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What is Puerto Rico? Many Americans - if not most - are unaware that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. In this episode, learn the history of our scandalous treatment of the US citizens living in Puerto Rico and explore how Puerto Rico’s past foreshadowed the United States' present… and possibly our future. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD128: Crisis in Puerto Rico Additional Reading Book: War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson A. Denis, March 2016. Article: Puerto Rico Warning Congress Its Health Crisis Will Impact U.S. States by Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News, March 22, 2017. Document: Testimony of Jose B. Carrion III, Chairman, Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico, March 22, 2017. Article: Why the GOP's proposals to cap Medicaid funding won't work by Ana Mulero, Healthcare Dive, March 21, 2017. Article: Fed Raises Interest Rates for Third Time Since Financial Crisis by Binyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times, March 15, 2017. Letter: Fiscal Plan Certification, Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico, March 13, 2017. Press Release: Jenniffer Gonzalez Calls for Fiscal Oversight Board Action to Prevent Medicaid Crisis by Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, March 13, 2017. Article: Tensions heighten following control board rejection of fiscal plan by Luis J. Valentin, Caribbean Business, March 9, 2017. Article: A bad deal for Puerto Rico, Globe control board opinion, The Boston Globe, March 5, 2017. Article: Quest for statehood: Puerto Rico's new referendum aims to repair economic disaster by Danica Coto, Salon, February 3, 2017. Letter: Letter to Governor Rossello Nevares, Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico, January 18, 2017. Article: Puerto Rico's New Governor Takes Over as Debt Crisis Reaches Climax by Tatiana Darie, Bloomberg, January 3, 2017. Article: Puerto Rico Control Board Names Carrion Chair Amid Protests by Katherine Greifeld, Bloomberg, September 30, 2016. Article: Puerto Rico's Invisible Health Crisis by Valeria Pelet, The Atlantic, September 3, 2016. Op-Ed: Understanding Puerto Rico's Healthcare Collapse by Johnny Rullan, Morning Consult, June 20, 2016. Article: Puerto Rico not sovereign, Supreme Court says by Richard Wolf, USA Today, June 9, 2016. Article: US supreme court says Puerto Rico must abide by federal double jeopardy rule by Alan Yuhas, The Guardian, June 9, 2016. Op-Ed: No More Colonialism Disguised as Financial Assistance: The US Must Relinquish Puerto Rico by Nelson A. Denis, Truthout, May 19, 2016. Article: Sea Turtles Delay Debt-Ridden Puerto Rico's Gas-Switching Plan by Jonathan Crawford, Bloomberg, March 23, 2016. Article: There's a big sale on Puerto Rican homes by Heather Long, CNN Money, February 21, 2016. Article: The US shipping industry is putting a multimillion dollar squeeze on Puerto Rico by Rory Carroll, Business Insider, July 9, 2015. Article: Harvard's billionaire benefactor also a GOP sugar daddy by Vanessa Rodriguez,, June 4, 2015. Interview: How the United States Economically and Politically Strangled Puerto Rico by Mark Karlin, Truthout, May 24, 2015. Article: Why Have So Many People Never Heard Of The MOVE Bombing? by Gene Demby, NPR, May 18, 2015. Article: Puerto Rico Expands Tax Haven Deal For Americans To Its Own Emigrants by Janet Novack, Forbes, January 27, 2015. Article: Citizenship Renunciation Fee Hiked 422%, And You Can't Come Back by Robert W. wood, Forbes, January 13, 2015. Article: Puerto Rican Population Declines on Island, Grows on U.S. Mainland by D'Vera Cohn, Eileen Pattien and Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Research Center, August 11, 2014. Article: Puerto Rico woos rich with hefty tax breaks by Sital S. Patel and Ben Eisen, Market Watch, April 22, 2014. Article: Bankers Crashed the Economy - Now They Want to Be Your Landlord by Rebecca Burns, Michael Donley, and Carmilla Manzanet, Moyers & Company, April 2, 2014. Article: 'Backdoor bailout' boosts Puerto Rico's revenues, Bond News, Reuters, February 10, 2014. Article: Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rican Exodus by Lizette Alvarez, The New York Times, February 8, 2014. Article: Everything You Need to Know About the Territories of the United States, Everything Everywhere, June 27, 2013. Document: Puerto Rico's Political Status and the 2012 Plebiscite: Background and Key Questions by R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service, June 25, 2013. GAO Report: Economic Impact of Jones Act on Puerto Rico's Economy by Jeffry Valentin-Mari, Ph.D. and Jose I. Alameda-Lozada, Ph.D. April 26, 2012. Article: Massive Puerto Rico pipeline triggers debate by Danica Coto, The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 14, 2011. Article: Island residents sue U.S., saying military made them sick by Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein, CNN, February 1, 2010. Article: At Riggs Bank, A Tangled Path Led to Scandal by Timothy L. O'Brien, The New York Times, July 19, 2004. Case Study: Money Laundering and Foreign Corruption: Enforcement and Effectiveness of the Patriot Act by the Minority Staff of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, United States Senate, July 15, 2004. Article: MIT to Pay Victims $1.85 Million in Fernald Radiation Settlement by Zareena Hussain, The Tech, January 7, 1998. Article: Police Drop Bomb on Radicals' Home in Philadelphia by William K. Stevens, The New York Times, May 14, 1985. References U.S. Energy Information Administration Puerto Rico Territory Energy Profile Puerto Rico Territory Profile and Energy Estimates Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector Video: 1985 Philadelphia MOVE bombing This Day in History: March 2, 1917: Puerto Ricans become U.S. citizens, are recruited for war effort FBI Files Pedro Albizu Campos - includes letter about his radiation torture Pedro Albizu Campos - full files Luis Munoz-Marin 1986 Congressional Report: US Army & US Atomic Energy Commission radiation experiments on US citizen prisoners 1995 Dept of Energy Report: Human Radiation Experiments OpenSecrets Excelerate Energy: Profile for 2016 Election Cycle Crowley Maritime Excelerate Energy Company website Lobbying Report American Maritime Partnership Company website Lobbying Report Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico Control Board Website Control Board Document List Website: Puerto Rico Tax Incentives Law 20: Export Services Act Law 22: Individual Investors Act Department of Economic Development & Commerce: Act 73: Economic Incentives for the Development of Puerto Rico 26 US Code 936: Puerto Rico and possession tax credit IRS: Expatriation Tax Forbes Company Profiles Johnson & Johnson Pfizer GlaxoSmithKline Ponce Massacre Museum Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Oversight Hearing on The Status of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) Restructuring Support Agreement, Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, March 22, 2017. Witnesses Panel I The Honorable Ricardo Rossello, Governor of Puerto Rico Mr. Gerardo Portela-Franco, Executive Director - Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority Panel 2 Mr. Jose B. Carrion III, Chairman - Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico Mr. Luis Benitez Hernandez, Chairman - PREPA Governing Board Mr. Stephen Spencer, Managing Director - Houlihan Lokey Mr. Adam Bergonzi, Managing Director & Chief Risk Officer - National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation Mr. Rob Bryngelson, President & CEO - Excelerate Energy Ms. Ana J. Matosantos, Member of Financial Oversight and Management Board of Puerto Rico Interview: Interview with Luis M. Balzac, March 7, 2017. Luis: Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico, contrary to common opinion, we do pay some federal taxes. What we don’t pay is federal income tax. Jen: Okay. Luis: So we don’t pay federal income tax. However, Puerto Ricans pay Medicare at the same rate that you pay in San Francisco/California. Jen: Do Puerto Ricans get the same benefits that I get in San Francisco? Luis: No, we do not get the same benefits that you get in San Francisco. Jen: Oh. Luis: So, for example, there are states like California, New York, and other states that I believe get about an 83 percent federal subsidy for Medicare expenses. There are other states—and I realize I’m being recorded, but don’t quote me on it. This you can check, also, very easily— Jen: Sure. Luis: Other states—I think it’s Tennessee— Jen: And you don’t have to give me exact numbers. Just go ahead and, like, big picture, tell me the situation. Luis: Got it. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Even better. So, there are states like California and New York that get about 80-some percent of reimbursement on their major expenses from the federal government. There are other states that get less. I think Tennessee gets less; I think Tennessee gets, like, 50-some percent. Puerto Rico, I think it gets about 23 percent. Jen: Oh, god. Luis: It’s important to understand that, where does the other—if we use 23 percent as an example for Medicare—where does the other 77 percent come from? State funding. Jen: Okay. Luis: So, please understand that if you move to Puerto Rico as a U.S. citizen, and you, for any reason, need Medicare, and you go to the hospital, those hospitals that you go to have to comply with MCS, which is part of HHS—Health and Human Services. And you have to comply with all the regulations and requirements of a hospital to be reimbursed and enjoy federal dollars. However, that institution/Puerto Rico is only getting cents on the dollar compared to other states, but someone needs to make up for that short fall. Jen: Yeah. Luis: The state does. Jen: Well— Luis: That lack of equality translates to Puerto Rico’s budget. Luis: I’m a proud American, and I will defend our country wherever I go. Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: But I’m also a realist. I cannot expect Congress to give the people in Puerto Rico a fair share of the pie when we don’t have a delegation sitting at the table when the pie is divided. Luis: When I ran the office of the governor of Puerto Rico in New York, and we were lobbying to be included into the Affordable Care Act, my biggest argument, when I met with members of the Senate or the House, in states that had a large Puerto Rican population—Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, by way of example—my point to these members of Congress was, I need your help; I need you to be a voice to Puerto Rico to be included in the Affordable Care Act. And the staff would be like, are you kidding me, Luis? That is none of our business. And I will be like, well, let me—give me an opportunity to maybe convince you that it is your business. The problem is— Jen: Yeah, because you’ll pay for them when they come here. Luis: —you will pay for it. And by the way, we don’t even have a way to qualify because guess what, a lot of them are coming in, getting services, and going back to Puerto Rico once they’re done. Some are staying— Jen: Yeah, that's what I would do. Luis: Some are staying, but others are just coming here, and you have no way of qualifying and quantifying it because they’re United States citizens. You can’t stop it. Jen: Yeah— Luis: And how could you blame them? How could you blame them if Puerto Rico does not have the facilities to treat a cancer or SSI or any other initiative and my mother is risking her life? I’m going to take her to Orlando— Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: —without a doubt. Jen: Yeah. Luis: I will say that Puerto Rico, even though we have all the issues that you and I have been talking about, we are still part of the United States, and it’s somewhat similar to the changes that we see here, stateside, in the contiguous 48 states, where I would say that from coast to coast, from Florida to California, I think the middle class in the United States has been shrinking. Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: Likewise in Puerto Rico. Jen: Okay. Luis: But I would say that it is more like the United States, and we are not like Latin America and other third-world jurisdictions. We have a decent-size middle class because we don’t have the IRS because we are not paying federal income tax. There is in Puerto Rico a large underground economy where people work on the side, get paid in cash, and don’t report their earnings to the—there's no IRS—or to the local version of the IRS which is the Treasury Department. So, what you have in Puerto Rico is that you see somewhat of a thriving economy. So those people that are in commercial real estate and they’re doing business with big national chains like Macy’s and JCPenney and all that stuff, you will see in Puerto Rico sales records being broken and people spending a lot of money in the island. So, it’s not like the Dominican Republic. Even people in the projects that are subsidized by state and federal dollars, you can see that they have a/c in the walls, the projects are made out of cement, and you will be able to see all that when you go there in person. So, when you drive around Puerto Rico, all over the island, it is nothing like the Dominican Republic. We are way better, and— Jen: Well, I’ve never been there, either, so a comparison doesn’t really… Luis: Yeah. We are way better—and I realize that I’m about to contradict myself, okay?—we are way better, and it is thanks to the United States. So even though inequality has got all these problems and it’s affected the debt and all that stuff and we are looking now at serious issues, Puerto Rico is still better than—I will never move to Cuba because I think Cuba is better than Puerto Rico, so I get it— Puerto Rico is United States, and we’re doing better than most. Jen: So that brings me to the control board, because now we have Puerto Ricans saying on paper, no doubt, we want to become a state, and yet Congress just did this thing where your government, your state government, or closest thing—what do you call it? Territorial government? Luis: Yeah. Jen: Is that the proper phrase? Luis: Territory. Jen: Okay. Luis: Yeah. Jen: So your territorial government was, basically just taken over by this weird board that has some dictatorial powers. Is there any one in Puerto Rico that’s happy about this? Is there something I’m not seeing? Luis: Yeah. Okay, so, I’m going to compare that. First of all, let’s be fair, and we’re not the first jurisdiction that, let’s say, enjoys the benefit of a control board, because D.C., New York City, have both had it in different jurisdiction relationships, but they did, and it helped. Okay? Jen: O-kay. Luis: The difference between New York City is the following: you have a city that imposed a board by the state. So people in the city of New York, even though they had a control board years back, they had a control board what was decided by politicians who they elected. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Okay? Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: So, that makes it—but it’s still the same in that you have a higher jurisdiction imposing a control board for fiscal reasons over a lower jurisdiction. Correct? Jen: Yes. Luis: And then you have D.C. They also had a control board, and the list goes on and use the federal government, if I’m not mistaken. So there you have a jurisdiction of a federal imposing in D.C., which is not independent. Now, let me tell you where emotions can go a little crazy here. And remember I’m a stakeholder; I’m pro American. Jen: Yeah. Luis: However, we did not invite the United States of America, back a hundred-and-some years ago; we were invaded. Jen: Yeah. Luis: So, we are invaded, we are treated unequally, that inequality causes financial chaos. We are told by the Supreme Court that our constitution is not really a constitution—you should research that; that was recent—an opinion by the Supreme Court. So, really, our constitution, that we thought we had a constitution, is not worth anything on paper because Congress has complete control of that jurisdiction. Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: So, what we have is, back to your question about a board, is a federal government imposing a board on people who did not vote for those that imposed that board. Jen: Yeah. And I know that in Congress Puerto Rico has a representative at the time that this was created—I think it was Pedro Pierluisi—but he didn’t have a vote, so— Luis: No. Jen: And even on the board, the governor gets to sit at the table, but the governor of Puerto Rico doesn’t get a vote of the board. Luis: No. And there’s a slight correction to what you said about Pierluisi in your podcast: the resident commissioner does have a vote in Congress—not on committees, on subcommittees. Okay? Jen: Okay, so he has a vote on a subcommittee but not— Luis: No. Jen: —in the committee or the main House. Luis: Correct. Now, are you ready for the kicker? Jen: Yes. Luis: If the vote on a subcommittee comes to a point where the resident commissioner becomes the deciding vote, it doesn’t go. You’ve got to vote again. Jen: No! Luis: Yeah. Jen: So, that’s— Luis: Can I give you an— Jen: —kind of not really having a vote. I mean— Luis: No. Jen: —he does— Luis: No, I know. Luis: Let’s talk for a second about the pharmaceutical industry, okay? Jen: Yeah, because— Luis: Not to be confused— Jen: —just so that I’m on the same page as you, you worked for Pfizer for a while, too, right? Luis: I directed governor affairs for Pfizer, and that included jurisdictions of New York City and Puerto Rico. Jen: Okay— Luis: And San Francisco. Jen: —and when did you do that? Luis: I did that in 20—I took a year off of the government and I went to Pfizer, did not like it, then went back to Puerto Rico government. So that was 2011. Jen: So was that before the Clinton administration took away the tax credits or after? Luis: Oh, no, after. Oh, yes. Jen: Okay, okay. Luis: 2011, before I became a deputy secretary of the United States. Jen: Okay, got you. Luis: Okay. Jen: So this is after all the tax benefits were gone, and was Pfizer still—when did the pharmaceutical industry, like, leave Puerto Rico? When did they leave? Luis: No way. Why are you saying that? Jen: Because that's what I read. Luis: That's wrong. Jen: Is that not what happened? Luis: No! That’s wrong. I’m about to clarify that. Jen: Okay. Luis: All right. So, if you look at the pharmaceutical industry, if you search, let’s say, BIO, I believe BIO is still the pharmaceutical, big pharma association, the industry association, trade association, okay? If you look at that, you will see that in Puerto Rico BIO had a membership of a huge number of pharmaceuticals. And then you may look at BIO now, and the Puerto Rico chapter, which has another name, has way less pharmaceuticals. So the normal person that doesn’t understand how things work will say, well, everyone left. Well, let’s slow down and look at what are the names that are missing. Well, some of those names don’t exist anymore because the industry has completely merged and consolidated their resources. By way of example, I will tell you that in Puerto Rico alone, Pfizer bought Wyeth. Jen: Pfizer what? Luis: Pfizer bought Wyeth. Jen: Oh, okay. So, okay. Luis: Okay? Jen: Gotcha. So Pfizer got bigger by eating a smaller company. Luis: Correct. And there’s nothing wrong with that. So what happened was that I believe at that time when that happened, Pfizer had three operations in Puerto Rico, Wyeth had three operations in Puerto Rico, okay? So now when they merge, they have six plants in Puerto Rico. So what do they do? They are able to— economies of scale and to do streamline, and they are able to close two and stay with four. And now Wyeth is not in Puerto Rico— Jen: But the effect— Luis: —and people think Wyeth— Jen: Is the effect of that, of the people of Puerto Rico, that the people that worked in those two plants are now out of a job? Luis: But it has nothing to do with 936. Jen: Remind me. I did that episode, like, eight months ago. 936 was the tax credits disappearing? Was that…? Luis: That’s exactly—they disappeared with a coin toss, you said. Jen: Okay, okay. Thank you. Luis: So, so, that consolidation, that example that I’m sharing with you, I believe all happened after 936 stopped, but the reason why Pfizer and Wyeth consolidated was for reasons that had nothing to do with 936. Jen: Yeah. Luis: It had a lot to do with being more productive and being able to share assembly lines and being able to share resources and the same CEO and all that stuff. And so, to the untrained eye, to the Puerto Rican, what they think or see is, oh, Wyeth left. No, they didn’t leave; it was absorbed by a larger pharmaceutical. Jen: So, is the pharmaceutical industry still a major employer in Puerto Rico? Luis: Yes, it is. And I will tell something else: Pfizer and many pharmaceuticals, for many years, are enjoying tax benefits on—there’s something called CFC—controlled foreign corporations—and they are able to enjoy benefits that are comparable to 936. It’s just a different name; a different loophole, you want to call it—I don’t want to call it a loophole—it’s a different tax advantage. Luis: Remember, the pharmaceutical industry, way back when—and we’re talking about right after Puerto Rico changed from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy, okay? Jen: Mm-hmm. Luis: I really need you to follow me on this. Puerto Rico used to be sugarcane industry. Jen: Yeah. Luis: And we changed. Take my great uncle. He was the governor of Puerto Rico for the other party, the commonwealth party, and him and Governor Luis Munoz Marin came up with this tax incentive with the federal government and 936 were invented, and Puerto Rico changed—completely—and became a manufacturing economy. Jen: Okay. Luis: No more sugar cane; now we’re manufacturing. And when that happened, pharma came to Puerto Rico. What we have to remember is manufacturing industry also included, probably, the largest textile industry. Textile was huge in Puerto Rico. Now— Jen: Is it still there? Luis: No! Why—now, you’re smart. Why do you think textile is gone in Puerto Rico? Where is textile nowadays? Jen: Probably China, India. Luis: Yes, yes! So, in this case, it left to other jurisdictions for minimum wage and for a bunch of other reasons. 936? Yes! It was not great when it left, but the industry changed. Textile goes wherever you have the cheapest labor. And Puerto Rico— Jen: So— Luis: —cannot compete with India, China, Dominican Republic, where people get paid a dollar an hour. Forget it. You can’t compete with that. Jen: And it sounds like the same problem we’re having in California, in Texas, and Massachusetts, and everywhere. Luis: Yeah, yes. Jen: What would you like to see happen on the island? What do you think could help? Luis: Becoming a state. Jen: So that's the goal. Luis: Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, because if we become a state, we are able now to have the congressional mitigation to help us, and we’re able to fight for equal funding so that the state does not need to subsidize such huge percentages. And now we have an equal playing field. Now if I get in debt— Jen: Okay. Luis: Now if I get in debt, go ahead and criticize me all you want. Jen: Well, then you have bankruptcy protection if you go into debt. Luis: Also. Luis: So, you understand the reason why people are going to Puerto Rico is because of Law 20 and 22, right? Jen: Um, I don't know. No. Luis: So, I’m going to share with you the Law 20 and Law 22. Both laws were passed by Governor Luis Fortuno, which is a governor that I worked for. Jen: Okay. Luis: And those two laws were used, pushed, and promoted big time by the previous governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla. You can do a quick Google, and you will see how most people went nuts over those two laws, and those two laws is the sole reason why people in stateside, mainland U.S., are fleeing to Puerto Rico to enjoy those tax benefits. Jen: Well, what are those benefits? Luis: I'm going to tell you. Jen: Okay. Luis: So, first, you have Law 20. Law 20 is better known as Export Services law, meaning you and I can open a corporation in Puerto Rico that exports services outside of Puerto Rico. Services, not manufacturing. So you and I can open a consulting firm that consults on any issue, and if our clients are not in Puerto Rico, if our clients are in Europe or New York or California, when that company in Puerto Rico bills those accounts, that corporation will only pay local four percent tax and no sales tax. Wow! Jen: Okay. That's crazy. Luis: Okay? So that means that you and I can have an existing company and have a law firm in New York, and you and I are the partners, and we’ll make—and let’s say that half of our clients are not in Puerto Rico, so why don’t we just open an office in Puerto Rico and do all the billing out of Puerto Rico and serve those clients from Puerto Rico—by the way, you and I can hire attorneys in Puerto Rico that are bilingual; graduated from Harvard, Yale, all those popular universities; pay even a fraction of what you and I would pay a lawyer in New York, and we bill them to the clients that are outside Puerto Rico, and we only pay four percent tax. That’s Law 20. It’s beautiful. Jen: Wow. Okay. Luis: All right. So, now, Law 20 was supplemented, complemented, by Law 22. Law 22 is called the Investor Act. So, now, you and I are the partners of that law firm, and we’ve moved operations and the corporation is only paying four percent tax, local tax, okay? Jen: Okay. Luis: Got it. You and I have not lived in Puerto Rico for the last 15 years. Jen: Okay. Luis: So we, you and I, have our attorneys will review Law 20, and what Law 20 says is you and I can move to Puerto Rico personally, and when we’re in Puerto Rico, our Puerto Rico-sourced income will be tax free. Jen: So the income—so, it’s the Investment Act. So are you talking about, like— Luis: Yes. Jen: —instead of paying capital gains tax, they pay nothing. Luis: Nothing. Now, it needs to be Puerto Rico-sourced income. That means that if you and I own Apple shares, or Microsoft, and we move to Puerto Rico, that’s passive income. We’ll pay taxes because that income is generated outside of Puerto Rico. Jen: Okay. Luis: But if you and I go to Puerto Rico like Paltry and Paulson moved to Puerto Rico, and we invest in property, and we invest in the business of Puerto Rico, that Puerto Rico-sourced income will be tax free. Jen: Federally or are there any state taxes? Luis: Both. Jen: Wow. So the state— Luis: I don’t have the law— Jen: —doesn’t even get anything from that. Luis: Well, yeah, they do because think about all the jobs. You know it’s crazy how much money is generated by having those people in Puerto Rico. Of course it generates— Jen: Yeah. I guess that makes sense. Luis: It’s called economic development. Yes, it generates—I have a lot of people that have new accounts with those individuals all the way from real estate, legal fees, engineering. They’re all millions and millions and millions of dollars that were not moving around the economy until they moved there. Jen: And so, are these two laws something that you personally support? Are they a good idea? Luis: I think it’s a good idea. We somehow need to generate some federal activity. Jen: We do, but at the same time, your government is broke. So isn’t raising revenues, isn’t that a solution? Luis: Well, no. Well, you know what? It’s a little contradicting, so when I say I endorse it, but I just told you a little while ago that I want to be a state. And if I was a state, that would probably not be possible. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Those two laws would not be possible if we’re a state, but guess what—we’re not a state. Jen: Yeah. Luis: And what the heck are we supposed to do? Jen: Yeah. I guess that’s true. You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. Okay. Luis: I would rather not have those two laws and be a state. Jen: Okay. That's fair. Luis: Education. I think that your podcast touched on education about 100 schools being closed. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Yeah, but how many people have moved to Orlando? We do not have— Jen: So there's not as many kids? Luis: No! No! Now, I’m going to defend, I’m going to defend this. With me, you may go crazy because I jump from side to side, so for one, one part of me says— Jen: I do that, too. I totally get it. Luis: One part of me says, the student body—I think the island student population went down from half a million to 400,000 students. That’s 25 percent. Jen: Okay. Luis: Okay. That means that I should be able to cut 25 percent of schools and 25 percent of my budget. Right? Well, let’s look at the other side. You and I, again, are married, right? Jen: Uh-huh. Luis: And you and I have a boat, and we have two kids, and the schools that we have our kids are three blocks away. Beautiful. Well, you and I bought a house because it was right next to the school. So now they’re going to close that school, and the next school is five miles away. Jen: Yeah. Luis: Are you and I pissed? Jen: Of course. Luis: I don’t give a crap that there’s less students. I’m going to picket, and I’m going to make a lot of noise, and I’m going to make it impossible for the government to close that school, which is what happens. You know what? Somebody else should sacrifice, not my wife and I. We have it good. I like to be able to walk three blocks and grab my children by the hand, have a beautiful conversation with them while we eat cookies, and we go to the school right next door. Well, guess what? The population is so much smaller now that somehow we cannot justify having the same number of schools open. I believe that happened in Chicago under new jurisdictions. We have to adjust. So guess who needs to deliver those bad news? The fiscal control board, because you cannot possibly justify having all those schools open. So who’s going to be the bad guy? Thank God there’s a fiscal control board, because if you leave, you allow the local elected official to make those decisions, it would be political suicide. And that transfers to any state. Ask any governor to close down 25 percent of schools, and they’re going to lose the election. Jen: Well, I mean, I think that’s just a part of the job. The problem— Luis: I know! Jen: —that I’m seeing as— Luis: No, but wait a second the problem is that the governor can’t do it because when you commit political suicide, and you need to support the legislature to do that, the elected officials in the legislative body would be the first ones that won’t back you up. They’ll say, you crazy? I’m not going to back you up; I want to get elected next time. That’s a huge problem. He says, I can’t do it without you. People are like let’s not do it; let’s let the other guy do it. And he’s like, no, we don’t have enough money. The students are leaving Orlando and New York. They moved away. We don’t need so many schools; we need to close. And the senators will be like, I’m not going to pass that law; are you kidding me? We’re all going to be out of a job. Jen: Well, I mean, and that’s the thing, like, maybe you’re not supposed to serve forever. Like, I just feel like those tough decisions are a part of a job of being elected, and one of my concerns of this control board is that those families, they can’t petition to this board. There is no voice for the Puerto Ricans where the governor doesn’t have a vote. I guess I’d feel more comfortable with it if I thought that those families could petition to their governor, and it would be one vote at the table that would have those political calculations in mind. But with these seven people that were selected by Congress, I mean, is there any concern that they’re going to prioritize the bankers over the Puerto Rican people? Luis: I think a lot of people are concerned about that. Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
