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HUD   >   Press Room   >   Speeches, Remarks, Statements   >   Madison Interview with Secretary Donovan

Transcript of the Madison Show Interview with Secretary Shaun Donovan
December 16, 2011

>> WE'RE GLAD TO HAVE THE SECRETARY OF HUD BACK ON THE MADISON SHOW. SECRETARY DONOVAN, THANKS FOR BEING WITH US. LET ME START WITH, OBVIOUSLY, THE FACT THAT THERE'S STILL NO DEAL. PEOPLE ARE STAYING HERE OR AT LEAST THE PRESIDENT HAS SAID, LOOK, I'M KEEPING CONGRESS HERE. I'M GOING TO STAY HERE. WE'VE GOT TO GET THIS PAYROLL TAX CUT THROUGH. SOMEONE MIGHT LET ME ASK, WHY WOULD HOW DOES THIS IMPACT WHAT YOU'RE RESPONSIBLE FOR? I KNOW AS A CITIZEN WHAT YOUR FEELINGS ARE, AND I SHARE THEM, BUT THE SECRETARY OF HUD, PEOPLE MIGHT ASK, WHY WOULD THE SECRETARY OF HUD GET INTO THIS FIGHT?

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: WELL, JOE, FIRST OF ALL, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU.

>> AND THE SAME TO YOU.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: IT'S SO GREAT TO BE BACK ON YOUR SHOW.

>> SAME TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: AND, YOU KNOW, IT'S A GREAT QUESTION YOU ASKED. LET'S REMEMBER, THIS PAYROLL TAX CUT AFFECTS A HUGE SHARE OF AMERICANS. THERE ARE 160 MILLION AMERICANS WHO, IF CONGRESS DOESN'T ACT IN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS TO EXTEND THE PAYROLL TAX CUT, ARE GOING TO LOSE A THOUSAND DOLLARS NEXT YEAR ON AVERAGE. WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE'RE GOING TO TAKE NOT JUST A JOB SITUATION WHERE UNEMPLOYMENT IS TOO HIGH IN THIS COUNTRY, PARTICULARLY IN THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY, AND MAKE IT WORSE. WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A HOUSING MARKET THAT HAD JUST REALLY BEGUN TO SHOW SIGNS OF IMPROVING AND SET IT BACK NEXT YEAR. A THOUSAND DOLLARS LESS IN A FAMILY'S POCKET MEANS IT'S HARDER TO PAY THE RENT, IT'S HARDER TO PAY THE MORTGAGE, AND YOU KNOW, THAT'S JUST NOT ACCEPTABLE, AND THE PRESIDENT SAID WE CANNOT LET FAMILIES, PARTICULARLY IN THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, SUFFER THROUGH THAT, AND SO HE'S GOING TO STAY IN TOWN. HE'S GOING TO MAKE SURE HE DOES HIS JOB, BUT CONGRESS HAS TO STAY IN TOWN, SHOULD NOT GO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS UNTIL THEY GET THIS DONE, AND YOUR LISTENERS OUGHT TO TALK TO THEIR CONGRESS PEOPLE TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE HEARING THAT MESSAGE. IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THEY CAN DO BEFORE GOING HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

>> AND IN ADDITION TO THAT, WE SHOULD POINT OUT THAT ONE OF THE OTHER DEALS THAT HASN'T BEEN CUT AND IT'S ON THE TABLE, AND THAT'S THE EXTENSION OF THE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. WITH THE OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OVER 15% IN THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY, IT IS JUST COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE THAT THIS HASN'T BEEN DONE YET. THERE ARE ABOUT A MILLION AND A HALF FOLKS JUST IN JANUARY ALONE WHO WOULD LOSE THEIR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IF IT'S NOT EXTENDED. YOU KNOW, WHAT'S CYNICAL HERE JOE IS THAT SOME REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS ARE USING THIS AS AN EXCUSE TO TRY TO CUT BACK ON UNEMPLOYMENT, CUT IT FROM 99 WEEKS TO 50 WEEKS, AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER IDEOLOGICAL WRITERS ON FAMILY PLANNING, A PIPELINE FOR NATURAL GAS, A WHOLE SET OF ISSUES

>> YEAH.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH JOBS, THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH UNEMPLOYMENT.

