Skip to main content

tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  June 30, 2011 9:00am-12:00pm EDT

9:00 am
there have been individuals from al qaeda and used abbottabad as a transit point. >> front row? >> brad asked the first question i had in mind so let me ask the second. clearly one of our preferred tools for dealing with al qaeda is part in killing and -- have no problem with it. we rely on that to include -- pretty fair to say targeting some people who are american citizens. is that problematic in the long run? not from a legal point of view but from a reputation point of view from what it might bring back to us from the way we
9:01 am
imagine ourselves? >> without speaking to any particular operational activity or capability to address the question, this way. from the standpoint of american citizens, when our military forces in afghanistan and iraq are fighting and they see the taliban or others coming at them, they don't first check to see if any of them are u.s. citizens. and window in fact that there has been folks who are fighting in these areas that are u.s. persons or citizen or whatever. ..
9:02 am
>> there hasn't been a single collateral death. the cost of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we been able to develop. so what we try to do is to make sure that we only use this type of capability and force against those individuals who are presenting a threat to us. if they happen to be afghan citizens or pakistani citizens or citizens of other countries including of our own, what we
9:03 am
can't do is to allow them to hide behind their citizenship and their passport. so there are certain requirements under law as far as if we know somebody is a citizen and we are going to take action against them, there's certain things we need to make sure we do appropriate and consistent with our legal framework. so we do that in all cases. but the president as a constitutional lawyer wants to make sure that we are, in fact, following the letter of the law in these cases. >> yes, right here in the second row, please. >> hi. we appreciate your speech today. what do you think the icq me has learned in the last 10 years and what are we doing with that learning experience? >> the intelligence community, what it has learned? >> yes. >> we were talking right before about where we were on 9/11 and
9:04 am
what the environment was like. jon and i want a seventh floor of cia headquarters, and at the time when we got hit with those planes, we were still at a stage of trying to figure out how abroad, have serious the threat from al qaeda was. there were so many reports about so many different operatives, sales, plots and plans, whatever. we were facing the anthrax attacks here in washington as well and we knew they were pursuing bioterrorism and nuclear materials. so i think one of the things that we have learned most since 9/11 is that we have a much better handle on al qaeda the organization, where it resides. our ability to so successfully prosecute over the last decade our efforts against al qaeda is because of the tremendous work that has been done by intelligence professionals, homeland security professionals, military. and everyday we see that
9:05 am
american lives have been lost because of our efforts to take the fight to them and also to learn more about them. the seven cia who were tragically killed last year, you know, these are brave american men and women who leave their families behind so that they can, in fact, gain more information and insight into where al qaeda is so that we can affect direct our efforts against them so we protect the people here. as we come up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 i think it is testament to the tremendous work of the intelligence community and others have done. bringing together not just the intelligence we've been able to acquire, but then marrying it with the tremendous capabilities that we have been able to develop. on a technical front and military front and others. so i think the lessons are we know more about the nature of the threat, i think also one of the things we've learned is that, and one thing assembly speech, we have to be a whole government effort. the best operations that i've
9:06 am
seen over the last decade are those that really involve the integration of effort of resources of capability and expertise, among various u.s. government agencies. i refer to a continuum of engagements. u.k. deconflict and, coordination, integration. for many years i think the u.s. government trying to deconflict operations. then there was coordinated. i would say what i'm doing if you tell me what you're doing. now more and more we see the u.s. military and the cia, nsa, homeland security are working cheek cajal on these issues without the national counterterrorism center, or whether it be in the trenches in afghanistan and iraq. it's been a tremendous evolution of our approach to our national security challenges. that integration is something that we as a government i think needs to continue to do. i'm a strong believer in a lot of our departments and agencies that were set up in the 19th
9:07 am
and 20 centuries were designed for those types of problems. right now we really need to make sure we're able to leverage all capabilities that exist throughout the government in a very concerted fashion. >> looking for a student here. you don't have to be a student. you can be a student now. right here in the second row. >> thank you. i'm from the harvard kennedy school. my question was you mentioned iran and fostering state terrorism and that's on one of e report of you what you thought about the arab spring, and what does that mean to the u.s. national security? >> that's a good question. i think just like al qaeda and bin laden was looking at what was happening in arab spring, iran is doing the same thing. a have clear vulnerabilities at home. i think they're trying to do a couple of things. one is they're trying to exploit the instability that is taking place in certain countries as a way to increase their contact,
9:08 am
relationships, equities. we see that they are, in fact, trying to operate in different countries by establishing relationships with the groups that maybe were out of favorite six months ago and now are coming into favor. also i think what they're trying to do is see what they can do to try to get us a black eye in certain areas. it's clear that we are engaged in this tug-of-war with iran over its obligations in the nuclear front, that it continues to refuse to live up to its obligations. they in fact have been affected significantly by sanctions and other measures that we have taken. so it's no secret that iran is trying to undermine interests which is to promote the development, democratic movements and making sure that people in these different countries are able to realize their aspirations. so, from my perspective i think we need to be mindful that iran
9:09 am
has a certain agenda. it does have certain inroads in countries that have shia populations, that tries to operate within those communities. but iran i think has not yet experienced it's spring, and hopefully i think the people of iran will be able to realize a democratic government one of these days that really can fulfill their aspirations as well. >> in the front row. >> in helping bolivian operation, to what extent are we -- [inaudible] helping al qaeda and affiliated groups, and how do we minimize that risk? >> we have been very cognizant of the fact that there have been portions, portions within libya that have served as a base for a number of extremist
9:10 am
organizations. it was one of the founding element of al qaeda. there are elements of al qaeda. we are concerned about disarray and turmoil in libya simply as far as reference stockpiles that have come under seizure by various groups. i think the u.s. position as well as the position of our nato allies is that we're going to work very deliberately with the opposition elements that have developed in the east, as well as in the west. we are mindful that al qaeda and other extremist organizations are trying to exploit the situation. that's why we are again being measured in how we deal with the evolving situation inside of libya. i've been out, traveled to algeria and other countries in the region to talk to them about the threat of al qaeda in maghreb and what we need to do
9:11 am
together. we're parting with the nation's in the area, working with them, trying to build their capacity trying to provide in the intelligence and information they need to be able to identify aqim developers that are in the rise in the area. >> the second row here. >> thank you. you've mentioned a whole of government approach several times and i wonder if you would describe for us the relationship between the defense, the development and the diplomacy communities in counterterrorism. thank you. >> defense development and diplomacy all come together when you look at to particular countries, yemen and somalia. i preside over interagency groups that look at those two countries in particular, the cost of the counter intelligence cost there. but also i recognize it or build to make progress in the catechism front really is
9:12 am
dependent on these countries being able to deal with some of their very, very serious problems. social economic problems. look at yemen with its water resources that are being depleted, its oil revenues are being depleted. it has the fourth highest population growth rate in the world. unemployment is probably at 40 or 50%. there so many issues there. so what we're doing when we get together in the interagency is look at what we need to do on the counterterrorism front, what are we doing with the yemenis, the saudis, the dcc as far as how to try to address the issues right now that are at stake in yemen. but it also look at what type of assistance can we provide to the yemenis. we have a number of ongoing programs on humanitarian front, on the economic and develop in front. we're going to make sure they're in agree. one of the challenges that we have now, and one of the debate that's ongoing is that in light of the instability in yemen should we stop a lot of this, assistance there's going to them
9:13 am
on other fronts because it could get into the wrong hands onto the government figures out the future? to me i think it's important, particularly the present is in saudi arabia we've been criticized by some being only interested in yemen because of catechism just not true at all. we're interested in yemen because of the people of yemen have really been obsessed by the many, many things they face. we're very concerned of al qaeda. we want to work with them but this is the time had to make sure we don't abandon the yemeni people when the government is under siege, when they qip is going to read. this is the time we need to do things. we need to do it again, and a careful and measured way but we need to make sure that we bring together the diplomacy, the development assistance and the characters and effort. the same thing after and somalia. working with the tiki, transitional government there, and working with others to work with the area around mogadishu and in looking at all the refugees and the people who are malnourished and starved, we need to find a way to make sure
9:14 am
that the nongovernmental organizations are able to get in there and bring relief supplies into the al-shabaab cuts off roads and networks. a lot of innings we have we say okay, we want to make sure these ngos have the licensing approvals that they can operate and u.s. government participates in. many different countries, those three really come together in a very, very sort of meaningful way. i have said that i don't want the counterterrorism tale to wag the dog. you know, we shouldn't be doing things in yemen or somalia solely because we have a counterterrorism agenda there. one of the things about president obama and president bush before him, very interested in making sure we do things that are going to benefit long-term the people in these areas because aqap and others thrive off the instability. and as i said in my speech there are very legitimate grievances that al qaeda has been able to capitalize. we need to work with local
9:15 am
commuters got out there, governments and interest groups to address those issues. smack front row here. >> thank you. do you worry that public support for the war on terrorism will wane over time with the domestic problems we have, the economy, the debt, in the sense of the killing of bin laden represents a real turning of the page on work terrorism, that necessary public support will wane and what is the ministration doing to address that? >> we intentionally do not use the term war on terrorism, global war on terrorism. the explanation is terrorism. we are in a war with al qaeda. i take your point. are we concerned about the american public after the death of bin laden, the concern about that? i think there's folks out there who believe that because we haven't suffered a spectacular attack at the hands of al qaeda the last decade here, that the threat is not a serious and agree. they keep hearing about our
9:16 am
successes against bin laden and others are we're taking leaders off the battlefield. i think that may be a perception that some folks within the american public have. i think if you were to poll the catechism community throughout the government and intelligence home in, they see real threats that are still out there. as i said, coming up a 10th anniversary of 9/11, we want to make sure we are as vigilant and as poised to detect and thwart these attacks. but working with congress i do think there's any dilution on the part of folks within the congress that this is, this is an effort that we need to maintain. i like to think that over time we're going to be more efficient in how we apply our resources as we know more about the threat, as we address a number of all of those that are out there, and we maybe automate more of these activities. we've come such a long way as far of a terrorist watchlisting
9:17 am
system. we've been able to as result of technology, a result of integrated different databases, been able to do things with less people who have to manually put things in. so what i want to do is make sure we are able to maintain the appropriate amount of resources, that we continue to prosecute this effort that will allow us again to identify and detect these threats, be prepared to be resilient in the event of some type of attack, and also maintain our ability to maintain a proactive posture. because if we relent at this point, and we allow al qaeda to regenerate in areas like end waziristan, you know, that core group is still out there that we need to maintain our focus on. >> second row here. >> i was wondering, how do you think the drawdown in
9:18 am
afghanistan, the ship and going from a counterterrorism posture will affect our long-term strategic partnership with pakistan? >> we have a long-term goal in that area, which is to make sure that we're able to maintain very deep, strong, and broad counterterrorism ties with pakistan and afghanistan. when we talked about it, we talk about the afghan pak the there. making sure that we have in place the architecture that will allow us to continue to monitor the development of al qaeda, to disrupt it when we can, where we see it. and to mitigate the threat coming. that architecture involves, you know, sources that we have, both technical and human. it involves partnership with the pakistanis and afghans. it's having the ability to make sure that there's going to be dialogue and cooperation between
9:19 am
afghanistan and pakistan because that is the water every where the and others, you know, leveraged for the purpose of both inside afghanistan and pakistan. so drawn down the 10,000 troops this year and then drawing down the fold surge, totaled 33,000 by next summer, that is going in my mind not affect our ability to continue our counterterrorism effort. and with the present i think looks to me and others to do is to ensure that as we look out over the next of years, that we are able to keep in place to capabilities, the architecture, the resources, the platforms that will allow us to ensure that that area is never again going to be used as a launching pad for attacking the homeland. so that partnership with the pakistanis, in my mind, there's no alternative to us or to the pakistanis to ensuring that we continue engagement. that's why i said it's frustrating. the same time know the country
9:20 am
have we taken as many terrorists off the battlefield than the pakistan's. no other country has lost more security and intelligence officers and pakistan. so yes, we have frustrations with them, but at the same time they are on the front lines. they are giving their lives every day, and i'm very appreciative of the efforts that they have made. >> our media colleagues have been very patient. let me go to them. third row. >> i appreciate your last statement but i think the statement u.k. before that, that there is not single collateral damage in pakistan because of drones attack. if you read pakistani media you get very different picture. pakistani media says there was that single suicide attack before we got involved in that part of the world. after that pakistan has lost more than 30,000 people. the reason we do not give -- pakistani life, people are so angry and we're unable to -- we
9:21 am
think that somehow those lives, pakistani lives are not important to pakistan, more than 3000 took. but we don't get report and we say that -- >> do you have a question? >> my question is how can you address these issues without addressing pakistani concerns about this? how we're using the people of pakistan. thanks. >> my view is that there is a real cancer within pakistan from the standpoint of militant organizations. whether you're talking about al qaeda, talking about pakistani taliban, haqqani group, others, there is i think a general recognition in the united states as well as throughout the world that pakistan has a real challenge ahead to uproot and eradicate the forces of militancy within pakistan. and i think they pakistani
9:22 am
government and the pakistani people have to be very honest with the challenges that they faced domestically, that it is an area that has served as a training ground, as a launching pad to carry out attacks. but not just against other countries, against the united states. against pakistanis. men, women and children on a daily basis in pakistan are being horrifically murdered by these attacks. suicide attacks, anything but suicide. they are homicide attacks. they kill by the scores. i really do hope the pakistani government and all the institutions are going to become even more aggressive in taking the battle to these forces militancy and terrorism. >> right there. >> thank you. i am from the new york daily news. looking at the big picture and a decade since 9/11, what do you see as the top factors in denying al qaeda success in attacking the homeland over the
9:23 am
past 10 years? >> top factors, one is i think we have made the united states and much less hospitable environs for al qaeda to apply it straight that it's much more difficult for al qaeda to move operatives here. the fbi, homeland security, local law enforcement have done a tremendous job of detecting activities within our 50 states. that are terrorist related and they would have a tremendous, done a tremendous job. secondly, as i mentioned taking the war to al qaeda, not just sitting back here trying to protect ourselves, but actually going out and carrying out the operations that we need to be able to degrade, this man and destroy the organization. and it's clear from the material that we recovered from the bin laden compound that bin laden himself recognize that they were really being pummeled. he wanted to carry out attacks and is frustrated with a lot of his commanders that they were not getting out these attacks.