The post office is in trouble. Faced with an enormous debt and a legal obligation to serve every single American, the United States Postal Service needs Congress to make some changes in order to prevent service cuts and financial ruin. In this episode we analyze the plan currently moving through Congress. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Bill Outline H.R. 756: Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 Title I: Postal Service Benefits Reform Postal employees will be enrolled in Medicare Cancels the requirements for the USPS to pre-fund employee retirement health benefits. Title II: Postal Service Operations Reform Creates a Board of Governors, which will have power over the Postmaster General and determine the strategic direction and pricing of the post office products. Stops the requirement for door delivery to new addresses starting the day the bill is enacted. Businesses will get "centralized delivery, curbside delivery, or sidewalk delivery" with all of them converted by September 30, 2023. Residences will be able to convert voluntarily starting on October 1, 2018 and will have shared delivery points for up to 50 units each. We will be informed in writing if our homes have been selected by the end of March 2019 and we can sign a "conversion consent form" to agree. New residents will automatically be converted to the centralized delivery Gives the Postal Regulatory Committee more flexibility in setting postal rates Allows the post office to provide State and local government services Allows the post office to reinstate half of the rate surcharge that was in effect in April 2016. Title III: Postal Service Personnel Creates a Chief Innovation Officer position Title IV: Postal Contracting Reform Allows the post office to issue non-competitive contracts, with notification requirements if they are over $250,000 Additional Reading Article: House panel displays bipartisan unity over bill to save Postal Service from financial ruin by Joe Davidson, The Washington Post, February 7, 2017. Article: Federal agencies turning to UPS, Fed Ex instead of USPS for delivery needs by Mary Lou Byrd, The Washington Times, June 11, 2013. Article: How Healthcare Expenses Cost Us Saturday Postal Delivery by Josh Sanbum, TIME, February 7, 2013. References Document: H.R. 1628: Senate Health Care Bill Twitter: Who Drafted Secret Health Care Bill USPS: USO Executive Summary USPS: Mail & Shipping Prices National Association of Letter Carriers: About NALC GovTrack: H.R. 756: Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 GovTrack: H.R. 760: Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2017 GovTrack: H.R. 5714 (114th): Postal Service Reform Act of 2016 CBO: H.R. 5714 CBO Score GovTrack: H.R. 6407 (109th): Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act CBO: H.R. 6407 CBO Score White House: President Bush's Statement on H.R. 6407 Video Clips YouTube: Kathleen Madigan - Post Office YouTube: Jerry Seinfeld - Post Office Bit YouTube: Seinfeld clip - Because the mail never stops YouTube: Tom Papa - Post Office Bit Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Accomplishing Postal Reform in the 115th Congress - H.R. 756, The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, February 7, 2017. Watch on CSPAN Witnesses Megan J Brennan: Postmaster General Robert Taub: Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission Lori Rectanus: Direction or Physical Infrastructure issues at the US Gov’t Accountability Office Arthur Sackler: Manager at the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service Fredric Rolando: President of the National Association of Letter Carriers 5:19 Rep. Jason Chaffetz: Last July I was proud to see our committee favorably report the bill by a voice vote. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it across the finish line before the end of the Congress, but we did make a lot of progress, particularly with getting the CBO—the Congressional Budget Office—to come in and score the bill. 6:10 Rep. Jason Chaffetz: In an era of partisan politics, this legislation represents a significant bipartisan compromise. The bill gives the Postal Service the freedom it needs to successfully meet the business realities the agency faces. To do this, the bill allows the Postal Service to fully integrate its healthcare plans with Medicare. With such integration, the Postal Service can virtually wipe out its 52-billion-dollar retiree healthcare unfunded liability. Further, the bill achieves real savings by moving to more-efficient mail delivery, saving the Postal Service more than $200 a year for each address that can be converted from the door-to-door delivery to centralized delivery. The bill also helps the agency more accurately evaluate its cost structure and reforms key governance matters. 8:10 Rep. Elijah Cummings: The other thing I thank you for, Mr. Chairman, is so often what happens is that when a lot of work has been done in one term, it’s just tossed away, and then you have to start all over again. But I thank you for picking up where we left off. 10:40 Rep. Elijah Cummings: The total volume of mail handled by the Postal Service has fallen by more than 25% since 2006, and continued declines are expected. The cost of the Postal Service’s operations have also risen, in part because the Postal Service is required to provide universal delivery service to every address in the United States. Every year, about 900,000 new addresses are created in this country; and a network of postal facilities, letter carriers, and workers must expand to deliver to every new address—900,000; that’s a lot. The Postal Service is burdened by a 2006 statutory requirement imposed by Congress to fully pre-fund its liabilities for retiree healthcare costs, a requirement that no other federal agency or private-sector company faces. These liabilities, combined with the Postal Service’s unfunded pension liabilities, currently total about $125 billion, which is almost double its annual revenues. Even as it fixed costs continued to grow, the exigent rate increase that had been approved to enable the Postal Service to recoup some of the losses incurred because of a 2008 recession’s permanent impact on mail volume expired. Since 2006 the Postal Service has implemented significant cost-saving measures, including reducing positions and work hours, and consolidating facilities and delivery routes. 14:08 Rep. Elijah Cummings: Taking all these requirements and trends together, the Postal Service reported a net loss of $5.3 billion for fiscal year 2016, which represents a 10th consecutive year of net losses. We have repeatedly discussed the deteriorating financial condition at the Postal Service in this committee, but the situation is now worsened by unprecedented lack of any Senate-confirmed members on the Postal Service’s Board of Governors. Because many key management decisions are reserved by statute to the Senate-confirmed board members, there are many actions, such as establishing rates, class, and fees for products, that the Postal Service simply cannot take now. The need for postal reform is as urgent as it ever was. Fortunately, we also may be closer than ever to enacting reform. We must press ahead—all of us. 18:50 Rep. Gerald Connolly: I want to commend Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings for their leadership in holding together this coalition—not easy—and it’s a bipartisan coalition that helped write this bill. And especially Chairman Chaffetz could have yielded to the temptation, in light of the circumstances of 2017, to start all over again, and he didn’t do that. We worked together, we held it together, and I want to thank all the stakeholders represented in this room and those not in this room for understanding we can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. 24:25 Megan Brennan: The Postal Service is self-funded. We pay for our operations through the sale of postal products and services and do not receive tax revenues to support our business. Over the past decade, total mail volume declined by 28%. First-class mail, which makes the greatest contribution to covering the cost of our networks, declined by 36%. In response, we have streamlined our operations, restructured our networks, reduced the size of our workforce, and improved productivity. As a result of these efforts, we’ve achieved annual cost savings of approximately $14 billion. We also successfully stabilized marketing-mail revenues and grew our package business, which together drive e-commerce growth. However, given the constraints imposed by law, all of those actions cannot offset the negative impacts caused by the consistent decline in the use of first-class mail. The Postal Service is required to maintain an extensive network necessary to fulfill our universal service obligation to deliver the mail to every address six days a week, regardless of volume. The cost of the network continues to grow as approximately one million new delivery points are added each year. However, less volume, limited pricing flexibility, and increasing costs means that there is less revenue to pay for our growing delivery network and to fund other legally mandated costs. Since 2012 the Postal Service has been forced to default on $33.9 billion in mandated payments for retiree health benefits. Without these defaults, the deferral of critical capital investments, and aggressive management actions, we would not have been able to pay our employees and suppliers, or deliver the mail. Despite our achievements in growing revenue and improving operational efficiency, we cannot overcome systemic financial imbalances caused by business-model constraints. 26:40 Megan Brennan: We believe there is broad support for the core provisions of the bill you have introduced. By enacting this urgently needed legislation, which includes those provisions, the Postal Service can achieve an estimated $26 billion in combined cost reductions and new revenue over five years. Enactment of these provisions, favorable resolution of the Postal Regulatory Commission’s pricing-review system, and continued aggressive management actions will return the Postal Service to financial stability. Medicare integration is the cornerstone of your bill. The civilian federal government is not required to pre-fund retiree health benefits, but that obligation is imposed on the Postal Service. We are merely asking to be treated like any business that offers health benefits to its retirees and has to fund them. Full integration with Medicare is a universally accepted best practice in private sector. Requiring full Medicare integration for Postal Service retirees would essentially eliminate our unfunded liability for retiree health benefits. It is simply a matter of fairness to enable the Postal Service and our employees to fully utilize the benefits for which we have paid. We also strongly endorse the provision of the bill that would restore half of the exigent rate increase as a permanent part of our rate base. That provision will help us pay for the infrastructure necessary to fulfill our universal service obligation. 28:20 Megan Brennan: H.R. 756 is fiscally responsible and enables the Postal Service to invest in the future and to continue to provide affordable, reliable, and secure delivery service to every business and home in America. 30:30 Robert Taub: H.R. 756 is specifically designed to put the Postal Service on sound financial footing. 33:43 Lori Rectanus: The continued deterioration of the Postal Service’s financial condition is simply a truth that revenues are not keeping up with expenses, a trend since 2007. This means that over the last decade the Postal Service has had a net loss of over $60 billion. While much of this loss was in fact due to the nonpayment of retiree health pre-funding payments, the Postal Service still lost over $10 billion outside of this requirement and other requirements. The revenue-expense gap occurs because first-class mail, the most profitable mail, continues to decline and is now down to 1981 levels. The Postal Service has made significant efforts to grow revenue in other ways, such as with package services. In the meantime, however, expenses continue to grow, largely because of compensation and benefit payments for employees. This is due to salary increases, as well as a larger workforce, in the past several years to support the more labor-intensive package business. In fact, over the past three years, the workforce has actually increased by over 20,000 people, contrasting sharply with prior years when its size decreased greatly. 38:15 Arthur Sackler: We support this bill and urge its approval as promptly as possible. 41:26 Arthur Sackler: H.R. 756 provides an elegant solution to this profound financial problem, integrating postal annuitants into Medicare will save the Postal Service billions each year and follow the best practices of the private sector. Companies that offer health insurance to employees and retirees generally require them to join Medicare at age 65. 42:06 Arthur Sackler: The implications of this bleak financial situation are near existential for Postal Service in its current form, so we support H.R. 756 notwithstanding its one-time market-dominant postal rate increase of 2.15%. We accept this increase in this unique set of circumstances only as necessary to achieve this bill and stabilize the Postal Service. Congress has wisely delegated rate setting to the postal agencies, but with respect, the industry will be compelled to oppose any effort to regard this bill as a precedent for other legislated rate increases. The industry has long supported the self-sustaining postal system, funded entirely by postage. That remains the best course from our perspective. And that is the beauty of your bill. It vastly improves the Postal Service’s financial stability, keeps the Postal Service self-sustaining, and wards off any prospect of a taxpayer bailout, as you noted, Mr. Chairman. 44:25 Fredric Rolando: The bill has broad support across the mailing industry, including business and labor, and is based on best practices in the private sector. 45:30 Fredric Rolando: Over the past decade, postal employees have worked diligently to restructure operations, cut costs, and sharply increase productivity, in response to technological change and the Great Recession. Despite the loss of more than 200,000 jobs, we’ve managed to preserve our networks and to maintain our capacity to serve the nation. But only Congress can address our biggest financial challenge: the unique and unsustainable burden to pre-fund future retiree health benefits decades in advance. No other enterprise in the country faces such a burden, which was imposed by legislation in 2006. The expense of this mandate has accounted for nearly 90% of the Postal Service’s reported losses since 2007. Without a change in the law, the mandate will cost $6 billion this year alone. H.R. 756 would maximize the integration of Medicare and our federal health program for Medicare-eligible postal annuitants, most of whom have already voluntarily enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B. The proposal would also give us access to low-cost prescription drugs and other benefits provided to private-employer plans by the Medicare Modernization Act. The savings would help to reduce all of our premium costs and, therefore, pre-funding costs. This approach adopts a standard practice of large private companies that provide retiree health insurance. It would effectively resolve the pre-funding burden that undermines the health of the Postal Service while only raising Medicare spending by one-tenth of one percent over 10 years. H.R. 756 also addresses a revenue shortfall caused by the expiration of the 2013 exigent rate increase, authorized by the Postal Regulatory Commission, to help the Postal Service recover from the permanent decline in mail volume caused by the Great Recession. The compromise adopted by your leadership bill, effectively restoring half of the exigent increase, is a reasonable one. 48:00 Fredric Rolando: All four postal unions urge the committee to adopt this legislation. 52:06 Rep. Jason Chaffetz: What is your current cash on hand; and then once you give me that number, then why isn’t that used to pay some of the payments that were due? You’ve defaulted, I believe, on five payments. Megan Brennan: Yes, Mr. Chairman, we’ve defaulted for the past five years to the tune of $33.9 billion. Our current cash on hand is $8.2 billion. And a determination was made by the Temporary Emergency Committee, which consisted at the time of our lone independent governor, myself, and the deputy postmaster general, to default on that payment to ensure that we can serve sufficient cash, which for an organization of our size is arguable at best, but to reserve sufficient cash to ensure if there was any contingency that would occur in the near term, we could at least have some cushion. Chaffetz: I mean, you have more cash than some of the others who are in the mail industry, but where is that proper balance? Where’s… ? Brennan: When I think—that’s a concern, Mr. Chairman, because for an organization that has expenditures of more than $70 billion a year, we would submit that $8.2 billion is insufficient. That’s the concern for us. And, also, as noted by the Chairman, and we’ve discussed this, the fact that we have deferred on critical capital investments in the past five years to the tune of over $8.9 billion, that impacts our ability to compete and to generate additional revenues. Chaffetz: Tell us, if you can give me a perspective on your fleet management. There was a hearing I think Chairman Meadows chaired earlier about the fleet. We were concerned the Postal Service was going to come up with a very sizeable contract to… Explain to me, where you are in the fleet and your perspective on it. Brennan: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Well, we have one of the largest civilian fleets in the country, with over 212,000 vehicles travelling more than four million miles a day. The fleet, though, is at the end of its expected life, particularly our delivery vehicles that the average age is over 25 years, and the annual maintenance cost is over a billion dollars. So, we have an approach to look at the next-generation delivery vehicles, that currently we’re in the midst of a prototype-testing period where we’re working with six different suppliers to provide us with these vehicles that we will test over the course of the next 18 months. We also just—this week, actually—a request for proposal for a commercial off-the-shelf solution for right-hand-drive vehicles is expected. So, we’ve got a multi-prong approach looking at how to address the vehicle fleet. 58:35 Rep. Stephen Lynch: There are some concerns out there about the funding of that piece that will require postal employees to sign up for Medicare and that it is some type of giveaway. That’s what I’ve heard out there. Now, you and I know differently. But could you explain to me how much money the postal workers have contributed to Medicare but, in large part, have not participated in that? Could you describe that for me, please? Megan Brennan: Yes, Congressman. In our opinion, this is a question of fairness. We’re merely asking that we be treated like any other self-funded entity that provides retiree health benefits. As noted by a number of the panelists, it’s best practice in private sector. And that’s the ask from the Postal Service, and our employees and the Postal Service have paid more than $30 billion into the Medicare trust fund since the early ’80s. We’re just asking to receive the benefit for which employees have paid. 1:03:35 Rep. Blake Farenthold: You mentioned that part of your expenses is six-day delivery to everywhere. Is it worth looking at, at some point in the future, maybe not six days to everywhere for everything? I mean, to be competitive, maybe you do need six. And, actually, I think one of your competitor’s advantage is seven-day package delivery. Over Christmas, I got packages from Amazon that you guys brought on Sunday. Matter of fact, I got one a couple of weeks ago. Apparently you’re still doing it. So, is shrinking to a less-than-six-day delivery for non-packages a potential cost savings? Megan Brennan: Yeah, as you noted, we are delivering packages seven days in select locations, primarily major metropolitan areas. Farenthold: I’m happy Corpus Christi, Texas, is now a major metropolitan area. Brennan: I said primarily. And we are expanding that, because, certainly, we serve every home— Farenthold: Right. Brennan: —and every business, Congressman. To your point, and candidly, we’ve spent the better part of the past two years trying to build a coalition around core provisions of a bill likely to generate broad support. Farenthold: Right. Brennan: And that’s what we focused on. And, also, I would offer candidly, it’s been my experience that there’s no congressional consensus around moving to five-day delivery. Farenthold: Oh, I could tell you that for sure, as well. 1:06:02 Rep. Blake Farenthold: You talked about capital expenses, your biggest being vehicles. What are your big capital—just list off a couple of items that are your big capital items beyond vehicles. Megan Brennan: The information systems, our IT infrastructure, repair and alteration, facility modifications, additional capacity for package sortation. 1:17:56 Rep. Darrell Issa: Additionally, the United States Post Office, with the power of the government, if they chose to aggressively site in or near people’s homes cluster boxes that could safely hold packages, they would leapfrog in service capability what Amazon is trying to build at your corner gas station, wouldn’t they. And I guess I should take that to the postmaster general. Not, what are the problems, but if you did that, wouldn’t you, in fact, offer a service far better and far more distributed than that which Amazon is trying to build today in some parts of urban America? Megan Brennan: Congressman Issa, as you and I discussed, the Postal Service approach is all new, possible deliveries. As noted—excuse me—we add nearly a million a year. Based on the delivery characteristics, we either implement box on post at the end of your driveway or centralized delivery. And just looking at last year, where when we looked at the growth by mode, over 750,000 new deliveries were centralized. So, there's certainly an efficiency gain associated with that. 1:26:40 Rep. Jody Hice: One of the issues that came up specifically dealt with Amazon and a serious competitor that they are, and one of the areas of technology that they’ve excelled in, obviously, is drone delivery. Is there any looking into consideration of drone delivery with the Postal Service? Megan Brennan: Currently, our engineering group is researching, and we’re probably on the peripheral of this advanced technology, currently just learning. And I would say whether it’s drone exploration or any other type of new technology, Congressman, we need the capital monies to be able to invest. Hice: Well, I understand the need for capital monies to invest, but you are looking into the possibility? Brennan: We’re exploring and recognizing what’s happening in the industry. Right now, we’re not an early adopter, I would categorize that, but we’re certainly aware of what’s happening in that space. Hice: Okay, so, at the current time, then, the commitment is to continue with the vehicle delivery. Brennan: Correct. 1:45:15 Rep. Mark Meadows: The gentleman recognizes the gentleman with the stylish glasses, from Missouri, for five minutes. Rep. William Lacy Clay: And, Mr. Chair, I noticed that the ranking member took some of my time. Oh, no—they restarted. Very good. Meadows: The gentleman will recognize that the chairman is always fair with— Clay: All right. Meadows: —his time. Clay: The— Meadows: We’re glad the gentleman from Missouri could get out of bed to come to this hearing. 1:49:00 Megan Brennan: We just recently, Congressman, raised prices on our market dominant, within that strict price cap— Unknown Speaker: Yeah. Brennan: —of eight-tenths of a percent. We also have the 10-year price review before the Commission, currently. 1:51:23 Rep. Mark Meadows: Well, you said all four unions support this bill, with no changes. Is that correct? With no changes, you support this bill, all four unions. Fredric Rolando: Yeah, all four unions support this bill. I think we mentioned two tweaks in the written testimony that we thought would be helpful. Meadows: Yeah, and then, but if those two tweaks don’t get done, this is better than— Rolando: Totally support this bill coming out of committee. Absolutely. 2:07:14 Arthur Sackler: I think that with the establishment of so much trust and reliance on electronic media, there is little that can be done to reverse some of the outflow of mail. But if you add a huge increase on top of that, it’s going to accelerate it dramatically. That’s the worry of the industry. Rep. Glenn Grothman: Okay, you consider the 2.1% not a significant increase? Is that what you’re telling us? Sackler: It is significant, but it is one that, to put it colloquially, we’re all holding our noses and accepting in the spirit of compromise in order to get this bill done. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations Missing Cat! Please help! One of our listeners in Boqueron, Puerto Rico is missing his furry friend. Please keep an eye out for him if you are in the area.
