tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 23, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT
the demint amendment number 510. mr. president, i rise in strong opposition to the amendment offered by my colleague from louisiana, mr. vitter. now, as you know, the underlying bill is the product of a bipartisan gentleman's agreement reached earlier this year that seeks to streamline and otherwise improve the efficiency of the senate's confirmation process. the senator from maine, the senator from tennessee, the senator from connecticut and myself as well as the leaders, leader reid and leader mcconnell have been heavily involved in this process. the amendment offered by mr. vitter runs counter to the spirit of comity behind this important bill. it is a poison bill designed to handcuff the president's ability to aacceptable a top-flight team of advisors and aides. it has been introduced several times in several reiterations and now is the time we're moving forward. it is one of those moments where
we can brinl the partisan divide and make the senate a more efficient body. it is not the time or place to rei think debate old and frankly, i believe silly battles about so-called czars. it is our constitutionally mandated duty as senators to ensure that the most important positions in government are confirmed in a timely manner. with the underlying bill we finally grin to break -- begin to break the logjam by taking middle level nonpolicy positions off the docket. so i would urge my colleagues to vote against it. mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york is recognized. mr. schumer: i would ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. schumer: i also rise now, because of the change in time schedule to speak against the amendment offered by mr. demint. like the vitter amendment, this amendment is -- is opposed to the great spirit of comity behind the underlying bill. i'd like to remind my colleague from south carolina that the bipartisan working group labored over every decision we made. far from lifting our index fingers to the wind, we carefully debated the nuances of the changes that were ultimately proposed. the change that the senator from south carolina takes fault with involves the bureau of justice statistics. now, let me tell but this
position. the director of the bureau of justice statistics reports to the senate-confirmed assistant attorney general for the office of justice programs, who then reports to the senate-confirmed associate attorney general, who then reported to the senate-confirmed deputy attorney general, who, you guessed it, reports to the attorney general, also confirmed. how much more oversight do we need for one man? is four levels of congressional oversight not enough? it's clear to me that this amendment is really designed to ham per our goal of improving the way the senate functions. after all, there are four similar positions at the department of justice with parallel lines of reporting that we plan to remove from senate confirmation. but the senator from south carolina does not take aim at those. simply put, this is a prime example of the type of amendment that cellulose the senate down. we're trying to -- the type of amendment that is really aimed
at preventing the passage of this bill. the number of senate-confirmed positions has increased by hundreds over the last few decades. as you know, this proliferation has slowed the confirmation process to a near standstill. what used to be a flowing, functioning faucet now trickles. this position is one of those midlevel positions that should be removed to free up our process so we can focus our time on the positions that are more senior or do not report to so many other levels of senate-confirmed positions. removing senate confirmation for this position does not any way weaken our constitutional advise and consent power or give any extra power to the president. this power was given to us to be used to confirm the most senior policy-making provisions, and the president has power to appoint his midlevel and lower-level appointees. so i oppose this amendment, which will be voted on after our respective lunches and urge my colleagues to join me in voting against it. thank you, and i yield the
floor, madam president. and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for no more than ten minutes. the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. brown: i apologize. madam president, i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. brown: and i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for no more thanton minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. brown tbrown, madam president. last week -- mr. brown: thank you, madam president. last week minority leader pelosi and some of her colleagues signaled their intention to
introduce a discharge resolution for a vote on h.r. 639, the currency reform for fair trade act. i applaud those in this body and in the house of representatives who want to push on currency reform and encourage the speaker and house leadership to support this position. this legislation this -- similar legislation passed overwhelmingly with strong bipartisanship in the last congress. senator snowe from maine and i introduced that legislation in the senate. it would strengthen counterveiling duty laws to consider undervalued cren says an unfair subsidy in determining duty rates what. does that mean? what that means is that we have -- in essence, we have lost jobs in this country because too often the playing field in our trade relationship with the people's republic of china is simply not level. we know that china, in far too
many cases, subsidizes energy. we know they subsidize land. we know they subsidize capital. we know they subsidize production in various kinds of ways. and we also know in terms of currency that china doesn't play fair. so when an industry like the coated paper industry in southwest ohio, north of sin singers or the aluminum industry in western ohio, in sydney, or the steel industry in lorain, ohio, when an industry poeticians the international trade commission for relief against unfair subsidies, currency manipulation would be part of that investigation. that bill would make sure that happens. it's simple. it's straightforward. it's achievable. it sends a signal, madam president to our trading partners that we won't sit idly bay while other countries game the system, gaining an unfair advantage over american workers
and businesses. i can't count the number of times, madam president -- in north carolina you have seen the same situation, i know, in textiles and other industries, where simply purkts the american workers have trouble competing and have trouble selling their products because of unfair trade advantages that countries and companies in those countries have inflicted on the united states. don't forget the stakes. we're all concerned about the budget deficit to be sure. and we heard senator conrad earlier talking about that in a convincing, persuasive way. cut the budget, set it up long term, medium term, don't do it right now, as chairman bernanke says. that will cost us jobs. but build this that type of deficit reduction. don't forget the trade deficit. we have in the last ten years particularly since most favored nation status with china and then the trade agenda on the one hand cafta and other trade
agreements and the lack of enforcement of those agreements, we've seen the kind of job loss because of those trade agreements. mr. president, president bush once said that $1 billion in trade surplus or trade deficit translates into 13,000 jobs. why is that? if you have a budget splufs $1 billion, you have 13,000 more jobs in our country. if you have a trade deficit $1 billion, you have 13,000 fewer jobs. the reason is pretty clear. if you have a $1 billion trade deficit, it means you are buying $1 billion worth of goods more from country "x" -- china, let's say -- than you're selling to china. that means the production -- $1 billion worth of production, $1 billion worth more of production takees place in china than in the u.s. that's okay but when the numbers are hundreds of billions of dlarks our trade deficit has fluctuated between $400 billion ands 750 billion -- between $1 billion a day an $2 billion a
day, that's real jobs. multiply those jobs by 13,000 per billion dollars and you see the kind of job loss we have in the united states of america, especially in manufacturing, hitting those communities like lorani or mansfield or sprin springfield or cleveland or cities in western new york, syracuse, rochester, or cities in north carolina. you can see what it's done in small towns and urban areas alike to our job growth. in april 2011 our total trade deficit in that month alone was $54 billion. our trade deficit with china in that month alone was $21 billion. paul krugman, a reporter -- a come up nist in "the new york times," said if you want a trade policy that helps employment, it has to be a policy that induces other countries to run bigger deficits or smaller surpluses. a counterveiling duty on chinese exports would be job creating.
a deal with south korea would not be. i'm not here to argue or debate or even to be critical of the free trade agreement with south korea. i think it is a bad idea. i hear the promises of administration after administration. this administration at least hasn't overpromised like the bush and clinton administrations did on creation of jobs, on trade. but we know every time there is a trade agreement, trade deficit goes up, job loss accelerates, especially in manufacturing. so, madam president, the point is one major thing we can do about this is what the house of representatives is trying to do and that's pass the currency reform for trade adjustment assistance act. it will simply mean that china and the united states are on a more level playing field, a more even relationship. it will save and help to increase manufacturing jobs. we know that manufacturing jobs are a ticket to the middle class. the republic of germany -- the country of germany, 20% of its workforce in germany is in
manufacturing. only 10% of our workforce is in manufacturing. germany has higher unionization rates, higher wages, and a budget surplus -- i'm sorry, a trade surplus. the united states has, ace pointed out, between -- ace pointed out, almost $1 billion a day trade deficit with china. and -- somewhat less than that. and up to $2 billion trade deficit with the whole world as a whole. clearly our trade policy isn't working. currency reform is one major step in doing -- in fixing that. it is something that i hope this senate takes up sooner rather than later and the house of representatives does the same. madam president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. brown: i ask -- you madam president, i have 13 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session. they have the approval of both the majority and minority leaders. and i ask that -- i ask unanimous consent these requests
ms. collins: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: madam president, i ask that the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. collins: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question occurs on amendment number 499 offered by the senator from louisiana, mr. vitter. is there a sufficient second? there is. there appears to be. there is. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
on this bill -- on this vote the yeas are 47. the nays are 51. under the previous order requiring 60 votes for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is not agreed to. under the previous motion, the motion to reconsider is considered made and laid upon the table. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: madam president, i have an amendment at the desk and i ask for its immediate consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from pennsylvania, mr. toomey, proposes an amendment -- mr. toomey: i ask unanimous
consent the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: i'd like to ask unanimous consent that senator vitter be added as a cosponsor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. toomey: thank you. i rise to retain confirmation process for two positions: the position of governor and alternate governor of the i.m.f. and the bank for reconstruction and development. the board of governors at the i.m.f. is the highest level of governance at the i.m.f. and currently the governor and alternate governor are subject to senate confirmation th-fplt bill would change that. this bill would remove them from the senate confirmation process. and i think i understand the rationale behind that thinking. it's probably because by custom, the u.s. has appointed the secretary of the treasury as the governor designate to the i.m.f. and the chairman of the federal reserve as the alternate governor. and since those folks have already been through a senate
confirmation process, no doubt the thought was we didn't need to have a separate one. here's the reason for my amendment, and that is the decision to appoint these two individuals to these two posts has been by custom, and there's nothing in statute or otherwise that requires the president to appoint these two individuals. the president and any future president could choose to nominate anyone he or she may like, and continuing's very important that -- and i think it's very important that in that event the senate would choose to have the oversight that comes with the advice and consent my amendment would retain. the truth is the u.s. is the largest lender to the i.m.f., and right now the i.m.f. is in the process of using u.s. taxpayer dollars to bail out greece and perhaps other countries. at a time when greece and europe are virtually drowning in debt, i don't think the senate should be conceding its confirmation authority and potentially
thereby reducing its oversight of the key i.m.f. officials responsible for overseeing tens of billions of u.s. taxpayer dollars. here we are giving many tens, over $100 billion to the i.m.f. for them to in turn lend money to insolvent governments. it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. we're running a $1.5 trillion deficit. our disebt now up to 69% of our g.d.p. and it's rising rapidly. just seems to me that american taxpayers shouldn't be asked -- american taxpayers shouldn't be asked to bail out european governments that clearly haven't been able to get their act together. but recently we actually expanded the liability the u.s. taxpayers have to the i.m.f. let me comment for a minute specificallien this idea of bailing out greece because i think this is a very, very bad idea.
