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Bill Clinton: "We ought to have, those of us in this green energy field...a tattoo test"

48 min. read

Earlier this week, the 5th annual National Clean Energy Summit was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. The summit featured an extremely impressive list of speakers, including former President Bill Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, former ARPA-E Director Dr. Arun Majumdar, Peter Fox-Penner of the Brattle Group, “Revenge of the Electric Car” director Chris Paine, plus numerous other clean energy leaders, innovators, policymakers and thinkers. We highlighted many of these in blog posts (see here here, here, and here).

Today, we wanted to draw your attention to the speech, and Q&A, by former President Bill Clinton at the summit.  You can view the entire transcript of President Clinton's speech by clicking on "read the rest of this entry" at the bottom of this post.  We'll also post video as soon as it's available. For now, though, we just wanted to highlight one part of Clinton's speech that particularly jumped out at us. Speaking about the massive Ivanpah solar thermal project in California's Mojave Desert, Clinton noted that there are "more than 2,000 people working there...White, African American, Latino, Asian, lots of women...a lot of 'em hadn't worked in a year or two before they got this job." Clinton continued:

...And a lot of 'em had very impressive tattoos.  (LAUGH)

We ought to have, those of us in this green energy field, we ought to have a tattoo test. (LAUGH) The more people with visible, impressive tattoos who advocate green energy and understand what it does for a country's economy, what it does for its independence, and what it does in the fight against climate change, the more we're gonna have success in Washington, D.C. (APPLAUSE)

You're laughin', but I'm tellin' the truth and you know it.  You should have seen it.  I mean, it was amazing.  I stopped-- I shook hands with hundreds of people today.  I asked 'em their stories. I talked to 'em.  They got what they were doing.  It's a huge solar thermal operation.  There are gonna be, I think-- 173,000 flat panel,thin panel solar reflectors beaming up to a tower over 350 feet above the earth, turning water into steam, running the steam down back to the bottom of the tower, and turning turbines.  And-- it's truly impressive.

But we could have a hundred of 'em and not just one or two...And these people were so proud...Once people see sustainable economics as the primary instrument of people havin' somethin' to look forward to when they get up in the morning, we are on the way home.

Clinton makes several good points here, as he often does. Overall, though, what Clinton's remarks do is to underscore the need to take real-world solar success stories like Ivanpah, and to multiply them exponentially. If we do, we will see solar power creating not just jobs - for people both with or without tattoos -  but new careers, ones that give people "somethin' to look forward to when they get up in the morning. " And, as President Clinton points out, the more people - not just clean energy wonks and specialists in the field, but blue collar, working people with "tattoos" as well - can articulate the many benefits of clean, large-scale power,  the more elected officials will hear the message, and ultimately take action to support it.

Chris Wayne and Associates

"National Clean Energy Summit 5.0"

Interview With Senator Harry Reid, Bill Clinton

interviewer:  john podesta

Media ID:  NCES 2012 Clinton.mp3

00:00:00:00          (MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

00:02:16:00     Ladies and gentlemen, once again, please welcome to the stage Senator Harry Reid.  (APPLAUSE)

SENATOR HARRY REID:

00:02:29:00     Thank you very much, everyone.  The first summit that I had, I asked President Clinton to come and he did.  He's really set the pattern for what these summits are all about.  He said back at the first one, "There's no reason that Nevada shouldn't be energy independent."  And that's true.  Does everyone agree?  (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

00:02:58:00     President Clinton has been so supportive of me.  During the time he was president, for those eight years, he helped me so significantly to work my way through the different chairs in the Democratic leadership.  Always extremely supportive of me.  And I have tried to be as supportive of him as he has of me.

00:03:18:00     I have such admiration and respect for the things that he's done for our country and for the world.  I-- I-- he has been a great, great president.  But he's been a wonderful ex-president, never stopping to try and improve the plight of mankind all over the world.  It's my pleasure to introduce to you once again, President Bill Clinton.  (APPLAUSE)

BILL CLINTON:

00:03:52:00     Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (APPLAUSE) Thank you.  Thank you very much-- Senator Reid.  Thank you for doing this for five years.  I want to thank-- the other officials who are here, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley and Congresswoman Dina Titus, and Majority Leader Steven Horsford, Speaker of the Assembly John Oceguera.  Thank you all for being here and for supporting this important cause.

00:04:31:00     And I want to thank-- M.G.M. and U.N.L.V. along with John Podesta and the Center for American Progress for supporting Senator Reid's Congress (CLEARS THROAT) meeting all these years.  And a special word of thanks to-- the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley for what they're doing in the government to take us to a clean energy economy.

00:04:54:00     I'm supposed to talk for a few minutes.  And then John Podesta supposed to come out here and ask me questions I can't answer.  (LAUGH) So I will try to speed this up.  But there are a couple of points I want to make based on years and years and years of working on this.  My first experience in this area-- well, the first time I ever thought about resource depletion and biodiversity and climate change was when I read a story when I was in law school that was the cover story of a New York Times Sunday magazine on the then level of destruction in the Brazilian rainforest, which at that time was an amount of acreage the size of the State of Kansas every year.

00:05:42:00     And they pointed out that 20% of all the world's oxygen from non-ocean sources came out of Amazonia.  Then in 1977, when I was Attorney General of Arkansas, we had a hearing on whether to participate in a huge and hugely expensive nuclear power plant.  And I found Amory Lovins.  And I got him to come to Arkansas.  And we testified before the Public Service Commission 35 years ago and argued that we could, through energy efficiency, generate more power at far less cost, if we could do it.

00:06:20:00     And (CLEARS THROAT) the commissioners looked at us as if we were three bricks shy of a full load.  Amory looked like a college professor, so they cut him some slack.  They looked at me like, "How in the hell did this guy ever get elected?"  Then 33 years ago, we became the second state in the country to authorize decoupling, hoping that the utility would begin to finance growth through efficiency, 1979.

00:06:53:00     Last year, 32 years later, the two then, when I did it, very young lawyers, who helped me make this case and eased it through the legislature were hired by the same utility to fend off legal challenges to their desire to maximize decoupling to finance massive investments in energy efficiency to generate new capacity at lower costs and be responsible with the environment.

00:07:26:00     So the first point I want to make is 32 years is a long time to wait in the span of a lifetime.  But in the lifetime of the planet, it's not so long.  And therefore, the five years we've been here workin' on this is not so long.  We have to be prepared to pay the price of time.  The second point I would like to make is I think we have to both think large and have a bias for action, even if it's small.  I just read six or seven reports by the Congressional Research Service basically detailing every single program the federal government had in every single agency to support the development of clean energy or energy efficiency.

00:08:17:00     And basically it was quite informative.  And there were a few things in there I didn't know.  But the thing that I remember most that stunned me was they said that today we only get 11% of our electricity from renewables.  And 8% of that is from hydro.  But if we keep going, we might get to 14% by 2035.  And I almost retched.  When the European target is 20% by 2020.  Germany's already over it.  Denmark is way over it.  And other countries are, as well.  And they're all doin' fine.

