YCQM: December 1, 2013 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

YCQM: December 1, 2013

Posted: Updated:
BURLINGTON, Vt. -

FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED NEWS SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS. THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME."

>>> AND GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE. HELP FOR VETERANS, SECRET SECURITY MISSION TO NORTH AFRICA, HEALTH REFORM AND MORE. TOPICS WE'LL TACKLE THIS MORNING WITH OUR GUEST, CONGRESSMAN PETER WELCH. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING.

>> THANK YOU.

>> AND JOINING ON THE PANEL THIS MORNING, KYLE MIDURA.

>> THANKS, DARREN. CONGRESSMAN WELCH, OBVIOUSLY HEALTHCARE HAS ON THE TIP OF EVERYONE'S TONGUE, WHETHER AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL OR HERE IN VERMONT. WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING FOR AS THIS PROGRESSES?

>> THE HEALTH SITE ROLLOUT HAS BEEN A MESS AND IT'S REALLY BEEN A SETBACK AND THEN, OF COURSE, THE PRESIDENT'S ASSURANCE THAT YOU CAN KEEP YOUR POLICIES AND FOILS ARE CANCELLED -- POLICIES ARE CANCEL, IT'S BEEN A SET BACK ON THE ROLLOUT, BUT THE BOTTOM LINE, WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE WAY WE HAVE HEALTHCARE IN THIS COUNTRY. IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE AND TOO MANY PEOPLE AROUND COVERED AND WE HAVE TO GET THROUGH THESE PROBLEMS, AND BY THE WAY, IF THE ROLLOUT RESULTS IN PEOPLE HAVING LESS TIME BECAUSE THEY CAN'T GET ON THE WEBTZ, I THINK EF -- WEBSITE, I THINK WE HAVE TO ADJUST THE TIME TO THEY DON'T PAY THE PENALTY FOR THE FAILURE TO GET THE WEBSITE GOING. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE IS SOMETHING THAT COVERS MILLIONS MORE AMERICANS, BEGIN THE PROCESS OF REFORM WHERE THE FOCUS IS GOING TO BE ON LOWERING COST AND IMPROVING QUALITY, AND THAT'S A LONG-TERM CHALLENGE. VERMONT IS DOING BETTER THAN MANY OTHER STATES. VERMONT, CALIFORNIA, KENTUCKY ARE THE THREE STATES THAT ARE CITED OFTENTIMES AS HAVING THE MOST EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN, BUT IT'S GOING TO BE AN EFFORT THAT'S GOING TO BE A LOT OF BUMPS ALONG THE ROAD AND I THINK THOSE OF US WHO ARE SUPPORTERS OF HEALTHCARE HAVE TO BE LISTENING VERY ATTENTIVELY TO SMALL BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS, WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS, ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT THE, AND FIX THEM.

>> HOW MUCH OF THIS IS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DIDN'T GIVE THE CONTRACTORS ENOUGH TIME TO SET UP THE WEB PAGE AND HOW MUCH OF THIS IS WE NOW NEED TO HOLD THE CONTRACTORS ACCOUNTABLE FOR NOT PROVIDING THE SERVICES THAT ARE CONTRACTED FOR?

>> WELL, NUMBER ONE, I THINK WE DO HAVE TO HOLD THE CONTRACTORS ACCOUNTABLE. ANY FAILURES ON THEIR PART, THEY SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THAT. SECOND, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT GREAT AT DOING I.T. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAS EMERGED HERE IS WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS PROCURING I.T., IT GENERALLY BLOWS IT. IT TAKES A STRONG MANAGEMENT STAFF, AND FRANKLY, A LOT OF US WONDER WHY WE DIDN'T GO TO SILICON VALLEY AND SOME COMPANIES WHERE THEY HAVE HAD ENORMOUS SUCCESS IN ROLLING OUT COMPLICATED WEBSITES IN ORDER TO HELP US DO IT, SO LET'S HOPE THERE'S LESSONS LEARNED HERE BECAUSE I.T. IS OBVIOUSLY ESSENTIAL IN BUSINESS AND ESSENTIAL IN GOVERNMENT, BUT IT'S NOT AS THOUGH GOVERNMENT IS SUITABLE TO BE ROLLING OUT A BIG I.T. PROGRAM.

>> YOU MENTIONED THAT VERMONT IS TOUTED AS ONE OF THE STATES THAT'S DOING IT RIGHT. YET, VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT HAS SEEN ITS SHARE OF PROBLEMS.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> AS WELL. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT?