greek debt now exceeds 150% of their total economy. the brookings institute estimates that bribery and corruption alone amount to 8% of g.d.p. annually. the greek workforce has a very low productivity raivment there is a very low percentage of their population that are engaged in the workforce. by any measure this is an economy that is in a downward spiral. but despite that and despite $160 billion bailout just last may, in 2011 the greek government decided to increase their total expenditures. so while running this staggering and completely unsustainable deficit, their government's decision was to increase spending. wcialg the fact of the matter is, unfortunately, no loan, no matter how large and no matter from whom it comes, in loan is going to -- no loan to going to solve greece's problem. it is not that they have a problem with liquidity. the problem with greece is
insolvency. greece cannot and therefore will not repay awful its debt. danger of going down this road of having all these multinationals in lending money to greece now, what we're doing is replacing the existing loans that have been provided by private banks, especially european banks, with taxpayer dollars provided by these big institutions. eventually, the greek government is going to default on the debt. the only question is upon whose debt will they default? will it be of the private tbhaings lent them the money? that's are the people that made an imprudent money decision. or will it be taxpayer-funded institutions because those institutions have taken out the debt of the private banks snim --i am a afraid that's the path
we're on. it is also an unusual transaction for the i.m.f. it is unusual for the i.m.f. to lend money to developed economies, usually this kind of program goes to developing nations. but it's even more unusual in the magnitude, the sheer scale of this. in 2010, the i.m.f. bailout to greece was more than 3000% of the quota. this was 3,000%. one of the biggest problems with going down this road of having multinational institutions bailing out insolvent countries is the moral hazard ampletd there are a number of countries around europe that are in substantial trouble, varying degrees of fiscal problems, and some teetering on the edge of ininvolvescy. what's the message we're sending
to those governments if multinationals come in and bail out greece? the message is, don't make the tough decisions now because someday someone will come along and bail you out of this problem. irthink that's a very, very bad policy. and most of all, we ought not to be putting u.s. taxpayers in this position of taking on this liability, which as i say dsh, much of which is not going to be repaid. the reality is congress has very limited oversight over the i.m.f. by design, very limited authority. but one of the few checks that we do have is the ability to provide or to withhold our consent with respect to those who are nominated to that powerful governing board. i just don't think at a time when the i.m.f. is going out and putting tens of billions of u.s. taxpayer dollars at risk, bailing out irresponsible and insolvent foreign countries, at
a time like this i don't think we should be doing anything to relinquish that authority that we have back to -- to diminish the opportunity we would have to provide that advice and consent. mr. president, with that, i would yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. mccain: i ask
speaking as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: i thank you, mr. president. i -- i speak today on a day that appears to be positioned between two very consequential decisions. yesterday, the president announced his plan to draw down u.s. forces in afghanistan, planning to pull out 10,000 troops this year and the remaining 23,000 surge forces by september, 2012. tomorrow, the house of representatives will likely vote on a measure to limit the use of u.s. funding for u.s. military operations in libya to only -- quote -- "nonkinetic activities." in other words, noncombat activities. so that no limited strike mission toss suppress air defenses or predator strikes against qadhafi's forces, which we're doing very little of already. the only military actions for
which the commander in chief could commit our armed forces would be supporting missions from search and rescue to aerial refueling to intelligence. that is the provisions in what is very likely to be voted on and passed by the house of representatives tomorrow. now, some may not see a connection between these decisions, but the connection is pro found. we're having a profound debate in this country right now that i suspect will continue for some time. critical questions are being asked and discussed. how could -- how should we in the united states define our national interests? what is the proper role for america in the world? how do we balance our commitments abroad and the global demands for u.s. leadership with an american public that is justifiably war weary after a decade of conflict and that is rightly concerned with our unsustainable levels of
government spending and national debt. these are vital questions. they will determine the future of our nation and indeed the future of the world. reasonable americans can disagree over what the right answers are, and although our disagreements may be heated and passionate, we should always remember that we're all americans, that we're all patriotic and that we all want to do what is best for the nation we love. the discussions we are now having over libya and afghanistan go right to the heart of this broader debate, and this is where we see the real practical impact of the decisions all of us in public life must make and be accounted for. we're all trying to define america's interests and role in the world, to separate that which we can and must do from that which is beyond our capacity and our benefit to try
to accomplish. we're all striving for a balanced approach to america's interest abroad, and it is for that reason i am very concerned about both the president's decision on afghanistan and the house's pending vote on libya. i agree with the president that thanks especially to the sacrifice and courage of our fighting men and women, we're making amazing progress in afghanistan. this progress is real and it's remarkable, but as our commanders on the ground all point out, it is also fragile and reversible. our commanders also say that what will be decisive is the fighting season next year the warmer spring and summer months when the insurgency historically picks up its operations after resting and regrouping a bit during the colder months. this will be our opportunity to consolidate our gains in southern afghanistan and being
transitioning more and more of that fight to our afghan friends while increasing numbers of u.s. forces shift their main effort to eastern afghanistan where the hakani networks, al qaeda and other regional mill clant groups are still present and -- militant groups are still present and operating actively. the reason our commanders had to take this sequential approach is because they did not get all the forces they requested in 2009, 40,000 troops as opposed to the 33,000 the president gave them. what this means in practice is that our commanders in afghanistan still need next year's fighting season to deal the same crushing blow to al qaeda and the taliban in the east as our forces have dealt them in the south. however, under the president's plan which calls for having all of our surge units out of afghanistan by september, those troops will begin -- will begin flog out of afghanistan right at
the time that the taliban, al qaeda and their allies begin stepping up their operations, especially in eastern afghanistan. this is the irony of it all. the president's decision in december, 2009, had the effect of making this war longer and costlier by forcing our commanders to tackle our enemies in southern and eastern afghanistan sequentially over two years rather than simultaneously in one decisive action over one year, and now just at the moment when our troops could finish our main objective and begin ending our combat operations in a responsible way, just when they are one year away from turning over a battered and broken enemy in both southern and eastern afghanistan to our afghan partners, the president has now decided to deny them the forces that our commanders believe they need to accomplish their objective.
i hope i am wrong. i hope the president is right. this decision will not endanger the hard-won gains that our troops have made or the decisive progress that they still need to make next year. i hope that proves correct, but i'm very concerned that the president's decision poses an unnecessary risk to the progress we have made thus far to our mission and to our men and women in uniform. our troops are not exhausted. they are excited that after ten years we finally have a winning strategy that's turning this war around, and anyone who says that our troops are exhausted should go out and talk to them. they want to stay at this until the job is done, we have sacrificed too much. america has a vital national interest in succeeding in afghanistan after all that we
have given to this mission, the money we have committed to it, the decade we have devoted to it and the precious lives we have lost throughout it. why would we do anything now that puts our mission at greater risk of failure? i would offer the same counsel to my republican friends in the house with regards to our mission in libya. i know that my colleagues in congress are angry with the administration and its libya policy, and they have every right to be. from the disrespect and disregard the administration has shown congress to their bizarre assertion that we are not really engaged in hostilities in libya to the lack of resolve with which they have prosecuted this fight and made the public case for it, the administration has done an unfortunate amount to earn the ier of -- ire of congress. but we can't forget the main point. in the midst of the most ground-breaking geopolitical
event in two decades at least, as peaceful protests for democracy are sweeping the middle east, with qadhafi's forces ready to strike at the gates of benghazi and with arabs and muslims in libya and across the region pleading for the united states military to stop the bloodshed, the united states and our allies took action and prevented the massacre that qadhafi had promised to commit in a city of 700,000 people, and by doing so began creating conditions that are increasing the pressure on qadhafi to give up power. yes, the progress towards this goal has been slower than many had hoped and the administration is doing less to achieve it than i and others would like, but here are the facts. we are succeeding in libya. qadhafi is going to fall. it is just a matter of time. so i would ask my colleagues is
this the time for congress to turn against this policy? is this the time to ride to the rescue of an antiamerican tyrant when the writing is on the wall that he is collapsing? is this the time for congress to declare to the world, to qadhafi and his inner circle, to qadhafi's opponents who are fighting for their freedom and to our nato allies who are carrying a far heavier burden in this conflict than we are, is this the time for america to tell all of these people that our heart is not in this and that we won't see this mission through, that we will abandon our best friends and allies on a whim? this all comes back as to how we americans define our national interests and act on them. we can all agree that none of us are averse to doing what is necessary to defend america and our allies when we face a clear
threat in the world. in that way, we're likely -- we are like any other nation in history, but what sets us apart from those other nations, what makes us exceptional, what makes us the united states of america is that we define our interests more broadly than that. our interests also encompass the fact that we are the leader of the free world, that the circle of nations that want us to play that role is growing, not diminishing, and that this position of leadership also confers responsibilities that are greater than our own immediate and material self-interests. it is the responsibility that we have to the universal ideals of freedom and justice and human rights of which our nation is both the greatest embodiment and the greatest champion in human history. that is not to say that we can
or should be involved everywhere. that is not to say that we must act wherever and whenever our ideals are threatened. this is not to say that military action is always the right answer, nor is this a recipe for endless conflict and commitment. america's powerful, but we are not omnipotent. we must make hard choices about where to spend our blood and treasure. there will be more occasions than not that we will choose not to intervene either because our interests do not warrant it or because we don't have the capacity to do so or because greater american involvement will not improve the situation. and when we choose not to intervene forcefully in places where the cause of justice is calling out to us, be it sudan or the congo or syria or countless other places where i and others have argued against intervention, we will be assailed as hypocritical and
inconsistent. that is unfair, but it's nothing new for america. what we can never forget is that our nation's interests are forever colored by our values, that america has always believed that the success of freedom and democracy in other lands does not just make our world more just. it makes it a safer, more secure and better place for americans and our children. we can never afford to define our interests so narrowly that we would have sat back as an anti-american tyrant slaughtered his own people, thereby destroying one of the most historic attempts by millions of arabs and muslims to build better and more stable governments. that would have served neither our moral nor our strategic interests. similarly, once we are engaged in a fight as we are now in
libya and afghanistan, and when we still have a clear path to succeed, as we do in both countries, it is in both our moral and strategic interests to finish the job, even if it is difficult and costly and unpopular. but failure is the only cost that we truly cannot afford. america cannot make the world perfect, but we can make it better, freer, more just, more prosperous. that's what's always made us an exceptional nation. that is what has always been the greatest source of our national security. that is what has always made us america. and that's how we must remain. mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the following articles, "wall street journal" article this morning entitled "libya and republicans." "the washington post" editorial this morning entitled "end of a
surge." and a "wall street journal" article also entitled "unplugging the afghan surge" be inserted in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: mr. president? mr. mccain: i note my friend from south carolina here today. the senator from south carolina, as many of us tphoerbgs is a reserve -- know, is a reserve colonel in the united states air force j.a.g. corps. he has spend more time in afghanistan than any member of congress, more than most members of congress combined. he has observed closely in afghanistan the surge, its success, its i am pedestrianments. -- its impediments. i ask unanimous consent to engage in a colloquy with my
friend from south carolina. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i wonder if my friend has seen general kean, the architecture of the surge in iraq, on one of the networks this morning describing his views on the president's decision concerning drawing down our troops in afghanistan? mr. graham: i did. about your statement on the floor, i'd like to associate myself with it. it was a very well articulated statement about the times in which we live. afghanistan, for about 18 months we've had additional military capacity that was never known to afghanistan. to all, because of president obama's decision to send 33,000 troops at general petraeus's request. the request was for 40. but at the time i said i do appreciate president obama giving the commander the resources to do the job, but you have to do it differently. general kean is the architect of
insurgency. he is a mentor of general petraeus. he and general petraeus and others came up with the strategy that succeeded in iraq. here's what's happened from my point of view. i go every three months. about two years ago i was afraid we were going to lose. how could the taliban come back with 100,000 nato forces in afghanistan? rules of engagement for nato were law enforcement rules. we were looking at this from the eyes of a law enforcement activity, and the number of american forces with a about 30,000. that wasn't enough to help build the afghan army, train and equip the afghan army, control the population, provide safety, give governance a chance to flourish through better security. that's why we needed more troops. and to all the commanders before general petraeus, you were holding afghanistan together in
many ways with duck tape. i believe iraq is a pivotal moment in the war on terror, but it is a fair observation to make that because of the war in iraq resource wr-s taken away from afghanistan. even though we have been there for ten years, we really only have been there with the capacity to bring about kpaepbg for only -- change for 18 months. what's happened in 18 months? forces were sent to the southern part of afghanistan. this is a fight between the taliban, a radical element of the pashtun community and a majority of pashtuns and other afghans who want a different way. kandahar is in the south, the spiritual home of omar. there is an american operating base within a mile of his compound. you can get on the rule of his
prison there and see omar's compound. the argument is if we can win in the south we can win anywhere. we took 30,000 troops into the southern part of afghanistan and broke the enemy's back and we have allowed the afghan army and security forces to develop. in september 2009, senator mccain, there were 800 people a month joining the afghan army, 2,000 a month leaving. i'm not very good at math, but that's not a way to build up an army. from december 2009 until the present, we've been recruiting 6,000 a month in the army, 3,000 in police. what happened? better pay and a sense that we were going to win. so, in 17 months we've built up the afghan security forces by 90,000. we'll have 305,000 by the end of this tkwraoer. what's the problem -- end of this year. what's the problem with the
president's drawdown of forces? why can't you do it with the numbers we have. counterinsurgency is a very labor-intensive operation. its goal is to provide population security, focus on training by fighting with a unit, instead of training them during the day and hoping they do well at night, you go out and live with the police and the army. it is a labor-intensive active but it is the way to build capacity. here's the problem. the surge under the president's withdrawal plan are going to compromise next summer. drawing 10,000 down this year is going to make it hard to finish out the fighting season we're engaged in now. here's general allen's dilemma. because we had 30, not 40, we couldn't go to r.c. east and fight the taliban at the same time. we took our full force of the surge and put it against the taliban, the south.