00:09:02:00     On a good day, when the wind blows in Texas, they get 25% of their electricity from wind.  Whenever I make a speech with Former President Bush, I always tell him it was his greatest move as governor of Texas to give all those tax incentives for wind.  It must have been in his proto-socialist stage.  (LAUGH) But it worked well.  And it still is.

00:09:26:00     So that brings me to the next point.  We still got some convincing to do.  And meanwhile, we need to do.  And-- and even though the news in Washington may be disheartening because of deni-- denialists in the Congress, the truth is that the news in the rest of the country is not so bad.  Almost no Americans know that last year the United States surpassed China in aggregate investment in clean energy.

00:10:04:00     The Chinese subsidies were greater than ours, but because of venture capitalists primarily but not exclusively in Silicon Valley, we invested almost $56 billion more than the Chinese did in building a clean energy economy.  That from 2008 and 2009, the beginning of this terrible meltdown, because of public and private investments, clean economy sectors grew 8.3%, more than twice as fast as the overall economy.  And the jobs created paid well above the average, most people don't know that.

00:10:39:00     We need more people to know that European countries with the strongest economies coming out of the financial crash are those with the strongest commitment to sustainable economics.  Denmark has 26% of its capacity in wind.  And they're doing a lot of other things, as well.  Germany and Denmark have decided that they can't get rid of all their coal-fired power plants.  So they're gonna replace 20% of the coal with wood pellets with the same heat-burning content.

00:11:11:00     And since they had to be produced from wood waste or sustainable forest, the Europeans can't provide it.  It's an enormous opportunity for Americans to reopen all the paper mills that have closed with a simple machine that can be bought for $30 million and has a quick tax write off to produce these wood pellets.  And we ought to then start goin' after our own coal plants.  If the (CLEARS THROAT) E.P.A.'s ruling holds that 10% of the oldest coal plants will close.

00:11:42:00     And that's responsible for 30% of the emissions we get out of coal plants, even though they don't produce anywhere near 30% of the power.  They don't even produce 10% of the power.  That's the good news.  But the other plants, we should start working on persuading them to go to the 80/20 mix that the Europeans had.  If every state had a renewable energy standard, it would be much easier to do that.

00:12:08:00     And it's something we could do in America that would put people back to work.  And we have the sustainable forests.  And we have lots and lots of wood waste still here that we could do.  Most people have no idea that even lower-income countries that choose sustainable paths are doing better.  I was recently in Costa Rica for a conference they had with people from all over the world.  And a lot of you know it's maybe the greenest country on Earth.  They have 92% of their power from hydro.  They determined to go to 100% clean energy.  And they have a dormant but rumbling volcano that will give 'em enough geothermal to make up the rest.

00:12:54:00     And they have 26% of their landmass in national parks.  And 50% under forest cover up from 41% in the last decade.  Part of the reason is they have an all stakeholder decision-making process.  And they recognize that individual wellbeing is tied to group wellbeing.  Something we have too often forgotten in America with all the rhetoric that's running wild today.

00:13:22:00     For example, in the capital of Costa Rica and the other cities near the coast, they with broad popular support pay considerably higher water rates so that the money can be shipped to the upland farmers to make it economical to them to plant trees and keep the trees that are there up instead of to do more deforestation.  The per capita income of Costa Rica's about $11,700 a year, more than twice, more than twice the average of the countries in Central America.

00:13:59:00     Most people don't know that.  So if we want to do these projects, we need to make sure that more people know.  The other thing is even in this highly partisan time, we need to struggle for public/private cooperation.  If you look around this room, everybody in this room knows somethin' I don't know.  And everyone you are lookin' at knows somethin' you don't know.  The problem I have with a highly ideological politics in Washington is that it is not only fact free, it is premised on the idea that you can actually be right all the time.  So you decide in advance what you believe and then you just shoehorn the facts into whatever it is you're sayin'.  (APPLAUSE)

00:15:03:00     It's harder now, because of a stunning event that received last spring almost no press.  I was stunned.  The most scientifically respected climate skeptic was-- a great physics professor, Berkeley Professor Muller (PH), who had a very practical objection to the consensus on climate change.  And one that I could actually identify with from my own experience.

00:15:33:00     He said, "I think there are too many of these temperature measurements that are too close to cities and cities are hotter than small towns and rural areas."  I live in Chappaqua, New York.  My offices are in New York City.  I can't tell you how many times when I get out of the car to go to work, it's 10° warmer than it was when I got in.

00:15:53:00     So Muller took 1.3 billion temperature measurements and corrected for all the biases he thought existed, in a project funded, ironically, largely by the Koch Brothers.  (LAUGH) And when he got his findings, he announced through the-- he told the relevant House Congressional Committee.  And oh my God, they were happy.  They thought, "Finally, we're gonna have a guy with a Berkeley pedigree and a degree in physics.  And we know who paid for this.  So we know what they're gonna say."

00:16:33:00     So Muller shows up and said, "Okay, I did it.  I was skeptical.  I checked.  I corrected for all the biases.  They were right.  I was wrong.  The planet is warming at an unsustainable rate.  It's caused by human behavior.  And the liberals and conservatives should be arguing about how best to address it, not whether it's real."  You could have-- (APPLAUSE) (CLEARS THROAT) you could have heard a pin drop in the committee room.  Because the Tea Party majority was aghast that the guy had gone off script.  And the Democrats who were pro climate change action were aghast that the guy had gone off script.  (LAUGH)

00:17:19:00     It was one of those magical moments when the rules of science actually prevailed.  Now we're laughing, but it's important.  A month or so ago, I finished the great microbiologist E.L. Wilson's latest book, The Social Conquest of Earth, which I highly recommend.  He's 87 and this may be his last book.

00:17:44:00     But he made a profound point over and over and over again throughout the book.  He said, "It's really almost an accident that our species survived.  Because we and our predecessors from which we are evolved could have been wiped out a thousand different times.  And it didn’t happen.  So poof, here we are."  And if you look around the world, the great winners of the world are the cooperators.  The ants, the termites, the bees, and the humans.  They have the highest level of cooperation.

00:18:22:00     He said, "The good news for us is that we are actually conscious.  We know what we're doing.  They have evolved.  And they don't seem to have any conscious intelligence.  They just do it.  The bad news is because we know what we're doing, we're prone to a level of arrogance they aren't."  And in every book, Wilson'll find someplace to remind you that the aggregate weight of ants on Earth is greater than the aggregate weight of people.  (LAUGH)

00:18:50:00     Just so we don't get too carried away with ourselves.  It is on balance and optimistic book.  But he said, "You know, the problem with consciousness is it makes you vulnerable to arrogance.  And it means you could still let the wheels run off.  But if we destroy ourselves, the ants, the termites, and the bees will still hang around, unless we do somethin' to destroy them, which almost happened with the bees a couple years ago."