>> WELL, OBVIOUSLY I DEFER TO THE GOVERNOR ON THAT, BUT I THINK THERE'S TWO THINGS. NUMBER ONE, WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A MAJOR ROLLOUT OF AN I.T. PROGRAM, IT'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE A LITTLE BIT BUMPY. MEDICARE PART D, WHICH WAS A GEORGE BUSH INITIATIVE, THAT HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH THE WEBSITE WHEN THAT WAS ROLLED OUT AND YOU HAD TO WORK THROUGH THEM. VERMONT IS IN THE PROCESS OF WORKING THROUGH ITS OWN HEALTH CONNECT AND I THINK WHEN YOU HAVE THE BUMPS, I THINK FAIRNESS REQUIRES THAT IF THERE'S DEADLINES THAT CAN'T BE MET BECAUSE PEOPLE COULDN'T GET ON THE WEBSITE, WE'VE GOT TO ADJUST THE DEADLINES BECAUSE WE CAN'T PENALIZE FOLKS WHO ARE TRYING TO GET ON THE WEBSITE AND THE WEBSITE IS NOT WORKING. SO ALL IN ON TRYING TO FIX THE PROBLEMS, BUT, B, MAKE ADJUSTMENTS IN THE DEADLINES TO REFLECT THE PROBLEMS OF THE WEBSITE THAT ARE NOT CAUSED BY PEOPLE TRYINGITE.

>> YOU WERE RECENTLY ON A TRIP TO NORTH AFRICA TALKING SECURITY IN LIBYA. WHAT WERE YOU DOING THERE?

>> WELL, THE GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE ON WHICH I SERVE HAS OVERSIGHT WITH RESPECT TO EMBASSY SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS THERE'S BEEN AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF CONTROVERSY IN CONGRESS, FRANKLY, I THINK POLITICIZED, ABOUT BENGHAZI WHERE WE HAD THE TRAGIC LOSS OF LIFE OF OUR AMBASSADOR AND SEVERAL OF THE SECURITY PEOPLE. SO THE PURPOSE OF THIS TRIP WAS TO INSPECT THE SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS AND UPGRADES THAT HAVE BEEN IMPROVED. AND THEY'RE SUBSTANTIALLY IMPROVED IN TRIPOLI AND I WAS THERE WITH THE CHAIR OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE WITH ME AND HE'S BEEN A BENGHAZI CRITIC, BUT HE WAS THERE ABOUT A WEEK OR TWO AFTER THE EVENT AND HE WAS ABLE TO MAKE THE BEFORE AND AFTER COMPARISON AT TRIPOLI. THE THING THAT ALSO RAISES A QUESTION, IF WE HAVE HIGHER WALLS AND THEN THESE BARRIERS AND ELABORATE SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS AND CREATE A FORTRESS, AT WHAT POINT DOES SECURITY BECOME SO GREAT IN CONSTRAINING THAT OUR DIPLOMATS CAN'T DO THEIR JOB? AND THAT'S A QUESTION WE'VE GOT TO ADDRESS BECAUSE IT'S NOT LIKE WE CAN BUILD AN IMPREGNABLE FORTRESS AND KEEPING PEOPLE OUT, BUT IT KEEPS US IN AND INTERFERES WITH US DOING THE JOB. SO AT A CERTAIN POINT, YES, WE HAVE TO HAVE GOOD SECURITY, BUT IF THE SITUATION IS SO DANGEROUS, I MEAN, WE PROBABLY SHOULDN'T HAVE PEOPLE IN THE AREAS WHERE THAT'S THE CASE.

>> DID YOU VISIT THE BENGHAZI SITE?

>> NO, WE DIDN'T. WE WERE UNABLE TO GO TO BENGHAZI, SO WE WERE IN TRIPOLI FOR A DAY AND THEN WE WERE IN CAIRO AND THEN SOUTHERN SINAI. SOUTHERN SINAI WAS JUST SUCH A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE FOR ME BECAUSE I WAS SEEING TROOPS THERE WHO ENGAGE IN PEACEKEEPING. THE ISRAEL-EGYPTIAN PEACE AGREEMENT OVER 30 YEARS OLD IS MONITORED BY A MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE OF OBSERVERS, AND THAT PEACE AGREEMENT HAS HELD IN THE SINAI, AND THERE'S 13 NATIONS THAT CONTRIBUTE TROOPS. WE HAVE TROOPS THERE NOW FROM THE TEXAS NATIONAL GUARD, KIND OF ROTATING, BUT THESE FOLKS ARE DOING THE HARD WORK OF PEACEKEEPING AND IT WAS SUCH A CONTRAST FROM MY VISITS TO TROOPS IN BATTLE SITUATIONS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, AND IT WAS SUCH A HIGH RETURN FOR A RELATIVELY VERY LOW COST INVESTMENT. IT WAS REASSURING TO SEE THE PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS CAN WORK EFFECTIVELY.

>> NOW, THIS IS BILLED AS SORT OF A SECRET MISSION FOR YOUR OWN SECURITY. WE DIDN'T GET THE DETAILS ON EXACTLY WHERE YOU WOULD BE AND WHAT YOU WERE DOING THERE. NOW THAT YOU'RE BACK, YOU CAN TALK ABOUT IT. WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY WITH THIS EXPERIENCE AND WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH THAT INFORMATION? WILL RECOMMENDATIONS BE PUT FORWARD?