we broke their back. we've been holding r.c. east and the game plan was to take those surge forces out of the south and go to r.c. east next summer and deliver a decisive blow to the haqqani network. that way the two forces fighting in afghanistan would be put at bay. because of the president's rejection of the advice, come next summer the surge forces will be all gone by september and general allen is in a box. how does he hang on to the security gains in r.c. south because the enemy's will has been broken, they have been put on their knees but they are not yet defeated because they can go across the border to afghanistan. next summer the surge forces we were going to have available for general allen are going to be gone, and r.c. east cannot be engaged in the same fashion as r.c. south. what does that all matter? that means that one of the enemies of the afghan people are going to get, is getting a
reprieve in the ability to develop security forces all over the country so that when we leave they can fight and win has been compromised. counterinsurgency requires math. you need a certain amount of soldiers against the enemy. i was asked last night, there are only 50 al qaeda. why do you need so many troops? one navy seal could defeat 50 al qaeda. those who suggest that simplistic formula don't understand what we're trying to do. we're trying to take a country that's been beaten down, involved in civil war for 30 years, and provide better governance through better security. and the way you beat the taliban is you go and take them on with an overwhelming show of force. you inspire the local population to come your way and get off the sidelines, because they don't want the taliban to win, but they're afraid at the end of the
day we're going to leave and the taliban will take over. because of the surge, the people in the south jumped our way. and this is what's so heartbreaking. we're on the verge of being able in two summers to deliver decisive blows to two enemies of us and the afghan people. the radical element of the taliban and the haqqani network in the east. but because of this adjustment in strategy, we now have lost, i think, capability, and general allen's going to have a much more difficult job. things to watch, senator mccain. mr. mccain: according to "the washington post" this morning editorial, "end of the surge: the mismatch between president obama's strategy and his troop withdrawal timetable," mr. obama's withdrawal decision with no clear basis and strategy increases the risk of failure.
the only other issue i would like -- and i think the senator from south carolina is very well qualified to describe it -- i hear over and over again, especially from those who are opposed to this, our involvement in this conflict -- quote -- "the troops are exhausted. the troops are exhausted." and yet general kean this morning on one of the news channel said they're not exhausted. they're exhilarated because they're winning. they know they've sack tpaoeusd so many of -- sacrificed so many of their comrades killed and wounded. they're not exhausted, but they certainly, certainly don't want to come home in defeat, something that i saw a long time ago. mr. graham: that's a very good question. who are these people and what makes them tick? why would people who could leave by just, you know, not reenlisting, why do they keep going back to iraq and afghanistan? my view of our force is that they see the face of the enemy.
they believe they've got a strategy that's working. and they don't want their kids to go back. and so when you use the troops as a reason to shortcut this war, i don't think you're really listening to what they say and what they do. if they thought -- if they were exhausted and hopeless, they would change careers. i have never seen afghanistan change as much as i have in the last year. and my fear is that the successes we have achieved or got to be compromised for no good reason, pwoebgt of us -- both of us believe that you could at the end of 2012, if you do this right, remove all the surge forces. but what we have been trying to argue to the president and anyone else who will listen, that this fighting season and the next fighting season are the best chance we'll have in our lifetime to bring about permanent sustainable change. and general petraeus, i think,
has been trying to tell the country and the president, give general allen the ability to take the fight to the east like we did to the south. and from the troop's point of view, the reason they go to afghanistan and iraq over and over again is that they understand this enemy better than you and i. they see what the enemy's capable of doing. they saw it in amvar where children were killed in front of their parents by al qaeda. they see when the taliban hang a nine-year-old boy because they believe he was providing information to the coalition forces. i think our troops understand the danger america faces to the point that they're willing to leave their families time and time again to protect all of us back here at home. and if you don't believe
afghanistan matters, then i think you're going to be in for a rude awakening. if it goes bad in afghanistan, if the taliban can survive and wait us out and they begin to reemerge, a lot of people who helped us, senator mccain, are going to get killed. and when america goes off to some future conflict to help the oppressed, we're going to be seen as an unreliable ally, and our enemies are going to be stronger. one final thought. this is a consequential week. the negotiations dealing with our national debt have broke down. my colleagues in the house, who i really respect, are about to vote to cut off funding, which will send a signal to moammar qadhafi that i think is unhealthy. at the end of the day, the decisions we make here in
congress are going to affect our nation long after me and you leave this body. qadhafi is on the hopes. nato has limited capacity, but if the american congress tells qadhafi we're out of the fight, i'm afraid that that's going to give him a sense of hope he doesn't have today. and what does it matter if he stays? i think logically you can expect if he outlasts nato, the arab spring is over. we can't go into syria, but he will take it out on his people. i think it will affect the price of oil. that will be the end of nato because nato taking on qadhafi and losing is going to be very hard for that organization to go off to another war and be taken seriously. so senator mccain, i hope that we can survive this week, that cooler heads will prevail, and
i'm going to tell joe allen, when you come to get confirmed for this job, please let us know if you're having to make hard decisions because of a lack of resources, give the president that information, let congress know so we can adjust the strategy. i hope the president is right and that we're both wrong, but general cain and general petraeus have come up with a strategy that i think given time and patience will work. this new strategy is something that is untested, that is unnecessarily risky. and the way to keep america safe, ronald reagan said, was that when people who love freedom -- how do you prevent a war? he said when people who love freedom are strong, not weak, that's the best way to prevent war. mr. mccain: in summary, and i
want to thank the senator from connecticut for his forbearance. i agree with the senator from south carolina, obviously. i say to my friends on the other side of the capitol that although it may fall on deaf ears at this moment, i hope they know that we understand their frustration about the president's failure to recognize that the war power act exists, about the failure of the administration to consult and brief members of congress on the situation in libya, about many of the aspects of the way that this conflict has been conducted where america's -- quote -- " leading from behind." but i want to repeat from the senator from south carolina said. this could mean the end of nato. if nato can't defeat a third-rate military power, then nato is probably going to go out of business. if we don't succeed in libya and oust qadhafi, as is the president's policy, you will see
a center for terrorist activities. you will see a return of al qaeda to libya, certainly a dramatically increased influence. and, frankly, it will send a message to the world that even though we say that a dictator and a brutal killer and murderer like qadhafi, it is our policy that he be removed from power, we are either unwilling or unable to do so, and i would caution again my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, i hope they wouldn't do anything that would enhance the ability of this brutal dictator to remain in power and continue to perpetrate the murders and crimes that he is so well known for. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i'm honored to follow that very articulate colloquy between my
colleagues from arizona and south carolina, and certainly draw inspiration from the consequences abroad that they have outlined in that colloquy, the consequences internationally and at home in this very, very important week. i rise to call attention to developments in an area that are among those consequences. the price of gasoline, the supply of fuel internationally and at home. i rise to commend the president of the united states for release ing today some 30 million barrels of oil over the next 30 days, which already have brought down the price of oil by about $5 per barrel on the new york mercantile exchange. this consequence certainly
cannot be the end of the campaign that we must continue to weigh, and i commend the president for heeding the calls from myself and my colleagues to address the pain felt across connecticut and the country as prices remain too high at close to $4 a gallon. the drop that we have seen today should be followed by additional reductions, and that can happen only if the administration and this body continue the campaign to achieve those lower prices. this development follows the decision by the federal trade commission to conduct an investigation, again heeding calls from me and my colleagues that a searching, penetrating, comprehensive investigation is
necessary to forestall and prevent manipulation and speculation on the market. we have seen over these months that supply and demand are not the cause of increases in the price of oil internationally or here at home. it is directly and substantially the consequence of speculation by the trader and the hedge fund, as well as potentially illegal manipulation. and the f.t.c. investigation is in response to those calls we've made based on what we've seen in those markets. clearly, the f.t.c. is reacting, for example, to the fact that u.s. refiners' margins have increased more than 90% since the beginning of 2011.