>> YOU KNOW, THIS WHOLE THING OF HERE'S THE OTHER CYNICAL PART THAT I REALLY HATE HEARING, AND THAT IS, WELL, IF YOU PROVIDE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS WHAT'S THE WORD IT DIS INCENTIVIZES. AM I CORRECTLY PRONOUNCING THAT?

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: THAT'S RIGHT.

>> YEAH. I MEAN, BUT IT DIS INCENTIVIZES, THEY DON'T DO IT. I DON'T WANT TO SOUND LIKE PRESIDENT BUSH, BUT I MEAN, YOU KNOW, THAT THEY DON'T HAVE AN INCENTIVE TO ACTUALLY GO OUT AND LOOK FOR WORK.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: WELL, I MEAN, WE ALL KNOW, JOE, THAT AMERICANS WANT TO WORK, AND AT A TIME WHEN WE'VE GOT TO DO MORE TO CREATE JOBS, TO BE FOCUSING TO BE BLAMING THE VICTIM HERE IS JUST NOT ACCEPTABLE. WE'VE GOT TO GET THIS LOOK, IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT THOSE 160 MILLION AMERICANS, THE 20 MILLION AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO WOULD LOSE THE PAYROLL TAX CUT, NOT JUST THE UNEMPLOYED, THE 15 MORE THAN 15%. IT IS ALSO ABOUT THE ECONOMY. ECONOMISTS ACROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM AGREE THAT THE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND THE PAYROLL TAX CUT ARE TWO OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE THINGS THAT WE CAN DO TO SPUR JOBS AND HELP THE ECONOMY NEXT YEAR, BECAUSE EVERY ONE OF THOSE FOLKS WILL SPEND THAT MONEY AND HELP HAVE A RIPPLE EFFECT

>> YES.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN A COMPOUNDING EFFECT ON THE ECONOMY.

>> YEAH. THIS MONEY DOESN'T THIS MONEY GETS IMMEDIATELY SPENT.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: YES.

>> I MEAN, IT GETS IMMEDIATELY SPENT, AND IT GOES INTO THE ECONOMY. THE SECOND ISSUE I WANTED TO BRING UP AND THIS IS GOOD NEWS. I THINK IT NEEDS TO BE THAT WE NEED TO CERTAINLY DISCUSS IT, AND THAT IS THE NUMBER OF HOMELESS VETS ARE DOWN 12% ACCORDING TO REPORTS FROM THE VETERANS AFFAIRS AND THE DEPARTMENT YOUR DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT. THAT 12% IS SIGNIFICANT, ISN'T IT?

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: IT'S HUGE. IT'S JUST ONE YEAR, A 12% REDUCTION, AND EVEN BETTER, IT'S A 17% REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER OF VETERANS THAT ARE ACTUALLY LIVING ON THE STREETS, SO THAT THE MOST VULNERABLE FOLKS, IT'S COME DOWN EVEN MORE. JOE, THIS WOULD BE IMPORTANT AT ANY TIME, BUT LET'S REMEMBER THE OTHER REALLY GOOD NEWS THIS WEEK. THIS PRESIDENT PLEDGED TO END THE WAR IN IRAQ.

>> YES.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: AND HE KEPT HIS PROMISE.