>> YES, FIRST OF ALL, ON THE SECURITY, THAT'S ONGOING, WHAT OUR EMBASSY IS DOING AND EXPECTED AND WE'LL BE MAKING RECOMMENDATIONS ON IT. SECOND, THE REASON FOR THE SECURITY, WE JUST FOLLOW THE PROTOCOL OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND THE MILITARY, AND THEY DON'T LIKE TO ADVERTISE WHERE WE'RE GOING IF IT'S IN LIBYA AND THEN IN CAIRO AND THE SOUTHERN SINAI. BUT THAT'S WHERE WE WERE. THE OTHER ISSUE IS THAT THE MIDDLE EAST IS JUST IN A STATE OF UPHEAVAL AND WHAT I FOUND IN LIBYA, JUST SPEAKING ABOUT THAT, THIS IS A GOVERNMENT THAT OVERTHREW GADHAFI. IT WAS ALL ABOUT HIM FOR OVER 30 YEARS AND THEY HAVE NO INSTITUTIONS AND THE CHALLENGE THEY HAVE IS BUILDING INSTITUTIONS IN ORDER TO HAVE THAT SOCIETY FUNCTION. THEY'VE GOT A REAL SHOT AT IT, 5 1/2 MILLION PEOPLE, BUT IT HAS SIGNIFICANT OIL WEALTH, SO IF THEY CAN FIGURE OUT AND CREATE A WAY POLITICALLY TO MAKE COMPROMISES ON THEIR DIFFERENCES, THEY HAVE A REAL SHOT AT DEMOCRATIC SUCCESS. IN EGYPT, IT'S GOING TO BE IN MANY WAYS MUCH MORE CHALLENGING. IT'S A FAR LARGER POPULATION, OVER 80 MILLION, AND IT HAS AN ECONOMY THAT'S IN SHAMBLES AND GETTING WORSE WITH ALL OF THE INSTABILITY. SO THAT'S A SITUATION WHERE WE COULD GO FROM VERY DIFFICULT TO EXTREMELY DIFFICULT.

>> IT SEEMS NATION-BUILDING HAS BECOME MORE OF A FOCUS FOR THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AS WE'VE MOVED BEYOND VIETNAM, DESERT STORM AND IRAQ. THE FOCUS SEEMS NOW IT'S NOT ONLY HOW DO WE GET BEYOND THE CRISIS, BUT HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT EMERGES AFTERWARDS?

>> WELL, ENSURE IS A WORD THAT SUGGESTS WE HAVE MORE CONTROL THAN WE ACTUALLY DO. I THINK THE EMPHASIS IS LESS ON NATION BUILDING THAN DIPLOMACY. NATION BUILDING IS SOMETHING WE ATTEMPTED TO DO IN AFGHANISTAN AND I THINK IT WAS A FAILURE, BUT WHAT'S REASSURING TO ME IN EGYPT WHEN WE SPOKE TO OUR AMBASSADOR THERE IS THAT THE DIPLOMATIC AND AID EFFORTS THAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT WERE NOT THESE HUGE CAPITAL INTENSIVE PROJECTS WHERE YOU SPEND MILLIONS, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND THEN THE THING FALLS APART, BUT TALKING ABOUT MICRO ASSISTANCE LIKE VERY LOW-TECH SEWER AND WATER SYSTEMS AND CLEAN WATER SYSTEMS THAT COULD BE IMPLEMENTED ON A VILLAGE BY VILLAGE BASIS. WHAT WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON IS DIPLOMACY. I DON'T THINK THERE'S AN APPETITE IN THIS COUNTRY TO HAVE ANOTHER IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN. IT DOESN'T MEAN WE SHOULD MOVE THE FIELD, BUT WE SHOULD BE EDGE -- ENGAGED VERY MUCH DIPLOMATICALLY AND TO THE EXTENT THAT THERE IS AID, WHICH IS ALWAYS CONTROVERSIAL IN AMERICA, IT SHOULD BE LOW-TECH SITUATIONS THAT HAVE A BENEFIT TO PEOPLE IN COMMUNITIES AND DON'T CREATE THIS ENORMOUS OPPORTUNITY FOR GRAFT AND CORRUPTION.

>> SPEAKING OF DIPLOMACY, THE IRAN FIRST STEP AGREEMENT CAME THROUGH. WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THAT?

>> IT'S A FIRST STEP. THERE'S AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF ANXIETY BECAUSE IT WOULD BE A TERRIBLE THING IF IRAN HAD A BOMB AND AMERICA AGREES WITH THAT AND THAT'S WHY THE SANCTIONS THAT WERE AMERICAN LED HAVE BEEN SO PUNITIVE AND ULTIMATELY EFFECTIVE. SO THERE'S A LOT OF SUSPICION ABOUT IRAN, SO PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED, PARTICULARLY ISRAEL AND SOME OF OUR ALLIES, ABOUT WHAT'S THE IMPLICATION OF THIS. WILL THEY GET WHAT THEY WANT AT THE END OF THE DAY, BUT THIS AGREEMENT IS A STANDSTILL AGREEMENT. THERE'S A GUARANTEE THAT IRAN CANNOT ADVANCE ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM. IT HAS TO BE A STANDSTILL AND IT'S NOT A "TRUST ME" SITUATION. THERE'S INTRUSIVE AND DAILY INSPECTIONS, SO IF THERE IS ONE HALF STEP FORWARD BY IRAN ON ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM, THEN ALL THE SANCTION RELEASES ARE REVERSIBLE, SO THIS IS GIVING US AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE IF A NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT CAN RESULT IN THE END OF THE NUCLEAR WEAPON DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM IN IRAN.

