change the culture in our schools and our classrooms. linking student growth to evaluation is a lynchpin of this
reform plan. what they will do together will impact the entire country and d like diane to please stand. [ applause ] in new haven, the union overwhelmingly approved a teacher contract allowing new principals in turn around schools to select their own staff and evaluation system that factors in student growth. interestingly, one new provision empowers teachers to evaluate their principals. in prince georges county, now working with the union on school turn arounds to pull great teachers into the neediest schools. and from tampa to pittsburgh to denver to right here in d.c., union leaders and administrators are moving beyond the battles of the past and finding new ways to work together. i urge union leader,
administrators and school boards all across america to follow the example of their reform-minded colleagues and have a much more open mind towards common sense reforms. they have nothing to fear from charters, or from incentive pay or from more thoughtful systems of teacher evaluation. the only real threat to them and the only real threat to all of us is academic failure. i also challenge reformers to stop blaming unions for all the problems in american education. if unions were the only problem, then in all of our right to work states, in all of our chart schools, they'd be outperforming the nation and we know that's not the case. that's the old frame. in the new frame, people are working together and everyone is moving outside their comfort zones to give children a better chance in life. real change is driven by people willing to give their lives for a cause. people like dr. king who i think about every single day. he never let up in his fight for justice and equality. when he sat in a birmingham jail, his colleagues in the
movement told him to slow down and to use the court system. his answer is very simple. we can't wait. today peop can't wait. they're fed up with schools that don't work. they see pockets of success and remarkable excellence and they ask, why doesn't that exist everywhere? and there's simply no reason why it can't. recently, president obama said we can't rebuild ourconomy on the same pile of sand. similarly, we can't rebuild our public education system on the same old system of rules and regulations. we have to change the rules, we have to eliminate the excuses, and we have to hold ourselves accountable. great teachers and great principals all across america are producing miracles in the classroom every single day. they're doing society's most important work. they are the heroes of the quiet revolution and our job is to fight for them to empower them, and support them. that's why we're here. thank you so much. [ applause ]
thank you, and before i take questions, i'd like to aunited states no the finalists of our second round of the race to the top competition. phase one we were setting a high bar. of the 41 applicants in phase one, there were 16 finalists and all of them with scores of more than 400 points. in phase two, we have 19 states, over 400. and the average score rose by 23 points. the improvement in reform we saw from states between rounds one and two was absolutely inspiring, and i know how hard that progress and work is. all 19 will be invited back as finalists. they include all of the finalists from phase one that did not win. their preliminary scores will be kept confidential until the process is complete. here's a list of finalists in
alphabet cal order. arizona, california, colorado, the district of columbia, florida, georgia, hawaii, illinois, kentucky, louisiana, maryland, massachusetts, new jersey, new york, north carolina, ohio, pennsylvania, rhode island, and south carolina. as you know, we have about $3.4 billion to distribute der the second round of race to the top. which should be ough to fund ten to 15 stat, depending on the size of the winners. but as i have said many times before, this isn't just about the money. this is about working together and putting the needs of children ahead of everyone se. this entire process has moved the nation and advanced education reform. children, particularly disadvantaged children, are the big winners here, because we have all learned souch more about how to find common ground around the things that we know will make a difference in the
classroom. i congratulate our governors, our chief state school officers, ected officials, superintendants, principals, team teachers and parents. they're showing the courage needed to get the job done. thank you. i'm now happy to take your quesons. [ applause ] >> and thank you for your address today, secretary duncan and for choosing the national presclub as the place you'd make this announcement. i know there are a lot of states excited right now. a lot on your plate and coming here was one of the tngs you're doing advancing your education agenda. in a couple months you have an education summit that's coming up. what do you think about education summits, like the one that's were held under the bush and clinton administrations? what is the value of such a s summit and what do you hope to
complish? >> the best ideas are never going to come from me and never washington, they're always going to come from great teachers, educators, principals at local level. the more we share those ideas, the more we can be a conduit for best practices, the more we can get people working together, the faster we're going to improve as a country. so by bringing together smart, tall ebted, committed folks to talk about what's working, what's not, we can go to a different level. i don't think we can have enough of those conversations. i'm not interested in delaware and tennessee doing a great job, i'm interested in delaware and tennessee helping th next generation of race to the top winners doing a great job, and i we're all in this together. any time we have these conversations there's only upside. >> some civil rights groups have called for you to change your approach required for chronically underperforming
schools. have your thoughts changed in race to the top? >> i think the biggest challenge we're all facing is in these very, very tough schools where students, in the case of englewood high school in chicago, where students didn't have a chance, is there's tremendous resistance to reform. i think we and the civil rights community, all of us are committed to better results. when we talk about the dropout factors, 2,000 high schools producing 75% of dropouts from minority community, we have the moral obligation to do much better. so we're being a little tough minded here. we're challenging the country to think differently, but also to understand how quickly these schools and these communities can turn around. there are folks who will tell you that, you know, schools can't get better until poverty in the neighborhood goes away. i think it's absoluly the reverse. i think the only way we end poverty is by creating great educational systems. i have great respect for the