and over that same period of time, the amount of capacity has been reduced by 7%. it's 81.7% over this same period of time, a 7% reduction during the same period in 2010. those indicia of potential forces in the market that have nothing to do with supply and demand are certainly more than sufficient basis for the f.t.c. investigation, combined with the release of product from the strategic petroleum reserve. they have helped to bring down prices, but the campaign must continue. we must deter and prevent speculation and illegal manipulation. we must send a message to those speculators and manipulators who
are on the wrong side of these -- you are on the wrong side of these markets, you are on the wrong side of history, you will lose and you will lose big time. this kind of message is what is necessary to protect connecticut and national consumers. we have seen in connecticut that the price is still above $4 on average in many places, and this issue is not just one that affects consumers. it is an economic issue with broad and far-reaching ramification. it affects small business people who have to drive their cars to get to work, to deliver product, to arrive at places where they are working and spending time. it has ripple effects throughout our economy, and it is crushing to families and small businesses.
the rise in prices in this country for fuel and gasoline have been crushing to families and small businesses, and they have had ramifications throughout the economy that these two steps, the release of product from the strategic petroleum reserve and the f.t.c. investigation will help to counter. more is necessary. stronger enforcement and regulatory steps to stop and prevent abusive speculation and manipulation, and i will be announcing a number of proposals for my part that i hope will be followed in the next days and weeks. these two steps are important, but they must be followed by others. they must be the beginning, not the end of a comprehensive strategy to bring down the price of fuel, not just gasoline but
the presiding officer: are there any senators who have not yet voted or wish to change their vote? if not, on this vote the ayes are 41, the nays are 57. the motion is defeated. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: i would like to take a few minutes, if i could, just to speak on the -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. reid: mr. president, would my friend yield for me to make statement? mr. carper: happy to yield. mr. reid: mr. president, we are -- the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. reid: we're trying to arrive at an end to this legislation. we're not there yet. we hope there will be no more votes today. we're -- i feel fairly positive there won't be, but we're not ready to make that decision right now. but we should within the next hour.
mr. carper: mr. president? mr. president, i'd like to begin my remarks this afternoon, really, to congratulate several our colleagues who've worked long and hard on this legislation and their staffs who've worked equally long and hard. senator schumer and senator alexander -- i see senator collins is on the floor -- senator lieberman, our leaders, democrat and republican leaders, senator pried and senator mcconnell. anyone watching this debate from across america on c-span might be wondering why is this important? why are we spending several days in the united states senate to focus on a mom nations bill? why? for those folks who might be wondering why, let me just offer these thoughts. this administration has been in office for roughly two and a half years now.
if you look throughout the federal government, the executive branch of the government, most of the positions that require presidential nomination and senate confirmation have now been filled. but a number, including a number that are in highly important, highly critical positions, have not been. but until fairly recently, this administration looked like what i describe as "executive branch swiss cheese." people sometimes wonder why washington, why the federal government doesn't work better, and maybe why it doesn't work as well as our states. i want to take just a moment, if i can, to compare the approach that we use in delaware -- and i know senator alexander is a former governor, probably the approach they use in tennessee -- to fill key positions in the executive branch of the state governments. in my state, the governor nominates people to serve in a dozen or so different
departments. those nominations have to be confirmed before the senate. they hold hearings and generally report those nominations favorably. in fact, i think in my eight years as governor, we never had the senate fail to report and vote for one of our nominees for an executive branch department; for example, secretary of transportation or secretary of education, those kinds of apoipts. within those various departments of state drnghts the division directors r. a pointed by the governor without confirmation by the senate. and the rest of our line-item -- our line departments within the state government of delaware are not appointed by the governor. they're literal chosen through a merit system and report up -- the chain of command through the director of the diswition to the secretary of the department and that's the way if wonchts i remember when i was about to be sworn as senator, i met with a majority democrat at the time. they were interested in knowing
who they were going to nominate for different positions. i explained who we had in mind. they said, you know, we don't know some of those people. some are from other states. we're not sure we ought to be confirming them. i said, look, why don't we make a deal here. give me the team that i feel that as governor i'm entitled to have. make sure that they're honorable people, smart people, this sort of thing. but at the end of the day, let me have my team and go forward and try to govern in partnership with the legislative branch. and if -- and judge us in the end on how we perform. that's what the state senate decided to do. that's the way we operated for eight years, eight very good years. i was fortunate to be governor at the same time bill clinton was president. we managed to balance our budget eight years in a row. cut taxes seven careers in a row, paid down some of our debt, got a aaa credit rating for the first time in history. still have t it doesn't look
that way or operate that way here. and there's a number of reasons why this administration and the last administration and i suspect the one before that, a year or two years even those administrations the executive branch, when you look through the senior ranks of the various departments, looked too much like executive branch swiss cheese. senator alexander and senator schumer to their credit are trying to change that. i commend them for their efforts. it is very nor mustily important. if you are trying to lead this country, you need your team. it is important that they be capable people, honorable people. but at the end of the day, a president of either party needs a good team, a strong team, filled sooner rather than later. but there are a number of reasons why it's sort of so difficult to get these vacancies filled. one of sthem there is a reluctance on the part of some
people to go through the process, the confirmation process. it takes forever in some cases. nominees are asked to sort of bare, if not their souls, but but their lives. and go through a process where they're maybe not crucified but certainly expose anything they've ever done wrong their lives. none of us is perfect and that in itself deters people from wanting to go through this process. i was once nominated when i was governor, nominated to serve on the amtrak board by pleas clinton. and i remember how long it took just to fill out the paperwork. onone set of paperwork for the executive branch, i remember saying to my wiervetion i'm not sure it is really worth doing all this. and i'm sure for other folks who go through this process, they probably reach the same conclusion at least once during
the time they go through the paramilitarywork. we need to synchronize, who moth nice the paperwork and hopefully put it on an electronic form so that we can do it electronically or those nominees can do it electronically one time and be done with it. send it off to the right folks to look at it. one of the reasons why we go slowly here, i'll just share with you -- if you're in afghanistan or pakistan, one of those countries a couple months ago i was riding with the codel on the bus. one of the folks said, i'm look for somebody to put a hold on a nominee thaition in order to get some leverage from the legislation. i want to till, that conversation could have happened with -- four years ago with a democratic senator and a republican president. a lot of folks have used for years the ability to put a hold, to stop a nomination from moving forward in order to gain some kind of political advantage
which has nothing to do maybe with the nominee or the nominee's abilities to serve. and the other point i want to makers -- i shared this with some of our colleagues in our caucus, the senate democratic caucus the other day. i talked to my colleagues there about the general accountability office, g.a.o.'s work. every year they probably, as most of us know, some call it a high-risk list. a high risk is a whole lot of initiatives or problems that exist throughout the federal government that have either cost us a lot of money or are going to cost us a lot of money unless we do something differently. one of the top items on the g.a.o. high-risk list has been major weapon systems cost overruns. and in 2000, g.a.o. determined that major weapon system costs overruns at the department of defense were $42 billion. that's a lot of money.
they updated -- they update that list every year. they updated did for 2010 not long ago. they concluded that major weapons system cost overruns in 2010 had gone from $42 billion ten years ago to $402 billion in 2010. i chair a subcommittee called federal financial management, part of the homeland security and government affairs. we've held a number of hearings to figure out how we can get better results for less money or better results for maybe not much more money. as we drill down on major weapons system cost overruns, here's one thing we found out. testimony offered by a fellow from one of the top people in acquisition in defense, jim fenly, who rt rod to bob gates, he brought in jim fenly for testimony on major weapons system cost overrun. this is secretary gates, john
young, and then jim fenly. we asked him how long he has been in his job. i asked him what kind of turnover he got from his predecessor. and he said, my predecessor had left 18 months before i was confirmed for this position. so i said, you mean for like 18 months there was no confirmed person in your position for acquisition to oversee the development of these major weapons systems? he said, that's right. i said, how many direct reports did you have? he said there are six reports directly to me. but only two were filled. just think about that. here we are, department of defense, hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons systems to oversee, acquisition. and arguably the number-two person in acquisition in the department of defense, that position was vacant for 18 months whvment he finally got
confidence, of the six direct reports, only two were filled. no wonder. it's not just i'd like to say it is an isolated incident. we brought in jim fen liszt counterpart today, a very good man. he came and testified earlier this year. again it is bob gates, secretary. ashe carter, the top acquisition person, then we have mr. mr. kendall. i said, how long have you been in your job? what kind of turnover do you get? he said my predecessor left 15 months before i got here. i don't know how good we are at connecting the dots but when you have one of the top two people in the department of defense responsible for riding herd on the defense industry, all of these contracts, when you have a
vacancy for 18 months in one administration, the next administration, a vacancy for 15 months. that is no good. that is an invitation for disaster. when we see the major weapon system cost overruns go from $42 billion in 2000 to over $400 billion in 2010, i would suggest because this confirmation proficiency the vetting process and the biggest problem of all is the administration -- the administration -- it takes for every to identify people to go in these positions, to vet these positions and actually give us a name. there are no silver bullets in solving this problem. we need a lot of silver bb's. the legislation provides a lost very helpful tools to expedite the process. this administration and even the next administration, we don't end up with more and more executive branch swiss cheese which translates into enormous
costs, wi which we can't afford. the last thing i want to say, if i may, people are offering amendments. i am going to call up an amendment to this bill in just a moment. and it's an amendment that involves again our friends at g.a.o., the government accountability office. our amendment would require g.a.o. to investigate and conduct a survey on the number of presidentially appointed positions that are not senate-confirmed in each agency, a category of jobs that also routinely go unfilled for extended periods of time, and the study would provide recommendations as to whether eliminating or converting certain appointees to career positions would be more efficient. in addition, the survey should evaluate whether it is beneficial to reduce and convert specialized categories of appointees such as inspectors general, chief financial officers or acquisition officers
to a career status, not as appointed -- politically appointed. the purpose of the amendment is that the proposed wait would provide an analysis of what is a sufficient analysis of apoiptses government-wide and would provide recommendations on how to convert these positions. it is not a controversial proposal. g.a.o. does a lot of good work for us to help us figure out how to operate more efficiently, also to use some common sense. my hope is that my colleagues will see fit to support it. and with that having been said, mr. president, i want to ask unanimous consent to call up amendment number 517 which i filed earlier today. the presiding officer: is there objection? the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from delaware, mr. carper, proposes an amendment numbered 517 to s. 679 --
mr. carper: i ask unanimous consent to dispense with further reading of this amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: and with that, i yield the floor. thank you very much. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, most americans have a credit score. we don't know much about it until we start to borrow money. and then you find out what your score is and the score may determine whether or not you're going to get a loan or if you get a loan, how much interest you're going to pay on it. several years ago, about ten years ago, i got a phone call from a bill collection agency to my home in springfield, illinois, saying durbin, we finally caught up with you, i don't know how you thought you could get away from us, but the charges that you have run up here at the home depot in denver, colorado, haven't been paid for months. and i said i've never been to the home depot in denver, colorado. i was a victim of identity theft. somebody got enough information about me to apply for an account there and to run up some charges. and they said prove it.