00:19:18:00     Now why is this important?  Because cooperation gets lousy news coverage.  And people don't know about it.  You could argue-- and-- Fred Smith might have said this earlier today, but we were talkin' backstage.  He was raving about the agreement made by the administration with the management, the labor, the outside environmental groups, and the government all agreeing to raise car mileage standards dramatically to 54 and a half miles a gallon over a reasonable period of years, in a way that will not only create 150,000 new high-tech, high-paying jobs, but also create a climate in which people like Fred Smith who want to do somethin' about this will move and act.

00:20:11:00     And he says it's already been responsible for reducing our oil imports by a million barrels.  We've gone from importing 60% of our oil to 42%, partly because of domestic production increases, but also partly because we are using less.  So we should think big, be prepared to act with a strong bias for action, even if it's small, and realize that there is on example on the planet of a successful country that doesn't have both a strong, private economy and a good government policy and high levels of cooperation.

00:20:54:00     And in societies which-- in which they flourish, increasingly, non-governmental organizations like CAP or the Gates Foundation or the work that I do, doing what they can.  So what should we do?  First, I think we should pick the low-hanging fruit.  And for me, it always begins with efficiency.  There's a new book out called-- fairly new, by a couple of Australians, called The Sixth Wave.  And I've got an article here by Amory Lovins that's in Foreign Affairs called Farewell to Fossil Fuels.

00:21:39:00     But he basically says for most of our lifetime, all the frontiers of the Earth had few people and many resources.  So the way to get rich was for the people to use the resources.  Now we're living on a planet with a hell of a lot of people and increasingly few resources.  So the way to make money is to get more out of the resources you have, use relatively less, and generate more wealth.

00:22:08:00     And it begins with simple things.  We-- we're much more energy efficient than we used to be.  And we're getting more efficient all the time.  But we have not made a serious attempt to take energy efficiency to scale.  In the United States, it's by far the biggest job creator.  You get essentially about 870 jobs for every billion dollars spent on a coal plant, less for every billion spent on a nuclear plant, about 1,900 spent on solar, 3,300 on wind, if you make all the components in the country where the windmills were put up, and 7,000 to 8,000 on building retrofits, depending on what kind of building-- how you do it.

00:22:57:00     We're doing this work, my foundation is, all over the world.  We worked with the owners of a mall in Mumbai, one of the largest indoor malls in India, on a retrofit.  And they were so thrilled with it and their power bills went down so much that they're expanding it across their portfolio.  It's a big deal, if you realize how many Indians just lost power and that 400 million of 'em don't have power in the first place.

00:23:27:00     They almost, interestingly enough, have the reverse problem with China.  They're just not very good at aggregating capital and investing it.  And that's a problem for another day.  But I think it's worth remembering that.  In Chicago, the Daley Center will reduce CO2 emissions by 2,500 metric tons a year and save the Public Building Commission $9 million over a decade or so.

00:23:56:00     There was no up-front capital cost.  And the building has a positive cash flow from its first year.  Which means they cut a deal to keep some of the savings now and pay the cost of the retrofit out over a longer period of time.  Deutsche Bank and the N.R.D.C. teamed up with the mayor's office in New York City on the (CLEARS THROAT) energy efficiency corporation.  They've got a budget of $37 million for urban retrofits.  The Empire State Building alone created 275 full-time jobs in the building for two years for a 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately in the electric bill.

00:24:38:00     A few months ago, I went to Chicago with Mayor Emanuel, who was a big proponent, when he worked for President Obama, of The Infrastructure Bank, which used to be a bipartisan idea.  And the-- the United States was one of the few countries in the world that does not, on a systematic basis-- merge public and private capital for infrastructure.  So Rahm just decided to see if he could create one in Chicago.  And he did.

00:25:08:00     So now private investors are taking the initial risk of retrofits.  And I might say redoing water pipes in the cities and doing other infrastructure projects.  And they are going to have a huge impact there.  Later in the week, I'm going to go-- to a meeting that the Center for American Progress and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund cosponsored with mayors from nearly two dozen cities to see if they can set up their own urban infrastructure banks.

00:25:42:00     So that's what I mean about a bias for action.  You got two choices here.  You can sit around and gripe about there bein' no national infrastructure bank and wait for the results of the election and hope to get it next year or start doing something now.  The next low-hanging fruit is now solar energy, for reasons that all of you understand very well.

00:26:07:00     One of the reasons that that company Solyndra failed and some of the other loans the Energy Department issued were not successful is that after they were issued the Chinese came in with $32 billion more in subsidies for solar, which actually bankrupt some of their own operations.  And they're now actually taking up some of the less-efficient production lines and selling 'em off for scrap, something which I have asked them not to do.  I want 'em to sell 'em to me at cost, so I can put 'em up in Africa and the Caribbean.  But that's a story for another day.

00:26:44:00     But for example, Haiti is the poorest country in the Caribbean.  The Caribbean has the highest electric rates on Earth.  The highest electric rates on Earth, because only Trinidad and Tobago has any domestic energy.  And they sell that into the world markets.  So all these countries have to import oil, heavy, dirty, often waterlogged oil to generate electricity at exorbitant prices, which no one in America would pay.

00:27:13:00     Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere.  They pay 36 cents a kilowatt hour, the highest electric rates.  Some individual islands in multi-island countries pay as high as 50 cents a kilowatt hour for electricity.  But thanks to N.R.G. and some N.G.O. help, we got 1,800 solar panels to put up on a new hospital at Partners in Health that Dr. Paul Farmer built in Haiti.  It's now the biggest solar building in the Caribbean.

00:27:48:00     They're feeding surplus power into the grid.  And we're solarfying lots and lots of schools and health clinics and other things in what I hope will be a trend.  We can do a lot more on this everywhere, including in America, but I think it is really worth remembering that if you do this, you are avoiding future greenhouse gas emissions in amazing quantities and giving children a chance to study at night and their parents a chance to work at night, which would otherwise not be there.

00:28:30:00     A Deutsche Bank study recently said the Germans had netted 300,000 jobs from their feed end tariff (?) and their commitment to solar power.  On a hot day a few weeks ago, the Germans actually generated 22 gigawatts of power from the sun.  That's the same as 20 nuclear power plants, in a country where the sun shines on average as much as it does in London and less on average than it shines in any American state except Alaska.

00:29:09:00     Why?  Because they made a decision to do it.  And it's good economics.  Today I (CLEARS THROAT) drove out toward the California border for an hour to visit Ivanpah, which is a great example of cooperation with N.R.G., Google, BrightSource, the contractor Bechtel and others.  They have loans guaranteed by the D.O.E.  And they got guaranteed power supply contracts from California, because California has a renewable energy standard of 33% to meet.