urban league and ben jaelous and reverend sharpton, and ben jealous of the naacp has phenomenal ideas, i incorporated many of his ideas in our blueprint. i'm speaking tomorrow at the urban league and we're going to continue to partner very, very closely to make sure every single student in this country has a chance to get a great education. that's what this is all about. >> did any state stand out in its approach to students that had more students with higher proportions of nonenglish speakers? how heavily did states with these students weigh on your decisions? >> obviously everyone here knows we have an increasing population around the country of english language learners and states that w in the first round, states finalists in the second round e taking these challenges very, very seriously. and we have a population that's increasingly becoming majority and minority and our ability to close achievement gaps, our ability to give first generation folks going to college the opportunity to be prepared for
those kinds of chances, we can't do enough to drive that. the agenda in the department of education was a former ell student, she had teachers tell her that college wasn't for her, went on to get a ph.d. and was awarded as the best superintendant in the state of california before we recruited her. whether it's the thelmas of the world, there are lots of students who may not have been born in this country, may not have had english has a first language, have extraordinary potential and we all have to be committed. >> we were shocked by poverty and make the commitment to the education of native peoples, if we can't help those children i will feel as if i have failed. the statistics just released scores for indian students and there has been little progress. what efforts are underway to
help indian and native students, especially those in schools on reservatio? >> that visit was one of a couple that i will never forget. i thought i knew poverty in chicago, but unemployment with 7%, the high school we visited, talked to the team chers, they could remember one student going on to college. how could we ever create opportunity when failure is the norm? there are a number of things we need to do, particularly in the indian reservations. one is partner in creative ways with the department of agriculture, having much greater access to technology is huge, there's a young man i've stayed if touch with, extraordinarily bright, he was begging for higher level opportunities and didn't feel challenged. making sure if they aren't offered in school but online, chances to take ap classes,
chances to get college credit while in high school, very important. another challenge, how we get great teachers and principals to stay and serve in those communities. there's a constant turnover. teachers go for a couple years, build their resumes andove on. so thinking creatively about teacher and grant to pay teachers more, to work in underserved communities. what i can't emphasize enough, while race to the top has gotten all the press and that's fine, $4 billion ere, we're pting $4 billion behind the bottom 5% of schools. it's a massively disproportionate investment. whatev it takes, we want folks to do. 10 grand, 20 grand, to get a great science teacher, do it. if it takes 50 grand to pay a great principal, do that. if you need more time for teachers to plan and work togeth together, use those resources to do that. if students need to be in
school, ten, 14 hours a day, do that. what we need is creativity and courage at the local level. we think not just in indian country but rural communities, remote communities, inner city communities. require going to see innovation and creativity that i hope will change the country. >> you mentioned your travels last year, yesterday you were at the delaware state fair. >> friday. >> friday. you were talking about administration outreach toward 4-h, ffa, are there too many rural school districts, is consolidation the way to a better education in small towns? >> i think that's really a local decision. and i think you have many states who obviously are in very, very tough budget times, and thinking through hr practices, thinking through the purchase of textbooks, technology, pay roll systems, finding ways to work together to reduce administrative costs to get scarce dollars into classrooms,
i think everyone, not just rural communities but urban communities need to be thinking of how to do more with less. how do we become much more efficient and use technology to drive more productivity and revenue, i think all of us, maybe because of the tough times, not just in rural communities but across the board, we all have to find ways to do more with less. that's just the reality, and that's a piece of the equation but it's much, much larger than that. >> several questions dealing with great inflation. one problem teachers face in dealing with underperforming students ipressure from parents to adjust grades upwards. how can teachers enlist the support of parents in the process of educating their children rather than facing such parents as adversaries? >> let me take it bigger than that. i can't say it strongly enough, this idea of higher standards, true college and career ready standards is an absolute game changer. what this means by definition tennessee's dealing with this
right now, by definition when you raise the bar, guess what? test scores are going to go down. that's a hard thin for politicians. that's a hard thing for the public to understand. our collective challenge is, that's the truth. and we have to give political cover, and we have to help those with courage who are doing the right thing step up and do that. so whether that's the state level, whether that's at the district level, wether that's at the individual teacher level, we need to all be communicating that our students are competing in a global economy and they're not competing down the bock or in the district or even the state jobs, they're competing with children in india and china, we need to have a common measuring stick, level the playing field and give every student the chance to be successful. this is easier said tn done, but what we have to do collectively is reward courage, not what is politically expedient, not what helps score political points by great inflation or dummy down standards, which we've seen, we have folks showing tremendous courage and keep shining the spotlight on them and