9:24 am
the commanders were saying sorry, we would love to be able to do it but we can't. you know, your aspirations outpace our capabilities. so, the fact that we are degraded, we have address the vulnerabilities, we have improved the capabilities of foreign governments, foreign services, i think it's a combination of things that really have contributed to making this country safer. and i think every day, and you know, looking out the next 10 years will continue to strengthen our capabilities, continue to degrade the threats and improve our defenses and reduce our vulnerabilities. >> we have time for one more question. >> you answered an excellent question before about iran's interest in the arab spring. and that begs the follow-up
9:25 am
question of, what about saudi arabia? its reactions to the arab spring, and whether the disagreements have come up over like mubarak, affect the field of counterterrorism? >> when john introduced he said i was stationed in a major middle eastern state. if you look in books they said i was stationed in saudi arabia. that may or may not be the case. [laughter] i spent about six years in saudi arabia, and was there in the late '90s, 96-99, and in many respects it was frustrating for me who i counterterrorism responsibilities, and is not just because the saudis were sort of unwilling to be more aggressive. it was also because our government was unwilling to be more forthcoming with the saudis. the saudis went to a period of time in 2003 when there was basically a campaign by al qaeda to carry out attacks inside saudi arabia against the saudis
9:26 am
national guard. they became very personalized to the saudis. a lot of their intelligence security officers were brutally killed by al qaeda. they took it very much to heart. since then, saudi arabia has developed its capabilities, and i would say it is one of the best counterterrorism partners that the united states has. they recognized that there was a cancer within the house and they recognize, when i talk to them they say they were too late in coming to this game. when i think about the question of pakistan i'm hoping that the pakistani people and the services are going to realize this really is a war, and the saudis had to fight network for several years. but right now i think it really is a testament to how far we have come since 9/11. aqap when he concealed the ieds and the printers that were on the cargo aircraft, they would've taken down those planes
9:27 am
if we did not have the information from the saudis. i remember i was giving a speech here in washington and i got a call from the assistant deputy administrator of injury in saudi arabia need to speak to me urgently, so i called him back. sure enough, he gave me information that was being passed through other channels as well, that provided the details about where those ieds work, what package and were able to locate them before they were timed to go off, before they're going to go off. and so that saves lives, without a doubt. if the saudis didn't providers that wish we would've had a couple of aircraft coming down out of the air. possibly over the united states. so the investment we've made in our catechism partners, saudi arabia is a good example. i like to think looking out over the next 10 years we're going to have other stories like what has happened with saudi arabia that
9:28 am
things are going to turn around, that the situation, you know, of terrorism in these countries, particularly in pakistan, that we will get ahead of this curve. but still, it's going to be a long and sometimes difficult battle, but we are ready. >> i want to say thank you to everyone here for being so polite and patient and the questions were rather, i don't want to see softballs, but -- [laughter] i was waiting for something to come out that might be more challenging, but i do appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today about the strategy that this president has put out. and i will say once again that people like john mclaughlin and the students that you have taught, the people who are working within the intelligence community really have done just a spectacular job and a lot of credit goes, john, to you and others who have i think help the
9:29 am
next generation of intelligence professionals and national security experts to contribute to this nation's security. so thank you very much. >> please thank john brennan. [applause] [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
9:30 am
>> we go live now to capitol hill as the u.s. in convenience today after a period of general speeches. surgical take up the nomination of general david petraeus to become the next cia director. debate begins at noon eastern time. confirmation vote will happen at about 2 p.m. now to live senate coverage here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer.
9:31 am
the chaplain: let us pray. god of liberty, as america's birthday approaches, help us to know in this land the meaning and purpose of our freedom. may our senators seek freedom with justice, freedom to choose righteousness, and freedom to do the right thing with judicious governmental intervention. give our lawmakers such liberty of soul that their gratitude might merge with their commitment to honor you in word and deed.
9:32 am
give each of us a sense of responsibility for his or her share in the democratic processes, as we earnestly seek for good government, exercising our influence responsibly. and, lord, we pray that you would bless the members of our departing page class. we pray in your sacred name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic
9:33 am
for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, june 30, 2011. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable jeff merkley, a senator from the state of oregon, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following any leader remarks, the senate will be in a period of morning business. the first hour will be under the control of the majority, the republicans will control the second hour. following morning business, the senate will be in executive session to consider the nomination of david patraeus, the director of the central
9:34 am
intelligence agency. about 2:00 p.m. there will be a vote on confirmation of david petraeus. additional roll call votes are possible during today's session of the senate. mr. president, this weekend we'll celebrate independence day, and 235 years of this country's very, very proud history. this nation was founded on the notion of liberty and justice for all. as we celebrate, we should remember that the pursuit of liberty is not just a journey with a des din nation, but rather a quest to which we must strive for every single day. we must commit justice fully and firmly to the idea that the liberty and justice should be truly for all. mr. president, it is often said that with liberty comes responsibility. we should take that responsibility seriously. i'm confident we do. that's why the senate will reconvene on tuesday, the day after the 4th.
9:35 am
we'll do that because we have work to do. we'll be in session that week -- that's next week, wit -- with or first vote on july 5. we'll determine what time that vote will be, likely in the afternoon because of the travel problems of the previous day. there's still so much to do to put americans back to work, to cut our deficit and our economy back to work. it is really important that we do this. that moment is too important, the obstacle is too steep and the time too short to waste even moment. i hope my republican colleagues will put politics aside and help democrats fulfill congress's responsibility to the american people. there are some republicans in congress who say the united states government has less responsibility to pay its bills than struggling families all across our great country. as a default crisis approaches, republicans are saying we should simply stop cutting checks, the national equivalent of the mortgage, the home mortgage, the credit card, the car payment.