>> AS YOU KNOW, A LOT OF CRITICS ARE SAYING THAT WHY ARE WE MAKING DEALS WITH SUCH A DECEITFUL COUNTRY THAT COULD EASILY GO BACK ON THIS BECAUSE THERE'S NOT ENOUGH TEETH IN THIS DEAL.

>> RIGHT. THE REASON THAT WE'RE MAKING THE STANDSTILL AGREEMENT IS TO SEE IF WE CAN NEGOTIATE A LONG-TERM AGREEMENT, BUT IT IS NOT --

>> A PILOT PROGRAM, IF YOU WILL.

>> YEAH, IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRY TO RESOLVE THIS WHERE THE GOAL ON OUR PART, AND OUR ALLIES, IS TO GUARANTEE THAT IRAN DOES NOT HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON. THAT'S THE GOAL. WILL WE ACHIEVE IT? TIME WILL TELL, BUT IN THIS INTERIM PERIOD, THERE HAS TO BE A TOTAL STANDSTILL ON THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM AND IT'S MONITORED WITH DAILY INSPECTIONS. ALL RIGHT? SO FOLKS WHO ARE SKEPTICAL HAVE TOTAL REASON TO BE SKEPTICAL, BUT DOES THAT MEAN THAT WE DON'T CREATE A SITUATION WHERE THERE'S NO ADVANCE BY IRAN IN THE SIX-MONTH PERIOD AND WE SEE IF THERE'S ANYTHING WE CAN WORK OUT THROUGH DIPLOMACY. WHO KNOWS? BUT IT'S NOT AS THOUGH WE'VE ACCEDED TO WHAT IRAN WANTED BEFORE, WHICH WAS NEGOTIATIONS WHILE THEY CONTINUE ENRICHMENT AND THAT WAS OBVIOUSLY UNACCEPTABLE.

>> AND WE SHOULD POINT OUT, I BELIEVE IT'S $7 BILLION THAT IRAN GETS IN EXCHANGE FOR THIS AGREEMENT IN PRIMARILY OIL SALES, CORRECT?

>> THAT'S RIGHT. IT'S 4 TO $7 MILLION, BUT KEEP IN MIND, THAT'S WHAT THEY GET, BUT THERE'S ABOUT $100 BILLION OF IRANIAN ASSETS FROZEN, SO THEY'RE GETTING A FRACTION OF THAT AND THE SANCTIONS ARE CONTINUED IN EFFECT AND AT THE END OF THIS SIX-MONTH PERIOD, IRAN WILL GET 4 TO $7 BILLION, BUT THE AMOUNT OF SANCTIONS WILL EXCEED THAT, SO THERE'S NOT A -- THERE'S NOT A RELAXATION IN THE WAY OF THE SANCTIONS. THERE'S SOME ECONOMIC RELIEF, BUT SHORT-TERM AND LIMITED.

>> 4 TO $7 BILLION.

>> THAT'S CORRECT.

>> LET'S MOVE ON, YOU MENTIONED AFGHANISTAN BEING, AS YOU JUST SAID, A FAILURE. AS YOU KNOW, ABOUT 1500 VERMONT GUARD TROOPS WERE CALLED TO AFGHANISTAN, THE LARGEST CALL-UP SINCE WORLD WAR II. THOSE FOLKS ARE BACK, BUT WE STILL HAVE TROOPS IN AFGHANISTAN. YOU THINK WE SHOULD PULL OUT COMPLETELY?

>> I DO, BY 2014, AND THE REASON I DO IS LOOK AT WHAT KARZAI IS DOING NOW. HE'S NEGOTIATING, BUT ALSO MAKING HIS UNREALISTIC AND WILD DEMANDS. HE NOW IS IMPOSING CONDITIONS WHERE HE GETS TO AN AGREEMENT AND SAYS HE WON'T SIGN IT, HE'LL WAIT UNTIL AN ELECTION HAPPENS. PAST IS PROLOGUE. IN THE PAST, WE SENT BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OVER THERE THAT HAS BEEN FUNNELED INTO CRONY CORRUPTION AND MANY MEMBERS OF THE KARZAI FAMILY HAVE GOTTEN INCREDIBLY RICH OFF THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER AND THAT HAPPENED DURING THE WAR. NOW IN 2014 WHEN WE COME HOME AND WE'RE GOING TO SEND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR TO KARZAI, WHAT GIVES US CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WILL TREAT THAT MONEY WITH ANY MORE RESPECT THAN THEY DID BEFORE? SO WE DON'T HAVE A WILLING PARTNER THERE. WE DON'T HAVE A COOPERATIVE ALLY. I JUST THINK IT'S TIME TO CALL THE QUESTION. YOU KNOW, IN IRAQ, WE CAME HOME AND IN AFGHANISTAN, I THINK WE SHOULD COME HOME. LARGELY, I THINK WE SHOULD BECAUSE I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN THE KARZAI GOVERNMENT OR THE POST-KARZAI GOVERNMENT TO BE A WILLING AND COOPERATIVE PARTNER AND I THINK WE'RE GETTING RIPPED OFF.

>> WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THE FOLKS, THOUGH, WHO WORRY THAT IF WE PULL OUT COMPLETELY, THAT COUNTRY WILL THEN BE A BREEDING GROUND FOR MORE TERRORISTS LIKE OSAMA BIN LADEN?

>> WHAT I SAY IS THAT THE TERRORIST THREAT THAT WE HAVE AROUND THE WORLD IS REAL, BUT IT'S DECENTRALIZED AND IT'S NOT A NATION STATE-CENTERED EVENT. SO WE PUT THIS HUGE FORCE IN AFGHANISTAN AND WE DID THIS IMMENSE AMOUNT OF NATION BUILDING, BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, AND WHAT YOU SAW WAS THE EFFORTS MIGRATED TO OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD. SO OUR STRATEGY CAN'T BE A NATION-BUILDING STRATEGY OR ONE THAT HAS AS A PRESUMPTION THAT THE NATION STATE IS THE THREAT. IT'S A DISPERSED AND DECENTRALIZED THREAT, SO WE HAVE TO ADOPT OUR STRATEGIES TO ACCOUNT FOR THAT.

>> CONGRESSMAN WELCH, WE NEED TO TAKE A QUICK BREAK AND WE'RE BACK RIGHT AFTER THIS. ly f

>>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYONE. WE'RE TALKING WITH CONGRESSMAN PETER WELCH THIS MORNING.

>> CONGRESSMAN, YOU PROPOSED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD FORCE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO CUT ITS ENERGY SPENDING BY ABOUT A BILLION DOLLARS, I BELIEVE. TALK TO US ABOUT THAT PROGRAM, WHAT'S ON THE TABLE, HOW WILL IT WORK?

>> WELL, IT'S ENERGY EFFICIENCY. YOU KNOW, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS MILLIONS OF SQUARE FEET OF BUILDINGS AND A LOT OF THEM LEAK HEAT IN THE WINTER, COOLING IN THE SUMMER. AND CORY GARDNER IS A REPUBLICAN FROM COLORADO AND I ARE PROPOSING THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT EXPAND THE PROGRAM THAT ALLOWS COMPANIES TO BID ON RETROFITTING THE FEDERAL BUILDINGS. AND THE COMPANY PUTS THE MONEY UP, SO THERE'S NO OUT-OF-POCKET TO THE TAXPAYER, AND THEN THE COMPANY THAT DOES ALL THE WORK -- AND THAT'S JOBS, BY THE WAY -- GETS REIMBURSED AS THE BUILDING -- AS THE GOVERNMENT SAVES MONEY ON ENERGY. SO IT'S AN ENERGY SAVINGS PERFORMANCE CONTRACT. THE ADMINISTRATION IS IN FAVOR OF IT, BUT IT'S AN AREA OF COMMON GROUND IN A DIVIDED CONGRESS, SO WE'VE GOT SEVERAL DEMOCRATS AND SEVERAL REPUBLICANS WORKING TOGETHER TO SAY, HEY, LET'S HAVE A PRIVATE SECTOR-PUBLIC SECTOR PARTNERSHIP. PRIVATE SECTOR HAS THE SKILL, THEY'VE GOT THE WORKFORCE. LET THEM PUT THE MONEY UP, AND THEN PAY THEM BACK AS WE ACHIEVE SAVINGS.

>> HERE IN THE STATE, ENERGY LEVELS, THE STATE WILL BE ADDING DOLLARS OF ITS OWN TO PROVIDE HEAT FUNDS THAT HAVE BEEN SLASHED AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. IS THERE ANYTHING THAT'S BEING DONE WITH YOU IN CONGRESS TO SEE IF WE CAN GET THE FUNDS BACK, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW VERMONT IS SAYING WE'RE GOING TO FOOT THIS BILL, BUT IT'S GOING TO HURT OUR BUDGET.

