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Our previous coverage of Claire McCaskill’s events in Missouri this week:

Claire McCaskill (D): “Kitchen Table Talk” in Kansas City (Kansas City)

Claire McCaskill (D): “Kitchen Table Talk” in Kansas City, part 2 (Kansas City)

Claire McCaskill (D): “Kitchen Table Talk” in Kansas City, part 3 (Kansas City)

Claire McCaskill’s Kitchen Table Talk in St. Louis: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (St. Louis)

Holding Bush and Cheney accountable for torture (St. Louis)

This is the final part of the talk on Monday, December 15, 2008 in Kansas City. This portion was tougher to transcribe because the recorder was at the back of the room at this point in the event – there was a considerable amount of background noise.

[transcription by CC]

Question:…more in America, or do we still buy stuff from other countries?

Claire McCaskill: Are we in a just a service economy [inaudible] – or do we still make stuff here? You know, so I think there’s a challenge on trade agreements. Just to make sure we don’t [inaudible] case by case. As you well know, one of the reasons Ford’s in such good shape, is they make and sell a lot of cars in other countries. And if we started saying to people, that you know, you’ve got South Korea’s a good example of a ridiculous trade agreement that we have with them on cars, that we need to get fixed. But we need to make sure statistically at the same time that we don’t damage Ford with retaliation for the countries that are in fact, buying a lot of Fords. So it is one of those balancing tests you’ve got to do. Now, the balance has been out of whack. Because it’s been all about free trade and not anything about fair trade. I think you’re going to see more balance. Yes, ma’am?

Question: We’ve been told that, to expect a twenty five, and I’m Deborah…, faculty here at Penn Valley, to expect a twenty five percent reduction in our budget which is a hefty cut. At the same time, when the economy’s bad, people think about retraining and going back to school, is there going to be something in the stimulus package for community colleges?

Claire McCaskill: I don’t know if it’s specifically for community colleges. I don’t know what, if anything, there will be in terms of higher education. I, I do know that we, we are not, obviously, primarily the funders of higher education in this country. Let’s, let’s just hope that, if we’re carrying you through the worst, I have a hard time believing that Jay’s going to have to do a twenty five percent cut in higher ed. I think that is a worst case scenario and probably one that will not come to pass. I mean, I haven’t looked at all the budget numbers but that seems awfully draconian to me. There may be some things in the stimulus in terms of, and one of the things that why that financial stimulus was so important is to make sure kids could still get student loans. I, I know this place. A lot of the students here would not be here but for the fact that they can get financing to be able to attend school. And the good news is, is we had record number of applicants for higher education in Missouri last year. We had more kids going to college in Missouri ever in our history last year. That’s great! And if we just make sure that number doesn’t fall off, then we’re obviously, we’re going in the right direction. So, but I haven’t heard, you know, I’m not specific about the stimulus because we haven’t gotten a package yet. [voice: “Right.”] So I don’t obviously know. It’s very, very important that everybody have a chance to have higher education and obviously that isn’t going to happen unless we have healthy community colleges. Yes?

Show Me Progress: I’m that blogger [Blue Girl] she took a shot at, by the way. [audience laughter]

Claire McCaskill: Oh, I didn’t see your computer, honestly. I always assume there are bloggers – [crosstalk]

SMP: I read, I read white papers so other people don’t have to…

Claire McCaskill: There you go. Good for you.

SMP:…and one of them I read was the IG Report…[crosstalk]

Claire McCaskill: Let is know what the blog site is so everybody knows.

SMP: Oh, oh, Show Me Progress.

Claire McCaskill: Show Me Progress, this is Show Me Progress, guys. [applause][inaudible]

SMP: And also ‘They gave us a republic and we intend to keep it’, but that’s, that’s my personal blog. I read the IG Report put out by Stuart Bowen, all five hundred and thirteen pages of it.

Claire McCaskill: Good for you.

SMP: Yeah, my blood pressure’s still through the roof.

Claire McCaskill: Oh, it’s unbelievable.

SMP: I know that you and Jim Webb have been agitating for a reprise of the Truman Committee. In light of this report, do you think we might get something done there and maybe claw back some of that money?

Claire McCaskill: We actually have got something done there. [voice: “Good”.] Our bill passed in the defense authorization last year. The contracting commission has been appointed. It is a bipartisan commission. They are in the process of staffing up. Jim and I have been very active, in fact, I met with one of the commissioners about four weeks ago and talked about some of the staff challenges they’re having and you’re going to see another huge report coming out that is gonna to do even more in terms of a big hearing we’ll have in probably January as it relates to some of the contracting issues. The clawing back part, is going to be harder because of what the defense department has done. And, you know, the clawing back part makes me sick, but what will make me even more sick is if we don’t get this fixed. [voice: “Yeah.”] And believe me, I am boring, how focused I am on this. I mean, my office is sick of me just when we talk about contracting. But, in fact, I’m trying to get a subcommittee created just on government contracting because I think it’s so important.

SMP: I’ll volunteer to be an intern. [audience laughter]

Claire McCaskill: There you go! There you go! [audience laughter] Okay, anybody? Yes?

Question: I work for a local organization, we’re state-wide, we’re a national program with Health Care for America Now, which for those of you who don’t know, it’s a nationwide partners that have come together because the health care affects everyone in the country there needs to be some changes made. I mean, what they’ve come up with is actual congressional members to sign on to their statement of principles, it’s not legislation, it’s not a plan but the principles are simply finding a way to provide access to quality and affordable health care for every American. And I would like to publicly ask you if you could sign on to these principles?

Claire McCaskill: I’m down.

Question: Alright. [applause]

Claire McCaskill: Yes?

Question: In an effort to, develop green campuses here in Missouri. We are trying to implement some programs called Green Performance Calling [inaudible] which kind of self funds itself. Trying to find out the opportunity to save the energy and in polite words, implementing these new technologies for making infrastructures. Question to you is, we understand that these higher ed campuses drawn are [inaudible] money from the state but there are institutions like Clinton climate initiatives that have big financial institutions that now can invest, invest in these projects because there’s a [inaudible] cost involved [inaudible] that would fund these programs. So, given t
he fact that, once again, guarantee a return, is there any way that you could have these financial institutions kind of commit to this type of projects more in the way that, you know, this is a better oversight, it doesn’t overturn high investment type, or low risk and high return on the investment type of property.

Claire McCaskill: Well, I’m not very good, I don’t think the government’s very good about making financial institutions do anything. But, having said that, I think that there will things in the Obama administration as it relates to the green technology jobs and green sector economy, that will incentivize some of this kind of project. It will help make it a little easier on the financing end. But, the government is not, generally has not been, it’s been verboten for the government to actually try to force the, the financing of any projects in, in the private sector. But once again, this is something, the idea you have is a good one, I think it’s great. And it would be something that as you move forward with it, there may be grant opportunities that are out there that you don’t know about [inaudible] that you could check in with the office and see if we could find any for you. My staff in Washington assists staff here in trying to do that. So we could do that. Okay, did we get everybody? Alright, [applause] thank you guys. Thank you. [applause]