00:29:46:00     They-- so there's-- there you go.  Cooperation between government and the private sector and nonprofits.  There were more than 2,000 people working there.  And it was fascinating to me.  They-- they were White, African American, Latino, Asian, lots of women, two thou-- a lot of 'em hadn't worked in a year or two before they got this job.  And a lot of 'em had very impressive tattoos.  (LAUGH)

00:30:22:00     We ought to have, those of us in this green energy field, we ought to have a tattoo test.  (LAUGH) The more people with visible, impressive tattoos who advocate green energy and understand what it does for a country's economy, what it does for its independence, and what it does in the fight against climate change, the more we're gonna have success in Washington, D.C.  (APPLAUSE)

00:30:54:00     You're laughin', but I'm tellin' the truth and you know it.  You should have seen it.  I mean, it was amazing.  I stopped-- I shook hands with hundreds of people today.  I asked 'em their stories.  I talked to 'em.  They got what they were doing.  It's a huge solar thermal operation.  There are gonna be, I think-- 173,000 flat panel, thin panel solar reflectors beaming up to a tower over 350 feet above the earth, turning water into steam, running the steam down back to the bottom of the tower, and turning turbines.  And-- it's truly impressive.

00:31:41:00     But we could have a hundred of 'em and not just one or two.  There's another one with their technology going on in-- California.  And (CLEARS THROAT) interestingly enough, a lot of the technology came from Israel.  So there was-- the equipment came from Germany and Japan and some that was designed on site.  And these people were so proud.

00:32:07:00     Once people see sustainable economics as the primary instrument of people havin' somethin' to look forward to when they get up in the morning, we are on the way home.  One of our C.G.I. partnerships is called Envision Charlotte and involves Duke Energy and Cisco, who are gonna have smart grid technology for Charlotte to provide the community with a sustainable model that will reduce energy usage another 20% in five years.

00:32:41:00     We work with cities all over the world, including now 58 cities in the currently anom-- anonymous-- not anonymous, anomaly.  It's an anomaly.  The name is C-40, 'cause originally we had the 40 biggest cities on Earth.  Now there are 58.  But we still call ourselves the C-40.  The C-58 sounds kind of weird.  But these cities have 20% of the world's G.D.P. and 14% of its emissions.  We're doing electrification of the taxi fleet in Bogata, hybrid busses there, waste to energy projects in Lima, Mexico City, Lagos, huge retrofit projects in Brazilian cities.

00:33:33:00     So every place people do things, the power of example changes the consciousness.  Even in Haiti, where we didn't have a lot of money to start, we supported this little community group.  I say little, it represented of a community of more than 100,000 people in Port-Au-Prince, which has three million people.  There was no municipal garbage collection, none.

00:34:04:00     So this community group (CLEARS THROAT) got some money, got some grants.  And they hired ladies to go around from door to door, collecting the garbage.  Then they sorted it for recyclables and for organic material that could be turned into fertilizer for farmers.  And they turned all the rest of the garbage with machinery that could be hand-operated they b-- they designed themselves into little briquettes like so, which sold for less than half the price of charcoal for the same heat value.

00:34:36:00     In a country where 70% of the people live on less than $2 a day, cutting the cost of cooking in half is a big deal.  And now they've redesigned ovens so that the school meals are being prepared with these briquettes.  This is the sort of thing that can be done all over the world.  But you have to by and large have support from government, the private sector, and NGOs.

00:35:11:00     Now I wanted to say just one or two other things.  The-- there were two scientific studies this year that were important.  One is the Muller study I mentioned.  The other is potentially more important, by a team which said (CLEARS THROAT) that while nobody knows when all the hammers will drop and we will be on an irreversible path to calamitous consequences.  We are just at the 327th month in a row where the average temperature was above the 20th century average.

00:35:51:00     Anything we can do to buy time to work through the politics of all this everywhere is a good thing.  So the study says if we had a massive, immediate, intense focus on the greenhouse gases which disperse in the atmosphere more rapidly than carbon, methane from landfills and agriculture, black carbon from cooking with charcoal, primarily, and (CLEARS THROAT) hydrofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons, primarily from air conditioning in newly-wealthy parts of the world.

00:36:29:00     If we did it aggressively, we could slow the rate of growth in the climate by 50% for 20 years.  And in the Arctic Circle by two thirds, which is a huge deal, because you'll soon be able to take a boat across the North Pole in the summertime.  That's the good news and it's the bad news.  This year they just measured-- in the last month or so, completed measurements of what happened on Greenland last summer.  90% of the Greenland ice sheet showed melting, as opposed to a historic average of less than 50%.  That's eight percent of the world's freshwater.

00:37:16:00     That's enough, if it melted fast, to block the Gulf Stream and turn Northern Europe, Northern Canada, and maybe part of the Northeast United States as cold as it was 700 years ago in the little ice age.  Essentially negating their economic activity for two or three months a year.  So this is worth thinking about.  It means more waste to energy projects in America.  It means doing something affordable with existing technology on agricultural waste.  It means closing every big landfill in every megacity in the world and turning it into a waste to energy project.

00:37:56:00     Sao Paolo already has two electrical-generating facilities at the site of its two biggest landfills.  It means doing something serious about clean cooking.  I'll plug my wife's big project on clean cook stoves.  And it means not telling the Indians and the Chinese they shouldn't have room air conditioning, but changing the standards and doing so aggressively so that we can stop the emissions of the fluorocarbons into the atmosphere.

00:38:30:00     We can do this.  And this is something that we ought to be able to get everybody behind.  So I think the power of example changes consciousness.  And I will just give you one example.  And then we'll have the questions.  When I was in Costa Rica recently, I went to see the new president, whom I had not known before that.  Her name is Laura Chinchilla and she was-- she's a member of the center-right party.  She has a coalition government.

00:39:05:00     If she were an American politician, she would be thought of as a moderate Republican.  If that's not an oxymoron now.  (LAUGH) And so my point is she was-- not in-- sort of in my political worldview, I didn't think.  But here's what she said to me.  I never thought I'd hear the leader of any country say this.  She said, "You know, they tell me that we have oil under the ground and probably offshore.  And we have no intention of finding out whether we do or not."

00:39:46:00     I almost fell out of my chair.  She said, "We want to be a sustainable country.  That's our brand.  That's our identity.  We don't want that.  We're gonna be 100% clean energy from electricity as soon as possible.  And our only real blight is that we import a billion dollars a year in oil for gasoline to run our cars."

00:40:10:00     And she looked at me, she said, "What can you do to help me get out of that?"  I said, "Well, what if you made electric cars here that your people could afford to buy?"  She said, "If you can get me a car-manufacturing company, I will guarantee we will buy the entire output for as long as it takes to put every single Costa Rican in an electric car."

00:40:34:00     I said, "What about the charging?"  She said, "No problem.  One of the reasons that we're doin' as well as we are is that we have a good school and a good health clinic in every community, no matter how small.  And we're a small country.  We'll have more charging stations than we need."  And she said, "And, you know, I'm a free trader.  And we have duty-free access to the Mexican and American markets."