encouraging others to follow suit. state level, district level, all ross the board we're seeing the fundamental break through. we have to do everything we can to keep that movement forward. >> here in washington, michelle reef faced tough criticism when she severed almost 200 teachers for performance issues. at a time when it's hard finding teachers to staff inner city schools, what can you say to teachers, do you support her actions. >> i think what happened here in d.c. aouple months ago was a break through labor agreement between the district and the teacher'union. 80%, 85% of teachers voted for the agreement. part of that was a teacher evaluation system, and to me, it's simportant we're looking at growth and gain and how much is student improvement. e details will be worked o at the local level but the larger point to your question is, i think in our country we've had very few incentives and lots of disinntives for the hardest
working and most committed teachers and principals to work in underserved communities, being that inner city urban or be that rural. we've talked about the achievement gap. i'm convinced the only way we close that is by clong the opportunity gap. we're begging them to use our resources to create a different opportunity structure so the hardest working teachers and principals are attracted and stay in those counities that need the most help. and that can happen in d.c., that can happen in communities around the country. that can happen in rural communities. we have an unpress denltd resource on the table. folks can be creative and figure out what's the right solution to get the talent where we need it the most. if we're serious, we will take this on in a most unprecedented way. >> are actions like the firings last week the sort of thing that will help d.c. in future competitions? [ laughter ] >> well, i think it's arace to the top. i don't think anyone's going
fight their way to the top. these are tough conversations, but d.c.'s having an honest conversation -we're talking about the firings, d.c.'s putting huge amount of resources on the table to reward excellence. i think as a cntry we fail to reward excellence. we fail to provide support in the middle, and the ones not working after support and mentoring, we've failed to move them on to other professions. so where we have districts, including d.c., they're trying to be much more thoughtful, much more comprehensive. rewarding excellence, supporting teachers in the middle and having honest conversations where it's simply not working, i think we need to have more of that. >> a lot of focus on education policy tends to go k through 12 but educaon focuses more and more on college education. state support for universities is under pressure. is the federal department of education assisting at the undergrad and grad level?
>> $36 billion in pell grants, i thought was a pretty good step in the right direction. and obviously these are tough times for not just k through 12 but higher ed. we're continuing to urge universities to contain costs, in tough budget times. and i think, you know, clearly we still have the best system of higher education in the world. something we should be very, very proud of. what we need to continue to do, however, is drive up completion rates on the higher education side. it's not about access, it's about attainment. when you look at colleges and universities, not too dissimilar to high schools. some do a remarkable job o completion and do a great job supporti supporting english language, and what we want to do is find ways to spotlight those not just getting students get through the front doo all of our work is simply by hind the 2020 goal. that's our northstar, drying to
le trying to lead the world, we have to be focused not just on access but on completion. >> does the u.s. need more vocational education, especially when many college graduates can't find jobs? >> we do. it's a great question. i'll take it at two levels. if we're serious about reducing dropout rates, giving students a chance to work with their hands, to build their technical skills, to find apprenticeships that will lead to very high paying jobs a have you interviewed a plumber lately? know they're doing pretty well. these are great jobs. this is one of the areas, in 1960s we did a much better job as a country and we lost our way a bit. technical education is a way students can stay engaged and give them a reason to complete. anbeyond that, push on community colleges and $2 billion investment there, and
not just 15 and 16-year-olds, but 28, 48, 58-year-olds going back to retrain and retool. health care jobs, technology jobs, there are many, many folks getting back on their feet through the community colleges, as they do that i think our country's going to get back on their feet. so both at the high school level and community college level, i think we can do a much, much better job in terms of vocational technical training. >>ecently proposed department of education regulations would create a new federal dfition of a credit hour. is it truly necessary to federal isaac demmic measure that's have been left to the accrediting agencies? >> i think the larger issues around gainful employment, we're just trying t have a clear definition. this is very, very difficult for some students to transfer from two-year universities, having consist tansy in making sure
students aren't losing credits, they're trying to complete and get ahead, i think would do a great service to students. >> one of the things that tends to go when budget cuts are made in school budgets, one of the first things tends to be arts funldsing. several people asked, how valuable do you think it is to integrate art into core subject instruction? >> it is hugely, hugely important. let me take a moment on this. probably the biggest complaint i heard about nclb, didn't matter the setting, was about the narrowing of the curriculum. yes, reading and math is hugely important but so is social studies, so is art, music, dance, drama, pe, i'm a big fan of recess, i think we need more recess in our schools, so this idea of a well-rounded education is hugely, hugely important. and you're right, often when folks are hit with tough budget times, those things that are seen as extra get cut.