9:36 am
republicans say this crisis is about spending or growing government. they're wrong. this comprise is about paying the bills -- this crisis is about paying the bills for things we've already bought. for example, a decade of tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, a war of choice in iraq, a war in afghanistan, those tax cuts for billionaires and billionaires and the wars unpaid for. and what they aren't saying is what the consequences would be if such an irresponsible decision to not pay our accrued bills. remember, mr. president, the bills we already accumulated, run up. we didn't pay -- if we didn't pay our bills, it would plunge the united states not into a recession, not into the so-called double-dip recession, but into a full-blown depression. and that's without a doubt. and without exerntion the respected financial -- and without exception, the respected
9:37 am
financial voices of our time, it would be felt across the gloan shall not just here in the united states. i repeat, this would create a worldwide depression. many, many respected voices could not have spoken in clearer terms, from the private sector, the morgan choice, a man by the name of jamie dimon says that a default would be cat strove iefnlg he went on to say that raising the debt limit is -- quote -- "our moral obligation." so what does that mean? it means the world should know that the united states is good for its money, period. that's what jamie diamond said and i agree. he's not the only one saying this. business leaders have said it. economists have said it. banks have said it. and republican advisors to presidents reagan, the first george bush -- they've said it, and perhaps more importantly, credit rating agencies have said t credit rating agencies,
9:38 am
standard & poor's and moody's, have said that if the united states misses even one payment, the nation will immediately lose its high credit rating, interest payments would increase, and for every 1% increase in the interest rates, it would cost our country $1.3 trillion. not billion, not million, trillion. that's one more reason why defaulting on our debt to make a point about fiscal responsibility makes so little sense. if we default, we'll actually cost our nation more to meet our financial obligations in the future. democrats believe we must create jobs and get our economy moving again. we must cut spend and live within our means. we all know that. we must eliminate tax loopholes for millionaires, billionaires, oil companies. republicans must not put the economy of this country and the world at risk for the sake of protecting special interests and the big donors. it is time we returned to the
9:39 am
type of fiscal discipline democrats brought to washington in the 1990's, when democrats in congress and the white house balanced the budget and used the surplus to do what, mr. president? to pay down the debt. we were being criticized for paying down the debt too fast. president bush changed that very, very quickly. but a default crisis would do nothing to get our fiscal house in order. instead, default -- in effect, bankruptcy -- would derail our fragile economic recovery and plunge this nation and the world back into not just a recession but a full-blown depression. i said that earlier. it's the truth. it would also risk millions of americans' jobs, tax refunds, social security checks, medicare payments and paychecks for our troops. there was a nice report written the day before yesterday by alice rivlin and one of george bush's assistant secretaries for the treasury. they said the same thing, but in much more detail and frankly,
9:40 am
mr. president, reading that was very, very frightening. those risks are simply not worth take. today middle-class families in america are struggling to survive economically. they're living paycheck to paycheck in many instances. meanwhile, republicans walked away from the negotiations, and why did they walk away from the negotiations? it would have cut the deficit and avoided a catastrophic default? they did it in order to protect tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. awl that's all it is. leans republicans are will be to -- republicans are willing to risk our economy. meanwhile, average americans are struggling to find work here at home. republicans are willing to risk our economy and to protect tax breaks for owners of corporate jets and yachts and oil companies while the average american is struggle to afford gas for their car. republicans are willing to risk our economy to protect tax breaks for millionaires and
9:41 am
billionaires and average americans are struggling to make their mortgage payments for their homes. i've said it before. republicans simply have the wrong priorities. they have made their mission to stand up and shout for the richest few. we democrats consider it our responsibility to stand up and shout for all americans. that's what this debate is all about. i have a letter from my counterpart senator mcconnell. i ask that the order with respect to the financial committee today be vishtd. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
9:42 am
9:43 am
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i understand there's a joint resolution at the desk that is due for its second reading. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. the clerk will read the title of the bill for the second time. the clerk: s.j. res. 2k3, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the constitution of the united states relative to balancing the budget. mr. mcconnell: in order to place the resolution on the calendar, under the provisions of rule 14, i would object to further proceeding. the presiding officer: the joint resolution will be placed on the calendar. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, today i want to speak about a young man from corbin, kentucky, who gave his life in service to our country. lance corporal timothy matthew jackson, a united states marine, was tragically killed while
9:44 am
conducting operations in hell man province, afghanistan, on september 30, 2010, he was 22 years old. lance corporal jackson was deployed with the second battalion, ninth marine regiment, second marine division, second managers spiedditionary force, fox company based out of camp le jeune, north carolina. for his heroic service, he received many awards, medals and decorations, including the purple heart, the combat action ribbon, the marine corps good conduct medal, three sea service deployment ribbons, the afghanistan campaign medal, two iraq campaign medals, a global war on terrorism service medal, and the national defense service medal. lance corporal jackson, who went by his middle name mat, attended
9:45 am
corbin elementary school, corbin middle school, and corbin high school. where he graduated in the class of 2007. many who knew matt in school knew of his desire to serve in the military after graduation. he was an enthusiastic participant in his school's junior reserve officer training corps. all he ever wanted to do when he graduated was join the marines and serve his country, and that's what he did says colonel rick mcclure, matt's senior instructor in the rotc program. matt was an outstanding man. he was quiet, always had just a smile, just a super young man, colonel mcclure says, and as long as i knew him all he wanted to do was graduate from high
9:46 am
school and be a marine. matt's wife nick can i remembers the -- nicky remembers the surprising way matt asked her to marry him. it was on christmas eve. matt and nicky were with family opening presents. one present was addressed to both of them and matt opened it to reveal a cracker jack box. he handed it to me and he said open it, nicky's says. when i did, everybody's hand shot for some and by the time i could pour it in my hands there were crumbs. there i felt a ring in my hand. when i looked at him he was down on one knee and asked me to marry him. of course i said yes. matt and nicky were married on may 22, 2009. for matt's mom, jody tomkin, it is too hard to pick just one memory of her son. i don't have just one, she says.
9:47 am
as a mom, all of my memories are the best. matt's aunt, theresa janice hopkins remembers when matt was a little boy and went on a trip to disney world. he had a smile on his face the whole time, she says. that had to be the highlight of his life until he met nicky. matt worked hard to prepare himself for the service and join the marine corps right after high school. in 2008, he was deployed to iraq. he also served on missions in haiti, the dominican republic, nicarauga, and cuba. after his military service concluded, he was looking forward to a career in law enforcement. matt's uncle, tom jackson, remembers the day matt came home from afghanistan for a hero's funeral. at the terminal of the corbin -- the london corbin airport waiting to meet the plane carrying matt's body were over 100 patriot guard riders with american flags on their motorycycles, there to escort
9:48 am
the fallen marine to the funeral home. as we followed the hearse from the airport, the riders slowed, and there beside the road was a small group of men, women, and children waving flags as tears ran down their faces. i could read their lips said tom jackson, saying "thank you." and at that point there was an outburst of emotion that i just could not contain. i was crying like a baby, a slight that i'm sure my daughter -- a sight that i'm sure my daughter and grandson had never seen from me. the number of people who wish to thank lance corporal jackson for his service was so great that the funeral home chapel could not accommodate them all. the city of corbin graciously donated the use of the arena at the southeastern kentucky ag and
9:49 am
expo complex where hundreds came to pay their respects. mr. president, we must keep matt's friends and family in our thoughts as i recount his story for the senate today. we're thinking of his wife, nicole a. jackson,; his father, timothy wayne jackson; his mother, jody tonkin; his brothers barry, justin tonkin and wayne sperling, his grandmothers, his uncle tom jackson, his cousin michael ryan hopkins, his aunt theresa jackson hopkins, and being other beloved family members and friends. matt was preceded in death by his grandfather, edgar jackson. matt's uncle tonkin still recall
9:50 am
a time when he and a nine-year-old matt were walking in the dark and he feared they were lost. matt was scared but put on a brave face until the end when he finally said, uncle tom, hold my hand as the two of them reached the truck. the family must be proud of that little boy who grew up to be t* become one of our country's most honored heroes, a brave marine. i want them to know this united states senate honors lance corporal jackson for his life of service, and we honor the immense sacrifice he made on behalf of a grateful nation. mr. president, i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. president?
9:51 am
9:52 am
9:53 am
9:54 am
9:55 am
9:56 am
9:57 am
9:58 am
9:59 am
10:00 am
10:01 am
the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: mr. president, i ask for the privileges of floor to be extended to britta lockley argues to understand lucy kessel. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. we're involved in a very important national debate over our finances, over our deficits, over our debt, and over thevestment our economy, the creation of jobs. and how we take on those in the most effective manner to build a strong financial foundation for
10:02 am
our nation going ahead, a strong set of opportunities for families to thrive. in the course of that, there's been a very interesting development that merits our attention, and that development is this: some of my colleagues across the aisle have, over time, chosen to put key programs for the wealthy and well-connected not in the appropriations bill but in the tax legislation, and there's advantages to doing so. with appropriations, you have to come and defend a program year after year. it has to be reviewed in committee. it may have to go through an authorization as well as an appropriation. but if you place a program for the wealthically and well-connected in the tax code, then, unless you've inserted a sunset clause, that program is a
10:03 am
give that keeps on giving, unexamined in the course of the standard appropriating process. well, by putting these programs for the wealthy and well-connected into the tax code, some of my colleagues across the aisle have said, by doing so, there's an additional advantage, and that is, we will claim that it's off-limits, and we will claim in a if anyone seeks to examine these programs for the wealthy and well-connected, that they're seeking to -- quote -- "raise taxes" and we will scare the american citizens into revolt against that effort to examine these sacred cows. well, indeed, i think that this attitude, quite frankly, underestimates the american citizen. the american citizen very well
10:04 am
understands what's up, that there is an effort to put programs for working americans in legislation where it has to be authorized regularly, where it has to go through the appropriations process annually, but put the programs for the most wealthy and well-connected over here, behind a fence, where they don't have to go through that process and then to say those are sacred cows; we can't touch them. well, there is a big difference between fighting for fairness for working americans and fighting to defend the benefits for the best-off in our society. this is a debate that must be here on the floor of the senate. it was in 1976 that i maim here as an intern to -- that i came here as an intern to senator hatfield. and as it turns out, i was aassigned to the tax reform act of 1976. in that assignment, i was
10:05 am
reading all the mail from oregon. and then as the debate was held on the floor of this chairnlg i would meet senator hatfield at the elevator doors just outside these double doors to the chamber. of course in those days we didn't have a television camera here in the chamber. in those days we didn't have e-mail to communicate. so the staff members would line up and meet their senators coming out of the elevator and brief them on the debate, the ups and downs and what were people back home saying and what type of motion was there, an up-or-down vote or was it a motion to table, and so on and so forth. then i'd run back up into the chamber for the seats for the staff to observe the debate and then i'd go back down when the next vote on an amendment caivmencame.that review in 1976a tough discussion because anytime you talk about cutting a program, anyone who benefits from that program is very upset. but there was an understanding on both sides of the aisle that
10:06 am
we owe it to the american taxpayer to spend every dollar in the best possible fashion, and therefore that there can be no fence walling off the programs from some from consideration while the programs for others merit full examination; that everything needed to be talked about, everything needed to be weighed as to the value that it provides. again, in 1986, ten years later, a decade later, an even larger effort, a major effort to examine every tax program, whether it is one that benefited people here or people there, to weigh it in the context of our fiscal responsibility to this nation. and it was senator packwood from oregon, who was head of the finance committee, who led that debate here on the floor of the senate. i want to emphasize that senator packwood was a republican.
10:07 am
republicans back then believed in fiscal responsibility. they didn't believe in setting off one part of the tax code for the wealthy and well-connected that would never be examined again while the programs for working americans, they were on the table. no, they looked at everything across the entire spectrum. so here we are -- not in 1976, not in 1986, but here in 2011. it's been a quarter century since we've had a serious review of the programs embedded in the tax code. i must say, we have every reason to examine every program funded, whether through the appropriation code or the tax code. because we face serious, serious
10:08 am
financial circumstances. and so it is in this context that i would have expected to hear the echoes of 1986, that every program is up for examination, every program is going to be tested against a rigorous set of circumstances, say, is this the best use for the dollar? but instead my colleagues across the aisle have taken the position of putting up a very high fence around the tax provisions for the wealthy and well-connected, saying that is their number-one goal, protect those. oh, programs for seniors? those are on the table. dismantling medicare? that's a republican program. programs for those who don't have enough food to eat? those are on the table. unemployment? that has been on the table. funding for infrastructure that we need to rebuild our country? that is on the table.