Air traffic controllers in the United States are a part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but Congress is seriously considering changing that. In this episode, we examine a plan being developed to transfer control of the nation’s air traffic to a new non-profit corporation. Also, with former FBI Directory Jim Comey’s testimony to Congress dominating the news cycle, we take a trip down memory lane to the Bush years when Jim Comey testified before Congress in one of the most riveting moments in Congressional hearing history. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Additional Reading Article: So What's the Deal with Air Traffic Control Reform? by Aarian Marshall, Wired, June 6, 2017. Article: Inspector General Reports on FAA's Efforts to Modernize the NAS by Rob Mark, Flying Mag, May 25, 2017. Article: The Wait for ATC Privatization is Over as White House Budget Emerges by Rob Mark, Flying Mag, March 16, 2017. Article: Shuster admits relationship with airline lobbyist by John Bresnahan, Anna Palmer, and Jake Sherman, Politico, April 16, 2015. Article: FAA seeks new air traffic controllers - no experience needed by Tanita Gaither, Hawaii News Now, 2014. Article: The Real Battle Over Air Traffic Control by Robert Poole and Dorothy Robyn, Reason Foundation, November 3, 2003. References Boston University: Dorothy Robyn Bio Hartzell Prop: Joseph W. Brown Bio Office of Inspector General: Calvin L. Scovel III Bio NATCA: Paul Rinaldi Bio Reason Foundation: Company FAQs Reason Foundation: Robert Poole Bio GovTrack: H.R. 4441 Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act Overview GovTrack: H.R. 4441 - Supporters vs Opponents GovTrack: H.R. 4441 - Text OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Shuster OpenSecrets: Rep. Bill Shuster - Campaign Finance OpenSecrets: Airlines for America YouTube: James Comey testifies about Gonzales pressuring Ashcroft to OK spying Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Air Traffic Control Reform, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, May 17, 2017. Watch on CSPAN Witnesses The Honorable Calvin Scovel, III, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation Joseph W. Brown, President, Hartzell Propeller, Inc. Mr. Robert W. Poole, Jr., Director of Transportation Policy, Reason Foundation Mr. Paul M. Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Assocation Ms. Dorothy Robyn, Independent Policy Analyst Timestamps & Transcripts 3:33 Chairman Bill Shuster: Today we’ll focus on the need for air traffic control reform, divesting the high-tech service, 24/7 service business, from government and shifting it to an independent not-for-profit entity. 4:20 Chairman Bill Shuster: Everyone should be reminded of what happens if we choose the status quo. It means our system will be subject to more budget constraints, sequestration, and threats of government shutdowns. Sequestration isn’t gone. In 2013 sequestration led to furloughs and reduced operations, controlled our hiring, and training suffered, and the FAA bureaucrats tried to shut down contract towers. Fiscal constraints continue to be tight, as so in the federal budget, and that’s not going to change anytime soon, and it may get worse. We continue to rely on the unstable, dysfunctional, annual appropriations cycle. We have had no stand-alone transportation appropriations bill since 2006, and over that time period, Congress has passed 42 continuing resolutions to keep government doors open. The FAA also relies on authorizing legislation, and it took Congress 23 short-term extensions over five years before it passed previous long-term FAA authorization bill. Under these conditions, the FAA bureaucracy has been trying to undertake a high-tech modernization of air traffic control system for over three decades. It’s not working, and it’s never going to work. 5:52 Chairman Bill Shuster: Some argue that the latest attempt to modernize NextGen is showing some signs of progress, but we all know any progress is incremental at best and only in locations where the FAA partnered with the private sector. And let’s remember the name NextGen was really just a rebranding of the FAA’s ongoing failed efforts to modernize the system. NextGen is just a marketing term, not an actual technology or innovation, but it sounds catchier so Congress will fund it year after year. But the bottom line is there should be far more progress by now. Money has never been the problem; Congress has provided more than $7.4 billion for NextGen since 2004. Results of the problem: according to the FAA’s own calculation, the return on the taxpayers’ 7.4 billion invested has only been about 2 billion in benefits. And we’ve still got a long way to go. According to the DOT inspector general in 2014, the projected initial cost for NextGen was $40 billion, but they’ve said it could double or triple and be delayed another decade. Over the years, the FAA has described NextGen as transformation of America’s air transportation network. They also said it will forever redefine how we manage the system. But in 2015 the National Research Council confirmed what was already becoming painfully clear. According to the NRC, the original version of NextGen is not what was being implemented. It is not broadly transformational and is not fundamental change in the way the FAA handles air traffic. Only in the federal government would such a dismal record be considered a success. 7:40 Chairman Bill Shuster: Some have proposed targeting reforms to fix the FAA’s problems, but that’s an approach we’ve already tried many, many times, starting in the 1980s. Since 1995, Congress has passed various reforms to allow the FAA to run more like a business. Procurement reform in 1995 for the FAA to develop a more flexible acquisition-management system. Additional reforms in 1995 exempt the FAA from most federal personnel rules and allow the FAA to be able to implement more flexible rules for hiring, training, compensating, and assigning personnel. Procurement reforms in 1996 developed a cost accounting system. Additional personnel reforms in 1996 allowed FAA to negotiate pay. Organizational reforms in 2000 to establish a COO position, additional forms to allow greater pay so the FAA could recruit good candidates, particularly for a COO position. Additional reform in 2000 by the executive order to create the Air Traffic Organization. Organizational reforms in 2003 to establish the Joint Planning and Development Office to better coordinate NextGen. Reforms in 2012 to establish a chief NextGen officer. Property management reforms in 2012 to allow a better process for realignment and consolidation of facilities. All have failed to result in the FAA being run more like a business. The FAA has always performed like a massive bureaucracy and will continue to. 9:33 Chairman Bill Shuster: Last year’s bill that passed out of committee will serve as a framework for new legislation, but we are open to change. We want to talk to people and get their ideas, and that’s what we hope to hear today. 9:45 Chairman Bill Shuster: Our air traffic control reform proposal will be based on the following principles: create an independent not-for-profit corporation to provide air traffic services; fund the new service provider by fees assessed for air traffic service; free the new service provider from governmental dysfunction, political interference, and the uncertainty of the federal-budget process; create a governance structure that is right sized and balanced; and a board with sole fiduciary responsibility to the organization—and I need to repeat that—fiduciary responsibility. That’s a legal term. If you’re on a board of directors in the United States and you have the fiduciary responsibility, it’s not to who appointed you to the board; it’s to the board, it’s to that organization is who you’re responsible for, and that’s the law. That’s just not some pie in the sky. People can be removed and be prosecuted if they’re not doing their fiduciary responsibilities. 11:47 Chairman Bill Shuster: Give the new service provider the ability to access financial markets, leverage private funding for multi-year capital projects needed to modernize the system. 12:35 Chairman Bill Shuster: The only way to realize these benefits is to get the government out of the way. As President Ronald Regan said, government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem. And we see all over the world people turning to the private sector—whether it’s Europe or it’s Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada—look around the world: countries, governments, are looking to partner with the private sector because they see they do it better. 13:01 Chairman Bill Shuster: Since the introduction of the Air Act over a year ago, this has been an ongoing process of education and discussion. We’ve held over 130 meetings with stakeholders, including both supporters and opponents of the Air Act. We’ve had numerous meetings with members of the House, the Senate, the White House, and other committees. These meetings have been extremely productive and give us new ideas to improve the legislation. 14:20 Chairman Bill Shuster: Air traffic control is not an inherently governmental function; it’s a 24/7 technology service. For those who worry that the system is too complex, I would say this: the most complex thing in the air space is not the air traffic control system, it’s the airplane. It’s the people at Boeing and Airbus and Cessna and the people that build these aircraft—that’s the most complicated thing in the system. And the FAA already oversees those highly sophisticated private-sector aircraft manufacturing, maintenance, and flight operations at arm’s length. We don’t build airplanes today, the government does, and that’s the most complex thing in the system. 16:26 Rep Peter DeFazio: We are now on the cusp of a 21st century system that will be the envy of the world. And other experts—MITRE Corporation, others—say a massive change now, where you cleave the FAA into parts, you leave the most vital thing to our manufacturers—certification, subject to appropriations, sequestrations, and shutdowns—you leave the most vital thing that is important to the American public, which is safety and oversight of safety, subject to sequestration, shutdowns, and political meddling. The only thing that gets moved is the ATO, and the ATO would be moved and essentially effectively controlled by the airlines. I know that the airlines aren’t here today, perhaps because they haven’t looked so great recently in public, and I’d also note that the airlines themselves have had outages 36 times—major outages—36 times since 2015. I’m not aware that the national air traffic control system has had a major disruption, with exception of deliberate sabotage by a contractor who knew how to get the system and the backup system. But the airlines, on their own, with no sabotage, have managed to melt down their dispatch and their reservation systems 36 times, stranding millions of people, so they can do it better, right? 18:15 Rep Peter DeFazio: In terms of funding, the FAA has currently projected, over the next decade, to be 97% self-funded. Unfortunately, the way our colleagues around here and the budget process works, despite the fact they’re self-funded, they can be sequestered or shut down. That’s a simple, simple fix. Take it off budget, make it into a trust-funded program. They are raising the revenues. That’s a simple fix. No, we’re going to cleave it in half, put vital functions over here—still subject to sequestration shutdown—and take this one part and put it over here and say somehow they’re going to self-fund. Now, the question, of course, is, how are they going to self-fund? The airlines have told me time and time again, they hate the ticket tax, they hate the ticket tax; they say, that’s our money. I say, no, it’s not your money; I buy a ticket, I pay the tax, the tax goes to the government; it’s not your money. They say, no, no, that affects the price of the ticket and competition and everything else; it’s a horrible thing. So, if they do away with the ticket tax, there goes 70% of the revenues. Well, what are they going to put in its place? Oh, it’s going to be a per-operation charge or something; we don’t know. Congress will have no say over this. 22:11 Rep Peter DeFazio: See all that yellow? That’s the U.S. That is going to be totally ADS-B, satellite-based, in 2020, with an exception—the airlines that petitioned and been given permission from the FAA for exceptions because many of their older planes do not have modern-enough GPS systems to use the new ADS-B. The airlines again have petitioned that they have a number more years before those planes would be able to use the ADS-B system. Not the FAA, the airlines themselves. 28:38 Rep Peter DeFazio: They can set user fees. User fees, I consider to be taxes. I consider the ticket tax to be a user fee, but we can argue semantics over that. But they are going to determine how the system is funded, which is tantamount to taxation without review by the Ways and Means committee or Congress. 37:00 Joseph Brown: Now, as a pilot, 4 to 500 hours a year, my office is the cockpit; and when I fly, I find a modern system, a high-functioning system, and I’ve seen it evolve over time, right before my eyes. I find controllers that do their job well, I find easy access, and powerful technology. I can file a flight plan from my smartphone and get my proposed route back, before I get to the airport, in a text. When I take off, I have GPS navigation systems on board that allow me to fly point to point all over this country. Couple months ago, I took off out of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area and got cleared direct to Burlington, Vermont, 1300 miles ahead. And while I’m flying, I have the veil of safety brought to you by ADS-B, which is in fact deployed, giving me traffic callouts and separation cues and weather in my route of flight. And when I come in for landing, I can pick from 3,000 precision approaches, brought to me by a NextGen feature called WAAS, including at my home airport, which I value tremendously on foul-weather days. So, the bottom line for me is, NextGen is working—it works for me every day—and it’s getting stronger all the time. And from a technology standpoint, I believe we’re on the right track. 43:30 Robert Poole: Business Roundtable group began in 2011, made an initial presentation to A4A in the spring of 2012. We got a pretty cool, if not negative, reception at that point. No one wanted to restart the battles that had raged over this issue in previous decades. Everything changed in the spring of 2013, thanks to the sequester. Controller furloughs closed FAA Academy; threatened closure of 189 contract towers got everybody’s attention. In response, A4A, NATCA, and AOPA all requested new conversations with the BRT working group. And in May 2013, all three groups in the conference room at Business Roundtable agreed that an air traffic control corporation, converting the ATO into a corporation, self-funded, and out of the federal budget was the best approach. After this happened, that fall, Governor Engler and several others briefed Chairman Shuster on the proposal. This was not coming from the airlines. BRT group included a former FAA administrator, a former chief operating officer of the ATO, two former senior officials of USDOT and several consultants. Our governing model, as I said, was patterned after Nav Canada’s. Their stakeholder board represents airlines, general aviation, unions, and the government plus four other private citizens selected by the stakeholder members. 47:50 Paul Rinaldi: NATCA members guide approximately 70,000 flights per day in the United States, ensuring over 900 million passengers arrive safely at their destination every year. The United States Airspace System is considered the gold standard in aviation community, but that status is at risk. Unstable, unpredictable funding and status quo threatens it. We need a stable, reliable, predictable funding stream to operate our current system and allow for growth in the United States aviation system. 48:30 Paul Rinaldi: We also oppose any system that would put ATC in a for-profit model. In order for NATCA to consider a support of any proposal, it must meet our four core principles of reform. First, any new system must keep the safety and the efficiency of the National Airspace System the top priority. Second, any reform must protect our members’ employment relationship. This must maintain our members’ pay, benefits, retirement system, healthcare system, as well as the work rules in our contract. Third, any reform system must have a stable, predictable funding stream adequately enough to support air traffic control services, growth, new users, staffing, hiring, training, long-term modernization projects. Also, this reform must provide a stable funding stream through a transition period. Fourth, any reform must maintain a dynamic, diverse aviation system that continues to provide services to all segments of the aviation community and to all airports across America. 50:10 Paul Rinaldi: Please don’t take NATCA’s position as a need for stable, predictable funding as to mean the appropriators have not done their job. The appropriators in both chambers of Congress, on both sides of the aisles, have done their job well. The problem stems from lack of regular order we’ve been experiencing for over 10 years now. This lack of regular order has led to stop-and-go funding, many threats of shutdown, and our current staffing shortage. We’re at a 28-year low of fully certified controllers. We have 10,532 certified controllers; approximately 3,000 of them are eligible to retire at this time. 50:47 Paul Rinaldi: Unstable funding has prevented on-time implementation of NextGen modernization projects. NATCA takes pride in our role in partnering with the FAA in developing and implementing important modernization projects. We have successfully worked on many over the years. Unfortunately, all have been impacted by uncertainty of funding. If you just look at FY 2018, as we approached April 28 of this year, the FAA shifted its focus from NextGen to shutdown. We, then, received a one-week funding extension, followed by a five-month funding bill. While we’re elated over the funding bill, five months is certainly no way to plan for the future in aviation. Congress needs to pass an FAA reauthorization bill that provides stable, reliable, predictable funding. Congress should exempt the FAA employees from indiscriminate sequester cuts, otherwise we will see a hiring freeze, reduced staffing, furloughs, delays, reduced capacity, and suspension of key NextGen programs. 52:07 Dorothy Robyn: I am a policy wonk, and I’m a Democrat. I testified before some of you during the five years I spent in the Obama administration—first as the deputy under secretary of defense for Installations and Environment and then as the GSA Public Buildings commissioner, following the scandal at GSA. Previously, I spent eight years on President Clinton’s White House economic team, where, during his second term, I was the point person on aviation and air traffic control, among other issues. A policy focus I maintained after leaving the White House, first at Brookings and then as an economic consultant. The first point I want to make this morning is that corporatization of the air traffic control system is not a radical idea, nor is it a Republican idea. The Clinton administration tried unsuccessfully to do this in 1995 with its proposal to create a self-supporting government corporation—USATS—which would be run by a CEO and a board and regulated at arms’ length by the FAA. At the time, only four countries had corporatized their air traffic control system; now, more than 60 other countries have done so. 53:40 Dorothy Robyn: Air traffic control is not an inherently governmental function; it is not inherently governmental. Keeping planes safely separated is complex and safety-critical, but it is a purely operational process that follows well-established rules. Like running an airline or manufacturing a Boeing 787, air traffic control can be performed by a non-governmental entity as long as it is subject to oversight by FAA safety regulators whose job is inherently governmental. 54:50 Dorothy Robyn: Is it a monopoly? Yes, at least for now, but the telephone system was a monopoly for many years, and we didn’t have the government operate that. 55:03 Dorothy Robyn: The current arrangement is flawed on safety grounds. This is important. Echoing safety experts worldwide, ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, has long called for the air traffic control regulator to be independent of the operation it regulates in order to avoid conflicts of interest. We are one of the only industrial nations in which the same agency both regulates and operates the air traffic control system. 1:06:00 Rep Peter DeFazio: So, let’s see, if I think about it, funding, sequestration, shutdowns—that all has to do with Congress. So if we had the FAA with its current funding sources, 97% projected over the next 10 years, so just a few efficiencies would get us to 100% self-funded, without meddling, exempt them from sequestration and shutdowns, would that solve many of your concerns—I’m not saying all—but would that solve many of your concerns, Mr. Rinaldi? Paul Rinaldi: Yes. 1:07:01 Peter DeFazio: Who would be responsible if the ATC failed financially in this country? Joseph Brown: Well, that’s one of my risk calculus when I think about this problem. The day the assets move out of the public sector and into the private sector, we’ve moved the essence of the system and the people with it. And there’s no way we can spend one day without that system full functioning and healthy and thriving. And so all the financial risk accrues to the people, regardless of where that monopoly reports. DeFazio: So, too big to fail. Brown: Too big to fail is my concern. 1:10:45 Joseph Brown: First, you have to invent and deploy the technology, which has generally been the FAA’s purpose, but then the user community has to equip and in many cases change equipment to experience the benefits, and that’s exactly where we are right now, and that’s why there’s an inflection point coming up. We have ADS-B fully deployed on a nationwide basis in terms of the ground structure, but only a percentage of the aircraft flying enjoy the benefits because they are not ADS-B compliant. Likewise, that will be true of Data Comm and other technologies. So, where we are right now is the FAA has done a lot of heavy lifting, and the users have to equip. 1:12:08 Chairman Bill Shuster: I would oppose going for a for-profit organization. 1:14:08 Rep Rick Larsen: Can this system be safe and broken, or should I drive? Calvin Scovel: It is safe, of course. And that’s— Larsen: How can it be safe if it’s broken? Scovel: —certainly a big plus for the FAA. Larsen: It seems to me that there’s a fundamental argument going on here— Scovel: Yeah. Larsen: —that says we have to go to privatization because the system is broken that actually controls the airspace. And if it’s broken, I don’t know how it can be safe, and so it would support the privatization argument. However, if it can’t be safe and broken, it would seem to undermine the whole argument for privatization. Scovel: I would characterize the system currently, it certainly is safe, and the record shows that. For a number of years now, no commercial aviation fatal accidents. As far as broken, I would take issue with that characterization. I would say certainly modernization has been lagging far behind where it should be, but it’s not broken. Larsen: Well, that’s good to hear. I’ll cancel my car rental. 1:31:37 Joseph Brown: I don’t think the comparison of our national airspace and management system to Canada is anything other than an exercise in gleaning some observations, but it’s not proper to directly compare. I mean, for sure, in our system we’re driving a much more substantial portion of our economy out of the aviation sector and the airspace that supports it. I mean, we have 10 times more pilots, 50,000 flights a day—it’s a wholly different organization. So for me, when I think about Canada, I believe that they made a choice that they thought suited their purposes with the role of aviation and its infrastructure, but we’re faced with entirely different objectives here, and as far as I’m concerned, the system that we’ve been living in has done a masterful job of adjudicating all of the interests of stakeholders, all the interests of our expansive country and the states that are in it and their needs, and so I can applaud things they’ve done that have worked for their country, but I also very much applaud things we’ve done in our country. And I would take exception to one thing Ms. Robyn said, which is she characterized our system as a laggard. That is just false. We have the technology deployed in our system today that no other country can rival. We lead in our NextGen initiative. So I’m pretty proud of where we are, and by the way, I know it because I fly it. It’s not a mystery, and it’s not a theory. 1:34:15 Calvin Scovel: As you know, my office looked at the air traffic control organizations for the other four countries. And we were told by officials in those organizations that they consider part of their borrowing authority to be leveragable or to be recognized by private lenders because, ultimately, should something drastic go wrong, the government would step in behind them. I’m not representing that that would be the case here—that’s your policy call to make—I’m simply relaying what officials for other air traffic control organizations have told us about their systems. Rep Albio Sires: So, in those four countries, they were on the hook? Is that what you’re saying? Scovel: Conceivably, they may be. 1:38:50 Rep Mark Meadows: Why would you suggest that the federal government can do something more efficiently than, perhaps, private stakeholders? Joseph Brown: You know, my calculus— Meadows: Can the federal government run your business better than you do? Brown: I would hope not. Meadows: I would hope not either, so why would you suggest that they can do that here? Brown: Well, because we’re talking about a range of interests here that’s much larger than my business. I mean, my business, I get to pick my product, I get to pick my customers, I get to decide what I think the value proposition is, I get course corrected by competition— Meadows: And it’s efficient that way, right? Brown: Yeah, but the— Meadows: So what if we had stakeholders who were making the same exact decisions that you’re making, with some parameters that are out there, wouldn’t you think that that would be more efficient? Brown: Actually, you’ve outlined my top concern which is that if this organization picks their customers and picks their service level and picks their product— Meadows: But, but— Brown: —they are no longer going— Meadows: But the chairman’s— Brown: —to pay taxes on public— Meadows: —already said that that can’t happen. We have an airspace that is available to everybody. Unknown Speaker: Gentleman’s time’s expired. Meadows: Thank you for [unclear] point. Unknown Speaker: Mr. Brown, you can finish, if you wish. Brown: I believe that I’ve made my point which is that the thing about this enterprise, one of the things that I’m concerned with is that it’s a coalition of stakeholders with a shared purpose which is to serve their own ends. And the thing that I like about the federal role in our airspace today is that is adjudicates an enormous diversity of needs in this community, whether it’s the Alaskan pilot who’s flying kids to school or whether it’s my business in Ohio or air tractors in Olney, Texas, they all have a seat at the table, and this has been demonstrated in this room today. Meadows: Yeah, my time has expired. 