00:41:00:00     The point is that here was a woman whose life and perspective was forged by experience in a stakeholder process that favored cooperation.  So I have a thousand other specific things I think we could do (not really, but ten more anyway) that I'm not gonna bore you with.  The important thing is we need a bias for action, a bias for cooperation, and a bias for thinking big, even if we have to act small.  Because it's the power of example that changes consciousness.  Think about the tattoos.  You win a tattooed vote, we'll have the damnedest environmental policy in the United States you ever saw.  Thank you very much.  (APPLAUSE) Thank you.

JOHN PODESTA:

00:42:19:00     I had the pleasure of accompanying the president out to see those tattoos.  And I-- I-- I have to note that-- the one good thing that happened was we came off that tower, 450 feet, before the lightning came in.  So-- sorry, the-- you've kind of spun us around the world, Mr. President.  And-- he and I both started off as young men working in the Senate.  And I should probably pick up on that tradition and just yield my time to you to just keep talkin'.  Because it was-- magnificent.

00:42:51:00     But I-- I-- I want to go to the-- a couple of-- ideas-- and premises in your book-- that-- called Back to Work, which h-- which h-- really describes in some detail some of the things the president was talking about.  But you said in the book Germany and China lead the world in clean energy exports.  China has about half the global market in solar cells.  Other countries are moving up, too.

00:43:16:00     Last year, the U.S. re-- retained the number one position in clean tech investments.  We've always led the world in clean tech venture capital.  But in m-- a bunch of things that led to that renaissance in clean tech are about to expire, the production tax credit, et cetera.  How worried-- are you that we're gonna lose our lead here-- if we don't get the-- the common sense kind of policy prescriptions right?

BILL CLINTON:

00:43:41:00     Very.  I mean, we already lost some of the investment incentives in 1603 program and others.  The wind energy tax credit's supposed to expire next year.  I couldn't believe it.  Exelon came out today, a big wind energy purchaser, in favor of getting rid of the credit.  They said, "Oh, we've had it a long time."  The article was kind of enough to inform us that their nuclear margins are being squeezed by wind power, 'cause it's cheaper, and not nearly as subsidized as nuclear, which in the 2005 energy bill got a total guarantee of its insurance cost, since no insurance company in the world will insure a nuclear power project.

00:44:26:00     So I think it's important to continue.  I think the-- look, in the Bush Energy Department, in 2005, did a study, which said enough wind blows in North Dakota, which is too busy to care about it now, 'cause they have 3.6% unemployment because of shale production of oil and natural gas.

00:44:51:00     But they said enough wind blows in North Dakota to electrify America.  And that enough wind blows from North Dakota's border with Canada to the West Texas border with Mexico to electrify America many times over.  But the wind blows hardest.  And except for the cities, Las Vegas, the New Mexico and Arizona cities and the California cities, except for them, the sun shines brightest where the people are not.

00:45:20:00     So one of the things that I talked to-- the people today at the project, you remember we were talkin'-- John was out there with me.  We were-- I said, "Tell me about how you did the transmission here."  And they told me.  But it's amazing, there's a big wind project in Wyoming wants to sell into California to meet their project.  But part of the financing of the project was financing transmission capacity to carry the wind power to Wyoming.

00:45:47:00     And you just simply-- if you're gonna do it like that, you're gonna have jury-rigged transmission capacity, there's no way in heck to do it if you don't keep the tax incentives.  So I think it's really, really important.  But I-- I do have some hope-- what, the Senate committee just voted 19 to five to keep it, right, for another year?

JOHN PODESTA:

00:46:04:00     Finance Committee, right.  Right.

BILL CLINTON:

00:46:06:00     The Finance Committee, 'cause 81% of the windmills in America are in districts that are represented by Republicans, 'cause they're rural.  So I haven't given up hope on that, but when this election's over, we got to go to the mat to keep this stuff going.  Our subsidies are nowhere near as great as the feed end tariff the Germans gave solar power.

00:46:30:00     But remember the Deut-- Deutsche Bank study says their job impact was 300,000.  So by a population-- and if we had the same job impact, we'd have 1.2 million.  By solar capacity, if we had the same policies, we'd have over two million jobs.  Because every independent scientific analyses says that we are first or second in the world in the capacity to generate electricity from both the sun and the wind.  And so we've got to-- if you want to finance it through private capital, you have to at least have the-- the tax credits.  And the energy loan program is not bad.  It's just that what have you-- you and I have talked about this a lot that the only problem with having a loan program is it's vulnerable to what happens after you make the loan in other countries.

00:47:22:00     So when the Chinese came in with $32 billion in energy subsidies for solar power, the whole idea behind Solyndra was that they had found a different design that would dramatically increase the efficiency of solar panels.  But they cost more than twice as much to make and they didn't double the efficiency.  So they had to get to huge volumes before they could get the price down enough to be bearable.

00:47:49:00     So there's no more differential in the price than there was in the efficiency.  And it just became inconceivable, which is why they packed it in in a hurry.  So we knew-- we can have an honest debate about what kinds of incentives work best.  And-- but the tax credits, I think, are always good in this area.  And we're still gonna be well behind what a lot of our European competitors are doing and what the Chinese are doing in the money we spend.

00:48:21:00     The same thing is true for R & D by the way.  People keep-- a lot of my Republican friends keep sayin', "Well, there's gotta be a technological fix to this.  And all your tax credits just simply reinforce existing technologies."  But the problem is they don’t want to appropriate the money for R & D.  And if you look at the R & D as a percentage of revenues of the count-- companies, we're way behind overall industrial R & D and way, way, way behind what pharmaceutical R & D is.

00:48:50:00     So I think that, you know, I-- I do think we ought to do more on that, as well.  But these incentives, you-- you can't get any of this done without public/private cooperation.  The government has to make it attractive in the beginning to do.  And I might add the Baker Center in Tennessee, named after the Republican leader Howard Baker, did a study analyzing the incentives available when they were all in for solar and wind.  And concluded that they were no greater than the incentives we had in the past made available to coal, oil, and natural gas.

JOHN PODESTA:

00:49:33:00     One of the things I love about your latest book, Back to Work, is that it's really short on rhetoric and really long on practical solutions, very solid, serious solutions.  Some of 'em are quite simple, like-- my favorite example is pay-- painting black roofs white, which would have tremendous energy savings.  Why-- why is it so hard to get practices like that going?

BILL CLINTON:

00:49:55:00     I have no idea.  Because Chicago-- Chicago and New York have done a pretty good job.  But-- Mayor Bloomberg basically paid for a summer work program.  If you were to come to my office in Harlem, I'm on the 14th floor, so I look down on most of the buildings in Harlem.  When I moved there, they were all black tar.  Today a majority of them are painted white.