10:09 am
but not this set of sacred cows, this set of sacred programs for the wealthy and well-connected. quite frankly, colleagues, that is wrong. that must change. and we must carry that debate here on the floor of the senate as our colleagues did a quarter century ago, as our colleagues did 35 years ago. so when it comes to these programs, there must be no sacred cows, and there must be no sacred horses. i'm going to public property a chart -- i'm going to put up a chart. the chart says, "pronking away with our taxdollars -- the chart says, "running away with our taxdollars." one of the programs that my colleagues across the aisle are insisting be walled off from examination is a special
10:10 am
write-off for thoroughbred race horses. yes, race horses. this is the bluegrass boondoggle which allows millionaire and billionaire race horse owners to write off the cost of their horses in an accelerated manner, reducing the normal seven-year period for write-off to just three years. well, this bluegrass boondoggle will cost u.s. taxpayers over the course of the coming ten years $126 million. c.b.o. estimates that after modeling the impact of this tax provision. now, this is equivalent to us writing a check over this coming decade for $126 million. this is equivalent to a grant program. this is equivalent to
10:11 am
subsidizing a loan program. no program simply because it is in one bill, the tax bill, rather than in other bill, the appropriations bill, should be off limits. horse racing may have been called the sport of kings -- the presiding officer: if the senator would suspend, the senator has used ten minutes. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. is there a ten-minute rule in effect? the presiding officer: there is. the senator from new york? mr. schumer: i believe i am the next speaker and i'd like unanimous consent to cede the senator from oregon three minutes of my ten. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. merkley: thank you. i thank my colleague from new york and i appreciate those three minutes. so horse racing may have been called the sport of kings, but that doesn't mean that the owners of horses, those millionaires and billionaires owning those horses, need royal tax treatment. as long as these tax subsidies are preserved, the richest and
10:12 am
best-off will remain in the winners' circle, while working families don't even get a chance to compete. now, there's no doubt that closing this loophole alone isn't going to solve our deficit problem, but it is a good place to start. because otherwise we're going to cut $126 million from head start or $126 million from medicare for our seniors or programs that help retrain laid-off workers, giving triple-crown treatment to millionaires while workers are put out to pasture. that's not right. and it's not the american way. i have proposed searching through the tax code to find wasteful tax subsidies and eliminate unnecessary giveaways. this year is the right moment to start, and, no, not just one program should be singled out. we should set a series of standards and test each tax
10:13 am
program against those standards on whether they create jobs, whether they make a stronger economy, whether they take america forward, and whether or not that $126 million spent in this category or that is more important to the nation than other cuts that we might be enter tank. those are the tests that need to be applied in a thoughtful and thorough manner. it is time not to wall off the programs for the wealth economy and well-connected while attacking programs that make working america go forward in a stronger fashion. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the senate will be in a period of morning business until 12:00 noon with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each, with the time
10:14 am
equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority controlling the first hour and the republicans controlling the second hour. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the snore from new york is recognized. mr. schumer: first, mr. president, i want to thank my colleague from oregon once again. he is forthright, he is courageous, he is on the money, and people should listen to him, because he says a lot of good things about a lost subjects, including this wufnlt and i appreciate what he has said. now, mr. president, after weeks of stops and starts, we're now approaching crunch time in the debt ceiling talks. i believe that a grand, bipartisan bargain is possible, but only if my colleagues on the other side of the aisle take off their partisan blinders. neither side can afford to cling to their ideological positions any longer. to get economy humming on all sinalders again and avoid a default crisis, we need to say goodbye to a few sacred cows.
10:15 am
and yet mere weeks after voting to repeal ethanol subsidies, the other side's leader, the senator from ken kernings has drawn a line in the sand against including any and all revenue changes in the debt deal. he has said that repeal of special interest tax breaks is -- quote -- "politically impossible." well, mr. president, that's a curious idea given that the senator from kentucky and 33 of his colleagues are on record as supporting the end of ethanol giveaways. it seems leader mcconnell would rather end ethanol as we know it and force cuts to pell grants and cancer research than institute a little shared sacrifice. on this side of the aisle, we want to repeal tax breaks that have no purpose whatsoever other than to bloat our budget deficit. today i want to highlight one of the most egregiously wasteful loopholes in the tax code. the tax break for yacht owners. yes, believe it or not, uncle
10:16 am
sam subsidizes the purchase of sprawling, luxurious 72-foot viking yachts. as long as your yacht has a place to sleep and a place to, how shall i put it, relieve yourself, you can claim it as a second home and claim the mortgage interest deduction. that's right, the deduction congress helped create for middle-class families to realize the american dream of homeownership is helping millionaires and billionaires get a 35% discount on their yachts. in fact, how-to books on tax avoidance advises readers that if you're paying for your yacht in cash, you're paying too much. that's a quote. millionaires who would otherwise write a six-figure check for their yacht without batting an eye, instead take out a loan so they can claim the mortgage interest deduction. the i.r.s.'s only requirement is that the yacht owner provide
10:17 am
proof that they spend 14 days a year on the boat. mr. president, if only gillig tpha* and skipper had taken a 14-day trip instead of a three-hour tour they could have expense the cost to the s.s.minnow. there are tough choices ahead as we seek to achieve our dual goal. but repealing this insane tax break for yacht owners isn't tough at all. or to put it in terms our nautical friends would understand, not by a league. now i want to make clear i have nothing against yacht owners. god bless them, they're doing well for themselves, and in america we celebrate success and say enjoy your success. that's a great thing. but at a time when the government is tightening its belt and we're grappling with painful cuts to programs, it boggles the mind to continue to give voters a tax break they don't need and never should have
10:18 am
had in the first place. it's a question of priorities. mr. president, both sides are for deficit reduction. if our side dug a line in the sand and said no cuts to programs, we would be regarded as way off the deep end and not really wanting to compromise. well, the mirror image is exactly true. just as we must endure cuts we consider painful on programs, the other side must endure cuts they may consider painful on the tax side. we will not get anywhere unless both sides compromise. and what we're doing here today, the senator from oregon, the senator from rhode island, the senator from illinois, myself and many others, is we're showing that there's plenty of room on the tax side. these are small. there are larger ones. but there's plenty of room on the tax side to eliminate waste, just as there's plenty of room on the spending side to eliminate waste. and we will not come to a
10:19 am
compromise unless -- unless -- we will not be taoeubl raise the debt ceiling and get our fiscal house in order unless both sides give. lines in the sand do not help this country. i would plead with my colleagues. no more lines in the sand. there are just as many wasteful tax expenditures as there are program expenditures. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island is recognized. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. yesterday afternoon i spoke in this chamber and i quoted former comptroller general david walker saying "we as a country face large known and growing structural deficits that could swamp our ship of state.
10:20 am
to get our ship of state in trim, we need to make adjustments. we need to reduce the deficit and the debt." i also discussed that when republicans demand that all revenue raisers be taken off the table in our discussions about how we reduce that deficit and that debt, as the republican leader has done just this week, what they are repolydefending -- what they are really defending is tax subsidies for profitable big oil companies. what they're repolydefending is corporations that -- what they're really defending is corporations that dodge their u.s. taxes by setting up phony business locations in the cayman islands and elsewhere. what they're really defending is ultra-high income individuals, the highest 400 earners in the country paying a lower actual tax rate than ordinary working americans. in some years lower than truck
10:21 am
drivers, in some years as low as a hospital orderly. just last month republicans filibustered a measure that would have ended $21 billion in completely unnecessary subsidies for the largest oil companies. we know that those oil companies are enjoying record multibillion-dollar profits, the highest in some cases profits any corporation has ever made, and they do not need continued support from the american taxpayer. they just do not, not when these other cuts are being thought of. but our republican friends went to bat for the big oil companies and fought our attempts. to keep our ship of state afloat, republicans are willing to end medicare, kick children out of head start early education, knock down pell grants and eliminate p.b.s. but they will fight to protect special subsidies and tax breaks for big corporations and
10:22 am
billionaires. today i rise to discuss one such unjustifiable tax giveaway, a tax break for private jets for the use of c.e.o.'s and other top corporate executives that has no public policy benefit whatsoever. the way this works, mr. president, under current law companies that buy private jets, planes which can cost upward of $50 million each, can deduct the value of that jet from their taxes over five years. there's a five-year depreciation schedule. airline carriers, on the other hand, the folks who carry 99% of the american public through the air, muppet depreciate -- must depreciate the value of their planes over seven years, two years longer than for the private executive jets. now this may sound like a minor accounting anomaly, and i'm sure that's what the corporate lobbyists who got this through
10:23 am
and stuck into our tax code said when they got it done, but this is one that may cost the government $3 billion in lost tax revenue over the next decade. the special treatment of corporate jets, its advantage relative to the jets that regular people fly on when they take to the air is just one more example of a tax code that is riddled with custom-made provisions, earmarks in the tax code that benefit corporations and the wealthy, while middle-class families struggle to make car payments and face ever higher prices at the gas pump, our tax code subsidizes the private jet travel of millionaires and billionaires. in a time of austerity, when we're being asked to cut education, when we're being asked to cut science, when we're being asked to cut health care, it is no time to be protecting a
10:24 am
private jet subsidy that ordinary taxpayers have to make up for through their own taxes. and we should repeal it as part of a package to lower our budget deficits. i was disappointed when senate republicans rejected our attempt to repeal big tkpwoeuflwaes, and i -- giveaways and i hope they will not do the same when we bring up a jet loophole repeal for a vote. as we continue to debate ways to close the budget gap, i hope that my republican colleagues will rethink their determination to defend tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy while they're trying to get rid of medicare. that is a terrible set of priorities. it is simply unconscionable for them to talk about cutting education and research and health programs while they are fighting on the floor to protect, at all costs, special
10:25 am
interest tax subsidies that are on the books. i thank the chair. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: i thank my colleague from rhode island. so people understand this debate, we have a deficit problem. serious. we borrow 40 cents from other countries for every dollar we spend. we can't sustain that. our economy may be the strongest in the world, but it's being called into question every day. look what's happening on the streets of athens, greece, and in portugal and in ireland, because they went too far. they crossed the point beyond which their creditors would not go. they were so deeply in debt that their creditors basically said we're not going to loan you any more money unless you change dramatically the way you run your country. that's the pain that's going through these countries today. we want to avoid that pain in the united states. and to do it, we've got to address the deficit honestly. we've got to take a look at this debt that we have and deal with it in honest terms. most people, v forgotten the
10:26 am
fact that ten years ago, ten years ago we were running a surplus in the federal budget. the last three years of the clinton administration were surplus years. and now we're in the deepest debt we have ever been as a nation. we are generating about $1.4 trillion of additional debt every year. how did we reach this point? well, there are a lot of explanations. when you fight two wars and don't pay for them, it adds to the national debt. when you pass programs and don't pay for them, it adds to the debt. when you are already in debt and you give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in america, it makes your debt worse. those, incidentally, were the three policies of the previous administration which led us to the point where a surplus in eight years became a deficit, the biggest deficit in american history eight years later. so now we've got to address it. what we're saying to our friends
10:27 am
on the republican side of the aisle, for goodness sakes, to end a deficit, you cut spending; right? right. but to end a deficit, you also cut wasteful tax subsidies. if you listened this morning to my colleagues, you've heard them describe a few. the senator from oregon talks about in the tax code a tax subsidy for people who raise thoroughbred horses. i love horses. i like going to race tracks. but to think we're going to subsidize them at the expense of medicaid recipients, the poorest children in america, makes no sense. and then my colleague from new york, senator schumer, talks about tax subsidies for people who own yachts. for goodness sakes, if we can't float the boat of middle america, help working families across this country survive, why in the world are we giving a tax subsidy to yacht owners? my friend from rhode island who came here and talked about
10:28 am
corporate jet deductibility, i'm sorry, i ride jet planes, but they're commercial jets. and the fact that united united airlines and the rest don't enjoy the same tax treatment as the rest of business america and their yachts is wrong. it is a subsidy we cannot afford. we shouldn't be subsidizing high fliers in america when the republican budget is calling for us to end medicare as we know it. it makes no sense. there's one other provision in the tax code that i really find troubling. mr. president, we literally subsidize american companies that want to ship jobs overseas. we give them one of the biggest tax breaks in the tax code to leave america, put their production facilities overseas. so what's happening? take a look at what's happened since the year 1999 in the number of foreign employees of u.s. multinational corporations.