well, i don't think art is an extra. i don't think social studies is an extra. i don't think pe is an extra. if you want to drive up math scores, one of the best ways is through music. it's not about every student doing ballet, it's giving students a reason to be engaged, coming to school, it's often those extracurricular programs, band, dance, drama, debate, chess, it's one of the reasons to come to school. so one of our big proposals in the budget through reauthorization, we want to put $1 billion behind what's called a well-rounded education. to me this can't jt be at the high school level. this has got to be for 6, 7, 8-year-olds. our youn children have to develop their sense of self-esteem. i worry about the narrowing of the curriculum that doesn't give children the chance to blossom and puts them at a disadvantage with the rest of the world.
making sure every student has access to well-rounded education is hugely, hugely important. >> several questions were variations on the question of longer school days or longer school years. this questioner asks, is there any interest in starting k through 12 earlier, say, age 3, or having school days last until 5:00 p.m., which is similar to some european school systems. >> so i think school should be open 13 months a year, and -- [ laughter ] i usually get booed when i talk to students about this, but most folks realize our current day of five or six hours a day and five days a week and nine months a year is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many children are working the fields these days. children in india and china are going to school, you know, 20 days, 30 days, 35 days more than us. and it's like if you play -- practice basketball, if you practice three times a week versus pcticing five times a week, the team that praz five times a week is probably going to win more games. so i think this is simply about
leveling the playing field. i think school should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day, six, seven days a week, 11, 12 months out of the year. it's not just more of the same, a whole variety of after school programs, dance, drama, art, music, chess, yearbook, robotics, activities for older siblings and parents, ged classes, family literacy nights, as you know, our worlds change, the days in which children go home at 2:30 and mom's there with a peanut butter sandwich, those days are gone. whether it's a single parent working one, two, three jobs or looking for work, two-parent working families, whatever it might be, those hours from 3:00 to 6:00, are huge hours of keep schools open longer. and let me be clear. people say we can't afford it. it might take a little money. let me give you some ideas. in chicago one of the things we did is went from 9:00 in the
morning till 3:00 at night. the boys and girls club ran it until 9:00 at night. we have all these great nonprofits and social service agencies around the country. everybody is struggling financially. myuestion to them, do we need to keep building new buildings or put them into our schools and put all theironey into children, tutoring and mentoring not into bricks and mtar? and all of our schools, we have 95,000 schools in our country, rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, every neighborhood, ever school has classrooms. they have libraries. almost all have computer labs. they have gyms. some have pools. these are wonderful, wonderful physical resources. assets to the community. they don't belong to me or to the principal or the union. they belong to the community. i think we have to think very differently about how we utilize our buildings and the partnerships we build. i think keeping schools open longer hours and where they truly become the center of the neighborhood and the art of family life and families learning together, those children will do very, very well. >> one quick question about a
prious career path you had followed. lebron james recently chose the miami heatto play with d-wade and chris bosh over the chicago bulls, cleveland cavaliers and other franchises. do they attend college? >> next question, please. >> we will ask one more question, mr. secretary. but first, a few announcements. a couple important matters to take care of. first, remind our members and guests of future speakers. on august 19th, mitch landrieu, the mayor of new orleans, will report on the city's progress and potential. on september 13th, the reverend david beckman, president of bread for the world and this year's recipient of th world food prize will discuss eliminating hunger, the people and congress. and on october 12th, general norman schwarz, chief of staff for u.s. air force, will be discussing military issues and