1:49:30 Dorothy Robyn: The FAA is two hatted; it does two very different things. It regulates all aspects of aviation, and that is an inherently governmental activity. You cannot write a contract that makes it possible for the private sector to carry that out. It requires judgment calls that the private sector can’t make. It also operates in the air traffic control system. There is nothing government—that is not inherently governmental; that is operational. That is no different than when GSA goes to the private sector and has them build a building. It is not an inherently governmental activity. The idea that, yes, the regulatory part of the FFA needs help. That part needs help. I agree with Mr. Brown. The idea, though, that in order to fix that, you don’t spin off the non-governmental part; that’s illogical to me. That’s exactly what you want to do—spin off the non-inherently governmental parts so that the FAA can stick to its knitting, focus on the regulatory function. 2:23:25 Rep Lloyd Smucker: Can you explain why you believe a regulated air traffic service provider would be outside of democratic oversight? Joseph Brown: It’s my understanding that this would be empowered as a business that can effectively decide what it invests in, how much it borrows, what technologies it picks, maybe what— Smucker: But still with congressional oversight. Brown: Well, are we going to have a committee for how they spend their money and what they invest in and where they deploy pappies and vassies and where they put up the next Data Community tower? Because if we are, why would we carve it out? 2:31:00 Rep John Duncan: I chaired the aviation subcommittee for six years, from 1995 until 2001, and Speaker Gingrich asked me to hold the first hearings on the proposed air traffic control corporation—Ms. Robyn, I think, will remember that—and at that point, I think almost everybody, maybe with the exception of Mr. Poole, was opposed to it and so forth. But the chairman, Chairman Shuster’s done an amazing job and now has brought some groups and people on board that were not in favor of this proposal at the time. 3:11:34 Paul Rinaldi: September will be here before we know it. We will be looking at another possible government shutdown, and as I said in my opening statement, as we lead up to a shutdown, the FAA turns their attention from NextGen or from UAV implementation to shutdown procedures. For the last 10 years, it happens a couple times a year, and we lose this time; and it’s four or five weeks leading up to it, five weeks on the back end of it, and they’re not sure what sequester is going to bring us if we actually do get a budget and do get a bill passed or what type of cuts we’re going to have into the aviation system. Hearing: Airline Customer Service, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, May 2, 2017. Witnesses William McGee, Consumers Union Aviation Consultant Scott Kirby, United Airlines President Timestamps & Transcripts 2:34:43 Rep Dina Titus: We’ve heard all this kind of ranting about how bad the airlines are and all these unfortunate experiences, and yet pretty soon this committee is set to consider a proposal to privatize air traffic control and hand over billions of dollars’ worth of investment and assets to a private corporation that’s going to be controlled by y’all, by the airlines, and then you’ll be able to run it as you see fit. Now, I’m opposed to that for a number of reasons, primarily because of how it’s going to leave customers kind of in the lurch, but my question is, what do you have to show that means you’re going to be able to take over this corporation and do well by your customers from that angle any better than you do from your angle that you are now? For example, there’re questions like, how much is the traveler going to have to pay to this corporation; what kind of things have you done at your airline in terms of routing that might be better that you’ll do through this corporation; terms of investment and technology, management decisions; what have you done about your own scheduling? All of those questions that have seemed to be criticized today, how are they going to translate into your being able to control air traffic control system through a private board? So, maybe y’all could just tell me some of the things you’re doing that would make an argument for why you should control that aspect of airlines as well. Scott Kirby: Well, thank you for the question, Congressman. And we believe that one of the ways we can actually help our customers is through ATC privatization. The worst thing we do to our customers is the long delays and cancellations. And those lead to customer service problems, they lead to the customer that gets to McCarran and is upset, and we want to fix that. And the FAA is a fantastic partner, and they want to fix that as well, but they’re handicapped today by the model, by the model where they do annual budgets, where investing for the future and the kinds of investments we need to make for the future are hard for the FAA to do in the normal course of business in the government. And the kinds of things that we could do to make the process better is, for example, you have more sophisticated GPS technology in your car than we use on aircraft today. We have these systems, and we could fly straight-line routes, but we still fly zigzag to highways in the sky to get from Washington to Las Vegas. We could do things like continuous-descent approaches. So today we’re at 35,000 feet, we step down in each one. It’s like driving your car and slamming on the accelerator and then hitting the brake, slamming on the accelerator—and we burn gas, and we take more time. All of that could allow us to fly shorter paths and get our customers there quicker. And we believe it’s one of the best things we could do for customer service is to reform the ATC program, and one of the best ways to do that is FAA privatization, not because the FAA is doing a bad job—they do a wonderful job—but the process is designed to be difficult and particularly for making long-term investments. 3:58:43 Rep Peter DeFazio: The question would be, well, now if we give control of the air traffic system to the airlines—effective control—four seats on a 13-person board, what do you think that means for customers and efficiency? William McGee: Well, it’s going to be particularly hard felt in the high-density airports and the busiest airports in the country. Now, I mean, what you just said is obviously a critical-enough issue: 17 flights scheduled at the same time. But underlining that is another problem that hasn’t really been discussed and that is the outsourcing—and it is outsourcing; the airlines call it partnering—but outsourcing of mainline flights to regional carriers. Up until recently, I don’t know if it’s still on there, but the Regional Airline Association on its homepage posted about the fact that not only more than 50% of all domestic departures operated by regionals on behalf of major carriers, but in addition they boasted of the fact that most of the departures every morning between New York and Washington, two of the busiest airports, not just in the country but on the planet—LaGuardia and Washington National—are operated by regionals. So, we have to ask ourselves, is that the best use of those slots to use smaller aircraft on some of the highest— DeFazio: So you’re saying that just because you’ve got a small aircraft and basically, maybe, you can follow it a tiny bit more closely, a little bit more closely, but because of wake turbulence, you’re taking up, basically, a slot with 60 people on board versus a slot with 180 people on board. McGee: Absolutely. I mean, I’m rusty on some of these issues; it’s been a long time since I worked as an airline dispatcher. But the bottom line is that, as they used to say, all metal requires x amount of space between it. So whether it’s a large aircraft or a small aircraft, there are differences with wake turbulence and things like that. But the bottom line is, again, are we using—these are public resources, let’s remember. These are not airline resources. The slots, they belong to the public. They’re treated as if they were private domain—but are we using them to the best ability in many ways, not just in terms of safety and efficiency but also in terms of the carbon footprint? 4:01:50 William McGee: And I think we also want to ask, well, why would they do that? Now, the response often comes from the airlines that customers prefer high frequency to consolidating flights. But there’s also another factor that doesn’t get discussed as much and that is the competition factor. In other words, if you have scarce slots at LaGuardia and you’re trying to prevent the competition from low-cost carriers, then use more frequencies out of those airports. Again, these are the most high ensity airports that we’re talking about. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Congress is back from vacation and instead of focusing their investigative power on Syria in the wake of President Trump’s first bombing of the Syrian government, Congress focused on North Korea. In this episode, get the background information you will need to understand the daily developments related to North Korea and hear highlights from two Senate Armed Services Committee hearings and a U.N. Security Council meeting during which our plans for North Korea were laid on the table. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD136: Building WWIII Additional Reading Article: Here's what's driving North Korea's nuclear program - and it might be more than self-defense by Jonathan Kaiman, The Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2017. Article: As Economy Grows, North Korea's Grip on Society Is Tested by Choe Sang-Hun, The New York Times, April 30, 2017. Article: McCain plans gains momentum amid North Korea threats by Rebecca Kheel, The Hill, April 30, 2017. Article: N. Korean missile test fails hours after UN meeting on nukes by Foster Klug and Kim Tong-Hyung, San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2017. Article: China Calls for Restraint on North Korea as USS Carl Vinson Arrives by Petra Cahill, NBC News, April 24, 2017. Article: Lawmakers' Letters Endorse McCain Plan To Reinforce Pacific, Assist Asian Allies by Sydney J. Freedberg Jr, Breaking Defense, March 2, 2017. Report: U.S.-South Korea Relations by Congressional Research Service, October 20, 2016. Article: Rare earth mineral reserves were discovered in North Korea - and it could be a game-changer by Sam Doo, Business Insider, April 20, 2015. Article: Understanding Kim John Un, The World's Most Enigmatic and Unpredictable Dictator by Mark Bowden, Vanity Fair, March 2015. Article: All the Previous Declarations of War by Garance Franke-Ruta, The Atlantic, August 31, 2013. Article: The Case for Countering China's Rise by Martin Jacques, The New York Times, September 23, 2011. Videos YouTube: Why Korea Split Into North and South Korea Vice: Inside North Korea Part 1 Vice: Inside North Korea Part 2 Vice: Inside North Korea Part 3 YouTube:VICE on HBO Season One: The Hermit Kingdom YouTube: Channel West Coast - I Love Money YouTube: Donald Trump Says "China" Remix Song YouTube: Donald Trump Says China Remix References Document: Security Council Resolution 83 GovTrack: H.R. 1644: Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act Lockheed Martin: Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Missile Defense Agency: THAAD Fact Sheet OpenSecrets: Lockheed Martin Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: 2015 Contributors and Funders Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Policy and Strategy in the Asia-Pacific, United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, April 25, 2017. Watch on CSPAN Witnesses Dr. Victor D. Cha: Senior Advisor and Korea Chair, Center For Strategic and International Studies CSIS Bio Georgetown University Profile White House Website Bio Dr. Aaron L. Friedberg: Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University Princeton University Profile Princeton News - Deputy National Security Advisor to VP Dick Cheney Ms. Kelly E. Magsamen: Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Office of the Secretary of Defense LinkedIn Profile Twitter Account Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Profile Timestamps & Transcripts 18:52 Senator John McCain: America’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region are deep and enduring. That’s why, for the past 70 years, we’ve worked with our allies and partners to uphold a rules-based order based on principles of free peoples and free markets, open seas, and open skies, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. These ideas have produced unprecedented peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. But now challenges to this rules-based order are mounting as a threat, not just the nations of the Asia-Pacific region but the United States as well. The most immediate challenge is the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong-un’s regime has thrown its full weight behind its quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, and, unfortunately, the regime is making real progress. A North Korean missile with a nuclear payload capable of striking an American city is no longer a distant hypothetical but an imminent danger, one that poses a real and rising risk of conflict. 31:20 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: The goal of Beijing’s strategy has become increasingly clear in the last few years is to create a regional Eurasian order that’s very different from the one we’d been trying to build since the end of the Cold War. 32:03 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: When the Cold War ended, the United States set out to expand the geographic scope of the Western liberal economic and institutional order by integrating the pieces of the former Soviet Union and the former Soviet empire and by accelerating the integration of China—the process that had begun a few years before. As regards China, the United States pursued a two-prong strategy: on one hand, seeking to engage China across all domains, economic in particular but diplomatic in others; and at the same time, working with our allies and partners and maintaining our own forces in the region to preserve a balance of power that was favorable to our interests and the security of our allies. And the goals of that policy were to preserve stability, to deter the possibility of aggression, while waiting for engagement to work its magic. The U.S. hoped, in effect, to tame and ultimately to transform China, to encourage its leaders to see their interests as lying in preservation of that order, and to set in motion processes that would lead, eventually, to the economic and political liberalization of that country. 37:53 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: Economically, they’ve been using the growing gravitational pull of their economy to draw others towards them and also to become increasingly open in using economic threats and punishments to try to shape the behavior of others in the region, including U.S. allies; as Dr. Cha mentioned, Korea; and also the Philippines. 42:27 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: And while there’s obviously a limit to what we can and should say in public, we are at a point, I think, where we need to be able to explain to our allies, our possible adversaries, and ourselves how we would fight and win a war in Asia, should that ever become necessary. 45:50 Kelly Magsamen: First, we need to increase the pressure on North Korea as a necessary predicate to any other option. China is central to that, but we can’t rely only on Chinese pressure. We also need to be realistic. Kim Jong-un is not going to unilaterally disarm because of international pressure. Pressure alone is not going to solve the problem. Second, military options should remain on the table, but they are extremely high risk and should be a last resort. We should not kid ourselves here: a conflict on the peninsula would be unlike anything we have seen in decades. North Korea is not a Syria, it’s not an Iraq; the consequences could be extremely high. 55:51 Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: I think it would be very helpful for the administration to support your initiative, Senator McCain, with respect to the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative. In fact, urgent funding at levels that approximate those are for the European Reassurance Initiative. 56:32 Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: In the near term, this will require shifting additional combat power to the theater, remedying shortfalls in critical munitions, expanding logistics’ capabilities, increasing joint exercises and training, and improving force resiliency by enabling a more dispersed deployment posture. But the longer term is just as crucial, and the demands of the longer term cannot be avoided indefinitely. Here, I believe, bipartisan support will be necessary for developing and rapidly integrating various revolutionary technologies into the joint force—technologies that will emphasize stealth, long-range, and unmanned capabilities as well as doubling down on our advantages in undersea warfare. 1:05:47 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: China’s been playing a game with us, for at least 15 years, on this issue. When we get especially concerned about what the North Koreans are doing, and we go to the Chinese and ask them for their help, what they’ve done in the past is to apply limited increments of pressure—they did it in 2003 to get the North Koreans to agree to sit down, what became six-party talks—but at the same time, almost simultaneously, as Victor suggests, they’re enabling the North Korean regime to continue by allowing continued economic exchange across their border. The Chinese have also allowed, or the Chinese authorities have at least looked aside as Chinese-based companies have exported to North Korea components that were essential to the development of their ballistic missiles, and probably other parts of their special-weapons programs. I’m not at all optimistic that the Chinese are going to play a different game with us now than they did in the past. One thing I would add, though: aside from military pressure, which for reasons that you suggest, Senator McCain, is I think of questionable plausibility, there are ways in which we could increase economic pressure on the North Korean regime, particularly by imposing further economic sanctions and especially financial sanctions. We did that in the Bush administration. I think it was actually something that caused a good deal of pain. We backed away from it for various reasons. I think it was a mistake to have done that. One of the reasons, my understanding, that we haven’t been willing to push on this harder is that it probably would involve sanctioning entities that are based in China, and I think we’ve been reluctant to do that because of our concerns about upsetting the relationship with China. I think if we’re going to be serious about this, we probably are going to have to go down that road. 1:08:37 Kelly Magsamen: Now is the time to try to make China understand that the status quo is worse for them than all other scenarios, and to do that, I think we need to hold their interests at risk, and what I mean by that is somewhat of what Dr. Friedberg said, which is we need to really think hard about secondary sanctions on Chinese banks. I actually think we should go out and do it now. I don’t think we should actually wait. I don’t think that holding it in advance is actually going to induce Chinese cooperation. So now is the time to demonstrate to China that we’re serious in that regard. 1:15:45 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: There is in the long run—I hesitate to use this term because it’s fallen into disfavor for good and bad reasons—but the ultimate solution to this problem is regime change unless and until there’s a change in the character of the North Korean regime and certainly the identity of the current leadership. There’s absolutely no prospect that I can see that this problem will get better. 1:26:05 Dr. Ashley J. Tellis: We cannot do anything else without exhausting the alternatives offered by diplomacy because dealing with North Korea, at the end of the day, will require a coalition effort, and we have to satisfy the expectations of our coalition partners that we’ve made every effort in the interim to deal with the challenge. And so we have to think of it in terms of a multi-step game. As Dr. Cha highlighted, the immediate objective should be to get the North Korean regime back to the negotiating table. The ultimate objective must be to hope that there will be evolutionary change in the regime. 2:07:45 Dr. Aaron Friedberg: If you ask what would be the sort of outer limit of what China could do— Unknown Speaker: Mm-hmm. Friedberg: —assuming that it was willing to do almost anything, it could bring North Korean economy to its knees, which it’s pretty close to that already; it could cut off the flows of funds that go across the border into North Korea, partly from the so-called illicit activities that the North Koreans engage in; it could interdict components that flow into North Korea through China that support the special-weapons programs; it could do a lot. Hearing: United States Pacific Command and United States Forces Korea, United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, April 27, 2017. Witness Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN: Commander, United States Pacific Command Timestamps & Transcripts 16:44 John McCain: America’s interests in the Asia-Pacific region are deep and enduring. That’s why, for the past 70 years, we’ve worked with our allies and partners to uphold a rules-based order based on the principles of free peoples and free markets, open seas, and open skies, and the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. These ideas have produced unprecedented peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. But now challenges to this rules-based order are mounting, and they threaten not just the nations of the Asia-Pacific region but the United States as well. The most immediate threat is the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong-un’s regime has thrown its full weight behind its quest for nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, and, unfortunately, the regime is making real progress. A North Korean missile with a nuclear payload capable of striking an American city is no longer a distant hypothetical but an imminent danger, one that poses a real and rising risk of conflict. 19:47 John McCain: As its behavior toward South Korea indicates over the last several years, China has acted less and less like a responsible stakeholder of the rules-based order in the region and more like a bully. It has economically coerced its neighbors, increased its provocations in the East China Sea, and militarized the South China Sea. Meanwhile, with a rebalance policy too heavy on rhetoric and too light on action, years of senseless defense cuts and now the disastrous decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, U.S. policy has failed to adapt to the scale and velocity of China’s challenge to the rules-based order. 21:44 John McCain: At our hearing earlier this week, our panel of expert witnesses agreed there was a strong merit for an “Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative.” This Initiative could enhance U.S. military power through targeted funding to realign our force posture in a region, improve operationally relevant infrastructure, fund additional exercises, pre-position equipment, and build capacity with our allies and partners. Admiral Harris, I’m eager to hear your thoughts on this kind of an initiative. 24:26 Senator Jack Reed: While North Korea poses an immediate national security threat, we must not lose sight of the potential long-term threat that China poses to the rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific region. Whether it be economic coercion of its small and more vulnerable neighbors or undermining the freedom of navigation that we all depend upon, China has not demonstrated a willingness to rise as a responsible global leader. Therefore, I believe it is critical that we empower and engage countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia to protect their own waterways and provide them with economical alternatives to maintain regional stability, preserve U.S. standing in Asia, and allow the economic growth and stability that has characterized the region for the last 50 years to continue. 35:41 John McCain: What does THAAD do for us? Admiral Harris: THAAD enables us and our South Korean allies to defend South Korea, or a big portion of South Korea, against the threat from North Korea. It is aimed at North Korea, the systems, and it poses no threat to China. McCain: But isn’t it incredibly difficult to counter the 4,000 artillery pieces that the North Koreans have on the DMZ, which could attack a city of 26 million people? Harris: It is, sir, and THAAD is not designed to counter those kinds of basic weapons. McCain: And what is designed to do that? Anything? Harris: We do not have those kinds of weapons that can counter those rockets once they’re launched. McCain: And they can launch—they have the capability of a launch of those rockets. Harris: At this very moment, they have that capability, Senator. 1:02:00 Senator Roger Wicker: There are these 4,000 short-range missiles, and your testimony is that there is essentially no defense from the south for those— Admiral Harris: Right. Wicker: —short-range missiles. Is that correct? Harris: And those aren’t missiles. Those are mostly artillery. Wicker: Artillery. Okay. Artillery. Harris: And so— Wicker: And there's no defense? Harris: Right. I mean, you’re trying to shoot down an artillery round, right. Wicker: Okay. And then, the chairman asked you, and I don’t think I understood the answer, what does THAAD get us? Harris: THAAD allows us an intercept capability to shoot down, at the high-altitude level, ballistic missiles that go from North Korea to South Korea. 