10:29 am
it goes up every single year, now up to ten million foreign employees of american corporations. now take a look at the u.s. employees of these same multinational corporations over the same period of time. since the year 2000, the number of american employees of u.s. multinational corporations has continued to go down, almost without exception. it isn't just a matter of companies saying if we build a production facility overseas, it's the right economic judgment for our business. it's a matter of a u.s. tax code that rewards them if they do it. what's wrong with this picture? why aren't we rewarding patriotic american corporations whose owners stay in this country, employ our people, pay a decent wage with benefits, and want to prosper here? shouldn't that be our highest priority rather than encouraging
10:30 am
companies to move production overseas by giving them tax breaks? well, it's an issue i feel strongly about. i want to end the subsidies to ship american jobs overseas. at a time when we're facing unemployment in record numbers in some parts of our country, we should have a tax code that helps companies create and save jobs in america. i ask my friends on the republican side of the aisle: do you want to stand for the subsidies that ship american jobs overseas or do you want to stand by american workers and patriotic american companies that want to stay right here at home and create jobs? those are the choices. and anyone on the other side of the aisle who argues that to eliminate tax subsidies is to raise taxes, come on. what we're doing is giving a tax earmark, a tax special favor to those who are benefiting, whether they own yachts, race
10:31 am
horses, whether they are trying to ship jobs overseas. these are the folks that i think have got to be willing to step up and sacrifice so that we can reduce our deficit and do it in a meaningful way. i see my colleague from maryland is here, and i at this point yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i come to the floor today to really talk about the crisis that america is facing, and we really are facing two crises. we're facing a significant debt crisis, and we are facing a significant political leadership crisis. we need to deal with both, and we need to be sure that all
10:32 am
things are on the table and all people are at the table trying to find sensible, pragmatic solutions to be able to move our country forward and stablize our economy so that we can grow our economy. now, i want to talk first about the debt crisis, then i'm going to talk about what we need to do to act like americans. mr. president, i'm for a more frugal government, and we have been voting on cuts in discretionary spending. i supported the ban on discretionary spending earmarks. you were a reform their that area. i joined with you in that area. i also voted for 41 billion cuts in the continuing resolution. in april i voted for $78 billion more in cuts. i wanted to avoid a tea party shutdown and work for this more frugal government. but now we have to lift the debt
10:33 am
ceiling, and in order do that have a path forward on dealing with both deficit and debt. but in order to do that, we need to, just as we cut the earmarks on discretionary spending, we've got to cut the tax break earmarks, those tax break earmarks that have gone to the well-connected but who are disconnected from how we can help our economy grow. i never thought a budget deal would be easy, but i thought we could agree on a few key principles. well, we haven't. the republicans want to close social security offices. i want to close tax loopholes. they want to get rid of teachers. i want to get rid of sacred cows. and that's why i voted last week to end the tax break on ethanol production. wow! talk about a tax break earmark.
10:34 am
it is an ethanol, and it has serious consequences to our budget. it's also artificially raised the cost of corn. so what does that mean to bar br mikulski? now, one of the most important industries on my eastern shore is poultry. poultry has helped make maryland great and provided jobs for thousands of marylanders, people who work hard, get dirt under their fingernaicialtion salute the flag. well, they want us to act like we salute the flag and work under the flag. corn is now $7 a bushel. i have got companies that have been around for over 100 years filing bankruptcy. well, i can't allow that to go on. we've got to get rid of the artificial subsidies and deal with this. and use that money to go into deficit reduction. so i want part of any agreement that we make to make sure that
10:35 am
ethanol is eliminating the tax break earmark on ethanol to also be in the budget. i also want to get rid of oil and gas tax breaks. gas has reached in many parts of my state $4 a gallon. yet, at the same time, the five biggest oil companies made $36 billion in profits in the first three month months. three months they made $36 billion. well, companies making billions in profits should again pay their fair share. we democrats voted to end those subsidies and devote $2 billion a year to deficit reduction. now, the republicans want to keep tax break earmarks. i want to get rid of tax break earmarks. but they refuse to end these giveaways. there are others. senator durbin spoke eloquently
10:36 am
about the tax breaks to send jobs overseas. those jobs have left. they opponent on a slow boat to china, a fast track to mexico. other jobs are in dial anywhere but in the u.s.a. we have got have a patriotic tax code where we invest the money here at home. we legally give the tax cheats money. we take the money of people who worked in manufacturing, who pay taxes and when they paid those taxes, we give subsidies to send their jobs overseas. wow, no wonder people are mad at congress. they ought to be mad at congress. but i worry about the consequence also of default. you know, mr. president, when i go around maryland, they don't understand what this means. they think when we raise the debt ceiling that it's going to raise their interest rates on
10:37 am
like their credit card, their student loan, their mortgage in some way if they have a variable rate. oh, my gosh, it's just really something. we need to really make in plain english what this means. the fact that the united states of america might not pay its bills on august 3? this is frightening. this is frightening from the standpoint of national honor. america should pay its bills. it's always paid its bills. and it's also it's important for our economy. the consequences could be draconian, unprecedented, even well beyond the armageddon of the great depression. we could on august 3 not be able to pay our social security benefits. we could not be able to pay our veterans' benefits. this is shocking. we can't allow this to happen. so we've got to come to the table. that's why i said at the opening
10:38 am
of my remarks, we all have to bety table and all things have to be -- we all have to be at the table and all things have to be on the table. now i'm going to talk about political leadership. i'm going to talk about all of us at the table. i lived through a very serious crisis when ronald reagan was president. and ronald reagan, tip o'neill, and howard baker provided the political leadership. it was tough, and it was scary. in 1982 we were scared that we could not meet our obligations, that our social security checks would go out. the trust fund was running on fumes. america faced the fact that we would go into default with our senior citizens. president reagan provided leadership. i didn't agree with everything president reagan wanted to offer, but he said, we have to put america first. he called up his friend tip o'neill. tip o'neill brought democrats to the table and bob byrd was our
10:39 am
leader in the house. those two men stood together, as americans, not as democrats. turned to bob dole, chairing the finance committee, and howard baker. they came to the table, not as republicans but as americans. that's what we need now. we have to come to the table as americans. i love being a democrat. my family were democrats. we're going to be democrats forever. but what i love more is being an american. i got into politics as a protester. in other countries they would have thrown me in prison. here they put me into politics to stand up for the people. i would not have been able to go to college, i would not have been able to pursue the american dream. i love america and i want america to have a great future ahead of it. we have to stop acting like, are we the red party and the blue party. we've got to start being aing like we are the red, white, and
10:40 am
blue parted. i've heard about these pledges to grover no norquist. i take a pledge to the flag of the united states, one nation, indivisible, under god, with liberty and justice -- justice, justice, justice -- for all. that's what we need to do. i take an oath, too. it is on the constitution, to protect and defend the people and the law that governs it. now, let's get real here and let's realize who our first pledge is to. so i say to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: you go back to your republican history books. read what ronald reagan did in 1982. read what republican leadership did in 1982. i will do the same for democrats. when tip o'neill brought us to the table, i had to make tough votes. we draining strong medicine. but he know what? at the end of the day, we made
10:41 am
our obligations. seniors got their checks. we got the social security trust fund in there, and out of that crisis became a stronger economy and a better america. we can do it. but let's realize who we take our pledge to, and mine will always be not to the democratic party but to the united states of america. so let's be at the table and put all things on the table. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:42 am
10:43 am
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia is recognized. mr. isakson: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call being vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. isakson: thank you very much, mr. president. i rise for a moment during this period of morning business to talk about wharve is talking about, that's the crisis with
10:44 am
our debt ceiling, the approaching the deadline that we have, and what we should do. last night, as i thought about what i would say this morning, i thought back to that horrible month of september and october of 2008 when the greatest financial crisis since the great depression hit the united states of america. i was a member of the senate, and i was here the night the tarp vote came before us to try and salvage and save the financial system of the united states. probably the toughest vote i ever toofnlgt as time has proven, it was the right vote to take because we did stablize the financial system of but at that time we were reacting to a crisis that we were not in control of. today we've crisis that we're totally in control of. it is ironic to me that 35 days before the deadline of august 2, we're fiddling around in the senate arguing with each other when we should be talking to each other, looking at those things that we can do to avert a crisis and to move forward. i see my leaders come to the floor, so i'm going to shorten my remarks a little so he can have his full time. but i want to make this point.
10:45 am
this is a crisis in which we are control, unlike 2508. we can make a difference. and the balanced budget amendment that's been proposed by the republican conference of this senate is the straitjacket and the discipline we all need. when i was a state legislator for 17 years we had a program in children's drug abuse called "just say no" where we taught kids not use them. we need a way for congress to say "just say no to spending." it's the type of discipline almost every state in the united states imposes upon itself. in georgia we can't deficit spend because our constitution won't let us. we can't borrow more than 10% of our budget because the constitution will not let us. those are the types of disciplines the united states congress needs. so i end before i yield to the leader with the way i have begun, when the financial crisis hit in september 2008, we were dealing with issues upon which we had no control.
10:46 am
today we are dealing with an issue upon which we have total control. it's time we put in the straitjacket, the procedures and the process to balance the budget in the united states of america and run our country like every american family has to run their budget. and now i'll yield the floor to the leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i'd like to say a word about the president's press conference yesterday. what i heard him propose is that we solve the debt crisis by spending more money. solve the debt crisis by spending more money. and that we solve the jobs
10:47 am
crisis by raising taxes. solve a jobs crisis by raising taxes. i want to know, is there a single member of congress, democrat or republican, who thinks it's a good idea to raise hundreds of billions of dollars in new job-killing taxes at a time when 14 million americans are out of work. i haven't heard from any of them, but that's what the president was trying to defend yesterday. who really thinks the answer to a $1.6 trillion deficit is a second stimulus? that the answer is more deficit spending? where in the world did that idea come from? that's what the president was trying to defend yesterday. look, the president needs to get serious about this. he said yesterday that reducing the deficit grows the economy.