the war in afghanistan. that's our first item of business. our send is to present our speaker with the one token of appreciation that we will give a speaker here at the national press club, our legendary and coveted press club mug. one more question. and now our final question. what is the most important thing that a parent can do and a teacher can do to get us where we need to be to help children succeed? >> that's another hour. i'm trying to be very quick. this is obviously personal. my wife and i ve a 6-year-old and 8-year-old at home. the most important thing we can do as parents is to be engaged and teachers have hard jobs. and where parents aren't engaged, teachers n't do this alone. our job is to be absolutely supportive of what's going on during the school day. our job is to create the time
and the space after school for our children to read and to get their homework done and to be supporve of that. and i don't think we can overstate how importantarental engagement is. we didn't get into one thing we're looking to do is double the budget for engagement. we think that's the missing link in this education chain. and we want to reward best practices and engage in parents in nontraditional ways. i think the most important thing a teacher can do is give their heart to the children. and half of education may be about the intellectual part, the brains. the other half is about your heart and how much do you really believe that every single child can learn? how much are you committed to going the extra mile. teachers like sara and others, it's not a job. it's a passion. it's a calling. and i absolutely believe great teachers are the unsung heroes in our society. we can't do enough to recognize, reward and support them. but this is not an easy job. it's not for the faint of heart. and there are ups and downs and many days you wonder if youe
breaking through. those teachers that absolutely believe in their heart every child can be successful and is willing to put in the time and energy to help every student reach that potential. that's what great teachers do every day, and we can't do enough to thank them. and thank you all for coming today. we would also like to thank the national press club staff including its library and broadcast operations center for organizing today's event. for more information about joining the national press club and on how to acquire a copy of today's program, please go to our website at [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010]
protection -- join our 3 our conversation on consumer protection sunday and noon eastern on c-span2's bookttv. >> c-span is not available on 100 million homes, bringing you it directly to public affairs, politics, and nonfiction books. created by americus cable companies. series the report -- a recent report predicts that budget troubles will force local governments to cut as many as half a million jobs of the next few years the groups behind the report talked about the fiscal problems facing localities at this 60 minute and then held on capitol hill. >> good afternoon. i am barbara lee.
i am a share of the 42 member congressional black caucus. i am pleased to be with you today to discuss the important topic putting america back to work fighter creating jobs in local communities. i want to applaud all the organizers of this forum and the national league of cities, the net is states conference of mayors the de -- for continuing to sound the alarm about the fiscal crisis fear they many of our local communities and the devastating impact that it is having on local of economies of the as you know, in some countries around the country, large and small all are feeling the pinch of this recession. we know that the fiscal crunch caused by the recession that is giving municipalities around the country will be felt for several
years to come. as a result, local governments are cutting services. they are laying off their workers. this is a not only affecting the the level of services they can provide, but it is also hurting local economies. local government is really one of the principal employers in many areas. local governments are often in contrast to the private sector to provide services like maintenance, a trash collection, and concessions for school. when they are hurting, a local businesses hurt which results in a depressed local economy. it is religious that simple. for many months, we have been focused on creating jobs, helping with the recovery efforts, stimulating our economy. we sought to change ending paid to all of the -- of the
administration officials to develop a legislative strategy to address the needs of american center struggling. one of the outcomes has been the support for the vocal of jobs for america act. we worked with chairman millet to craft it. i am sure he will be here later. i want to applaud him for such a bold move. this legislation is one piece of a multifaceted approach to stimulate the economy to create jobs and is fun to the needs of the chronically unemployed and underemployed as well as populations below the poverty line. many provisions in the bill were presented by the congressional black caucus. they are targeting local communities with hiring great if 12% or higher than the national average or and upload rates that are 2% or more of the national average.