1:57:37 Admiral Harris: What we said was, the Carl Vinson was leaving Singpore, truncating its exercise, cancelling is port visit, and heading to Northeast Asia. Unknown Speaker: But— Harris: And that’s where it is today. It’s within striking power, striking range of North Korea if the president were to call on it. 2:16:17 Senator Lindsay Graham: It should be the policy of the United States to never allow North Korea to develop an ICBM with a warhead that could hit America. Admiral Harris: I believe that’s correct. Graham: Okay. Do you believe that the only way they’ll change that policy, their desire, is if they believe that the regime could be taken down by us if they continue to develop an ICBM? Without credible military threat in the mind of the North Koreans they’re going to plow ahead? Harris: I believe that generally, but I believe that China might be able to exert its influence. Graham: Do you believe China could change North Korea’s behavior, absent a belief by North Korea, that we would use military force to stop their ICBM program? Harris: I do not. Graham: Okay. Do you believe that China would act stronger and more bold if they believe credible military force was on the table to stop North Korea? Harris: I do. Graham: So, it seems to me that the policy of the United States, given the admiral’s advice and you are really good at what you do, that we should all agree that it’s not good for America for North Korea to have an ICBM with a warhead attached, and it’s really not good for China, is it? Harris: I believe it is not good for China. Graham: Well, why don’t they believe that? Harris: Because they have their own calculus, their own decision process. Graham: Do you think they’re beginning to reshape their calculus in light of our reaction to North Korea? Harris: I hope so, but it’s early days. Graham: Okay. In terms of China’s leverage on North Korea, you said it was substantial. Harris: Their leverage is potentially substantial. Graham: Substantial. The best way to avoid a military conflict with North Korea over their missile program is for China to wake up North Korea to the reality of what threat that presents to North Korea and China. Is that fair to say? Harris: That is fair to say. Graham: Is it also fair to say that we do not have any intentions of invading North Korea at all? I mean, that’s not on our—nobody’s told you, “Get ready to invade North Korea.” Harris: That is not fair to say, sir. I believe the president has said that all options are on the table. Graham: Yeah, but, I mean, we’re not going to just go in and take North Korea down for the heck of it. Harris: Sir, I don’t want to get into what we could or could not do. Graham: Okay. Well, North Korea thinks we’re going to invade in any moment. Do you think that’s part of our national security strategy is, without provocation to attack North Korea? Harris: I think North Korea has provided provocation already in terms of— Graham: But without provocation, it’s not our policy to attack North Korea. Harris: They have provoked us already, sir. Graham: Yeah, I said but if they stopped it, they don’t have anything to worry about. Harris: Then we will have to look at it. You know, that’s a decision— Graham: That's all I'm saying. Harris: That’s a decision that the president would make. UN Security Council Meeting: Secretary Tillerson Chairs UN Security Council Meeting on Denuclearization of North Korea, April 28, 2017. Timestamps & Transcripts 2:00 Antonio Guterres (UN Secretary General): The Security Council first adopted the resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, nuclear issue in 1993 when it urged the DPRK not to withdraw from the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Twenty-four years later and despite extensive efforts, the challenge has defied resolution. In response to the DPRK’s accelerated nuclear and ballistic missile activities, the Security Council has adopted two sanctions resolutions and met 11 times in emergency consultations since January 2016. During this period, the DPRK conducted two nuclear tests, more than 30 launches using ballistic missile technology, and various other activities relating to the nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Its launches using ballistic-missile technology, have included tests of short, medium, intermediate range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles as well as the placement of a satellite in orbit. These tests and launches are clear violations of Security Council resolutions, and the absence of coordination and notifications in advance of these launches, other than the space launch of 7 February 2016, are also contrary to internationally accepted regulations and standards adopted by the International Maritime Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization. 11:30 Secretary Rex Tillerson: We have said this before, and it bears repeating: the policy of strategic patience is over. Additional patience will only mean acceptance of a nuclear North Korea. The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it. 12:27 Secretary Rex Tillerson: Our goal is not regime change nor do we desire to threaten the North Korean people or destabilize the Asia-Pacific region. Over the years we have withdrawn our own nuclear weapons from South Korea and offered aid to North Korea as proof of our intent to de-escalate the situation and normalize relations. Since 1995 the United States has provided over $1.3 billion in aid to North Korea, and we look forward to resuming our contributions once the DPRK begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile technology programs. 13:35 Secretary Rex Tillerson: I propose all nations take these three actions, beginning today: first, we call on UN member states to fully implement the commitments they have made regarding North Korea. This includes all measures required in resolutions 2321 and 2270. Those nations which have not fully enforced these resolutions fully discredit this body. Second, we call on countries to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with North Korea. North Korea exploits its diplomatic privileges to fund its illicit nuclear and missile technology programs, and constraining its diplomatic activity will cut off a flow of needed resources. In light of North Korea’s recent actions, normal relations with the DPRK are simply not acceptable. Third, we must increase North Korea’s financial isolation. We must levy new sanctions on DPRK entities and individuals supporting its weapons and missile programs, and tighten those that are already in place. The United States, also, would much prefer countries and people in question to own up to their lapses and correct their behavior themselves, but we will not hesitate to sanction third-country entities and individuals supporting the DPRK’s illegal activities. We must bring maximum economic pressure by severing trade relationships that directly fund the DPRK’s nuclear missile program. I call on the international community to suspend the flow of North Korean guest workers and to impose bans on North Korean imports, especially coal. We must all do our share, but China, accounting for 90 percent of North Korean trade, China alone has economic leverage over Pyongyang that is unique, and its role is, therefore, particularly important. The U.S. and China have held very productive exchanges on this issue, and we look forward to further actions that build on what China has already done. Lastly, as we have said before, all options for responding to future provocation must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial levers of power will be backed up by a willingness to counteract North Korean aggression, with military action if necessary. 36:02 Wang Yi (China's Minister of Foreign Affairs): Mr. President, China is not the focal point of the problem on the peninsula. I think the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese. 37:05 Wang Yi: The dual-track approach aims to promote parallel progress in the denuclearization of the peninsula and the establishment of a peace mechanism on the peninsula in a synchronized and reciprocal manner, ultimately achieving both goals together. The suspension-for-suspension proposal, which calls for the suspension of nuclear and missile activities by the DPRK and the suspension of large-scale military exercises by the U.S. and the ROK, seeks to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table, thus initiating the first step of the dual-track approach. 40:25 Wang Yi: Given the grave situation on the peninsula, China strongly urges all parties to remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid provocative rhetoric or actions that will lead to miscalculation. What I want to stress is that there is and should be no double standard on this issue. While we demand the DPRK to observe the Council’s resolutions and stop advancing its nuclear and missile development, we also demand the U.S., the ROK, and other parties to refrain from conducting or even expanding military exercises and deployment against the DPRK. 41:06 Wang Yi: All parties should comprehensively appreciate and fully implement DPRK related Security Council’s resolutions, in addition to introducing sanctions on the DPRK, the resolutions adopted do date also ask for resumption of the six-party talks, avoidance of acceleration of tensions, not to mention [unclear], in other words, imposing sanctions [unclear] talks about the [unclear] Council resolutions. We may not choose one over the other. We’ll only implement what we see fit. 42:30 Wang Yi: Before I conclude, I want to reiterate China’s firm opposition against a U.S. deployment of THAAD anti-missile system in the ROK. It’s a move that seriously undermines the strategic security of China and other countries in the region and damages the trust and the cooperation amongst the parties on the peninsula issue. It is detrimental to achieving denuclearization and maintaining long-term stability on the peninsula. China was again urges [unclear] parties to immediately stop the deployment process. 2:03:05 Secretary Rex Tillerson: We will not negotiate our way back to the negotiating table with North Korea. We will not reward their violations of past resolutions. We will not reward their bad behavior with talks. We will only engage in talks with North Korea when they exhibit a good-faith commitment to abiding by the Security Council resolutions and their past promises to end their nuclear programs. Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Puerto Rico is in trouble and only the U.S. Congress can help the island of U.S. citizens. Does the bill quickly moving through Congress actually help Puerto Rico? Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! H.R. 5278: "Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act" (PROMESA) Bill Highlights Definitions "Territorial instrumentality": "Any political subdivision, public agency, instrumentality - including any instrumentality that is also a bank - or public corporation of a territory, and this term should be broadly construed to effectuate the purposes of this Act." Title 1: Establishment and Organization of Oversight Board Purpose: "To provide a method for a covered territory to achieve fiscal responsibility and access tot he capital markets." Constitutional Justification for the Board Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution "Provides Congress the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations for territories." Records Access The Oversight Board will have the power to demand budgets from any public agency. The Oversight Board has the power to exclude any public agency from the requirements of this law. Oversight Board Membership Seven unpaid members appointed by the President. Six of the selections will be from lists created by Congress. Two people must be selected from two different lists submitted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Two people must be picked from a list created by the Majority Leader of the Senate One person must be selected from a list created by the House Minority Leader One person must be selected from a list created by the Senate Minority Leader One person will be picked by the President Only one person on the board has to be a territory resident or "have a primary place of business in the territory" The appointments must be done by September 15, 2016 The Governor, or his designee, will be an "ex officio member" with no voting rights. Term of service: 3 years Removal: Can be done by the President "only for cause" Expired terms: The member can serve until someone else is appointed. Consecutive terms are allowed Member Qualifications Must have "knowledge and expertise in finance, municipal bond markets, management, law, or the organization or operation of business or government" No one who has worked for the territory's government is allowed on the Oversight Board Rules for the Oversight Board The Oversight Board will write the laws governing it's own activities The work of the Oversight Board can be privatized Majority Rule Needed To: Approve of fiscal plans Approve a budget To waive a law To approve or disapprove an infrastructure project Territorial Laws The Oversight Board can change the territory's laws "with the greatest degree of independence practicable" The Oversight Board may conduct their business behind closed doors. Paid Staff Executive Director The Board will determine his/her salary The Executive Director can hire as many staff members as he wants and decide how much they get paid, as long as none of them get more than he does. Gifts Are allowed but need to be publicly disclosed Exemption from Laws "The Executive Director and staff of the Oversight Board may be appointed and paid without regard to any provision of the laws of the covered territory or the Federal Government governing appointments and salaries. Any provision of the laws of the covered territory governing procurement shall not apply to the Oversight Board." Powers of the Oversight Board Data Collection The Oversight Board "shall have the right to secure copies, whether written or electronic, of such records, documents, information, data, or metadata from the territorial government" The banks can voluntarily submit information about how much money they think they're owed Subpeona Power Failure to obey an Oversight Board will be punished in court according to territorial laws. Strikes Prohibited The Oversight Board must "ensure prompt enforcement" of any territorial laws "prohibiting public sector employees from participating in a strike or lockout Lawsuits Against the Board Any legal action against the Oversight Board must be filed in a United States district court for the territory, or in the US District Court for Hawaii if that territory doesn't have one. The courts are not allowed to consider challenges to the Oversight Board's certification determinations Oversight Board Funding The Oversight Board will be funded by the permanent budget of the territory in an amount chosen by the Oversight Board. Until the territory creates the law providing permanent funding, the territory must transfer whatever the Oversight Board requests in its budget - at least 2 million dollars per month - to a fund controlled by the Oversight Board. The Oversight Board will have the ability to give some money back Oversight of the Oversight Board The territory is prohibited from exercising any oversight of the Oversight Board activities or from enacting any law related to the Oversight Board that "defeat the purposes of this Act" Title II: Responsibilities of the Oversight Board Approval of Fiscal Plans Fiscal plans submitted by the Governor will have to get certification from the Oversight Board. A fiscal plan developed by the Oversight Board will be deemed approved by the Governor Approval of Budgets If the Governor and Legislature don't have a budget certified by the first day of the fiscal year, the Oversight Board's budget will be deemed approved. Contract Reviews The Oversight Board can require review of government to government contracts that compete with the private sector "to ensure such proposed contracts promote market competition" Sense of Congress: Territorial government should be a "facilitator and not a competitor to private enterprise' If a "contract, rule, regulation, or executive order" fails to comply with Oversight Board policies, the Oversight Board can prevent "execution and enforcement of the contract, rule, executive order, or regulation." The Oversight Board will be able to rescind any law enacted between May 4, 2016 and the day all members and the Chair of the Oversight Board are appointed. They can't rescind laws that comply with a court order, implement a Federal Government program, implement laws that match Oversight Board policies, or maintain Federally funded mass transportation assets. The Oversight Board is allowed to make recommendations to change how pensions are paid to government employees and to transfer government services and entities to the private sector The Board will have the authority to cut budgets for services, institute hiring freezes, and cut off agencies from making financial transactions. Approval of debt restructuring plans Will need the approval of 5/7 Oversight Board members As long as the Oversight Board is in operation, the territorial government can't make any transactions related to it's debt. Termination of Oversight Board The territory needs to balance its budget for 4 consecutive years and the Oversight Board must certify that the banks are willing to lend to the territorial government No Full Faith & Credit of the United States The territories' debt is not backed by and will not be paid by the United States. Title III: Adjustments of Debts Allows Puerto Rico to have some ability under Chapter 11 (the bankruptcy chapter) to restructure it's debt. Banks ("creditors") that don't consent to a payment moritorium will not be bound by it. Title IV: Miscellaneous Minimum Wage Allows the Governor of Puerto Rico to [lower the minimum wage to $4.25/hr for new employees under age 25 until the Oversight Board is terminated, not more than four years. Lawsuit Freeze Lawsuits against Puerto Rico for repayment are prohibited from the day of enactment of this law until February 15, 2017 or six months after the Oversight Board is created. Title V: Puerto Rico Infrastructure Revitalization Revitalization Coordinator There will be a Revitalization Coordinator under the command of the Oversight Board, who will be appointed by the Governor from a list of three names selected by the Oversight Board. The Revitalization Coordinator must have experience in the planning, predevelopment, financing, development, operations, engineering, or market participation of infrastructure projects who isn't currently contracting with the government of Puerto Rico and was not a former government employee after 2012. The Revitalization Coordinator will be paid no more than the Executive Director. Project Assessments Will include how the project contributes "to transitioning to privatize generation capacities in Puerto Rico" Expedited Permits Relevant agencies of Puerto Rico's government need to create an expedited permitting process for the infrastructure projects declared "critical" by the Revitalization Coordinator. The expedited permitting processes will be operated as if the Governor had declared an emergency under Puerto Rican law. "Any transactions, processes, projects, works, or programs essential to the completion of a Critical Project shall continue to be processed and completed under such Expedited Permitting Process regardless of the termination of the Oversight Board" If a project is determined by "the Planning Board" to likely affect the implementation of existing Puerto Rican land use plans or an approved Integrated Resource Plan, the project will be "deemed ineligible" for Critical Project designation. The Oversight Board can waive any law that would "adversely impact the Expedited Permitting Process Limited Access to Courts Lawsuits against a "critical project" must be brought within 30 days of the decision the lawsuit would challenge. Vote June 9, 2016: Passed the House of Representatives 297-127 Sound Clip Sources TV Episode: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Puerto Rico (HBO), April 17 2016. TV Episode: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories (HBO), March 8, 2015. Hearing: H.R. 5278 Full Committee Markup, House Committee on Natural Resources, May 25, 2016. Hearing: H.R. 5278 Full Committee Markup, House Committee on Natural Resources, May 24, 2016. Hearing: Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis and Its Impact on the Bond Markets, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, February 25, 2016. Hearing: Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Problems: Examining the Source and Exploring the Solution, United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, December 1, 2015. Hearing: The Broken State of Puerto Rico, Senate Judiciary Committee, December 1, 2015. Additional Reading Article: Democrats Could Slow Passage of Puerto Rico Rescue Bill By Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press, ABC News, June 21, 2016. Article: Hedge Funds Sue Puerto Rico in N.Y. Over Fiscal Crisis Law By Erik Larson, Bloomberg, June 21, 2016. Article: Supreme Court Says No to Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Law By Rachel Greszler, The Daily Signal, June 13, 2016. Article: Supreme Court rules Puerto Rico can't restructure debt By Lydia Wheeler, The Hill, June 13, 2016. Article: Congress’ Proposal to Restrict Legal Proceedings in Puerto Rico Debt Crisis Could Trigger Chaos By Rachel Greszler and Salim Furth, The Daily Signal, June 8, 2016. Article: Bernie Sanders leads liberals’ fight against Puerto Rico rescue bill By Mike DeBonis, The Washington Post, May 23, 2016. Articles: News about Tea Party Movement, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times, The New York Times, Last Updated May 23, 2016. Article: The Vultures’ Vultures: How A New Hedge-Fund Strategy Is Corrupting Washington By Ryan Grim and Paul Blumenthal, The Huffington Post, May 13, 2016. Articles: News about Mutual Funds and E.T.F.'s, including commentary and archival articles published in The New York Times, The New York Times, Last Updated May 7, 2016. Article: Mystery: Strom Thurmond, Puerto Rico and bankruptcy protection By Jon Greenberg, Politifact, April 27, 2016. Article: Puerto Rico woos US investors with huge tax breaks as locals fund debt crisis By Rupert Neate, The Guardian, February 14, 2016. Article: The Price Of Inequality For Puerto Rico By Maria Levis, Health Affairs Blog, December 29, 2015. Article: Inside the Billion-Dollar Battle for Puerto Rico’s Future By Jonathan Mahler and Nicholas Confessore, The New York Times, December 19, 2015. Article: Is this 1917 law suffocating Puerto Rico’s economy? By Chris Bury, PBS, August 13, 2015. Article: For Puerto Rico, There is a Better Way A Second Look at the Commonwealth’s Finances and Options Going Forward, By Jose Fajgenbaum, Jorge Guzman, and Claudio Loser, Centennial Group International, July 2015. Article: Here Are the Winners and Losers of Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis By Michelle Kaske, Bloomberg, May 19, 2015. Article: Puerto Rico Fighting to Keep Its Tax Breaks for Businesses By Larry Rohter, The New York Times, May 10, 1993. Additional Information Documentary: THE LAST COLONY: A Close Look At Puerto Rico's Unique Relationship With The United States Website: House Natural Resources Committee Puerto Rico Legislation, May 25, 2016. OpenSecrets: Career Profile for Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina's 5th disctrict Website: Summary of Puerto Rico Tax Incentives OpenSecrets: Career Profile for Rep. Sean P Duffy of Wisconsin's 7th District OpenSecrets: Lobbyists lobbying on H.R.4900: PROMESA House Natural Resources Section by Section Summary of H.R. 5278 Foraker Act, April 12, 1900, Establishing the initial government structure of Puerto Rico. Jones Act of 1917, provided Puerto Ricans with American citizenship and established maritime laws that Puerto Rico would be ruled by, among other things. Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, February 6, 1952. Reports Puerto Rico’s Political Status and the 2012 Plebiscite: Background and Key Questions By R. Sam Garrett, June 25, 2013. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Congress goes on vacation; the Executive Branch escalates a war. In this episode, we look back at the 2011 Libya regime change to understand why we are bombing again in 2016. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Sound Clip Sources: Hearings Department of Defense Libya Briefing: Defense Department Briefing, Peter Cook, Department of Defense Press Secretary, August 1, 2016. Timestamps and Transcripts {00:31} Peter Cook: I want to begin today with an update on the campaign to defeat ISIL wherever it tries to spread. Today at the request of Libya’s Government of National Accord, the United States conducted precision air strikes against ISIL targets in Sirte, Libya to support GNA-affiliated forces seeking to defeat ISIL and its primary stronghold in Libya. These strikes were authorized by the president, following a recommendation from Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford. They are consistent with our approach of combating ISIL by working with capable and motivated local partners. GNA-aligned forces have had success in recapturing territory from ISIL, and additional U.S. strikes will continue to target ISIL in Sirte and enable the GNA to make a decisive, strategic advance. As you may have seen earlier today, Prime Minister al-Sarraj, the head of the GNA, announced that he had specifically requested these strikes as part of the GNA’s campaign to defeat ISIL in Libya. As we’ve said for some time, the United States supports the GNA. We would be prepared to carefully consider any requests for military assistance. We have now responded to that request, and we’ll continue to work closely with the GNA to help the government restore stability and security in Libya. {05:37} Reporter: And then how long the campaign will last? Cook: Again, we’ll be in—this will depend on the requests of support from the GNA, and we’re proceeding along that line. We don’t have an endpoint at this particular moment in time, but we’ll be working closely with the GNA. {13:35} Reporter: Previous intelligence estimates had ISIS at a fighting force of around—up to 6,000, I believe. Is that the current assessment that you guys have? Cook: The assessment numbers that I’ve seen, and, again, I would—it’s hard to gauge ISIL numbers anywhere, but I’ve seen that number, at least our assessment is that it’s been reduced, and the number may be closer to 1,000 now. Reporter: That was in Libya, all together? Cook: In Libya, all together. Reporter: Okay. And lastly— Cook: I’m sorry. That’s specific to Sirte, but that’s the predominant area where ISIL has, in terms of geography, has occupied. So… Reporter: Got it. {15:50} Reporter: So there was a strike today, one in February that you confirmed previously. Is this the third strike now? Was there one before the one in February? Cook: Yes, there was an earlier strike. I believe it was November was the first strike against ISIL by U.S. military. {16:50} Reporter: In answer to a previous question, you said initially there were no U.S. forces on the ground, and then you seemed to clarify later you meant specifically to this operation. Are you saying that right now there are—are you making it clear there are no U.S. teams of any kind on the ground, or are you just specifically saying there are no U.S. on the ground related to this particular operation? Cook: I’m—this is specific to this operation. I’m not going to get into what we’ve talked about previously, the small number of U.S. forces that will be on the ground in Libya. They’ve been in and out, and I’m not going to get into that any further. {24:50} Reporter: You keep comparing this to the strikes at the—strikes in November and February, which were going after a high-value individuals. They were after specific individuals versus my understanding of this—correct me if I’m wrong—is this is the beginning of a campaign, an air campaign in Libya, in which the U.S. military is supporting GNA militias who have pledged their loyalty to the GNA. Is that fair? Is this the beginning of—president has approved these strikes and they will continue until Sirte is liberated. Cook: They will continue as long as the GNA is requesting—Reporter: But they don’t have to put in the request every single time. There is now this blanket authority that exists for the U.S. military to strike when the GNA puts in their requests, right? Cook: These requests—these requests will be carefully coordinated with the GNA. This all originates from GNA requests for assistance, and the president has given the authority for us to have—to carefully consider those requests. Reporter: Okay. But just to be clear, because I think comparing this to these two previous strikes that were going after individuals, each one, it sounds as if this is—these were strikes that were carried out today and that’s to be the end of it. But this is the beginning of an air campaign over Libya, correct? Cook: We are prepared to carry out more strikes in coordination with the GNA if those requests are forthcoming, and so— Reporter: Again, the request has been granted, right? There was—with the GNA— Cook: The authorization has been granted. {28:30} Reporter: Under what legal authority are these strikes being conducted? Cook: The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, similar to our previous air strikes in Libya. {33:17} Reporter And one last thing. You’ve made many references to civilians in Sirte. What is the U.S. estimate of how many civilians remain in Sirte? Cook: I’ll try to get that number for you; I don’t know that offhand. {35:00} Reporter: Peter, were leaflets dropped on that tank and those vehicles before the air strikes? Cook: I’m not aware that they were. Hearing: U.S. Africa Command and National Guard Bureau Nominations, Senate Armed Services Committee, June 21, 2016. Witnesses: Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser, Director for Joint Force Development for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nominee for AFRICOM director Joseph Lengyel, Chief of National Guard Bureau Timestamps and Transcripts {20:35} Lt. General Waldhauser: We have two significant objectives for the United States: one is to get the Government of National Accord up and running, and the second is to disrupt Libya—disrupt ISIL inside Libya. {22:40} Senator John McCain: So, right now you don’t think we need additional U.S. military presence. Waldhauser: At the moment, no.McCain: “At the moment” means to me, we don’t have a strategy. I don’t know what “at the moment”—unfortunately, this administration has reacted “at the moment” with incrementalism, mission creep, a gradual escalation in Iraq and Syria, and I don’t want to see the same thing in Libya, but I’m beginning to see the same thing. Do we have a strategy for Libya, or are we just acting in an ad hoc fashion, which was—it’s been the case, as we’ve watched ISIS establish, metastasize, and grow in Libya. Waldhauser: Well, as indicated, the two strategic objectives that we do have for Libya is to assist the— McCain: I know the objectives; do we have a strategy? Waldhauser: To continue to support that right at this point in time, I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point. {1:03:55} Senator Angus King: Does the GNA control the military and the police forces? Waldhauser: Senator, and to my knowledge I would not use the word “control;” I think at the moment these militias, it seems to me, appear to be working in a direction that Sarraj would like to go, but I would, at this point and if confirmed I’ll look into this, but I would not use the word “control” for the GNA over the militias. King: But ultimately that’s going to have to happen if they’re going to control the territory. Waldhauser: Ultimately it will have to happen because you won’t have a secure and working government unless they have control of a military, and in this case numerous militias across that country. Hearing: U.S. Policy Toward Libya, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, June 15, 2016. Witness Jonathan Winer, State Department Special Envoy for Libya Timestamps and Transcripts {20:50} Senator Ben Cardin: Could you tell us whether the administration is anticipating sending up an authorization to Congress for its military campaign in Libya? Winer: I don’t know of a military campaign in Libya being contemplated, Senator. {28:15} Winer: I think that the problem is not so much pumping it out and losing it—there’s still room for further exploration, further development—as it is the problem of too much money going out and not enough coming in, where the IMF has said to us, for example, there is no solution, no reforms, they can take if they’re not producing their oil. Senator David Perdue: Their debt situation’s already in a crisis level. Winer: Their very difficult economic situation right now is a result of not pumping their oil. They should be pumping 1.5 million a day; they’ve been pumping less than 400,000 a day. Last week I talked with the head of the petroleum forces and said, you’ve got to turn the oil back on. Now he now supports the Government of National Accord, his forces have been fighting to get rid of Daesh, and I think that oil is going to be turned on. It’s absolutely critical. There are forces in the West—there’s Zintan, they’ve shutdown formed in 40,000 barrels a day because some of their concerns have not met.Perdue: And does ISIS, since that’s such an important economic issue—I’m sorry to interrupt— Winer: Yes, sir. Perdue: But, does ISIS pose a threat to that oil production, even if they could turn it up? Winer: To the production, yes. To exploitation, probably not. The pipelines run north-south, south-north, and they are not really exploitable in Libya in the way they’ve been exploitable in Iraq. Daesh did attack the oil crescent area and destroyed some terminals, some areas where oil was being stored at the terminals, and that’s probably reduced their capacity some, but it’s quite limited damage at this point. One of the things that’s really impressive about the efforts against Daesh in the Sirte region and the oil crescent region is it’s begun to push them away from their ability to threaten Libya’s future oil production. So that’s a significant development. But the Libyans need to draw together and address one another’s grievances so that everybody agrees to allow the oil to be pumped again. Hearing: The Path Forward in Libya, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, March 3. 2016. Witnesses Fred Wehrey - Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Claudia Gazzini - Senior Analyst, Libya, International Crisis Group Timestamps and Transcripts {23:10} Fred Wehrey: I just returned last night from Libya, where I saw first hand the country’s humanitarian plight, political divisions, and the struggle against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. I spoke to the young militia fighters who are on the front lines against the Islamic State. I heard stories from the victims of its atrocities. What struck me most is that Libya’s fragmentation into armed militias, tribes, and towns has created a vacuum that the Islamic State is exploiting, and this dissolution also presents a number of risks for U.S. and Western strategy against the Islamic State. First, there is no national military command through which the U.S. and its allies can channel counterterrorism aid; the country is split between two loose constellations of armed actors, so-called Dignity camp in the East and the Dawn camp in the West. Now, over the last year, these two factions have fragmented, splintered, to the point that they exist in name only, and although the factions signed an agreement in December for a new Government of National Accord, that government remains stillborn and unable to exert its authority. A key stumbling block is the question of who and what faction will control the country’s armed forces, but perhaps most worrisome is that these two camps are still, in my view, more focused on viewing each other as a threat rather than the Islamic State. Many are, in fact, using the danger posed by the Islamic State as a pretext to wage war against local rivals over political supremacy, turf, and economic spoils. Both sides accuse the other of with the Islamic State. {30:24} Claudia Gazzini: The country’s economic situation is also dire. Libya, as you know, is an oil-rich country, but over the past two years, production of crude oil has plummeted because of attacks on oil fields and oil terminals. The drop in oil prices has forced the country to run a deficit of up to two, three billion dollars a month, and this has rapidly drained the country’s reserves of foreign currency, which are now between 50 and 60 billion dollars, less than half of what they were just two years ago. {36:31} Senator Bob Corker Speaking of special operators, right now it appears there’s a wide variety of foreign special operations forces on the ground in Libya. Both U.S. and Europe have bold plans for supporting the GNA. If the GNA is supported under heavy Western hand does that cause—does that not cause them to lack legitimacy in the eyes of Libyans? {38:15} Wehrey: There is the sense that this is the third government, that it’s been imposed, and so, yeah, if there is military support flowing to that government, it could create some dissonance. {58:25} Senator Ed Markey: Dr. Wehrey, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the United States military and some allies, including France and the UK, have for months been preparing plans for a second intervention into Libya to support a potential Government of National Accord. The report also said that we and our partners have already established a coalition coordinating center in Rome. Sound Clip Sources: News & Documentaries RT Newscast: US Looks On Libya as McDonald’s – Gaddafi’s Son, Reported by Maria Finoshina, RT, June 30, 2011. RT Newscast: Gaddafi Gold-For-Oil, Dollar-Doom Plans Behind Libya 'Mission'?, Reported by Laura Emmett, RT, May 5, 2011. BBC Documentary on Libya: Before Rats Freedom & Democracy in Lybia (2008): Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Additional Hearings, Documentaries, and News Segments Hearing: CIA Intelligence Activities in Libya, Senate Select Intelligence Committee, June 16, 2016. Documentary: Pipeline to Paradise (Gaddafi's Gift to Libya), By Winfried Spinler (2001), Published on YouTube November 14, 2013. Hearing: Examining The U.S. Policy Response to Entrenched African Leadership, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 18. 2012. Hillary Clinton CBS New Interview: Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We Came, We Saw, He Died, CBS News, October 20, 2011. Hearing: Libya and War Powers, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, June 28, 2011. Hearing: War Powers and U.S. Operations in Libya , House Foreign Affairs Committee, May 25, 2011. Hearing: Perspectives on the Crisis in Libya, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 6, 2011. Hearing: U.S. Security Interests in Libya, House Foreign Affairs Committee, March 31, 2011. Hearing: U.S. Operations in Libya, Senate Armed Services Committee, March 29, 2011. U.N. Security Council Meeting on Libya, United Nations Security Council, March 17, 2011. Al Jazeera English Television Broadcast: Libyan Leader Moammar Qadhafi Address, February 22, 2011. Current News Libya 2016 Article: Italy Reportedly Sends Special Forces to Libya By Tom Kington, Defense News, August 11, 2016. Article: US-backed Forces in Libya Liberate Most of IS Group Stronghold of Sirte By News Wires, France 24, August 11, 2016. Article: French Special Forces Withdraw from Libya's Benghazi By Saifuddin al-Trabulsi and Osama Ali, Anadolu Agency, August 11, 2016. Article: U.S. Special Operations Troops Aiding Libyan Forces in Major Battle Against Islamic State By Missy Ryan and Sudarsan Raghavan, The Washington Post, August 9, 2016. Article: Libya: Free Saif ! Free the Nation! By Eric Draitser, Sri Lanka Guardian, August 9, 2016. Press Briefing: United States Department of State Daily Press Briefing, Spokesperson John Kirby, August 2, 2016. Article: Obama Approves 30-day Airstrike Mission Against ISIS in Libya By Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press, Fox News, August 2, 2016. Article: U.S. is Bombing Libya Again, 5 Years After NATO War Destabilized the Country By Ben Norton, Salon, August 2, 2016. Article: Aug. 1: The U.S. Intensifies Its Fight in Libya, Stratfor, August 1, 2016. Article: Gaddafi’s Ghosts: Return of the Libyan Jamahiriya By Dan Glazebrook, RT, July 30, 2016. Article: Deal to Open Libya's Ras Lanuf and Es Sider Oil Ports, Al Jazeera, July 30, 2016. Article: Libya: Tripoli Condemns French Military Involvement, Al Jazeera, July 21, 2016. Article: France Confirms Three Soldiers Killed in Libya, Al Jazeera, July 20, 2016. Article: Freedom for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi! Freedom for Libya! By Eric Draitser, New Eastern Outlook, July 14, 2016. Article: Libya: Leaked Tapes Suggest West Supports Haftar, Al Jazeera, July 9, 2016. Article: Gaddafi Son Saif al-Islam 'Freed After Death Sentence Quashed' By Chris Stephen, The Guardian, July 7, 2016. Article: U.S. Special Forces Take the Fight to ISIS in Libya By Nick Paton Walsh, CNN World News, May 26, 2016. Executive Order by Preseident Barack Obama: Blocking Property And Suspending Entry Into The United States Of Persons Contributing To The Situation In Libya, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, April 19, 2016. Article: Who is Libya’s New Prime Minister-Designate Fayez Al Sarraj?, The National, April 7, 2016. Article: Libya's UN-Backed Government Sails Into Tripoli, Al Jazeera, March 31, 2016. Article: Chief of Libya's New UN-Backed Government Arrives in Tripoli By Chris Stephen, The Guardian, March 30, 2016. Article: Exposing the Libyan Agenda: a Closer Look at Hillary’s Emails By Ellen Brown, Counter Punch, March 14, 2016. Article: Even Critics Understate How Catastrophically Bad the Hillary Clinton-led NATO Bombing of Libya Was By Ben Norton, Salon, March 2, 2016. Article: Hillary Clinton, ‘Smart Power’ and a Dictator’s Fall By Jo Becker and Scott Shane, The New York Times, February 27, 2016. Article: U.S. Scrambles to Contain Growing ISIS Threat in Libya By Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, February 21, 2016. Article: U.S. Bombing in Libya Reveals Limits of Strategy Against ISIS By Declan Walsh, Ben Hubbard and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, February 19, 2016. Article: Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again By Jack Smith, CounterPunch, February 5, 2016. Article: Obama Is Pressed to Open Military Front Against ISIS in Libya By Eric Schmitt, The New York Times, February 4, 2016. Article: Opening a New Front Against ISIS in Libya By The Editorial Board, The New York Times, January 26, 2016. Article: Libyan Oil, Gold, and Qaddafi: The Strange Email Sidney Blumenthal Sent Hillary Clinton In 2011 By Avi Asher-Schapiro, Vice News, January 12, 2016. The Guardian News Reports on Libya The New York Times News about Arab League Additional Reading Libya 2011 to 2015 Article: Syria Exposes Threat Between Obama and Clinton By Peter Baker, The New York Times, October 3, 2015. Article: Gaddafi Loyalists Stage Rare Protest in Eastern Libya, Reuters, August 4, 2015. Article: Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? By David Vine, Politico Magazine, July/August 2015. Article: Tyler Drumheller Was the Man Behind Hillary Clinton's Private Libya Intel, Sources Say By Benjamin Siegel and John Parkinson, ABC News, June 17, 2015. Article: War Crime: NATO Deliberately Destroyed Libya's Water Infrastructure By Nafeez Ahmed, Truthout, May 30, 2015. Article: How NATO Deliberately Destroyed Libya's Water Infrastructure By Nafeez Ahmed, The Cutting Edge, May 13, 2015. Article: Human Trafficker Gets Busy as Libya Migrant Crisis Worsens By Caroline Alexander and Salma El Wardany, Bloomberg, May 10, 2015. Article: East's Bid to Control Libya Oil Wealth Likely to Fail By Ulf Laessing, Reuters, March 23, 2015. Article: Khalifa Haftar Sworn in as Libya Army Chief, Al Jazeera, March 9, 2015. Article: Libya Clashes Force Oil Port Closure, Al Jazeera, December 14, 2014. Article: The Startling Size of US Military Operations in Africa By Nick Turse, Mother Jones, September 6, 2013. Article: Libya’s “Water Wars” and Gaddafi’s Great Man-Made River Project By Mathaba, May 13, 2013. Article: Election Results in Libya Break an Islamist Wave By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, July 8, 2012. Article: Braving Areas of Violence, Voters Try to Reshape Libya By David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times, July 7, 2012. Article: An Erratic Leader, Brutal and Defiant to the End By Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times, October 20, 2011. Article: Foreign Oil, Gas Firms Returning to Libya, CBS News/Associated Press, September 2, 2011. Article: World Powers Free Up Billions to Rebuild Libya By John Irish and Keith Weir, Reuters, September 1, 2011. Article: The Race is On for Libya's Oil, with Britain and France Both Staking a Claim By Julian Borger and Terry Macalister, The Guardian, September 1, 2011. Article: NATO Bombs the Great Man-Made River, Human Rights Investigations, July 27, 2011. Article: Rebels Say Qaddafi Must Face Trial as Airstrikes Hit Tripoli By Associated Pess, Fox News World, July 22, 2011. Article: Libya Rebels Get Formal Backing, and $30 Billion By Sebnem Arsu and Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, July 15, 2011. Article: Conflict in Libya: U.S. Oil Companies Sit on Sidelines as Gaddafi Maintains Hold By Steven Mufson, The Washington Post, June 10, 2011. Article: AFRICOM's Libyan Expedition By Jonathan Stevenson, Foreign Affairs, May 9, 2011. Article: Nine Killed in NATO Attack on Sirte, Reuters, April 22, 2011. Article: Libyan Rebel Council Forms Oil Company to Replace Qaddafi’s By Bill Varner, Bloomberg, March 22, 2011. Article: France and Britain Lead Military Push on Libya By Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, March 18, 2011. Article: As U.N. Backs Military Action in Libya, U.S. Role Is Unclear By Dan Bilefsky and Mark Landler, The New York Times, March 17, 2011. Article: Clinton Meets in Paris With Libyan Rebel Leader By Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times, March 14, 2011. Article: Map of the Day: This Is Where Libya's Oil Infrastructure Is Located By Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider, February 28, 2011. President Barack Obama Executive Order: Executive Order 13566 --Libya, The White House Office of the Press Secretary, February 25, 2011. Libya Prior to 2011 Article: African Union Names Gaddafi as Head, Al Jazeera, February 2, 2009. Article: The Years of Wheelus By Walter J. Boyne, Air Force Magazine, January 2008. Article: Africa United in Rejecting US Request for Military HQ By Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, June 26, 2007. Article: Behind Gaddafi's Diplomatic Turnaround By Scott McLeod, Time, May 18, 2006. Article: Libya's Thirst for 'Fossil Water' By John Watkins, BBC News, March 18, 2006. Article: 350 Libyans Trained to Oust Qaddafi Are to Come to U.S. By Neil A. Lewis, May 17, 1991. E Book/Pdf: The Green Book By Muammar Al Qaddafi, Originally published 1975. Owners vs. Producers Housing Additional Information GreenStream Pipeline GreenStream Pipeline Activity Human Rights Watch Website Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: Great Man-Made River (GMR) Energy Information Administration: 2007 Libya Energy Data, Statistics WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton Email Archive: "Tick Tock On Libya", September 2, 2011. Wikileaks: Hillary Clinton Email: "Lots of New Intel; Possible Libyan Collapse. Sid", March 27, 2011. Wikileaks: Hillary Clinton Email Archive: "H: France's Client & Q's Gold. Sid", March 4, 2011. Wikipedia: General People's Committee Reports Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy By Christopher M. Blanchard, Congressional Research Service, May 13, 2016. Appendix B. U.S. Assistance to Libya FY2010-FY2015 Total Energy 2013 Report on Activities in Libya Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is finished and will be eligible for a vote in Congress in February 2016. In December, the Democrats held a hearing on the Investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In this episode, highlights from that hearing and a summary of the provisions in one of the TPP's most important chapters. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Office of the US Trade Representative, November 5, 2015. Hearing Highlighted in this Episode TPP Issue Analysis - Investment Chapter, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), December 2, 2015. Watch on YouTube Witnesses Matt Porterfield Deputy Director and Adjunct Professor of law at the Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University Law Center Served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP) Subcommittee on Investment during the Obama Administration Ted Posner Parter at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, an international corporate law firm with 9 offices in the United States and 11 offices outside the country (see News and Announcements for list of clients) Served in the Office of the US Trade Representatives and on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration Served on the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP) Subcommittee on Investment during the Obama Administration Michael Smart Vice President of Rock Creek Global Advisors, LLC Director for International Trade and Investment on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration Was a lawyer in the ISDS system as an Associate at Sidley Austin during the George W. Bush administration's early years Was on the Democratic staff of the US Senate Committee on Finance during the early Obama administration years. Former staffer to former Rep. Earl Pomeroy for over nine years. Thea Lee Deputy Chief of Staff, AFL-CIO, which represents 12.5 million American workers. Vice Chairwoman of the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP) Subcommittee on Investment during the Obama Administration Investment Chapter Highlights Article 9.4: Countries can't treat companies from other countries any differently than they treat companies from their own Article 9.6: Countries must provide police protection to foreign companies Article 9.6: Removal of subsidies does not count as a violation of the treaty, even if the company is financially harmed Article 9.7: Countries can nationalize their assets if they pay the companies with interest Article 9.9: Countries can not require companies to use domestic goods or to buy products from within the country ("Buy American") Section B: Conflicts between multinational companies and TPP countries will be settled through the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system Article 9.20: There is a statute of limitations of three years, six months from when the company should have known a "breach" occurred Article 9.21: The three judges will be selected by the company and the government involved (one each) and the third one either agreed upon or appointed by the Secretary General of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Article 9.22: The tribunal can award attorney's fees to the case winner Article 9.22: The burden of proof lies with the company making the claim Article 9.23: ISDS tribunal documents will be available to the public Article 9.28: Puts limits on the awards Sound Clip Sources YouTube Video: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Tobacco, February 15, 2015. Additional Reading Article: White House Releases Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal by Vicki Needham, The Hill, November 5, 2015. Article: For Pickens, Wind Claim May Be Last Power Play by Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times, October 15, 2015. Article: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Accord Explained by Kevin Granville, New York Times, October 5, 2015. Op-Ed: Ron Kind: Why I'm Fighting for a Trade Deal by Rep. Ron Kind, LaCrosse Tribune, April 13, 2015 Article: Bilcon to Sue Canada for $300 Million After Winning NAFTA Ruling on Quarry, The Canadian Press, March 20, 2015. Report: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress by Ian Fergusson, Mark McMinimy, and Brock Williams, Congressional Research Service, March 20, 2015. Report: Reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement: In Search of a Roadmap, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, June 26, 2013. Article: Michael Froman and the Revolving Door by Felix Salon, Reuters, December 11, 2009. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In 2012, Congress created a new government agency called FirstNet and tasked it with building a high-speed wireless network that would allow all first responders in the United States to communicate with each other daily and in times of emergencies. In July, FirstNet awarded AT&T with a 25 year contract to do the actual work. In this episode, hear highlights from a recent hearing about this new network as we examine the wisdom of contracting such an important part of our public safety infrastructure to the private sector. Please visit to nominate your favorite Congressional Dish episode. Password: Patreon Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute using credit card, debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Additional Reading Article: PayPal, GoFundMe, And Patreon Banned A Bunch Of People Associated With The Alt-Right. Here's Why. by Blake Montgomery, Buzzfeed News, August 2, 2017. Article: U.S. Virgin Islands becomes first territory to 'opt-in' to FirstNet by Donny Jackson, Urgent Communications, August 1, 2017. Article: New Mexico becomes eighth state to 'opt in' to FirstNet by Donny Jackson, Urgent Communications, August 1, 2017. Article: FirstNet Becoming a Reality as the Number of States Opting in Grows to Seven by Adam Stone, GovTech, July 27, 2017. Interview: Executive Spotlight: Interview with Mike Leff, VP for Strategy and Operations for AT&T Global Public Sector by Andy Reed, Executive Biz, July 27, 2017. Article: AT&T in Early Talks With U.S. Officials for Time Warner Approval by David McLaughlin, Gerry Smith and Scott Moritz, Bloomberg, July 24, 2017. Article: FirstNet Gets its Teeth: Implications for Turf, Tech, and Tower Vendors by Daniel Vitulich, Wireless Week, July 21, 2017. Article: National Cell Network For First Responders Could Mean Better Coverage For Vermonters by Amy Kolb Noyes, VPR, July 14, 2017. Article: Some may be kept in the dark on future of public safety telecom by Dave Gram, VTDigger, July 9, 2017. Article: States Deserve A Complete Picture In Evaluating FirstNet/AT&T Coverage Plans by Al Catalano, Keller and Heckman LLP, Lexology, June 29, 2017. Article: Leidos and AT&T to Implement Software Defined Networking for the Defense Information Systems Agency by Leidos, PR Newswire, June 26, 2017. Article: State, Territory Plans and Next Step in FirstNet Build-Out Arrive Ahead of Schedule by Theo Douglas, GovTech, June 19, 2017. Report: FirstNet Has Made Progress Establishing the Network, but Should Address Stakeholder Concerns and Workforce Planning, U.S. Government Accountability Office, June 2017. Article: AT&T and Maxwell Air Force Base Pilot IoT Connected "Smart Base", AT&T Newsroom, April 4, 2017. Article: FirstNet Taps Telecom Giant AT&T for First Responder Network Buildout by News Staff, GovTech, March 30, 2017. Article: Incident Management Teams and FirstNet: A Perspective on the Future by Lesia Dickson, GovTech, January 26, 2017. Article: AT&T Powers NASA's Deep Space Network, AT&T Newsroom, December 14, 2016. Article: Wilbur Ross: From 'king of bankruptcy' to face of American business by Paul Davidson, USA Today, November 30, 2016. Article: AT&T and NASA Collaborate on Drone Traffic Management System, AT&T Newsroom, November 10, 2016. Article: AT&T Agrees to Buy Time Warner for $85.4 Billion by Michael J. de la Merced, The New York Times, October 22, 2016. Article: FirstNet Makes Progress, But Cost and Quality Concerns Remain by Colin Wood, GovTech, May 18, 2016. Website: AT&T's History of Invention and Breakups, The New York Times, February 13, 2016. Article: AT&T Completes Acquisition of DIRECTV, AT&T Newsroom, July 24, 2015. Article: FirstNet: Is Opting Out an Option? by Adam Stone, GovTech, November 17, 2014. Article: FirstNet Hires Friends, Skirts Competitive Bidding by Greg Gordon, McClatchy News Service, GovTech, September 26, 2014. Article: Millions in federal emergency communications funding lost, diverted by Greg Gordon, McClatchy DC Bureau, July 14, 2014. Article: How AT&T got busted up and pieced back together by Jose Pagliery, CNN, May 20, 2014. Article: FirstNet Explained by Tod Newcombie, GovTech, April 17, 2014. Article: FirstNet: Anwsers to Key Questions by David Raths, GovTech, October 10, 2012. Article: FirstNet Board Filled by Public Safety Officials, Telecom Execs by Sarah Rich, GovTech, August 20, 2012. Article: Communications Giant: The Deal; With Cable Deal, AT&T Makes Move to Regain Empire by Seth Schiesel, The New York Times, June 25, 1998. Article: Communications Bill Signed, And the Battles Begin Anew by Edmund Andrews, The New York Times, February 9, 1996. Article: Company News; AT&T Completes Deal To Buy NcCaw Cellular by Edmund Andrews, The New York Times, September 20, 1994. Article: AT&T Buying Computer Maker In Stock Deal Worth $7.4 Billion by Eben Shapiro, The New York Times, May 7, 1991. Article: U.S. Settles Phone Suit, Drops I.B.M. Case; AT&T to Split Up, Transforming Industry by Ernest Holsendolph, The New York Times, January 9, 1982. Article: No. 1 U.S. Utility Is Investor Favorite by Gene Smith, The New York Times, November 21, 1974. References Website: FirstNet FirstNet Board Members Website: National Telecommunications & Information Administration Offices GovTrack: H.R. 3630 (112th): Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 House Vote Senate Vote Document: FirstNet Partnership Factsheet Infoplease: Top 50 Cities in the U.S. by Population and Rank YouTube: Patreon CEO on Content Policy, Lauren Southern, and IGD YouTube: Lauren Southern: Patreon Banned My Account?? Visual References Image Source Image Source Image Source Sound Clip Sources Hearing: National Public Safety Network; Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Communications; July 20, 2017. Witnesses: Curtis Brown: Virginia Deputy Secretary of Public Safety & Homeland Security Dr. Damon Darsey: University of Mississippi Medical Center Professor Mark Goldstein: GAO Physical Infrastructure Issues Director Chris Sambar: AT&T FirstNet, Senior Vice President Michael Poth: FirstNet CEO Timestamps & Transcripts 1:10 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): In 2012 Congress created the First Responder Network Authority to lead the development of a nationwide interoperable public-safety broadband network in the United States. Following the communication’s failures that plagued recovery efforts during 9/11 and other national emergencies, including Hurricane Katrina, there was and still is a clear need for a reliable communications network to support the essential work of our public-safety officials. Such a network would improve coordination among first responders across multiple jurisdictions and enhance the ability of first responders to provide lifesaving emergency services quickly. 6:37 Sen. Brian Schatz (HI): With FirstNet, firefighters will be able to download the blueprint of a burning building before they enter; a police officer arriving at a scene can run a background check or get pictures of a suspect by accessing a federal law enforcement database; most importantly, emergency personnel will not be competing with commercial users for bandwidth. They will have priority on this network, which will be built and hardened to public-safety specifications. It will have rugged eyes and competitive devices and specify public-safety applications. 9:40 Curtis Brown: Last week the governor was proud to announce that Virginia was the first state in the nation to opt in to FirstNet. Virginia opted in to provide current AT&T public-safety subscribers with the benefit of priority services now at no cost to the Commonwealth, as well as the green light to build out of Virginia’s portion of the national public-safety broadband network. We believe that decision to opt in will promote competition within the public-safety communications marketplace, that will reduce costs and drive innovation across all carriers. Opting out was _____(00:31-verily) considered, but the unknown cost and risk associated with deploying and operating a network was not feasible. 19:45 Mark Goldstein: In March 2017 FirstNet awarded a 25-year contract to AT&T to build, operate, and maintain the network. FirstNet’s oversight of AT&T’s performance is very important, given the scope of the network and the duration of the contract. Among GAO’s findings in the report are the following: first, FirstNet has conducted key efforts to establish the network, namely releasing the requests for proposal for the network and awarding the network contract to AT&T. As the contractor, AT&T will be responsible for the overall design, development, production, operation, and evolution of the network. 24:35 Chris Sambar: The AT&T team that I lead is dedicated exclusively to FirstNet. I expect this group to grow to several-hundred employees by this year’s end as we hire people across the country with a broad range of skill sets to help us ramp up our network build out. Overall, AT&T expects to spend $40 billion over the lifetime of this contract and to build an operating unique, nationwide, interoperable, IP-based, high-speed mobile network, encrypted at its core, that will provide first responders priority, primary users with preemption and all other users during times of emergency and network congestion. The First Responder Network will be connected to and leverage off AT&T’s world-class telecommunications platform, valued at nearly $180 billion, including a wireless network that reaches 99.6% of the U.S. population. In addition, AT&T will support first responders 24 by 7 by 365 with a dedicated security-operation center and help desk. We will provide first responders with a highly secure application ecosystem as well as a highly competitive flexible pricing on equipment and services that they select for their unique needs. One of the most important resources that AT&T brings to bear on the new First Responder Network is our best-in-class national disaster-recovery team. We have spent more than a 130,000 working hours on field exercises and disaster-recovery deployments over the last two decades. This team combines network infrastructure, support trailers, recovery engineering-software applications, and boots on the ground filled by full-time and volunteer AT&T disaster-response team members. In order to support the First Responder Network, AT&T will increase its disaster-recovery fleet by adding 72 new custom-designed vehicles, just for the FirstNet mission. 26:55 Chris Sambar: Possibilities include near real-time information on traffic conditions, which can help determine the best route to an emergency for a first responder; wearable sensors and cameras for police and firefighters to help give them better situational awareness and camera-equipped drones and robots that will be able to deliver real-time imagery. Our FirstNet efforts are expected to create 10,000 U.S. jobs over the next two years as well as significant public-private infrastructure investment. 30:25 Michael Poth: We’ve created and delivered state plans on June 19 to 50 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia three months ahead of schedule, and as mentioned, the five governors from five great states have already opted in. None of this could be possible, though, without the public-private framework that Congress established for the FirstNet network, by leveraging private-sector resources, infrastructure, cost savings, public-private partner synergies to deploy, operate, and maintain the system. FirstNet can be now deployed quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively. 36:10 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): Dr. Darsey mentioned that the Mississsippi wireless communications commission has expressed concerns about FirstNet’s commitment to hardening the network. You mentioned this in your testimony, the need for FirstNet infrastructure to be hardened. Can you discuss why that’s important, and is it more important in the rural areas, and also, in your experience, how do broadband needs differ between urban and rural communities with respect to providing emergency medical services? Dr. Damon Darsey: Sure. Thanks for the question. I’ll give you an example. Couple years ago we had a tornado, as you well remember, that took out a hospital in the northeast part of our state. And the medical center has got a pretty robust program to respond to that, and we did. The challenge in that was it took out a couple of commercial towers, but it did not, after a fairly close hit, take out one of our hardened public-safety communication towers. What that did for us is we lost all ability to communicate data out of that area, which was vital in moving and evacuating the hospital, nursing home, and recovering the people that were there. That’s the piece that is the concern that I think we share, all of us here, of how do we make that as hardened as possible. In terms of rural and urban, from a medical perspective we can do a lot more, as our team is showing in Mississippi and other states, if we know about the patient well before they get close to a hospital. If we can reach out and touch the stroke patient in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, we can dramatically increase their chances of survival and meaningful use after arrival to the hospital. Currently, we’re doing that over radio, and it’s working really well, but now imagine that in the rural areas. In urban areas, it’s vital in the medical world, but here we’re five minutes from multiple hospitals. Now take that as a 45 or 50 minutes away, and what we can do with broadband data in that time is truly life saving and saving of healthcare dollars. There’s a nexus here that FirstNet can combine both of those. 41:00 Michael Poth: Numerous bids were in, and they were analyzed with a great level of detail, and through that process that the Department of Interior assisted us with as the acquisition experts, AT&T came out as the prevailing solution and prevailing company provider. Sen. Bill Nelson (FL): The question is why. Poth: Well, the value that they’re bringing with their existing infrastructure, their ability and size, their financial sustainability to be able to take on something of this nature, and their lowest-risk approach to implementing this in the shortest time was truly some of the value propositions that made them more competitive than some of the other bids that were analyzed. 42:13 Chris Sambar: The initial RFP that FirstNet released contemplated building out a public-safety broadband network using just band class 14, and we responded accordingly. But through discussions, we decided we would extend it beyond just the band class 14, which is the spectrum that was allocated for first responders in 2012. We said we would open up all of the spectrum bands within AT&T. So, essentially, what that means is the day that a state opts in, they have immediate access to AT&T’s entire network, all spectrum bands, and they will see the benefits of FirstNet on all spectrum bands, all wireless towers, from AT&T that are LTE enabled. So I think that’s a tremendous benefit that FirstNet was not expecting when they contemplated the original RFP. But when we brought that, I think they were very pleased with that, and that helped us. Sen. Bill Nelson (FL): So, you’re going to have a level playing field for all device manufacturers. Sambar: Absolutely, sir. 43:15 Sen. Bill Nelson (FL): There must have been some folks in Virginia that suggested that you opt out of the network and chart your own path. Tell me the benefits to Virginia’s first responders of the governor’s decision to opt in. Curtis Brown: Thank you, Senator. The decision to opt in was really based on looking at the benefits that comes with opt in, the immediate priority and preemption services that would come for those who are subscribers to the network. And a major thing, Senator, is to the fact that it comes at no cost to the Commonwealth. We have been disproportionately impacted by sequestration and other aspects—the governor had to close a 300-million-dollar budget deficit—and so looking at the cost it would take to build a network and sustain it, it just was not feasible. 47:45 Chris Sambar: We initially envisioned, when we launched the State Plan portal on June 19, that we would have roughly 50 user IDs and passwords per state. That would be 50 individuals who would access the portal. We immediately got feedback that states wanted more, and we are offering more. So, we have a state right now, as a matter of fact, 227 login and user IDs have been issued. So, it shouldn’t be an issue for a state if they have additional people. The only requirements we have, Senator, is that, as Mr. Poth said, that it’s an official email address, somebody in the state who works for the state— Unknown Senator: Right. Sambar: —or an authorized consultant. Either of those is fine. We just don’t want, like, a @gmail, @hotmail, someone that we don’t know who they are. Unknown Senator: Right, okay. 53:14 Michael Poth: How do the states hold us accountable? As FirstNet shifts gears from developing a proposal and making an award, for the next 25 years we are going to be in a position to work with the states, continuous and public safety in all of those states, to make sure that all of their expectations, both from the State Plans and in the future, are being met and translated. If appropriate, we back into contractual actionable items. Or if AT&T, for example, is not meeting the requirements or the expectations, FirstNet will, on behalf of public safety and those states, enforce the terms of the contract. 54:55 Michael Poth: Canada is using the same exact spectrum that we’ll be utilizing with AT&T, so there’s a lot of synergies. We’ve spent a great deal of time coordinating and comparing notes with Canada and the public-safety entities in that country as to what we’re doing so that there is the inoperability between the countries will also be realized. 1:08:50 Chris Sambar: So we have had a number of states as well as federal agencies we’ve been in communication with, and some of the states have been very direct that they’re interested us putting our LTE equipment on state-, city-, municipal-owned assets. That would give them the benefit of revenue from AT&T through a lease agreement. It would also give us a benefit of being able to build out the network faster. 1:24:20 Michael Poth: AT&T’s already been doing this, as mentioned, for years with their fleet of 700 deployables. Now with the 72 dedicated, which are much smaller units which is going to give us the ability to maybe get those into areas that are a little tougher to get to, we’re very excited about that. That is an absolute addition to the solution that we’re going to be able to bring to public safety quickly. 1:25:50 Chris Sambar: So, we will be building out band class 14 over the coming five years across a significant portion of our network. In the meantime, before band class 14 is built out, we will be using our commercial network. There are requirements in the contract with FirstNet over how quickly we need to build out band class 14, and we have to hit those milestones in order to receive the payments due to us from FirstNet. If we don’t hit those milestones, we don’t receive the payments, so we will be aggressively building out band class 14 for first responders. Again, in the meantime, they will have access to all of AT&T’s bands. So to say it simply, if you are a first responder, Senator, you will not know whether you’re on band class 14 or any other AT&T band, but you will have the exact same experience regardless of what band you are on on AT&T network. Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): Your position isn’t the service that’s provided, and the consumer and the public-safety user, to them it will be immaterial where it’s coming from. Sambar: The way I like to say— Exactly. The way I say it is this: public safety has been told for many years that the magic of FirstNet happens on band class 14, and we’ve changed that. That’s not correct anymore. The magic happens on the AT&T network period, and it doesn’t matter where you are, you’re going to have the exact same experience. So we’ve extended it far beyond the band class 14 to our entire network. Wicker: Will you build out the class 14 spectrum only where it is economically viable, or will you build it out where there is written requirement in the arrangement between you and FirstNet? Sambar: We are building band class 14 where we need the capacity in our network. So in order to provide priority and preemptive services to first responders and have enough capacity for everyone that’s on the network, including the first responders, there are places where we will need additional capacity; that’s where we’re building— Wicker: And you will determine that need. Sambar: AT&T, based on capacity triggers—obviously, we’ve been doing this for a long time—based on capacity triggers that we see in the network, we build out band class 14 as additional capacity on individual—and this is done on a tower-by-tower basis. 1:28:00 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): Are you able to say what approximate percentage of the lower 48 landmass will be covered by band class 14 build out? Chris Sambar: Unfortunately, I am not, Senator. That’s proprietary between FirstNet and AT&T. I would say, again, it’s a significant portion, though. Wicker: Can you be more specific than “significant”? Sambar: That would be proprietary, Senator. I apologize. Wicker: And what makes it proprietary? Sambar: The specific details of the contract between FirstNet and AT&T. There’s a number of specific details that are proprietary, Senator. Wicker: That is proprietary and not available to the public— Sambar: That’s correct, Senator. Wicker: —or to the Congress. Sambar: That’s correct, Senator. 1:29:35 Sen. Roger Wicker: Then in terms of this coverage, which you said really shouldn’t matter what band it’s coming over— Chris Sambar: Mm-hmm. Wicker: —are you able to say what percentage of the lower 48 landmass will be covered in one way or the other? Sambar: One way or the other? Wicker: Yes. Apart, of course, from the deployables. Sambar: So, 99.6% of the U.S. population will be covered by AT&T’s network. 1:39:05 Chris Sambar: The vast major—as we understand it, based on our research and FirstNet’s research—the vast majority of firefighters, for example, are not issued devices for their daily use at work, especially volunteer firefighters. Greater than 70% of police officers are in the same situation: they are not provided a device. They’re using their personal devices. We are going to make available the FirstNet network to all of those first responders, regardless of whether you’re a volunteer, whether your agency provides you a device, or whether you bring your own personal device. They will have access to the FirstNet network. Once we can verify their credentials and ensure that we have the right people on the network, they will have access to all of those features and benefits, and it will come at a significantly lower price than they’re paying today for their personal or commercial service. So it’s a tremendous benefit to all first responders. 1:39:55 Sen. Roger Wicker (MS): On user fees, will they cost the same for all network users, or will they vary by regions, public-safety agencies, or states? Chris Sambar: It’s difficult to answer because there are different use cases, so it depends. If you’re a large department and you want unlimited data and you have a number of applications that you want preinstalled on the device and you have mobile-device management software, that would be one use case. There may be a rural department that wants to connect body cameras and dashboard video camera from a police department. It will depend on the use case. Wicker: So it’s use case and not regions and states. Sambar: That’s correct, sir. Wicker: That would be the variable. Sambar: That’s correct. Hearing: Public Safety Communications; House Committee Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, September 29, 2005. Witnesses: David Boyd: Homeland Security Dept SAFECOM Program Director Timothy Roemer: Member of the 9/11 Commission, Director of the Center for National Policy Art Botterell: Emergency Information Consultant Timestamps & Transcripts 30:44 David Boyd: Interoperability’s not a new issue. It was a problem in Washington, D.C. when the Air Florida flight crashed into the Potomac in 1982, in New York City when the Twin Towers were first attacked in 1993, in 1995 when the Murrah Building was destroyed in Oklahoma City, and in 1999 at Columbine. Too many public-safety personnel cannot communicate by radio, because their equipment is still incompatible, or the frequencies they are assigned to are different and they haven’t got bridging technologies available. They operate on 10 different frequency bands, and they run communication systems that are often proprietary and too often 30 or more years old. Over 90% of the nation’s public-safety wireless infrastructure is financed, owned, operated, and maintained by the more than 60,000 individual local jurisdictions—police, fire, and emergency services—that serve the public. 1:43:00 Timothy Roemer: Let me give you a couple examples of what the 9/11 Commission found as to some of these problems. We found all kinds of compelling instances of bravery and courage, people going into burning buildings and rescuing people. They might have rescued more. We might have saved more of the fire department chiefs, officers, police officers, emergency personnel, if they would have had public-radio spectrum to better communicate. At 9:59 in the morning on 9/11 four years ago, a general evacuation order was given to firefighters in the North Tower. The South Tower had collapsed. A place that held up to 25,000 people had been diminished to cement, steel, and ash. The people, then, in the North Tower, many of the chiefs in the lobby, didn’t even know that the other tower had collapsed, or else they might have been able to get more people out more quickly. We had comments from people saying such things as, we didn’t know it had collapsed. Somebody actually said, Mr. Chairman, that people watching TV had more information than we did in the lobby on 9/11 in the North Tower. People on TV in Florida or California knew more than our first responders on site in New York City. 1:45:10 Timothy Roemer: Mr. Chairman, then we had a disaster happen in the southern part of our country in New Orleans where we had other communication problems. In New Orleans, there’re three neighboring parishes were using different equipment on different frequencies. They couldn’t communicate. We had National Guard in Mississippi communicating by human courier, not by radio frequencies; and we had helicopters up in the air looking at our own citizens on the roofs of their homes in New Orleans, screaming and yelling for help, but they couldn’t talk in the helicopters with the boats in the water to try to find out who was rescued, who wasn’t, and who needed help. 1:55:45 Art Botterell: Third, we can no longer afford to rely on vendor-driven design of our emergency-communications infrastructure. Businesses are responsible for maximizing shareholder value, not for protecting the public welfare. We need independent sources of information and planning for our future emergency infrastructure lest we continue to get updated versions of the same old thing. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
An unassuming string of 16 words tucked into the Constitution grants Congress extensive power to make laws that impact the entire nation. The Commerce Clause has allowed Congress to intervene in all kinds of situations — from penalizing one man for growing too much wheat on his farm, to enforcing the end of racial segregation nationwide. That is, if the federal government can make an economic case for it. This seemingly all-powerful tool has the potential to unite the 50 states into one nation and protect the civil liberties of all. But it also challenges us to consider: when we make everything about money, what does it cost us?