10:48 am
that part of his press conference he got right. reducing the deficit grows the economy. his own small business administration has told him not to enact one of the tax hikes he was now proposing at the press conference yesterday. this is what they said over at the s.b.a., it could force many small businesses to close, close their doors. 14 million people out of work, and he wants to take an action that would force small businesses across the country to close? that's his vision of shared sacrifice? i think the american worker has sacrificed quite enough already. besides, all of us know that congress isn't going to approve hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes. it's simply not going to happen. we've known that for six months, and we've been saying it all along. the president does not seem to
10:49 am
get it. so let me do something that i think would be constructive. i'd like to invite the president to come to the capitol today to meet with senate republicans. any time this afternoon he's available, to come on up to the capitol and meet with senate republicans. that way he can hear directly from senate republicans, directly from senate republicans why what he's proposing will not pass. so i invite him to come on up today and meet with senate republicans, hear directly from them, and we can discuss what he has in mind. and we can start talking about maybe finally start talking about what's actually possible. the president says he wants to get working, wants us to get working. i can't think of a better way than to have him come right on
10:50 am
over today. we're waiting. and hear directly from our conference about the legislative realities in congress right now. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
10:51 am
10:52 am
10:53 am
10:54 am
10:55 am
10:56 am
10:57 am
the presiding officer: the senator from south dakota is recognized. a senator: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that it be dispensed with and also ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to pwer into a colloquy with my colleagues. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: our nation faces permanent deficits unless we can get a handle on our finances. i've got a chart here which shows what i think our future is going to look like if we stay on the current trajectory. the path leads us to higher debt and g.d.p. we're in unprecedented territory already. you have to go back to world war ii to find a time when we had this kind of debt to g.d.p. as the chart shows, we're going to face an ever-increasing burden of debt, without shoring up our finances, we know what our future is and what it's going to look like in this country. just this week we saw the country of greece had to approve an austerity package to be eligible for their next
10:58 am
disbursement of a multibillion-dollar bailout loan from the i.m.f. and other european countries. the austerity package included 28.4 billion euros and spending cuts and tax increases. that's exactly what happens if we don't do anything. we're going to be faced at a time when we will be faced with massive cuts in spending, massive tax increases if we don't get our fiscal house in order. that isn't necessary, mr. president, because there is a better way to solve this problem. instead of more debt and more spending, we could pass a balanced budget amendment that would prevent us from spending more than we take in. we know what the effect of this is on our future as well. we have states all across this country, 49 states that have some type of balanced budget requirement, including my home state of south dakota. it's the reason why our state's budget is always balanced. our shrepblgs slay tour can't go -- our legislature can't go home until that happens. we need that discipline here in washington, d.c., and a balanced budget amendment would bring
10:59 am
that. i have with me on the floor a colleague from the state of nebraska, senator johanns, who also served as his state's governor. i think, my understanding is at least that the senator from nebraska, when he was governor, had a balanced budget requirement in their constitution. and i wonder if you could explain what effect that had on your state and whether it forced you to make some of the tough choices that are necessary to get the budget balanced. mr. johanns: thank you. i appreciate the opportunity to speak about a topic that i think has made all the difference in the world for my state, the state of nebraska. i did have the privilege a few years back of serving as the governor of the state of nebraska until i came out to join the cabinet as secretary of agriculture. and i served about six years. before that, i was the mayor of our state capital, the community
11:00 am
of lincoln, a great community. we followed the same pattern really at the governor's office that i did at the mayor's office. we governed with a simple principle: we did not spend money that we did not have. before i talk about the balanced budget amendment, let me just explain to you how that worked as mayor of lincoln. my budget staff would go to work. they worked on the budget pretty much yearround, really it was a year-round endeavor, and at some point in the process, i would get a stack of paperwork that was about an inch thick with line after line after line after line of items that they were proposing that we needed to spend money on to keep the city running. and there would be everything from place cars to whatever to
11:01 am
salaries. imagine what it takes to run a city and it would be on that list. i would go through it item by item, page by page, studying each entry, and ultimately reaching the conclusion for each entry, yes, i believe this is necessary to keep our city going. well, somewhere in that thick stack of paperwork i would turn over the page and i would come to a page where there was a red line drawn through the items, and the significance of that red line was thaferg above that red line -- was that everything above that red line we had money for. everything below that red line, there was no money for. and so if the next entry below the red line was something that i really wanted to see happen, then what i had to do as the chief executive of that community was to cut spending to
11:02 am
eliminate something else. because, you see, when i went to the city council, i couldn't go to them and say for operations we're going to borrow a whole bunch of money. well, it didn't really change at all when i became the governor of the state of nebraska. our constitution requires a balanced budget. and it's very, very straightforward. it just basically says you can't spend more than what's coming in. you can't buy things that you don't have money for. but let me add another piece to this that makes our state quite a bit different i think than virtually any other state in the united states. you see, way back when when our constitution was written, those who sat down to write the constitution with amazing foresight said you know, at some
11:03 am
point politicians in their passion to get re-elected are going to say to the people you can have all of this and then finance it by borrowing money. well, they didn't want that. so literally, there is a provision in the constitution that in essence says you can't borrow any money. i think the limit is like like $50,000 or $100,000, and that's it. you know, if you drive across the roads in nebraska, i want to point out to you that they're paid for. why? because we don't spend money we don't have. our constitution will not allow us to do it. and so year after year when we get together, we look at the priorities of the state.
11:04 am
it might be education. it might be something relative to human services, it might be roads, whatever it is, and the executive branch, me as governor working with the legislature would decide what we are going to fund and at what level. and i could guarantee people of nebraska that three things would happen by the end of the legislative session. number one, a budget would be passed. number two, it would be balanced. and number three, we would not borrow money for those first two things to happen. a budget would be passed and it would be balanced and we weren't going to borrow money to make that happen. and that's been going on for decades and decades and decades.
11:05 am
now, some are out there probably ready to rush down here to the floor and say oh, mike, that sounds so backward. and here's what i have to say. during this very difficult economic time, all of us agree it's been one of the toughest times since the depression. unemployment in nebraska has not gone over 5%. unemployment today in nebraska is 4.1%. let me say that a bit differently. 96% of people able to work in nebraska have a job. 96%. our legislature this year actually recessed early -- and i believe i remember this correctly. they unanimously passed the
11:06 am
state budget. there's democrats in the legislature, there's republicans in the legislature, there's independents. how did they do that? they did that because they felt it a responsibility to the state and to their constitution to get a budget done to make sure it's balanced and not to borrow money to get there. now, let me contrast that with what's happening out here. what's happening out here is for decades and decades and decades, we as the federal government have said to the people don't you worry. we can be all things to all people. we can give you this. we can give you that. because we have got a big credit card. well, that credit card today is now at $14.5 trillion and
11:07 am
growing. growing and growing and growing. and when i go back home and do town hall meetings and i look across the room and i see young people there or children, it pains me to tell them that i know who is going to be responsible to pay the credit card off. not mike johanns who turns 61 this year, although it should be my responsibility, it's going to be our children and our grandchildren who have their own priorities, their own desires, their own wishes. and yet, they are going to be saddled with trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars of debt before they can even address their priorities. i'll end with this thought. what's the merit of a balanced budget amendment? well, when i was 20 years old,
11:08 am
our nation owed $380 billion. $380 billion. it is projected that when i reach 65, just four short years from now, our nation will owe owe $20 trillion. it is time to be honest with the american people. you won't solve this problem unless you put discipline in place like our states have done, like the great state of nebraska has done that essentially says year after year, president after president, senator after senator, house member after house member, you're going to have to live within your means. and that's what the balanced budget is about. because, you see, without that, there will be always a way to
11:09 am
get around it to do something and not accept the responsibility of running this country with fiscal responsibility. mr. thune: well, i appreciate the comments from my colleague from nebraska as an executive, both as a mayor and a governor, he obviously has had to make the hard decisions that are necessary to get the books to balance in his -- in -- both in the city of lincoln and of nebraska. it strikes me that as you have observed, the economic circumstances in which the state of nebraska finds itself today are so much better than other places around the country. granted, there are lots of factors that contribute to that, part of it i think has to do with the -- the business climate and -- in some states around the country, but clearly also a function of the discipline that the state of nebraska imposes on itself through this balanced
11:10 am
budget amendment and the decisions that the leaders in that state both legislators and governor make in order to make that possible. and so the senator from nebraska's experience i think is very valuable in helping us shape the debate that ought to occur here on a balanced budget amendment. and i would say that one of the features of the balanced budget amendment that we're both cosponsoring is that it caps spending at 18% of our entire economy. and that's not a number that's picked out of thin air. that's a number that comes from a historical level of taxation for the past 40 years. and in the past, the past five times that the budget was balanced here in washington -- and bear in mind, five times probably in the last four years -- spending averaged just under 18.7% of g.d.p. not too far off from what the balanced budget requirement, the cap that would be imposed under this amendment would require. and further, we know that in 2007, a year in which we had tax laws that are very similar to current tax laws, revenue was
11:11 am
18.5% of g.d.p. so if we could constrain spending to 18% of our entire economic output, we would be able to balance the budget without raising taxes. now, our colleagues on the other side seem to think that -- continue to claim the problem could be fixed if we had only raised taxes on a few rich people, tax corporate jets, tax -- stop giving tax breaks to american energy production, those sorts of things. the truth is that the tax proposals from democrats put only a relatively minor debt in the deficit. to truly balance the budget through tax increases, you would have to see astronomical rate increases that would hit not only high-income earners and corporations but middle class and small businesses as well. so this is clearly not what the american people want. it's not what i want. simply raising taxes on job creators isn't going to improve our economy. it's only going to hurt it more. tax increases aren't the only threat to our economy. we also know that these current levels of debt are costing us about a million jobs a year as
11:12 am
well and that these debt levels are only predicted to increase. i guess i would ask my colleague from nebraska, in his experience as a governor, as a mayor, whether or not when it came time to make these hard decisions about balancing the budget, did the notion of raising revenues, increasing taxes come into play, because i'm sure that was a debate that always was raised. it always is. you can either reduce the amount of spending or you can raise taxes on someone, and it strikes me the problem we have here in washington is not that we don't have enough revenue. we have got plenty of revenue. we have just got too much spending. and i'm curious to know in the state of nebraska if of that what his experience was in terms of this debate that we have here about more taxes or less spending. mr. johanns: we adopted the philosophy in the state of nebraska that we wanted to be job creators. we wanted to have that low unemployment, and so we recognize that it's not
11:13 am
government that's going to create the jobs. after all, people don't want a bigger, grander, greater state government or federal government, for that matter. but our responsibility was to create the right climate so a small business had an opportunity to grow and expand, that a large employer, looking across the united states for a great place to locate would know that they had an opportunity to grow and expand a business in the state of nebraska. and so we fought like tooth and nail. and i will give you a current example. if you dial the clock back to about november of last year, you would see that our current governor, david heineman, was faced with a great challenge. he had about a billion dollars that he had to somehow make up to balance the budget over a
11:14 am
two-year cycle. now, for a state like nebraska, that is a powerful amount of money. you know, in washington where we talk about trillion dollar programs like stimulus, et cetera, that may not sound like much, but it's a huge amount of money in our state. now, i suppose our governor could have said well, if we just hit the taxpayer here more and hit the taxpayer there more, then all of this will balance out. but he adopted very much the opposite view, which is exactly what i expect of governor heineman, and he said we're going to balance the budget and we're going to do it without raising taxes. and, you know, when you think about it, that philosophy is absolutely right. you know, families are tightening their belt, they're balancing their budget, they're doing everything they can, they're suffering through economic times that are tough. why would you hit them harder?
11:15 am
why would you go to your family so our -- to your families who are already struggling and saying i have got to take more money out of your bill fold and send it to the state capital? and so he led and he stepped forward and he said here's a plan to deliver a balanced budget. and you know what? he didn't send somebody else to go into that room. he went himself and said, this is the plan that i believe in for the future of our state. and threfs through every minute, every hour, every second of the legislative session. and at the end of it, with no tax increases, they balanced the budget, and like i said, i'll have to check this, but if memory serves me correctly, i think that plan passed unanimously. and in our state legislature, we
11:16 am
have members who are more liberal than others, more conservative, we have some more democrats, some who are republicans. but you know what? our chief executive led. and, again, i draw a sharp contrast here. there is one nationally elected official in our nation, and we call him "mr. president." the president pays the filing fee and convinces the nation that he or she is the right person to occupy that office, and there is no substitute for their leadership. we need to have our chief executive, the man we call "mr. president," deliver a plan that he believes is the right direction for our country. and that is the key to this issue. now, i will be very clear. i like the plan of governor hineman.