>> WELL, THAT'S THE BRUTAL DIVISION IN CONGRESS RIGHT NOW. SENATOR LEHI, SANDERS AND I FIGHT EVERY YEAR FOR HEAT FUNDING AND A LOT OF US IN NEW ENGLAND WHO KNOW HOW COLD THE WINTERS GET FIGHT FOR THAT FUNDING, AND IT'S BEEN CUT, PARTLY, SIGNIFICANTLY, AS A RESULT OF THE BUDGET BATTLES WE'RE HAVING. IN THE BOTTOM LINE, THERE'S CERTAINLY THINGS WHERE I THINK THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SIMPLY HAS TO STEP IN TO HELP FOLKS WHO HAVE NO ABILITY TO CONTROL THE COST OF HOME HEATING OIL, BUT HAVE TO GET THROUGH THE WINTER. SO WE, PATRICK, BERNIE, AND I, WILL BE CONTINUING OUR FIGHT AND IN THE PAST, WE'VE OFTENTIMES HAD SUCCESS GETTING MORE MONEY, BUT IT IS A REALLY TOUGH BUDGET YEAR AND IF WE WERE SENSIBLE, I THINK WHEN IT CAME TO PROTECTING PEOPLE IN THE WINTER, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WOULD DO ITS JOB AND IT'S A REAL BURDEN ON THE STATE OF VERMONT AND OTHER STATES THAT HAVE TO STEP IN.

>> TALK ABOUT THE ATTITUDE AND THE -- YOU KNOW, WHAT'S GOING ON IN CONGRESS. I MEAN, BECAUSE HERE WE'VE HEARD YOU SAY THAT IMMIGRATION COULD BE AT A STANDSTILL, IMMIGRATION REFORM BECAUSE OF THE ONGOING BATTLE, AND AS YOU KNOW, HERE IN VERMONT, DAIRY FARMS REALLY NEED FOREIGN WORKERS BECAUSE THEY'RE FILLING POSITIONS THAT A LOT OF FOLKS JUST DON'T WANT TO DO THAT KIND OF WORK ANYMORE.

>> RIGHT.

>> SO WHAT'S THE LATEST ON THAT AND CAN ANYTHING GET DONE?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, THAT'S THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTION. CONGRESS IS BROKEN, AND IT'S BROKEN BECAUSE IT DOESN'T OPERATE THE WAY WE DO A TOWN MEETING OR WE DO IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE WHERE YOU HAVE A POINT OF VIEW, BUT YOU RESPECT THE POINT OF VIEW OF SOMEBODY ELSE. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THE PERSON YOU DISAGREE WITH HAS THE SAME COMMITMENT TO THE TOWN OR TO THE STATE THAT YOU DO, YOU JUST HAVE DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW, AND WE END UP TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO FOCUS ON THE COMMON GROUND WHERE YOU AGREE. AND IN WASHINGTON, IT'S GOTTEN BROKEN AND THERE'S A COUPLE OF MAJOR REASONS. ONE, I THINK GERRYMANDERING HAS BEEN A REAL PROBLEM. YOU HAVE THESE DISTRICTS THAT ARE DESIGNED LIKE SPAGHETTI AND IT'S INTENDED TO CREATE A VERY SAFE DISTRICT FOR A DEMOCRAT OR A VERY SAFE DISTRICT FOR A REPUBLICAN. IT'S MUCH MORE CHALLENGING ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE RIGHT NOW, BUT A LOT OF MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES WHO WOULD LIKE TO COMPROMISE FEAR IF THEY DO, THEY WILL GET A PRIMARY AND THEY DO. WE'VE SEEN THAT IN THE SENATE RACES, SO IT REALLY GETS IN THE WAY OF US SITTING DOWN AND TRYING TO TREAT COMPROMISE AS THOUGH IT'S NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD. A SECOND THING, THE COUNTRY REALLY IS DIVIDED ON HEALTHCARE AND INSTEAD OF US PULLING TOGETHER AND SAYING, ALL RIGHT, IT'S THE LAW OF THE LAND, HOW DO WE FIX IT, WHAT'S BROKEN, WHAT ARE THINGS WE CAN DO TO MOVE IT AHEAD, WE'RE STAYING IN THE POLITICAL MODE. ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I HAVE SPENT SO MUCH TIME WORKING ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE AND WAS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF THIS GROUP CALLED PROBLEM SOLVERS, NO LABELS, WHICH IS HALF DEMOCRATS AND HALF REPUBLICANS, IS BECAUSE I ACTUALLY THINK FIXING OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY, AND RIGHT NOW, I THINK A LOT OF THE LEADERSHIP IS COMING FROM OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES AROUND VERMONT AND FROM OUR STATE. YOU KNOW, GOVERNORS ARE PLAYING AN INCREASINGLY BIG ROLE AND THEY'RE THE GLUE THAT'S HOLDING THIS COUNTRY TOGETHER, BUT WASHINGTON HAS TO GET ITS ACT TOGETHER.

>> SPEAKING OF IMMIGRATION REFORM AGAIN, IS THAT GOING ANYWHERE?