>> RIGHT.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: HE IS BRINGING THOSE SOLDIERS HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, AND WE OWE THOSE SOLDIERS MORE THAN OUR THANKS. WE OWE THEM THAT WHEN THEY COME BACK THEY CAN FIND A JOB, AND WE OWE THEM THAT THEY HAVE A DECENT PLACE TO LIVE. AND WHAT ONE OF THE REASONS WE'VE BEEN SO FOCUSED ON THIS IS WITH A HUGE NUMBER OF VETERANS RETURNING FROM IRAQ, AS WELL AS AFGHANISTAN, THE CHANCES THAT THEY CAN WILL END UP ON THE STREETS ARE SUBSTANTIAL IN AN ECONOMY LIKE THIS, AND WE NEED TO PROTECT THEM. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE WE'RE DOING IT RIGHT. AND SO THE PRESIDENT, HE SET A BOLD GOAL HERE, AN AUDACIOUS GOAL EVEN. HE SAID WE'RE GOING TO END VETERANS HOMELESSNESS BY 2015, NOT REDUCE IT, NOT PUT A BAND AID ON IT, END IT BY 2015, AND IT WAS THAT PROMISE, THAT PLEDGE THAT REALLY SPURRED MYSELF, SECRETARY SHINSEKI AT VETERANS AFFAIRS, THE WHOLE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PUT OUR HEADS TOGETHER AND FIGURE OUT WHAT WE COULD DO. AND THE RESULT IN THE FIRST YEAR IS A 12% REDUCTION, BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO STOP. BY 2015, WE'VE PLEDGED TO END VETERANS HOMELESSNESS.

>> NOW, LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT, IF YOU DON'T MIND, THE I'M READING ABOUT THE $100 MILLION IN GRANTS AVAILABLE TO COMMUNITY AGENCIES. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT, FOR SUPPORT FOR SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES? NOW, THAT WOULD BE UNDER THE VA, WOULDN'T IT?

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT. WE'VE BOTH SHARED RESOURCES, COME UP WITH NEW EFFORTS. YOU KNOW, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE ALSO WE HAVEN'T HEARD ENOUGH ABOUT OUT THERE IS, IN THE RECOVERY ACT, THE STIMULUS BILL, WE HAD A BILLION AND A HALF DOLLARS FOR A BRAND NEW EFFORT TO TRY TO PREVENT HOMELESSNESS. AND WHAT WE FIGURED OUT AFTER WORKING ON THIS AND I STARTED MY WORK IN A HOMELESS SHELTER IN COLLEGE.

>> REALLY?

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: THAT'S HOW I GOT INTERESTED IN HOUSING.

>> OKAY.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: WE'VE LEARNED THAT IT'S MUCH BETTER FOR A FAMILY BUT ALSO MUCH BETTER FOR THE TAXPAYER TO PREVENT HOMELESSNESS BEFORE IT HAPPENS RATHER THAN PICKING UP THE PIECES

>> RIGHT.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: AFTER IT'S ALREADY GONE WRONG, YOU KNOW, THE IMPACT IT HAS ON A CHILD OR A FAMILY. SO WHAT WE'VE STARTED TO DO AND THIS HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR EFFORT IS PART OF IT THAT YOU MENTIONED IS TO PARTNER UP WITH NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS OUT IN COMMUNITIES AND TRY TO GET TO VERY VULNERABLE FAMILIES BEFORE THEY LOSE A JOB. IT MAY BE ONE MONTH'S RENT THAT THEY NEED TO STAY IN THEIR HOME. IT MAY BE ONE MORTGAGE PAYMENT. IT MIGHT EVEN BE A UTILITY BILL, BUT MUCH BETTER TO HELP THEM WITH THAT RATHER THAN LET THEM FALL INTO A SHELTER.

>> IT'S LIKE A SAFETY NET.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: EXACTLY RIGHT, AND IF WE'RE TARGETING IT RIGHT AND YOU KNOW WHAT'S BEEN INTERESTING TO US? WE THOUGHT WE WOULD HELP MAYBE A HALF MILLION PEOPLE WITH THIS EFFORT, THE RECOVERY ACT.

>> RIGHT.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: WE'RE NOW AT 1.1 MILLION AND COUNTING.

>> WOW.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: BECAUSE IT'S RELATIVELY SMALL NUMBERS OF PEOPLE, AND THAT'S OVER A MILLION PEOPLE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ON OUR STREETS OR IN SHELTERS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE OF THE WORK WE'RE DOING. REMEMBER, JOE, THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY IS PARTICULARLY HARD HIT BY THIS. A THIRD OF ALL THE VETERANS THAT ARE LIVING IN SHELTERS

>> YES.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: ARE AFRICAN AMERICANS.