11:17 am
in tough times you pull back. when the revenues are a little bit better, you can do some things and establish some new priorities. but what happens out here is there is no prioritization. it's just spend on everything, spend on everything that walks by, and someday our kids and grandkids are going to have to pay off the credit card. and i just don't think that's right. mr. thune: i thank the senator from nebraska for his observations about that. in just a minute, i want to turn to the ranking member of the senate budget committee to talk about setting priorities. i do want to point out in the course of this discussion, however, that what you have said is exactly right. you cut spending, and you grow the economy. one of the things you need to do you is got to create jobs, you got to get economic expansion doing. the way not to do that is to raise taxes. that's the prescription that many of our colleagues on the other side would like.
11:18 am
that is absolutely the opposite thing that you would do when you've got a down economy and you're trying to create jobs. so what we ought to be looking at is how do we reduce the size of government, get us living within our means and getting the economy growing and expanding again and creating jobs? i want to point out one thing. we've all -- we're planning right now, to the extent there is any planning going on -- and without a budget it is very do i have prioritize -- but there are expectations about what revenues will be for the foreseeable future. there was an interesting piece in "the wall street journal" earlier this week written by larry lindsey, a former federal reserve governor, who pointed out that the current predictions for debts and deficits in the very coming -- in the coming years are very, very optimistic, for couple of reasons. one is that the white house and the c.b.o. are using very optimistic numbers for growth in our economy. and while i hope that they're correccorrect, i am concerned tt
11:19 am
they could be very much overstating the economy. if more realistic numbers were used what larry lindsey recognized is that the debt numbers could jump by an additional $4 trillion over the next ten years by assuming a more historic growth level, given the times that we've been through. at the same time, you know, the president and the c.b.o. are also predicting that interest rates are going to remain much lower than they have historically. what mr. lindsey pointed out, is if interest rates set to what are the historical archls, it would cost us an additional $4.9 trillion over the next ten years more to finance our debt than what we're currently expecting. so those two factors alone would have ands 8.9 trillion -- would have an $8.9 trillion negative impact on these foac forecasts t
11:20 am
decade. he point utah out that the new health care law is another hidden significant cost. if you whrook at what employers are being faced with many are going to choose to dump their employees into these public exchanges and you'll see the additional costs of $74 billion to $85 billion over the next ten years. you start adding that up, you add in the economic growth asum shons, assuming that they -- and again i hope that they are right -- but assuming that they are wrong, and you have lower levels of growth -- if we have more realistic interest rates in terms of historical averages, these long-term predictions are just -- just get awful in a real huer rism the nice thing about having a balanced budget amendment is you are forced to make those decisions every year. instead of 2k50e dealing with te long-term predictions, each and
11:21 am
every yiesh the budget has to be balanced. iif there are fictional savings from these independent payment advisory boards that be being created, and those aren't realized, the budget has got to be balanced. if taxes don't produce as much ref niewrks the budget has got to be balanced. this is the very simple solution that as the senator point you had out, so many states have come to. so many states have conclude thawfd a got have some kind of rirnlt to battle busmght it is the most powerful fiscal reform that we could ever have here. we have got credit rating agencies that are questioning our long-term budget outlook. if we did a bearntle i think that there wouldn't be -- if we did a balanced budget amendment, i think that there wouldn't be any question that we wouldn't be able to pay our bills. in 1987 there was a vote on a balanced budget amendment at
11:22 am
that time. we didn't vote on it in the house because the senate voted on it fimplets the senate came within one single vote of passing a balanced budget amendment. had they done that, we would have been able to pass it in the house. we had the votes for t we could have sent it on to the states. i can't help thinking how different our fiscal situation would be today if they had that one additional vote back in 1997 to get us a balanced budget amendment. now, many of our colleagues here campaigned on a balanced budget amendment, but the -- you know, hopefully when we get a chance to vote on it -- and i hope we do in the next few weeks -- we'll see whether or not the rhetoric matches up with the actions here. but all that to say we've got a major, major fiscal challenge face this country, for all the reasons the senator from nebraska noted, we are handing our children a burden of debt that is not fair to them, trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars. we have got to bring some discipline to the process of budgeting around here, and what's unfortunate -- and this is i didn't want to turn to our colleague from alabama because he is the ranking member on the
11:23 am
senate budget committee -- we have done nothing to prioritize spending. we have not passed a budget for 792 days. let alone one that actually balances. and so my state of south dakota spends annually about $3 billion. this federal government borrows $4 billion every single day. the borrowing of the federal fel government exceeds in one day what the state of south dakota spends in an entire year. that is the dimension of the problem that we are dealing with. all that being said, it's been 792 days since we produced a budget here in the united states senate. so i would say to my colleague from alabama, clearly this is a problem that needs to be addressed. wouldn't you say that this is reflective of the lack of political courage, the lack of
11:24 am
political will the lack of discipline around here? we've got colleagues on the other side that say we don't need a balanced budget amendment. all we've got to do is balance the budget. well, where is it? and where is the budget that's supposed to balance? it's not happening. so i think the balanced budget amendment is a simple, straightforward way in which to deal with a massive, massive challenge facing us in the future, and we need some discipline imposed upon federal spending, on the congress, that so many states have, and as the senator from nebraska pointed out, as the governor of his state, he was able to exercise. i would ask my colleague from alabama his thoughts about where we are with regard to the budget and is our lack of discipline here, you know, not -- i should say, is our lack of willingness to pass a budget not a reflection of the lack of discipline that exists in the congress today and an unwillingness to make the hard choices necessary to get in
11:25 am
fiscal train back on track? mr. sessions: thank you, senator thune. thank you so much for your comments and that of senator johanns. you're raising a fundamental question. we've never, ever been in a financial situation in our country that systemically, deeply dangerous as we are today. you go through a washings you borrow a lot of money. you go through a recession, maybe your debt goes up some. but we're systemically in a recession, but we're ness a long-term prlong-term projectiot year the democratic majority moved a budget out of committee. senator thune is a member of that budget committee. and he remembers that debate. senator reid declared that he
11:26 am
wasn't going to bring it up. it was never brought up on the floor of the senate and even debated. this year apparently the majority leader decided once again we would not have a budget and directed that the budget committee not even mark up a budget. so we've not even commenced work on a budget this year. indeed, the majority leader said it was foolish for the country to have a budget this year, which is stunning since during the 792 days we've been without a budget, the debt of the united states has increased some $2 trillion. that's a stunning, stunning thing. so, yes, i believe that history shows in the past and based on the real crisis we face in the future, there's never been a more important time for us to do what so many states do: have a balanced budget amendment that requires us each year to
11:27 am
balance that budget. i really believe this is the right thing for us, and it would be so much better for our country. senator johanns is here, and he talked about executive leadership. you and senator thune were talking about, just how dangerous the debt path we're on is. how much greater it was in nebraska's situation, alabama has had to cut spending -- we're not cutting spending at all, haven't been. we're increasing spending here. but i guess i wanted to ask you a very serious question: do you feel like the first responsibility of the chief executive of the united states, the president, would be to honestly tell the american people that this is not just a political dustup but that we are facing a very serious debt crisis that could actually put
11:28 am
us into an economic tailspin again, knock us down again, and the debt numbers we're seeing would look even worse? do you feel like he has to responsibility and do you feel feel like it's been met? johannesburmr. johanns: senators raises an excellent point. having really served in the executive branch pretty much exclusively until i came to the senate two years ago, there is only one leader, and i not only believe that the executive -- in this case, the president of the united states -- has that responsibility but i feel very, very strongly that that responsibility has not been discharged. i fully appreciate the need to go out there and drive a message and get votes and get yourself
11:29 am
elected or reelected. that, of course, is what democracy is all about. but there is a point at which the election is over, and that needs to be set aside. and there needs to be someone who can lead on behalf of the entire united states. we are all united states senators, but it is the people of nebraska who vote for me. we only have one nationally elected official, and that is the gentleman that i referred to previously who's called "mr. president." there is no substitute for that, not in our system of government. it is absolutely incumbent upon the president to lay out, in terms that united states citizens can understand, what we are facing.
11:30 am
i'll just be very candid. i could not be more disappointed with the president's comments yesterday. and it's his podium. he's free to talk about whatever he chooses to talk about. and he doesn't need the advice of mike johanns. but i will at the you what a great opportunity that was to talk about the dire situation of our budget and to lay out in stark detail what bring brings o this situation. and invite the american people to understand the difficulty we are facing, and most importantly to put a plan out that the president stands behind. now, let me tell you what happened this year. the president put out a plan. the plan came to the floor of the senate, and it was so disregarded, it did not get a single vote.
11:31 am
it wasn't a serious plan. no one took it as a serious plan. now, think about that. no republican, no democrat, no independent, no liberal, no mfort, no moderate said this is the right plan for the future of this great nation, not a single one in this united states senate. that's a very, very serious situation for our nation. it is time to be serious about this and to present a serious proposal that makes the hard choices. don't tell me that you can solve this problem by, well, everybody's going to pay higher taxes that makes over a certain level. i did the math on that. when i first heard that, i said okay, let me understand that better. if you earn over $250,000 a year, what would the tax rate
11:32 am
have to be for those earners just to balance the budget for that year? i'm not talking about the massive amount of debt that lies in front of our children and grandchildren just to balance the budget that year. the tax rate, 90%. and it has gotten worse because our deficit has grown to to $1.6 trillion. 90%, and actually i think if i redid that math, it would be closer to 100%. well, that may be a great political talking point. it may be tested, it may be polled, it may be a 70% talking point, it may be an 80% talking point, but i tell you what, it isn't going to solve the problem that this nation faces. it just simply isn't.