>> I THINK IT CAN MOVE AND IT'S GOING TO BE UP TO ONE PERSON, SPEAKER BOEHNER. IF HE PUT AN IMMIGRATION BILL ON THE FLOOR, IT WOULD PASS. THERE'S A LOT OF FARMS IN REPUBLICAN DISTRICTS AND THOSE REPRESENTATIVES ARE HEARING THE SAME THING I'M HEARING. IT'S NOT JUST FARMS, BY THE WAY. THE FARMERS REALLY NEED IT IN VERMONT, BUT IT'S OUR UNIVERSITIES THAT HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET TALENTED PEOPLE TO WORK THERE IN SOME OF OUR HIGH-TECH BUSINESSES, SO WE NEED FOR OUR OWN ECONOMY A GOOD IMMIGRATION BILL AND REPUBLICANS ARE HEARING FROM THEIR UNIVERSITIES, THEIR FARMERS, THE SAME THING I'M HEARING HERE. SO I REALLY DO BELIEVE IF WE PUT A BILL ON THE FLOOR, IT WOULD PASS. IT WOULD GET A MINORITY OF REPUBLICAN SUPPORT, BUT THERE'S A LOT OF FOLKS THAT WOULD DO IT. BUT IT'S CONTROVERSIAL, MORE SO ON THE REPUBLICAN SIDE THAN OUR SIDE, AND MR. BOEHNER HAS TO MAKE THE DECISION AND MY HOPE IS HE'LL LET US HAVE A VOTE ON IT.

>> THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF HEADLINES LATELY ABOUT PEOPLE GETTING SICK ACROSS THE COUNTRY FROM TAINTED FOOD IN SOME WAY.

>> RIGHT.

>> YOU'RE CALLING FOR STRICTER RULES ON THAT AND CALLING ON THE FDA TO CHANGE SOME THINGS. WHAT ARE YOU PROPOSING?

>> BOTTOM LINE, WE HAVE TO HAVE A FDA INSPECTION SYSTEM AND FOOD SAFETY INSPECTION SYSTEM THAT AMERICA CAN HAVE CONFIDENCE IN AND IT HAS BEEN SUBJECT TO VERY, VERY SIGNIFICANT BUDGET CUTS. EVERYBODY IS CONCERNED ABOUT OUR BUDGET AND RIGHTLY SO, AND LONG-TERM, BUT LET'S STEP BACK A MINUTE. THE DEBT HAS ACTUALLY BEEN COMING DOWN, IT'S BEEN CUT IN HALF AND A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN THE DEBT WAS A RESULT OF THE COLLAPSE WE HAD IN 2008 WITH THE BANKING CRISIS. WE'VE GOT A LOT MORE TO DO, BUT EVEN AS WE ARE DEALING WITH THE DEBT, WE'VE GOT TO UNDERSTAND, WE'VE GOT TO MAINTAIN SOME OF OUR INSTITUTIONS THAT PROVIDE FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY, LIKE THE FDA, LIKE THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE. AND THIS IS WHERE, IF WE HAD THE CAPACITY TO FIND COMMON GROUND, YOU KNOW, REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS SUPPORT SCIENTIFIC RACEWAY SEARCH AND FOOD SAFETY -- RESEARCH AND FOOD SAFETY, BUT IN CONGRESS, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT FOR US TO SAY WE AGREE ON THOSE THINGS EVEN WHILE WE DISAGREE ON SOME TITLE OF INTULTHSMENT REFORMS -- SOME ENTITLEMENT REFORMS OR HEALTHCARE REFORM.

>> HEALTHCARE REFORM HAS BEEN AT THE CENTER OF THE NATIONAL FOCUS AS FAR AS BALLOONING COSTS. COLLEGE EDUCATION HAS SEEN A SIMILAR RISE. THE PRESIDENT RECENTLY PROPOSED A VALUE SYSTEM TO ATTACH FEDERAL LOANS TO THE PERCEIVED VALUE, SO HOW MUCH BANG FOR THE BUCK UNIVERSITIES AND OTHER PUBLIC SCHOOLS PROVIDE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? I REALIZE THAT SOME OF THOSE DETAILS HAVEN'T BEEN TOTALLY IRONED OUT YET.

>> WELL, I SUPPORT THAT. I HEAR FROM FAMILIES ABOUT THE COST OF COLLEGE EDUCATION ALMOST MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE BECAUSE IT IS BEYOND REACH OF THE MIDDLE INCOME FAMILY. YOU HAVE A HUSBAND AND WIFE BOTH WORKING AND THEY STILL HAVE A HARD TIME AFFORDING HAVING THEIR KIDS GOING TO COLLEGE, EVEN WITH COLLEGES BEING GENEROUS WITH AID, AND PART OF IT HAS BEEN THIS CONSTANT ESCALATION IN TUITION, AND TUITION IS LIKE HEALTHCARE. IT JUST KEEPS GOING UP AND UP AND UP, SO WHAT THE PRESIDENT IS SAYING, IS HEY, WE'VE GOT TO GET THE COST UNDER CONTROL HERE AND THERE HAS TO BE SOME CORRELATION BETWEEN WHAT YOU'RE PAYING AND THEN WHAT YOU'RE GETTING. SO I'M VERY MUCH IN FAVOR OF TRYING TO DO THAT AND I KNOW WE'RE GETTING ATTENTION FROM OUR COLLEGE LEADERS, OUR ADMINISTRATORS. AS YOU KNOW, THE PRESIDENT OF UVM IS KEEPING TUITION IN CHECK, IN MIDDLEBURY THEY'RE DOING THAT, OUR STATE COLLEGES, COMMUNITY COLLEGES HAVE BEEN REALLY GOOD AT THAT, BUT I THINK AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, WE'VE GOT TO PROVIDE REAL INCENTIVES, CARROT AND STICK ALMOST, WHERE YOU'RE ADMINISTRATORS START PLAYING A BIGGER ROLE IN KEEPING THE TUITION INCREASES RESTRAINED.