i think of local governments will attest to the fact that we have to have a new work force to save the jobs of the future. retarded the communities that are hardest hit by the recession. we have put in support for retraining, rehiring, and tying the teachers, officers, and firefighters. i want to think chairman miller for his support. let me now turn to the national league of cities vice president, james mitchell, who is also a council member in charlotte, north carolina. >> good morning. thank you for that introduction and for your leadership on behalf of the unemployed fifth
allied to thank you and your colleagues for their ongoing support to the cities and counties in these difficult economic times. the special sharon miller for his leadership and entered this in the local jobs for america act and others here today to a co-sponsor this legislation. let's give chairman miller a hand. [applause] as of the members of congress here today note to well, individuals and families are struggling to work and make ends meet the via -- make ends meet. dr. it remained an levels too high -- these job cuts and not only happening in the private sector. there also happening in the public sector in our local
government. we are talking bout losing jobs and providing essential public service, police officers, firefighters, teachers, trusted workers, health care workers, and others. these a very important services of local government. they provide for families our support. sadly, local governments are facing their own fiscal crisis. the effects of the recession on local budgets will be fed more deeply on local governments for the next two years due to the combined impact of the increased tax revenues, a falloff in state and federal assistance, and increase demand for social services. since local governments are required to balance the budget, this means we will have to cut
jobs, which means cutting services that family in communities rely on. this report shows how significantly the cuts on the recession will be on local government. in this current fiscal year, local government job cuts will approach 500,000, with public safety, public works, and public health jobs among the hardest- hit . now cutting fire, police come and teachers. we are are in a cut that usually are considered the final results for t. it may not be enough. it continues to play over the
next few years. every city and county employee for a breadwinner for their family. when they lose their job, if they become an of an unemployed person and able to participate in the local economy. in addition, local job cuts the 2 job losses in private sectors. local government certainly partnered with the private sector to deliver services. the construction and maintenance of streets and sidewalks of of garbage collection, are some of the services that cities and counties carry out with the help of local private sector businesses. it is estimated every 10th public service job, three private sector jobs are lost. the loss of 500,000 jobs in the
public sector will have ramifications on the private sector as well. let me conclude this way. why there are. while their assigned our economy is slowly emerging from the worst economic downturn of the great depression, the consequences of this recession, including the potential loss of up to five and a thousand dogs lee played out in america's local communities -- five and a thousand jobs will be played out in local communities for years to come. we will make the tough decisions for those in these changing economic times. we will also hope that we can count on our federal government support with legislation like the local jobs for americans act to help create public
service jobs in our community and the in many instances, these jobs are a lifelong love and of our community. without them, our community, local businesses, and our families will be a hit. thank you for your support. [applause] let me ask our caucus chair to come forward. thank you very much. >> thank you. good afternoon. it is a pleasure for me to be here to help raise awareness for the importance of passing the resolution. i want to think the sponsors for
coordinating today's event. it is very important as you hear from us the key to us will be the passage of this act. county governments face daunting economic challenges. they require each and everyone of us to make difficult funding choices. we all seek the same thing. a date is not go by that the local government is not face of a choice of clothes and the libraries for another day . early going to do in terms of our police and fire departments? how we help them get through another day? these of the difficult decisions the we face in our counties, cities, and metro areas the . i thought of putting local
picture of what the current economy has done to give in fiscal year 2007, and a flow rate in this county was to provide some. that is our and upload rate. today is 10.1 cents. -- tim 0.1%. when you look at the unemployment rate a low, it is not look at the full picture. palm beach county has 11.3%. the state average is 11 put 1%. what it means to our county is that my labor force, and 99,000 for under 65 broward county residents are unemployed today who were employed in 2007. that is a large number of residents for whom i have to provide services on a regular basis. these and the people who are
identifiable. we know there are more unemployed in long-term unemployed to of the lives of their available benefit and have given up the search for work of -- surged forward. it is different depending on the portion of the economy that impact could . financial activities has lost 3000 listeners dots. leader in hospitality, 2000 jobs. information technology, 1500 jobs trade, 13 and your dog for the manufacturing, 600 jobs for the in my county, we will be facing a budget shortfall for our fiscal year 2000 budget of one and $9 million. a total budget is around one when $1 billion.
$109 million will equate to a another one and a 50 county employees who will no longer have jobs. to put this in perspective, in 2007, i had 6500 county employees. in 2010, i had 5600. reduce that by 150 in heavy picture of the broward to government work force. that is only part of the picture. it is not include the cut former sheriff, it because from a property appraiser. they are supporting my budget. this is a small portion of the budget. grants have retained for narcissuses local dot. we know that making this investment in the economy works and t. we have seen this increase.
we expect many more by the year's end. local government must balance the budget. when i do my 2000 love and budget, which i will have to adapt by 2010, it must be balanced. imus show expenditures to be equal. during this has created quite a situation for creativity and willingness to this should be the impact widely. it is to minimize the impact on our most vulnerable population and keep property taxes and manageable levels. what does this meant that no raises. furlough days, we had five in 2010. no new services or enhancements pra program, elimination, libras are close to days a week. the need to find a job in each
of the computer, where are you going? my lai freezer now close to days and weeks. -- my libraries are now closed two days a week. this is an investment and jim starting the economy. local government need the federal investment in a local businesses. it to easily pay for itself with the more people back to work. the investment treated by the local at include 7 $5 billion over two years to local communities. funding for over 50,000 on the job private sector training positions -- it will help state and local tax increases. it includes provisions already improved by the house. wampum 1 $8 billion to put 5005 under and back into our
community. 500 million to retain higher firefighters. the local jobs for america act will create and save a million public and private sector jobs in our cities, counties, and large urban areas, creasing local jobs and stimulate the economy. we need to make this bill see passes this year to help us all. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much. i think the story is replicated throughout the country. the county's larger stations of last resort. they provide the safety net. i come from alameda county. oliver counties are suffering. they did all of our counties are suffering.