>> ONE THIRD?

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: ONE THIRD. IT'S JUST UNACCEPTABLE.

>> AND THOSE THAT AREN'T IN SHELTERS MIGHT BE IN UNSHELTERED NOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD THAT LIVE IN ONE THIRD OF THEM, YOU KNOW, THOSE YOU CAN COUNT BECAUSE THEY'RE IN SHELTERS, BUT THEN LET'S BE HONEST ABOUT THIS. YOU'VE GOT FOLK ON THE STREET. THEY'RE IN ABANDONED BUILDINGS. THEY'RE IN VEHICLES

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.

>> PARKS.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: WHAT WE'VE DONE IN ORDER TO MAKE SURE WE KNOW WHERE THEY ARE, WHO THEY ARE, WE GO OUT ONE WEEK IN JANUARY EVERY NIGHT ACROSS THE COUNTRY, VOLUNTEERS GOING OUT COUNTING FOLKS ON THE STREET, TALKING TO THEM. AND TWO YEARS AGO, WE PUT IN PLACE A PLAN WHERE WE'RE GOING TO ASK EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WHETHER THEY'RE A VETERAN OR NOT SO WE CAN IDENTIFY NOT JUST WHERE FOLKS ARE ON THE STREETS BUT ALSO WHETHER THEY'VE SERVED THEIR COUNTRY, AND THAT'S HOW WE KNOW THAT WE'RE MAKING THIS PROGRESS. LAST YEAR, I WENT OUT WITH THE DEPUTY SECRETARY OF THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON D.C.

>> YEAH.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: SPENT MOST OF THE NIGHT TALKING TO FOLKS, MEETING VETERANS ON THE STREET, FINDING OUT HOW WE COULD HELP THEM, AND THAT'S PART OF THE EFFORT HERE, IS TO REALLY GO OUT, COUNT THEM, UNDERSTAND THAT THEY'RE NOT JUST A FACE, BUT REALLY WHAT THEIR STORY IS AND HOW WE CAN HELP THEM, AND THAT'S PART OF WHAT'S LED US TO THIS 12% REDUCTION.

>> WELL, I AM YOU KNOW, LET ME TELL YOU WHAT. I AM ALSO IN ADDITION TO HAVING YOU ON THE POWER, YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOW OUR SHOWS ARE HEARD ON THE VETERANS I MEAN ON ARMED FORCES RADIO.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: WELL, LET ME JUST

>> AMERICAN IS IT AMERICAN FORCES? YEAH. WE KEPT SAYING ARMED FORCES. IT'S AMERICAN FORCES RADIO. SO WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS SEGMENT IS HEARD SO THAT THOSE IN SERVICE GET TO HEAR THE WORK THAT YOU'VE DONE AND THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE.

>> SECRETARY DONOVAN: WELL, JOE, LET ME THANK YOU FOR REACHING OUR TROOPS AND TO SAY THANK YOU TO THEM, PARTICULARLY IN THE HOLIDAY SEASON. THERE IS NO MORE SACRED PLEDGE THAN WE HAVE AS A COUNTRY THAN TO HONOR AND PROTECT THOSE WHO HAVE FOUGHT FOR OUR FREEDOM, AND ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I COULD EVER DO AS HUD SECRETARY IS TO KEEP THAT PLEDGE THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS MADE TO END VETERANS' HOMELESSNESS. IT'S SIMPLY A NATIONAL DISGRACE THAT A VETERAN IS 50% MORE LIKELY TO BE HOMELESS IN THIS COUNTRY THAN THE AVERAGE AMERICAN, AND WE'RE GOING TO END THAT.

>> ALL RIGHT. THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US, SECRETARY DONOVAN. >> SECRETARY DONOVAN: GREAT TO BE WITH YOU, JOE. HAPPY HOLIDAYS AGAIN.

>> SAME TO YOU.