so i sent them some information and they came back to me and said well, we're satisfied you weren't the person who ran up the charges, but you better check with your credit agency to see what your credit score is now because everybody has been reporting this default on payment at the home depot in denver, colorado. well, i checked and sure enough, my credit scores, which i never pay any attention to because i don't borrow a lot of money were terrible. so i went through about three months of reconstructing what happened and clearing my record, and at the end of it, they said everything is fine. it can be done. i had to go through it, a lot of people do, too. why do i bring up this example? the credit score of the united states of america is now in question. august 2, the secretary of the treasury tells us that if we don't extend the debt ceiling of the united states, that we are going to be in a terrible financial situation. what is the debt ceiling?
the debt ceiling is america's mortgage. it's the amount of money we borrow as a government, as a nation to sustain ourselves. and we borrow a lot of money. we borrow 40 cents for every dollar we spend, whether it's on a missile or a food stamp. and the creditors, our creditors around the world, of course, get paid interest for loaning us money to cover our debt. the level of interest that they are paid reflects their confidence that we will ultimate ly make payments, be good on the debt. right now, you pick up the newspaper and you read what's going on in greece. in greece, the government barely survived this week because they have had to initiative austerity measures, cutbacks in spending that aren't politically popular. and if they didn't, they were going to watch the creek credit rating fall even further and the cost of borrowing money go up
even higher. so when the time comes, august 2, our deadline on our basic debt ceiling, our creditors all around the world will look and see what happens. well, what happens without fail in the history history is we do the right thing. we extend the debt ceiling, and they say fine. so the full faith and credit of the united states can be relied on confidently. they made another payment as they said they would, and we go forward with our business. now there is a hue and cry primarily from the other party that we shouldn't pay any attention to this debt ceiling. we should ignore this debt ceiling. and many of them have made arguments which frankly are stunning. just to give you a couple examples here. one of my colleagues from the state of pennsylvania, senator pat toomey, said failure to
raise the debt limit upon the deadline submitted by the treasury secretary does not equate to a default on our debt at all. i would like to remind him what ronald reagan, a president of his party, once said. he said the full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of a default by the united states are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. the nation can ill afford to allow such result. ronald reagan. senator demint of south carolina, a republican, said -- quote -- "republicans must do everything they can to block an increase in the debt limit." end of quote. here's what the chairman of the federal reserve, ben bernanke, said about this." failure to raise the debt ceiling in a timely way will be self-defeating if the objective is to chart a course for a better fiscal course for our nation." congressman paul ryan, chairman of the house republican budget committee said that holders of u.s. government debt would be willing to miss payments -- quote -- "for a day or two or
three or four." end of quote. here's what the treasury secretary said about that. even a very short term or limited default would have catastrophic economic consequences that would last for decades. mr. president, i'm not sure you follow the stock market. a little? if you did today, you know that it's off, and it's off because news about employment is not encouraging. too many americans are out of work. so there is a question mark about this economy and where it's headed. now, we're doing our best to turn it around and i think we have done some good things but not enough. we need to do more, and we can talk about that. but if we would for some reason not extend the debt limit of the united states, the credit rating of the united states would go down in the eyes of people who loan us money, and what would happen next? as predictable as i stand here, interest rates would go up. people loaning money to the united states would say if
they're not going to extend the debt ceiling when they are supposed to, then we want to cover our bets and have a higher interest rate. what happens when the interest rate paid by the united states of america on its debt goes up? all interest rates go up. interest rates would go up on people buying homes and cars, on businesses that want to expand or buy more inventory, so can you think of a worse thing at this moment in our economic history? where the federal reserve has announced this week they are going to try to keep interest rates down so we get out of this recession, congress, if it fails to meet its responsibility on the debt ceiling, would end up raising interest rates. exactly the opposite of what the federal reserve said we need to get this economy back on its feet and get america back to work. now, this is the introduction to a point that i want to make that has a lot to do with a speech made on the floor today. senator mcconnell, the republican leader, came to the floor this morning to explain
that he has decided that the republicans will walk away, will walk away from the budget negotiations with vice president biden. congressman kantor, who is a leader in the house of representatives, and today senator kyl, one of our leaders in the senate, said that after weeks of sitting in the room with the vice president trying to work out some kind of an agreement on the budget deficit, they were walking out, and they did. the two republican leaders in the room walked away from it. and senator mcconnell said this morning in explaining this -- quote -- "we're not in the majority. we can't sign anything into law. that's the president's job. that's his job. he's acted as if it's not his problem. well, it is his problem. this is his problem to solve." quote senator mitch mcconnell, republican leader from kentucky. as if that wasn't bad enough, the house majority leader
announced soon after that he is no longer going to participate, as i said, congressman kantor, and he said -- quote -- "it's up to the president to come in and talk to the speaker. we have reached the end of this phase." end of quote. how do these two things come together? how does this breakdown, the republican walkout on the budget negotiations and the extension of the debt ceiling come together? well, we can't pass the debt ceiling, extend the debt ceiling without the support of the house republican majority and without the support of republicans in the united states senate. and they have said they will not vote for it unless we have an agreement on the budget. well, the clock is ticking, madam president. at this point, we know august 2 is looming, and we know that if we fail to extend the debt ceiling, it will be absolutely the worst thing we can do for the american economy at this moment in time. if there was ever a time when both political parties really ought to stop making some of these speeches and come together and work it out, this is it.
and what it means is that both sides, our side on the democrat, their side on the republican, have to come together and put everything on the table. it means that some of the things we hold the dearest, such as medicare and social security and entitlement programs, we need to talk about their future in honest terms. it means that the republican side of the aisle has to come forward and accept the reality that we will need some new revenue to deal with our budget deficit situation. that is the reality. i only know this a little better than some because i spent the last year and a half working on it. on the president's deficit commission and then with a group of four or five other senators, both parties trying to come up with some kind of an agreement. but that's where we are today. and this breakdown, this breakdown of the discussions on the biden budget discussion, because of the walkout of congressman kantor and senator kyl is not promising.
next week, the senate will be back in session, the house will not. it is one of their recess weeks. the following week, after the fourth of july, we are out of session and the house is back in. so for two weeks now, we're not going to have both the house and senate here in washington, and that's going to make it more difficult to reach an agreement, but we have to do it. madam president, as bad as things are with this economy, if we send a signal that we are unable to responsibly lead on a bipartisan basis, i'm afraid that it could have very negative consequences. i really implore the republican leaders to reconsider their position. walking away from their congressional responsibility to negotiate for a good budget agreement and to extend our debt ceiling is the height of economic irresponsibility. it would create a disaster which would touch innocent people across the united states and
around the world. what we need to do -- and it's hard in this town, so hard -- is to try to put this partisanship aside. at one point early in the session, the senate republican leader said that the most important thing that he could achieve during the course of this session -- and here i quote it directly -- "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for president obama to be a one-term president." that was a quote senator mccoell made several months ago. well, we're all partisan to some extent, but that isn't the most important thing that senator mcconnell or senator durbin could achieve. the most important thing we could do is to deal with our debt responsibly and to get this economy moving forward in a bipartisan way. running up filibusters on bill after bill on the floor of the united states senate may give someone a quick temporary victory, but it doesn't solve the problems we face. we need to work together to create jobs, to pass legislation, to get a budget
agreement together and to extend the debt ceiling. i urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to reconsider this walkout from the budget negotiations. we need both political parties there working in good faith to solve the problems of this country. after all, that's why we were elected. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that nicole winters brown, a legal intern with homeland security and government affairs be granted the privileges of the floor for the duration of the debate on s. 679. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: thank you, madam president. madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the leader is recognized. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask that all first-degree amendments to s. 679 with the exception of a manager's amendment must be offered at the close of business today. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: there will be no further roll call votes today. the next vote will be tuesday
before caucus. there will be no votes on monday or tomorrow. i ask unanimous consent that the pending coburn amendment number 500 be withdrawn, and when the senate considers s. res. 116, it be in order for senator coburn to offer his duplication amendment to the resolution. that there be up to one hour of debate on the amendment equally divided between senators coburn and the majority leader with their designees. that the amendment be subject to a two-thirds threshold, that the amendment not be divisible and no amendments, motions or points of order be in order prior to any vote in relation to the coburn amendment other than budget points of order and applicable motions to waive and all other provisions of the previous order with respect to the motion -- with respect to the resolution remain in effect. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator tennessee. cork coirk rise to speak a cork quark i rise to speak as if we're in -- i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: i would like to speak as if ware nay morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. corker: thank you. madam president, this is very much out of character what i'm getting ready to do. but this morning i was in a foreign relations hearing on afghanistan and pakistan, and my staff tells me that the majority leader came down and happened to castigate me for speaking about the fact that we had not really taken up some of the nation's most important business this year, that we have spent a lot
of time on bills that were not as important as our nation's debt crisis and other kinds of things. i can't imagine there's anybody in this body that feels like, as a united states senator and it being june 23, this we've taken up very serious business this year. i can't imagine that there's anybody that's proud of what we've been able to accomplish this year as it relates to addressing our country's most ppression problems. and so that was the point of a speech i made yesterday on the floor that i might add i've had numbers of democrats come up to me and said that they could not have agreed more. and the point was that we need to deal with our nation's number-one crisis today, which is spending. i talk add little bit about what's happening with the blair house negotiations and the fact that basically the goal that the blair house negotiations have attempted to achieve, their
aspirational goal, probably is not strong enough for most people on either side of the aisle to want to support and that we needed to be far more serious about our country's spending problems. however, i know that we're not busy and when we're not busy sometimes we say things that we don't mean, and we get ourselves in trouble. and so, madam president, it is my understanding again the majority leader came down to the floor and found a quote i'd made two years ago about e.d.a. to try to, if you will, castigate the fact that the comments i made yesterday were out of line. madam president, i know we haven't taken up a budget here in 785 days in the united states senate. we have not taken up a budget. what i mean by that is, two years ago a budget was passed out of committee but there was an unwillingness to take that budget up on the floor.
this year the budget committee didn't even pass a budget out, so here we have a country, a country that is spending $1.5 trillion in year that we don't have, borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. and here we're in the united states senate basically hoping that some others will solve this problem for us. and candidly, mr. president, i hope that happens. i do hope that we come to conclude sometime soon. so i understand how the majority leader would be defensive. he is the majority leader of the united states senate, the greatest deliberative body in the world some say, and we haven't even taken up a budget where we spends 3.7 trillion of our people's money each year -- our country's money each year. so i know he's embarrassed, i know he's defensive, and i that. but i would say that my words -- the essence of what i said
yesterday still stands. this body has not done the serious work that the united states senate should do. we've got a looming crisis coming before us with the debt ceiling vote that is coming up on august the 2nd. to my knowledge there's been no public debate about solutions towards that. the presiding officer and myself have offered a bill called the "cap" act to try to deal with that. tts only bipartisan, bicameras act that has been introduced in both bodies. it certainly not the total solution to our probs problem, but that coupled with other fixes -- medicare fixes -- that coupled with a 302(ravment) top line for a couple of years to me is the essence of something that might solve our run's problems. so i know that i've tried to offer some constructive solutions to our problem. i know the presiding officer has tried to offer some constructive solutions.