00:50:24:00     The ones that are painted white will reduce the air conditioning bills and therefore the emissions by 18% to 20% on the hottest days in the summer, just painting the roofs white.  Now most modern cities don't have as many black tar roofs.  But you could go to every older city in this country and just have a summer jobs program to pay people to do this.

00:50:50:00     Furthermore, the-- particularly the well-constructed buildings, you could actually paint rooftop gardens.  You know now-- Mexico City now has had the most amazing turnaround in its environmental air quality.  And they have basically done it by greening the roofs and the walls.  They run vines all the way down the walls in vertical gardens.  And if you go there, it's just amazing.  They also planted 500 million trees.  They took half of-- remember the secretary general's challenge to plant a billion trees.  And the President of Mexico said, "I'll do half."

00:51:27:00     But the point is these things don't cost a lot of money.  And it shouldn't-- one of the things that always bothers me about any problem like this is so many of the world's problems have been solved by somebody somewhere.  And we're not very good at replication.  When this country was established, in the Federalist papers, they-- founders who wrote the Federalist envisioned states as laboratories of democracy.

00:51:57:00     And what that meant was just like a scientist you'd discover something.  And if it worked, well, of course everyone else would copy it.  And we're just not very good at it.  So we need more incentives to do simple things.  And the costs are not as great.  But they're highly labor intensive.  And you can see what you've done when you've done it.  And you get a hell of a turnaround.

JOHN PODESTA:

00:52:19:00     You-- you've mentioned your-- you've mentioned Rahm's work on the bank-- Mayor Bloomberg's work in New York, your C-40 work in the big cities.  Does the leadership for this inherently come in now from a level of government that's closer to the people, solving real problems?  Or d-- do we still-- does this really-- is there a role for both the national policy along with the-- with that local leadership?

BILL CLINTON:

00:52:44:00     Well, I think both.  But-- but what we need is greater clarity on what state-- the reason we're having this meeting next week, you and I, with the mayors on the urban infrastructure bank is we need greater clarity on what the cities and states actually can do without waiting.  Because the truth is only cities of a certain size with a certain level of financial strength, I think, are gonna be able to take advantage of the model that Rahm used in Chicago to develop an urban infrastructure bank.  But we probably got 20 in America who could do it.  But we-- so you've got to do that.  But there are things that-- all of 'em could do.

00:53:24:00     And-- our biggest port is the port-- conjoined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  And they have-- maybe they got some of the federal tax breaks.  But they've reduced their emissions by 60%.  And that was largely a local effort.  We're helping-- my climate change project's helping Los Angeles replace 140,000 streetlights with LED streetlights.  It's the biggest project of its kind in the world.  They're savin' $10 million a year.

00:53:56:00     So I think one of the things that would be nice instead of saying-- I was thinking about this last night when I was reading the Congressional research reports I mentioned about all the federal programs.  What we really need to do is start with projects.  Here's what can be done by cities alone.  Here's what can be done by states.  Here's what can be done-- but-- has to have some federal involvement.

00:54:19:00     The other thing I would say is on the-- taking building retrofits to scale.  There are three ways to do it.  One of them requires-- only one requires some federal action.  You can have decoupling and the utility can just charge you for the cost of upgrading your home or your office building with a contract that never charges you more than your average electric bill was.

00:54:51:00     So you just say yes.  Just tell 'em what day they can come in and fix your building, or what month, depending on if it's the Empire State Building.  It took a year or so.  Or you can split the savings with 'em.  Or you can pay 'em up front and get all the savings.  But that can be done without any federal involvement.

00:55:12:00     You can also have on-bill financing.  Which is the next best thing, where a utility-- they're doin' this in-- Nebraska-- I mean, yeah, Nebraska with home retrofits.  Where the contractor puts the bill on your electric bill, but the total can be no greater than your average electric bill was.  You can do it that way.  The third you can do is pay it on your property taxes, which you would think would be totally a state and local issue.  But it doesn't apply to homes financed through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  They're tryin' to stop this.  Mr.-- DeMarco, is that his name?

JOHN PODESTA:

00:55:52:00     Yeah.

00:55:52:00          (OVERTALK)

BILL CLINTON:

00:55:52:00     Is-- he doesn't want to rewrite any mortgages.  And he doesn't want-- pace financing on the property taxes on the theory that that takes precedence over the mortgage debt.  But it's really not true, if you think about it.  If you retrofit a home in Compton, California, which has a high mor-- mortgage foreclosure rate, you actually add to its value dramatically by cutting the cost of operating it.

00:56:19:00     So the government should get out of the way.  If the federal government would just say, "We have no objection to pace financing"-- Congressman Steve Israel from New York had a bill to try to actually encourage the property tax financing.  That would help.  But the main thing we need there is for the federal government to drop its objections.  Because when you add to the value of the home, you are not compromising the prior lean of the federal government, if they bought the mortgages.

JOHN PODESTA:

00:56:48:00     It's just worth noting the federal regulator, DeMarco, just came out with a study that said it would save taxpayer's money, keep more peoples in their homes, and lower their monthly utility bills and make them more credit worthy.  And therefore, you can't do it.  That's-- that's-- that's what we're gettin' from Washington these days.  (LAUGH) I'm not kidding.

BILL CLINTON:

00:57:10:00     Well, you know, he also-- his own people told him that if he did the mortgage rewrites, it would actually be good economics and it wouldn't compromise the financial position of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  And he said, "I just don't believe 'em.  I'm not gonna do it."  He disregarded his own people.  This is a guy nobody appointed.  He just inherited the job when the Bush appointee left and the Congress refused to replace anybody else.

JOHN PODESTA:

00:57:37:00     There-- the-- one of the other ways of-- of getting financing flowing-- came from the public/private partnership that you've championed at the Clinton Global Initiative.  The AFL-CIO and-- and-- some of their member unions pledged $10 billion-- tried to-- free up $10 billion of pension money-- in support of infrastructure investment and clean energy investment.  I just wonder-- how you think that's going.  And-- and give us-- if you could give us a little progress report on that.

BILL CLINTON:

00:58:03:00     It-- it's-- it's going well, but slower than I wanted it to for this reason.  The AFL-CIO pledged to put $10 billion, including money from some of its member unions own pension accounts and to go get other-- like, public employee pension accounts and others to put money into this.

00:58:21:00     The return on investment's very good.  It's higher than the average return that people are getting on investments in pension funds.  But they don't want to be in a position of putting together and picking the deals, because they don't think that's what they're doing-- their-- their expertise is.  So K.K.R. and some other experts have volunteered to help them essentially at cost, not to make a lot of money, just to try to put these deals together.  And we've got-- about a billion four, $100 million in deals put together already against the $10 million commitment.  And-- so that's several thousand jobs.  And the AFL-CIO itself is about to start a major retrofit effort on all of its buildings.