>> THAT BEING SAID, ARE YOU AT ALL CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT METRICS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ULTIMATELY USES TO DEFINE VALUE? IT'S A VERY SUBJECTIVE TERM, IT WOULD SEEM.

>> SURE, I AM, AND I THINK THERE'S GOT TO BE A PARTNERSHIP. I THINK THAT THE METRICS AND THE ADMINISTRATION HAS TO BE DONE AT A LOCAL LEVEL. I HAVE MUCH MORE CONFIDENCE THAT THE PRESIDENT OF UVM OR THE PRESIDENT OF OUR STATE COLLEGES COULD MAKE GOOD JUDGMENTS ABOUT HOW TO JUGGLE THEIR BUDGET AND TRY TO KEEP THE COSTS DOWN THAN I WOULD A COMMITTEE IN CONGRESS, RIGHT? ON THE OTHER HAND, BOTTOM LINE, IF THEY'RE NOT GETTING IT DONE AND TUITION IS GOING UP WAY BEYOND WHAT WE CAN AFFORD, WOULD THAT MEAN THIS SHOULD BE SOME IMPACT ON WHAT AID WOULD GO TO THAT INSTITUTION THAT IS JUST DRIVING THE COST UP? YOU KNOW, THAT'S WHERE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN HAVE THE STICK.

>> I WANT TO END THE BROADCAST WITH SOMETHING THAT COMEDY STEPHEN COLBERT RECENTLY TOOK AIM AT VERMONT, SAYING HE COULD BROKER A DEAL WITH IRAN AND THIS IS WHAT IT WOULD SOUND LIKE. LET'S TAKE A LISTEN.

>> LASTLY, I DEMAND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY RESPECT MY RIGHT TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING THE COLBERT NATION'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM. IT IS FOR ENERGY, EVEN THOUGH I HAVE PLEDGED TO WIPE VERMONT OFF THE MAP! [ LAUGHTER ] WE WILL DRIVE YOU INTO LAKE CHAMPLAIN!

>> SO CLEARLY A JOKE. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT?

>> WELL, TO BE DRIVEN INTO LAKE CHAMPLAIN IN THE WINTER, I WANT A WET SUIT.

>> TRUE. WHAT DO YOU THINK, THOUGH? I THINK HE USED VERMONT AS A JOKE THERE BECAUSE THERE SEEMS TO BE THIS IMPRESSION IN WASHINGTON THAT WE'RE SORT OF REALLY FAR LEFT. CAN WORK GET DONE WITH A STATE THAT IS PERCEIVED IN THAT WAY BY COMEDIANS WHO THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, WE'RE SO FAR LEFT, WE SHOULD BE DRIVEN INTO LAKE CHAMPLAIN?

>> WELL, FIRST OF ALL, VERMONTERS KNOW WE'RE PRETTY TIGHT-FISTED. WHETHER IT'S A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT IN THE LEGISLATURE AND GOVERNOR, WE PAY OUR BILLS. THAT'S NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO, WE GET ALONG AND I THINK THAT THE REAL EFFECT IN VERMONT IS WE'RE KIND OF ALL IN IT TOGETHER. AND WE'RE PRETTY FISCALLY FRUGAL. BUT SECOND, WHAT I'VE DONE IN THE HOUSE, THERE WAS AN ARTICLE ABOUT ME IN ONE OF THOSE WASHINGTON PUBLICATIONS THAT SAID REPUBLICAN'S FAVORITE LIBERAL. I WAS CALLED A LIBERAL, BUT THE REPUBLICANS WERE SAYING THEY LIKED WORKING WITH ME. AND WHY? BECAUSE I JUST DO IT THE WAY VERMONTERS DO. IT'S LIKE WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND, HERE'S WHAT I THINK, HERE'S WHAT YOU THINK, ARE THERE AREAS WHERE WE CAN AGREE. YOU DON'T FIGHT ABOUT CREDIT AND YOU TRY TO FIND A WAY TO MOVE AHEAD. AND SO I THINK ACTUALLY WITH VERMONT, THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS IS WHAT WE CAN OFFER THIS NATION. IF WE OPERATED IN CONGRESS LIKE OUR VERMONT LEGISLATURE OPERATED, WE'D BE A MUCH BETTER COUNTRY. OR OUR TOWN MEETING OPERATED, SO WE'VE GOT A LOT WE CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THIS COUNTRY.

>> SO TAKE THAT, STEPHEN COLBERT. CONGRESSMAN PETER WELCH, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING. WE APPRECIATE IT AND THANK YOU FOR WATCHING AT HOME. WE'LL SEE YOU SOON.

>> THANK YOU. CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY. CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLC www.captionassociates.com

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