to me, those are the kind of things that we here in the senate ought to be dealing with today. i know the markets, rightfully so, very soon, as they should, will become very volatile because it is my opinion, madam president, that we are close to a potential train wreck. i know that people have pulled away from the blair house negotiations. my sense is that the two sides are very much in disarray at this point. there's been numbers of public comments that have been put forth. and again i come back to the united states senate, 785 days here without even taking up a budget. so again, i know the majority leader is defendive and embarrassed and i understand why he would be, but i stand by my comments yesterday. and with that, madam president, i yield the floor. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. whitehouse: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. with the unemployment rate --,. the presiding officer: excuse me, senator. there is a quorum. mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, madam president. with the unemployment rate hovering above 9% nationwide and at almost 11% in my home state of rhode island, job creation must continue to be our number-one priority as lawmakers. it disappoints me that republicans chose politics over job creation yesterday when they filibustered legislation that would have reauthorized the economic development administration, an agency dedicated to restoring economically distressed regions to prosperity. in the past, this bill has been
reauthorized and supported broadly, indeed by unanimous consent. it is the fourth jobs bill that the minority has chosen to obstruct, and i hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will reconsider their tactics. if not, we may have to reconsider ours and force some votes on job-creation measures without this litany of irrelevant amendments that have bogged down and obstructed the previous jobs bill we've tried to get action on. out-of-work americans are hurting right now, and they want us to act to help create jobs. i rise today to introduce a measure that would do just that. i've heard from dozens of rhode island business owners that business is picking up a bit,
but they are still concerned that the recovery may be temporary, and that discourages them from hiring additional workers. i spoke with one such small business owner on monday. i visited donna vincent during a tour of her cranston, rhode island, company tedco, which makes an stamps metal components for the automotive, aerospace and communications industries. it employed 13 people before the recession struck in 2008. now it's down to eight employees. donna and tedco's general manager barbara galianno would like to start hiring more workers but they worry that business could slow down again. they told me they've been waiting to hire, wanting to hire, and for months saying to themselves, well, what if this,
and what if that? and they've just been on the border of hiring. the legislation that i've introduced today, the job creation tax credit act of 2011, would give donna andous i and ts of business owners nationwide greater security as they look forward to builde building theik forces. the bill would provide refundable tax credits forbe employers to hire new workers now. the way it would work is that for each qualified hire made in 2011, the business would receive a tax credit equal to 15% of the wages paid to the new employee. if the new employee remained employed or if the business were to hire are additional employees in 2012, the business would be eligible for a 10% tax credit on
those employees' wages next year. and because these tax credits would be refundable, businesses would benefit from them even if they are not currently profitable. one of the problems with struggling businesses that are not sure how much profit they're is going to make if they're right on the edge, giving them a tax credit doesn't help because they have no tax against which to give the credit. a refundable tax credit comes to the business despite of that. the higher credit in 2011 i expect would encourage employers to hire new workers as soon as possible, and the additional credit in 2012 would encourage retaining those employees and additional workforce expansion. to help those americans who are struggling to find work,
qualified hires would be defined as new employees who've been unemployed for at least 60 days prior to getting hired. this job creation tax credit act would continue the job creation sparked by the "hire" act of 2 2010 which included somewhat different tax incentives for new hiring. economist mark zandi has estimated that the "hire" act created 250,000 new jobs, a quarter of a million families with a paycheck coming in. and the larger financial incentives this this new bill would continue to dent the unemployment numbers in rhode island and nationwide. the previous "hire" act sponsored by senator senators sr and hatch received wide bipartisan support. and i hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this act as well.
because right now we cannot forget that too many unemployed americans are hurting. too many are out of work, too many are out of work through no fault of their own, indeed, too many of them are still out of work because of the cascade of misery that washed across this country from the wall street meltdown, and there may be a lot of blame to go around on that, but none of it attaches to the workers who got caught in that cascade of misery. and, of course, too many families are struggling just to make ends meet week to week. we must continue fighting for them by using every tool at our disposal, including these new tax incentives-to-, to get our economy moving and to help businesses start hiring. again, this is a bill whose
strategy has been a proven success in the past, that has been approved by this body in the past, that has had bipartisan support in the past, and that addresses the most important issue facing our country right now, and that is putting people back to work, rekindling our economy, and getting folks into jobs. i thank the chair, and i yield the floor. mr. kirk: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. kirk: madam president, on behalf of senator mccain, i call up amendment 493 and ask that it be reported by number. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from illinois, mr. kirk, for mr. mccain proposes amendment numbered 493. mr. kirk: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. kirk cork i ask to be recognized for -- mr. kirk: i ask to be recognized in morning business for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. kirk: thank you, madam president. under general petraeus, the deployment of a local army is critical to winning a war. in iraq, he used extra u.s. troops to sustain military momentum against an enemy until a well-trained local army was trained and ready for action. petraeus had the time he needed to stand up a 500,000-man local army and then won the war. this has also been his model for afghanistan. while iraq and afghanistan differ, the military challenge was the same: iring's to train and deploy a local army that could sustain a fight until victory. now, starting with nothing, the united states and our nato allies set a goal of building an afghan army and police force to eventually number 400,000. by reaching this goal, the combat mission of the u.s. and other nato forces would
disappear. we would remain helpful with supplies, repair, and intelligence but not frontline combat. i agreed with president obama's decision to surge to afghanistan, and i was in the audience to show my support when he delivered an historic address at west point. by following the recommendations of general petraeus, secretary gates and others, president obama gave the u.s. and our nato allies the time needed to vastly exspantdz the afghan police and army. unfortunately, the president has changed course from establishing a sufficient afghan security force before scaling down our military presence. to date, the afghan police and army are short of their 400,000-man goal. as of april, they wer there wer0 in both services, well over
100,000 people short. overall, the afghan army loses 32% of its personnel a year, while its police lose 23%. to expand the security forces, losses must be held to just 24% annually. therefore, according to our national military training mission in afghanistan, the commander of that training effort, general caldwell, must train 23 afghans for every 10 to be deployed. we find key shortfalls in the officer corps and among noncommissioned officers. to date, 82% of afghan officer billets are not filled, along with 85% of noncommissioned sergeants and corporals. the afghan army is also short of recruits from the communities where the fighting is most difficult. only 3% of the afghan army was born in the southern pashtun
regions where afghan leaders traditionally originate. the afghan army is also lacking in literacy. in 2008, only 14% of afghan military personnel could read or write. now, thanks to general caldwell, that number has grown to 85% in both police and army. one of the critical factors in training an afghan army that can win this war is the number of nato trainers. to date, the training command lacks over 700,000 trainers due to personnel shortfalls among our nato allies. each of these facts paints a clear picture of a work in progress but one that is about to be strained by the president's decision to leave afghanistan two years too early. under the original petraeus plan, the united states and nato would have deployed an afghan police and military numbering 400,000 by 2014.
having trained together for a year or more, these afghan units would likely endure the stress of combat and deliver victory in 2015 or 2016. unfortunately, the president has rejected his general's recommendation and decided to leave early. withdrawing one u.. brigade combat team right away. our nato allies express quiet concern about this departure. u.s. and local commanders will have about 12% of their combat power taken off the battlefield right away. the president will then remove two more brigade combat teams by the election day in 2012, leaving u.s. and local commanders with only 66% of the current combat power. these actions will severely strain the afghan police and army, just as afghanistan
prepares for a new presidential election. it also provides some hope for the taliban whose strategy may be a 12-month rest and refit of their operations to then reenter the battlefield against a much weaker enemy in 2013. we learned a painful lesson when we ignored afghanistan in 1992. without any domestic oil or a coastline, the united states paid no attention to the rise of the taliban and al qaeda, and we paid an awful price for that policy on september 11, 2001. in my view, the lesson of that day should move to us realize that the petraeus plan should have been fully implemented and not ended early. separately, i would like to take a moment to applaud our treasury
department and especially our acting under secretary, david cohen, for moving decisively today to designate iran air and a major iranian port operator, tide water, responsible for facilitating iran's transfer of weapons and other proliferation activities. both of these treasury designations will significantly restrict shipping to and from iran and will put even more pressure on the iranian economy. under secretary cohen has proven himself to be a worthy successor of former under secretary levy, and he has my confidence. in the weeks ahead i urge the administration to move forward with our allies in europe and asia to implement a comprehensive strategy to collapse the central bank of iran. the central bank of iran facilitates the operation of the
iranian revolutionary guard corps and the ministry of intelligence services and lies at the center of iran's strategy to circumvent international sanctions. it's time for the united states and our allies to decapitate the central bank of iran and to place unprecedented stress on the iranian economy. and with that, mr. president, i yield back. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: i ask to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, i think many americans understand that we are at a pivotal moment in american history, and decisions that will be made right here in the senate, decisions that will be made in the house, decisions that will be made in the white house
regarding the budget and how we deal with the debt ceiling will impact virtually every american: our children, working families, seniors; virtually every american for decades to come. the stakes are huge. the debate is not just about a budget, but the question of which direction america goes forward in. today the republican leaders, eric cantor in the house, jon kyl here in the senate, withdrew from the bipartisan budget talks that have been led by vice president biden. and senator mitch mcconnell, the republican leader here in the senate, was quoted as
saying -- i beg your pardon. senator kyl said, the white house and democrats are insisting on job-killing tax hikes and new spending. president obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes or a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. he can't have both. but we need to hear from him. end of quote. we need to hear from the president. well, i agree with senators kyl and senator mcconnell that we need, the american people need, the senate needs to hear from president obama on this enormously important issue. but i believe that we need to hear from the president in a very different way than what senator kyl and senator mcconnell and congressman cantor want to hear.