JOHN PODESTA:

00:59:12:00     Let me see if I can get you a little trouble with your wife.  Secretary's in Africa right now.  A few weeks ago (LAUGH) she was-- she was in Rio-- at the Rio Plus 20 Conference.  And she-- announced the $20 million clean energy program for Africa that would leverage a lot more money, because it was in conjunction with OPEC-- guarantees-- that would go along with that $20 million.  But there are a lot of people who are saying right now we can't afford to invest in clean energy overseas, because we need to invest at home.  And so what's the answer to-- to-- to-- to sort of that theory of the case?

BILL CLINTON:

00:59:54:00     First of all, one of the important successes I think that we've had since-- President Obama has been in office and Hillary's been secretary of state is in leveraging-- so-called soft power and to tryin' to build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries.  The answer to that is that the $20 million will go a heck of a lot further in Africa than it will in America.

01:00:22:00     What would be a drop in the bucket here in even one city in a major retrofit program could change the whole future of a country and create lots of jobs and create new-- whole new employment sectors.  And I'll give you an example when-- Paul Farmer and I raised the money to build a hospital in Malawi in-- rural areas, we put 500 people to work, who got their first regular paychecks ever in construction.  Half of 'em were women.

01:00:56:00     And after we finished, they had other jobs.  They had-- finally they had a trained workforce.  So if China or somebody else wants to come in and invest money, they can say, "Wait, wait, don't bring all your own employees, we actually have a trained workforce here."  So-- I think that-- that's the first thing.  Secondly, One of the things we want to do is to show good faith when we tell countries in Africa or Southeast Asia or Latin America that they don't have to follow the same growth trajectory we did.  They don't have to put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to generate their wealth.  And they'll grow faster, just like companies with sustainable policies are doing today.  Countries will grow faster if they have sustainable economics.  So I-- I just-- I think it's a worthwhile expenditure of our money.

JOHN PODESTA:

01:01:51:00     And-- you-- you raised the-- the kind of India example of the-- the major blackout there.  Is there s-- are there ways in which-- the United States, United States companies-- ought to be kind of focusing on these infrastructure needs in foreign countries as a potential for-- you-- you work all over the world as a potential for growth for U.S.-based companies to be able to sell br-- products, controls, et cetera, overseas?

BILL CLINTON:

01:02:18:00     Yeah, first of all, I think if you look at the several hundred or thousand Indian villages that have been basically taken off the grid and given-- been made into solar villages, I think you could take that to scale and people can pay for it.  You just have to have a micro credit system to do it.

01:02:40:00     The Bangladeshis are tryin' to do the same thing.  And they have the-- probably the thickest best network of microfinance in the world.  But I think-- I think there are two separate problems (UNINTEL).  First of all, let's go out there and help the 400 million people that don't have any power at all right now.  And do it with a sustainable model that will create manufacturing jobs and making solar panels that will create maintenance jobs and repair and recovery.

01:03:08:00     And then if the Indians want it, we could help them with the rest.  They've got a grid they have to modernize.  And they've got some-- India, you know, has an unusual political system that has an extraordinary amount of authority exists at the state and local level.  So, for example, we're helping the government of Gujarat build a solar thermal project, one of the biggest in the world.

01:03:36:00     And they've got a pretty good growth model there.  In other places, if you want any kind of a hookup, you gotta pay a bribe to the guy that hooks it up.  So there's a whole different set of challenges for the 600 million people that lost their power.  And-- the Indians are fully capable of doing it if they will.  And they have money.  And they have people who would do the investment, if-- if they believed that they were gonna truly modernize it and basically depoliticize it and run it in an efficient way.

01:04:12:00     But I think the-- I think the-- the clean-energy opportunity for those people is to start by saying to the Indians, "You had no backup.  You've got an antiquated traditional energy system.  So let's-- put-- let's maximize solar power, which is basically what they've got, except there are places on the Indian Ocean with enormous-- on the Indian Ocean side of the coastal areas of India have enormous turbine capacity in the waves.

01:04:44:00     But apart from that-- and they're-- I don't-- I'm uninformed about their wind capacity.  But we could just help them with major waste energy projects.  Remember Slumdog Millionaire, it opens with these kids running from the airport across the Mumbai landfill back to the slum where they lived.  And d-- just remember how big it was.  If all that land were cleared off and could be given for good housing or schools or recreational facilities.  And the water quality would be improved.  Everything would be changed.  I think we should work with them on waste to energy projects, which we're tryin' to do in Delhi now.

01:05:27:00     And-- and on solar as-- first they could just take it as a backup for the existing system.  They have no backup.  And the transmission failed and the production failed.  And then eventually I think they could move to a much more balanced system.  But it's more complex with more moving parts than goin' after the 400 that don't have any power at all.

JOHN PODESTA:

01:05:50:00     Let's talk about our-- we only have a couple minutes left.  So let's talk about our crazy political system.  When-- when I worked for you in the White House, clean energy wasn't a partisan issue.  We'd get letters from Democrats and Republican governors pushin' wind, pushin' biofuels, pushin' other clean-- tech investments.  What happened?  How did this become-- over the last few years such-- such a partisan issue in our-- in our country now?

BILL CLINTON:

01:06:16:00     Well, I think first of all in fairness, we did some things that had potential meaning.  We had, you know, that-- the clean car initiative, where we're tryin' to triple car mileage.  We got a lot of good research out of that.  And it's helping a lot of what's going on now.  And we-- we did-- several other things.  And we did-- but there was a bipartisan consensus at Kyoto was nuts, remember?  The Senate voted against that 95 to nothin', before I sent it to 'em.  Only bill I ever lost before I sent it to 'em.  (LAUGH)

01:06:55:00     The oil was under $25 a barrel.  I gave a speech on climate change, you remember that, at the National Science Academy.  It elicited a giant yawn from the press.  They didn't know why I was doin' it.  But we-- so we did have bipartisan support, partly because we were doin' discrete projects in discrete areas that had discrete benefits.

01:07:23:00     What happened was President Obama got elected.  We were in a terrible mess.  He wanted glean en-- clean energy to be a part of the revival of the American economy and the revival of the manufacturing sector.  And they decided that they would try to get in 2010 a replay of 1994, which is exactly what they got.  They said, "If we just say no to everything, they'll blame him.  They'll think there must be something wrong with him.  They'll think he didn't want to cooperate with us.  They'll think he's too far to the left."

01:07:58:00     The same thing happened to me.  And-- and it all got caught up in the politics of it.  And then you had the rise of the super PACs.  And they were funded by a lot of people who had clear economic interest in yesterday's energy economy.  And so I think the overwhelming desire they had to defeat him, plus the overwhelming desire they had to gain the majority back in Congress, which they thought they could get with a "just say no" strategy and that somehow the Democrats would be blamed if they just said "no."