11:33 am
it just isn't the pathway that deals with the massive problem that we have, and there is no one else who can speak to the nation like the president of the united states. senator sessions can't, senator johanns can't, senator mcconnell and senator reid, with all of their stature cannot either. that bully pulpit is unique to the president of the united states, and we have yet to see that responsibility met. mr. sessions: i thank the senator, former governor, for those comments, and i -- i do believe that it's difficult for congress to ask the american people to make sacrifice if the president really doesn't acknowledge clearly and articulately the deep crisis we are in and why those sacrifices have to be made. it's not that we want to, it's
11:34 am
because we don't have the money and we have to make some changes in what we do. that's why a number of us are called on the majority leader reid to not recess next week and stay here and do something about the debt. i understand we may now be staying here next week, but i'm not at all sure the plan is to deal with anything involving the greatest threat to our nation, which is our debt. apparently, they want to talk about other issues. that wasn't what drove the concern. it wasn't about a patent bill, much as i would like to see it pass. that wasn't what we were concerned about when we said we need to be in next week. it's about the fact that by the end of this month, maybe the first of august, we'll see a monumental bill of some kind produced by the democratic majority in the senate brought
11:35 am
out here and we're going to be asked to vote for it in a matter of hours, being told every minute that the country is about to sink into oblivion if we don't just sign it and vote for it, not knowing fully what's in it, not fully having studied it, and the american people not knowing what's in it. that is wrong policy. we object to that. i believe the regular order in this senate should be conducted, that we ought to have a proposal brought forth so it can be amended, so it can be analyzed, so it can be accounted for, how much taxes is going to be raised by the president, what taxes does he propose to raise, what does senator reid want to do? let's see those numbers and let's debate them and let's have amendments. that's why we need to be here next week, not to deal with a patent bill or some other legislation. that's why we called on it, and
11:36 am
i'm prepared to work and i think our colleagues are, but it needs to be on something significant. and this history of our congress and the surging debt crisis that we face is so significant that we have to have a balanced budget constitutional amendment. we almost passed that before. we would have been so much better had we done so. let's do it this time and change the course of our country. nothing clears the mind so well as the absence of alternatives, and when senators and congressmen have no alternative but to live within their means, they will figure out a way to do it. but if they can find an alternative, history tells us too often we will and we'll act irresponsibly. i thank the chair and would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from texas is
11:37 am
recognized. mr. cornyn: mr. president, may i inquire how much time remains? the presiding officer: seven minutes and 25 seconds. mr. cornyn: i thank the chair. mr. president, i was frankly shocked by the president of the united states' comments yesterday at his press conference telling congress it needed to get to work. get to work. i guess the president forgot that his party controls the united states senate, and republicans being in the minority have no ability to place matters on the agenda or to force a vote on issues over the objection of senator reid, the majority leader, and the democrats who control the senate. i guess the thing that rankled me so much, mr. president, is rather than hold a press conference and tell senator reid to get to work on the budget, the president should have picked up his telephone or invited senator reid to come to his office and say harry, we need to
11:38 am
pass a budget. we need to take care of this debt crisis, we need to take care of this cliff that we're getting ready to fall off of august 2 that secretary geithner has warned us would have perhaps calamitous impact on markets and on the economy and on interest rates charged on our national debt, among other things. i guess the most galling thing, listening to the president make this kind of outrageous speech, engaging in blatant electioneering, campaigning sort of rhetoric, class raiser, is that this comes from a person who since january, 2011, has had 21 fundraisers, including one tonight in philadelphia. i wonder if he's going to cancel his fundraiser in philadelphia tonight to meet with senator mcconnell and speaker boehner
11:39 am
to try to work on this threat that he was so emphatic about yesterday. i predict he won't cancel his fundraiser in philadelphia tonight to get to work on something that only he can do, which is to negotiate a grand bargain with republicans and democrats that will solve this problem. well, we know he had time on monday to videotape an appeal to his donors who wanted to solicit donations from people so they might win a dinner with president obama and the vice president barack obama. he had time to do that. yet, it wasn't until monday of this week that the president himself first took ownership of this issue after majority leader kantor and assistant leader kyl said, you know what, we really
11:40 am
can't negotiate with the vice president because they keep insisting on raising taxes and we just are not going to go there. and so the president had his first meeting with republican leader mcconnell and the majority leader to talk about this issue that he was flailing congress about not doing its job yesterday. frankly, he should be embarrassed, but unfortunately the threshold for embarrassment here in washington seems to be much higher than the rest of the country. the president said that republicans were blocking the deal on the debt limit because they had taken tax increases off the table. well, that's right, we believe it's a terrible mistake. with unemployment at 9.1%, much higher in many regions of the country to raise taxes on the very people who you're depending on to create jobs.
11:41 am
what's his message to people who can't find a job because people aren't hiring? what's his messenger to people who are out of work and they can't pay their home mortgage and they lose their home? well, it's higher taxes. let's just raise taxes and everything will be just fine. we don't have a taxing shortfall. the american people pay plenty of taxes already. what we have is a spending binge by the federal government. tax revenue is roughly 18% of our gross domestic product, but spending is 25%. hence, the $1.5 trillion deficit this year and the $14.3 trillion debt so far which threatens our nation's future. well, it frankly rankles many of
11:42 am
us to have the president engage in such blatant demagoguery and blame shifting when he himself is unwilling to take responsibility for his duties, which are to lead by example. we're ready to work with the president to try to solve the nation's problems. the house has passed a proposal. it's not perfect. i don't necessarily agree with all of it, but there are plenty of other proposals out there that will fix the nation's fiscal problems, one of which is the president's own fiscal commission itself. he appointed it. a bipartisan fiscal commission that reported back in december entitled moment of truth, otherwise known as the bowles-simpson commission, a bipartisan commission the president appointed himself, but he's ignored it. there is another one, the
11:43 am
domenici-rivlin commission. another committee, another bipartisan commission that made recommendations. the president has ignored it. ignored it. well, the president yesterday said -- quote -- "call me naive, but my expectation that leaders are going to lead." that's what the president himself had the gall to say yesterday to the american people when he himself has displayed an astounding lack of leadership. like i said, we're ready to work with the president. i know senator mcconnell invited him to come over to congress and explain how this increase in taxes was somehow going to create more jobs in america, how we were going to solve the problems with medicare, which is going to run out of money in a little more than a decade, and i hope the president takes him up on that
11:44 am
invitation. you know, it's not a partisan issue really. secretary of state hillary clinton says our national debt sends a message of weakness internationally. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mullen, said that the single greatest threat to our national security is our debt. if america goes broke, how are we going to pay for our national defense and security, that not only americans depend on but so many countries around the world depend on america being strong to protect them from tyrants and dictators and terrorists. but if our economy goes bust, if interest rates go up to historic norms, we could spiral out of control, our economy. but there is not going to be a bailout for the united states of america. our economy is simply too big. the international monetary fund,
11:45 am
the europeans, others are not going to bail us out while we continue to spend recklessly, about 43 cents out of every dollar in money borrowed from these young men and women here sitting in front of me, from every baby born in america today comes into this world with with $46,000 in debt. it's irresponsible. it's wrong. the american people sent a message in 2010 that they're sick and tired of washington operating business as usual. and we're not going to take it anymore, and the american people shouldn't take it anymore. i think we have an opportunity here. in texas, we don't recognize problems. we recognize challenges and opportunities for a positive -- we're a positive bunch of folks.
11:46 am
this is a grand opportunity for democrats and republicans to come together to do the nation's business, to be serious, not to be reckless, not to give speeches like the president gave yesterday as part of his reelection campaign. absolutely disgraceful. he should be ashamed. i respect the office of the president of the united states, but i think the president has diminished that office and himself by giving the kind of campaign speeches that he gave yesterday. we do have a solution. the senator from alabama, senator sessions, and others of us have sponsored a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. this would be a responsible way to deal with this problem. and i hope we will get a vote on that shortly. but in the meantime, there's no reason we can't solve this problem. all we need is the president to step up and give us a proposal.
11:47 am
so far he's laid back and criticized everybody else and said where's your proposal? how come you haven't done your work? well, he hasn't done his work by proposing a responsible solution. we'll have a debate. we'll have amendments. we'll make constructive suggestions. we'll do it out in the light of day and not behind closed doors, which is where these negotiations are occurring now. why does this need to be done in secret? why is, as senator sessions said, are we, the elected representatives of the american people, left with a fait accompli shortly before a deadline and said you either pass this or the country's economy goes down the tubes? that's not what the american people expect of us. that's not what they deserve. sure there are going to be differences of opinion, but that's what this senate is for, to work those out.
11:48 am
we all understand that we're not going to get what we want 100% of the time, but we do deserve to have a fair and open process, transparent and visible to the american people. i get to offer suggestions. they either win or they lose. and then ultimately the majority vote determines the outcome. we respect that as the process by which these differences are resolved. but we can't do our job when the president doesn't do his job and make a responsible proposal, when senator reid will not bring a budget to the floor. it's been two years since the united states senate has had a budget. no one in the united states of america or anywhere around the world can operate with that sort of recklessness and irresponsibility. everybody has to have a budget. my family has a budget.
11:49 am
every business has a budget. only by having a budget can you determine what are your priorities, what are the things you have to have or do, what are the things that you can put off until tomorrow, what are the things that maybe would be nice to have but you can't afford. every family, every business has to go through that process, but not the united states senate. and not apparently the president of the united states. the proposal he made, which is double the debt in five years, triple it in ten years, calls for huge new tax increases. but yet, when it came up for a vote, and only because republicans forced a vote on that, it didn't get any support -- i think it was 97-0. not even our friends across the aisle could support the president's outrageous proposal back then. why didn't he come back with a new one?
11:50 am
why didn't he stay at the table? instead of going to philadelphia tonight and raising money, why doesn't he call senator mcconnell, speaker boehner, minority leader pelosi and majority leader reid into his office and sit down and do his job? just do his job. mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
11:51 am
11:52 am
11:53 am
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut is recognized. mr. blumenthal: thank you very much, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. blumenthal: i ask also, mr. president, i have eight unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have the approval of the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and that these requests be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. blumenthal: on my way here, mr. president, i had the
11:54 am
great pleasure of running into the redway family just a few minutes ago visiting from the state of connecticut. jack redway is a former public servant in the state and he's here with his family, his wife sue and other members of the family. and when i told him i was on my way here to talk on the floor of the united states senate, they asked me what was subject was. when i told them that the senate is debating the debt and the deficit and the budget, one of them said, same old, same old. we are here on the same old, same old issues. but the american people have had enough. they've had enough of the tax breaks and the special giveaways and sweetheart deals that go to the special interests and that have driven our deficit to
11:55 am
sky-high, intolerable levels. we are now at a turning point and really at a precipice. when we simply cannot afford these kinds of tax breaks and sweetheart deals any longer. and the people of connecticut are saying enough is enough to the same old, same old deals with these special interests. we ought to come together on a bipartisan basis. not only do we have a right and opportunity, we have a responsibility and an obligation to say enough is enough and to eliminate these kinds of tax breaks that squander and waste scarce resources. the ethanol subsidies have been voted on by this body
11:56 am
overwhelmingly by republicans and democrats rejected. and the reason is, quite simply, that we can save $400 million each month, close to $2.5 billion by the end of this year if we eliminate these subsidies on ethanol. we shouldn't be divided on this issue going forward. we ought to be united on a bipartisan basis because these scarce resources are necessary to make sure that we do not burden our children and their children with this kind of debt going forward. the loophole that enables corporate jets to be depreciated at a faster and higher rate than commercial airplanes, again,
11:57 am
adds to the debt and the deficit in hundreds of millions of dollars. if we are serious about deficit reduction and addressing the deficit, we should eliminate that loophole. it is about making the tax code fair and effective. and over the last decade, the big-five oil companies have taken home more than $1 trillion in profits while enjoying tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. those moneys, whether you call them revenues or taxes or breaks, whatever the nomenclature, whatever the rhetoric, they are a loss to the taxpayers and the people of the united states of america, without any reason, because these five oil companies are among the most profitable and lucrative in the history of the
11:58 am
world. and they don't need that money. it is time to say enough is enough to the kinds of hidden subsidies that go to special interests. and there are others that we ought to scrutinize and eliminate in the name of fairness and effectiveness in our government so that we can be serious about addressing our debt and our deficit. budgets are about choices. some choices are not easy. we face tough choices, but we ought to put to use the common sense of the american people to say enough is enough to the same old, same old hidden subsidies, tax breaks, special giveaways to special interests. cutting medicare benefits for
11:59 am
medicaid will not make us stronger. firing teachers will not make us stronger. forcing kids out of college will not make us stronger in connecticut or across the country. none of these measures will make us stronger as a nation, or fairer. nor will rolling back our investments in innovation and research, which are vital to the high-tech jobs of the future. nor will cutting our investments in the essential means of transportation, high-speed rail, so important to connecticut. none of these cuts will bring back jobs, which has to be our priority. economic growth and job creation must be put first, and the way to do it is to eliminate the wasteful tax subsidies, the


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on