let me ask the second vice chair who is the mayor of philadelphia, pennsylvania to come forward. thank you for being here and for your leadership. >> thank you. thank all the members of congress who are here. howland of the comments of my other colleagues for thinking chairman miller. what degree leadership he has provided. we stand shoulder to shoulder with him. a want to thank the members of congress who are here. connect somewhere together, i want to make sure i go before you. more seriously, i am honored to
represent the u.s. conference of mayors with tom cochran. i'll put that i've done it. there is not a day that passes in philadelphia that someone is the walk of to me and say i need some help. i need a job. and trying to take care myself. what can he do? we are trying to do the best we can. we thank the members of congress and president obama. those a crate. -- those are great. we kicked the hours out of the door. we are using them for projects for the later that day, and made an announcement in the morning about a grant we've received. and made its announcement that afternoon about services that were being cut. the american public is confused
by these kinds of conflicts and actions. they do not understand that when they come to as the kid i used them in their local government. i cannot fill budget deficits with the dollars. it is the possible production -- it is not possible. we put people to work. i announced we had to cancel two classes for the police department for the fiscal year. the will save us money. worse than that, that is to honor more officers are not have on the streets of philadelphia at a time when many more officers not less. you will read the we announced last night ruling temporary targetted suspensions of service and are far department. -- in our department. it is an effort to not let of
firefighters. we need our city to be saved. unemployment is 11.2% in the city of philadelphia. that is the reported unemployment. many have stopped looking for work. the number is way up into the teens. it is confusing to the american public as to what is current on. cities and counties continue to cut and cut and cut. it and if your employees are on the payroll today -- 800 fewer employees are on the payroll today. that means less citizens who need programs and services more. this legislation cannot come at a better time. it is desperately needed. we need to put americans back to work. pennsylvania is one to work.
americans want to work. when this recession started, wall street got it bailout. in the meantime, we are bailing out fresh red ink. all we are asking for is a hand. we need help in cities all across america. it is astounding to me that in washington, d.c. these incredible debates go on about unemployment compensation come about jobs, being debated by people who have jobs. of being debated by people who have jobs and cannot figure how to get americans back to work. if this is an outrage. all that debate and discussion, if you do not have a job, people are not interested in the kind of conversation and dialogue. we are showing supporting this legislation. we will do all we can to make
sure if this legislation passes of them. thank you. we know that you care about america. thank you. >> thank you very much. franni thank you for your leadership and remind us about the role of local government. we have been working to try to do several things. we can not giving it the youth summer jobs program pass. -- we can not even give it the youth summer jobs program passed. something is definitely wrong. thank you for your leadership. jankowski from illinois. she is our voice, calling for fiscal responsibility entry form. we cannot get there unless we create jobs.
>> thank you. let me make a statement that i think many people in this country cannot really understand the. this is ministration by the end of august will have created in that number of jobs that are more then the eight years and net job creation during the bush administration but a having said that, we are here today to talk about the potential of enormous layoffs all around the country. they could be devastating to our entire economy as well as to the budget of local government and the people who live there. not a single economist has come before the fiscal responsibility commission, office -- often
called the deficit commission, has said that it is wise leonrit now to say to the federal government that we now to cut the deficit. no one. there is the understanding that right now that federal spending equals deficit reduction. the kind of investments that we will be making will stimulate the economy and promote growth. cutting deficit is a three legged stool. we focus on raising revenue. the third leg of the stool is growth. the only way we can achieve that right now is by sending money to states and local governments that will get hte money out the
foortl -- door. i want ot make the point that unemployment is very expensive to the government. it is expensive for the federal government and unemployment insurance. it is expensive to the benefits that have to be paid for in increased healthcare costs, etc. that have to come out of government budgets as well. the trade-off is a very expensive one for government. i wanted to emphasize the private sector jobs that are involved. i think my colleagues have said that. think about not only the construction jobs that are going to go to private contractors we are talking about uniforms, about office equipment, about all of the supplies that are brought by government that are
brought by employees that go into the private sector profit. this is an enormous disadvantage for us to be spending that money right now and passing local i am proud to join my colleagues today in saying this is urgent. we need to do that now. if we are serious about cutting unemployment, about stimulating the economy, we know what to do. we could do that right now. we could do it this week before we leave for a vacation for th. wa vacation from this work of the congress. we cannot leave and unemployment