here is where we are in america today, and this is what the debate is about. virtually every american understands that to a very significant degree, the middle class in this country is disappearing. median family income has gone down by $2,500 in the last ten years. many millions of workers today are earning lower wages than they used to earn. they are moving in the wrong direction. in a recent 25-year period ending in 2005, 80% of all new income did not go to the middle class; went to the people on top. so the overall dynamic of america now are middle class
collapsing, poverty increasing, young people finding it very, very difficult to get decent-paying jobs. and while all of that is going on, the people on top have never had it so good. almost all new income is going to the top 1%. interesting piece in "the washington post" this sunday talking about the growing gap between the very, very rich, everybody else. wall street, whose fevery and illegal behavior and recklessness caused this recession, now making more money for their executives than they did before the recession that they helped cause. top 1% today earning more income than the bottom 50%. top 1% alone earning 22% of all income in america. top 400 individuals in this country own more wealth than the
bottom 150 million. and i know, mr. president, you have made the point about the gross inequities and unfairness in our tax system, that while the middle class is sinking, the people on top have been able to enjoy effective tax rates that are the lowest in recorded history. that janitors, that cops, that nurses, that working people are paying an effective tax rate that is higher than millionaires and billionaires. that's the reality economically that this country faces today. and then that is the reality that we have to deal as we move toward a budget. most americans, every single poll that i have seen says what is obvious, that if we are going to address the deficit crisis, it must be done in a way that is
fair, that everybody participates in. now, our republican friends have a very unusual idea about how to solve the deficit crisis. yes, they say, the rich are getting richer. yes, they say, corporations are doing phenomenally well. some are making billions of dollars in profits, not paying a nickel in taxes. yes, they understand the gap between very rich, everybody else is growing wider, and their quaint and interesting idea in the midst that have context is that while the rich get richer, they should not be asked to contribute one nickel, not one penny for deficit reduction. quite the contrary. under the republican budget passed in the house, the so-called ryan budget, while the rich get richer and corporations enjoy record-breaking profits,
their budget proposes a $1 trillion more in tax breaks for the rich and large corporations. meanwhile, while the middle class disappears and poverty increases, their idea for deficit reduction is to make savage cuts in programs that the middle class and working families depend upon to survive. to survive. under the republican budget, they would end medicare as we know it in a ten-year period. they propose to give a senior citizen an $8,000 check, a voucher, and have that senior go out and get a plan, insurance plan with a private insurance company. mr. president, you tell me what kind of plan a 70-year-old
person dealing with cancer or another illness is going to get with an $8,000 voucher. are they living in the real world? do they know what hospital care costs today? you eat up $8,000 in the first day. and yet, that is what a senior is supposed to live on for health care for a year. but it's not only ending medicare as we know it in order to give tax breaks to billionaires. it's savage cuts in medicaid. half the people on medicaid are children. we are the only country today in the industrialized world that doesn't guarantee health care to all of its people. 50 million people uninsured. you cut medicaid by $700 billion over a ten-year period, tens of millions more, including a lot of kids, no health insurance. they get sick, working class parents, where are they going to get the care? how do they get the care?
well, i guess we got to do that in order to give a tax break to a large corporation that already is not paying anything in taxes. mr. president, let me just mention for a moment what is a fair way, a fair way to move toward deficit reduction and a way that the american people overwhelmingly support. you go out and you ask the american people, do you think it makes sense in terms of addressing the serious problem of deficit reduction to give $1 trillion in tax breaks to the richest people and make savage cuts in programs that working people need? health care, education, nutrition, environmental protection. overwhelming majority of the american people say that is nuts, does not make any sense. we must not go in that direction. so when my republican friends and the leadership say, well, there's a lot of responsibility now on the president. the president has got to decide
which direction he wants this country to go, they are right. and my hope is that the president of the united states listens to the american people and demands that deficit reduction consist of shared sacrifice, that we move toward deficit reduction not just on the backs of the elderly and the children and the sick and the poor, but that everybody -- i know, even people who make large campaign contributions, i know that's heresy to say here on the floor of the senate, but maybe even large corporations who buy and sell politicians, maybe they should be asked to contribute toward deficit reduction. maybe billionaires, who have more money than they're going to spend in a hundred lifetimes might be asked to pay somewhat more in taxes before we throw
children off of health insurance or deny nutrition to low-income seniors. mr. president, there are many, many ways to go forward in addressing the deficit crisis that is fair, that does not decimate programs, that working families depend upon, especially in the middle of a severe recession. and let me just mention very, very few. we should not extend the tax breaks that president bush gave the wealthiest people in this country. that's it. you got a $1.5 trillion deficit, $14 trillion-plus national debt. sorry, we can't afford it. these guys already received huge tax breaks. no more. can't afford it. we have to take a hard look at our defense budget. we've got to begin bringing the troops home from iraq and afghanistan a lot faster than the president has indicated.
the defense budget has quadrupled since -- the defense budget has tripled. it is time to make cuts if the defense budget, and we can do that while maintaining our strong defense capabilities. mr. president, there are studies out there which indicate that large corporations and wealthy individuals are stashing huge amounts of money in tax havens like the cayman islands in bermuda, and collectively, they are avoiding paying $100 billion in taxes to the u.s. treasury. i think that that is absurd. we have got to end those loopholes. they have to pay their fair share of taxes. and i can go on and on in terms of loopholes that exist for corporate america, which have got to be closed, the absurdity of the richest people in this
country having an effective, a real tax rate lower than middle-class people. but here's the issue. if the republicans walk away from those negotiations, the american -- the president of the united states has got to accept their challenge, he has to go out to the american people, he has got to rally the american people around a deficit reduction program, which calls for shared sacrifice. that is what the call of the moment is, and i hope that the president does that. with that, mr. president, i apparently will be reading a short statement. mr. president, on behalf of senator akaka, i call up amendment number 512. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from vermont, mr. sanders for mr. akaka, proposes an amendment
numbered 512. on page 48 -- mr. sanders: mr. president, i would ask contessa that -- ask consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: mr. president, i am reading in press reports that some of my colleagues across the aisle are advocating another stimulus package, sometimes called government investment, otherwise called spending taxpayers' money that we don't have and borrowing it from our children and most immediately from the chinese that own a trillion dollars of our national debt. it is astonishing to me that after the last stimulus package early in 2009 failed to meet the
president's own stated target of keeping unemployment to 8% or lower, that some of our colleagues are trying to double down on a bad deal by advocating more stimulus. when 43 cents out of every dollar that is being spent in america today is borrowed money. i mentioned that the president in his speech on afghanistan last night said that the federal government needs to invest more. well, i don't think anybody should be fooled by what he really means when he says the federal government must invest. the only money the federal government has is the money that comes from your wallet, from taxpayers, and when there is not enough money coming in to keep up with the reckless spending habits of washington, d.c., then they simply borrow the money or print money that we don't have, and that's what investment means
when the president talks about needing to invest more federal government money. on the same day the president spoke, the congressional budget office released a report that shows the federal government's spending spree is not sustainable and the nation's fiscal position is getting worse. i don't think that's breaking news. i think most americans could tell you that was the case at least intuitively already. over the last two years, the nation's debt has dramatically worsened. gross federal debt is expected to equal 100% of our entire economy in just three months, well past the 90% threshold that many economists believe the debt will seriously undermine economic growth. some studies show that this increased debt which crowds out private investment and borrowing
may result in the loss of at least a million jobs a year. but getting back to my this stin in the negotiations with vice president biden over raising the debt ceiling, it seems that many have forgotten the trillion dollar stimulus package passed back in 2009, that the green shoots predicted never materialized, that the recovery summer never happened, and as i say it failed to keep unemployment below the targeted rate of 8%, and indeed now it hovers nationwide at a rate of 9.1%, and it's much, much worse in many regions of the country. only in washington, d.c., would someone advocate a repetition of a program that we know has failed to meet its stated goals and was, i believe, a total
flop. first of all, it was borrowed money so it wasn't even spending money that we had. it was exacerbating an already dangerously high debt. the first stimulus failed for one reason because our massive deficits and jobs in our budget, and we know that the american people believe, as the gallup organization tells us, that a large majority of americans believe that spending too much money on unneeded and wasteful government programs is to blame for federal budget deficit. and if you ask any business owner, any -- anyone really outside of the beltway the reason why jobs are just not coming back, it's in large part because of the uncertainty of what's coming out of washington, not only legislatively but as a regulatory matter, whether it's the environmental protection agency, the department of labor, all of the alphabet soup of
federal agencies that exists here in washington, d.c. instead of passing another unpaid for stimulus plan or issuing more job-killing regulations, our focus should remain on ways to reduce and reform government spending and thereby help getting the economy moving again. in fact, i think we need to force the congress and the federal government to live within its means by passing a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, and this should be the focus of our efforts here over the next couple of months as we tackle not only this unsustainable debt and these huge annual deficits, but as we look for ways to put a straitjacket on the federal government to make sure that it doesn't keep spending money that it doesn't have. no family, no business -- as a matter of fact, 49 states have balanced budget requirements. only the federal government and only congress can continue to spend money that we don't have.