Syria: We're told we're at war to fight ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State but in a Congressional hearing that took place the week before the Paris attacks, State Department officials were talking about a different goal. In this episode, highlights from that House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. What are we really doing in Syria? Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! The Syria War For context and background, please listen to Congressional Dish episode CD041: Why Attack Syria?, from August 2013. Audio Sources Hearing: U.S. Policy and Russian Involvement in Syria, House Foreign Affairs Committee, November 4, 2015. Video: Paris Attacks: 'Terrorists mentioned Syria and Iraq during Bataclan negotiations' YouTube: Obama Says Assad must to to end Syria war, PressTV News Video, November 19, 2015. YouTube: Obama No boots on the ground in Syria by USLAWnationalcoord YouTube: Leaked Call Between Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt Planning Ukrainian Government, late January 2014 Additional Information Syria Map: U.S. Department of Energy Report, June 24, 2015. Map: Syria Selected Energy Infrastructure, U.S. Department of Energy, updated June 24, 2015. Article: This map show where ISIS overlaps with major oil refineries by Elena Holodny, Business Insider, September 29, 2015. Map: ISIS' footprint across Iraq and Syria featuring oil infrastructure, Business Insider, September 29, 2015 Article: Your Official Mission Creep Timeline of the U.S. War in Syria by Micah Zenko, The Foreign Policy Group, October 19, 2015. Paris Attacks Article: France more active than rest of the west in tackling Syria by Ian Black, The Guardian, November 14, 2015. Article: What is France Doing in Syria? by David Graham, The Atlantic, November 15, 2015. ISIS Message about Paris Attacks: "Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State, and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign, and dare to curse our Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, and are proud of fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes, which did not help them at all in the streets of Paris and its rotten alleys" Article: France Strikes ISIS Targets in Syria in Retaliation for Attacks by Alissa Rubin and Anne Barnard, November 15, 2015. Anne Patterson Biography Wikipedia: Anne W. Patterson Article: Ambassador Anne Patterson, the Controversial Face of America's Egypt Policy by Josh Rogin and Eli Lake, The Daily Beast, July 10, 2013. Article: U.S. Pilots Fight Coca in Columbia by Juan Forero, New York Times, August 17, 2001. Victoria Nuland Biography Wikipedia: Victoria Nuland Essay: Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, Foreign Affairs Magazine (published by The Council on Foreign Relations), July/August 1996 Issue Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Chip Lake is a member of the Congressional Dish community and the former Chief of Staff to retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia's 3rd district. In this enlightening episode, Chip provides valuable insight on how Congressional offices operate, which committees are the most powerful, what candidates buy with their "campaign contributions", and much more. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Guest: Chip Lake Chip Lake is a member of the Congressional Dish community and a former Chief of Staff to retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia's 3rd district. Chip also works as a consultant at Glendale Strategies and does campaign marketing work for Twin Oaks Connect. Chip Lake is also the host of the Red Zone Sports Podcast Subscribe in iTunes Listen on Blog Talk Radio Contact Chip Twitter: @LakeChip Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes CD129: The Impeachment of John Koskinen Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In the third and final episode in our Trans-Pacific Partnership series, we take a look at the TPP Environment Chapter; would the treaty actually improve enforcement of environmental laws around the world?   Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Office of the US Trade Representative, November 5, 2015. Hearing Highlighted in this Episode TPP Issue Analysis - Environment Chapter, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), November 17, 2015. Watch on YouTube Witnesses Dr. Joshua Meltzer Senior Fellow in Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution Digital Task Force Member at the Atlantic Council June 2015 – January 2016 (8 months) Washington D.C. Metro Area "Provided advice on the digital trade issues between the U.S. and the EU" Subject Matter Expert for the E15 Initiative, World Trade Organization "Expert appointment to the E15 working group developing an agenda for the WTO on climate change issues Former trade negotiator with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Former diplomat to the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C., specializing in trade and climate change issues. Alexander von Bismarck Executive Director, Environmental Investigation Agency "An international campaigning organization committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime" Served in United Nations and World Bank Ilana Soloman Responsible Trade Program Director, Sierra Club Environment Chapter Highlights Article 20.6: Governments "shall cooperate to address matters" related to pollution from ships Article 20.12: "Cooperation" includes "dialogues, workshops, seminars, conferences.. technical assistance, the sharing of best practices on policies and procedures, and the exchange of experts." Cooperative activities "are subject to the availability of funds" and the participating governments "shall decide, on a case-by-case basis, the funding of cooperative activities." Article 20.7: Each government "shall" create sanctions for violations of environmental law that "may include" a right to bring action against the violator for damages or injunctive relief. Article 20.10: "Corporate Social Responsibility": Each government "should encourage" companies to "adopt voluntarily" standards to protect the environment. The voluntary standards "should be designed in a manner that maximises their environmental benefits and avoids the creation of unnecessary barriers to trade." Article 20.13: Each government "shall promote and encourage the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity" The governments "shall cooperate" to address "matters of mutual interest"; 'cooperation' means "exchanging information". Article 20.15: "Transition to a Low Emissions and Resilient Economy" Says the governments recognize that the transition requires collective action Governments "shall cooperate to address matters of joint or common interest" Article 20.16: Each government "shall seek to operate a fisheries management system that regulates marine wild capture fishing and that is designed to prevent overfishing and overcapacity..." Each government "shall promote the long-term conservation of sharks, marine turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals, through the implementation and effective enforcement of conservation and management measures." "No Party shall grant or maintain any of the following subsidies..." that negatively affect fish stocks. Gives the governments three years to change their laws to comply. Article 20.17: The governments "commit to promote conservation and to combat the illegal take of, and illegal trade in, wild fauna and flora. The parties "shall exchange information", "undertake joint activities" and "endeavor to implement... resolutions." Such measures "shall include sanctions, penalties... that can act as a deterrent to such trade." "Each Party retains the right to make decisions regarding the allocation of administrative, investigatory, and enforcement resources." Article 20.23: Environmental issues are eligible for the Investor State Dispute Settlement tribunals Additional Reading Article: TransCanada is suing the U.S. over rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. The U.S. Might Lose. by Todd Tucker, Washington Post, January 8, 2016. Article: White House Releases Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal by Vicki Needham, The Hill, November 5, 2015. Article: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Accord Explained by Kevin Granville, New York Times, October 5, 2015. Report: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress by Ian Fergusson, Mark McMinimy, and Brock Williams, Congressional Research Service, March 20, 2015. Article: Geo-engineering: Climate fixes could harm billions by David Shukman, BBC News, November 26, 2014. Article: Michael Froman and the Revolving Door by Felix Salon, Reuters, December 11, 2009. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
Need drugs? The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an international treaty that Congress needs to approve. In this episode, find out how the TPP would affect your access to medicine. Would this treaty provide you access to life-saving drugs or would it provide the pharmaceutical industry excessive profits?   Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Full Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Office of the US Trade Representative, November 5, 2015. Congress did not stand when President Obama told them to pass the TPP Hearing Highlighted in this Episode TPP Issue Analysis - Access to Medicines, House Ways and Means Committee (Democrats), December 8, 2015. Watch on YouTube Witnesses Stephen Ezell VP of Global Innovation Policy, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Previously worked at the NASDAQ stock market, where he created the NASDAQ Market Intelligence Desk, which keeps companies up to date on their stock prices, and the NASDAQ Corporate Services Network Founder of Brivo Systems, a high-tech services firm, and Lynx Capital, an investment firm. Joseph Damond Senior VP for International Affairs, Biotechnology Industry Organization Former Vice President of International Government Relations at Pfizer Former Deputy Vice President of International Affairs for PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) Rohit Malpani Director of Policy and Analysis, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) Former Special Advisor to Oxfam America Former Human Rights Advisor for the World Health Organization Former laywer at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Peter Maybarduk Director, Public Citizen Global Access to Medicines Program Intellectual Property Chapter Highlights Article 18.7: Forces all TPP countries to "ratify or accede to" six international treaties if they haven't done so already Article 18.26: Trademark protections will be valid for 10 years Article 18.37: Patents will be available for "new uses of a known product, new methods of using a known product, and new processes of using a known product." Exclusions: Countries can individually exclude surgical methods for the treatment of animals or humans, plants, animals, and biological processes for producing plants and animals from patentability Article 18.52: Patents for biologics will be for a minimum of five years Article 18.63: Copyright terms for performances or phonograms will be the life of the author plus 70 years. If the producer is a company, the copyright protecton will last for 70 years. Sound Clip Sources Hearing: Exploring the Implementation and Future of the Veterans Choice Program, Senate Committee on Veteran's Affairs, May 12, 2015. YouTube: Literal Drug Commercial by Pineapple-Shaped Lamps Additional Reading Article: White House Releases Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal by Vicki Needham, The Hill, November 5, 2015. Article: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Accord Explained by Kevin Granville, New York Times, October 5, 2015. Article: VA to Outsource Care for 180,000 Vets With Hepatitis C by Dennis Wagner of the Arizona Republic (re-posted on USA Today), June 21, 2015. Report: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress by Ian Fergusson, Mark McMinimy, and Brock Williams, Congressional Research Service, March 20, 2015. Article: 24 Highest-paid hosts in the news business: Top Paid News Anchors by Amarendra Bhushan, CEO World Magazine, August 27, 2014. Article: Michael Froman and the Revolving Door by Felix Salon, Reuters, December 11, 2009. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio) Cover Art Design by Only Child Imaginations
In July, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would allow expiring anthrax vaccines to be given to civilian emergency responders within the United States. The question: Is that vaccine safe? In this episode, we look at the history of the anthrax vaccine and the results of the investigation into the only anthrax attack on the United States: The anthrax laced letters which were mailed to members of the mainstream media and Congress in September and October 2001. Last, an update on the current security of the United States' anthrax supplies. Warning: This episode contains disturbing information. Please support Congressional Dish: Click here to contribute with PayPal or Bitcoin; click the PayPal "Make it Monthly" checkbox to create a monthly subscription Click here to support Congressional Dish for each episode via Patreon Mail Contributions to: 5753 Hwy 85 North #4576 Crestview, FL 32536 Thank you for supporting truly independent media! The Bill H.R. 1300: First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act Summary: Republican Policy Committee Legislative Digest for Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Creates a program for distributing anthrax vaccines that will soon expire to emergency responders who volunteer to accept them. Creates a program for tracking the vaccines. Creates a two year pilot program, in at least two states, for distributing the vaccines. Passed the House of Representatives 424-0 Sponsored by Rep. Peter King of New York 6 Pages Additional Reading Anthrax Vaccine Website: What is BioThrax (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed), Emergent BioSolutions. Article: Experimental Drugs Linked to Gulf War Veteran's Ills by Warren Leary, New York Times, May 7, 1994. Article: The Anthrax Vaccine Scandal by Laura Rozen, Salon, October 14, 2001. Report: Biological Warfare and Anthrax Vaccine by Barbara Loe Fisher, National Vaccine Information Center, December 2001. Article: Gulf War Vaccine Still a Problem, Leading Scientist Tells Inquiry by Michael Smith, The Telegraph, August 12, 2004. FDA Document: The safety and efficacy of anthrax vaccine have not been estabilished, and the preponderance of the world's literature show the vaccine is unsafe, and a contributor to Gulf War Syndrome as acknowledged in the vaccine's package insert by Meryl Nass MD, December 29, 2004. Report: Anthrax Vaccine and Public Health Policy by Martin Meyer Weiss, MD, Peter D. Weiss, MD, and Joseph B. Weiss, MD, American Journal of Public Health, November 2007. Article: Gulf War Illness: Thousands Still Report Symptoms by Diana Washington Valdez, El Paso Times (republished on, April 21, 2014. Report: The Project BioShield Act: Issues for the 113th Congress by Frank Gottron, Congressional Research Service, June 18, 2014. Report: Emergent BioSolutions 2014 Annual Report Website: Emergent BioSolutions Lobbying, Website: Emergent BioSolutions Lobbyists, 2001 Anthrax Attacks Article: U.S. Germ Warfare Research Pushes Treaty Limits by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William J. Broad, New York Times, September 4, 2001. Article: The Anthrax War by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal and R. James Woolsey (reprinted by Free Republic), October 17, 2001. Article: Public Enemy No. 2 by Richard Cohen, Washington Post, October 18, 2001. Article: Who Made the Anthrax? by Richard Butler, New York Times, October 18, 2001. Article: Anthrax Bacteria Likely to be US Military Strain by Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist, October 24, 2001. Article: F.B.I. Presents Anthrax Case, Saying Scientist Acted Alone by Scott Shane and Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, August 6, 2008. Article: Scientist Officially Exonerated in Anthrax Attacks by Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, August 8, 2008. Department of Justice Report: Amerithrax Investigative Summary, U.S. Department of Justice, February 19, 2010. Press Release: Justice Department and FBI Announce Formal Conclusion of Investigation into 2001 Anthrax Attacks, U.S. Department of Justice, February 19, 2010. F.B.I. Document Directory: Amerithrax or Anthrax Investigation Article: Timeline: How the Anthrax Terror Unfolded, NPR, February 15, 2011. Article: Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy? by Noah Shachtman, Wired, March 24, 2011. Article: The Anthrax Scare: Not a Germ of Truth by Nicholaus Mills, The Guardian, September 15, 2011. Article: New Evidence Adds Doubt to FBI's Case Against Anthrax Suspect by Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica, Greg Gordon of McClatchy, Jim Gilmore and Mike Wiser of PBS Frontline, October 10, 2011. Article: Did Bruce Ivins Hide Attack Anthrax From the FBI? by Stephen Engelberg of ProPublica, Greg Gordon of McClatchy, Jim Gilmore and Mike Wiser of PBS Frontline, October 10, 2011. GAO Report: Agency Approaches to Validation and Statistical Analyses Could be Improved, Government Accountability Office, December 2014. Article: FBI's 2001 Anthrax Attack Probe Was Seriously Flawed by Rebecca Trager, Scientific American, December 29, 2014. Article: Anthrax Fast Facts, CNN, May 23, 2015. The Patriot Act Article: Anti-Terrorism Bill Hits Snag on the Hill by John Lancaster, The Washington Post, October 3, 2001. Article: Congress Had No Time to Read the USA Patriot Act by Paul Blumenthal, Sunlight Foundation, March 2, 2009. Live Anthrax Shipments Article: Our Bad: Pentagon Mails Live Anthrax in Error by Paul Shinkman, US News & World Report, May 27, 2015. Article: Pentagon Now Says Army Mistakenly Sent Live Anthrax to All 50 States by Richard Sisk,, September 1, 2015. Audio/Video Sources Press Conference: Anthrax Vaccine Immunization Program, Department of Defense, (broadcast on C-SPAN), June 28, 2002. Press Conference with Dr. Steven Hatfill: Anthrax Investigation, C-SPAN, August 25, 2002. United Nations Security Council Meeting: Iraqi Weapons Compliance Debate, United Nations Security Council (broadcast on C-SPAN), February 5, 2003. Hearing: Federal Bureau of Investigation Oversight, House Judiciary Committee (broadcast on C-SPAN), September 16, 2008. Hearing: Federal Bureau of Investigation Oversight, Senate Judiciary Committee (broadcast on C-SPAN), September 17, 2008. YouTube: Ron Paul Patriot Act NOBODY READ IT!, uploaded July 7, 2009. Press Conference: Report on 2001 Anthrax Letters, National Academy of Sciences (broadcast on C-SPAN), February 15, 2011. Television Episode: The Anthrax Files by PBS Frontline, October 11, 2011. Hearing: Defense Department Anthrax Shipments, House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (broadcast on C-SPAN), July 28, 2015. Music Presented in This Episode Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)
Meet Reda Marie Hicks, a shaker and mover in the legal spouse world. She is a member of the MSJDN, and has her own practice. Here she discusses taking legal and MBA training and making it portable.
Danielle Trosclair is a Louisiana National Guard (AGR) spouse who's first taste of military life was becoming a Family Readiness Leader, and she tells us about it and also about being active with CASY/MSCCN!
Cara Loken talks about the non-profit program she started to help veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries, post traumatic stress disorders and thos who care for them thru art therapy. Also, at the end is an "easter egg"....
Meet Melanie Binversie, one half of the team that brought you Stars and Stripes Doulas! In this episode we discuss what a doula is, how to be come a doula and what different kinds of doula services there are.
Meet MJ Boice, and get to know her voice like you've come to know her writings in many a magazine and online blogs! We chat on topics like what it takes to be a successful magazine writer, on upcoming personal appearances and on her famous "WORD!"
Dontaye Scott-Neal is a Marine spouse who has tackled infertility and how Tricare failed her, and went on to champion adoption in the military.
Meet Robin Pruitt, the 2017 AFI Kentucky National Guard Spouse of the Year, and how she handles the duties of the Family Readiness Group Leader, taking care of the newly minted Guard families until they are assigned their first Guard installation.
Article writer and blogger superstar Rebecca Alwine tells us how she does it - being in over 31 publications, and well over 200 articles!
Meet Kim Robertson, an Air Force spouse who's family is a geo-bachelor family - they live at one base, while hubby is at a differnt base!
Tesha Jackson has some great tips for new families on a budget, some insight into Month of the Military Child as celebrated in Delaware, and some mental health discussions.
Lizann Lightfoot is an accomplished milspouse blogger, and the creator/author of The Seasoned Spouse Blog. In this episode, she tells us the history of her success and how to be an effective blogger.

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