is the maintenance of thank you. >> thank you very much thank you for reminding us of urgent this is. many of us see this as an emergency, especially for our summer youth job initiative and other employment programs. what is happening? we cannot get the other senate? i am glad you share the urgent nature of what we are saying and what we need to do this week. let me ask the co-chair of the progressive caucus to come forward. his entire life has been to end the war, to enter security, and to create jobs. she has served and the education and labor committee. >> thank you for pulling us all
together today. to speak and how important the information is that we received from the survey from the national league of cities. thank you. your input lays it out perfectly. there is no question not important this is the the i have to tell you. i really do not help to argue it with my colleagues that do not credit it. a cannot understand when they are coming from. losing nearly half a million local jobs over the next two
years would be a devastating blow. hispanic women are at 11 1/7. women more than men rely on jobs in local and municipal governments. that is why it is essential that we pass chairman miller's local job for america act which will provide $75 billion for local communities to hire fighter staff and $23 billion to save hundreds of thousands of
education jobs. the bill also provides $1 billion to put 6500 law enforcement officers on the beat. they have outlined a comprehensive $300 billion job creation package which includes the local jobs for america act. it also includes a to do for century civilian conservation act. it would authorize the president to reestablish the civilian court to put the unemployed people back to where from public projects such as forest fires, floods, soil erosion, prevention, and trail construction. of these jobs are necessary for our communities. it is not a handout. it is going to give back to our
communities. at the same time, we will be paying a salary so these individuals can go to the dry cleaners or their coffee shop or pay their rent. it all goes back into our communities. what is innovative is that we absolutely could jump-start the economy and put the unemployment people back to work the house has passed many job creation bills this year. it the senate does not act on them, we will not see the type of robust economic recovery needed. it will boost it. thank you for giving us this opportunity. [applause] >> thank you again for your leadership and reminding us of the fact the we have not gotten any answers as to why do?
they are just tono. >> who will continue to work hard to make sure these job packages get past. let me ask the congressman to come forward. i want to thank him for his leadership and for continuing to remind us that we have to focus on the chronically unemployed. we have to have targeted provisions to ensure no one is left behind. let's me say very directly that the fact is the we cannot go back to those times where americans have a government that they are depending upon in relying upon to deal with the critical issues of our time and the government
is unresponsive. congress has to step up. we have to do our job. we have to pass the local dog for america act. authorities say thank you to our leaders who are here on the ground. they know what the folks are going through. on monday, i went to a center where we have people who come in and were unemployed. they are looking for a job. they are beating on the computers. many of them at home, -- as a how long have you been looking for work? it consistently said a year, two years. the shortest was about 26 weeks. the chronically unemployed -- they are the ones that are facing foreclosure. they are the ones facing it and their handlers. we have got to be fair response.
in minneapolis, we both some of the best trails in america, bicycle trails, walking trails. i love to walk those trails. the other way, -- the other week, i said them on a park bench. i looked down at the park bench in i saw a plaque. it said, wpa 1935. that park is been there a long time. it was built by people who are unemployed in my grandfather's generation. that congress said, we are not one to allow our fellow americans to go out. this edition of congress has a responsibility to step up and go to bat for the american people. we have to change the political and social environment to be pro-middle class, pro-worker. we have an environment that is pro-ceo.
we have got to change this political environment so that we are using the resources of the american people to help the middle class were the only true engine of the american economy when i say middle-class, i am not leaving out the poor. anybody who is not too old or too sick or too young to work want to work. they want to be in the middle class. we had to make sure the opportunities are there to provide. there are a lot of businesses out there who have cast, who could hire a tour not because they do not know what will happen next. they are concerned about where the economy is going. investigate a local job for america act. if you give people some money. somebody said, why aren't american spending more money? wise consumer demand is down? consumer demand is down for the same reason we do not so big screen tvs to the homeless. we do not have money. how can they get some money?
by keeping a job and by getting a job as a teacher, a firefighter, someone who takes care of our roads and bridges, and spoken word -- and folks who may not have a high school level of one to work. please come and go tell the message did you cannot use the deficit in the dead as a weapon -- the deficit as a weapon of the unemployed. [applause] >> thank you for same focus on job creation efforts. also, for bringing us to the table. he also serves as a member of the congressional black caucus. when it is the national average, national night when pfizer. and every community, it is " --
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