a balanced budget amendment to the united states constitution would permanently change washington's behavior. so far, 47 senators in the united states senate on this side of the aisle have endorsed or cosponsored a balanced budget amendment, and we would invite our colleagues across the aisle to join us in this effort. we need to in summary unburden the economy from regulatory uncertainty or in some cases the certainty that the bureaucracy will overreach and make it harder, not easier, to create jobs. we need to pass free trade agreements that should be pending before the senate to help create more jobs here at home by producing things here that we can then sell abroad. and then we need to develop our domestic energy production with the great gifts we have been given in this country. i know the presiding officer, coming from an energy-producing
state, alaska, agrees with me that we need to produce more domestic energy here at home, which will also have the added benefit of creating jobs right here in america rather than continuing the bad habit and the dangerous habit of importing about 60% of our energy from abroad in some dangerous parts of the world. i just want to close with a couple of other thoughts, listening to my colleague from vermont calling for shared sacrifice in meeting some of the deficit reduction plans. i would just suggest to the distinguished senator that 9.1% unemployment reflects a lot of sacrifice among a lot of people who can't find jobs in this bad economy. that's shared sacrifice but that's a sacrifice that i know they and we would prefer they did not have to share, and when you don't have a job, it's pretty hard to make your mortgage payments. when you can't make your
mortgage payments or you can't move because your mortgage is more expensive than the value of your home, your home's under water, you're simply stuck, and a lot of people are finding themselves defaulting on their mortgages and losing their home which is usually the largest single investment any of us will make. but finally, i want to close on this thought. i want to ask my colleagues across the aisle who have been so critical of the proposals that have been made by the house of representatives and others where is your plan? where is your budget? it's been two years since the united states congress has passed a budget since it's been in the control of our democratic friends. where is your plan to save medicare, which the medicare trustees have said is insolvent. that means there is more money going out than coming in by the year 2024. how do we keep the promise to
our most vulnerable seniors that we will be there for them, that medicare will be there for them if we don't do something to shore up this insolvent program? i unfortunately believe that the president is listening too closely to his political advisors rather than listening to those who are telling him, mr. president, we have a problem that we need to solve. in the first place, he ought to look for a proposed solution as his own bipartisan fiscal commission that reported back in december in a report 66 pages long. it's scary but important reading. the title of that is moment of truth. we are reaching -- have reached a crossroads in this country where we simply can't kick the can down the road, where we can't keep spending money we don't have, where we can't keep relying upon communist china to buy our debt and to bail us out. we simply can't continue to pass these responsibilities on to our
children and grandchildren. we have important promises to keep to our seniors to make sure that that safety net of medicare and social security is going to be there for them, but we can't do it unless we have willing partners join us across the aisle, and right now, the only one in this country who is in a position to make this happen is the president of the united states. but so far, the president has been awol on this issue. after he has issued his bipartisan fiscal commission, issued the report i referred to a moment ago in december, 2010, in his state of the union speech, the president barely mentioned, if at all, this mounting crisis of debt and the problems with our insolvent and pending insolvency of medicare and social security. in his budget that the president proposed, it was never acted on by the majority leader or the budget committee on which i sit,
and being in the minority, we can't force this issue. it can only happen if the chairman of the budget committee marks up a budget and if the majority leader, senator harry reid, across the aisle will put it on the floor of the united states senate where we can debate it and offer amendments. but they chose not to do so, relying sneddon their political consultants who said, you know, if you offer a constructive proposal, there may be some across the aisle who will criticize it, and you know what? you may just have to take some hard votes. well, anybody who has come to the united states senate who isn't willing to vote their convictions, whatever those convictions are and be held accountable by their constituents back home doesn't deserve to be in the united states congress. and we're here to take hard votes and to make hard decisions, because it's not about us and our political career. it's not about the next election. it's about addressing these problems that we have been sent here to try to fix the best we
can under the circumstances. and it just -- it is beyond unbelievable when i hear some of our colleagues across the aisle, the senior senator from new york, among others, talk about another stimulus spending as part of this debt reduction deal. and beyond that, we have the -- the chairman of the senate finance committee making clear that insistence on tax increases was an essential element of any deal on raising the debt limit. the vice president himself is quoted as saying in the "politico" publication, he said -- "the piece most important to us democrats, revenue." that's washington speak -- the word revenue is washington speak for tax increases, tax increases. the president and republicans and democrats got together after the last election and agreed to extend expiring tax provisions
because all of us agreed on a bipartisan basis that the worst thing you could do for a fragile recovering economy was to raise taxes, on small businesses that are the engine of job creation and on individuals who would be able to then invest that money in starting a business or growing an existing business. there is a reason why the private sector is afraid of washington, d.c. because they see these mounting debts and deficits and they realize that one of the things that we might be tempted to do is to raise their taxes. and you know what? their business model for their small business may not be able to withstand that tax increase that they didn't plan on or their regulatory overreach of some federal washington bureaucrat. so they're scared, and they're signature oned sidelines -- and they're sitting on the sidelines. and the two things we need to do most is bring down the spending curve by reducing federal government spending, begin to
attack that debt and make sure we don't have to keep raising the credit limit on the nation's credit card but, rather, we can bring it down and bring it within sustainable limits. that's one thing we need to do. the second thing we need to do is take our boot off the neck of the private sector, the free enterprise system here in america, so they can create jobs, so they can grow their business, so they can pay their taxes and we can begin to close the gap between what the federal government is spending and what the federal government brings in in terms of revenue. in 2007, when our democratic friends took control of the house and the senate, president bush was still president of the united states, our annual deficit was roughly 1.2% of our gross domestic product. our whole economy, 1.2%. today it is roughly 10%. but the reason it was 1.2% is not because we weren't spending a significant amount of money;
we were. it was because the economy was booming and revenue to the federal twreashes at an all-time -- to the federal treasury was at an all-time high. we need to do two things. we need to cut spending, not just raise taxes so washington can spend some more and throw a wet blanket on the economy and the job creators. but we need to cut spending, fix these entitlement programs so we can keep our promise to our seniors who in many cases are relying upon these for their very livelihood. and then we need to get the economy moving again by growing the moves in the private sector by adopting a national energy policy that says we prefer domestic or american energy sources rather than those from abroad. and, mr. president, we need to do it soon. and i'm saddened to see that, as a result of the insistence on the part of the vice president and our friends across the aisle
that taxes must be a part of any package of debt reduction, that the majority leader and the house of representatives and the assistant leader here in the senate, senator kyl, have reached an impasse and said, they don't see any point to continuing the negotiations at this point. i hope that the vice president -- indeed, i hope the president of the united states himself is the only democrat who can get this deal done, will reconsider their approach and will say we will help work with republicans to live within our means, reduce spending, and try to get our economy moving again so we can alleviate our children from the debt burden that now they are inheriting from us. every child born in america today will come into this world with $46,000 roughly in debt that they owe. that's because of what we have been doing here in washington,
be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, we had an announcement today that the so-called biden talks have broken down. it's not something that surprises meterably -- that surprises me terribly. i've always said i didn't think this was the right approach to negotiate in secret some of the most important decisions this nation has to make. in truth, we've never been in a more severe financial condition than we are today. many remember the government shutdown in the 1990's and the fact that the nation ended up
out of that difficult, contentious time balancing a budget in three years. well, i've studied the budget committee, as a presiding officer is an able member of the budget committee, we know it's not going to be easy. it's going to be very difficult to get this country on the right financial course. so i think the decision of the house majority leader and senator kyl to withdraw from the negotiations over the debt ceiling underscores the inherent problems with these kind of nonpublic meetings designed to come up with some global comprehensive settlement of apparently all our financial difficulties. and it's just not easy. i think it underscores additionally a very important fact that a president cannot lead from behind in dealing with the most pressing crisis our nation faces, our exploding debt
that damage is doing now to the american economy. it's taking too long for a proposal to be presented to the congress, and it's clear now that optimistic statements about existing progress has been too generous. it will be unacceptable for the white house talks or any talks to produce a controversial decision at the 11th hour and for them to come before congress all in a panic and say you've got to pass this solution that we have come up with in secret or the country will have a debt crisis of some kind. that was the path we're heading on, just like was done with the c.r., frankly, the continuing resolution that was passed. that's not what the american people want.
that's not what they deserve. they want a regular order. they want congress to have the opportunity to vote and debate. if it takes weeks, and it should take weeks for us to work through a challenge as serious as this one; so be it. it just takes weeks. if it takes hundreds of votes, people going on record, being criticized by one group or another for the vote they cast, so be it. that's what we're paid to do. and we're not guaranteed reelection. that's basic to phaoefplt congress and the american people -- that's basic to me. congress and the american people deserve a full opportunity to review and consider any debt limit deal that is struck behind closed doors. it's also been reported in one of the -- in one publication at least that in order to make the numbers look better, they're going to resort to certain
gimmicks. tph*edz, let's say -- in other words, let's say you eliminate a program that's a $100 million program. we've been talking about how much it would save over ten years, whether it would save $100 million over ten years, that would be $1 billion. but one of the gimmicks that got floated around and was used in some of the president's numbers all of a sudden without much comment, we're going to do it over ten years, so it would be $1,200,000,000. hasn't cut any more. just add a couple of years to the time frame you're considering, and it makes it look better but it's no better. we've had gimmicks in which a big payment, a military payment to soldiers or social security falls near the end of the month, they push it over into the next fiscal year, september 30. it's due. they make it payable october 1, and your numbers look better.
you don't have that expenditure, but it's still out there. the money's still going to be spent. nothing has really been changed except a date or two when the money is paid. so, gimmicks are unacceptable. any plan that's presented to this floor, however it comes forward, must be free of gimmicks and accounting tricks. it must be honest, an honest budget, fact-based budget. additionally, raising the debt ceiling should not be accomplished by tax hikes. a punishing tax increase would not only threaten the needed growth that we have to have in our economy, it would also give a free pass to the egregious overspending in washington. it would bail out the big spending excesses that have occurred here.
the overspending is a behavior that's really been morally and economically culpable for our current crisis. the federal government spending already controls nearly 25% of our economy. it amounts to that much. the highest we've ever had. some of that's because the economy is down. some of that's because spending sup. a -- spending is up. 25% of the economy is now driven by the federal government with tax money and borrowed money. 60% of what they spend is tax money. 40%-plus is borrowed. we take in $3.7 trillion. excuse me. we take in $2.2 trillion. we spend $3.7 trillion. and that's why all the experts tell us -- and we know it's so -- this is unsustainable. that's why it's not business as usual.
that's why we've got to do something. that's why the house of representatives produced a budget that cuts spending, and some people didn't like it. but unless you have massive tax increases, and they won't last -- they won't continue to produce. the economy will be damaged by them. unless you do big tax increases, you've got to produce spending; right? certainly that's correct. so that's where we are. and the difficulty is that the amount of money and debt and spending that's projected by the congressional budget office as they have analyzed the budget at least presented by the president and the current state of spending, if it was just continued, are very dramatically
dangerous. they're sending us on an even worse path. the president did submit a budget to the congress. i offered it, and it was voted down 97-0. it made the debt path that we were on already an utterly unacceptable debt path, much worse; indeed would have doubled the entire debt of the country again from $14 trillion -- $13 trillion to $27 trillion in ten years. that's the path projected. and the debt in the outer years would be going up. up, not down. an unsustainable path. so, ultimately the numbers we've been hearing, like $2 trillion in reduction, is not sufficient.
it's only a part of what we'd have to do to get our country on a sound fiscal path. well, you hear this figure, we need $2 trillion in cuts. the house budget, a lot of people don't understand this. i hope my colleagues have grasped it. but the house budget reduces spending by $6 trillion over the next 12 years. by the way, over the next 12 years we're projected to add $13 trillion to the national debt on top of the $13 trillion at the time it would have started, doubling it. so cutting $6 trillion is pretty good thing in terms of size of cuts. and it requires us to take real firm action. some people are uneasy. they think that we can't cut that much. but your states and cities and counties have been cutting on a
percentage basis; more than that, many of them, and they're still going to be there. and they're still going to survive. but they know they have to live within their means. but washington has not gotten that message. it's rumored that democratic budget cuts that have been proposed or were worked on in thaoet meetings -- in these meetings would amount to only about $1.5 trillion. that's according to the reports. they tried to make the number bigger by counting interest savings, including those from tax hikes, which is the way they calculated that is a gimmick. $1 in spending cuts is not equivalent to $1 in tax hikes. it's just simply not. cutting spending restores economic confidence and makes room for the private-sector growth. studies show such an approach
results in more significant deficit reduction. cutting spending allows us to pursue a more competitive tax code. hiking taxes is a less successful way to trim the deficit. it just is. that's reality. hiking taxes punishes families for the waste of washington. and it perpetuates our bloated government that needs to be trimmed and whipped into shape, raising taxes to pay for excessive government spending is a refusal to recognize that there are limits to how much we can spend and how much we can tax. there is a limit to how much we can spend and how much we can tax. and a government of democratic ideals, freedom, free markets,
limited government, as we were founded to be, a plan to reduce the deficit $4 trillion that only cuts $2 trillion in actual spending contains only a fraction of the savings that we can and must achieve. and that's my firm view. so i think we have a great deal of people in washington, including, i have to say, our president, who is in denial about the challenges we face, the difficulties we face. this is not a situation in which a few little cuts here and there can put us on the path to fiscal solvency and get us off the path to fiscal destruction. it's going to take more, stronger steps, the kind of steps they're taking in new york state, the kind of steps governor christie is taking in new