01:08:35:00     And the economic interest of a lot of the people that were funding this amazing flood of super PAC money, which the Supreme Court said would not pollute our politics.  I think all those things together worked to undermine the bipartisan consensus.  I think after this election, if the president is reelected and whether the Republicans hold onto their majority or not or win the Senate or not, both Houses will be quite close.

01:09:06:00     So if you want to do anything big, you'll have to do it-- if you can't do it in the budget, if you want to do anything big, you gotta have 60 votes in the Senate.  'Cause they'll filibuster anything that they want to and therefore I think we'll have more cooperation, because the fever will have passed.  He won't be able to run for reelection.  And I think maybe people will start thinkin' again, instead of just viscerally tryin' to tear the house down.

JOHN PODESTA:

01:09:33:00     So last-- last question, Mr. President.  You got a lot of people in this audience-- from business, students from U.N.L.V.-- people from across the political spectrum.  Any advice to them about how we change this dynamic post election?  What should they be doin' to try to create a better outcome?

BILL CLINTON:

01:09:54:00     Well-- if you live in Nevada, I think you ought to think of things you can do that you can rope Republicans as well as Democrats in on.  Bring 'em in at the beginning, give 'em credit for it.  We have-- over the long run, the process is really important.  We've got to create a stakeholder society again.  America has been derailed, I think, by two great developments in the last 35 years.

01:10:31:00     The first was the rise in the 1970s-- primarily, of the view that for major corporations, only the stockholder's interest mattered.  That they trumped everything else.  When in a more stable economic time, big companies thought they had obligations to their customers, to their employees, and to the communities of which they were a part.  Some still do.

01:10:59:00     A professor, I believe, at Princeton, but I'm not sure, has just written a big book on this.  Sayin' that this whole idea that it's shareholders only is not legally required.  And it's a misreading of the law.  But anyway, that distorted it, because while most people work for small business, a lot of the economic activity in a country and a lot of the R & D that's done in a country like ours, a lot of the energy comes out of bigger companies.  And if they get in a position where it's a shareholder only thing, that's a problem.

01:11:32:00     The second thing was beginning in the mid-'70s and-- in earnest after President Reagan's election is that the government was always the problem.  Government would mess up the two-car parade.  If you could just weaken government enough, everything would be hunky-dory.  Every Amer-- and then-- the whole line they're using against President Obama now is-- is he wants everybody dependent on the government.  That's what this health care thing is.

01:11:56:00     The health care bill is actually a massive subsidy to let private insurance companies insure 30 to 40 million more people.  I mean, it's ridiculous.  We got more people dependent on the government now, 'cause the private economy collapsed.  Nobody ever thought we'd have one in six Americans on food stamps.  It happened because the economy collapsed.

01:12:18:00     So I-- I believe we ought to go back to a point where the Republicans say, "Well, we favor more market-oriented solutions.  We'd rather things be done at the state and local level."  But we get beyond the idea that money always triumphs people and communities, with the idea that sustainable economies require a balanced approach and they're more profitable over the long run.  And we got to go-- we gotta get people to accept the fact that while there are different social models-- for example, Singapore doesn't have the social supports we have even.  And Europe has a lot more than we do.

01:12:58:00     But of all the O.E.C.D. countries, the 33 countries in the O.E.C.D., we're 31st in the percentage of G.D.P. we devote to taxes.  So people feel overtaxed now 'cause they haven't gotten a raise in so long or they don't have a job.  But what we have to do is to slowly rebuild an American community.  And so I would advise you, again, little things have a big impact on people's consciousness.

01:13:27:00     Everybody needs something to look forward to when they get up in the morning.  So while you lobby for political changes at the national level, while you advocate, it's important to do something.  And even if it seems small, if you can get people across the political spectrum to back it, it will make a huge difference.  That's how people begin to live in the future again.  L-- let me just give you one other example.

01:13:56:00     One of my partners in the Global Initiative is an international for-profit network of business schools called The HULT Business Schools.  And their commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative was to give a cash prize every year to a business school or an economics department that submitted the best case study to solve a particular problem, not just their school, it's anybody in the world.  And they do between one and three of these problems a year.  So last year, they did three.  But they did-- one was on solar energy.  And they said, "Okay, solar energy has gone way down in price.  But we don't have a distribution system worth a flip or a financing system.  How can we put up 20 million solar panels in very poor places in a year?"

01:14:51:00     The winning team was from New York University's Abu Dhabi campus.  And there were four members on the team.  One was from China.  One was from Taiwan.  One was from India.  One was from Pakistan.  Two of the hot conflicts areas of the world, right, for decades.  And so these kids got up there-- they weren't kids.  They were young people, got up on the stage and I gave 'em their prize.  And we were all posin' for a picture.

01:15:26:00     And I said, "You sure you want these photographs released back home?"  (LAUGH) And they all basically said, in their own way, "We are so over that.  We are living in the future.  We will be working together in the future.  Or we will be in terrible trouble.  We are over that.  We have to find something to do."  They had something to look forward to in the morning.

01:15:49:00     And so that's the last thing I'll say.  If you live in Nevada or wherever you live, find something to do, and just keep working till you find somebody who's of a different political persuasion that agrees with you on the goal.  Then you can argue about how to achieve it.  I get so amazed when I hear these debates in Washington over what was the intent of the framers.

01:16:13:00     Every time I see old Glenn Beck on Fox (I don't think he's on there anymore, but he used to be) talkin' about the intent of the framers, as if somehow it was set in stone and you could go find it.  They didn't agree on the meaning of the Constitution when they ratified it.  (LAUGH) They had sharp disagreements.  And they left it fluid for a reason, because they knew the definitions would have to be altered through time.

01:16:38:00     And things they didn't think would be subject to much debate, they wrote with as much clarity as possible.  Why am I sayin' that?  Because our diversity is important.  Differences of opinion are important.  You know things I don't.  Nobody's right all the time.  A broken clock's right twice a day.  All of us are livin' between those two extremes.

01:17:05:00     If your purpose is to reach an agreement, then your disagreements become exceedingly valuable, 'cause they give you a better outcome.  If your purpose is winner take all, then your disagreements are paralyzing and doom you to fail.  Which is why I keep pushin' people to do something with somebody else, even if it seems too small against the big problem.  We are going to have to become a stakeholder society again.  That's the only thing that works.

JOHN PODESTA:

01:17:38:00     Mr. President, (APPLAUSE) thanks.  You always amaze me.  I just want to thank you for being with us.  And thank you for giving us some optimism.  Really, thank you.

BILL CLINTON:

01:17:52:00     Thank you.  Thank you.  (APPLAUSE)

01:18:17:00          (OFF-MIC CONVERSATION)

SENATOR HARRY REID:

01:18:23:00     Thank you, Mr. President.  I appreciate very much the Center for American Progress, MGM Resorts International, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas for the great work they've done, the Clean Energy Project.  I hope you've had a good time today.  I hope you've learned something.  I'm confident you have.  I appreciate very much your participation.  Have a good night.  (APPLAUSE)

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